Our much-vaunted quiet weekend at home turned out to be anything but – Friday night’s Offline turned into something of a session, although the editor and I did seem to rather rock the joint by the end (Surely Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters doing ‘Don’t Fence Me In’ sealed it?). But Sunday was much much more unexpected..
Get Loaded in the Park was part of pisspoor London free-sheet the Metro’s Weekender in Clapham Common, and it turned out to be all I expected and less. We only went along because some friends were, it looked like it might at least be a laugh and because The Slits were playing (and we got some cheap tickets)..
Comrades, it was horrific. Long queues, a characterless site and a line-up which was either a carnival of inevitable mediocrity or artists struggling to crush any talent they had to fit in with the mediocrity that surrounded them. Add to that, being forced to drink cider because there was no way I was paying £3 for a can of warm Carlsberg. However, my trusty biker boots managed to conceal both a 40oz of vodka and a hipflask of rum, so it wasn’t all bad.
Let’s start with the good stuff – amazingly, after witnessing some dreadful gigs in the past, De La Soul were in great form, working the crowd and playing stuff off 3Ft High & Rising that STILL sounded fresher than almost anything else on the bill..
Which brings me neatly to Lilly Allen. Jesus fuck, she was atrocious. I was suckered by the summery sprightly loveliness of LDN, and even though I thought Smile was a bit weak (Digital Soundboy mix notwithstanding) I thought she might prove fun – the sun was out, I was a bit pissed, what could go wrong?
Truly horrible. I hope for her sake she ends up in rehab (“Gak!”) and then slips away quietly so the true paucity of her talent isn’t exposed. She’s funny in the tabloids but she’s awful on stage – zero presence and less voice. The whole Lilly Allen thing is so self-reflexive and, I guess, so much based on her being one of the kids. Not being one of the kids myself (but entirely surrounded by them) I slipped to the back of the crowd away from the drunken yelling teens, lest my name appear on a Sex Offenders Register for inappropriate proximity with alcopop-swilling kiddies. My desperate hope that her dad might come up for a run through Sex, Boots & Dread came to naught.
It was around then that I realised The Slits weren’t even appearing. Instead, on the main stage, it was The Scratch Perverts, slipped in between the other acts and phoning in a lacklustre mix of indie-hits with none of the energy and style they normally offer; Goldie mugging like crazy and playing about 2 tracks (which were both ancient) with a really really poor MC utterly failing to work the crowd; and some twunt from The Cuban Brothers who made me so angry I can’t even bring myself to say anything further.
And the rest of the event followed suit. As the teens became increasingly pissed and the adults increasingly disheartened, we drank ourselves stupid and found some bloodboiling rave drugs to help things along. But even then, it seemed all the shits and giggles to be had were decidedly retro or ironic in nature – the studied girl-group moves of the Pipettes, an underpowered and under-attended dance tent, and the prospect later of the old (The Buzzcocks) and the wanna-be old (Babyfuckingshambles and Graham Coxon). if the Slits had appeared, they’d have been the most contemporary act on the bill, 30 years too late.
i was most stunned to see not one but FOUR official stalls knocking out nitrous balloons(“hippy crack”) – didn’t realise this had gone quite so overground and I assume it’s therefore only a matter of time before the law gets changed. Nonetheless, we got stuck in like the fucked up drugpigs of the rave generation that we try and pretend we still are and sucked our way to joy. Some of the braying, implausibly-sunglassed Cla’am filth had no idea what to do – they’d buy a balloon, inhale nonchalantly, breathe out, chat, breathe in oxygen, get zero effect and then moan about it. So somehow I managed to persuade a stallholder to give me free balloons in order that I demonstrate to the aforementioned twunts quite how to do it.
The day finished in the Guilty Pleasures tent, of which more in another post (a rant is brewing) and by now my brave band and I were fairly wankered, to be fair, which just goes to show that hardcore yoot like us can have fun anywhere..
Filed under: Listening
Music publishers are taking action against guitar fan websites which they say infringe songwriters’ copyrights. Publishers have started to use copyright lawsuits to shut down sites which share notations to help musicians to play songs at home.
Called guitar tablature, or tab, the notations indicate where players should put their fingers. Books filled with tab are available in shops, but a number of websites make tab notations available for free. Now trade bodies are taking action against those sites.
full report here
still haven’t done a write-up for Endorse It! really, and it was a MUCH MUCH better event than Beautiful Days. Soon come.. Got to get next week’s Electric Picnic out of the way (basically a big beast of an Irish festival with proper bands – PJ Harvey, Mogwai, Yo La Tengo, Pet Shop Boys – which I’m very excited about after a summer of fun but small-scale entertainment. Stick a burger in my mouth and a major label act on the stage and sell me overpriced weak lager please, sir!).
Another weekend, another field. This time it was Devon (Escot Park, to be precise) and it was Beautiful Days, a festival ‘hosted’ by The Levellers.
I’d never have even considered going to this particular gathering if it weren’t for the fact that we were being asked to do so for the Pussy Parlure once again. Getting free tickets, some free drinks and some expenses can make even the most unappealing ideas slightly more so..
