Saturday, September 29, 2007

Saturday 29 September 2007

The weekend arrives with relief these days.  That said I wake up feeling good.  The Bill Hicks Slight Return was yet again great on many levels last night (for a third time) and it was really nice to catch the tube with Zoe.  Also I now have a proper iPod, not that I have time to properly deal with it.

As ever with Saturday I hit Asda early on and stock up on provisions.  There is a weekend and week ahead to prepare for.  With that I soon have the Saturday newspapers and I’m plugging into my Saturday regime, which ultimately is not too strenuous.

Today Millwall lose 2-1 at home to Swindon.  Quite frankly it’s not looking good.  Looking at the line-up we are a club in tatters.  Our scorer is Jay Simpson and he’s a loan player.  What the fuck?

With this I head to The Twist where tonight the JIM ROBINSON MEMORIAL JUKEBOX EXTRAVAGANZA is taking place where a number of bands from the Townhouse scene of ten years ago have reformed for an evening of joy.  Sadly I missed out on this scene first time round; it was just before we cobbled together Gringo Records and managed to score our various small victories.  Staff has put a ton of work into this event and the passion for this has to be repaid.

In the run up this week Sam B has come out of the woodwork and been in touch.  Why does he have a sudden interest in indie rock?  The scene of yore?  Regardless it is nice to hear from him even if I do still feel slightly guarded and suspicious of him from the Action Park based Boxing Day incident of almost seven years ago.  Granny’s Grotto will forever remain scarred in our friendship.

When I get to Military Road as ever it is pretty easy to park up.  The New Town part of Colchester is a mixed region.  Its nice on the exterior but I still harbour suspicions of what goes on behind closed door, not least since I discovered a knocking shop based there online several years ago.  It’s a part of town that comes with a reputation.  Regardless I soon see people I know eating chips outside the venue.  These used to be good times.

Tonight I find myself flitting between social groups, having to cross streams when really I do not want to.  It is weird being back in The Twist again, I genuinely cannot remember the last time I was here but most likely it was for a Blitters gig.  And I am a very different person to who I was then.

This reality is displayed heaviest when Sam asks me if I know a couple of local twins.  I know of them but over the years they have never given me the time of day and bitterly I say this to Sam only to turn to see them stood to my right in full earshot.  Another friendship fucked.

Thankfully the night soon gets rolling as the score for the evening is provided by MARK ROYCE who proves himself something of a keyboard wizard, a subtle genius in amongst so much rough.  His lounge lizard performance immediately ups the stakes of the evening, especially when you consider that he gets introduced by Staff as “the world’s worst entertainer” with the instruction “ping pong balls at the ready”.  It is at this point I realise why the room has been littered with the balls: they are projectiles.  For the record, I go the whole evening without throwing any at the bands but when I get home I do find myself suddenly the owner of several balls.

ROYCE opens with a cover of “Axel F” before egging on the audience with “where’s the ping pong balls?”  It’s a kamikaze show.  With this he aborts his first song and begins a cover of the “Ghostbusters” theme until a ball fucks with the settings on his keyboard.  The class then continues with a bingo hall version of the “Blockbusters” theme (a request) and suddenly it feels like a congregation.  The set eventually comes to a close when ROYCE manages to turn “Crocket’s Theme” into sounding like something from the Clockwork Orange.  He is the Colchester Walter Carlos.  And we all know how that ended.  Of course this is not before he offers the Ferrero Rocher advert and a steel drum version of “Ski Sunday”.

When THE HOONS hit the stage they do so in the manner and motion of an act that should never gone away.  The fuzzy guitars and light sentiments represent an era of music that feels sorely missed these days of hulking and dumb gestures.  THE HOONS sound is one of playing the best Reading Festival, of having your performance lifted by the summer sun.  The obvious reference point is the Lemonheads or perhaps even an English speaking Sebadoh (English as in accent).  Then with a smile they are done.

