Christmissue 2013, FREE. qmunicatemagazine.
Merry Christmas from all at
Inside: • Seasonal Media Hysteria • The Million Mask March • A White Lie: The Santa Paradox • Bah. Fucking. Humbug.
Some Chat from the Editor
CONTENTS 4 • Coming Up in the QM
5 • The White Paper • Rolling Jubilee Pays Off Debt 6 • A Very Begbie Christmas • A Dull, Bland and Boring Team-up 7 • Equality in Progress • qmunicuts
Well hello there, and how are you doing? Welcome to this abnormally and gaudily colourful online special edition of qmunicate, here to tide you over for the festive period. Nope, I’m not Calum MacInnes, the QMU President. I could have pestered him over Christmas to write his usual bit for the opening of the magazine, but this felt overly cruel and needy given the lateness of the day. I’m Ali Begg, and I’m the Publications Convenor at the QM. This means that it’s my job to helm the good ship qmunicate over the 2013/14 academic year, and it’s been an honour thus far. The union has been busy over the past months, with a magnificently chaotic Freshers’ Week leading into a term that has been hard work but wonderful. We’ve had a number of cracking events go on, celebrated Snap, Crackle and Pop (Cheesy Pop)’s 20th birthday, seen the opening of our brand new coffee shop and bistro, and welcomed another election’s worth of fresh faces to our Board of Management. The term was signed off with our traditional Christmas blowout, and whilst Glasgow City
Council’s licensing board denied both the QM and the GU their usual 8am alcohol licenses, the denizens of the QM had a brilliant evening. A seriously glorious white russian bar, a worryingly convincing Santa Claus, a bucking reindeer, a giant snow globe and a headline appearance from cheese-chart icon Cascada, were just some of the highlights of the evening, and yours truly was seen to be parading about, swearing loudly in a posh accent at the QM’s traditional Christmas panto. Wild, wild times indeed. Before I run out of space here, I’d like to get briefly sentimental about the team behind qmunicate, some of whom grace the cover of this issue in their stylish Christmas jumpers. Many of the finest contributions to the magazine over the past term have been from brand new contributors, and it has been an absolute honour to work with them. I thank them all sincerely. Have a bloody marvellous Christmas, and I apologise for the technicolour festive vomit of the cover. Sorry/NotSorry. See you in the new year!
8 • Seasonal Media Hysteria 9 • A White Lie 10 • Bah. Fucking Humbug! 11 • A Million Masks 12 • INTERVIEW: Kodaline
13 • Google’s Intelligent Design • The Science Behind Rudolph’s Red Nose
14 • RELEASES: There Will Be Fireworks, Lorde, Jake Bugg + more 15 • LIVE: Factory Floor, Drenge/Peace, Courteeners
16 • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
ARTS & CULTURE
17 • Testimonium: Every House Has A Door • STaG Nights: Welcome Back to Childhood
18 • BT Lands the First Blow in Broadcasting • Trampolining: High Flying in Scotstoun
Editor in Chief Ali Begg
In spite of
Scott Wilson Jonny Stone Max Sefton Ansgar Hastenpflug Emma Ainley-Walker Katy Simmons Dominic MacInnes Emma Boyle Kirsty McLeish
Eve Lucas • Hannah Westwater • Jenna Burns • Emmie Harrison• Caitlin MacColl • Liam Harrison • Chiara Bullen • Louisa Burden • Matthew Hayhow • Ally Shaw • Ali Begg • Anna Viceconti • Arron Cockell • Cosmo Stott • Alice Lannon • Joseph Nelson • Keshav Kapoor • Nicola McGlynn • Ali Begg
mellow_stuff • Jaione Dagdrømmer • Steve Rhodes • Natalia Balcerska • JillWillRun • TheGiantVermin • katy-mac • LouLG • Celia Varela Sixto
Laphroaig 10 yr old • Stephen Fry • Guinness on tap • Chocolate reindeer • Home made curry • Volcano Choir • Kirsty McLeish
Christmas apathy • Gale force winds • Highland internet speeds • Everything
love letters, articles and vitriol to: firstname.lastname@example.org
qmunicate • 3
h In t
Late, Late Hogmanay! Friday 17th January
Perhaps you’re spending Hogmanay at home with Jackie Bird on the telly. Perhaps you’re suffering under the prolonged presence of your least favourite family members. Perhaps you’re more fortunate and will be hitting the tiles with some fizzy wine and your dancing shoes on the 31st. Whatever you’re up to, the QM provides you the chance to relive the turn of the year with all the uni mates who were absent over the festive period. Late Late Hogmanay features a traditional countdown to midnight, the usual ‘Auld Lang Syne’ sing along, confetti cannons and a balloon drop. Come on down, grab a few drinks and chase away the January blues in style with the denizens of the QM!
Dragon Soop Headphone Disco! Friday 24th January The Dragon Soop Headphone Disco returns to the QMUnion by popular demand this January. The event is fast becoming a QM classic, having appeared twice in the past year, including a particularly tits-mental edition in Freshers’ Week. This time the event will feature everyone’s favourite Friday night QMU legend DJ Toast on channel A, and DJ Catnip & DJ Pasta on channel B, a pop-rock-retro-80s-glam-gothduo some of you may remember as the champions of The Dragon Soop Headphone Disco 2013! For those who haven’t been to a headphone disco before, the concept is simple. Arrive and pick up a set of super special wireless headphones for a small deposit which will be returned providing you don’t stamp on them. A flick of a switch on the side of the
4 • qmunicate
headset allows the user to jump between 2 DJ channels at will. This type of night provides a number of unique opportunities, in particular the ability to have a conversation easily in the middle of the dancefloor by slinging the headphones round your neck. This also provides a particularly telling insight into everybody’s singing skills, as a nasty mashup of singalongs to both channels at once fills the Qudos air space. The event costs £3 for members and £4 for non-members and doors open, as ever, at 10pm.
The White Paper
A brief and simple guide to the ‘Yes’ movement’s manifesto.
