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Give me music and give me noise....

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Moan, moan, moan ...

It's been noted that my postings on this humble little blog do sometimes have a slightly, er, less-than-positive cast. Grumbles do appear. OK, I complain, kvetch and bellyache about stuff, including even the music (which I tend to disparage more than praise).

Hmm. Fair cop? Kind of. But I figure there's already a sickening surfeit of sites and PR-led music journalism massaging the egos of the mediocre. When I like things it's generally fairly clear I do (even if it's usually in the context of comparing a decent thing to something I reckon is hyped and overrated).

Enough with the self-justification, though. Let's get on with the show!

As I was saying in my first-ever post (my best gigs of 2010 run-down) there's a superabundance of great music being made, played and talked about. I might moan about the PR, about shoddy journalism, or about the door policy and audience behaviour at gigs (OK, I do do this ...), but hey, I'm still digging it man. So here's a quick half-term report, ie 10 things I've enjoyed so far in 2011:

1: Let's Wrestle - apparently newly-invigorated with a different bass player. They're kickin' out the Mascis-style jams very effectively.

2: Netlabels Mutant Bass, Kill Mommy Records, and Sociopath Recordings. High-quality output from these great sites. Netlabels: surely the future.

3: Programming at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama next to the Barbican in London. On ongoing mix of interesting performances (eg Schumann, modern electronic music), sometimes with a member of staff giving you some potted history.

4: JD Smith's gigs this year at the Windmill in Brixton (and elsewhere), including his "The Real JD Sessions”. I like the ghost blues/rock/country mix at these gigs - though not many other people seem to, judging by the tiny audiences.

JD Smith
5: Eleven volumes of music that inspired the Cramps. Have been listening to this little blood-soaked treasure-trove of rockabilly, R'n'B, 50/60s exotica and other Lux & Ivy-approved stuff for the last few weeks.

6: These five good gigs (among many others): (1) Talk Normal at Death By Audio in Brooklyn on 5 March; (2) Way Through at the Old Blue Last in east London on 16 June; (3) Gout at the same venue on 15 January; (4) Calories (again same venue) on 24 February; (5) The Love Triangle at the Firefly in Worcester on 25 February.

7: Some Hindi music (is it?) on cassette that I picked up from a charity shop. Very lively!

8: The Guardian's week-long series of profiles of music genres. Highly tendentious (yes I complained - ! - about "Indie" in particular), but a good read nevertheless.

9: Hearing a bloke at the next table to me in Shoreditch one lunchtime say to his eating companion: "He keeps on dropping moody dubstep and it ain't working".

10: DJ Brother Jimmy The Truth’s The Garage Sale show on University of Virginia radio. I'm continuing to enjoy the music selection and the laid-back style, but why doesn’t he upload the podcasts more frequently?

Ten good things and it’s only July. I’m being positively Panglossian. 2011, a vintage year already. Make mine a shandy.  

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Stamp out the stampers

"Excuse me, have you been stamped yet?" Dumpf.

The inky stamp on the hand ritual as you go into gigs is one of those below-the-radar annoyances that's been slowly eating away at me. (Yes, so much to be aggravated by, so little time).

But why the insistence? "It's OK, I'm not going out again", I say, imploringly, as they grab for my wrist. No escape. "No, you've got to have one". Why? No reason given, or "You might want to go out later anyway". Well, I like to think as a I slither into my middle age that I'm grown up enough to make my own decisions about these things. Rubbish! They're at the door, they know best.

Scrubbing away these cancerous blotches of ink the next morning in the shower is the price you have to pay. You've been tagged like the gig sheep they expect you to be. A few years ago I went through a phase where I tried to get them to at least stamp my forearm so that I could cover it up with my sleeve (not relishing the sight of a black blob on my hand all night). Bad move. The stamper just clumsily tattooed my shirt sleeve instead (great aim!) with some black ink that never came off. Yes, thanks for that.

The pettifogging attitude grates. Bureaucrats on a bar stool. Hey, lighten up, it's a gig not a housing benefit office. Every time they force me to submit to the dreaded stamp, it's like a little death. As Patrik Fitzgerald might have said, it's a rubber stamp on my heart.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Truly destestable summer festival

"Yes, yes, yes, summer festival / Truly detestable summer festival". Ah, Edwyn Collins' acerbic and not-at-all-warm-hearted put-down of the modern capitalist cult of "festival-going". It's close to the mark if you ask me.

Based on my extensive knowledge of festivals (OK, I've been to a few, including Glastonbury a grand total of one time) here are my 10 reasons why Collins' anti-fest manifesto is manifestly ... er, right about why they need to be ripped up and (not) started again:

1: Too many people
2: Involve mass drinking
3: Occur (mostly) outdoors
4: Treated as "gatherings" more than places to experience music
5: Generic and characterless
6: Difficult to get into and out of
7: Have too many performers
8: Expense, of entrance fees or sub-standard drinks/food
9: Mini-police states, with stewards and "security" everywhere
10: Sponsored and branded to death

Blimey, that's taking it a bit far, isn't it? Just chill out and enjoy the sun, Mr Niluccio....

No, Edwyn was right y'all. They're a blot on the musical landscape. If Bob Marley is reggae for people who don't like reggae (about right), I tend to think that music festivals are events for people who don't like music. Not much, anyway. If they did, why would they put themselves through all that just to watch some dull would-be stadium rock band throwing some shapes on a giant overlit stage in the middle of a featureless field surrounded by parked cars?

And with that I'll take my curmudgeonly way off home, crunching over the discarded plastic drinks containers as I go....