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Give me music and give me noise....

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Frank's footdragger blues

The last 55 seconds of Frank Fairfield's gig at Taylor Johns in Coventry on 24/8/12. Among the many excellent things about Fairfield is the way he drags his left foot on the hollow stage while his right foot taps out the rhythm. The left foot drag sometimes sounds like drum brushes. Nice!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Losing my edge to anti-hipster prejudice

For how much longer will people sneer at “hipsters”?

You’d think, um, it’d maybe go out of fashion or something. But no, it’s still with us. It’s the new cultural prejudice that's safe to indulge. Even revel in. Supposed “liberals”, who'd studiously avoid crass remarks about race, gender, disability or age, will go out of their way to insult small pockets of people they've decided deserve it.

Should a conversational opportunity present itself - usually all it takes in London, for example, is for someone to mention Dalston or Shoreditch - then you'll usually hear the anti-hipster sneerers piping up immediately. “Oh, it's all hipsters in Dalston. Let's go somewhere else”. “God, I'm so sick of the skinny jeans and all the silly hipsters”. Or you’ll see self-satisfied hashtagged tweets from the sneerers describing something they’ve seen and immediately pigeonholed with a knowing #Shoreditch. (You're the Boss, the Neutral Observer, immune to all this immaturity and amused by it in your laconic way, but always ready to chop it down to size).

Yes, the put-downs are fun (supposedly), they’re easy. And they’re er, what? Funny? No, not really. Or maybe just moderately, to the confirmed anti-hipster, but even then only in an excruciatingly grim way (like racist jokes). So they’re group-confirming or something? Perhaps they bind a litle cohort together with a shared idea of what’s “normal” or “valid” or “fashionable without being ridiculous or contrived”. Hmm. Well it’s certainly true that anti-hipsterism is shared and is sort of revalidated by people laughing (ie sneering) along with the joker.

Hipster attacks are supposed to be wonderfully watertight, insulating the attacker from any suspicion of hipsterism and immediately placing them in a “safe” zone. And I think there’s a double game going on here where the anti-hipster brigade likes to feel hip enough to be in fairly close proximity to their targets while retaining the right to slag them or their locations off whenever the urge arises.

All in all it’s a nasty business. It’s a sort of cultural racism for the urban middle classes (or rather, a superior, smug subset). Every time I weave through Shoreditch on my way to a gig I recall the anti-hipster put-downs. Small-minded liberals betraying their own illiberality and insecurity. It makes you warm to people who are their targets, possibly playing in a band that night ...

And in the end, apart from the fact that some people simply get a kick out of putting other people down, I reckon anti-hipsterism is about insecurity. As LCD Soundsystem’s superb Losing My Edge has it, the anti-hipster bigots might simply be afraid they’re losing their edge to “the kids ... coming up behind .... to better-looking people with better ideas and more talent”.

Ah, but then again, James Murphy is a New York hipster, so what does he know?

Monday, 20 August 2012

Thursday, 16 August 2012

The creeping menace of Rock God-ism

“You’re in the crowd / And I’m in the band / You are a clown / And I am the man … You’re  on the floor / And I’m on the stage / You’re really poor / And twice my age / You earn in a year / My weekly wage / You’re on the floor / And I’m on the stage”.

Busted! 4 Or 5 Magicians’ excellent slow-noise jam I’m In The Band is surely one of the most coruscating attacks on Rock God superiority ever written. Yep, they’re rich, hip, and up on a lofty, bouncer-patrolled stage near year (viewable for a hefty entrance fee). They’re looking down on you – and not only because the branded altar of their stage is considerably higher than you are. But you don’t mind (or even notice) because they’re heroes. Your heroes.

OK, I’m laying it on a bit thick here. But even in the so-called “underground’ scene of small pub venues you get some of this. Things like: bands announcing on the mic that they’d like someone to get them a drink (get your own bloody drinks). Bands delaying their entrance at the start, and at the end retreating “back stage” (in reality a crowded kit room or pub toilet) before returning for their triumphant encores. And cornball stuff which they’ve got from bigger bands: using tired-out - and status-affirming - phrases like “Here’s one you might know” or “You’ve been a brilliant audience”, and throwing things into the crowd (yeah, that drumstick means so much to me …).

Ah, it’s all us and them isn’t it? The gig groundlings and the Rock Gods bestriding the stage with their Gibsons and their tight t-shirts.

Actually, most gigs I go to are not like this and the performers are often unassuming and approachable. “Come and talk to us after the show” is a common refrain (not that I particularly want to). And you get a lot of articulated gratitude (“Thanks for coming out tonight”); in fact too much (it’s boring).

But still, creeping Rock God-ism is everywhere … and until all small venues do away with (totally unnecessary) raised stages, dismantle the cheesy lighting rigs and rule the gear rooms out of bounds for the “encore walk-off” … it will always be a menace.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Chaotic lifestyles, Podcast #84 (July 2012)

Your life may be chaotic, but there's always room to listen to podcast #84 .....

(Note: links are live only for a month or so. After that, please leave a request for a re-up).

1: ProletR, Muhammad Ali
2: Austin Leonard Jones, No slow dancing
3: Sheikh Muhammed Mushtaq, Qasidah burdah (extract)
4: DZZ, Nightmares
5: Reykavik, Every day (Windmill, 3/7/12)
6: Chaotic lifestyles
7: Soom T & Disrupt, Puff the police
8: Chris Ibekwe, Ikoro kings special
9: Dress Up As Natives, You had to be there
10: Mitsuru Shimizu, Swim
11: Shepherds, Tears of a clown
12: Michael Evans & David Nuss, fuckin hippie shit
13: Silkworms, Tonight the stars (Windmill, 5/7/12)
14: Carl Dobson & The Liberals, Whoping mama
15: Imports
16: CHLLNGR, Desire (doctor echo dub)
17: Kind Eyes, ? (Old Blue Last, 25/7/12)
18: Famous Blue Diamonds Band, Ma eye me seesee
19: Deathly Dog, Down the drain
20: Gaylettes, Silent river runs deep
21: Alfredo Blessano, ? (Circolo Alessandro Volta, Milan 14/7/12)
22: BOK Darklord, Iced honey
23: Brenda (DC), Manatee
24: The Weekends, (Windmill, 18/7/12)
25: Les Halles, Radioakivit├Ąt, AM radio
26: Brain Fever, You can take the love out of lover
27: EeL, A beloved child (Goodiepal remix)
28: Yeah Yeah Noh, Stealing (Hare & Hounds, Birmingham 7/7/12)

Thursday, 9 August 2012