he long awaited paper is now available to download for free from The Scottish Government’s website, so there is no excuse for anyone not to read it before making up their mind in September 2014. But since it’s mid-year and you probably don’t have time to read a 670 page document that has nothing to do with your course work, below is a streamlined version for your convenience. You’re welcome. According to ‘Scotland’s Future’ an independent Scotland will retain the pound. Salmond has said this is in the best interests of both Scotland and the rest of the UK, as ‘It will make it easier for people and companies to go about their business across the two countries.’ Scotland will also continue to use the Bank of England as its central bank. Currently, Scotland is responsible for roughly 98.8% of all UK offshore oil production, and on independence will gain 90% of the revenue produced by the industry. The document also states that it aims to negotiate Trident’s removal from Faslane by 2020. The document outlines plans for renationalising the postal service within
Scotland. It also states there are no plans to renationalise the rail service currently, but independence would give future Scottish governments more flexibility on this matter. The existing TV license will remain, but with the establishment of a Scottish Broadcasting Service, which will take over BBC Scotland and work in conjunction with the BBC in the remainder of the UK. Without Westminster rule, Scotland would be free to raise the minimum wage, reduce air passenger duty and get rid of the bedroom tax. The paper also promises to protect the principle
of free higher education for Scottish and EU students. In a nutshell, the document asserts that Scotland will have more control over the way it is run - it states ‘We are a wealthy country and yet the full benefit of our vast wealth is not felt by the people who live and work here.’ Now it is in the hands of the Scottish people to decide what future they want. [Eve Lucas]
Rolling Jubilee Pays Off Debt Occupy Wall Street Movement Helps The People Pay
ccupy Wall Street activists recently banded together to help pay off almost $15m of debt for fellow Americans. The OWS movement Rolling Jubilee, set in motion last November, managed to buy said debt (consisting of mostly medical bills) cheaply from banks to free individuals from their outstanding credit – raising $400,000 for the cause. Andrew Ross, a member of Strike Debt and professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University, said they initially anticipated raising $50,000, which would have enabled them to buy $1m in debt. ‘Our purpose in doing this, aside from helping some people along the way – there’s certainly many, many people who are very thankful that their debts are abolished – our primary purpose was to spread information about the workings of this secondary debt market.’ Ross described the movement as a ‘public education project’. The secondary debt market is what enabled Rolling Jubilee to purchase debt at such a low price. If customers repeatedly fail to pay bills, lenders will eventually make the debt available for purchase by third parties at cut-
rate costs, who then go on to make a profit from selling the debt back to the individual debtor. Ross, author of ‘Creditocracy’, said: ‘Very few people know how cheaply their debts have been bought by collectors. It changes the psychology of the debtor, knowing this. So when you get called up by the debt collector, and you’re being asked to pay the full amount of your debt, you now know that the debt collector has bought your debt very, very cheaply. As cheaply as we bought it. And that gives you moral ammunition to have a different conversation with the debt collector.’ While the main goal of the project may have been public education, Rolling Jubilee has also proved to be of great humanitarian value. Organiser Laura Hanna said, ‘No one should have to go into debt or bankruptcy because they get sick’, pointing out that 62% of all personal bankruptcies are contributed to by medical debt. The group has received letters of gratitude from people whose debt has been lifted by their efforts. [Hannah Westwater]
qmunicate • 5
A Very Begbie Christmas
Irvine Welsh pens new story for the Big Issue to support the homeless
othing says Christmas quite like the family all gathering to sit together and watch Trainspotting, right? Or taking turns to read aloud round the fire from Irvine Welsh’s sequel, Porno? Maybe these don’t quite ring true, but that doesn’t mean Welsh doesn’t have anything to offer in terms of Christ-mas spirit. He Ain’t Lager, a short story penned by the Scottish cult author that has been published in The Big Issue, is set after the events of Trainspotting and Porno, and follows the character of Francis Begbie (epitomised with disturbing menace by Robert Carlyle in the 1996 film) as he returns home to visit his family over Christmas, including his homeless brother. While the iconic sociopath may seem ill-suited to a charitable Christmas tale, the story sees Begbie now rehabilitated through art and love. Welsh said: ‘I’m not sure where this came from. I never really know. I just think the character has to be full of surprises and I quite like this little twist in [Begbie’s] life.’ More revelations are
promised in the story which is exclusive to the The Big Issue and other International Network of Street Papers (INSP). As an ambassador of INSP, which helps develop street paper projects in 40 countries as a move towards a solution for homelessness and unemployment, Welsh said: ‘I see so many friends struggling to keep a home together, or trying to rebuild one. They deserve the same rights that I enjoy. Homelessness issues are now sadly ubiquitous across the western world, and very much a product of the weak priorities our political leadership has set.’ As winter sets in, this is a crucial time for street vendors, and the appearance of such
an infamous yet cherished name (or namesBegbie and Irvine Welsh hold a similar position in this respect) is set to boost sales. ‘It’s always a thrill to read anything by Irvine Welsh,’ said Big Issue editor, Paul McNamee, adding: ‘On the back of the success of Filth, interest in the great contrarian outsider of modern Scottish literature is heightened and we hope that people will be queuing at their local Big Issue vendor to read what he has created.’ You’ll have to buy the issue to find out to what extent Begbie has recovered from being, as Renton states, ‘a cunt ay the first order,’ but it’s the least that can be done for a good cause, after all ‘he’s a mate n aw. What kin ye dae?’ [Caitlin MacColl]
A Dull, Bland and Boring Team-up
Towns get friendly in tourism partnership
he Scottish town of Dull, unofficially twinned with Boring in Oregon, USA, have now added a new addition to their international family of unfortunate names: Bland Shire in New South Wales. Labelled as a ‘league of extraordinary communities’, the towns have joined in a so-called ‘banal axis’ in an effort to promote their now global tourism. The idea for creating the transAtlantic link between Dull and Boring came after Elizabeth Leighton from Perthshire visited Boring during a cycling holiday of Oregon. She contacted Steve Bates, chairman of the Boring Community Planning Organisation, who agreed with the plan. However, the Highland town was deemed to be too small, boasting a population of a mere 84 to Boring’s 13,000. So, they were named unofficial ‘sister communities.’ Boring received its illustrious name from William H. Boring, a resident and Civil War
6 • qmunicate
veteran of the town. Meanwhile, Dull is thought to be an ancient Pictish word for ‘fields.’ Bland Shire is the newest of the grey-named towns to join the axis. Neil Pokoney expressed his delight at the news: ‘It’s good for us to be able to take a light-hearted look at a name that many would see to be a weight around our necks.’ The Shire was named after William Bland
who was exiled to Australia as a convict after murdering a sailor during a duel in Bombay (notso bland). He was pardoned and later founded the Australian Medical Association. When comparing the tedious trio, Pokoney said, ‘We’re much larger than Dull. But Boring in the U.S, they’re much bigger. We sort of sit in the middle.’ Locals in Boring have already entered into the spirit of the three-way link, proudly displaying signs which claim their town is ‘the most exciting place to live.’ Tony Lord, a councillor of Bland Shire summed up the goals for the towns: ‘Whenever there’s a deemed threat or a deemed negative, there’s always an opportunity. I think that we need to look positively and look ahead at all the opportunities that may occur or that we can generate.’ [Jenna Burns]
Equality in Progress
MSPs Support Equal Marriage
he Scottish Government has successfully passed its Equal Marriage bill through the first of three Parliamentary stages. The Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill passed with 98 votes in favour, 15 against and 5 abstentions. The bill is to be handed over to the Equal Opportunities Committee for scrutiny and amendments, before being voted on once more in early 2014. If the law is passed, it is possible that same-sex couples will be able to marry by the start of 2015. Gay couples can currently only enter into a civil partnership. After the bill gained the majority vote, Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume said: ‘Today’s vote was a big step forward for equality and a move towards the fairer Scotland that we all want to see. The principle we are debating here is very simple. Same-sex partners do not love one another any less than other couples. Their relationships deserve the same recognition and protections as any other.’ Furthermore, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who is openly gay, commented on the ‘institution of marriage’: ‘I want that right to extend, not just to me, but also to the thousands of people across Scotland who are told that the law says ‘no’. They can’t marry the love of their life, they’re not allowed. And unless we change this law, they will never be allowed.’ Despite the majority of MSPs supporting the legislation, the bill was still met with opposition. This most notably came from the Church of Scotland and Catholic Church as both religious bodies oppose same-sex marriage. Both said they would maintain the ‘mainstream Christian’ view that marriage should be exclusively between a man and a woman. The new bill does not force religious communities to conduct same-sex marriages. If they wish to do so, they may ‘opt in’ to back the legislation. However, John Mason, a member of the SNP, expressed fears that, ‘shortly down the road priests, ministers, churches could be dragged through the courts and I would not be happy about that.’ Contrastingly, Scott Rennie - an openly gay minister from Aberdeen - praised the bill: ‘What the parliament has done is offered us space for people to express both views. It has offered legislation that’s enabling, that allows people to move forward if they want to, but respects and keeps the dignity of those who
don’t feel they can.’ He continued by saying, ‘I think in terms of public opinion, in 10 years it will be a non issue, I really do. And I think in 20 years, 30 years, people will be writing a report saying what on earth was all the fuss about.’ Indeed, the opposition from religious bodies was not unanimous. Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain welcomed the news: ‘Quakers have recognised same-sex marriage since 2009 because we see God in everyone and believe all committed couples should be treated equally. We’ve been waiting for the law to catch up and it is good to see legislation making progress in Scotland.’ But, some who voted against the change believed that ‘traditional’ marriage would be undermined as a result of the new bill. Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said: ‘During my lifetime, I have seen society beginning to fall apart. That’s why I would argue that one of the priorities of this parliament should be to strengthen families, to find ways to reinforce marriage and to make sure that we reverse the trends of half-a-century and more, in order to gain that stability.’ Conversely, Mary Fee of the Scottish Labour Party stated, ‘Having been married for 36 years and raised two children, I strive to understand how introducing this legislation takes anything away from my marriage.’ The success of Scotland’s bill marks a great shift in the country’s attitude as a whole towards equal marriage. In 2000, the Scottish Social Attitudes survey found that almost half of the population thought that sexual relationships between those of the same-sex were always or nearly always ‘wrong.’ A mere decade later, 61% of Scots said they supported same-sex marriage. This relatively recent change in opinion indicates that opposition is still to be expected. However, the fact that the bill was backed by the majority of MSPs shows promising signs that Scotland will soon follow England and Wales in their support for equal marriage. [Jenna Burns]
qmuni cuts The column that ate all the pigs in blankets Two Massachusets fire fighters have brightened the seasonal mood by conducting a daring Christmas Eve rescue. The two men entered the freezing Charles River on the 24th to rescue a five year old Golden Retriever, who had fallen through ice and into the icy waters. Crosby the canine was returned safe and well in time for Christmas day. * A man dressed as Santa Claus robbed a bank in Florida on Monday December 23rd. The phoney Saint Nick placed a red parcel on the bank counter, implying that it contained something dangerous. He then left the bank with an unspecified amount of cash. Bomb disposal experts refused to disclose the package’s contents, but it has been speculated that it was harmless. * Taxidermist Jonathan McGowan has saved a packet on Christmas dinner by ditching the traditional turkey and chowing down on roadkill on the 25th. He estimated that his meal of fox, pheasant and venison cost just 50p per portion. He has collected the various meats whilst on drives down local country lanes. * Two amateur scientists decided to boldly send Santa further than he has ever flown before this Christmas. The pair attached a model of Santa and his reindeer to a high altitude weather balloon and launched it. Keeping track of Mr Claus with a camera attached to his sled, they watched the Unidentified Festive Object rise to 100,000ft above the Earth’s surface, well into the Stratosphere, which means that Santa was close to passing into outer space. * Stranded lorry drivers in the Russian city of Volgograd enjoyed some extra help in shifting their vehicles, which were stranded due to particularly heavy snowfall. A video recorded by a car’s dashboard camera showed an army tank powering through a city junction with a large lorry in tow. This feat had been carried on throughout the city, as the Russian Army decided to lend a hand to those with less heavy treads on their automobiles. * Police in Texas managed to track a burglary suspect by the footprints he had left in the snow on December 22nd. The man scarpered on sighting the police, and might have escaped if it weren’t for the tell-tale tracks left behind, making for an easy capture.
