Stetsonhead – Marketbar 22-02-2019

Reading Time: 5 minutes

When Trouble Came to town – StetsonHead at the MarketBar, 22nd February, 2019

  • By Cornwallace

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Preach muthafucker!! Preach to the converted!!

So, a touch of background. We at the Nettle got our wee heads together and realised that it had been a bit of time since an actual music review.

There’s been gobs going on in the background, forefront of this being Bastard Wordiness. But still, we are here to serve. We wanna give. We also wanna spout our shit and even maybe direct people to see some good fucking music in Inverness.
To fold names of bands into the warm snug recesses of their/ your mind, and have people pull this information out when thinking of heading into town, hopefully improving their night and the size of the audience for the band(s) as a result.

So there’s some (pretty hazy) theory as above, and then there is the chance to act it out in practice.

Once I heard that StetsonHead were going to be playing at the Market, I felt the worlds mentioned above neatly align.
It would only be a matter of getting over my own inertia and do what I knew I wanted to do, and see who I wanted to see.And Holy Mother of God, this was one of those nights where I thanked my own lazy arse for detaching off the sofa and heading out.
Yes, yes, and fucking YES!! Smart move for once!! Fuck these guys are worth the watch.

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Things starting to heat up, dancing starting, drums getting hit hard and often.

I have seen StetsonHead a few times, but over the last year it was probably just snippets of a song or 2 here and there. Mistakes of lack of planning and late arrival providing assurance that my opinion still held on them, and that I was needing to see them once again.

Heading into town, I knew that this was going to be a night for mischief. It was in the air.
The young kids jumping over the fence to trespass and affect their own version of chicanery as I walked over the Castle. The rowdy bottleneck outside of Lauders and spilling up across or through Baron Taylor. People wrestling in the street, or walking and singing in happy packs.
Swinging into the wee Market Bar lane to head in and first sight being a genuinely impressive vomit spray – sizeable, but thoughtfully aimed in the corner at least. Maybe that was going to be the signifier indicated the balance of potential for the night. Works for me, thinking back on it.

Heading up the stairs and the thumping, grinding bass and drive of the drums starts vibrating the shenanigan genes in me bones, and when someone above me on the stairs opens up the door and actually lets the volume contained within out, this is ratcheted up 3-4 notches. A need to bop my head with beer in hand. It wasn’t just a thought now, an inkling, it was being tapped into and amplified as full blown desire.

As I feed through the door about 30 minute into the set (if they started on time, I don’t know that), they were in full flight. And the first lyrics heard were those in my head already about the mischievous mood feeding through town, and titling this review – “When trouble came to town”.

So it took me about that long to realise that I’d left it too long between drinks re seeing StetsonHead. I’m being all sweary and religious about this, but my fucking God did they set the scene for a good evening. Sweet Jesus do I like seeing this pile of muthafuckers do their thing.

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This pile of muthafuckers, doing their thing. And I got to see it. Sweet, sweet Jesus, thou art kind. Kinder than the thoughts in these guys heads, at least.

This is not a sweet band, with sugar drop lyrics. For me, they range around decades of lurching, malevolent influence to bring their distinct taste of menace to the stage.
The slow songs, of which I must admit there were more in the set than anticipated and remembered from previous experience, were like having a groove-bound brooding stream of consciousness laid bare. The secret darker parts of ones thought processes being growled out aloud.

Actually, that was the mood for the fast songs as well. Less emphasis on the groove, and more on hard pounding relentless drive. Still lots of dark thoughts though. Oozing out and purging the converted who were started to dance, tap their foot, smile at each other a little more broadly or in a dozen other ways warming to the night and the music in front of them.

When I mention the music being from across a range of years, and genres. Bit of reggae, bit of rockabilly, bit of 70s-80s rock, and bit of alternative hard rock as well, to do a hatchet job of categorisation there.
All angles on this under-laced with tones and, importantly, lyrics involving shooting, hands wringing necks, loving the wrong person (and by wrong, there’s apparently a few ways to do this, I found out), and the dark thoughts of how this makes one feel, and the things that one imagines doing to rectify such grief and frustrations. Yeah, purge is the word.

