Friday, 27 November 2009

Friday 27 November 2009

Dream: I meet an exciting and pretty Japanese lady.  Even though she gives me shit she likes me, this is flirting.  As she shivers I lend her some of my clothes to wear and she looks hot dressed in my oversized clothes, so sweet.  This feels like it has potential.

Unfortunately I then wake up.

Inevitably after last night I awaken with a headache this morning.  This really is not the type of day in which I want to be held back by a migraine, I have things I need to do.

I begin the day by watching repeats of Frasier and awaiting a phonecall from work.  The former is fun and the latter thankfully never comes.

As Will & Grace turns into Friends into The Big Bang Theory it suddenly becomes apparent that daytime Channel Four is so much more better than primetime Channel Four.  Go figure, the school holidays must be here.

Eventually I begin putting CDs together for tonight’s DJ Gram set.  As the discs come together slowly I feel genuinely panicked that I won’t have enough time to burn everything for tonight.

Gathering tracks turns into a pain in the arse as soon it occurs to me which songs I have left on my PC at work.  Generally though I am able to find everything I need online and quickly I grab them but unfortunately I am not able to find enough time to create any new DJ Gram originals, the closest I get is to rip a Kenny Powers self improvement tape from the sound track of his TV show.

My neighbour texts me early in the morning asking if he can borrow the stepladder I have knocking about in my flat.  I leave it out for him and when I hear him picking it up around 11AM I pop my head out and say hello.  According to him it sounds like all bodes well with/for the new person moving in.

Slowly the CDs begin to take shape and before long I am aiming to be done by 2PM so that I can get some hang out time in the afternoon.

Around 1.30PM there is a knock on the door and it is my neighbour asking me to witness and sign some documentation between him and the new tenant.  Dressed in the clothes I slept in and with major bedhead I get introduced to the blonde personal trainer that is moving into the flat next to me.  To say this is embarrassing is something of an understatement.  I try to play it cool but in this uniform it is impossible.  I don’t even bother to try and suck in my gut, concentrating more and trying to pat down my bed of hair.

Again I find myself in my neighbour’s flat and as ever I look at it in comparison to mine and I feel like weeping.  His is so much more adult and grownup than mine.  I guess this is what happens when these apartments aren’t filled with clutter, I remember now how big my own flat appeared to be when I viewed it just before buying it and how roomy it felt when I moved in before I filled it up with tat.

Slowly the forms get signed and I linger for a while in the hope of making a new friend.  My neighbour tells her that I am DJing tonight and she makes the comment of that had she known earlier she would have come along.  Please don’t lie to me.

Not long after this I burn a third CD and decide it is time to head out.  With me I take ten discs which equates to over ten hours to fill what will barely be two hours of space this evening.  I head straight over to Mark’s, getting a really crappy parking space and arriving at 3PM.

Eventually we wind up in Café Nero getting a coffee.  I do the honours as we take up a couple of prime seats and I manage to grab a glimpse of what late afternoon Colchester resembles these days.  With Stevo’s Six By Seven CD in hand I inform him that we are in Café Nero and that we should meet up.  First of course he has to get out Butt Road.  When he eventually turns up it is a very sober version of himself having just been to a baby’s funeral the previous day.  Unsurprisingly as a result of this he has decided not to come along tonight.

Shortly afterwards Sharpy turns up and Chris (Baldwin) also phones and suddenly an old school Colchester reunion is on the cards akin to the golden age of Gringo Records.  Not really feeling the need for anymore caffeine swiftly we head over to the Hole.  As we take our seats I truly cannot remember the last time I would have shown my face here on a Friday night despite in the early days of living in Colchester coming here every Friday was like some kind of crap religion.

Baldwin shortly turns but without Tom in tow.  We ask him where the other half of his band is and it sounds as if Tom is caught up in the midst of travel hell and the reality is that he will not be arriving at the venue until 8PM.  What about a soundcheck?