qmunicate • 7
SEASONAL MEDIA HYSTERIA Hannah Westwater on what Christmas broadcasting means to the public It would be fair to say that in amongst all the fuss over gift-purchasing, family-visiting and food eating, we forget the true meaning of Christmas: the Coca-Cola advert. Or perhaps it’s Sunday afternoons spent lovingly with your sofa and a festive film. Or is it the appearance on our shelves of the first single from the latest soon-to-be-obsolete X Factor winner? In a controversial move, Channel 4 recently announced that for the first time in several years, Elf wouldn’t be scheduled in their programming in the lead up to Christmas. Whilst some of us quietly celebrated this small victory (I would rather cancel Christmas altogether than hear ‘Buddy the elf, what’s your favourite colour?’ once more), the majority were outraged and Channel 4 faced surprisingly fierce backlash. DVDs exist, but as a nation we could not believe that a corporation would deny us something so integral to our personal countdowns to the 25th. We want the ad breaks, dammit. We’re even willing to ignore the monthly bill we pay for Sky+ and watch at a time that is mildly inconvenient to us. It would seem that part of our festive cheer comes from having our sentimentality dictated to us. Our social media interfaces have only recently recovered from an onslaught of messy, emotional outpourings inspired by the TV debut of the sweet John Lewis Christmas advert. If tweets and Facebook posts are to be believed, we haven’t felt a collective lump-in-the-throat quite like it since… Well, last year’s John Lewis Christmas advert. While it can’t be denied that this year’s animated cry-fest successfully pulls at the heart strings for all the right reasons, it is possible that we feel so intensely about
8 • qmunicate
it purely because it has become something of a contemporary Christmas tradition. An annual landmark, much like sixty seconds of Santa Claus driving an obnoxious red Coca-Cola lorry, but less divisive than the first snowfall of winter. (If you have never witnessed a passionate argument in the form of Facebook comments about whether snow is a beautiful, magical thing or merely a pain in the backside for anyone who actually wants to lead a life in December without the
‘...at a time when our lives are increasingly stressful and busy, we need the comfort of knowing that we can still feel the warmth of festivity’ country being ground to a halt… Consider yourself spared). Whatever the reason, those shared Christmas traditions are becoming just as important to us as those we learned through our families. Just as the wide-spread viewing of an advert for the first time can be exciting, a movie feels like more of an event when shown on TV because… well, I’m sure live-tweeting a Christmas movie is a thing. But why? A simple answer would be this: as time goes on, media is ruling our lives more and more. We are surrounded by headlines, movies, television, video games and music – it’s
nearly 2014 and this is not a revelation to anybody. In light of this, though, it seems guaranteed that Christmas-related media is going to become a crucial part of our festivities. The internet no longer exists as this platform which is separate from us; regardless of whether or not it is a notion that we’re all entirely comfortable with, we live on the internet and many employ social media as an extension of themselves. Of course this is going to seep into our celebrations. Buddy The Elf has 42,000 twitter followers. Perhaps it isn’t the content of the media we’re surrounded by at this time of year, but the timing. I offer myself as an example: I think of Antz as a Christmas film. It’s not, though. I have a memory of helping my mum decorate the Christmas tree as a child whilst Antz was showing on our television, and ever since I have associated it with fairy lights and prickly, damp-smelling tinsel. Returning, reluctantly, to the phenomenon that is Elf, let’s apply this idea. Elf hit cinemas a decade ago, at which time many of our generation would have been old enough to cement things in their mind as decidedly Christmassy but not old enough for the season to have lost all of its magic just yet. It’s unsurprising, then, that so many of us consider it a given tradition at the end of a hard year if that’s exactly what it has been for much of our lives. Perhaps it doesn’t really matter why. No amount of technological advances is going to change the fact that we are creatures of habit and at a time when our lives are increasingly stressful and busy, we need the comfort of knowing that we can still feel the warmth of festivity. And if the Patrick Stewart version of A Christmas Carol isn’t shown this Christmas Eve, I will kick up shit. [Hannah Westwater]
A WHITE LIE...
Chiara Bullen examines the most pervasive of cultural fibs The confusion felt when the Santas you visited in various ‘grottos’ all looked a little bit different. The older (and clearly wiser) kids in the playground dismissing his existence. The conflicting feelings within you when you realised that Santa’s wrapping paper is the same red and gold with miniscule reindeer design that your parents bought. The odd moment of realisation that your household didn’t have a chimney. Yes, we’ve all been there. The slow (or sometimes abrupt, depending on your story) realisation that the man whom you had been behaving for all year does not actually exist. Apologies if I’ve ruined anyone’s ongoing childhood. Believing in Santa Claus can be a huge deal for some families and children with a recent poll finding that 3/4 of parents say that their kids are true believers and 51% in no rush to tell them otherwise until they are at least 8. Sometimes it’s just easier to keep the illusion going than having to deal with the tears of disappointed children. That’s some serious Christmas Spirit right there. But is believing in Santa until such an age a good thing? Surely children still besotted with Christmas magic are a special thing in today’s society where children seem to be in a rush to grow up. In a world where 84% of parents will spend over £243 on gadgets for children and the latest Furby requires a tablet or smartphone to fully function (outrageous!) it’s a pleasant thought that children are at least asking ‘Santa’ for these extravagant gifts. With tablets and smartphones dominating many children’s Christmas wish lists, it’s nice to see that the childish aspect of Christmas is still running strong for many. With the popular NORAD
Santa Tracker online with which kids can eagerly watch ‘Santa’s’ progress throughout the world it’s apparent that many want to encourage the wee ones to keep believing. There’s also the fact that Santa can be used as a bargaining tool to ensure children behave during the hectic month of December which could be an aspect of parents trying to keep the image of Santa alive in their household. It’s reported that 62% of parents are using the naughty list trick, which is arguably not one of the most ideal ways to deliver Christmas spirit. However a threat of a coal filled stocking certainly made me pipe down and I distinctly remember teachers even using this to make classes be quiet. Ah, school in the 90s.
