Notes From The City

By Londonist_Laura Last edited 129 months ago
Notes From The City

Notes From The City

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Another little writing break for this busy person - I've been trailing my way up and down the motorway playing at fireworks and Christmas lights pop shows, trying to get reasonable food for reasonable prices at service stations and generally living the rock and roll dream. Yep, it's all glamour.

It's nice to not be on a bus on the motorway sometimes, but as I wander around the city I get my fair share of unwanted attention from blokes on the tube/bus/street who have made it their life's work to bother young women who dare to a) walk around alone and b) leave the house at all. When I carry an instrument (which is a lot of the time) I seem to become even more of a target, so I've recently started experimenting with a variety of hats to cover up my beacon-esque blonde hair and hopefully to allow me safer passage through the dark streets.

The other evening I was travelling home from a gig in town and, too hot to wear my hat on the tube, I waited until just before my stop to get ready. As I was donning my current favourite, a grey schoolboy-style example, a man leaned over and tapped my on the shoulder.

MAN: Excuse me.

ME, wearily: Yes?

MAN: You didn’t just put that hat on because I was looking at you, did you?

ME: No, I didn’t notice – but why were you looking at me?

MAN: I wasn’t.

ME: Oh, okay…

[uncomfortable pause]

MAN: Can I just say something?

ME, inwardly screaming “Must you?”: What’s that?

MAN: You need to grow your hair.

ME: What?

MAN: Yeah, all women should have long hair.

ME: Is that right...

MAN: Yeah. Grow your hair.

ME, annoyed now: No!

MAN, leaning in: Grow your hair!

ME, getting up: Bye bye.

Luckily my train pulled in to its final stop at that point and he zipped out of the other door and pegged it up the escalator. I was worried he’d be hanging around outside with the other edgy weirdos but he was nowhere to be seen.

I’ve been making an effort to get out to gigs recently and saw a couple of great ones in the past week. Last Friday I visited Orange & Blue Studios in Catford to visit some friends and listen to some very loud music. The great thing about O&B is the informal community feel, everyone there is really friendly and it’s one of the places I feel the most surrounded by creativity. Because all the bands that record, rehearse and perform there are completely independent, there’s always someone releasing an album or EP under their own steam and on this occasion Pigshackle were celebrating the release of their debut EP, Epig, with a storming live set, a massive dish of roast pork and a slot on the bill with two other excellent bands – Molotov Sandwich and Another Dead Hero.

Another Dead Hero are very highly esteemed among my metalhead friends and I was really impressed by the sheer force of their playing but my favourites of the night were Molotov Sandwich, a four piece from Leeds who create intense soundscapey blasts of music with some really idiosyncratic vocals and a compelling frontman/guitarist with fabulous dreadlocks.

Oh, and did I mention that the audience stood right next to the band? There’s no stage so everyone piles in to the live room of the studio and surrounds the musicians. It really breaks down the boundaries between performer and audience member but I’m glad I took my earplugs because that otherwise it would have really hurt!

The other gig I went to this week was a much more traditionally organized affair – Jarvis Cocker at KOKO. I’d been looking forward to this one for months and excitedly clutched my prized ticket on the way in with my friends, not quite believing that I’d finally be seeing one of my heroes in action. The venue became so packed that it was impossible to see anything over some very tall men who stationed themselves directly in front of me but after wandering around a bit I managed to get a prime view from the staircase and remained transfixed throughout. Jarvis Cocker is one of those rare frontmen who holds the audience in the palm of his hand at all times, not once letting them go. He threw some fantastic shapes, as he’s justifiably famous for, but even when he paused mid-song to look out at the crowd, not moving a muscle, he was just as charismatic. The new material sounded great, really strong and mature, with a cover of Space Oddity thrown in at the end for good measure. He had the best between-song banter I’ve heard since I saw Jeff Tweedy at Shepherds Bush Empire last year, and just seemed like a lovely, down to earth, honest bloke who just wanted to play us some songs. “We’re friends, aren’t we? I’d like to think so…”

It makes me all the more annoyed with myself that I didn’t take the opportunity to speak to him when I bumped in to him at the BBC last week. He was there filming Later with Jools Holland and I was leaving the building to go home. I’d been saying to my band all afternoon that I’d love to meet Jarvis but when I came (literally) face to face with him in the corridor all I could muster was a friendly but probably scared-looking smile before I bolted out of the door, leaving him smiling quizzically in my direction.

It must be almost time to grow up.

This Week's Wintry Five

1. Set The Fire To The Third Bar – Snow Patrol & Martha Wainwright

2. Winterlong – The Pixies

3. 20 Years Of Snow – Regina Spektor

4. Cold Water – Damien Rice

5. The Box – Molotov Sandwich

Last Updated 18 November 2006