Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The smoking ban

is being debated today

It looks like the government is going back to a partial ban on smoking (BOOOO!), meaning bars and clubs that don't serve food will be exempted. While I realize that things will be a lot better than they are and there will be a lot more smokefree places, i can't help wondering:

1) 'Concert halls' are supposed to be completely smokefree. What is a concert hall? Does that include live rock venues? At least bigger venues, say, Brixton Academy, are definitely halls where concerts take place, however the wording worries me. An extensive websearch so far has not brought clarification. Okay, I love going to gigs but I find that a good live show has nothing to do with cigarettes and in my case it often spoils my evening. A lot of venues are extremely smoky as they're packed and people seem to think it's okay to smoke in spaces like these. The air is really thick with smoke wafting through the air once the headlining act does its thing. Trying to avoid smokers at gigs makes enjoying gigs quite difficult for me these days. It's been a nightmare for me for years, and a weekly dilemma, as I tell my music loving friends I'm not into going to see Melt Banana (for instance) at the Garage, not because I wouldn't want to see Melt Banana, but simply because I hate the Garage, and I hate the Garage simply because I hate the fact it's too fucking smokey in there for me. I'm too old for this shit! I make exceptions once or twice a week and often regret it. There are a few smokefree places in London now for live music, and some places have okay ventilation, but the majority of the venues are really bad. Even a partial ban in live venues, say just an area where no smoking would be permitted in a large space like Brixton (right now even on the balcony people smoke like no tomorrow), or halls that are smokefree but allow smoking in a separate bar area would be better. Again, for me live music and a good rock'n'roll show has nothing to do with cigarette smoke.

2. Gay bars and clubs don't usually serve food, do they? Hmmm. They are usually no - go areas for me these days. Gay guys smoke far too much!

3. Why stop with food? Sure, if you sit down at a restaurant and someone lights up next to you it's difficult to just change tables, but apart from that i never understood why the presence of food should go less with smoke than just a drink.

Oh well, at least something is happening. I'm looking forward to it, and in the meantime keep watching the changing landscape here in London, where more and more smokefree places exist already.

rant over!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Faint at the Dour Festival

Dour is a great festival in the Belgian countryside. The Faint only played for about ten minutes, they were really late to start with and there were major problems with the sound, so they argued with people at the side of the stage for about half of their short set. It was a really hot day and the tent was packed with people who wanted to see them. Still, the 4 songs or so they managed to play sounded fantastic. Fuck soundchecks!!

np Kingdom Without

Bright Eyes at the Dour festival

A *very drunk* show but a good show, featuring members of The Faint...it was intense in the front!

np 50 Year Old Baby

Friday, November 18, 2005

raise a glass to Dil!

We received a very sad text message today from Chris:
'Raise a glass to dill tonight november 1990 - november 18th 2005. God rest his hairy soul'

He was a great dog, we've known him for years, he was always around Chris. When I was a kid I was very afraid of dogs and it was knowing Dil (in my head i always spelled his name like this!) and other dogs, but Dil particularly, that made me appreciate and love dogs. I managed to find some photos taken in the last few years when he was already getting a little bit tired and grumpy. God rest his hairy soul indeed!

np robert pollard - from a compound eye

ugh got a cold

it's finally upon me, Simon and various other people had it all week, went out to a pub for the first time in a while, and the incessant smoking that went on in there probably did its bit to kick me over the edge, i could feel the cold coming on, congestion, coughing, feeling queasy. the day started alright with the sunlight streaming into the front room, reading and playing some music, rearranging the plants. The rest of the flat is pretty cold right now, difficult to heat properly since it's large and a bit too open plan. most of it is also a bit too dark for the plants, so they are all huddled in the front room by the window. Fortunately it was a very sunny day and it felt quite warm in there for a while. Having a sick day is sometimes a blessing in disguise for me so i can hang out, do nothing and recharge, though this cold winter weather is getting to me right now.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Plus in action