‘Surely children still besotted with Christmas magic are a special thing in today’s society where children seem to be in a rush to grow up’ With my own tale of discovering the nonexistence of my Christmas hero being a rather generic ‘caught the parents putting the presents out’, I asked a few others how their heart-wrenching moment of disappointment occurred. Joseph Nelson ‘found out through the Simpsons,’ whilst Jenna Burns witnessed the ‘Janitor walking into class still wearing his Santa beard.’ My personal favourite which I feel represents the Christmas shenanigans of Scotland is Scott Wilson’s recollection of his friend finding out. ‘One of my pals told my next door neighbour when he was 6 and he went home greetin
and his Maw was ragin.’ Truly a harrowing tale. Alasdair Begg on the other hand recalls fondly, ‘The boy next door told me but I resolutely refused to believe him.’ Kirsty McLeish provides a true Glasgow fairy tale on behalf of her aunt who was told by her older brother that Santa had been stabbed at the park in Easterhouse and so would be indisposed over the Christmas period. There are those who think that believing in old Saint Nick isn’t such a good idea however. For some it raises the issue of trust with their children, some parents feeling too uncomfortable to lie outright when the question of the jolly old man’s existence is asked directly. For others there can be a religious issue, with those who believe Santa is conflicting to the traditional Christian aspect of Christmas. However some argue that Santa represents the spirit of giving which can co-exist nicely with a Christian perspective on Christmas. Then of course there’s the parents who just don’t want to fill their kids’ heads with myths in the first place. It really is each to their own when it comes to this issue. I feel it’s a positive thing to keep children believing for as long as they can. There’s fond memories of the time when you believed Santa was real, with Christmas becoming a little less magical when the truth was broken but it’s also something special to find out that your parents have been making the magic happen for all these years once you’re old enough to know just how much effort that really is. Also, if anyone fancies a laugh I suggest googling ‘Is Santa Real?’. Which I was only trying whilst doing research for this subject… honest. [Chiara Bullen]
qmunicate • 9
FUCKING. HUMBUG. Liam Harrison channels Ebeneezer Scrooge for an alternative Christmas perspective I hate Christmas. That’s a fact, I’ll say it almost proudly; I’ll hold it as a beacon of true belief amidst the populist-orientated din-inspiring drivel that accompanies the ‘sincere’ spirit of Christmas. See, I’ve actually disliked Christmas for so long now I’m confused as to where my problem with Kris Kringle actually stems from. However, rather than be dismissed as a bore, prematurely outfitted for my own demise on BBC’s ‘Grumpy Old Men’, I’d like you to hear me out as I provide my reasoning for exactly why I think Christmas is the most awful institution since whoever decided it was necessary for me to get out of bed every morning. In truly predictable fashion, Christmas is a time in which the usually gritty, despondent and wary customers of Great Britain, and other nations of similar capitalistic ilk, adopt a saccharine persona of festive cheer for the celebration behind the birth of Christ. Now, I’m not a religious person, nor am I a raving anti-capitalist, but it seems obvious to me that the commemoration of Christmas is based around the celebration and deifying of the explosive increase in the sale of consumer goods, not the historical meaning at its heart, and I oppose it on this basis. As I walk around Buchanan Street, an exemplar of your traditional high street, what I face is the abundant reports of ‘xmas sales’, ‘festive discounts’ and reminders that I should be buying my loved ones all and sundry in its name. The detachment of Christmas from its true intentions seems to me to make it empty and devoid of any meaning, other than the fattening up of company boss pockets. The results are even worse for those working in the retail sector, as a seemingly infinite crowd of parents and couples resentful and crabby as a result of the weight of their
10 • qmunicate
bloated expenditure, expect instant service and the reverence of a King. The UK’s Centre for Retail Research predicts an average sales increase of 60% during December, based on the last 12 years, and the plight of the poor retail workers doesn’t really seem destined to improve. Though surely, things are better when we can indulge in the finest entertainment, crafted to cater to the homespun celebration where we sit around the Christmas tree. You couldn’t be further wrong if you tried; this Christmas will not be the first time I have to sit and stare vacantly as the introduction of Chicken Run comes into being; a film with next to no relevance to the already prettypointless trappings and Americanisms such as the Red and white colour scheme or the prickly brown behemoth that could feasibly topple onto and subsequently kill ‘Great Aunt Mavis’. Even films that are relatable to all the tacky and grimace-worthy jubilance, such as ‘Elf’, in which a presumably 6-foot tall man finds it fitting to live up to the nauseating American vision of Christmas by trashing department stores and ‘falling in love’ in some forgettable fashion, have been repeated so many times it really feels as though every Christmas is more like Groundhog day, with all the paranoia and desperation, minus the happy ending. Unfortunately, the media domination of Christmas isn’t just restricted to the odd shite Christmas movie. Let’s not forget the miasma of terrible Christmas anthems we’ve been subjected to in recent years. Some of these were so shamefully bad that they’ve been ignored, but the likes of Robbie William’s ‘Walk This Sleigh’ (A pun so bad it died along with Williams’ career), the never-pleasant Cliff
Richard classic ‘Mistletoe and Wine’ and The Darkness’ Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End) are quite frankly terrible songs. They do naff all to tune into this sense of festive consciousness we seem to have developed and instead of being sentimental, remain about as memorable as that time your Aunty got drunk on Babysham and tried to dress the dog up as ‘Dobby the house elf’. This far into the Christmas party, I’ve probably already fallen asleep, but in case I haven’t, my culture-fatigued self certainly doesn’t want to participate in the monotonous hum of the Queen’s speech. A dreary sordid line of words that is doubtlessly only important to both the parliamentary opposition and a few crackpots who have decided to ‘forget’ a good 1,000 years of world history and band together in support of an obsolete institution. The speech is truly the icing on the Christmas cake (which isn’t that nice either); a sterile funeral dirge to send out a ‘celebration’ that is already way past dead. These are at least a few reasons as to why I immensely dislike Christmas. Feel free to brand me as a scrooge, or rail at me for my cantankerousness, but once you peel away the wrapping paper and the scented candles, Christmas is nothing but a show; it’s a momentary break in the gloom (see: realism) of the British isles and a way to see your usually dull family members collapse in a drunken stupor, and frankly I’m having none of it. Regardless of what I think, it doesn’t seem like Christmas is going to go away any time soon, but really, all I can ask is that you heed my words and accept the little grain of truth that lies within them, it may just help you someday. [Liam Harrison]
A Million Masks