For ease, these are some of the songs that came to mind for the faster songs:

And these for the slower ones:

There’s more to say, but basically it’d be repeating myself. If you like sweetness and light in your live music experience, give these gentlemen a miss. Actually, walk on the other side of the street. Find another street, maybe. Give ‘em a wide birth, however you go about it.

But if you like live music, and the potential it packs, in any other form, then give them a crack.

They make you prick your ears up and listen. They force you to engage. These are mean, angry, brooding, sullen, mischievous, funny, dark songs. They are given with a hard-edge, but often with a groove bass and driving, urgent lead and drums.

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Know that this is a blurry, shit photo. However, it represents the end half hour of the gig for me pretty well.

I’m more than happy to be able to see them in the heat-packed, tight sweaty space of the Market Bar. In some ways it’s a perfect bar for them, the way that older cooler people than me say the best way to have been able to see Nick Cave in any iteration was with 40 others in a dingy basement unknown to the rest of the world.

I wanna invoke that selfishness for myself here, and wanna see StetsonHead again at the Market.

But I also feel that they should be in front of a bigger audience. They deserve that respect. Also, more people, nice little cherubs that you all are, deserve to hear them.

They are one of the best local bands and live experiences that you’re gonna get. Don’t like pushing shit on people, but fuck it, it’s a review. Give them a chance. They’re fucking excellent!


A divergent ramble about random weekend offerings in Inverness 3/11/17 – 4/11/17

Reading Time: 6 minutes

A weekend in Inverness, featuring Stetsonhead, Stravinsky, Highland Techno Collective, Sargent Major and others


So, there was a plan for the weekend.  There genuinely was.  It’d been a little while since I’d gone and seen some live music, and I also wanted to dabble with my first foray of doing exactly what I’m doing now – a review for here. 

So far so good, and this feeling doubled up when I saw what was on offer.  Walking past the front of Hoots I had a peruse of the poster of what’s on for the month and Saturday night came up trumps with The Mystic Shoes.  Later on in the day saw the StetsonHead were playing the Market on Friday night.  The ‘plan’ seemed perfect enough.  Two exceptionally good experiences to be had, showcasing some of the stalwart local talent in Inverness.  Let’s lock it in, so the thought went.


Of course this isn’t what happened.  Well, not ‘of course’, I guess, but instead, what happened was Inverness.  Inverness happened.  A random weekend just on the wrong side of the turning of the clocks to the dim and dark winter months has me writing a love-note homage about the town/ city* instead.

[*Note – I leave this debate for another time – suffice to say it is small enough to be a town, Royal degree has it as a city (so I’ve been told), and my personal opinion, the thing I wanna highlight here in this review/homage, is that it fights above its weight, however you want to classify it].


Friday night started off indoors with a movie.  It’d been eyeballing me for a few weeks since I picked it up for 50p, the sticking point to watching it being the inherent risk for it to be either great or utter, utter shit.  Cockneys Vs. Zombies (how can you not try a movie with that name for 50p?) turned out to be neither extreme, but well watchable.  Gore, humour, that freakishly scary Cockney gangster ‘pig-farmer’ from Snatch as a bad –arse old-age pensioner.  It did what it said on the box, and also turned out to be a good start to a great weekend.


Next stop was the Market Bar and StetsonHead.  I’m sure that somebody here on The Nettle will do these guys justice sometime with a set piece review just focusing on them.  I’m hoping it’s me, as they are one of my favourite local acts.  They’re not going to be for everyone, but what they do, they do exceptionally well.  Pounding, driving, lurking, menacing, growling doses of mood ooze out at you.  This Friday night it skulked off from the stage and permeated the (admittedly small) space in the Market and had everyone ‘in.’  I didn’t see the start or the end of the gig, for other long-winded reasons, but not for lack of love for the band.  If you get a chance to see them, just do. 


Stetsonhead doing their thing.


