24 December 2010

Countdown to New Years Eve Part 3

So, anyway, Stu and Wendy the tVC backdrop people with their lovely ultra violet inspired backdrops, are taking the NYE easy road and just coming along as dancers and hopefully just enjoying the party for its own sake and not having to worry about working at all. Nice. What we are going to have instead is the interior of the venue covered in plush material all around; removing that ooh we’re in a box with windows again. Also Brummy Jon’s light rig he uses for the ZedHeads gigs will be put into retirement for the night and some spot on club lighting rig is going to be used instead. Mark, our new partner in the gig, will provide all this and it should give the room a different angle, a new perspective which will be great as, you know, maybe, some of our old criteria for decorating a room – i.e. no criteria at all- - may have been getting a bit a stale if you think about it really. Not hanging on to the old ways just because they are the old ways can be a spiritually cleansing experience if you look at it in the right way.

Another thing we are hoping to get going properly will be the tVC soundcloud site. A bit of a shambles at the moment. Already we have around 50 sets currently being thought about being uploaded for your perusal. This site will be used to archive all our old party tapes / minidisks / hard drive recordings from over the years so expect stuff from 1989 to 2011 (NYE party sets straight up there don’t you know?) Currently frantically converting everything to MP3 we may be on it for a while till we get sick of it then have a rest then get back on it. I’ll post all sets on here and tVC Facebook page as and when they arrive. So, getting cracking Louie, Si and Jon.

Also old issues of Tangentopoli, will be posted on this blog as soon as they are scanned in. The blogger image up loader is shit so this may take some time. Currently issues 1 to 13 are up so another 35 or so to go.

Rig wise, I do love the tVC rig but humping it around town and country in a fleet of tiny cars piloted by soon to be drunk people is not the best course of action so we’re hiring in a 10K rig to do the duty this NYE party. As long as there is someone to engineer it properly throughout the night then I’ll be well happy.

All that remains for me to do is get my mixer back from Dantix where it is getting a refurb slash service and I can get stuck into the thousands of tunes of mine all shelved up and pull out a few new year crackers for those old enough to remember.
I was at work today and me and a colleague went down to the local greasy spoon, Piggy’s in Chatham, for lunch. On the way there I was playing a CD in the car of one of my old sets back from 1989. “I was born in 1989”, he says.

God, I felt old.

23 December 2010

Countdown to New Years Eve Part 2

Warning: contains neurotic angst. Or how I learned to delegate resonsibility and take all the glory.

What does one do when the whole world is conspiring against you? Gaze into your navel and find evidence to back up your fears that's what.

Now, looking back at the last blog and reflecting on what was said provokes thoughts of an ingrained, unchangable, unadaptable behaviour on my part and questions my ability to adjust to new situations and how to handle it well. An adapt and survive mentality could well be the desired outcome for my present situation.

Let me explain.

What do I do if someone else, who I don’t know, finds the venue and offers it to tVC? I don’t know them but they have this venue and want to do a party. They also want to play some records at this party. I'm trepardous. Don’t know who they are or what music they play. Do I say yes because I want to do a party?

I said yes.

I’m used to designing flyers and tickets but this venue booker and his mate want to design the tickets. Do I let them? Do I have a choice? Didn't even get a chance to decide. They did it anyway and the tickets are not in keeping with the tVC style. Do I get upset at that?

The answer was yes but only for a short while.

I always, without question, like to use the tVC rig, its fit for purpose, its 5K, more than enough for the size of the room and have our lighting and backdrop people decorate the room. That rig IS the tVC sound; it is warm, punchy and that top high end is so crystal clear it makes me weep with pleasure sometimes. It is our sound. What if the guy and his mate say they have a rig that is 10K and our rig is not going to be used? What if they say they have some other form of decoration and they intend to use that?

They did say that and I said nothing and went along with it because I don’t want to make a fuss or appear like I’m against their ideas. Is it a tVC party without the tvc rig, without the tvc lights, without the tvc backdrops? They say it is.

I usually sort the DJ’s out; ask them to play, book slots for them and they are usually deep house DJ’s that have been playing with tVC, some for over 20 years. What if this guy and his mate want to book the DJ’s and sort the running order out. Booking say, a drum and bass DJ, a hip hop DJ, a funk DJ; what if the guy himself plays progressive something. Do I let them do that?

Yes, I’ve let them do that.

Is it still a tVC party without the tVC DJ's playing when they want and not having to fit in around other DJ's who have little or no experience of the ethics of a tVC party? To have our old friends and collaborators, like Subsdance, who we have partied with for over 20 years, play at the party is a priviledge. We have a tradition, a legacy, we have something special that should be respected. We have party peoples children come to our parties because their parents met at one of our parties. We have a proud lineage of maintaining the deep house flag, the truest form of house music, the original form of house music. It is free party house music and that is what our parties represent more than anything else.

What if I say don’t publicise the gig on Facebook, because, as regular readers know, every time we advertise a tVC gig on Facebook we get unwanted attention from the police. The local police inspector says he reads our Facebook pages and the blog? What if they don’t listen to my opinion and go ahead and advertise it on Facebook anyway?

They did anyway.

What if when I mention all these concerns to them do they not listen and just go ahead and do what they want anyway?

They did and they are. Oh, it all seems wrong to me. Like I’m not involved at all in the organisation, implementation or delivery of the event. It seems like it is not a tVC party and it isn't. It's something else.

Maybe I should just embrace that and wait till the summer and do a real old school tVC bash on the longest day? Yeah, that's what I'll do.

Now, I've got that off my chest I'm looking forward to New Years Eve. Not a tVC party per se but tVC-lite perhaps. We have all our best and regular DJ's playing from about 2am onwards till the close. Before-hand we have Steve Newing and Stu warming up with some funk, hip-hop and reggae. The fabulous Jenny Subsdance playing some swing house; Butterfingaz, maybe, with some D&B slash breaks. Mark Kerr with an hour of progressive house and tech (I think - have been awaiting a demo CD but nothing has appeared so far) then out guest DJ, Dantix, from the Margate Unite Posse. This will take us to about 2am when the tVC small arms squad take over till dawn and beyond. They are; Warren, the Meister providing old classics and new bangers; Mike Sun Up, deep minimal tech; Cottage Pie Si, the new boy playing this and that, all deep, eclectic, we like; Oz (on for 20 minutes, if that - probably going home early because he's "tired" or who knows a nice hour of fluffy new stuff) then Rosie the finest female deep house DJ in Kent. No argument. But only if she gets over her nerves, can be talked off the edge of oblivion and can be arsed to come.

22 December 2010

Countdown to New Years Eve Part 1

Did you get to play a few tunes, you might well ask?

Anyone got a van or donate use of their car and themselves as drivers that we could use to move the kit around? No? Don’t worry then.  The woes of a disgruntled free party organiser.