The year’s most poorly covered political backlash The revolution will not be televised. Or reported. Or really seem to have happened at all... Remember Guy Fawkes night this year, and how it was dominated by the Million Mask March? No? But Russell Brand was there! In London! And some folk turned up in Glasgow (about 200 it seems). Masked marchers gathered in cities throughout Australia, Japan, South America and the US - 477 locations worldwide, reportedly. But that’s about all that’s been reported in mainstream media (other than the fact that Russell Brand was there in London). And were it not for that particular political man of the moment, and some fireworkrelated incidents at Buckingham Palace, it’s unlikely those not involved in the movement would have heard of anything happening at all. The BBC website dedicated a whole 200 words to the ‘scuffles’ which broke out due to ‘hundreds of protesters’, filing the stories under the ‘England’ tab, and that was that, other than a vague reference to the similar events due to happen in other countries around the world. From the localisation of the BBC’s story we move to The Guardian website’s coverage as ‘World News’ being mainly a request for protesters’ own photographs from around the world without any real story other than an obligatory short article to make sure we all know that Russell Brand was there in London. While research for this article led me to many a blogger railing against the blatant and outrageous media blackout, it’s difficult to see what else there is to say. More violence
or arrests would have sparked indignation in protesters and ‘law abiding’ folk alike, and, you know, you never want there to be more violence. But other than a brief roll call of celebrity appearances and list of arrests and scuffles, there’s not much for the media to cover. It doesn’t seem like the global numbers even approached a million. What is left to be said about some people turning up in some places, for some reasons no-one seems to really be able to pin down, except an anti-capitalist leaning which is apparently as universal as the V for Vendetta mask, which they presumably all bought from some retailer or other? This seems to be the crux of the matter: noone knows what Anonymous wants. The manifold reasons for the Guy Fawkes night protests include unspecified corruption in bankers and politicians, NSA surveillance, fracking, bedroom tax and rising energy bills. Protesters in London were reported to be planning a bonfire of energy bills in protest against this latter reason. While these all seem to as good a reason as any to protest, they are hardly interrelated, other than the fact that they are, to all intents and purposes, out of the hands of the people. But whose hands they are in, and how the people can make their voices heard by the right people, differ widely. It is pointless to ask ‘who is Anonymous?’, not only due to the question’s oxymoronic nature, but because there is no one leader with a hidden identity, rather a diffuse group forming a loose collective of discontent ranging from palpable to extreme. This poses problems in terms of how much one Anon agrees with another. It seems unlikely the revolution looked forward to by the young
Glaswegian family with the outspoken daughter opposed to food additives, is the same as that projected by the Anonymous speaker who announces a need for ‘a reformation of the infrastructure, built by the people... not for the government, and not for the rich,’ in the ‘Anonymous Declaration of Freedom’. While the speaker goes on to say no-one is expected to do anything which will put them in jail, and that everyone has their own skill-set which can help humanity, the ideology of Anonymous veers without direction, which leaves it open to be infused with purposes which all Anons may not find so palatable. That said, their track-record seems to be mainly targeting the far-right rather than linking them to it (as some bloggers have suggested), through means of hacktivist Anons. Behind Anonymous are people with genuine ideals and ways of achieving them as various as the faces behind the masks. But it’s difficult to tell whether Anonymous as a movement really helps anyone: their style of high-concept theatricality with their masks and voice-distorted videos (not to mention their Twitter profile statement, ‘As official accounts do not exist, we’re an Anonymous account among many,’ which notes their location to be ‘Right behind you.’) is just as exclusive as it claims to be inclusive, and if we want to act for a cause we believe in, why should we hide our face? And not because celebrity sells, like Russell Brand’s unmasked face in London, but because why shouldn’t we fight for truth and humanity showing our true, human faces? [Caitlin MacColl]
qmunicate • 11
IN CONVERSATION WITH
Kodaline are sound checking. Well, they’re supposed to be sound checking; what they’re actually doing is taking it in turns to put on a Robert Pattinson mask and take pictures of each other. An exasperated shout from their manager side of stage and they slip effortlessly into song, Steve Garrigan’s voice soaring across the empty venue. The band are playing to a sold out crowd at the O2 ABC, but there seem to be no nerves in sight. This might seem odd for what is a relatively new band, but Kodaline have a lot of experience behind them. The past year has a busy one for them, and they sat down to talk to me about it before their show. Welcome to Glasgow! Are you looking forward to tonight’s show? Yeah, there’s just something about playing in Scotland. The Irish and Scottish have this kind of weird connection – it’s not weird , it’s a good connection – and we love Scotland. Half of our crew are Scottish. The last time we played Glasgow we played a gig in a place called The Village in East Kilbride. It’s a friend’s bar, it’s not a venue, it’s tiny, but it was the day before T in the Park and it was fucking crazy. T in the Park was incredible as well. You did quite a few festivals this year, how was that? We did 35 I think. T in the Park was the craziest festival we had played up until that point. The crowd were going absolutely bananas, it was probably the loudest crowd we’ve had. Normally at gigs we don’t come out with the whole ‘oh you guys are the best’ thing, but they were loud. Festivals were the first time we heard people singing our lyrics back to us. It’s the greatest thing. Glastonbury was ten thousand people singing back and it’s just so strange. And because we’re a pretty new band we play early on in the day, and we’re not really sure how it’s going to go, but everyone is drunk already and really up for it. So how does playing festivals compare to the tour? They’re so different, you just kind of get into the mode of the one you’re doing. In festival mode there are so many bands you become friends with and there’s just something in the air. We don’t prefer one over the other, but with festivals there’s just that atmosphere where everyone’s up for having a good time. Our own
12 • qmunicate
shows can be more chilled, more intimate, so there’s not one we favour. You’re more nervous at a festival, you kind of look out and the tent is half full, but it’s crazy, by the time you come onstage the tent is ram packed. There are so many things to factor in, there are so many things that can go wrong. Did you have any near misses with sound tech? Yeah, we had a huge one at Glastonbury. The tent was packed, we went onstage and played the first song… and the speakers weren’t on. That’s a big fuck up, you can’t get any bigger than that! Our monitors were on though, they were loud, so we had no idea. But the front of house were off. We came onstage to the crowd going crazy, and then as soon as we started playing there was nothing. And they all started shouting ‘up’, but of course we thought they were shouting ‘off’. After the first song we were taken offstage because the PA was broken, and we were backstage going ‘what the fuck is going on’. We were worrying about whether we had said something in the press that week to upset people, even though we’re not that type of band, and then they told us what had happened. They had to reset the whole desk which took a while, but when we got back onstage, and the crowd first heard Stevie’s voice, it was incredible. We still remember that show as one of the best we’ve had. There are certain festivals you’ll always remember, and Glasto is one of them. Is it moments like that that make you think ‘this is what I want to do with the rest of my life’ or have you always known you wanted to be in a band? I think we’ve always known, from when we picked up a guitar, or started playing drums. Or even before that: I remember being six and watching bands, went to my first gig when I was eight. I was always fixated on drums, I wanted to be in a band, wanted to be making music. You can’t stop doing what you love, regardless of whether you get paid for it, whether people are there watching you or not. We’ve played to rooms where it’s just our parents, but it’s just the chance of getting to play that we love. And now we’re touring! You’ve just got back from touring America, how was that?