Next stop was to deliberately meet people elsewhere, but 1st bumped I into a lovely couple I met recently and was reminded of how many fundamentally good and interesting people there were in Inverness.  They’d just been to the ballet in Eden Court, and talked in emotive terms about tears streaming down their face, about the beauty and the flux of emotions they’d just been through.  To get out of chronological synch I took their advice and did see the ballet on the Saturday night, an experience I hadn’t had before but will do again.  I didn’t have the same reaction, I didn’t even have the same reaction as the friend who came with me, a more experienced hand in these things, but it was well worth checking out.  Scottish ballet company did two versions of Stravinsky, one classical re-telling and one modern ballet counterpointing the diversity of the medium.  The dancing showed what the human body is capable of – not mine, necessarily, but there is apparently the potential to leap in the air and just hang there for a second telling gravity you’ve got other plans for the moment.  There’s the ability to – shit, seriously, thinking back on it, there was a lot more to like about this ballet stuff than I imagined, not least of which was the orchestra in the pit, once again showcasing the talent and the connective pull of music.  Yeah, give it a crack if you haven’t before, people.  Like it or don’t, it’s worth the respect to try it and find out for yourself.  It took me a good long while to come to this conclusion, and I’m not going to go all reformed smoker evangelical on you, but it’s well worth giving it a chance.


Anyway, in among this weekend that was there was also a techno night on at Ironworks on the Friday.  Not always my cup of tea, and as has almost been universally noted about the Ironworks, it’s a good venue but can feel like people rattling around an empty barn if not enough people are there, which was the case by the time I got there.  Despite this, the guy up on the decks was working it, the crowd of true believers was loving it, and the lights and the base thumping through me were personal highlights.  With the caveat of not being on the right gear to fully appreciate the nuances of such repetitive music, I gotta say that it was worth it – another one to dabble with properly in the future.


Light and Decks at the ironworks
Lights and Decks

Lights and decks at the Ironworks


Over and above this there was Sargent Major rattling out some classic pub rock when back at the Market again on Saturday.  The people were dancing and the place was bouncing.  The two-piece had a drummer on the floor with a mike hanging over him making him sing ‘up,’ reminiscent somehow of Motorhead’s Lemmy.  He wore gloves for the drumming that made his hands seem 3 sizes smaller than the rest of his body.  The singer was self-deprecating funny as well as having a good voice.  They knew what the punters wanted, and they gave generously.  What’s not to like.


The Saturday night was rounded off by some bumping into people in the smoking area of Hoots and some dancing upstairs to the DJ, in a dance/ retro style that blew over to outliers including The Doors, Talking Heads and whoever the fuck did the well-known ‘I’m free (to do what I want, any old time…)’.  Suffice to say that they held me there well past at least 3-4 self-determined claims of ‘I’m heading off soon,’ and if that’s not a skill in a DJ, I don’t know what is.


Also thrown into the weekend mix was getting in early Christmas shopping at the monthly Farmer’s Market on High St.  That and croissants (don’t know the stall by name, but I gravitate to them whenever I can for their buttery flaky joy that is croissants), and venison sausages for dinner that night.  There was the reliable smiles and quality coffee at Velocity, lung-cleansing taking in the air along the river and artery clogging delights of late night kebab shops with the not so stable hordes. 


I never quite got to see The Mystic Shoes, but like me, they’ll be around in this underrated town for a wee while yet.  When they do, do yourself a favour and give ‘em a try.  Or wait for a favourable review here, which is the angle I’ll take next time I see them, and then see them anyway.  Your choice.


This review wasn’t quite what I had planned, but the weekend wasn’t either.  The point being that there’s a bit of something for everyone on a random weekend in Inverness.  I couldn’t quite get to the fireworks or bonfire, either at Bught Park or Rosemarkie which friends said was a great time, and there was a range of other events missed to.  But fun was there to be had, and had it was. 

I’ll try to promise to be more ‘on point’ with the next review, and have it stick to a band and the event they create.  For here though, I just wanted to pay a wee homage to Inverness and the options that it presented on one random weekend.  Onya, Schneckie!  Love ya work!