Despite not being part of the original scene, CATS AGAINST THE BOMB fits perfectly into proceedings even if Adam almost deafens the audience with a quick soundcheck.  From here he kicks into glorious indie nostalgia with a cover of “Where’s My Jumper” by the legendary Sultans Of Ping.  Then comes “Sheriff Fatman” by Carter USM and the delivery is spotless.  Pound for pound this turns out to be one of the best/strongest sets to date I have seen Adam unleash as the beats rain heavy and his guitar sounds jagged in a spicy Big Black fashion.  This is further exhibited and established by the “painful” take of “Territorial Pissings” that closes the set with power and confidence.

Being a stranger to the scene I really have no idea just who SATURATED MINDE actually is but when they land, they hit hard.  From here they plough through a slow groove with a heavy dose of reverb.  The shout outs rain thick and fast (“the Townhouse massive, the Embassy Crew, big up yourself!, those getting cheap thrills on the Hilly Fields”) as only the invisible fail to get name checks.  What they do is genuinely inventive from a scene that my old Gringo cohorts insisted was a redundant movement.  I guess SATURATED MINDE is a most fitting moniker as the vocal repetition in the delivery does come over as somewhat drug addled and comically pompous.  There’s no rush here, just a lot of bubbling wah.

I have to concede that I disappear outside for air during the RAGGED STRING BAND set.  I have seen them before and I don’t need to see them again.  And it would seem this is a fairly wide mentality that sadly extends to the sight of someone I feel a lot for deep in caress with a joker.  Some things never change in Colchester.

With a strange sense of anticipation and appropriate announcement BALLOOON SAMWIDGE return to the stage with Ben Benedetti doing the introduction honours beforehand delivering a history lesson of the Colchester music scene that takes in Ned’s Atomic Dustbin and Robert Johnson.  That and telling the old scene heads how they now look “fucking rough”.

When BALLOOON SAMWIDGE eventually gets going they do so with the classic indie sound of the early of the nineties.  It all sounds very Mega City Four and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin in a bouncy castle style with rolling drums, fuzzy guitars and silly nonsensical lyrics.  The sense of fun attached to proceedings is extended to between song snippets of “Layla” and “Paradise City” as with most indie bands of the era you get the impression that there was/is actually a metal band dying to get out of these student friendly scruff bags.  It ends with “Kill Your Television” which sums up the age and the era, satisfying our drunken yearning desire before ceasing with the words “thank you and sorry”.  It never grew old.

Seemingly much to his surprise MARK ROYCE returns for a second set, this time described as “the worst dinner jazz pianist in the world”.  Now onstage he declares “I have absolutely no idea why I am back up onstage…and I haven’t got a bloody clue about what I’m going to play”.  As more ping pong balls begin to fly towards the stage the evening turns distinctly Jean Michel Jarre in a precious lo-fi fashion.  Then he returns to “Axel F” and safety in the classics.  It ends appropriately with a church organ-esqe version of “The Final Countdown” and ROYCE screaming “not the face, not the face, always the gut” in addition to “this should be a contact sport”.  Ladies and gentleman please meet Colchester’s own hybrid of John Shuttleworth and Wesley Willis, eccentric dyslexically spelled excellent.

The night closes in bombastic fashion as DISCO BITCH burst upon proceedings in riotous fashion.  Where the fuck did these guys come from?  Where have they been hiding?  Regardless the word fusion springs to mind as they make the venues ears bleed with a jarring onslaught of techno rock that involves lots of screaming, lots of props and many outfit changes.  Within minutes John Wilson is being celebrated as “Go Fishing” is offered a very appropriate renegade tribute which ironically if played near the banks of a river would more than certainly upset and ruin any fishing session.  It’s all such a fine line between genius and stupid.  And this it seems is what the DISCO BITCH experience is all about.

From here things turn gnarly as punk blisters turn into weird nostalgia for bad £50 video games – “thirty years old you can’t fake this shit”.  Then everything explodes with “Chase HQ” as the room pixelates to the sound of old school car alarm electronica.  As it descends into bars of “I Like 2 Move It” it all feels distinctly right and wrong all at the same time before it all comes to a close with the assistance of an Ottawan sample.

As closing “thanks for coming” are sent out to the audience the keep continues to get pumped out as a classic indie disco takes shape.  Myself, I don’t stick around for too long as the insinuation of an unwanted houseguest hangs over proceedings.  Instead I quickly bid my farewells and head home, returning from my travel back in type.  Tonight felt like a quantum leap.

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