Tuesday, August 30, 2005


sunny bank holiday just behind us, yesterday was particularly breezy, as we were breezing into a long succession of impromptu social situations, and everything fell into place and then sunk a little too deep into...excessive drinking and stuff. the best memory is sitting on my favourite meadow on the heath having a mainly liquid picnic, and talking in that relaxed slightly detached way that comes from a collective public holiday taking over your mood, making you more reflective...

well it all ended in a buzzy bar in Soho, for a reason, and something i don't think I'll forget for a while, hmmm,

Saturday, August 20, 2005

stoned at the alamo tonite

windows move sideways. trying to sleep it off. don't see. haven't got any closer. trying to make it work again. window's licked. tenants move out. get my feet warm. lying there in bed. trying to make it harder to see. blankets, duvets, passages to nowhere. trying to work it all out. trimming. speak up. haven't seen so much text before. make it clearer, deeper, let me make it into another long passage. i don't know much about you.

another house on the hill. another opportunity to get alright into the circle. trying to cut right open. what? the door! into the hallway! there's resistance but it's not too strong. you'll get there when you wake up. you'll be sure to not move til then. just stay still. trying. trying to not break the spell. motion's out. the stretch is too long. i've seen it all before. weakness, kinder things tugging at your shirt. blown out all the candles now. another candidate, a rough kiss is all you get. forget about all the colours that created you. forget about the reds. it's just another room. it's not a theatre in any way. noone's acting here. trying to understand.

broken windows, woke up. dust everywhere. a hundred years later. a hundred years of pain. another mirror. or is it a poster. the show must go on. take these drugs if you must. see. this. take this mask. you might want to act something out with me here tonite. i'll pass you through the corridor and then you shout when you reach the other side. i'll blow out all the candles. this light will come to get you. it'll show you all the colours, especially the ones you need to recognize if you want to get out of here. you know, the right door. it's all revealed in the spectacle. tonite. will you remember? will you remember? i don't understand it. either. but it's written here. how can i read it. it's too far away. can you translate it for me? what is it? is it clear glass? i can't see it. can you reach there for me?

Friday, August 19, 2005

the not drinking worked out til tuesday when i went to the great yo la tengo show at Koko, my first show in about a month. They were excellent: it started a bit slow, they looked and sounded even more eccentric than usual, but soon they started to weave their peculiar magic that comes with three such talented people working and playing together for so long, lots of switching instruments, covers, and players from The Scene Is Now who were special support reappearing at various stages. Three encores, and two beers later i was as happy as i could ever get from a show. Kinda forgotten how good they could be. That Sun Ra cover 'Nuclear War' was very special too this time, otherwise the main set was mostly 'greatest hits' or whatever you might call them, lots of familiar ones anyway, and covers for the encores. Koko is a great space for gigs, an old theatre with lots of different levels, areas and passages, all decorated in lush red tones. the only thing that still gets me is the smoke.

Yesterday was a postal blowfish (GBV mailing list) meetup at the Lowlander Belgian beer bar. We always meet up when someone is in town, this time it was Eric, who serves in the US air force in Iraq and who's just on leave. He didn't seem to want to talk about it too much but we soon got chatting about his collection of Smiths 12 inches and such. . Unfortunately Vanessas bag got nicked, though someone called her back a bit later saying they found it around the corner, all that got lost is some cash and a digital camera, so a lot of personal stuff got retrieved. It sucks having to look after your bag all the time but that place was busy and lots of people were passing all the time at our very exposed table. So after that adventure we had to have another drink or some, they have an amazing selection of obscure very strong Belgian beers. ho hum. Ended up in The Village later on looking in vague disbelief at some dancers dancing on the bar, well, one more for the road. Right now feeling comfortably hungover, it's a peculiar Friday feeling, familiar because i always used to go out on thursdays when i still lived in Brighton. Hanging in the office with a stupid grin on my face.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