You know, when you’re used to organising thousands of parties; all sorts of parties, free ones, pub ones, club ones, London ones, and have done for 25 years, you get kinda used to doing them your way and I always get into ever such a flustered, threatened, neurotic state of mind when feeling that things are not being done properly. Know what I mean? No?

Let me explain.

The bottom line is it goes something like this.

People go “when’s the next party then?” I go “when it’s sorted. "Any ideas for sites or venues?” they go, “no”, and despite waiting around for people to offer venues or fields, which never happens, or very rarely, one has to decide and make a decision about something.

Normally we have someone’s birthday coming up, or it’s solstice, or a Saturday or we haven’t had one for a while; either way, the pressure builds, I pick a place – the beach, a wood, a venue, a field we’d been checking out, for example, which has just had the hay cut – and decide on the date.

Now, the rig? Anyone got a rig we can have for free? Or borrow? No? Ok, I’ll use your rig and pay you until I get sick of paying you and buy my own rig for thousands of pounds. Now I know no DJ will respect the fact that this equipment has been paid for and needs looking after and will, given the chance, turn everything up full blast until a speaker or amp is blown. It’s nothing against the DJ; it’s just they like to hear things loud, then louder. They’re all a bit deaf you see?

Hey, don't worry, we'll pass a bucket round and people can contribute and that'll surely cover all the cost? Now all money collected from the bucket can go to filling the generator up – anyone lend us a generator? No? Well I’ll hire my own, go and pick it up, look after it all through the party, making sure it’s filled up with the fuel I bought and which I won’t get the money back because there is not enough ‘contributions’ in the bucket. Again. Then I’ll take it back to the hire place on Monday before work. Oh, fuck it, I’ll just buy a generator or acquire one from a friend of C, who kindly lent us one and now doesn’t want it back. Yet. Phew, saving money there maybe.

Ok so that’s the rig, the field, the generator sorted out. Anyone got a van or donate use of their car and themselves as drivers that we could use to move the kit around? No? Don’t worry, I’ll hire a van for the weekend, pay the deposit, buy the fuel and drive it there and back. What about a marquee? No? Don’t worry I’ll just buy an ex army one with a few chums; that’d sort it out nicely. Nah, don’t worry, it’s a free party, everyone does everything for free don’t you know?

Anyone want to design some flyers for the party? No? Don’t worry, I’ll do that, I love Photoshop, and have, actually designed flyers for over 500 parties. Ooh, get me. What about distributing them? No? Don’t worry, I’ll do that. I go out a lot and can generate interest just by giving everyone I meet and know a flyer. I’ll put my number on and everyone can ring me and I can deal with the calls and make sure everyone gets directions on the night. I can also advertise in Tangentopoli, the tvc newsletter that I write with my girlfriend; or online. I can tramp around to other parties and hand out flyers there too.

At the party, after putting up the marquee, the rig, sorting out the generator I can then go to the car park and hang out there for 3 to 4 hours directing all the cars to park properly as we don’t have much room and no one else will do it anyway. I can also answer my phone every 10 seconds helping people who have lost their way or can’t find the party to get here safely.

DJ’s? Yeah, I’ll sort the DJ’s out; the running order, making sure they all get on and off on time; sort out any niggles, change the running order if necessary; such a crucial part of the party don't you know?

The police you say? Don’t worry, Oz will always talk to the police and get us an extension till at least the morning because he's fully knowledgable about the laws they use against us.

Clearing up? I’ll do that. Taking marquee down? Leave it, you go home, no problems, yeah, you got to feed the dog, sleep, I understand. Rubbish, litter, shit? Leave that to the last few, we’ll put in all our cars and van after we’ve packed the rig up and loaded it back, driven it home, and unpacked it into the garage or shed. then we'll get rid of the rubbish. it's fine...
Hey, let’s go to the pub to finish the weekend off? Yeah, don’t worry; I’ll get the drinks in; as a thank you for all you did for the party. My poor put upon girlfriend at the time, Nick, was by my side throughout every tiny little episode and upset for 17 years. Christ, I miss her.

Did you get to play a few tunes you might well ask? That is, after all, the purpose of organising a free deep house music party in the woods is it not?

No, of course I fucking didn’t. I was far too busy for all that pop star shit.

Besides, most of the time it is a joyous, collaborative effort with a lot of people contributing their time, energy and skill and I do get to play the odd set now and then which, of course I thoroughly enjoy. But, it is nice to have a whinge now and then and to exaggerate your woes for comic effect?

21 December 2010

It’s oh so random darling.

Jazz's Birthday Party at Salt Marsh, Whitstable.

The Lovely Jazz had her birthday party at the even lovelier Salt Marsh Restaurant in Whitstable through the week. She’d booked the whole place out and it was bedecked in helium filled balloons nestling on the ceiling with great trailing cords of ribbon. With some excellent retro music played on a record player with records – remember them? – by the only waitress the atmosphere was set for a rip roaring night. Don’t mind me for a moment whilst I reminisce nostalgically about records.

Salt Marsh is a lovable old restaurant without any pretensions. It has two rows of tables, one on each side, as you enter. Every time the door opens an arctic blast flushes the heat out. We learn to quickly open, step outside, then quickly shut the door to maximise heat retention. Cars coming up to the junction at Nelson Road shine their beams through the steamed up windows. It's also oppostite Oxford Mansions, home of tVC for many a year. They have a counter and a small kitchen outback through some beaded curtain, wooden floors and mis-matched chairs and tables of various sizes. So contempory, darling.

What’s on the menu? There is no menu. You pay at the end and it's £20 per head excluding drink - bottle of beer £2.95. Ouch. You go in and the mountain of food just keeps on coming. C goes, after a good hour of face stuffing, giant prawns, sea bream, olives, various breads and round after round of delicious home cooked food; “Ooh that was nice. I could do with my pudding now.” She turns to the waitress, “When is the pudding coming?” Waitress replies, “After the main course.” She thought the meal was over. Mains were steak, fish, chicken with mountains of vegetables.

It was. Two and a half hours later no one could move. After a hearty high pitched rendition of “Happy Birthday”, on helium of course, it was all over bar the post meal cigar and port.

Food was tapas, mezzo style, all big bite size and more than enough for everyone. Mediterranean, French, Spanish, English all thrown in the mix. Why not? Made for sharing and animated conversation. I like the way it’s all a bit higgledy piggledy and if you don’t like one thing then, hey, wait a minute and something you do like will come along. It’s oh so random darling. What with the Cava flowing like water, great company and conversation, not forgetting food it can only be described as a great night out.

