Sunday, July 24, 2011


Amount of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 0
Listening: See below.
Hair Day: frizzy
What I can see from my window no. 13: a thousand cranes

A seismic cultural event happened last night, possibly shifting the weight from one old-timered hip to one fashionable skinny-jeaned hipster, um, hip. And it took place in a multi-storey car park in Peckham. YES!
Nonclassical, juice's label, and Bold Tendencies, who run the sculpture exhibitions in the summer in the car park, clubbed together to put on a live performance of The Rite of Spring on the penultimate floor with a full orchestra. And, though the same piece was being played across town by the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France for the flask-bearing Prommers, here it was played by a motley crew of Oxbridge and College students to 400 ultra-hipsters drinking smuggled tinnies or camparis from Frank's Cafe on the roof. Packed into the dark, low-roofed space, the audience sat on canvas chairs, or, like us, crammed themselves knee-to-elbow on the dirty concrete floor at the front: had we been any closer, we would have been sitting on the cellists' laps having our tummies bowed. The storey hummed with anticipation as the crowd swelled; the orchestra doodled; it was announced that the first bassoonist (obviously a rather key player what with having the most famous bassoon line in history to open the piece) was stuck on a fire-stricken train. Being career-hungry volunteers desperate to play Stravinsky's classic (including some of my old Junior Trinity students, making me thus feel as old as the hills and twice as lumpy), the gung-ho orchestra were visibly a-glow getting their teeth into the muscular music in a fantastically stark acoustic. I might say that the intonation could have been a bit better here and there, but that's an irrelevance. It wasn't about which orchestra played, or which conductor, but about the event itself: a twentieth-century behemoth performed in an edgier-than-thou setting to a crowd of eager-to-hear Londoners, whilst the trains grumbled past outside. And of course it is the perfect piece: 30 visceral minutes of those gut-stabbing downbows, grandiose homophonies, and fluttery-shriek woodwind solos, enough to keep restless ears busy. It was an amazing, visceral performance, and being there felt like a significant moment in time.The piece ended to massive whoops and cheers, and we all piled up to Frank's on the roof for a stonking gobstobber-coloured sunset plastered onto the panoramic city skyline.
This weekend, juice also played the Truck Festival, getting lost in bucolic Oxfordshire lanes before finding this wee weekender on a farm. Much smaller than I imagined, and strangely quiet for a festival - you could swan up to any bar and pick up your pint of Stowford Press just like that! - it was a slightly underwhelming affair, though perfect for running across the site from sleeping tent to performing tent in our glad rags. I did a little You Are Wolf set to open the Nonclassical stage (having to pretend to be a melodica as I cleverly left it at home), and juice did two sets throughout the evening. It was soooo nice for us three to be on stage again; having not sung as a group for three months, it was like the simplest Fisher Price jigsaw puzzle being slotted back together. Also playing were the fabulous Consortium 5 ladies, whose playing of contemporary rep amongst hay bales and fading light was dreamily atmospheric. Elsewhere, highlights were Graham Coxon rocking his skinny guts out, a wood-burning stove, half pints of perry and hot just-made doughnuts, served in most unlikely festival fashion by the cheerful septuagenarians of Didcot Rotary Club...

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