Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Part 2

Welcome along to Part 2 of The Diamond Family Archive concert reports.
As 2012 draws to a close we look back fondly on the highs and lows of a year in the life of a typical gigging pysch-folk-space-rock band and attempt to peel away the layers of the rock & roll lifestyle, revealing the stark underbelly of dirty chicken, uncomfortable sofas and loud european/chart dance music.
Hold tight, here we go.

From the Brighton gig it looks like we had a few weeks off before playing our first festival of the year in Wales. How The Light Gets In is billed as a festival of ideas and features lectures on physics, theology, technology, contemporary culture and a load of other stuff probably. The site was very small and packed in behind a venue in the beautiful town of Hay-On-Wye. There were a couple of yurts for the lectures, various food stalls, two music tents and a green room tent (which I enjoyed very much). The weather was dreadful from the off and the entire weekend was spent in a downward spiral of dampness and exhaustion. Sleep was sparse due to a full-on acid casualty who wandered the campsite from 4am on the Saturday morning yelling at the top of his lungs about Mark Kennedy. He slowly convinced himself that he was the undercover copper and progressed on to some quite aggressive shouting toward anyone who tried to help him:
“How can I help you?”

Eventually some real coppers turned up and his paranoia was transferred into the back of a police van, almost certainly sending his mind spinning off into the ether of tin-foil hats and the eternal questions, “am I a robot and if I am a robot does everyone else know that I'm a robot?” and "is everyone else in the world a robot and if they are all robots do they know that they're robots and if they are robots do they know that I know that they're robots?" etc.
We were booked as secret headliners on the Saturday night and the tent was packed with an excellent crowd and two girls who were so drunk that they surely could have been watching Peter, Paul & Mary, Motorhead or The Commodores and would not have known the difference (that could be the best sound in the world). We played a really great set and it was maybe the most hazy, distorted and psychedelic that we’ve performed, before or since. The crowd went wild, etc.
We also played a little set in the other music tent the next afternoon which was OK. Nothing to shout about but still a Good Thing.
Thank you Hay-On-Wye, we like you very much.

The next gig was another festival although there was a lot less of note about this one. Sunrise Festival in Somerset was a wash-out with lakes of liquid-mud sending many punters home on the Saturday and generally making life uncomfortable for all. We played a guitar and drums set at the Bimble Inn which needed to be completely repaired after strong winds brought down some metal fencing causing a huge rip in the side of the marquee. Watching their crew trying to replace huge sides of the tent in the torrential rain, gale-force winds and knee-deep mud was quite inspiring. It inspired me to go and get a beer in the dry. Look at the photograph to see the mud.

The Bimble Inn gig was trashy, super-loud and quite wayward (as the drum/guitar sets often are) and we had a great time. We tend to play more loudly and with more experimentation when its just drums and guitar, setting up almost facing each other and really close together. There's lots of staring at what the other player is doing to try and gauge where they might take the song next, lots of bashing, smashing and sonic trashing. All good fun eh?

The next set was in the Small World tent and we were joined by our bass player for this one. After a nerve-wracking wait for our gear to be brought from the lock-up to the stage we played a lovely mellow afternoon set so the strictly horizontal crowd. I love gigs like this, gigs where you can play as downbeat and spaced out as you like. Small World is perfect for this as its a shoes-off chai cafe with rugs, fire bowls and cushions sort of place. And we made some new fans, had a song request and got a couple of connections out of it as well. Some good banter was thrown about.

Punter: "Where are you from?"
Laurence: "We're from the future!"
Me: "But only a little bit, a couple of days in the future................. It doesn't rain on Monday."

Thank you Sunrise, you were wet, uncomfortable and very dirty but a bit of good fun as well. 
Somewhere in June we played a set in a pub in Exmouth and this is the only bad gig I’ve played with The Diamond Family Archive. I think that it may have been 17th June as that’s when Netherlands played their last game of the Euro 2012 football tournament and there was definitely a really grumpy drunk guy in an orange football shirt at the bar. My folks had come down to see us play and my dad loudly waffled on about the Dutch football team’s descent into disaster whilst queuing for a beer next to the really grumpy guy in the orange shirt.
The house PA was playing extremely loud European/chart dance music to a crowd of all-day drinkers who really seemed to like their European/chart dance music. The timing was clearly spot-on for some dark and moody psychedelic folk.
I can’t stand playing a show if I know that people just want you to hurry up and go away so they can put some European/chart dance music on and this was definitely one of those nights (“PLAY SOMETHING CHEERFUL!!!”, etc). It was just a drums and guitar set but I have no idea how well we played as I was looking at my shoes in the hope that no-one would be able to pick me out should a scuffle start up after the show. Toward the end a very drunk girl clambered onstage and spent five minutes trying to explain to us about how we really did have to play that song by Tracey Chapman about the girl with the ticket because it was her friends birthday or blah blah blah. We’re not a covers band. But you have to, its her birthday blah blah blah. It doesn’t really work like that, terribly sorry. But you have to, blah, bleurgh, blah, etc. She finally left once we’d promised to play it as our last song. We then played our last song which most definitely was not by Tracy Chapman or about a ticket. Then we finished to no applause and started to pack up whereupon the girl staggers onstage and with a growled “Give me that f*ckin mic” announces her friend’s birthday before launching into a rendition of the ticket song.
Straight from the X-Factor bargain bin.
The crowd go wild.
Egged on by this wave of enthusiasm she continues with a slew of covers before being joined by a human beatboxer of all things. The punters literally cannot get enough and are cheering and dancing as if watching a breakdance battle between Elvis Presley and Jesus Christ! (proving my point that most people mostly want only what they mostly know. Or a good celebrity breakdance battle)
The party carried on as I packed up and got my parents out of there before things got ugly.
Now I know that things weren’t going to get ugly. I was more embarrassed that we’d played our music in front of a crowd who didn’t care one bit and just wanted some loud European/chart dance music or failing that a song about a ticket. I'd really wanted my folks to be stunned and amazed by this project with I love so much.
Goodbye Exmouth, I shall not return.

Next time: The end of summer and a big fat tour!

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