Tuesday, 21 May 2013

2012 - You Were The Best Of Years And The Exmouth Of Years

So after the festivals we played a couple more shows to end the summer. One was part of the Totnes festival and was at the rival radio station venue again. We were in support of a local band who were so dreadful that I very nearly had a stern talk with them all, one by one, after their set. It really just wasn't on.
I had to use their drumset which was bolted onto a metal frame that looked both heavy-duty and worringly cheap in equal measure. I played a song with the opening act and sure enough a chunk of the frame broke half way through and I was showered with bits of metal piping and cymbals. Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish. What's worse is that no-one seemed to notice.
We played a creaking and spooky set, really ambient and brooding. The fans were won over, including the dreadful headline band who wouldn't stop enthusing about our sound and bought a CD.
I couldn't stop enthusing about the keyboard player who had decided to wear a cape.
And to cap it all off the barman wouldn't do us a deal on some carry-outs and we had to pay £3.80 per bottle of beer.
Its doesn't get any better than this..............
We did have a crazy gig on the books but the weather and energy levels saw the bassist and I both call in sick.
Bullet dodged.
The gig was part of a Woodland Olympics event that would involve axe-throwing, charcoal burning, tree felling, axe throwing, archery and some more axe-throwing.
Our main man played this one solo and was faced with a stage that was a muddy hill, some rather challenging weather and a crowd that was indifferent (although they all swore that they loved it afterwards - hmmm, would you trust a hipster woodsman? I wouldn't. Anyone who works for a digital media company in Dartmouth AND goes birch tapping on the weekends needs to be well swerved.)
Next up was a gig that will go down in history as a thing in this blog.
We played a set at the Acoustica Festival which was held at the Phoenix Centre, Exeter. We had the full line-up including the man on harmonium/cornet/fx/backing vocals. It was odd because the soundman was setting up the microphones and soundchecking the entire system in front of a packed and silent room.

"Can you hit the snare please?" CRACK THWACK SNAP CRACK BLAM BLAP
"And can you play the floor tom please?" DUM DOM BOM BOM DUM DUM DOM

....much, much later....

"And could I have some of the keyboard please? No, not that one, no, the other one, no, no, yep! thats the one."


And the crowd sat there, all lovely and attentive. It was heartwarming and horrible at the same time.
Anyway, an hour later we played a scorcher of a show. One of the best sets in the history of this formation. Fantastic power and dynamic. You could hear a pin drop in between songs as the crowd hung on the last gasps of each note. It was a wonder. It was a bit odd when we finished the unannounced last song and the crowd couldn't figure out if we'd actually finished or if we were doing some post-rock pausing thing.
We weren't.
Eventually someone twigged and started off the clapping which swept through room like a brushfire and we were triumphant and then we went and had a beer by ourselves (and I waited for people to come and tell us how cool we are like I do after every show).

The next gig was at Falmouth University as part of a music industry seminar. This was a strange event as we turned up to the campus on Saturday morning when the all students were fast asleep rendering the enormous facility all a bit lonely sci-fi. The main man was "in discussion" with one of the lecturers and the lecturer also happens to be the man who plays harmonium with our band so it was all a bit like two mates talking about home-made albums, DIY record companies and fringe-of-industry activity which is exactly what these two are and were. There was just an audience present.
So we played a great two-piece set afterwards and there were free pasties and beers which is why I love the Cornish folk.

Next we had a little tour, five dates across the south of the land. We started with a Totnes Thursday show in a beautiful venue called The Barrelhouse. High ceilings, old leather armchairs and beautiful lampshades abound. The L-shape room does present a battle as the comfy sofas are down the end of bit but the PA points at the other bit. Should have moved the PA I suppose. Not many people showed up for this, perhaps a result of the hammering rain that had fallen from the sky for the whole day and evening. We played really well and sold a few records which was great but I was hoping that the good people of my town would all be there to see our greatness and from that day forth treat me with reverence and awe when passing in the street.
I'm spotting a theme.
The Friday saw us play at The Grain Barge in Bristol. This is a great venue, housed in the lower level of a permantly docked boat. Bar upstairs, venue downstairs. Cramped and full of hipsters, just the way we like it. If disaster strikes and it sinks on a Friday night there'll be one hundred less bobble hats/ironic Hitler moustaches in the world.
The support acts ranged from dull to frightening but we'd been bumped to headliners (thanks The Flu) which was great as the crowd were a sozzled bunch and we smashed them out of the park.

"Where are you from?"
"We're from Outer Space!!!!"

Krazy nights.

The next gig was in a great music pub in Stroud. The owners were super-cool and fed us some awesome fried chicken before we played two sets. As we had a lot of time to fill there were lots of extended songs, some psych wig-out stuff and some new ideas knocking around. A really good gig and a really good crowd. We kipped in the pub after a cheeky lock in and scarpered when the cleaners arrived in the morning.

The next one was in Farnham at a venue called The Barn. Bass man and main man had both gone to art college in Farnham and I grew up just a few miles down the road so there were loads of friends and family there, all crammed into a tiny but amazing loft space above a bar. Two great support acts, no space for cat-swinging, sleep deprivatrion and Red Stripe all combined to make this the best gig we've played. I had a proper trance-out moment where I awoke seemingly playing a drumset in front of loads of people and then rememberewd how and why. I love it when that happens.
The crowd went wild and I couldn't stop hugging my family because I love them dearly and all of the Red Stripe was starting to bare its teeth. I vowed to form a White Stripes reggae covers band called The Red Stripes and then I vowed to never do that ever.

The final show saw us jettison the bass player like a sand bag from a disaster-stricken hot air balloon and head to the Hotel Pelirocco in Brighton. A music themed bar and hotel with crazy pop art and music culture references all over the place, rooms decorated by genre and a devilish cocktail menu, its fair to say we were looking forward to this one. The main man had worked there for a few years so he had lots of smiling faces around and I managed to get a few of my Brighton-based mates to come along. All in it was a lovely night - we played a fairly restrained set as the hotel is surrounded by expensive residential buildings but still managed to rock-out a bit. Just enough.
I can't remember if we hit the town or stayed in the hotel bar so it must have been a pretty good night whichever way it went.
The tour wrapped up we headed back to comforting Devon, light of pocket, weak of pallour and enthused with The Power Of Rocking Out!

(us powerfully rocking out in the Hotel Pelirocco)

2012 offers us one more gig before before we draw a line underneath one of the greatest years for creeping psych folk that scholars have noted.
We played a thirty minute set at the Dartington Arts centre in front of some people who were waiting to watch a pretentious film in another studio.
There is nothing more of note except for some children shouting Queen songs into the microphone pre-show which obviously was loved by everyone.

Onwards into 2013.
(yes, I know.....)

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