That was like starting all over again, playing much smaller shows. We did between 300-600 capacity venues, but the whole thing sold out and we were really chuffed. We’re going back in February. We were driving 1700 miles just to get to the next venue sometimes. There was one drive from Minneapolis to Seattle, which is from the middle of America, all the way to the West Coast. But the thing is we’re not doing the actual driving so it’s not that bad, except for the fact that we don’t have that much to do. We were driving across the desert and at first you look out and it’s beautiful, but it’s the same thing for two days straight, so we got a bit delirious. Where’s the coolest place you’ve played? We did Tokyo and Osaka in Japan. We did a festival there called Summer Sonic, which is mainly American and European bands. It was 38 degrees and we were playing inside and it was just a bit bizarre. It’s a totally different world over there. And on the American tour we found ourselves in the deep south, playing country blues with the locals, it’s weird. It’s not just the gigs that you take away from a tour, but the weird shit that goes on. It is great looking at a calendar and seeing all these countries lined up. We’re touring Europe, got January off to work on the new album, and then we’re touring from February to November next year. And finally, what are your plans for Christmas? We’re playing shows up until the 15th and then we’re going to go home to chill out and write some songs. I’m going to sit in front of the fire in a onesie. Check these out [gets up and gets a onesie from his bag] we got these in America and they are the comfiest thing. We don’t look like a band when we wear these: we just look like a bunch of unemployed people on a bus. Not that there’s anything wrong with unemployed people on buses! At one point the electricity on our bus broke, so the heating was gone and we wore these the whole time. They were $12 at a truck stop and we were walking into shops not giving a fuck. So yeah for Christmas we’re just going to wear them for two weeks, watch shit television and just chill out, recharge the batteries for next year. Kodaline will return to Glasgow next year to play the Barrowlands on March 18th. [Louisa Burden]
TECH & SCIENCE Intelligent Design
Google’s ‘Deep Learning’ engine surpasses human powers of deduction Ever since Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, science fiction has been obsessed with the idea of technology becoming intelligent to a point of selfawareness. However, if you’ve ever seen 2001, The Matrix or The Terminator, you’ll know that the situation rarely turns out well for us meatbags. But surely it can’t be possible for machine intelligence to one day supersede human intelligence? Don’t be too sure. Google software engineer Quoc V. Le claimed in a talk about ‘deep-learning’ that Google’s decision-making systems are now so proficient at recognizing things in images that experts don’t know how
they’re doing it. ‘Deep-learning’ allows a machine to interpret and categorise data. Last year Google trained a giant processor to scan YouTube thumbnails to identify cat videos. Its deep-learning algorithms work hierarchically, so its bottom layer would recognize the colours of pixels, the layer above would use that information to recognize edges, and so on, all the way up to features that would identify an animal, and at the top, features that would identify cats as a whole. Google have essentially simulated one of the mysteries of the mind – learning. But what really amazed Le is that the software has learnt to spot differences most people wouldn’t
notice between things like paper shredders. Le’s colleagues attempted to identify different models of shredder, but had a lower success rate than the machine. Le didn’t know how he programmed the machine to do this; the programming thought independently of its creators. The short-term implications of the research will most likely be things like more accurate search engines, translation and text and speech recognition, and no Judgement Day-style rise of the machines. However, in case of a cybernetic revolt, I’d like to be the first to say that I, for one, welcome our new machine overlords. [Matthew Hayhow]
The Science Behind Rudolph’s Red Nose
Research suggests that the favourite reindeer’s nose could have a basis in reality ...And if you ever saw him, you would even say it glows. Or at least if you’re viewing him through the right thermal imaging equipment. The traditional story of Rudolph the Reindeer’s glowing red nose may be based on real scientific fact, new research has revealed. A Swedish team of scientists at Lund University have used thermal imaging cameras to observe reindeer whilst they graze. They found that an excess of warmth in the animals’ noses caused them to glow a deep orange when viewed through the equipment. This follows a study last year conducted by scientists from Norway and the Netherlands, which discovered a ‘dense and rich nasal microcirculation’ in the nose of the reindeer. The excess
our picks from the internet... roes Christmas Robot With thanks to Yasmynn Lloyd. Almost definitely should have been Christmas number one. - bit.ly/qmrobot
of blood vessels that cause this phenomenon help to keep the reindeers’ nose warm and functional while they root for food in the snow, and regulate the temperature of the brain. The Norwegian study, which tested its hypothesis by comparing the reactions of reindeer to those of humans in a number of experiments, reportedly made use of treadmills and cocaine in order to stimulate the nasal area. However questionable these research tactics may be, it was concluded that reindeer’s noses contain twenty-five percent more blood vessels than human noses. Professor Ronald Kröger, a zoologist at the Lund University team, stated that, over and above their findings with thermal imaging, reindeer’s noses have
Please Help Me Beyonce Personal advice from the reigning queen of the music industry in musical form. - pleasehelpmebeyonce.com The Limited Faces of David Cameron The twelve images of the shrink-wrapped ham Prime Minister that Conservatives are authorised to use. - bit.ly/qmhamface
occasionally been observed to take on a reddish appearance to the naked eye in cold weather. This may go some way towards explaining the presence of our favourite red-nosed reindeer in Christmas tradition. Rudolph’s story stretches back to a book written in 1939 by Robert L May, and has since become a famous part of Christmas culture. While it is doubtful that May spent any time peering at the beasts through thermographic technology, he may have come across the vague reddish colour present in some reindeer’s noses. Kröger stated that the cold temperature in canine noses was an equally fascinating mystery to him, explaining that this was to be his next area of investigation. [Graeme McAskill]
Slightly Wrong Quotes Cringy hilarity on t-shirts. -slightlywrongquotes.tumblr.com Hungover Owls A blog full of photos of poorlooking feathery bastards who appear to have over-indulged recently. - hungoverowls.tumblr.com
qmunicate • 13
MUSIC: RELEASES THERE WILL BE FIREWORKS The Dark, Dark Bright
The members of There Will Be Fireworks may be scattered across the country in body, but their heart very much remains in Glasgow. In the four years since their self-titled debut album, various members have left the city for Edinburgh or London, with just singer Nicky McManus remaining, and The Dark, Dark Bright is full of his conflicting emotions and isolation in the city. It’s still home, but it doesn’t feel like it any more. This mellow tone is given space to breathe over the album’s fifty minutes; where the debut used the quiet songs as a simple way of building tension for its noisier peaks, here we’re left to enjoy the beauty of the ballads fading into one another, just as much as the explosive, thrilling ‘South Street’. This more mature pacing of the album is reflective of the time the band have spent on it, constantly recording and perfecting everything about the record, structurally as well as musically. The album builds carefully and slowly after early highlight ‘River’, eventually reaching its climax with the aforementioned ‘South Street’ and the outstanding track ‘Elder and Oak’, soaring with piano and strings. It’s a display of the group’s talent that a band who threatened to vanish from view are now capable of erupting more beautifully than ever. But we end in melancholy again, as McManus quietly laments what ‘used to be my dear, green place’. It’s typical of a very conflicted album, about a contradictory city. [AS]
New Zealand newcomer Lorde is a refreshing new voice in the pop world, singing unpretentious tales about the dreams and tedium that comes with being young, and tearing down the culture of wealth and excess glorified by the majority of chart-topping artists on her compelling debut album. Taking influence from R&B, hip-hop and pop, Joel Little’s production is the heartbeat behind the soulful lyrics, giving us atmospheric waves of backing synth and repetitive percussion. In the same vein as The XX, it’s minimal but effective – every detail can be noticed, and the exquisite layering acts as the perfect bed for Lorde’s soulful and husky tones. Her love of language comes through in brilliant lyrics, which are smart and almost startlingly on-point. The fact that Lorde is so young – she only recently turned seventeen – should not become a focal point however. The album is remarkable, not only because it comes from a teenager, but because it is original, a welcome antidote to the repetitive and uninspiring music that dominates the genre. Regardless of her age, Lorde’s Pure Heroine is a brilliant debut that puts a lot of credibility back into pop music today. [LB]
A Crack In The Glass Eye
Being awarded the UK City of Culture Prize for 2017 is not the only surprise coming from Hull: A Crack in the Glass Eye, by Hull-based musician Chris Norrison and his new backing band, is a small delight. From a relaxed folk base, they kick up some Pavement-esque noise on songs such as ‘Weapons for the dance’, or create a sweet gem like ‘Kicking the Engine’. Foolish Atoms don’t raise their voices; it is almost like they’re about to enter the ‘rock song room’ and always decide to come back. There is little effort to hide their debt to Murmur-era R.E.M. and there’s the odd hint of The Velvet Underground: but apart from this Foolish Atoms do not really sound like anybody else except themselves, surely a good sign. They definitely grow with a second listening too; so find a lazy Sunday (easier to come by now exams are done), crawl under the covers and enjoy some heart-filling music while you hear the sound of the rain outside. Because it will inevitably rain, let’s not fool ourselves. [AV]
14 • qmunicate
qqqqq As you’re reading this, perhaps in the library; dreaming of your damp flat and the cuppa soups you’ve got waiting for you at home; there’s a nineteen year old lad who has made more money in the last year than you perhaps ever will. However, it’s all for a good cause as his music is insanely catchy; illuminating pure and raw talent. You may have heard of him.