9 December 2010

TVC Voyage to the land of Mush - Part Two - Neptune Double Header…

a crowd of utterly disparate, smiling faces, all dancing, some to a music they’d never heard before

Full Phat completes his two part review of Darren's 40th Birthday Party in the lovely Faversham, Kent.

Ah, we love the Neppy
The eve of my birthday, June 6. As usual on a child free Saturday morning I wake up next to DLL, with my eyes feeling like they’ve been lightly sandpapered.  

The sun always slants very directly through a split in the blinds, and always seems to rise at the precise angle which will guarantee that its focus is refracted as intensely as possible on my sleeping face. I never get enough sleep. The alarm that wakes me up for work in the week always finds me comatose; at the weekend I go to sleep at the time I normally am waking up for work. And the sun, or waves of nauseating anxiety (mainly about how and why the intense happiness I felt in the summer of 2008 evaporated), wakes me up very soon after. Eyes burning, whole self clammy and tetchy, my mind starts on me the minute I wake up, like a chav whose drink I’ve just spilled. It never lets up, the little fucker. I never, ever go back to sleep in the mornings - I just can’t, no matter how much I hate being awake.

Well, it’s sunny, which is definitely a good thing on a day when one’s doing an outdoor free party. D had been clear about the order of play - he and his mates were going on a big booze up on the Friday night, and he would be reunited in the bosom of his family, hung over, at one o’clock in the marquee. The orders were strict- only D’s close family and friends would be present, Oz and me were to come, set up, and play some mellow house whilst partaking of the hog roast in the sunshine. The perfect prelude to a night of outdoor madness. We were armed with new records which had yet to be heard, and a van and driver were being sent to help us take the rig to Faversham. A chance to ride in a transit, engage in banter, drink lager and then play new tunes blind on a hot afternoon? Perfect.

The sight which greeted us on arrival in Faversham was very much of its location…3 sunburnt gentlemen of varying degrees of corpulence, swigging lager in chairs while watching a hog crackle above a fire. The marquee is magnificent, with a bar at one end and a stage at the other. I get a huge rush of excitement time travelling forward to it being full of groovers twisting and shouting to some house music as the sun rises. Oz and I set the rig up in 15 minutes, the first time the whole lot has been out since Brummy Jon bought the 4 new subs. We gaze on it with joy. It looks symmetrical, forbidding, solemn. Redolent with religious form, almost an inverted cross. The cover of KLF’s ground breaking “White Room” album makes the direct visual analogy between a sound system that looks like it means business and a religious artefact- and ours has never looked more like an object of worship. And we do adore it…

System set up. Two sweaty free party DJ's. First lager downed. No sign of the “close friends and family”- the party of corpulent hog watchers has not been added to. Oz and me are still eager to hear our new tunes on a big rig though, and agree on a gentle afternoon drinking free lager and spinning our new ones. The agreement lasts about 3 minutes. This often happens- I get frisky and puppy dog excited about any opportunity to play some music on a system, Oz gets briefly infected, then realises he’s been playing music on big systems for 20 years, to thousands of people, and playing new tunes in a hot marquee while some geezers swig lager outside isn’t very appealing. I realise he’s really wilting. Whilst I relish heat, and playing records with my shirt off in a tent that feels like a sauna is my idea of heaven, Oz’s northern metabolism responds as if it were being burnt at the stake. We need to get the bugger home for a cold shower and I need to get in the sea.

The party itself is nearly perfect, and would have been if anyone had thought that the daytime heat was going to lead to some early morning rain. It’s really, really hard to say what makes a good free party. So many things can go wrong. So many things can refuse to align. It’s a knife edge balance between planning and chaos, order and anarchy. It has to give people some of what they expect, but not be a commodified, packaged experience. It’s best when it contains a mix of people who wouldn’t meet in any other social context, and who may well despise each others status in the caste system of Merrie Englande, but they have to be kept from killing each other, not by burly bouncers, but by the mutual universal desire to have a good time. It has to be managed, supervised, choreographed to some extent (see the blog “Waiting for Scouso” for what happens when it’s not), but still have enough room for spontaneity and the unexpected…the party has to breathe for itself independently. Control it too much and you strangle it, you might as well be in the Ministry of Sound. Leave it to its own devices and you may end up with 6 hours of drunken bang-meisters on an over-driven system pounding any feeling of collective well being into a deep dark abyss.

The good free party, it seems to me, should leave the recipient with the same mental and psychological impressions as a profoundly moving and memorable film. Snippets of cameos, of unexpected phrases, of utterly unpredictable events, near misses, moments of elation and despair should be swimming around your head years afterwards. And if you’re part of organising it, there should definitely be moments of utter terror where you’re worried it’s spun out of your control, and moments where the sight of the collective love of music that really deserves to be loved makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, and makes the old tear duct start to fill. By those criteria- this was a good free party. And here are some snippets of sight and sound I retained…

The beautiful young barmaid from the Neptune, Emily, only 21, pouring pints wearing her Smiths T-shirt. 21 and loving the Smiths? We love you :- )

A large mammalian member of the dancing punter looking for some of the mandy that was lifting everyone’s spirits…overheard…”50 quid for it? If ah had a knife Oi’d cut ya!”

The lovely first few hours, of the Riddimatics playing ska and reggae…in between their sets I ran through all my old Two Tone for a grinning, bouncing, very hung over birthday boy…

Warren’s mate from Faversham racks up an enormous line of Charlie for one of the DJs. As soon as he’s put it up his hooter, he quips “nice stuff that ketamine, innit?”. DJ turns very pale. Warren’s mate pisses himself laughing. It is Charlie, of course. Hilarious…

The temperature rose as the tent was filled with lilting reggae, but as thye mum and dad spread around the crowd, they became hungry for house. What kind of house do you play to a mixed crowd of deep house addicts, their children, the extended family of cage fighters from Faversham and Ireland, punters from the pub trade, reggae and ska lovers, and Faversham young mums and dads who love the X Factor and the Black Eyed Peas? Warren, the best transition DJ on the planet, stepped forth onto the decks, swept back his long dark hair and grabbed the impatient crowd with slabs of shimmering progressive techno. Absolutely no compromise, and impossible to resist, waves of beautifully produced sound lifted seamlessly off the grooves of the vinyl and washed at exactly the right height through the marquee. The first time the new TVC rig had been fully unleashed and the perfect combination of frequencies to hear from it. Standing back at the epicentre of the sound, a moment of free party epiphany slipped straight into my heart, and I understood perfectly why this was preferable to playing house music in almost any other context…large enough to be loud, small enough to be intimate and special, selective yet democratic to those who know…spiritually, cheap to those who can afford it, very expensive to those who can’t…

I turned to Oz and gave him a big hug. “You’re a genius mate”, I said, utterly sincerely. I felt so elated, almost to the point of tears, by the thought that I was going to play my favourite records on this beautiful system, to a crowd of utterly disparate, smiling faces, all dancing, some to a music they’d never heard before. The rigidity of English Social context, the absurdities of the law, the division between those who love booze and those who love other intoxicants, all ruled that these people should not all be together in the same place doing this. But they were.

