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falkirk music venues Gigs music The Falkirk Music Scene weird decibels 21 years

Falkirk Live Venues Past and Present. part 2 Firkins

Pabs looks at another iconic venue of Falkirk

Thanks to falkirkmusicscene Eddie McKenzie and David M Lowe. The historic content of this blog is sourced from this wonderful site

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On the corner of Vicar Street.

Where Melville Street and Vicar Street meet there is a corner and in this corner there is a bar called Freebird. Once it was called Burns Bar then Firkins which was our era. This pub would become one of Falkirk’s most loved music venues, not only for live bands but for those who liked to pump pound coins into, what was, the best jukebox in town. Many local musicians would converge on this corner of Falkirk and became a focal point for the formation of bands.

According to the wonderful but underused Falkirkmusicscene website The Burns bar was a venue for folk acts in the 70’s and 80’s. Davy Waugh started to promote blue bands before the Happening Club seeds were sown in 1987. The Burns bar changed names to Firkins in 1988. I was only 11 years of age when this re-branding took place, I would frequent the establishment some 8 years later and it would have a massive influence on my music and that of the band.

According to the falkirkmusicscene site (it will be a crime if this is lost) there were occasional bands played between 1997 and 2005, Punk bands like our friends Rabid Dogs would become the mainstay of the venue in future years.

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I tried! I Tried the Easy Way!

It was in 2004 that we played a gig at our favourite pub (later we would play alongside Kranksolo). We were playing our comeback album One More Solo live. Our friend Kevin Byrne opened up for us with some acoustic songs. After he finished we headed to the make shift stage. We were cramped into the corner of the venue, tripping over each other. The place was hot and sweaty, with only the house lights on, there was no place to hide. The background was the large corner windows so passers by could catch a glimpse of us rocking out the Easy Way.

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Kevin belts out a few tunes

Firkins was an amazing place to drink in the late 90’s and early 00’s. On Weekdays when I should’ve been at college, I would blether with the late Chris Masson of the band Cage. As the week wore on Fridays would be a whole night playing tunes on the jukebox and Saturdays would be a meet and greet warm up before most of us would head down to Pennies (more on this venue at a later date).

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Guess the tee shirt caption

The pub would be packed, not something that has been seen for years. People would sit on the floor, you knew everyone and you felt at ease. This was a crowd of people who repelled the dance scene of Falkirk. I was also Virtua Tennis champ, the arcade which starred Tim Henman and Tommy Haas (who I picked), this helped forge friendships.

One night in I headed into Firkins alone, I headed towards my usual spot on the bar to order a Calders 70. I was always confident that I would meet someone I knew. However a beautiful woman caught the corner of my eye. Her elegance made her stand out amid the hustle of the pub. This woman would eventually become my wife.

Slowly the crowds moved on and the pub lost its feel. Firkins became a shell of what it once was.I’d revisit occasionally just for was last taste of the old atmosphere but it was gone. Then the old corner window from which you would watch the traffic go past, got smashed boarded up and never replaced.

Firkins closed and was reopened as Freebird.

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Drinks on the cover and drinks in the album. This is a wee table in the quiet corner of Firkins. Firkin Outburst plays here

 

 

 

Categories
photographs

Whapper Snappers

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One of the first pictures of a young Weird, probably taken by my mum. Pabs

When we started the band in 1995 legacy was not at the front of our minds indeed we were keen to break into the mainstream and become a successful band. Well that dream still floats somewhere between fantasy and madness. 21 years have passed and we enjoy playing in the band more than ever. We have albums and clippings from the papers, scribbled setlists to show our kids, we have a history.

A massive part of our history is the photographs, especially the group pictures or the shoots of us live. I cannot thank enough the photographers who have taken our portraits over the years. So this article is a dedication to the guys and gals who have shaped our image from photoshoots to live captures. Legends.

The Whapper Snappers

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Kevin Byrne is a very patient photographer who will often dismiss the band when they say they are happy with a picture and continue to take pictures. Here he is with us at the Cavern in Liverpool around March 2006

Kevin Byrne. Long time friend of the band Kevin has offered us advice since day one. He tears what is left of his hair out when we fail to build on any momentum we ever create. He has taken photographs for years; he took things more seriously 4 years ago when he studied the discipline of photography in Glasgow. He moved to Ettn Luer (a beautiful small suburb in Holland) for employment in photography and snapped some stunning pieces of work. Now he is back home and regularly displays his portraits to eager audiences the latest was the successful Red display.

Kevin has snapped us on several occasions. Some of his work at the ABC2 was iconic and who can forget the ‘lithgae’ snap that would be used several times in our local paper and in our promo work.

