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Friday, 29 October 2010

Serious as cancer

Sometimes you have to accept you're living a lie. A few months back I declared my resignation from the pit primarily due to laughably long recovery times. However, last night I fell off the wagon in a big way as my town was absolutely destroyed by Vera Cruz, Trash Talk and Cancer Bats.

French mob Vera Cruz are a fairly nonthreatening cartel to look at, particularly diminutive frontman Flavien. They took the stage to a relatively full room and started a really quite splendid display of hardcore. The crowd was dead and fuelled by Newcastle Brown, I made the executive decision that a pit needed starting. I consider myself an ambassador for the local music scene and thought it imperative that our European friends got a decent response. So a couple of other lads got stuck in and before long we were getting a decent swell, and I felt a bit smug to be honest.

Vera Cruz left the stage, I pounded a beer and chatted to my fellow pit monkeys about the need for organised chaos at hardcore shows, then Trash Talk came on to Lagwagon's Stokin The Neighbours, which gratified me a great deal. Unlike Vera Cruz, these lads seemed a bit more likely to look you in the eye whilst pissing on your shoes. Bassist Spencer Pollard started vocal proceedings before front man Lee Spielman opened his mouth and, to coin an oft-used phrase, unleashed hell. They are pure, nasty hardcore, and the place went mental. Beers, spit, teeth, probably some piss, a couple of shoes, bodies, hair and expletives were being thrown all over the place. A personal highlight for me was my shout of "CIRCLE PIT!" that was greeted by "listen to the guy in the Morbid Angel top!" from the lead singer.

Spielman was a proper mental. He was in the pit, up on shoulders, kicked a heckler in the face and told a chap who insisted on being ultra cool and sitting on the stage drinking a beer that he was going to kill him (shortly after stealing his beer and downing it).

Despite an older gent warning us about the broken glass on the floor, which I think was my bottle of Brown, the pit was insane. By the end of Trash Talk's set I was cripplingly exhausted and went outside for a breather. Then a fellow patron who was talking to a bouncer points at me and says "he's fucking mental"; after an accolade like that I had no chance of staying still during Cancer Bats, did I?

One more quick pint and back in. My first time seeing the Canadians live and the rumours are true; they're sick. Liam Cormier said he recognised people from other gigs they've played in our town over the years which might have been fluff but fuck me, it worked. The entire floor was moving, people were flying all over the place, and by the time Cancer Bats played their excellent cover of the Beastie Boys classic Sabotage the air in the room had been replaced by a misty hue of sweat and Red Stripe.

It's the morning after and I really, really hurt. Banging my head on the stage during a particularly raucous moment wasn't ideal, I could have done without getting windmilled in the jaw and the Vans-shaped bruise on my back is a little on the sore side but what a fucking gig. Absolutely immense. Ten out of ten. Simple as that. However, I am definitely retired from the pit now.



Friday, 22 October 2010

12 inches of pure pleasure

I'm (un)lucky enough to work near HMV on Oxford Street in London, so at least one lunch hour a week will be spent wandering aimlessly around the various floors of Europe's biggest branch. However, in recent months my attendance has thinned out due to my new found love of vinyl.

Purists amongst you will scoff at the fact that I have only recently got into this particular musical medium but to be fair, I grew up in the era of tapes and CDs, with vinyl well on the way out by the time I was old enough to buy stuff myself. Mind you, I probably should never have been allowed to buy things myself as my first purchase was East 17's Walthamstow album.

So for a recent significant birthday, Hot Chick got a record player. Since then, I have hemorrhaged a chunk of loose change in charity shops because ladies and gentlemen, vinyl is fucking amazing. On no other format can you walk into a shop and procure the Best of Louis Armstrong, Queen's News of the World and Dire Straits' Brothers in Arms album for less than £2. I get a wave of excitement every time I walk past a stinking old box of 12-inches, which despite sounding heroically homosexual taken out of context, is a thoroughly enjoyable feeling. Once you've waded through the plethora of Johnny Mathis, Cilla Black and various album releases from close-harmony singing Welsh males the variety on offer is devastatingly immense. Dire Straits' Alchemy live album is one of the best things I've listened to this year, Thin Lizzy's Johnny the Fox is pure brilliance (and a personal fave of Hot Chick) and Difficult to Cure from Rainbow includes Spotlight Kid, which is a moment of heavy-meets-prog wonder. And picking up Led Zeppelin and Blue Öyster Cult's debut albums for next to nothing? Don't mind if I do.