...hiding behind the micstand as usual while the psychedelic orange lights swirl and weave their patterns, hardly anything to see here really, it's all in the sound!!! this is from a gig at the pleasure unit last year. we've played there four times now, it's a small venue run by some friendly people with a bit of an edgier East End vibe. the soundguy is wonderful, he knows he's invited to fuck around with the sound with us, last time we didn't even do a soundcheck, just told him to fuck it up a bit, so he added all sorts of reverb, wish he could add some tape loops a la Mission of Burma ;-)

that evening we played with Amy Blue, two nerdy guys with all sorts of equipment who made a strange, vaguely MBV-sounding, electronic pop soup. it was their first ever gig and their soundcheck was the funniest thing, they were driving everyone nuts. however they ended up sounding really great, and i would love to know what they're doing at the moment. i love being friendly with other bands we play with. at the pleasure unit they usually have a more or less random combination of four or five bands playing in one evening so when you come in before the show the whole room is full of equipment and nervous looking guys in black leather jackets, it's a beautiful chaos.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

codula di luna

oh maan!

np boards of canada _the campfire headphase_ really loud!

By the Orientale Sarde,

an amazing panoramic route, on the way to the Codula di Luna, a steep isolated gorge that runs through miles of bizarre rocky scenery all the way to the Calle di Luna, a very famous beach that you can only reach on foor or by boat... (getting carried away here... keep running)

Simon hiking

i wish he would do a bit more of this ;-)) (though we did a lot of hiking on our trip to sardinia)

this is on our walk around the Monte Rasu, near the oldest Franciscan monastery on the island, which we could only catch a glimpse of since it was private property. It's nicely situated though on an isolated woody hill, the medieval castle of Burgos looming somewhere below in the mist. i saw an old man picking mushrooms underneath the big old trees...

hot white trash in sardinia

in a big motel style hotel on the edge of Macomer, a dusty sleepy town and, uh, transport hub, in Sardinia, during the mad roadtrip part of our holiday. we were hiking in the Goceano area, a gorgeous but slightly weird mountainous old area inland, and decided to stay around there only to find there were no hotels around (well apart from the weird one we had stayed in the night before :-)and we had to drive for miles to this nowhere town just to find a bed. it was kinda fun in the end...

(np guided by voices, irving plaza, nyc 15.06.96, disc 2 'don't stop now'

what keeps big daddy happy what makes the buzzard buzz??)

Monday, November 07, 2005

my band Plus

is playing a show tomorrow night. We're on a bill with my friend Trev's band Lunar Jet Man and we'll be playing mostly new material from our newly recorded album 'Hairy' (well, i think this is what it's going to be called - together with a hairy cover, front and back, we already have some willing subjects). It sounds dark, messy and playful as usual, but this time there's more lyrics (which I'm trying to remember right now) and the whole thing has a pleasingly off-kilter slightly Cure-ish vibe that works reasonably well overall. The last song 'Teenager' is the best thing we've ever done i think, it sounds like a description/transcript of a nightmare and it drives right into full on Lost Highway mode. It was good before but now it rules, well, in my book anyway. The rest hangs together fairly well too. It's even got some Thomas Pynchon lyrics, straight from Gravity's Rainbow. The way Plus works, we're a threepiece, Chris plays guitars and comes up with guitar themes, then John, the drummer and drum machine operator, and me, the warbler and voicemaker, try to make something with it. A lot of is improvised, with interesting textures, moods and melodies. We never play a song exactly the same way, so it's kinda interesting in which way it goes, especially live. Some songs work live unexpectedly while others have been known to fall on their faces. It's not about perfection or even coherence. It's been a lot of fun for the last 7, almost 8 years, we've got this weird chemistry and just keep doing it. When it falls together it's totally intense and I love it. Well, that's just about it for now.

Pleasure Unit, Bethnal Green, Tuesday, tomorrow, 22.40 <<<<