Lately I’ve been going to watch more gigs than play them, it’s been quite nice to have a rest!
The most unusual was at The Horse Hospital a couple of weeks ago. The McCarricks (recent interview here) were performing pieces from their “Music From The Third Floor” show and had also composed new tracks to play to some Norman McLaren films. According to the programme McLaren’s “innovative animated film techniques often eliminated the camera completely and instead saw the artist drawing, painting or scratching directly on to the film”. A great example of this was the first film, “Blinkity-Blank”, which showed spindly white flashing creatures jumping around on a royal blue background, impressions of shapes transforming in to others in jagged, lightening-quick movements, accompanied all the whoile by The McCarrick’s rich, sonorous textures and strident melodies.
The McCarricks play Koko with Kristin Hersh on March 7th.
Tansy Spinks played before the duo and delivered an intense and densely packed cacophony of sound. A solo electric violinist she “plays loops on a blue electric violin”, creating layered textures that build up in to a throbbing beast of a sound only to suddenly cut out save for a single, long, high pitched note. I admit to being skeptical at first, mainly due to the “art scene” crowd’s vociferous support of her (and their very silly hats), but the complete lack of pretention in the performance itself and the meticulous placing of the notes meant the sound built up in to something very powerful and impressive.
Last week I finally got to see Metric play in London after missing most of their set at Koko a while back and having to give away tickets to The Barfly last year (I was away working). My favourite Metric gig is still The Bowery Ballroom in 2004, just because their first album "Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?" remains my favourite over their much more well-known sophomore release "Live It Out", but this was still a great gig. Uncomfortably so at times, with Emily Haines showing a hard edge I didn't pick up on at their New York show. A couple of rants aimed squarely at the music industry were bitter but inspiring:
You're fucking lucky if some kid wants to steal your music - they've got text messages and shit, they're busy! You should count yourself lucky if they want to steal your music. The music industry just want to look in to the past cause that's where their money is, while the rest of us don't have any fucking money. I can't wait til there are less of them and more of us.
And she beamed with joy as she declared that "I love music - do you love music? It's embarassing how much I love it".
With an encore of extended versions of "Old World Underground..." tracks "The List" and "Dead Disco" Metric made what could easily have been an ordinary rock gig in to a happening and seemed to enjoy that more than the rest of the set, Emily spitting out her perfectly crafted lyrics with weighty venom.
A couple of days later I was in very different surroundings as I watched The Shins play a short set in the basement of Virgin Megastore. Fighting against a truly rubbish soundman they did really well but were obviously uncomfortable for much of the set, starting to really get in to it and smile about three quarters of the way through. The songs were ace though and their new album "Wincing The Night Away" is on heavy rotation on my iPod.
The Shins play The Astoria on 25th February.
After all that gig-watching last weekend was spent working. Saturday was a day out at The Hilton culminating with a jumping-about-on-stage session as part of the entertainment at the Sony Asia Sports Awards (stagemates included Alesha, The Drifters and Sandeep Acharya), followed by a very brief meeting with Jermaine Jackson (good firm handshake, dry hands) and a lovely meal of paneer, rice and aloo chat. On Sunday I dressed up to play a maid for a Money Programme reconstruction scene. Resplendent in black dress, sensible shoes, white pinny and little hat I carried a silver tray with a sugarbowl on it down the hallway of Carlton House (stuffy Conservative Club in SW1), hid from the master and missus behind a door and passed dresses to her ladyship for her to try on. How I love variety.
This Week's Five
1. Sea Legs - The Shins
2. Behave - Charlotte Hatherley
3. Dead Disco – Metric
4. The Prayer – Bloc Party
5. Jumpers - Sleater Kinney