Of course the other good thing about buying vinyl is that music you wouldn't purchase becomes infinitely more appealing - virtually everything is worth a 50p investment, with the exception of anything by Ocean Colour Scene, 3OH!3 or Simply Red. I picked up Jim Reeves Good 'N' Country, Holst's The Planet Suit and something called It's Party Time, which features party classics such as Maybe It's Because I'm a Londoner and has an amazing photo of old women dancing on the front.

That's the other point; the artwork is fucking brilliant. ELO's Out of the Blue gatefold can only be the result of extensive narcotic use and as for 1984 by the mighty Van Halen? Seminal.

Plus, a big chunk of the money you give to charity shops goes, unsurprisingly, to charity, which makes you feel a whole lot better about buying yet more music to clutter up your house. Luckily, the wife is as much of a music junky as I, otherwise I'd end up on the street with nothing but The Best of Blondie as a pillow.

Bye for now gangsters

Friday, 15 October 2010

Coping with addiction

Over the last couple of months I've realised I have an addiction. It began years ago but has been bubbling up for the last few weeks. I know I'm not alone but I don't know who to turn to about my problem.

I'm in love with a dark mistress. My drums.

My kit is old, not particularly pricey, and needs constant tuning. But since I pulled it out of the loft in my parents house and set it up in my basement it's all I can think about. I went to my local music shop to buy a new tuning key and came out with a new set of heads and two new sets of sticks. And the pushers in the shop don't help - "buy nine items, get the tenth free". Okay! I will! Bleeding me dry with their hickory goodness and Mylar-coated wonders.

I log onto eBay and a world of opportunity opens up before me. New cymbal stands, double kick pedals, and most importantly a cow bell stand, all just a couple of clicks away. Needless to say I think I have to check myself into rhythm section rehab before I bankrupt myself on drum equipment that I probably can't even play, let alone actually need.

But who to turn to? My family is no good, as my brother's got a similar problem but with bass guitars. The only option is for me to embrace it. Spend every penny I earn on Zildjian and Sabian. Indulge myself in Remo and Pearl. Wash myself in a sea of Axis and Vic Firth. I simply see no other way.

The struggle continues...



Friday, 8 October 2010

Not being illegal

Apologies for the absence last week. There is no justifiable reason as to why your inbox was not furnished with the latest instalment of inane, occasionally music-related chat; I was simply so hungover that I couldn't focus on my computer screen. But, after last weeks 72 hour drunk/hungover clusterfuck, I'm back. "Oh joy!" I hear none of you cry.

Free music is an absolute winner though, isn't it? I mean legitimate free music, not illegal downloads. I've never robbed anything off the webernet, personally. This is more down to the fact that I don't really know how to work things over the moral implications of undertaking such activity. Plus, a techy geek of mine who had shit loads of security got done for £1,000 for downloading a few albums and as I don't have that kind of money laying around, coupled with the fact that I don't wish to go to jail and lose my colonic virginity, I think I'll continue to give it a miss.

It's also not really necessary; there's so much free shit punted into the musicsphere on a daily basis anyway. Firstly, Atreyu's cover of Aerosmith's Living On The Edge is a bit of fun, although massive Aerosmith fans will shit twice and die at the Orange County metalcore titans take on this classic. Go here to listen (you'll have to 'like' Atreyu on Facebook first)

Cradle of Filth are giving us a taste of their new album Darkly Darkly Venus Aversa by streaming The Persecution and Lilith Immaculate here. It's classic Cradle but as was always going to happen, Dani Filth's vocal is struggling more and more with the range we've come to expect from the crazy little bastard. On this topic and in one of my favourite stories of recent months, young Mr. Filth has been nominated as a Suffolk icon alongside Adnams Ale and Suffolk punch. For those outside of the UK, Suffolk is essentially a boring county where fuck all happens. Here's the full story.

As black metal goes though, it's all about Netherbird for me this week. Their album Monument Black Colossal may have a pretty ridiculous title but it's pure class. There's a similarity to Dimmu Borgir but without the theatrics and it's well worth a listen - MySpace page in me list.

Oh, and before I forget, there's a new Me First & The Gimme Gimmes album on the horizon. Can't wait to see what this punk super group has for us this time, although if the rumour of and INXS cover is true it's going to be a friggin' winner.

Seeing as I'm doing a charity run this weekend and wearing a suit I'd better go and do something resembling training. It might only be 5km but fuck me I'm unfit.