Saturday

that gig from last night

So last night I did my first gig in a huge long while. In reflection of the times in which I live, it was a solo show, similar to the christmas show i played at with girls girls girls the year before last. No hang on, what's the chronolgy here?

I remember playing at betsy trotswood with the band and girls girls girls.
I remember playing at betsy trotswood solo with girls girls girls around christmas time. oh yeah, this was two years ago because: I debuted intelligence and paradise gas, and I played killing in the name because 'it's a christmas song'.

That time, I remember someone complimenting me on my combination of electric guitar playing and picking style. So, sans band, I thought I'd run with that idea, with a two-amp setup and a few choice effects.

I got home from work, ironed out a 'burnt ogre' t-shirt (logo by Corey), was fed pies and mash by the long-suffering, and threw my things in a taxi.

Upon arrival and unloading from the £7 taxi for a 1 mile journey, I learned of a tragedy having befallen headliners The Feminists: they'd left their violin in Berlin, and had been up to Watford and back to obtain a new one. But that had broken a string. Where are you gonna get violin strings from at 7 o'clock in Hackney? Well if only they'd asked sooner, there's a music shop 30 seconds from the venue, but never mind that now. I opened my big fat mouth and said I had a violin somewhere in my flat, although I couldn't remember where. Upon protestations that the string was 'essential', Sam and I turned tail and drove the 5 minutes back to my flat, where Sam went gooey over Esmeralda, and the violin was nowhere to be found. A guitar string was made to suffice; thus I missed my opportunity to sound check. oops.

Barish's band, 'the outfit glitch', were on first, and played a familiar kind of accessible and pleasant grunge.

I played:
Oh, Esme
Fumito U
Flim (by aphex twin)
Intelligence
Waitrose
Paradise gas
Encore: Purple Milk

My set was, as far as I could tell, a shambles. Having not had time to balance my levels, The effects just didn't sound right; the flange felt too crude, the delay feedback felt too long. The two distortion volumes weren't balanced. I didn't feel comfrotable on stage, unable to see the audience for the lights. My playing was so-so, and I was barely even trying to hit the right notes on my first vocal song, 'Fumito U'. My finger nails felt slightly too long, great for picking but on the verge of breaking (especially when i was going for my trademark plectrum-free pinch harmonic)

After the first three songs, all in open D major (DADF#AD), I had to retune up to standard tuning for intelligence, and broke the e string. I'd toyed with the idea of having two guitars, to get around this, longest, retuning point. I should have trusted my instinct, or not trusted the crummy strings the shop put back on the guitar. Either way, I had to shout out for a guitar to borrow; out came Jeremy's (should have asked for Barish's! he has the same guitar!), which had a totally different tone and a strap that went down to my knees. How does anyone play with any precision down there? So I took the strap off and grabbed what looked like a stool to sit on, which was actually a monitor stand that went down a few notches when I sat on it and felt like it was about to collapse, and I had to rest my feet on the top of the breadbin.

So I started playing intelligence, and stopped when I realised I hadn't found my note at all. I started again, having tuned up my voice. Waitrose should have gone better, but it sounded muddled and lost with the guitar sound. Then Jeremy came up to play his organ on paradise gas and it sounded great. I asked for requests and Sam shouted for purple milk. I couldn't remember the chords at all when i started playing, just dicking around in C; it came together with the first chorus, and I could hear Sam singing along. There was someone I didn't recognise asking for one more when I finished, but that was it.

Girls Girls Girls were on next, and you know what? it was a really entertaining show, as Lizzy Hawkins and I both agreed, having been watching them play for about ten years, these new songs were top fun. At times reminded me of a mix between roxy music and 10cc; at times, reaching their chaotic hilarity that they do best. I played Jez's organs on 'dogs', which probably went better than my entire set.

In between the bands, Mat, Nikki, Lizzy, Carol, and Carol's friend and I talked about the new edition of Star Wars... ok that's all I can remember.

I've got a theory you see, I might have mentioned it in a previous post; we should put our money where our mouths are, and pay McGregor, Portman, Oz, and McDiarmid to star in a 'real' star wars prequel. I want to see a moment in it where Kenobi and Yoda think they've rumbled Palpatine, only to find that they're too late; everything's in place for him to take over the republic. And I realised that this technique is exactly what Alan Moore uses in both Watchmen and V for Vendetta; Watchmen when Ozymandias monologues, safe in the knowledge that he's already done what he's talking about and the heroes have failed, and in V when the detectives realise that everybody else to do with the Larkhill camp is already dead. It's the same moment, viewed from different angles (although the detective in V is a very sympathetic character). Where else does it turn up? not often, because in mainstream stories, heroes don't often lose.

Headlining, as I said, was Sam's band The Feminists, and blimey, I haven't seen such incredible musicians acting so daft for, perhaps, ever. They'd played together for 5 years as an instrumental rock band, and then one day saw Sam busking; and decided he was the one. He simply stood, pointed, helped 'alright', thrusted his crotch, took off his sunglasses, put them on again, and lept. Meanwhile 5 technically super-competent and imaginative players took off in every genre of rock, from zappa to 'schlager' (The bassist was very happy with his purchase of the UK mono edition of Zappa's 'cruising with ruben and the jets', which he assured us 'sounds completely different').

Minutes after performing, Sam very kindly and gently drove me home. He's an absolute treasure and I can't wait to see him again, which I know will not be soon. But what a magical night it was. I'm going to go and practice guitar now.
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