Sunday, June 25, 2006


Current level of conviction in own genius: 7
Amount of creative activity acheived in last 24 hours: 30 mins
Hair day: now sporting terrifying asymmetric-hardcore-indie-lesbian cut after visit to new fave proper local hairdresser

Have had a gill-stuffed week of gigs, running the full gamut from sedate chamber music to head-exploding jungle. Business as usual, then...

Treated Pop to a Father's Day coffee concert at Wigmore Hall, which had us chomping loudly on our Fishermen's Friends (it's a throat-clearing sweet, you know) amongst the frowning blue rinse brigade, letting the Szymanoski Quartet's surprisingly feisty Hadyn and overlong Schubert wash over us, before gulping down our free medium dry sherry. Then on Wednesday it was off to support Andy in Step 13's second round of the nationwide Battle of the Bands competition, in which they have to suffer the ignominious surroundings of O'Neill's on the Green Man roundabout in Leytonstone for three rounds in order to play the Carling Academy Islington in the final. Still, they did play Mass in Brixton on Saturday, which is a damn sight cooler. The whole thing was hilarious, although slightly less so than the first round, with the night seeming very Phoenix Nights/Spinal Tap. Step 13 of course won this round too, being far and away the most professional outfit, ie a band who didn't a) get twisted up in their own mic lead and b) not fall off the stage whilst wearing very tight PVC and lace and being a size 16. Classy.

Thursday was the other end of the spectrum, with buddy Cat and I artily lording it in the ludicrously over-arch ICA for their monthly Roots 'n' Shoots night. I remain slightly unconvinced as to the ethos of the series, which I had taken to be a celebration of all things traditionally British and alternatively folky, but which put out a silly Brazilian singer with lyrics like 'oh sea, make love to me' and a po-faced sub-Polly Harvey singer. We also had, though much more engagingly, the Pink Floyd/Nick Drake producer Joe Boyd plugging his new book and playing unique tracks like a recording of Nick Drake's mum singin beautifully. It all became clear when the headline act, Leafcutter John (who we'd come to see after meeting very sweet promoters Enrico and Eric on a roof terrace at a party), appeared, although he is such a fragile babyfaced moppet we took him to be a trainee roadie when he first came on. LJ was fab, the perfect modern new English alt-folkie, with his mixture of acoustic songs about honey bees and night-foxes plus glitchy experimental electronica. Added to that was the great duo of a Jarvis Cocker lookalike who played lung-beating melodica chords and incredibly contemporary stuff on a wicked-looking bass recorder. AND a clearwater-voiced girl who blew bubbles into her drink which were then sampled. Oh, and they also miked and sampled a slinky and some cutlery and as an encore improvised songs about badgers and quince jelly upon the audience's suggestion. Fab.

Today, I decided I must visit the Vortex Dalston for their World Cup Jazz Ball events, in which, in rather hilarious high-London-art fashion, two trios improvise to the live football; thought I should go before the stakes get too high for our boys. However, for an avant-garde musician/extreme footy lover, I was surprised at how much I hated the combo. It was partly the incredibly distracting volume (two drum kits in small room = extreme ear pain), and partly down to the players really not seeming to know their football and not reacting sensitively to events on screen, but mostly because I cared far too much about the result. We legged to a friend's house at half-time and took in the rest as you should, over cans of Carling and Doritos, with much impassioned shouting and guffaws over Motty/Lawro's amusing double act, jumping around the room when Becks scored. The moral of the story: cacophonous free jazz and serious football-watching doth not mix. Better a chav pub and 50 sweaty pissed-up geezers slurring their way through 'Three Lions', I say.....

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