So last week one of my favourite bands came all the way from the American midwest to play in the UK. I discovered Freakwater back in 1990, courtesy of an Iowa City barfly with a fine taste in music who made me a mixtape of tunes which I still play and love, and among whose tracks Freakwater’s Family Tradition was but one.
Somehow they became a soundtrack to my life – from crying in my beer over unrequited love to spitting with righteous feminine fury, from the misery of an unravelling marriage to the stony fear of facing down penniless single parenthood with a tiny baby in my arms, from political outrage to purely existential struggle: it was weird, they seemed to have a song for anything I could come up with. And most of all, they stood and still do stand for me as a heroes: women living by their wits and their creativity, drawing beautiful music out of the deepest well there is: darkness and pain.
I’ve seen them perform a couple times in Chicago, back in the day, but never here. How supercool then for them to journey all the way to Glasgow. (Incidentally thank you Worth for pointing it out! It would surely have passed me by otherwise.)
So: a trek over from Edinburgh after work, into a dim basement venue with a pitiful show of attendance. What the fuck, Glasgow?! Of all places you’d think in Glasgow there’d be a decent turnout, what with its underground country streak. Even the guy sitting next to me had also come over from Edinburgh (geez they should’ve just played there) and he was likewise bewildered by the relative smallness of the crowd. They deserved better. Oh well. It was “intimate” – good for a gig, right? At least I had a good view of the badly-lit stage, as the below clip will show. Apologies for the visuals – my phone is pretty rubbish, and the venue messed up their stage lights – but the song itself is lovely. Thank you Freakwater for visiting Scotland. I won’t blame you if you never come back to this seriously unappreciative country, but I am grateful that you made the trip and that I managed to catch the show.