Produced by Rick Rubin, Jake Bugg has now released his second album, packed with seriously good guitar riffs and tuneful lyrics. It gets better though: he’s already brought One Direction down to their knees in a musical feud. Though perhaps a step back from his enormously electrifying first album he still shows no signs of stopping, belting through experimental folk, skiffle tunes and love songs that still prove better than most songwriters twice his age. One for your download list would be ‘Slumville Sunrise’, a perfect rendition of the Buggmeister’s gravelled voice and catchy guitar sounds which will have the whole family nodding along. Shangri La is not so loud but oh so remarkable. [EH]
Join The Dots
Returning with their second album in as many years Join the Dots sees Toy trying new approaches to song construction and writing. ‘Conductor’ surges with the motorik intensity of ‘Kopter’ from their first album. Oscillating fairy-tale ambience from Alejandra Diaz’s synthesizers drags the listener into a room of pulsating bass, dark guitar fluctuations and shaking drums. Tracks like ‘You Won’t be the same’ and ‘Endlessly’ which wrap Dominic O Dair’s bright guitar scales around Tom Dougall’s lonesome vocals explore a world of pain. Elsewhere you can feel the enjoyment and pace from the band themselves as Charlie Salvidge’s ever progressive percussion pushes them on. The final track ‘Fall out of Love’ enters into that psychedelic longing that is a favourite for Toy fans but this time combines so much more. Not only do we feel the woeful loss through harmonic guitars and vocals, but we also enter into a realm of orchestral synth progressions and heavy fuzzed effects later on. Toy keep their listeners regularly entertained with frequent releases. Join the Dots sees them pushing out from the shadows, and taking their place at the forefront of a new explosion in experimental guitar music. [AC]
MUSIC: LIVE FACTORY FLOOR Stereo, 06/12 Opening for Factory Floor tonight is London born William Doyle A.K.A East India Youth. His own, eminently danceable yet original brand of electronica veers between mighty, textured synth-scapes and distorted, crackling house and techno influenced beats, infused with a sense of ecstatic insanity that seems to come from within Doyle himself. Looking extraordinarily dapper in a shirt and jacket, Doyle begins his set in a very concentrated, reticent manner, tapping a few keys here, twisting a couple of knobs there. Gradually however, as the music builds and becomes more frenzied, so does its creator, and by the end of his set he is throwing himself around the stage, arms and legs flailing like a demented Ian Curtis. With his debut full length, ‘Total Strife Forever’, due in January, he is definitely one to watch.
why as soon as Factory Floor begin, their unique blend of acidflecked industrial techno getting the crowd going. Their heavier than thou bass lines sync with a universal groove that pulses through the audience, making for a euphoric party atmosphere. Live, they are looser and more experimental than on record, whilst still retaining the driving sense of direction that inhabits their music.
Their aim to destroy the stigma behind live dance music is truly realised in Gabe Guernsey’s incredibly tight drumming and Nik Colk’s Dadaist inspired guitar work. With such an atmosphere in the audience, it’s easy to wonder how the band can be so serious, but such thoughts immediately disappears as Dominic Butler looks up from his desk and breaks Tonight is a complete sell-out and into a huge grin. Effortlessly fusing evidently in hot demand judging rock, dance and electronica, by the desperate appeals for tickets tonight’s show is what exciting online minutes before the show is live music is all about. due to start. It is easy to understand [Cosmo Stott]
‘heavier than thou bass lines sync with a universal groove that pulses through the audience’
It is safe to say that The Courteeners attract a crowd of dickheads. The girls need to invest in a hairbrush and the boys need to learn that it’s not acceptable to take your top off whilst keeping your sunglasses on indoors.
‘Usually when we play there’s like, 50 people standing awkwardly round the edge of the room…’ The crowd’s overwhelmingly enthusiastic reaction to Yorkshire duo Drenge certainly took vocalist/guitarist Eoin Loveless by surprise then. ‘Playing to a youthful crowd was cool, and tonight was the best gig we’ve ever played in Glasgow’, he said.
‘Wait, hasn’t this just been on?’ Interestingly, when at one point the riffs and instruments sounded pretty good and foot-tappingly worthy; they’d been ripped off from some other, significantly better band. Fans had paid thirty quid a ticket to listen to Kasabian The Manc band are impressive in or The Libertine’s good guitar the sense that their fans are like pieces with dreadful vocal overlay. a cult following - monotonously Oozing arrogance Liam took miming lyrics that centre stage for a simpleton seems a pitiful acoustic to have written. set that was as Lead singer Liam limp as a dead Fray begins the night by striding fish. This vanity was something onto the stage, having spent more the Gallaghers would be proud of time on his hair than all of the girls but to say this band is anything at in the room collectively. His set was all like Oasis would be the greatest like a slowing moving car that hits form of flattery and delusion. every set of traffic lights; frustrating and pointlessly anticlimactic. The All in all The Courteeners have only exciting part of the night was the spirit to be a pretty decent when his ‘fans’ threw pints at him, support band, knowing how to resulting in a trail of hilariously work up a crowd. But if one is Mancunian expletives. Clearly the brutally honest, the metalheads perpetrator had wised up. that were playing in the bar where post gig pints were occurring Sadly The Courteeners discography were miles better. And thirty quid is more or less identical, and cheaper. instigating several moments of [Emmie Harrison]
‘as limp as a dead fish’
Qudos, QMU, 30/11
The bands’ stage presence was quite something and there were quite a few hilarious moments, the best being when the singer dramatically threw his water bottle cap across the stage. The pair’s hair was also quite a prominent feature of the performance – with drummer Rory hiding behind his the entire set, and Eoin swishing about so energetically that it was quite exhausting to watch. Are Drenge the next big thing or just two teenage wannabes? Only time will tell– all that’s clear at the moment is that these guys make a hell of a lot of noise for just two people and their angst ridden music is crazily fun to dance to.
Nonetheless nothing about these guys could ever compete with the sheer beauty that is Peace. The floodlights fill the stage, illuminating singer Harrison Koisser in a space age, sparkly polo neck shining like ‘diamonds in the dark’ and as they began to play, everyone in the audience fell In Love. The quirky quartet from Worcester mix together modern influences such as Foals and Wu Lyf, with older influences to create a dreamy, hazy, Summer of Love feeling. Consisting of brothers Harrison (vocals, guitar) and Samuel Koisser (bass) alongside Douglas Castle (guitar) Dominic Boyce (drums), the four-piece create a picture of perfection with their fabulous hair and floaty, summery vibes that was much needed on a cold winters night in Glasgow. By the end of the night everyone leaving the QMU, was dazed and more than a little bit Lovesick for Peace. [Alice Lannon]
qmunicate • 15
...In Association With THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE
Joseph Nelson gets to the heart of the blockbusting second installment Last year, I reviewed the first film in this franchise (find the review online!), based on Suzanne Collins’ book, and was expecting a Battle Royale rip-off. I was wrong. Rather than making an example of naughty children, The Hunger Games are an exercise in oppressive power relations. Having emerged as co-Victor of the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss now lives a life of fame and riches. This changes when President Snow arrives at her house, informing her he knows her and Peeta’s relationship is a sham, and that people are beginning to see their victory not as an expression of love, but of protest. Departing on a Victors’ Tour, Katniss and Peeta now try to convince the people of Panem otherwise, in fear of the all-powerful President’s threats. Of course, plans go awry, and Katniss becomes a figurehead of rebellion whether she wants it or not. To stop revolution, Snow fixes the Games so Katniss is forced to compete again, along with other previous victors, who all feel, understandably, betrayed. Without spoiling anymore, this is where the film gets political to the point of inflammatory. The focus is less on the Games, and more on
the effects they have on those who come out alive. Katniss struggles with PTSD, another competitor has lost an arm, and two are drug addicts. Besides the obvious analogy to the horrors of war (bring tissues for Jennifer Lawrence’s speech in District 8...well all scenes in District 8 really), it becomes more clear in this film effect the destructive dictatorship has. This film could turn the most politically ignorant of viewers into an armchair activist, as soon as you realise that the entire film is a reality. Citizens of the Capitol are the Bourgeoisie, hidden away in their riches and ignorant to the plight of those less fortunate because the only interaction they have with them is a picture painted by biased media *cough*Murdoch*cough*. The movie’s tagline is ‘Remember who the Enemy Is’, and maybe rather than hate the rich, we could all realise it’s the system that made them that way that’s the problem (I’m not even a Socialist, honest). Or you could just watch it for all the pretty people, who are all basically realistic representations of a healthy body image. Except for Liam Hemsworth. Nobody can be that pretty in real life. [Joseph Nelson]
THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG
Louisa Burden on trilogies and love triangles in Peter Jackson’s most recent Peter Jackson’s second instalment to The Hobbit trilogy knocks its predecessor out of the water. The soundtrack and scenery are as beautiful as always, but The Desolation of Smaug gets started a lot quicker than An Unexpected Journey, the action is a lot more fast and frequent, and while there are a couple of slower moments, the three hours go by a lot faster than they did the last time. The casting is impeccable for this film. Martin Freeman plays Bilbo perfectly; Richard Armitage is great as Thorin Oakenshield; Benedict Cumberbatch lends his voice magnificently to the dragon Smaug; and Ian McKellen is, well, Ian McKellen. So what is really disappointing is the fact that pretty much any opportunity for character development is wasted. Bilbo who this film should centre around, I mean the trilogy is named after him – takes a back seat in favour of the fast-paced plot and the added elven drama and love triangle. Don’t get me wrong, everybody loves a bit of Legolas. His
16 • qmunicate
fight scenes are badass, and his cheekbones are flawless. But the fact that his character had to be added to the film is a blatant sign that the original plot has been stretched a bit too thin for a trilogy. Saying that, that is my only major criticism. The times we do see Martin Freeman he is giving a stellar performance, expertly depicting the influence that the ring is beginning to have on Bilbo and his relationship with the dwarves. The dragon sequence also steals the show. The CGI, Cumberbatch’s voice, and Martin Freeman’s reactions all come together to create a chilling and visually stunning climax to the film. All in all, The Desolation of Smaug is worth the watch. It’s a step up from An Unexpected Journey, and leaves you excited for what’s to come. [Louisa Burden]
ARTS AND CULTURE Testimonium: Every House Has a Door Lin Hixson, 23rd November, Tramway Testimonium is preceded by ushers handing out earplugs. Usually this is due to a threat of loud noises-related injury, however here the reason seems to be to allow the audience simply to tune out: if not so offensive as to be injurious, Testimonium is not always worth listening to.
