18 December 2012

The Party at the End of the Universe


News in from Folkestone - Sterling musical performances from the two bands KING PORTER STOMP and TWO MAN TING guaranteed the beautiful, friendly crowd an exceptional night’s entertainment at THE PARTY AT THE END OF THE UNIVERSE. Yay!

KPS played their “own unique union of ska-funk-dub and afrobeat and top it all off with cleverly crafted conscious rhymes. With massive horn lines, heavy bass and intricate guitar work”, I would add, got the dance floor rocking to the groovy beat. Personally I thought it was funny when they started coming out of their tiny dressing room and filing on stage, they just kept a coming out, the small stage filling up with musicians. It was the first notes and the synchronised bobbing that immediately filled the floor.

Whitstable does the same, and it reminds me of the days of when they used to have really long films or double film bills at cinemas and there’d always be a break to go relief yourself, top up your sweets or alcohol; a proper old school ’milking’ of the venue in the most polite way business like way possible, of course. In Whitstable they’ll have a break if their pint was empty. The vibe just gets going and they go ’well, that’s the end of our first set. We’re just going to take a little break and be back in a bit’. Trigger point. Everyone with that terrible affliction of nicotine addiction promptly runs out of the venue and those alcohol fans suddenly creating a bar that’s 10 deep, leaving the place empty with bewildered non-smokers going ‘where did everyone go?’

This doesn’t happen in cinemas' anymore though as the break is deemed no longer relevant. At this very moment in time there a lot of very long films doing the rounds in cinemas’;  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey lasts for 170 minutes; Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a mere 154 minutes; The Matrix Reloaded punished at 138 minutes; some found The Tree of Life's 139 minutes harder to take. That same article warns that “on the way are the multiple-narrative Cloud Atlas, which overtakes The Hobbit at 173 minutes, Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained, which manages 165 minutes; the Bin Laden assassination story Zero Dark Thirty and Tom Hooper's Les Miserables, which both come in at 157 minutes; and Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, which lasts 150 minutes.” How big are our bladders? That is the question? So, all hail the bands that have breaks and perform two sets; long live respect for bladder. How would Alfred Hitchcock have coped following his famous maxim The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder?”

After the bands I play a few tunes. Everyone is chugging away and we all know it finishes at 2am so we trying to enjoy what is left and to cram in our enjoyment but before that a woman approaches me slowly from the side moving her upturned palm in an exaggerated upward movement gesture. When she reaches the top of the movement her eyes boggle slightly, her head tips forward and to one side. I smile and nod;

“Hi.”

“Can you ‘up it’ a bit?” she asks, leaning into my ear.

“Up it? What does that mean?” both of us know full well what it means. I think she means volume but that is controlled by Chester the sound guy. I think she may mean BPM’s; “I can up the BPM to 125 if you want?”

She shakes her head; “You know?” Does the hand gesture again. “A bit more...” – clench fist back and forwards in piston motion – “…oomph.”

“What kind of oomph?” and then she says it.

“Psy.”

I could recount much more of this conversation word for word, as it does go on for some time, so the dear reader could grasp the interminable monotony and repetition of its deliverer and all the time consuming explanations furnished from my behalf that include ‘it’s a small gig with two bands and a bit of music in-between not exactly a psy conducive experience in the least’ but by that moment I had lost the will to live and could feel my spirit departing this earth.

“Just tell me to fuck off if I’m annoying you,” she posits.

“No, you’re fine,” I say. “Carry on.”

This took twenty minutes and it was twenty minutes I could have took enjoying the house music and selecting a few tracks or whatever. Instead I get another text book lesson in why DJ’s love their public. Tonight, a rather less than average count, I had the following conversations, please see link for explanation; a 3, a 5, an 11, a 12, a 13 and a 16. The reasons why people, ‘psy Nazi’s’ in particular, have no tolerance for other people’s music provokes the question that inevitably generates a long discussion that will take place at another time on these pages.

It was mine and Clare’s anniversary weekend, 6 years of toil and trouble, fun and frolics. The first night of our festivities didn’t start well. She came home Friday after work. We had to go out an hour later to ‘The Party at The End of the Universe’.

“Hi,” I say as she walks through the door.