I was doubly excited as the last time I’d got to play to a crowd of any size, on my last year’s birthday weekend at the Brewery Bar playing for Delicious, I’d got utterly trashed and made a sonic train wreck, and been “substituted” for the redoubtable Steve Zest after 15 minutes. I’d nearly given up after that, and really wanted to be in the right mood, on our own system, to get back in the saddle. And here it was. Warren had got them to within and inch of coming with his sonic foreplay. He’d left Oz and me with a delirious, sweaty, ecstatic group of pre-orgasmic dancers to finish off. It was, in every possible sense, the moment of personal rehabilitation I’d been waiting for. The reason not to give up. The reason to only play with Tvc, where you learn how to play house music without prejudice.

But this is me I’m writing about here. The lager drinking bruisers who’d set the marquee up hadn’t thought it’d rain. They’d set the marquee up with all the plug boards outside. Oz and I are having a lovely time, playing 3 tunes each to a happy bouncing crowd. Oz is on his second set of three, and the tunes starts to slow down. The lights go out. Rain on the plug boards has short circuited the generator. Warren had given the night lift off. It dies as it’s starting to cruise beautifully at 50,000 feet.

The tent’s in darkness, and I’ve got my head in my hands. Thwarted again. No one can leave as everyone’s pissed. A consortium of drunk and drugged up amateur mechanics ensure that the generator will never work again. Two sides of Darren’s family are fighting each other in the corner of the tent, silhouetted figures rolling around trying to punch each other’s faces. An hour of despair, with no hope of reprieve.

Until an angel of mercy turns up. Brummie Jon would normally be here, but he’s been playing with his band at the Hope Festival. Which means he’s sober. And has a car. He single handedly restores the potential of the night by driving Oz over to Whitstable to get his generator. Within 20 minutes of him turning up at the party, the music is back on. It’s extraordinary, and the 30 or so people who’ve hung on and managed not to get beaten up will be rewarded with more music.

I get straight on the decks, utterly overexcited, and play the acid house remix of Ebeneezer Goode very loudly. It is, after all, my birthday. This action nearly sabotages the party for a second time as the local police take a dim view of the Jolly Roger produced classic and are there before Mr C utters his third “naughty, naughty”. As ever, Oz uses his years of experience of calm, diplomatic engagement with our pals in blue and they leave us to nurse the party home. Derrick “DP” Patterson even strolls into the tent from Margate and plays a few of my tunes. Noticing that I’ve gained a few pounds since I stopped eating so much mum and dad, he says, patting my stomach, “fucking hell, there’s two of you now”. Good to see the old bird touching a bit of vinyl again though.

By about 6, I’ve grown tired of fending off the Fav chavs who keep touching the records while they’re playing and going “oi mush, gizza mix, I can fucking do that”. I would have played til 10 but they’re annoying, and I don’t have the psychic or physical energy to deal with it.

I unplug everything and go to DLL’s car to take a rest. I open the rear door to see a bruised chav sprawled across the back seat, his jeans covered in piss and his T shirt and face covered in blood. I roll my eyes. It takes 3 of us about 10 minutes to get him out of the car, as he struggles and babbles incoherently; within another 10 minutes he’s got in his car to drive home. They do breed ‘em differently in Fav….

6 December 2010

I was a classic early 80s white provincial hip hop fan

Wild Style was the first hip hop motion picture. Released theatrically in 1983 by First Run Features and later re-released for home video by Rhino Home Video, the movie was directed by Charlie Ahearn and featured Fab Five Freddy, Lee Quinones, the Rock Steady Crew, The Cold Crush Brothers, Patti Astor, Sandra Fabara and Grandmaster Flash. Full Phat finally got to see it 27 years later.

An unintended benefit of the snow flurries which hit the South east this week was being given a hotel by work on the Albert Embankment. As I am now a retired player, instead of trawling the pond life of Lambeth for a shag I went to fill a gap in my cultural knowledge; a seminal hip hop film was screening at the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square (Time Out London cinema of the year 2009).

In my early teens I was a classic early 80s white provincial hip hop fan - a lover of breakdance, scratching, MCing, and graffiti but very much NOT a practitioner.

To slake the cultural thirst in Canterbury we had the wonderful Richard’s Records, white boys in shell suits spinning on their heads in the Butter Market, and arse wipe graffiti on the St George’s underpass.

Seeing the films was tough in the days before widespread video rental. There was a rudimentary student film club in Keynes College, which showed Breakdance and Beat Street (Arthur Baker soundtracks, amen!) but I never saw the pearl - Wildstyle.

I’d always thought it would be a great film to see from a fan’s point of view, as it features so many of the young B boys and fly girls who became pioneers of the new, multi dimensional hip hop culture that became the biggest selling music form of the 90s and noughties - Fab 5 Freddy, Crazy Legs Crane, the Cold Crush brothers. But I hadn’t expected it to be so smart, so conscious that it was recording a really significant cultural movement, and that it would showcase this movement that united some very obscure leisure activites into an international youth culture so effectively.

There is a narrative of sorts, as the graffiti artist Zoro struggles with his artistic identity. It’s not a tenuous narrative that’s just there for its own sake either - his struggle to stay “underground” and anonymous metaphorically represents the ambivalence of the whole of hip hop culture at that point in time. It was the time of “Rapture” by Blondie, of “Buffalo Gals” by Malcolm McLaren, when the wealthy bohemian punks who hung out in Upper East Manhattan realised that the kids in the ghettos of the Bronx and Queens were doing the most interesting things in New York.

The soundtrack to the film is jointly credited to Chris Stein, Blondie’s creative chief, and Fab 5 Freddie. The tension between being true to the game and selling out to the whites from Manhattan is represented in the film as Fab 5, who embraces the chance to escape the underground, raise his profile and get stone cold paid by the uptown set, is regarded with suspicion and hostility by those who want to keep graffiti and hip hop an underground secret. Once Zoro’s face becomes known, he fears that he will no longer be able to paint the subway trains that take his art all over the city. To hell with that says Fab 5 - put it on a canvas and sell it to the city…

It is of course the same dilemma represented in many art films, such as Vincent and Theo, and shows a remarkably early prescience of how overground this tiny movement would become.