Sat around a comfy table with the pub quiet we hold court in a manner I haven’t been involved with for a long long time.  Will things ever be this way on a regular basis again?  I doubt it, this ship has certainly sailed.  Perhaps were I living and working in Colchester I might find and fall into another casual social group but as I’m not getting any younger with each year my social opportunities appear to be dwindling with it.

Soon Baldwin heads off for his soundcheck and Staff tells me to get to the Colchester Arts Centre for 7.30PM so with an hour in hand we look into food options.  We continue to try and talk Stevo into coming along but he’s just not interested.

In the end Mark, Sharpy and I wind up in the Noodle Bar on North Hill.  Along the way I bump into Swapna on North Hill who is off on her own jollies.  Sounds like she is off to South Korea soon.  It has been a long time since I have been here, I partly suspect the last time was with Mark post new year as he told me about a hellacious experience at the Koko that evening.  The food remains as I remember it and the service is quick which serves me well for getting over to the venue.

As instructed I head over to the Colchester Arts Centre for 7.30PM where JOE LALLY is soundchecking.  Stepping into the venue I think I see Chris but instead it is a member of SHITSOCK.  Embarrassingly I actually go right up to the guy before I realise that it isn’t Chris.  Onstage JOE LALLY sounds amazing and quickly I am reminded of just what a talented guy he is and how his solo record easily tops anything else any Fugazi members have done post hiatus.

With time pushing towards 8PM and doors Chris the sound guy shows me the mixer for the CD decks.  Whoops, they have put out a proper set up for me.  I have no idea how any of this stuff works.  Thank god I’m not flying a plane tonight.

Soon the doors open and I get started.  The first song I play is “Hooch” by the Melvins as suddenly there is nothing on any of my CDs that I want to play.  Things then fail to improve as I accidentally play “Bam Thwok” by the Pixies as I get the discs and drives mixed up.  Nobody notices though, nobody cares.  At this point one of the drives jams and suddenly I am unable to get my second disc out.  Suddenly it begins to look as if it will be a one record evening akin to the disco on Father Ted that only played “Ghost Town” by The Specials.  Luckily Chris the sound guy suavely points out that the button is “just a bit spongy.”  Despite this it still does not prevent me from randomly playing the next track on the disc in the drive which turns out to be “We Want Your Soul” by Adam Freeland, a song I do not believe has been heard anywhere for about five years now.  Unsurprisingly it sounds kind of naff now but at least this is the version with all the heavy Bill Hicks samples that appear to make the early crowd guffaw.

Slowly people begin to turn up and I get comfortable with the discs and the decks.  People begin to congregate around the DJ area (a desk) and I play my first request of the evening: “Eraserhead” by Bruce McCulloch.  Happily this song goes down like something of a little bomb as the chunky riffs combined fortuitously with the clear and weird lyrics.  It even prompts an old guy (an elder statesman of rock) in a Samhain shirt to ask me what it is.  He doesn’t look like a Kids In The Hall fan, more a Kids In The Hall character.

By this point it becomes apparent to me that I am neglecting my freshly burned discs in preference to keeping with the discs that I used to use five years ago.

Eventually SHITSOCK take to the stage and take their dynamic duo performance to the masses that have come out tonight.  Again they remind me of Ten Benson with their pretend redneck shtick and purposely goofy songs, which is not to say they are without charm.  Onstage they wear their trucker caps, sport checked shirts and have a drummer that sings like a lunatic all in time with scraping US lo-fi sounds that come direct from better times of/for music.

A band with the name SHITSOCK is never going to trouble the more professional sections of the music world but in a current climate where guitar bands are once again becoming slicker and more sickly they are a truly refreshing alternative gesture coming over as a force that is not necessarily best fucked or messed with.  Their victory this evening is a salute to drunken nights of being fucked up.  They’re wacky and people lap it up like kittens liking spunk.