 I'm exhausted,” she replies and that was the end of that. I went on my own.
She’s fine. I'm OK with her. When horrible things happen we stick together. We've grown together like two gnarled trees twining around each other trying to survive. Survive what? This is life. Bad things happen. It’s hard. You find your people; you find your person. You lean on them. It’s my life whatever happens and she is here for it too.

I could articulate epiphanies or epithets or tell you what really matters in life but I’ll just say; have you looked at her hands?  They’re beautiful. The things she creates with them; her art, her food, her touch. She really doesn’t know how good she is. This modesty thing getting in the way. I love that. Sometimes you just wish people would see themselves the way you do. She’s that good. She’s outstanding.

To love me unconditionally is hard work. Clare and my friends do that for me. I lean on them hard. I have a lot of memories of people; people I’ve lost forever from different lives in different places.  This is the place I fell in love; the place where I found my family. This is where I learnt to be a person. Where I learnt how to take responsibility. And it’s the place I met Clare.

I make mistakes. She’s forgiving. I learn. I make more mistakes. I wreck, we wreck things but we always pick it up again. No matter how bad we think things are and in the middle of my fuck ups and insecurities knowing that she is going to be there and do that for me makes me feel that there is hope for me. That there is someone who won’t give up on me. She is strong; so am I and we believe in this thing we have together and we’ll make it work which is partly why I am writing this to say Happy anniversary, happy 6th

Saturday around 8.30pm we got back home from visiting Carole for her birthday. Clare and I met one of Carol's birthday parties 6 years ago and as well as our anniversary it was also Richards’ Records impresario’s anniversary too as he had met his partner at the same fucking party six years ago. I said to him “Richard, I have 10,000 records at home; do you want to buy them back?” Oh, how we laughed. MDM was having trouble with Traktor but a quick latency expansion solved that.

Also at Carole’s we, I say we, I mean ‘the guys’, proceeded to discuss ‘The Rolling Stones’ at some not inconsiderable length and with the documentaries on TV recently fresh in my head and having just read both Keith and Mick’s biographies we traded 'the stone's built the road' yarns like we had been there ourselves. 

Not that I’m a Stones fan. Or a heroin fan but I regaled what I remembered about Keef’s tale of all this pure heroin he acquired at his French tax exile retreat and how the specific instructions were 3 parts heroin and 97 parts filler. He told of mixing his first batch up and he had 100 grams of it. “Still the best, the purest”, he said. He still had 25 grams of the pure stuff left. They recorded Exile on Main Street in the basement of his house on the stuff. And he still beat fitness fanatic Mick at tennis. And Mick has a small cock.

At this party, where we met, she sat on my knee. We chatted. She was wearing a 1 metre diameter target and couldn't sit down properly. She joked. I liked that. I always thought that she was too serious a person for me. It’d been a while since I’d met anyone who cared about me enough to give me grief.

Anyway, when I got back Saturday night I texted the promoter thanking his for a great night out and asked if he had had a late one on Friday? Apr├Ęs party at Pete Blue’s house I had left them, after a lovely cup of tea, listening to Tony’s acoustic guitar skills. He replied; “Haven’t slept yet, look about 55…” Later he posts on fb “Thank you to all who gave for the winter homeless shelter appeal. We raised £105. Well done x”

3 December 2012

Beat n Sol Go West


He began by being an observer of life, and only later set himself the task of acquiring the means of expressing it.
(Charles Baudelaire, 1964)

Embracing the future and supporting the bands and DJ’s combination works for everyone.

Such is the wont of the modern party /gig  goer.  Recent figures from a  YouGov SixthSense survey says  around 25 per cent of those surveyed said that they go to fewer gigs as a result of economic struggles, with around the same number spending less money on tickets by choosing to attend cheaper live events. The same in happening in the club and festival scene. With the rapid decline in attendances at big clubs the trend is away from these soulless behemoths to smaller, more intimate dance clubs and lounges which provide a mix of entertainment and facilities. 