Actually, I had a brilliant weekend, although – rather like Lost Vagueness festival last year – this was as much ‘in spite of’ as ‘because of’. We – myself, Ailsa and Mark ‘PROD Door Bitch’ Stafford – piled down in a lovely campervan owned by two friends, Han & Jan, which makes a world of difference for a start – being able to travel comfortably and carry more avoids you arriving sorebacked, grumpy and booze-less. The weather started badly and progressed to the occasional downpour but it never became unbearable and our little encampment in the crew area was great.. Jared arrived later from the horrific-sounding and apparently fairly horrific in reality ‘Shambala Kids Camp’ nearby..
The site was lovely – rolling hills, trees and ponds. It was very Levellers in style – old school festie meets the better bits of Glastonbury – and the bits that really got on my tits (blokes in pantaloons sporting tankards on their belts, seemingly every fucking New Model Army fan left, that sort of thing) were outweighed pretty much by the site, the good organisation, the spaciousness..
The biggest problem apart from the hippies was the music. A quick glance at the bill before showing up looked halfway decent, but closer examination left you feeling a little desperate. When the biggest names are the Buzzcocks, Killing Joke, Julian Cope and The Levellers you kinda know you’re in trouble. Which is why – not for the first time – the Pussy Parlure was a blessing, an oasis of funk and fun in a desert of fiddly-fucking-dee.
Not everything in there worked, but having a mixture of cabaret (some great, some less great), party-orientated DJs and the odd low-key live band worked well. We turned in a LOT of stints – both a couple of full-on Juke Joint slots, some ‘Lovely Morning’ stuff, where we play gospel, soul, jazz, country etc to the hungover, and our first – and pretty successful – Pop Quiz. We seemed to go down pretty well (and on Friday night it was one-in, one-out of a venue with capacity well into the hundreds)….
At points music elsewhere was terrifyingly bad – you couldn’t move for fiddly cod-Oirish bollocks and the like. But there was the odd diamond in the rough.. Julian Cope turned in a suitably wayward but lovable performance.. Ailsa was unaware of, and not much impressed by, his music but saw his innate star quality immediately.
Chumbawamba – an old habit that’s hard to shake – were very good in their new(ish) and possibly permanent acoustic format. Although by this point we’d all necked enough bits’n’pieces that singalongs and politics were not quite what we needed.
The real highlight – by an absurd degree – were Alabama 3…
it wasn’t really a revelation as such – I’ve been watching them live for about a decade, and must have seen them a hundred times, everywhere from Glastonbury headline slots to Brixton squat backrooms. And they’ve always been damned variable in quality, especially in their full line-up. But this weekend, when it was essentially the acoustic, guitar/harp/vocals Larry Love Showband version (presumably billed as Alabama 3 for populist reasons?) they were absolutely inspirational.
Rob/Larry Love – twisted as ever – was in phenomenal form, as was their female singer Zoe, who is about the best country vocalist I’ve ever seen live. Punchy as hell, channeling Dolly and never falling back on over-emoting and clichés, she just rocked it. To entertain a few thousand mashed up punters with some gospel/country music, some voices and some stripped down backing takes some doing, and they did it.. of course, they had to finish – as did the other stages – in time to allow everyone to rush to see the fucking Levellers. But we went back to the Pussy Parlure to dance badly to wedding disco soul music and laugh at the costumes..
What wasn’t great? The amount of cops onsite, the paucity of decent music, the amount of irritating hippies (why are some hippies irritating and other not? Fuck knows, my bigotries are complicated.. ), the lack of more comedy / variety and dance music.
What was great? Buying nothing from the foodstalls and making damn good eats in your tent – eating well and savin dollar – that was great. Wandering surf band The Deep Sea Jivers were great..
My mate Quality Tom dressed as a bear was great (his rationale? he was twatted, and he wanted to blend in)..
Spending 3 days pissed in a field with some good good friends was great.
And this.. this was GREAT.
lots more pics here by the way
Filed under: Looking
one day when I’m not about to rush off to another festival, I’ll explain why I love his photography so much. But here’s a teaser..
Filed under: Compadres
for reasons I can’t even begin to fathom, two friends of mine – Richard and Leo – have been given a pub to run. I think they won it in a game of Spin The Plectrum or something. Haven’t had a chance to get there myself yet, but it’s the Sutton Arms (6 Carthusian Street, EC1M 6EB) right next to the Barbican. Sadly, despite the pair of them being virtual behemoths of the London music scene (and even though Richard was once part of the PROD collective), they have no scope for musical silliness as yet, so any plans you might already be hatching for a breakstepcorecore bingo night will need to be shelved for the foreseeable future. Nonetheless, go and give them money – Leo’s pants aren’t cheap, you know!
Filed under: PROD
With the end of the People’s Republic Of Disco’s summer sabbatical in sight (some sabbatical, seems like we haven’t stopped), thought it was about time we had a MySpace presence, so we do – and it’s here. My near-non-existent knowledge of even the most basic html means it looks like shit, but please do add us, it’s all the rage you know..