The catalytic element is a white downtown journalist, who Fab 5 has met at an uptown party and who wants to interview the elusive Zoro. She looks like Debbie Harry with a few extra pounds (or minus a heroin addiction) and again references the interest of the punk subculture in the hip hop subculture. Her trip to the Bronx allows us to see it with the eyes of an outsider, and the scenes which scan the graffiti covered subway trains rattling slowly past what looks like a city that has been bombed are documentary in their realist power. Burnt out gas stations, crumbling 10 storey apartment blocks, shells of factories. It’s shocking that the destruction depicted has not been caused by war, but by a form of economic ethnic cleansing (“Reaganomics” as the Captain Rock track put it- the consequences of Osbournomics are coming our way soon). Let the racist market decide who should thrive and who should decay…

The portrayal of the power and resilience of hip hop culture as the community’s way of coping with being economically abandoned by an inhumane government is inspirational without being sentimental. Zoro’s intention in risking his life painting subway trains is simple- he just wants to make a miserable place look better. Fab 5 wants to tell the whole of America how exciting and creative life is in the Bronx. The joy, energy and excellence of the culture being showcased is wonderful and is skilfully weaved into the narrative without contrivance by using the frequent parties to move the story along. We see Crazy Legs and the Rock Steady crew doing some breath taking break dancing, Double Trouble, Cold Crush brothers and Busy Bee MCing, a young Grandmaster Flash scratching, Fab 5 and Zoro spray painting. The closure sees all the rival MCs, taggers, and break dance crews uniting to hold a party for the community in a disused outdoor amphitheatre which Zoro has decorated to show his commitment to his lover, who is far more community minded and brings him out of his withdrawn self obsessed insularity to share his gift and shed his anonymity. All the tensions between rivals are put to one side, as is the obsession with keeping the movement an underground secret. In the film as in reality, Fab 5 wins- the culture gets downtown exposure, the rest is history, and white kids can buy the Electro compilations from Richard’s Records and spin on their heads in shopping centres in the home counties. Fab 5 of course became the first hip hop presenter on MTV- presenting and producing Yo! MTV Raps. Thanks Fab 5 for not being afraid of the overground and letting us all play.

“Fab 5 Freddie told me everybody’s fly

DJs are spinning I said my my

Flash is best, Flash is cool”

Blondie, Rapture

27 November 2010

uninhibited hedonistic drunkenness is alas no more

ZeDHEads - Red Lion, Badlesmere, Kent.

A very cold and frosty November night beckoned. Luckily we were going to be indoors tonight. Louis and Josephine, in their massive people carrier, took us and our new chum Xav, deep into the Kent countryside. Louis was late and needed to be there before the band started so that he could record the set and was, consequently, driving like a lunatic in a Richard Curtis film as if his character had to reach the airport before the plane took off so he could tell the woman he really did love her. “I’ll be doing some granny driving on the way back”, Josephine reassures us. It doesn’t matter really because we are out and the thought of skidding off the road and hitting a tree added a frisson of terror to the car journey.

We were out supporting our 7th favourite Brummy and his band of merry Brigadoon’s and pranksters the ZedHeads playing at The Red Lion in Badlesmere. Just joking. He’s really our favourite Brummy.

A once mighty pub of untouchable local repute and respect - ah, back in the day - the Red Lion of today appears a beaten shadow of its former self. Blighted by neighbours abating the noise, the lock ins, the drugs, the weekend outdoor music fests, the uninhibited hedonistic drunkenness are alas no more; the packed standing room only times now reserved only for ex X-Factor finalist Ben Mills's ‘secret’ gigs. Ben’s days of hoping for a half decent pub full of locals with BenzEgo long behind him.

As frost forms on the car and clouds of breath hit the freezing air we hurriedly seek the welcoming and inviting warmth of the Lions two big, open fireplaces which we anticipate will be piled high with logs and roaring away. Not so. It is bastard freezing inside. The coats, gloves, scarves, hats, alas, shall remain on all night. The fires stubbornly unlit.

What got me thinking was Brummy John asking me to take down that little film off YouTube I’d shot of the ZedHeads first gig. They hadn’t even thought of their name yet; had just come out of a bit of a band reshuffle. The guitarist, singer, founder, of the then called Seren Deputies, decided to leave and the rest of the guys seemed rudderless. Time for a rethink. To carry on as the Seren Deputies? To change the name? To change direction? But who and what and when and would it work and could they recover from the turmoil?

All this in the air that night at Graveney Village Hall for Pete and Mary’s party and the subsequent gig at Deco 5; all captured on film. All them early gigs, the first two or three filmed. The tentative, fledgling ZedHeads reminded me of a new born lamb or deer unsure on their new legs, blinking in the headlights as they took their first tentative steps onto the musical ice rink. So unsure, nervous; in shock even.

Contrast that with their performance tonight at the Lion and you will see a different band; increasingly confident, definitely more self assured, musically tight, enjoying themselves, trying new ideas out, adapting and yes indeed; surviving. Lead singer Jackie on top stand up form as usual, humorous banter between songs, but mainly her beautiful voice holding it all together, floating, dancing, rapping, harmonies, dancehall, reggae, jazz, soul, mainly plenty of soul. The new drummer tentatively tapping out with his fingers. Good to have a real drummer in there now. Even confident enough to stop a song mid through; Jackie bellowed, “John’s told us to stop and start the song again coz apparently we’re shit”. They want things to be just right.

Guitarist Pete, understated, just the right amount of guitar to compliment everyone else, lovely, perfect. It’s like witnessing a band suddenly mature. They’ve had a great year or so developing at their own speed and now the eggshell has cracked. BJ himself providing solid backup, rolling basslines sooth and throb. At one point, with Tim their keyboard player, during a dubby reggae number the keys were so spot on I was transformed back to Augustus Pablo’s classic melodica from East of The River Nile. Beautiful. Pete, on sax, complementing, reminding us what a fantastic, sonorous instrument it is with and without amplification.

In typical gig down the pub fashion we did take our coats off to dance to the bands last two tracks. Body heat alone heating the air.

That proved it; the new songs standing out above the old. The band seemed so much more inspired by them; bringing an excitement and energy out in their performance; so fresh, they genuinely seemed more stimulated by the new ones. The old, too well polished tunes from the Seren Deputies days, from the earlier days, from a band whose radical transformation seem to have outgrown and left those old tunes far behind may well see a few of them destined for the history books.

If fact their new rig pissed on their earlier efforts from a year or so ago. They soo needed that fuller PA sound, a deeper bass and crisper top end, a wider range, that the music deserved. We could now hear it properly. Can’t wait to see a full blown gig out of the pub context to hear their sound rip open. They seem to have gelled so well as a band musically that the crowd forgave - indeed embraced -  the raw edginess of the new tunes and it was a joy to see them take more risks.

Was great to see such an enthusiastic turnout from the Whitstable shellbacks as well. A cold wintery night in November not the easiest of commitments. Those that did make the effort witnessed a band of supreme funkiness. Assured in their delivery; chilled yet danceable; unafraid to spread their musical wings across all their influences or soul, funk, reggae, deep house, rap. Indeed, a truly modern, eclectic funkronica band fit for our times. Funktronica is the wrong word. A made up word. Perhaps deep as fuck might sound better?

