When My Bloody Valentine made their triumphant return in 2013, the shoegaze world raised their mumbled voices enough for the sound to leave their shadowed houses. The download site for the band’s new album, m b v, crashed the moment the album was released. They embody the alt rock variant with ease, teaming up with other ’80s bands Slowdive, Lush, and Ride to bring drone riffs and walls of noise to the mainstream. As niche as they originally seem, subgenres have a strange way of lasting, and shoegaze in particular has become an undeniable staple in music history. As the decades have passed, they eventually lowered their goblet to let other subgenres sweep in. Now, over 30 years later, there’s a miniature revival occurring, and shoegaze dream pop act A Sunny Day in Glasgow are quietly bringing it back.
With a new generation scouring music reviews comes a new generation of fans. Great Scott has a tendency to host late shows, but that didn’t stop a line from snaking around before doors. Usual shoegaze staples–entirely black outfits, tall men, shaggy hair–were replaced with loose-fitting vintage shirts and bright-eyed teenagers. While the expected 30-and-older crowd was present, a younger group was early as well.
So goes life’s natural changes. Silent head-bobbing was replaced with enthusiastic dancing, a small group of drugged-out teens taking their reigns in the front row. They flailed to both openers, heavily engaged despite not knowing a single song. The first act, New York City rockers Wins, were busy putting on their second show ever. Opening with an energetic song whose warped pedals recalled a lolling El Ten Eleven, Wins created a musical melting pot. Considering their bassist looked like a waiter just let off of her job, the guitarist donned a black hooded t-shirt like a metalhead in summertime, and their drummer was the splitting image of Patrick Carney as a freshman, the trio’s odd variations fit. Then when Creepoid took the stage after, the audience continued to waggle, this time to much harsher, grungier rock. For the younger members of the crowd, there were just enough bending guitars to get them moving like it was Loveless.
It was headliners A Sunny Day in Glasgow, though, who were the most eager to get moving. From the first measures of “In Love With Useless,” singers Annie Fredrickson and Jen Goma splurged on small jumps, hopping in place with their lips brushing against the microphones, contagious grins spread wide. After drawing in band members from Philly, Brooklyn, and Sydney, they have a cultural openness to them. There’s no stereotype tag to be taped on their backs. A Sunny Day in Glasgow layer duel guitars with duel vocals, making the most of a six person band, and their newfound success from Sea When Absent stems from the flexibility and ease of movement each song beckons.
Don’t fret; seeing a shoegaze act finally raise their chins to make eye contact with the crowd is still bashful. The sweet tinkling of “Double Dutch” and deep cut “Nitetime Rainbows” let them stew in their lush side, and every member seemed to twist with the freshly-broken nerves of My Bloody Valentine. They brought waves of volume to Great Scott, but what makes this new generation of shoegaze stand out is that, above all, they were happy. If not evident in their faces, it was there in their star-shaped tambourine and multicolored drum set. Every member was visibly stoked to be there, except for (maybe) the guitarist in the back corner who looked equal parts sleepy and focused.
The few times Fredrickson and Goma both grabbed their microphones to face one another, it felt like karaoke. The difference lays in the night. This wasn’t a sloppy Friday or a drunken Saturday. It was a Sunday night of vengeance, both women fueled with a fill of rebellion and idontgiveafucks. “This is way better than watching you on YouTube,” someone in the audience yelled out. Although each member was too timid to shout out a response, their communal grin was an appropriate answer. The ’80s may have been a while ago, but A Sunny Day in Glasgow are giving today’s generation the shoegaze they never thought they would see live.