Saner) and music (the band, Joan of Arc) explore Reznkioff’s poems. They do not map onto each other and the resulting fragmentation doesn’t allow the audience to make meaning. Together, the performance and the audience are exhaustingly emptied of meaning and energy.
The performance is a response to the objectivist poet, Charles Reznkioff’s Testimony collection; poems which detail stories of workplace negligence and violence he came across whilst working on court records from in early 20th century America. The courtroom does not often grace the stage and there is perhaps a reason for this. While the artifice of lawyers can be exploited admirably, there is little Art to be found there. Law books are not the place to look for poetry, a point noted by Reznkioff who looked for stories and life in testimony.
Saner’s stories are grim and told with a solemnity which leaves no room for emotion.
Meanwhile Fiehn’s movement sequences on the stark stage are at times engrossing, but either wind themselves up only to unravel again, or end abruptly; smacking to the floor. The whole thing is uncomfortable and draining: Fiehn puts on shoes in buckets of water, runs, falls, removes said shoes and dons a grand total of eleven pairs of socks. These moments are punctuated with turns from the band who play original songs throughout. None of them are particularly inspiring. In fact, the performance is characterised by a distinct lack of poetry and a pronounced unloveliness. But then, perhaps they have made their tuneless point: I hope I have adequately demonstrated my emptiness | I hope you have evidence enough to numerate your ruminations. [Caitlin MacColl]
Unfortunately, while stories find their way into the performance, life does not. Movement (Stephen Fiehn), words (Bryan
STaG Nights: Welcome Back to Childhood STaG, 22nd November, Maryhill Burgh Hall
‘Let your inner child out to play, let the wild rumpus start!’ STaG Nights’ ‘Welcome back to Childhood’ extravaganza certainly did not fail to deliver its promise. All in all it was an exhilarating, colourful and unexpectedly thought provoking evening of performance at Maryhill Burgh Theatre. Immediately upon entering the space the audience were greeted with a hit of nostalgia: cheerful 90s cheese from the talented STaG band, clips of old time kids classics like Pingu and Toy Story on a loop on screen and two clowns who ran around the crowd causing general hilarity. Amongst the audience were audible cries of ‘oh my goodness Powerpuff Girls!” and “I loved S Club 7!’ as all us 90s kids sank into a reverie of glory days gone by. The first of the three plays then, was not the kind of slapstick affair that was expected instead Doctors and Nurses turned out to be an insightful, thought provoking portrayal of the deep scars that run through family life and their continuing effects on us as adults.
Things got darker in the next play, Betwixt Good and Evil- ‘satire of Nietzche’s philosophy dramatised through a murder plot’ - was basically a bloodbath of a play. It wasn’t quite apparent what this had to do with childhood, a possible downfall of STaG Nights as a themed festival where the performances themselves do not have to fit the theme. However it certainly made fantastic theatre- gripping and funny, yet still completely shocking and twisted. Finally, keeping in the spirit of the evening getting weirder and wilder as time went on it closed on Plutonic Relations- an ecstasy of glitter, screaming and cake. I’m not sure if the audience were more confused by the opening “hymn” (read: strange wailing and chanting), which they were made to stand for or by the chocolate cake that the white underwear clad duo smeared all over themselves whilst screaming. Although no one knew what was going on, it still looked like fun. A thoroughly enjoyable evening was had by audience and performers alike. [Alice Lannon]
qmunicate • 17
BT LANDS THE FIRST BLOW
Keshav Kapoor on the repercussions of subscription broadcasting After a sluggish start to its broadcasting campaign, BT certainly upped the ante when chief executives put in a £897 million bid for the Champions League rights from ITV and Sky. From 2014 ITV will therefore lose its flagship sports show. Adrian Chiles will morph into the more appeasing Jake Humphrey and no doubt a swanky new studio will add up to a slick new broadcast. BT’s acquisition of these rights is not critiqued by a nation mourning the end of Wednesday nights in with Mr Chiles, but because free to view sport is becoming more and more scarce; a fact unlikely to change. More families are having to prioritise
spending and something like sky sports is not the top of everyone’s lists. Freeview television is slowly retracting its selection of listings, gradually creating a slight elitism in who can view major sporting events. The money will create an inevitable boost for European football in which top clubs will profit. However, what of the local clubs who are struggling for funding? The more money being thrown at football leads to clubs operating beyond their means and creating a debt culture, which isn’t sustainable with the fragility of the economy.
BT sport increases competition within the market which can only be good for consumers in the long run. Sky is no longer running the show and charging ridiculous prices to do so. Will the introduction of BT therefore bring the price down or will both firms just engage in a bidding war? All factors taken into account it is safe to say that football is not the working man’s game but simply a mere playground for large broadcasting companies to throw money at each other in the battle for supremacy. [Keshav Kapoor]
It must be said that the introduction of
HIGH FLYING IN SCOTSTOUN
Nicola McGlynn on the trampoline club’s successes As the 1st of December descended on Glasgow so did the second SSS League competition and 100+ students ready to bounce at our new home Scotstoun. As always the competition was accompanied by a themed night out, with each team bonding in the garb of their favourite Childhood story. After a long lie the competition kicked of at 2.30pm with Novice Ladies, Intermediate men and Advanced Ladies, Glasgow had some interest in all three categories and we did not let ourselves down, Charlotte McQuillan came an amazing 6th and Ruth Whitehead 7th in a very large Novice Ladies category, Niall O’Neill came 2nd in Advanced men (after coming 1st at the Scottish National Championships the week before) and Courtney Flanders receiving another gold medal but in Intermediate Men this time.
18 • qmunicate
Next up were Advanced ladies where Nicola McGlynn achieved a bronze medal in a very strong category. Paige Winspear, Emel Barbirou and Kelly Willett all competed next in an extremely strong Intervanced Ladies category. All did excellently, displaying rapturous skill with Paige walking away with another gold medal, Emel coming 6th and Kelly coming 9th. The last to compete were Intermediate Ladies where Erin Thomson completed her first ever trampoline competition, and Elite men where Michael Fenton came second and our old captain Ben Searle came 1st. The team managed to walk away with a gold medal and the club left the competition taking the front-runners spot in the SSS Trampoline League. Well done to everyone who competed at the Glasgow competition especially to those whose first competition it was. The next competition is The Scottish Student Trampoline Open, the biggest in Scotland,
held in Edinburgh in February, giving everyone plenty of time to keep up the good work and show everyone what GUTC is made of.