Chilled out sunny Sunday afternoon slots await them on the European festival circuit.

Louis pushed out from behind the table to join his bride to be on the dance floor for the last few numbers ending with a dance flourish and a 'ta-da' saying “I still got it baby”. You certainly have mate.

Was well frosty when we came out but luckily we had Granny to drive us home. Being tucked up in bed by 1.30am on a Friday night after a hard week at work and a good skinful of alcohol was such a surprise.

I think we pitched it just about right. Just like the ZeDHEads did.

23 November 2010

I was a fey, nerdy, Smiths listening, 20 year old student myself.

Life is getting harder for the aging Lothario. Remember the good old days when you were a professional 'player'? Still think you've 'got it' or are you slowly being put out to grass as the wrinkles set in?

Our man with the roving eye, TV cabbage correspondent Full Phat, tries it on for the night in Canterbury...

A visit to Studio 41: a social experiment

A young student at Studio 41 in Canterbury 
contemplates how the Hegelian idealist
account of reality as a whole revolutionized
European philosophy and how it was an
important precursor to
Continental philosophy and Marxism.
 Being fully cogniscant of how appalling Canterbury is at the weekend, particularly since Derrick “DP” Patterson lost his residency at The Loft, I had long been curious about whether Canterbury’s student scene had anything to offer. Was there a midweek niche for the tVC mission to convert clubbers to the new and old beats of deep house? I thought I’d use my occasional opportunities to work from home to facilitate solo scouting missions to Canterbury’s student “scene”.

It would also serve a secondary function: as my girlfriend recently barked at me, exasperated by my wandering eye, “why don’t you go out and do that on your fucking own”? An entirely reasonable request.

First on the list was the student night “Soap”, at Studio 41- a nod in its name to the classic New York palace of hedonism perhaps? I would go alone, as I could not imagine finding anyone foolish enough to join me on such a ridiculous mission. I had a quiet pint with my mate Rob Jones, a lucky man who’s off work for four weeks after a cycle accident. In the White Hart, it turned out the teenage barmaid recognized me from DJing at the Brewery Bar. I sounded her out on what I could expect to find when I got to Studio 41. She said, “well, it’s very young”. It turns out we have a mutual friend called Ruby, whom she said was “quite a bit older” than her. Ruby’s 21. So she must have thought I was her granddad. I thought even if I look utterly out of place, I would at least get to listen to some decent house music, as it was supposedly a dance event. And, I thought, students are generally OK, so it can’t be too bad.

I feared the worst when I turned up and the doorman said, “have you got ID? I mean, you’re obviously old enough, but it’s just in case any trouble happens”. He might as well have said, there’s a maximum age limit mate, and you ought to be in bed anyway. When I got in, I could see the potential for a great club - a massive bar, seating area and room 1; chill out area upstairs with comfy sofas, and a dark, medium sized classic main room reminiscent of the magnificent Rockshots in Newcastle. Nothing prepared me for just how young most people in there were though. Where were the mature students? The post grads? The other people who can work from home in the week?

Such an environment is not good for the ageing lothario. When I went to Ibiza two and a half years ago, tanned and happy, I got attention from the whole age range of women, 20 to 50. I was 38 and didn’t consider it inappropriate. Just flattering. It was a great feeling. When I started DJing it continued. I remember soon after coming back from Ibiza standing outside The Smack with my record box, waiting for a lift, when a car full of pretty girls in their early 20s drove past. I saw one point to me and say to her friend, “I’d have him”. I’d started a relationship with someone at this time, so never got the chance to put her words to the test. Few words, however, are finer to the player’s ear. They seem a very distant echo now as I watch the “students” (all of whom look like they work in Wilkinson’s) stagger into the club clutching each other for support.

I had started to suspect that my “Blue Peter presenter” looks were justifiably starting to fade after a long life of raising children who didn’t sleep well, and caning drugs and alcohol since I was 17. The girls under 30 still look but now look away very quickly - ticked off the list of whatever they might need to make them happy; be it for an hour or for a lifetime.

There is the odd exception - a very pretty 20 year old hairdresser tried to seduce me in front of my girlfriend in the Neptune in June, but that felt like the swansong of an ageing nightclub singer, or that someone had given her 50 quid to cheer me up. I have quietly grieved the loss of my broad appeal to the women folk of East Kent for over a year now, wondering how to cope with the desire to carry on going out, when by the very fact of going out you are constantly reminded that you’ve lost something that was dear to you. Suddenly feeling that awful self consciousness that the attention you used to give women, that was welcomed when you were desirable, is now an imposition, and compensating by suppressing any sexual desire within your self lest you expose yourself to the risk of humiliating rejection.

I hadn’t expected there to be so few people under 25, let alone 21. I felt utterly conspicuous yet invisible at the same time. This was the sort of youthful, sexually charged atmosphere that used to send me into a psychological tailspin when I was a fey, nerdy, Smiths listening, 20 year old student myself. Before E and contact lenses made me more extrovert and randy. The girls, who were totally underdressed yet somehow not sexy, either looked quizzically at me as if I had come in to tell one of them that their mother had had an accident, or right through me.

Without being conscious of it, whilst in a relationship I had imperceptibly crossed the threshold whereby any woman between 20 and 25 would relate to me as a sexual personality. It was the first time in 3 or 4 years I’d been in an environment which would expose that, or even make me think about it…like it or not, appropriate or not, 3 years ago, they did.

And the prospects for house music there? The musical and behavioural culture was utterly alien: I had expected, at the worst, electro house. Nothing could have prepared me for the awfulness of the atrociously mixed music that assaulted my ears. Bizarre electro mash ups with choruses that everyone knew the words to and sang. Badly mixed into soft rock tunes from my youth; Bon Jovi, Foreigner, Survivor. All sung by people in their late teens or early 20s. Then the occasional electro house remix of Dizzie Rascal and Wylie dropped in. It was by a long, long way, the worst music I’d ever heard in my life. These poor fuckers, I thought. If you were a student in Canterbury in the late 80s, you got tVC playing at the Works. This lot have got a coalition government ensuring that they’ll owe £20 grand before they’ve even got a job with their arse wipe degree; they won’t be able to get a house, even as a couple, until they’re 40, unless their parents are rich. And this is what they’ve chosen as their soundtrack.

My research done, I scrounged a fag off a spotty Nirvana fan, swerved my way through the girls screaming and stumbling towards the burger van, and drove home. A great club to do a great house music night in, but an utter impossibility. I left them to their problems and returned to mine - CSA payments, pending redundancy, and the inner lament of the player at the cusp of being put out to grass. But fuck me, the soundtrack to my problems is infinitely better :-) And I do still have an amazingly sexy woman as my girlfriend.