 

Eindp Photography AKA Rory. Rory has snapped bands for some time now, he tirelessly frequents many venues to professionally snap bands that normally would not be exposed to this sort of photography. He is an avid supporter of the Falkirk Music Scene (and beyond, basically he stands up for the wee guys), attends many local gigs and there is a high chance you will hear the click of his shutter as the artists play.

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a familiar sight for artists playing live across Scotland, Rory behind the lens. Pic Sweet P Photography

Rory first snapped us in Stirling playing at the Oxjam festival, he since has shot us at North Star and he has kindly shared his work for our blog. I caught up with him once, up at Behind the Wall and you could not fault his enthusiasm. Rory is a musician in his own right occasionally strumming the guitar at the various acoustic gatherings now frequenting the Falkirk scene.

 

Juls Sampson. Juls is a magnificent supporter of the band and has been from day one back in ’95, both her and her husband Phil and daughter Paige are great friends of ours. Juls has taken many pictures of Weird. The Sampson clan have been to many of our gigs over the years and Juls has taken many snaps that we look fondly back on. She took the pics that we used for our rare live album recorded at the Argyle in 2010.

 

Neil Henderson. Neil was a frequent attendee of the Falkirk scene for many years. He was part of the Happening Club. While we played Neil could be seen darting through various parts of the venue to take ever elaborate shots. Neil’s work can be found on the sleeve of both Coldhome Street and more significantly the portraits in Weird Decibels 1 inside sleeve.

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Neil went on to snap several bands throughout the metal hardcore scene. Most notable was his work for Attica Rage (with whom we played a gig in Glasgow Uni).

Notable others

Gary Ivady took some dynamic pics at North Star among other pictures of us live

 

Kenichi images took some great  stills from our gig at ABC 2 which were a highlight of our time in Glasgow promoting Weird Decibels 1

Iain Constable who shot the pictures used for the original Firkin Outburst photoshoot; these pictures were taken on the old railway track that would become the Camelon bypass. Iain also shot some of our earliest videos from the Martell

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That old bridge is now the blue bridge on the Camelon bypass

 

Categories
Gigs retro corner

Weird Decibels talk Gigs!

By the time you read this we are about to, or will have played Jims Bar at the QMU in Glasgow (june 21st 2014), So below is a recount of some of our gigs, in no particular order we include the finest, the worst and the strangest moments from our time on the stage.

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Greg at the ABC2 2013

 

Classic. 1996 Martell Falkirk Battle of the Bands Quarter Finals. We had just started playing and our heads were full of dreams. Greg, Stu and I had just left school to go to college and Derek, the youngster was still growing cress on the carpet of the common room in Larbert high School. Three teenage kids and a fresh 20-year-old took to the stage to one of our biggest and most eager crowds. The place was packed, i couldn’t see anything from the glare of the lights but every time we finished a song the place erupted. It was the start of our dream.

Weird. 1996 A Field in Crossgates.. Chris from Cage phones us. ‘Hey guys want to stand in for us? Its a biker rally festival in Crossgates’  I thought biker rally = really drunk moshers + our brand of rock + festival = riot of a gig. When we turned up, it was a field full of cow shit. We were directed to the ‘stage’. The power generator was louder than us. The crowd was a single mother bouncing her baby up and down on her knee. The rocking bikers stayed outside playing spin around the stick whilst drinking whiskey. Stu and Derek were happy though, they sat and ate a bag of onion rings and drank  cheep beer…

Great Gig. 2013  Oran Mor, Glasgow.

A pensive Weird Decibels
A pensive Weird Decibels

 

Superb gig in the basement of Oran Mor. We supported Life On Standby who are now doing very well, that night they played a fine set to a growing audience. We went on halfway through the night. It was a great crowd really up for it. Our album Weird Decibels 1 was doing well and we were getting into the swing of playing it live. The sound was simply amazing, one of he best live sounds we have ever had. Annie Walker was kind enough to take some brilliant photos and through this gig we got a slot on the Third Classic ticket radio show run by Tommy Clark. One of those great nights.

 

 

 

 

Bad gig. The Cathouse Glasgow. A pay to play gig. Hate them. These days they still do them but in a more subtle way. We sold a few tickets and paid to play only for the bouncers to refuse entry to most of the people who had travel through to see us. Derek was raging, he can be heard venting his anger on a live recording which appears on our official bootleg. The place was nearly empty, it was a real setback for the band.

Great Gig 2009, The Argyll Falkirk.

