Monday, October 30, 2006

The C86 bash at the ICA was great fun, sometimes nostalgia can be a good thing.

In the bar area the people from Rough Trade had set up a small shop area selling CD's from some of the more obscure bands of the era, as well as a few more contemporary things. The walls were covered by a slideshow of pictures of bands, record sleeves, fanzines and anything else that would bring the memories flooding back.

I must admit that I didn't know much about The Wolfhounds, I bought one single from them back in the day, so I was pleasantly surprised by their powerful and punchy set. They were much more akin to someone like The Gang of Four than most of the bands linked with the C86 sound. Before Phil Wilson and Big John from The June Brides took to the stage we were shown an extract from a forthcoming film documenting the indie scene of the 1980's. It featured some amusing footage of The Jesus & Mary Chain, including the tumultuous climax of one of their gigs when the crowd decided that would like to rearrange the PA system!

Phil and John breezed their way through a series of classics from The June Brides, cue big grins all-round. We did have a strange moment mid way through the set, we have been corresponding with Phil over recent months and he kindly dedicated a song to us, for next minute we were caught up in a strange minor celebratory world! Someone dashed up and asked to take our picture, then I heard someone else in the crowd say "Tom and Orynthia, they're from Bristol"! What was going on? The person taking picture was Phil Wilson's wife and the person who mentioned was a friend of a friend who we have seen on a couple of occasions.

There was another documentary interlude before Roddy Frame took to the stage. Roddy picked up on the feel of the event and entertained us with several amusing anecdotes about his pre C86 days on Postcard records. His set was peppered with gems from the early days of Aztec Camera, he also managed to throw an Orange Juice song into the mix as well.

Then it was back to the bar area, stopping only for a quick hug with Phil, where Steve and Katrina of The Pastels were playing a few tunes. we hung around for an hour or so, chatting to a few nice people including Roddy Frame before heading back to Bristol

Thursday, October 26, 2006

All that gadding about (see below) caused my frail body to fall victim to the dreaded man flu. Then again is there anything better in the world than feeling a little ropey but being able to snuggle up in bed, long after the alarm has gone off in the morning? When I did finally make it downstairs those nice TV people had put on some lovely old films to help me pass the day.

Hope to be back on form this weekend as we are heading up to London for a bit of mid 80’s nostalgia. The ICA is putting on a couple of gigs to mark the 20th anniversary of the movement that became known as C86. So on Saturday we will be watching Roddy Frame (although he predates that whole C86 scene), The Wolfhounds but most importantly Phil Wilson. Phil used to be the singer with the June Brides; in many ways to our way of thinking they were the quintessential C86 band. Fantastic pop songs played at high speed – guitars to the fore, wailing vocals and great little trumpet breaks – they looked great as well, if you like the classy nerdy indie boy look which we all (well me anyway!) aspired to. Short hair, early 60’s suits, and great shoes, how could they fail? In our small world they were stars, of course most people didn’t have a clue who they were.

By the time they released their album it was all over for them and most of the bands of that ilk. Strangely “indie music” turned into a very different thing and the moment was gone. A few years later “indie” was everywhere, of course we moaned that this wasn’t “real indie” but who would listen. Soon we had Oasis – the biggest band in the country being called an indie band, which I could sort of see, then anyone who played a guitar was indie, then dance music came along and blew all those indie bands away.

It’s great to see these people getting some recognition at last, compilation albums being released, amazing write ups in the press looking back on those halcyon days. Now the only question is this, should I wear an old suit or a black and white French style striped T-Shirt?
To say that we've been busy since returning from New York would be an understatement. Last week went to The Essex Green on Wednesday, Camera Obscura on Thursday, Crippled Black Phoenix on Friday and The Divine Comedy on Saturday. Sunday saw me playing football in the morning (3-1 win for Bryan Munich) and then DJ'ing at Grumpy Man in the evening, quite a hectic schedule.

Enjoyed all the gigs, the first two were at the recently re-opened Thekla. The Thekla looks great but it was a little strange to get ther just after 8pm for the Camera Obscura gig to find that we had missed the excellent Francois already, due to the fact that an indie club night was going to take place after the bands. That's fine but having to squeze 3 bands in before 10pm is just daft. I think that they need to realise that if people go to see bands they need to see them at a resonable time.

Grumpy Man was good fun, we did have a few people who were asking for "happy songs" so we had to explain that is not what we do. On the other side of the coin the keyboard player for Jamie T who played in Bristol last night, came up to us to say how much he loved what we were playing.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Let's start at the end. If you are heading to England from New York, Newark airport with an evening departure, make sure that you sit on the right hand side of the plane, grab a window seat and enjoy one of the greatest views in world.

The amazing light show beneath the wings of the plane provides you with final reminder, should you need one, of the wonder of this city. The grid system of the streets and avenues below, provide the perfect setting for the largest, most wildly illuminated map in the world. It makes you want to rush to the cockpit and demand that the pilot turns the plane around so that you start your visit again. That wasn't an option, so we find ourselves back in Bristol after a wonderful two weeks in the city of constant surprises.

Given the benefit of time and that we have been several times before, we were able to visit some far flung places, many of which has escaped our attention on previous trips. We spent several hours bird watching in the Jamaica Bay wildlife reserve, visited the Bronx museum, a quirky sculpture park in Queens, and the site of the 1964 world fair in Flushing. Also had a good walk around Harlem and had a chance to check out the Park Slope area of Brooklyn.

In addition we saw lots of bands, ate lot's of nice and interesting food, bought loads of CD's and revelled in the fact that the exchange rate made us feel rather flush.

The apartment was great, we were on East 71st and 1st, not a part of town that I knew well but we found plenty to enjoy in the local area.

Got to spend lot's of time with our friends Bill & Doreen who are about to leave New York for Mexico, they gave us interesting tour of the changing face of the Lower East Side. Where Heroin one ruled the streets, swanky bars and expensive shops now rule the roost. Strangely on Friday afternoon we ended up spending our time with lot's of very excited children (and a few adults) at the launch of the final Lemony Snicket book, well Stephen Merritt of Magnetic fields fame was playing, so we had to pop along. It was great fun.

Our new favourite food shop, is the oh so simple Yonah Schimmel Knishery. Now we thought a Knish is pretty much the same wherever you go, well not here. They are huge and much more tasty than any other one I've had. The real treat though are the sweat ones, the Cherry Knish is a gem. The Spartan interior of the shop looked as though nothing had changed for about 40 years, the service was less than great but we loved the place. The walls were covered with press clippings and new pictures, my favourite being a picture of the Brooklyn bridge which was obviously too large for the intended frame. Brilliantly they simply cut the picture and put the rest of it into a smaller adjacent frame - genius!