From here I resume DJing with Steven Jesse Bernstein before launching into a hip hop flava with Doom and Dalek.  By now the night is filling up quite nicely and the radio DJ girl from Ipswich comes over to say “hello” commending me on playing hip hop enthusing that I just play whatever I want and not to care.  Whatever that means.

Just before YONOKIERO play I drop “Punks In The Beerlight” by Silver Jews which later I am told is a bit too obvious to be playing just before their set.  My bad.

Tonight YONOKIERO deliver a staunch set much appreciated by an audience.  The last time they would have appeared on this stage would have been the final Hirameka gig back in June 2004 and now five years later much as has changed.

With one person standing and one person sitting a more mature approach attaches itself to proceedings far removed from their noisy previous existence.  The new songs these days come with more focus placed on the songwriting, the lyrical content and a more explicit outpouring of emotion.

As a homecoming they receive the best of welcome as an exuding sense of appreciation pours out mutually and content.  In many ways both artist and audience have no matured in many ways and tonight is less a throwback to past times but more a gesture of growth and achievement.  Some people never lose it.

After the set people begin to congregate and reconvene around me so as requested I play “Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats.  I doesn’t really fit into the scheme of things but why start getting sniffy now.  That said ever since the movie The Mexican and seeing James Gandolfini dance to it the song has scored major hip points with me.

Before JOE LALLY gets underway I manage to slip in Massive Hospitalisation, Country Teasers, the Male Nurse and Knuckel Drager before during “Depth Charge Ethel” by Grinderman we wheel out the Alan Partridge “Dan! Dan!” sample.

Soon JOE LALLY takes to the stage with an impressive standing.  This is third time that I have seen him now and the third band I have seen him play with.  Once again it lends the material a new element of change managing to keep things fresh and remaining exciting.

A couple of years ago when the first JOE LALLY solo album “There To Here” emerged it came as a surprise as the quality far exceeded expectations, easily eclipsing the efforts of Mackaye with The Evens.  With a calm almost delicate approach the smooth grind of the piece carried and lifted it to unique heights and proud plateaus.

Rather than being a solo project there is a real band feel to this outfit as every member is offered their opportunity to star as for a third time I hear songs that I recognise from the records mutated into exciting new versions.

As the set nears its climax it offers the opportunity for his drummer go indulge in some solo playing before the night ends with JOE LALLY stepping into the audience to deliver a truly solo (acapella) version of “Sons And Daughters”.  This it would appear is his way of getting up close to his audience and making a real connection.

People come away from the show impressed and excited.  When the lights come up I get encouraged to continue playing music as I end playing out the evening with a set of cool instrumentals evening closing with the Taxi theme by Bob James (which appears to get some appreciation from LALLY now onstage clearing his equipment).

With the room now almost I head over to JOE LALLY for a photograph and a quick conversation.  The guy is lovely, turning out to be really accommodating.  It helps that I know both his records inside out and have already seen him do solo shows a couple times already.  I ask him about working for NASA and how it impressed/surprised me.  I discover that he now lives in Italy which I guess is one of the reasons Fugazi have not got back together.  As the guy from the venue calls us both out to the back to get paid (PAID!) I almost drop a bollock by asking LALLY if he ever feels the urge to play any Fugazi songs but he responds “nah” before I think I just about save the day by saying ““Recap Modotti” is one of my favourite Fugazi songs” which he thanks me for.

I get paid £20.  This was unexpected.  Suddenly I am a professional DJ.  Things are good.

By now everyone has gone to the pub where we head to the Hogshead to catch up with them but as we approach Balkerne Hill everyone appears to be leaving and heading home already.

Regardless Mark and I grab a drink in the pub as some kind of gesture of celebration of the best reunion night of the Gringo Records era in Colchester for a very long time.

Not long after we arrive we bump into Staff who says I can DJ for the next Abandon Ship gig in the new year.  Eventually we head home ourselves as the night approaches midnight.

A total victory.

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