And for the younger girls and boys - Daisy, Charlotte, Dean and their mates - who sometimes come to our parties and say how much they love the music, surviving the sneers and askance looks of the older group members - I take my hat off to you. If that’s the dominant culture of your age group here, I’m not surprised you slag it off, and you come and seek out some deep house free party vibes as respite from the musical hellholes in Canterbury and the Brewery Bar. You’re always welcome in my house and our pub. And I’ll tell anyone who takes the piss out of you to go look in the mirror, bewail their wrinkles, and fuck off home to bed.

19 November 2010

running around in my brain


We are now top of the European rankings for cocaine use – which includes the minority pastime of crack-smoking which is creeping up in parts of London, according to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, but largely denotes the standard ritual whereby the drug is powdered and shoved up people's noses. It is now the second most commonly used illegal substance after cannabis with more than 3 million young adults using it every year. But Europeans' increasing fondness for cocaine is matched by a rise in related deaths: the number in the UK doubling from 161 in 2003 to 325 in 2008.

EMCDDA Report. November 2010
 Following analysis by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, which reports that 6.2% of Britons between the ages of 15 to 34 said they had used cocaine in the last year, the US no longer has the planet's worst cocaine problem. We do. Britain's inexorable appetite for the Class A substance, perhaps inevitably, finally outstripped America's. This compares with 4.5% of Americans – the second biggest users – in the same age group. Almost 15% of all young Britons have tried the drug at least once. According to another report from Straight Statistics, each year, nearly a million Britons either give it a go or indulge a regular habit. A survey on the online dance music magazine Mixmag found that 22% of British clubbers reported having taken it. Also The European drugs agency say there are more than a million problem drug users aged over 40 across the EU, including 122,000 in Britain, who dent the widely held perception that drug use is a youth phenomenon. These older drug users are prematurely experiencing the health problems faced by people 20 years older and increasing all the attendant costs this implication has.

Drug Use Around The World

Explanation for UK use can be sought, in part, from the structure of its youth culture; its emphasis on hedonism and experimentation coalescing to create a voracious appetite among young Britons for substance use, certainly when compared to other European states. Cocaine use in the UK has become normalised, as a consensus on what substances are morally unacceptable becomes less defined. Twenty years ago most people understood cocaine as a distant, almost mythical substance. "God's way of telling you you're earning too much money," as Robin Williams once said. It was restricted “to metropolitan high-rollers or those in the higher reaches of the entertainment industry” (1)

This change in demographic drug use is due to the rapidly changing image of cocaine in the UK. In 2010 cocaine can no longer be construed as the ‘yuppie’ drug. It cannot even be considered a club drug. Mystique once surrounded cocaine, with many perceiving it a drug for "winners", but all that has gone. Now cocaine use permeates all classes, from top to bottom. Price is a factor; it's cheaper than ever. Experts talk of "child-friendly" prices, "beginners' offers" and "group discounts". (2)

For people lower down the social scale, the recreational pharmacopeia revolved around more affordable sources of enjoyment: cannabis, amphetamine sulphate; and, for those who had immersed themselves in Britain's seemingly unstoppable club culture, ecstasy – an illicit substance whose creation of a kind of delirious sociability arguably did Britain a great deal of good (discuss!).

In 1990, the average price of a gram of cocaine was about £90; five years later, it was closer to £60. Circa 2003, its price per gram came down to about £40. Latest prices indicate an average price is somewhere between £2 and £4 a line. With a £4 pint not uncommon and a glass of house white retailing at around £3.50, the temptation to young people is evident. The falling cost, though, has coincided with a plummeting purity – often below 10% – but as the market proves, people, particularly teenagers, are happy to pay for an inferior, cheaper product.

Experts warn that increasingly sophisticated techniques are being used to conceal and smuggle cocaine into Europe from South America. They cite one technique that involves incorporating cocaine into carrier materials such as beeswax, fertiliser or clothing; extraction laboratories then release the drug.

Mainly though, South American gangs are buying old jets (Ads on websites such as Planemart.com offer Douglas DC-8s – four-engined jets –for as little as $275,000 (£170,000) for example) and flying the cocaine across the Atlantic to meet European demand. (3) The UN Office on Drugs and Crime began warning about transatlantic drug planes after 2 November, 2009, when a burned-out Boeing 727 was found in the desert in Mali. Drug smugglers had flown in from Venezuela, unloaded the aircraft and then torched it, investigators said. There is a conspiracy to "spread vast quantities of cocaine throughout the world by way of cargo aeroplanes” says the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. So now at least we know where it comes from and how the huge surge in demand is met. President Hugo Chávez's decision to sever ties with most US law enforcement agencies in 2005 has made it a lot easier to bring cocaine to staging sites on the Venezuelan coast, said Vanda Felbab-Brown of the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based thinktank.

Higher up the age range, this week's figures point up the blurring of our alcohol and drug cultures, and an underrated aspect of the British fondness for boozy excess. As any cocaine user will tell you, one of its main effects is the increased capacity for drink, which must substantially add to the takings of those great alco-sheds that now dominate our towns. If you read the shock-horror reports of those Friday nights-out that take in incredible volumes of booze and end in A&E, bear in mind that cocaine will often have something to do with it.

"Too many Europeans still regard cocaine use as a relatively harmless accompaniment to a successful lifestyle," said Wolfgang Götz, director of EMCDDA. "But we are progressively seeing that, as cocaine consumption grows, so too does its impact on public health. Not only can use of this drug escalate quickly, but it can also result in fatalities, even when intake is occasional and doses are low."

The annual report also highlights the increased use of two "cutting agents" to dilute, and thus increase the market value of cocaine. The EU drug experts are particularly worried about the health effects of levamisole, which is usually used to treat worms in cattle, and phenacetin, a painkiller that could cause kidney disease.

The most important point though is this. Cocaine is not a drug to plug you into the collective consciousness; instead it leaves you marooned on your own tedious island, little caring about what anyone else has to contribute. Unlike ecstasy, cannabis, or acid, it is not contemplative or mind-expanding. It tends to kill humour and camaraderie and render the collective mood brittle and anxious. All too often it fosters arrogance, anger, and even violence.

The inevitable conclusion is this: that if the idea of the caring, sharing 90s turned out to be a brief mirage, and we end the current decade more atomised and volatile than ever, the popularity of cocaine speaks volumes, embodying the spirit of our times while also feeding it.

12 November 2010

huffing and puffing in a dark corner

Been off the old blogosphere for a few weeks due to illness. Had more surgery on my detached retina, the fourth operation, and am just getting back round to joining life again and writing some more blog entries, or as Jenny Boo would call it; some “self indulgent, right up your own arse, rambling lies”.
BJ and Nicky make an effort
First up, at the end of October, was Brummy Jon’s moving in party. 
“You’ve got to come”, he says.