Competition has increased, as pubs take advantage of extended licensing hours so what can the clubs do? Beat n Sol Go West at the Westcoast Bar in Margate is the way to look at it. Bands early on and for half the night; then DJ’s till the finish.
In clubland the era of multi-floor, high door prices, surly door staff conducting body searches, long cloakroom and bar queues, high price drinks, plastic wristband tagged, earsplitting, bump and grind dance clubs playing cheesy house and electro music is over. Thank fuck for that, they were truly a magnificently shit experiences for all concerned. Shit toilets, muddy fields, overcrowded and expensive. We don’t want it any more.

The Westcoast Bar may well be the paradigm shift away from this corporate concept of stack ‘em high and sell ‘em high. No more milk the fuckers for every last penny then kick ‘em out into the night at some hour deemed appropriate by the irrelevant authorities. There was no respect for the paying customer at these corporate sheds. Short of the great experience of partying for free outdoors in summer comes the partying for something in an intimate venue. With a nice sound system in it! With bands and DJ’s.

The theory being we can get the best of all words under one roof; local DJ’s working together – in this case from DJ’s from Subsdance, Unite and tVC – local bands getting support local promoters  - in this case the Zed Heads, Bubble Band and Turncoat and the Hellfire Orchestra! – and best of all decent crowds who appreciate one, the other or, heaven forbid, both.
At the Westcoast Bar we loved the ‘chill out’ room. This developed from the bands and DJ’s ‘Green Room’ where anyone in the club that night could eventually find this little space with comfortable couches and quiet cozy areas for friendly chats. Personally, I get bored with dancing after five minutes, so I usually lose interest in the dance floor action and do prefer alternative space provision that some of the great intimate clubs provide. Yeah I love music but I also love sitting down late at night listening to some great DJ’s or bands, getting drunk and talking to some real people about real things. I’m not a ‘gamer’ or a ‘player’ so tire rather quickly of clubs that specifically focus on this mainstream predatory accommodation of basic human drives. 

Not that there is anything wrong with that. 

I loved sitting with promoter Jenny chatting away about everything. I loved seeing all my free party chums grooving to the music. I loved the beer on draft in a cold glass. I loved looking at Emma’s sketches which she showed me on her phone. I loved meeting my girlfriend’s friends who were down in a bunch via taxi from Whitstable celebrating Nini’s birthday. I love the behind the decks action. I loved hearing the bands.

It’s not just the big clubs that are suffering. The number of festival-goers next year will fall due to cost, weather and overcrowding amongst other things. The number of people attending festivals in 2012 was down and it is not expected to improve in any way in the next twelve months. Small is going to be beautiful. People are going to attend fewer multi-day festivals and club nights and be stringent about which ones they will attend. Even free party attendance will decline. Giving up 3 to 5 days of your life plus recovery time is a big ask these days; and that is not including the cost, weather and overcrowding factors. A single gig is much less of a commitment, both in terms of time and money, than going to a festival. 

Subsdance Sound System through their Beat n Sol initiative aim to conquer this by putting on intimate parties through the winter months to increase their profile in readiness for the summer green festival season. During the summer they provide solar powered stages, soundsystems, lighting and marquees for festivals and events. All powered by the sun and the support of the local people who like what they do.

The highlight of my night, around 5.30 as the club started thinning out, was a long and very loud version of Massive Attack’s ‘Unfinished Sympathy’, which always sounds sensational on a large PA. Thanks Mike SU

To be away from home and yet to feel oneself everywhere at home; to see the world, to be at the centre of the world, and yet to remain hidden from the world—such are a few of the pleasures of those independent, passionate, impartial natures which the tongue can but clumsily define.
(Baudelaire, 1964)


Beats n Sol Go West

Friday, 30 November 2012

OK folks, festival season is over.... :-(

But never mind... we've got a night for you that will knock your proverbial socks off...

Come and enjoy an amazing night of top bands and DJ's that will see you dancing till sunrise...

Featuring...

8pm - The amazing... Zed Heads
9.15pm - The truly awesome ... Bubble Band
10.30pm - The incredible... Turncoat and the Hellfire Orchestra! 
11.30pm - Deejay Buttaphingaz & Jay
12.30am - Loop E Lu - http://soundcloud.com/dj-loop-e-lu
01.30am - Oz tVC - http://soundcloud.com/tvcabbage12 
03.00am - Mike SU - http://soundcloud.com/djmikesu

Please visit the bands and DJ's on the internet and like follow listen...


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