Derek setting up the kit for Tonight Live Not Completely Sold Out
Derek setting up the kit for Tonight Live Not Completely Sold Out

 

In the ‘slender’ years between ‘Quiet Act’ and ‘Weird Decibels 1’ we were writing the new album and played a handful of gigs at various venues around our home town of Falkirk. Derek owned the Argyll pub at this time so it was an ideal opportunity for us to organise our own gigs. This meant we could use all our own gear and record our performance. We recorded this gig in question, this would eventually become ‘Tonight! Live! Not Completely Sold Out! A mixture of covers, old songs and four new tracks that would appear on WdB1. It was our faithful crowd who have followed us from day one and it was a great laugh. Keep an eye on Bandcamp, I’ll upload these tracks very soon. https://weirddecibels.bandcamp.com/

 

 

 

 

Weird but brilliant. around early 2000’s My Parents Garden at a BBQ. A gigs a gig! Stu reminded me of this one. My parents held a BBQ every year and asked us to play a wee acoustic gig which we happily agreed. I took down the 4 track and flung a few mics around. The gig started well with cheers and laughs, that is until we played the Ace of Spades on acoustic guitars! The recording was great until my Dad started trying  to break a big block of ice cubes which was picked up on the recording, and yes it was out of time…

Classic Gig. Around 2005. The Path Tavern. Kirkcaldy. The venue may be closed and turned into a restaurant but the memories will remain. We played with Kranksolo, our two bands formed a fine friendship and shared a few gigs. 13 Tombs supported. They were superb, the singer had these massive boots that lit up. He looked like dynamo from Running Man. It was a small but fantastic crowd, they dug our music which at the time was One More Solo. We sold a few albums and we were even asked to sign them! Greg drove us back in the ‘Vulture’ old Vauxhall Carlton automatic. It took all the gear, three drunk band members and a sober bass player.

 

 Bad Gig, But Great experience. Around 2005. The Cavern. Liverpool.

Weird Rock the Cavern, the easy way...
Weird Rock the Cavern, the easy way…

 

Contradiction perhaps but this was one of the most memorable experiences for the band. We even saw the ‘Beatles’. In our desire to expand to other countries, starting with England Greg managed to get us a gig in the world-famous venue the Carvern home of a band called the Beatles. Quite good actually. On the road down Derek nearly broke his hand when Greg decided his stricken limb looked good as a door stop. It was a Back To The Future moment when Kevin Byrne was considered to stand in. The gig itself was empty, everyone was watching the Beatles, we discovered that night that most people listen to music they are familiar with. One the road back I needed to pee really bad as we had been drinking all night. I’m not sure why I’m mentioning this but it is scorched in my memory how long Greg made me wait… Thanks to Neil Henderson and Kevin Byrne who came down and took the photos.

 

Great Gig. 2013 ABC 2 Glasgow.

Rocking the ABC2
Rocking the ABC2

 

2013 was a great year for us live, the ABC 2 was a great gig. the sound the crowd and our performance ensured a great night. It was the first time we actually had a proper merch stand. Yes we have been together nearly 20 years but it takes us time to catch on… It was at this gig we played a brand new song Miss Asphyxia from our future album Weird Decibels 2. It seemed to herald in a new chapter for the band. The fact that it went down well was fantastic. There is a back stage room with a fridge which 5 years ago we would’ve filled with beer, however…it was not to be.

 

 

 

 

We are a small but perfectly formed rock band, there are no major venues with packed crowds. However we love playing live and every Monday when we return to our jobs, surrounded by the sound of keyboards typing furious emails and office workers sniping we can look back on these times with pleasure and indeed look forward. We never know what is around the corner, maybe when we step from backstage one day and see a wee venue packed with our friends and our fans. We play live 22nd August 2014,  13th  Note Glasgow. Make an unforgettable night with us. 

I finish with;

Ten Facts about Weird Decibels live

  1. Waiting On the Sound of Your High Heels Baby from One More Solo is our most played song.
  2. Dave Broon was our manager for a night, at a gig in Edinburgh, he paid us with a beer. Legend.
  3. A couple got ‘frisky’ when we played ‘Glass People’ at McSorley’s in Glasgow.
  4. The venue we have played most is still the Martell, Falkirk.
  5. Our sound checks take 2 minutes. Plug in. Play.
  6. I have broken one stage (the Martell)
  7. Derek winds the band up by getting changed into gig clothes during the walk on music.
  8. Stu averages around 3 devil signs per song, one during solo. God.
  9. Greg doesn’t need a setlist as he does not know the name of our songs.
  10. Phil and Juls Sampson have been to the most Weird Decibel gigs. Legends. In fact all of our hardcore fans are brilliant people.
  11. Wilson, our friend and a fan of the band has a Weird Decibels Tattoo. Nothing to do with gigs. But thought I’d mention it.

Pabs.

Phil, one of our greatest fans and a friend of the band.
Phil, one of our greatest fans and a friend of the band.