The Electric Frog has a rather chequered history of putting on events in Glasgow. While they've never struggled to attract A-list names to SWG3, a multi-purpose warehouse space where the majority of their parties have taken place, they're not known for making things run like clockwork. Too often, words like "brewery" and "piss-up" have passed the lips of past attendees jaded by the repeated failures of Electric Frog to staff bars adequately and provide the basic amenities a big festival needs to run smoothly.
By moving their latest all-day event to the Riverside Museum, one of the Clyde waterfront's newest and most striking buildings, Electric Frog showed some ambition to do better. What's more, this was a lineup to get genuinely excited about: as spoiled for choice as Glasgow can sometimes be, opportunities to see acts like Underground Resistance, Michael Mayer and J Rocc over a single day are pretty rare. Sadly, the same old problems resurfaced, brusquely summarised by a punter who remarked: "same shite, far less toilets." He wasn't wrong.
There were queues for tokens and drinks that lasted longer than most of the DJ sets, and lines for toilet cubicles were almost as bad. The layout of the festival site was also woeful. Despite housing Electric Frog's most popular acts—including Len Faki, Josh Wink and Slam—the Pressure stage was difficult to access for most of the night, thanks to an entrance about four feet wide. Simply put, though, the festival's biggest problem was that people spent more time waiting for beer than they did listening to music—a real shame, especially as most of the acts themselves were excellent.
Playing an early-ish afternoon slot due to commitments in London later that day, Underground Resistance were cheered onstage by a modestly-sized crowd. Those in the nearby queue at the token stall (which stretched across a quarter-length of the entire site) had to make do with straining their necks to hear Mike Banks and company play an extended, saxophone-decorated rendition of "Jupiter Jazz." More people arrived, with hard-won beers in hand, to see one of the most oddly euphoric musical highlights of the festival—a plinky-plonk jazz cover of "The Bells."
After catching a snippet of Jamie XX's sturdy set of US garage classics, I visited the Optimo stage to see Auntie Flo introduce a new live show. Despite a relatively modest array of equipment—an MPC 500, a Roland 505, a Casio SA1 keyboard, a Korg effects box and an electric bongo drum—Brian D'Souza and Esa Williams squeezed plenty out of their tightly packed setup, showcasing new material that veered from the shaker-laden voodoo hum of "Witch Doctor" to the devastating slow-motion stomp of "Jas," a forthcoming record on Cómeme.
Michael Mayer followed a reliably excellent two hours from Optimo just across the site at the Main Stage. The Kompakt label boss's set, though perfectly enjoyable, felt a little too understated for the hour. His choice to close with Marc Houle's "On It" seemed to underscore the gap between his leisurely, galloping style and that of the next act, Boys Noize. Granted, Alex Ridha has never been one for subtlety. But all the filter effects and Dance Mania-aping vocals ("Glasgow! / Glasgow! / Glasgow!", in an irritating faux-American yelp) made my interest wane especially quickly.
Closing the Optimo Stage was J Rocc, who I regrettably only saw around 20 minutes of (owing to an unsuccessful attempt to enter the Pressure Stage to see Len Faki). A DJ who can hop between a glut of genres with the flick of a fader may not carry the weight it once did, but hearing the Beat Junkies founder mix seamlessly between Queen's "Another One Bites The Dust", Metro Area's "Miura" and The Specials' "A Message To You Rudy" in such a short space of time was a real pleasure. As I took in my surroundings and saw the large, empty patches of grass around me, I could only assume that those missing from the tent were perhaps still queueing for something somewhere on the site. Many of those people may still go to the next Electric Frog, lured by another talented roster. I fear the rest won't be so patient, and may only be waiting to see the festival's demise. Whatever the case, they need to get their act together.