dear diary

All week it's been sunny and yesterday it was even supposed to have been the hottest day ever. We were supposed to go to a secret, private festival somewhere in the coutryside near Battle today with friends. Intriguingly noone knew what was going to happen there. Right now we would be sitting in a tent in heavy rain, with about 300 people, trying to have fun and probably succeeding, but god knows how we would have felt the next morning. None of that happened though, and that hangover arrived early, cause Simon fell over last night, while watching 'Lord of The Rings' on this computer, or while trying to get up from that and slipping on something, and had some pretty serious arm injury. We had to go to the Whittington hospital near Archway and stick around for X-Rays, and getting his arm bandaged. It'll have to heal in the next four to six weeks and the pain killers don't go with alcohol. I guess we'll both stop drinking for a while, which would be quite a big deal and a good thing in many ways, and will Simon help focus on his project, even though he can only use his left hand right now. And the weather changed. We ended up watching 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' at the Everyman in Hampstead on the way back, which was actually fun and weird at the same time, just as intended i suppose, and walking back down the sleepy, rainy, green and mysterious Hampstead lanes with the film's lush fantastic imagery still swirling through my head, making everything look a bit like the film, I couldn't help thinking that something has changed, and that a brake's been applied. We'll just have to slow down now.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Devendra in the park

yesterday evening Devendra Banhart played a secret show on the bandstand of Regent's Park, it was short, acoustic (and not very loud, people were asked to huddle closer when it began), and very sweet. It's a nice spot and the weather in London has been very summery lately, so it was lush as the sun was slowly setting over the ponds and trees in the background. The assembled hipsters/musos/journos were treated to free wine, beer, sandwiches and DB bags, that contained an apple, a book of drawings and a DVD. Very generous, and a very nice evening. Felt like a 60s happening/sit in. Hopefully this bandstand will be used again for similar events!

Secret gigs, advertised by word of mouth, gigs in unusual settings, outdoor gigs, there's something about these kind of gigs that is so unlike the usual concert-going experience in London and elsewhere, where you have to book weeks or months in advance, usually pay a lot just for the ticket, pay even more in surcharges, and then have to deal with a smokefilled, claustrophobic room, dangerous volume levels and atrocious bar prizes. Usually, even when it's good, it's hardly worth it. Personally, it's the smoke though the gets me the most. Everytime I go to a venue like the Barfly I can feel it in my lungs for a couple of days afterwards and it pisses me off. When will we have smokefree gigs in London clubs? Compared to a hellhole like the Barfly the pleasant airy space around Regents Parks bandstand is just a world away. I realize there's something a bit utopian about yesterdays gathering of the spirits, but it showed it is possible to have gigs and music events in a non commercial, healthy environment, even in central London.

I'll try to post some pictures soon!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

unearthed! GBV in Memphis '94

I'm listening to the audio of the newly unearthed video someone shot of a very early GBV show, January 1994 in the Antenna Club, Memphis, one of the earliest live recordings. The person in question contacted 'Moonchief' who runs the wonderful GBV database, gbvdb.com. I watched the DVD yesterday and it brought all sorts of things up for me. I saw Guided by Voices for the first time in 1995 when they played with The Amps at the Concorde in Brighton, it's something I keep going back to and keep going on about, and wish a timemachine could take me back. The weird thing is, I didn't know their records then, so I didn't sing along to the songs or had no trainspotterish delight at recognizing the really obscure, older ones, as I would now. And noone at the time knew that Jimmy Mac Pherson and Nate Farley who played in The Amps would later join GBV, so in fact the personnel of past and future incarnations of the band were present on the same bill. It was also the only time i saw the old lineup of the band. Anyway, this video looks like an outtake of the great Watch Me Jumpstart documentary, with a half full small club and a muted but not unfriendly response, pretty much like the show i saw, except this time around, through the eyes of the camera, it's just vaguely mindblowing, even with the slightly crappy audio and video, to see the band at such an early point playing such a killer setlist (including a lot of Propeller, Vampire on Titus, Devil between my Toes even, plus a couple of tracks from Bee Thousand that wasn't even released at this stage). Bob is getting pretty drunk and is always in the spootlight in a purple/pink jacket, highkicking occasionally, but on the whole he seems a bit shy and his performance is more understated and mysterious for it, hardly anyone seems to know the songs, while Tobin Sprout is lurking in a shadowed space of his own on the right. Mitch Mitchell's got pretty short hair, his perpetual cigarette dangling from his mouth. 'Fourteen Cheerleader Coldfront' is introduced as the 'weatherforecast', and Bob mistakenly introduces 'On The Tundra', a song that has never before been found on any bootleg, as a song from 'Propeller', asking people whether they've heard this legendary album and encouraging them to sign up for their mailing list to receive a copy (worth a lot now of course). They played a lot of this old stuff on their farewell tour but here it is rawer, noisier and infinitely more mysterious to see them perform this stuff at such an early stage and before a lot of this material reached the cult status it has over the years. Really mindblowing stuff!