Archive for April, 2002

camber report

OK, OK, OK. I know you’ve all been desperate to hear about my weekend at All Tomorrow’s Parties, so here’s a few highlights:

  • Performance of the weekend – a tie between Shellac, who curated the event and performed three ferocious sets, and Cheap Trick, who showed that age is no barrier when it comes to being able to rock™, despite guitarist Rick Nielson looking like Jonathan King on day release.
  • Moment of the weekend – Mission Of Burma guitarist Roger Miller, hearing wrecked by Tinnitus, performing behind his amplifier, shielded from the drumkit by a sheet of Perspex and wearing industrial ear protectors, still managing to wrestle the most violent, blistering sounds from his guitar in a performance that belied the band’s near twenty-year absence from the stage.
  • Discovery of the weekend – the truly bizarre Danielson Familie; imagine Pixies singer Frank Black raised on a diet of nursery rhymes at the Branch Davidian compound at Waco, surrounded by dancing medical staff.
  • Other honourable mentions – Melt Banana, Plush, Low, Arcwelder, Consonant, Nina Nastasia, Bonnie Prince Billie.
  • Worst band of the weekend – The Breeders. Sad but true. If the Deal sisters are straight these days (and I hope they are), butchering their own classic repertoire with a truly shambolic, stumbling performance is a strange way of announcing your sobriety.
  • I still can’t figure it out, however hard I try Award – The Fall. I feel like I ought to like The Fall. I’ve tried and tried, and I probably love most bands who claim to be have been influenced by them. But I don’t. When things occasionally get interesting, when the riffs are no longer purloined directly from Nuggests-era garage tracks that no-one bought first time round, when there are brief moments of hope, you still have Mark E. Smith, officially the world’s worst singer. He comes across as the ultimate drunken bore, someone you’d walk out of a pub to avoid. At least P.W.Long, performing earlier downstairs, comes across as a violent, aggressive drunk, and is all the better for it, playing an acoustic guitar with more brute force than anyone I’ve ever seen.
  • Souvenirs of the weekend – One of Rick Nielson’s plectrums and a Melt Banana Frisbee, both caught after being thrown from the stage.
  • What? The? award – The Upper Crust are funny for about five seconds, playing LA Strip glam metal whilst dressed like Enlightenment era dandies. You get the feeling that it’s probably Faster Pussycat in disguise, but rubbish is still rubbish whether it comes in fancy dress or not.

    And finally, five images that don’t sum up a fantastic weekend in any way, shape or form:

    1. Rick Nielson’s guitars, part 1
    2. Rick Nielson’s guitars, part 2
    3. The Danielson Familie. Suction please nurse.
    4. You can go to the most remote areas of the Earth, and you’ll still find Japanese tourists and their cameras. Oh, hold on, it’s our old friends Melt Banana
    5. Steve Albini, King of Camber Sands.
  • mission of burma

    In 1988 I bought my first CD player, and on the same day my first actual CD (I’d been buying vinyl for years). My initial purchase was a Rykodisc compilation by Mission Of Burma, who had split up five years earlier. 2002 finds the band playing live again, and in a few hours time I’ll be watching them at this year’s All Tomorrow’s Parties event at a Pontins holiday camp at Camber Sands on the South coast. Life has come full circle, or something, it would appear.

    le blog presidentiel

    After France went to the polls to issue something close to a vote of confidence to the Nazi Jean-Marie Le Pen, many on the left are wondering quite how they managed to let this happen. This number includes a workmate, Laurence, who decided today to start her own weblog as a protest at the success of the far right. At least, I think she’s commenting on the political climate — I don’t speak any French — but it could be about baguettes. Or lingerie. Or delicious little pastries. Mmmm, yummy.

    raising hell

    Joeri pointed out a weblog out in the previous post’s comments, and it’s a doozy. Raising Hell is a team blog about parenting, run by four Americans and a Canadian and, more than anything else, I like it because it reminds me of Greg Knauss. Greg used to post on an almost daily basis at his website, more often than not about the experiences of fatherhood, and I tuned in religiously. Today I read Greg’s Rainy Day Fun And Games For Toddler And Total Bastard, a compendium of much of his online writing as well as some fresh material. It’s a brilliant, if brief book, taking less than thirty-five minutes to read from cover to cover. All the same, highly recommended.

    beef in your basket

    “Now YOU can be the center of eye-catching attention at your next pool party or workout session! Just slip this realistic molded basket enhancer inside your briefs! Indented, tan-colored nylon cup holds your equipment comfortably while projecting a virile image of well-endowed manhood.” Despite being sold on a site aimed at gay males, I feel that The Bulge has just as much to offer the heterosexual gentleman. Also available: The Bubble Butt.

    time to burn

    Today I received notification of the three lucky, lucky bloggers who’ll be reciving copies of my Midsummernight’s compilation in a few days time. I won’t let you know who they are quite yet, but here’s a few clues. One is Dutch, two are based in the UK. One is quite well-known, one less so, one a complete newcomer. One is female, whilst the others are male. Two of them have sites I like. One of them doesn’t.


    Well, that was quite some night. I finally got round to celebrating my birthday with a rooftop BBQ featuring several kilos of prime Argentinian steak straight from a highly secret source at the embassy. Touchingly, my friends finally headed my pleas to help me find a woman, buying me two girlfriends for the evening. The first was of the virtual variety on CD-Rom, whilst the second was made of high-quality burn-resistant rubber, with the look of a Russian long jumper applying an indecent amount of make-up for a podium appearence. It was also the first party I’ve ever hosted that was gatecrashed by a successful author, chick-lit star Lisa Jewell. Naturally enough I immediately bored her senseless with a drunken ramble about my own lofty literary ambitions, ignoring the likelihood that this was a conversation she probably has with every new person she meets. I swear I’ll never learn.