It’s ten years since Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 played their first ever gig, which was at our old Glasgow “indie, soul, punk & electro pop” club night Pin Ups.  They have just announced they will be playing Playground Festival 2020 (headlined by The Flaming Lips) and Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival (headlined by Nile Rogers and Chic).  These are the latest stages in a wonderful and completely organic ascent, building their fanbase from the stage of Pin Ups at The Flying Duck to the Barras, The Fruitmarket, and tens of thousands at music festivals around the world. 

The action-packed Pin Up Nights January 2010 poster. I am confident the poster inspired everything Mustard-based and yellow that would come thereafter 😉

What do I remember about the teeny tiny Mustard seeds?  Well, back in late 2009 I was contacted by a John McAlinden about getting a gig at Pin Ups.  He wrote emails in a hilarious and almost confrontational third person style.  “The Colonel shall perform”, etc. I think we agreed to them playing after hearing just one demo, which was something about the Colonel’s favourite gay icons and/or having your heart broken by a ginger person.  Who couldn’t identify with that? Their live show was terrific, and we welcomed them back in 2011 as a perfect headliner for our hallowe’en club night Pin Up Frights party.  Guest DJ Carl Barat proved to be a bit of an old-school handful, but the Colonel showed him how real stars behave and was showbiz charm personified.

The Colonel and his crew have long since left behind their random “facepaint ‘n’ costumes” aesthetic, in favour of what they now call The Yellow Movement.  I’ve seen them several times and an audience full of people dressed in yellow is a brilliant thing to behold.  I’m also reminded of fellow Glasgow glam rockers Sonny Marvello.  Around 2010 neither band were playing the sort of thing I would necessarily stick on in the house, but when I would see either of them live, the huge charisma and musicianship in each act seemed irresistible.  If you’re intrigued, the legendary Murray Easton (a kind of Zelig of the Glasgow music scene, who makes me feel like a complete networking failure!) has written his Top 10 memories of Sonny Marvello. This was a band with so many highlights Murray doesn’t even mention the night they blew the roof off the Pin Up Nights Circus (Guest DJ Mike Fielding from the Mighty Boosh), or Pin Up Nights Game Over (where they shared a bill with The Twilight Sad, Miaoux Miaoux, Emma Pollock and Malcolm Middleton, no less).

It’s also worth reflecting on our star Guest DJs back in January 2010 – Andrew Faley and Sam Potter from the Erol Alkan-produced Late of the Pier.  Late of the Pier were one of a handful of kaleidoscopic acts, full of synths and heavy metal guitars, which rebelled against the grim dross of landfill indie in the late noughties.  We, the bunch of guys putting together the Pin Ups parties, thought they were amazing.  Last year Dazed wrote a generous retrospective about Late of the Pier’s sole album Fantasy Black Channel , observing that “it remains a blueprint for a new kind of pop – one that steamrolls genre binaries, fizzes with colour and energy, and wholeheartedly believes that, when it comes to music, anything is possible“.  Personally I was struck by just how nice Faley and Potter were.  They stayed at my flat in Shawlands and we were up until the early morning watching Stop Making Sense, drinking whatever we could find in my kitchen (from memory a kind of horrific Cider and Rum Serum), and just having a great laugh.  Around this same time Pin Ups also booked the genre-busting and marvellous likes of MGMT, Wild Beasts, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Friendly Fires, Den Haan, French Horn Rebellion, Everything Everything and These New Puritans.  Sometimes these parties were packed, other times they were…less than packed.  Looking back, electronic/electropop acts we promoted at Pin Ups would have had a bit more context had Chvrches existed a few years earlier, or perhaps we should have made friends with the big trendy LuckyMe and Numbers collectives. 

Finally I must mention our live headliners from January 2010, Nevada Base.  They became almost a house band which we would usually try to get to play at our biggest parties.  Albert and co. were lovely guys who genuinely made crowds sing and move and dance, but the stars didn’t quite align to let them get an album out and ignite their live career. 

Overall it’s lovely to be able to write about Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5, and say that fun-loving mischievous characters do sometimes win, and win big. I salute their success, and I wish them all the best to continue enjoying it.

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