“I can’t mate. Just had my operation and don’t want to walk around with a patch on my eye attracting undue attention and having to explain my eye story 50 times to 50 different people throughout the night”.

“You won’t stand out”, he declares. “The party is fancy dress and the theme is zombie-pirate so everyone will have a patch or make-up or whatever”.
I agree so C, dear C, fashions me a pirate eye patch from a plastic one the hospital provided covering it in black felt and putting elastic around it. I wore a Bretton style shirt and my sailor coat. Not much of an effort I know as regular readers will be more than aware of my somewhat party pooping attitude towards fancy dress. To blend in I stood with the sailor girls for the better part of the early evening.
I know it’s society giving permission for various wardrobal malfunctional infactions; it’s giving a chance to people who love to express their creativity, it’s a chance to be whoever you want to be, including cross dressing; it’s something you can share with a partner, a chance for sometimes serious people to be just silly. Life is, after all, too short and fleeting and self-expression is an important aspect of life.
Fancy dress obviously annoys some people, like myself, and that can be fun too. As Seinfeld once said, maybe about fancy dress, have a go “because you’ll never improve your sense of style if your default look is “I give up”, which mine is. Because parties are a time to celebrate. You can be the change you want to see in the world. Everyone else can follow your fabulous lead. Darling.
Here’s a good one from Fashion Tips; “Because dressing up helps you make fashion mistakes and get past them.” Nope never got past that one. I’m one big fashion mistake. Another; “Because it’s a test of your confidence. Dressing unconventionally forces you to develop the self-assurance necessary to stand out from everyone else.” Looking at it through that lens I do not have the self-assurance nor motivation to dress up. Now why is that? Now that I’ve found a way in to some self-introspective naval gazing I feel a lot happier now. Analysing my own unhappiness, now that makes me happy.
If you’ve got it flaunt it. I ain’t got it so I don’t flaunt it. If by ‘it’ they mean great style, killer confidence, amazing legs then it’s a sorry ‘no’ from me.
said to have joie de vivre
Maybe, on my part, it is a lack of joie de vivre, "the joy of living". People do say to me ‘cheer up’ a lot. I have joie de vivre but not enough joy to make or hire a fancy dress costume. Joie de vivre "can be a joy of conversation, joy of eating, joy of anything one might do… And joie de vivre may be seen as a joy of everything, a comprehensive joy, a philosophy of life, a Weltanschauung. Robert's Dictionnaire says joie is ‘sentiment exaltant ressenti par toute la conscience’, that is, involves one's whole being." (1) I really need to get over this somehow. Any suggestions? Maybe wearing fancy dress in an inappropriate situation? Making an effort? Relaxing? Dispelling some self-aware awkwardness and embarrassment? Fan the ever-growing costume hire business takings? Cultivate a DIY philosophy of making my own costumes?
“Everyone will be looking to the host for inspiration, so as such it’s essential that they put proper time and effort into their fancy dress costume”; and he sure did. BJ, resplendent in a pirate costume of such avuncular ostentation that even a disillusioned old cynic like myself could do nothing but smile and begin to warm to the fact that this particular form of self expression largely comes down to the simple fact that fancy dress parties are one of the best ways to relax and unwind. In the ‘current climate’, not too much politics in the old blog this week, people are always looking for ways to have fun, and it doesn’t get much more fun that dressing up in outrageous clothes. It allows people to let their hair down and enjoy themselves, and what could be better than that? By then though my second, rather large, dark rum and coke was kicking in nicely and my painful eye throbs were receding in the rear view mirror at a pace that even scared me.
By the time I came round from the first spliff I’d smoked for a month – huffing and puffing in a dark corner, looking rather ashen faced, eye patch on, with Jenny P on one side of me and the lovely Helene on the other shouting “Oz is having a whitey” to everyone that passed – I just had time really to find a nice sitty down spot in the tent, by the bar, next to Rosie in her cracking fancy dress costume, before The Zedheads got on stage and played a great chilled set of old and new songs before the pain kicked in again and I really had to go home at 1am for another pain killer administration session. 
Still, was nice to get out for the first time in weeks and I hope everyone had a jolly good knees up. Thanks BJ for a great if short, on my part anyway, party. Really had a good time while I was there. You’re the man!

(1) Humor Reference Guide: A Comprehensive Classification and Analysis  by Warren Shibles.

28 October 2010

the terrible twin truths of existence

stone cold classic
KRS-One - Brighton Concorde II - 22/10/10

It’s weird isn’t it when your life revolves around your weekend; when you’re trying to pack in as much activity as you can; to see all your friends and spend some positive time with them all. To eat, drink and be merry. To talk, walk or play with the important people in your life. There’s always a birthday, a celebration, a special day, someone to commiserate or congratulate, a gig to support or one of your favourite DJ’s or performers to go see, appreciate, pay homage and dance to. Money to spend, time to fill, happiness to pursue. Dawn to dusk and beyond the sunset and before you know it it’s time to jump back into the hamster wheel of work and it’s Monday morning again. Reflections, memories, photos, reminiscences, anecdotes and an empty wallet the only things to remind of the great time you had.

There’s no avoiding that mad Beckettian grandeur about the terrible twin truths of existence: life is disappointing and death inescapable. Art is part of life and so doomed to failure in the same way. In the same way that memory plays tricks and fades sweetly leaving a glow of half remembered feelings that lose colour into a haze of forgetfulness. And amid all the excruciating self-doubt and imploding self-reflexive theatricality depicted on the dance floor or at the gig, it will reward your effort to maintain the memory and make it down as a classic weekend or a breakthrough weekend. If that effort involves a drive to Brighton to catch hip-hop legend KRS-One then so be it. Worth every minute, every penny, every excruciating endurance of thought and spirit.

In 1984 when most rappers were fixated on their cocks, drugs, ho’s and guns KRS-One was rhyming about nuclear war prevention and urging us to "Stop The Violence". He still does. Old school hip-hop, Jamaican dance hall style, new tunes, anti violence and anti corrupting powers of technology sermons; revisionist views of American history; what he calls "edutainment", all in the mix; to a sell out audience of appreciative hip-hop fans. In Brighton. A pioneering Bronx-based hip-hop artist with a socially conscious message. A man with dexterous verbosity and blunt beat sense; waxing poetically and skillfully. In 1987 came Criminal Minded; its smooth grooves and hard rhymes foreshadowing gangsta rap.

Look out for Back to the L.A.B (Lyrical Ass Beating); an upcoming EP by KRS-One. No release date has been set but top respect for a wicked show.

Total Pageviews