Archive for the 'Gig-goer of the Week' Category

The Head & the Heart, Manchester, November 6, 2011: How to lose fans and alienate bloggers

the head and the heart live in ManchesterFor those of you who follow me on Twitter, you may have witnessed some or all of an exchange between me and a couple of fans of The Head & the Heart, a band we saw opening for My Morning Jacket last night (6th November).

When we turned up to the venue, The Ledge went to the bar and I wandered down to the front – there was loads of space. Having seen The Head & the Heart at Latitude and found them boring in parts, but with moments of potential, I thought I should give them a second chance. We knew they’d be on early. As early as doors and with maybe 20 people in the Manchester Academy 2 and space at the barrier, a woman immediately started hovering about, bumping into me.

When I turned around, wondering why she felt the need to violate my personal space when she could easily have stood at the barrier elsewhere, she asked who was the opening band.  I told her, and she said “Oh good.” Then she asked who I’d come to see. I pointed out that it was a My Morning Jacket gig and she seemed surprised I wasn’t there for The Head & the Heart – even though 15 seconds earlier she’d seemed unaware they were opening. I told her no, I’d seen them before and found them a bit ‘meh’. The following exchange then ensued:

Woman: Are you American?

Justhipper: Yes.

Woman: Are you from Seattle?!?!

Justhipper: Erm, no.

Woman: Oh. That’s too bad.

Justhipper: I’ve not flown over for this gig, if that’s what you’re asking.

She then turned around and began hanging over an American guy stood to my left.

About this point a host of people turned up, all of whom were wearing matching Head and the Heart fanclub bracelets (admittedly, at first I thought they were MMJ fans and we were going to have an unpleasant 3 hours) and started cloistering around us, talking shite and jostling for position – despite the fact that only about 40 people were in the room at this point. I’m sure some of them were even arguing about who should be allowed to stand closest to the band.

This was, to say the least, somewhat annoying, which is the point that I tweeted about it. I’ve been subjected to the internet fanclubs of a few bands of late, and frankly, it’s really f***ing annoying that they seem to think that use of a band’s website and a few pounds for a newsletter and a membership badge gives them proprietary rights over the band (Hold Steady fanclub, Unified Scene, I’m looking at you! You’ve ruined 3 gigs so far for us with physical violence and talking! At least one long-term fan I know won’t go to Hold Steady gigs anymore because she’s so fed up with dealing with crap from you, the fanbase.)

A few songs into the set and I decided that I had been right about the Head and the Heart, they were a bit boring, somewhat twee, and not worth much more of my attention. I may have tweeted to that effect.

When I got home I found that the band had retweeted me twice – one of the tweets was the one complaining about their fanclub – and this it seems was fuel to the fire of the True Fans. While the band may have done it to be funny, to the rabid and the insane fan, trying to impress with loyalty, this was merely permission to troll me. So now I’ve had 2 fans hassling me all day today – as if this haranguing would do anything to change my mind.

The thing is, although the band may have been taking things in good humour, they’ve mostly just stabbed themselves in the foot, because what they’re doing is encouraging their fanbase to compete for attention by being nasty to critics – whether innocent tweeters expressing an opinion, bloggers or journalists.

They’re suggesting that the way to be a good fan is to take a fascistic view of  anybody expressing a contrary opinion. I’ve seen it before – one need only read any messageboard associated with Suede to see the carnage, bad feeling and general unpleasantness it propogates amongst music fans who should be united over a common interest. It’s hard enough to be a “fan” when other fans constantly question your right to be there – it makes it 10x worse when the band are seen to be suggesting that fanhood requires that extra step of stamping out disbelievers and critics.

What I would say, Head & the Heart, is it’s hard enough being a young indie band struggling to get yourself heard over the din of jaded cynics like me. Maybe you should think hard about the sorts of fans you want and the tone you want to set for them – do you want people who enjoy your music, introduce new listeners, turn up to gigs and dance or people who act like an advancing army, competing for your attention and determined to prove their loyalty by destroying everyone who isn’t in the club? I’d say the latter isn’t going to do much to help you gain new listeners – and they may even put some off.

Posted by JustHipper on 7th November 2011 at 10:23 pm | comments (66)
File under Gig-goer of the Week,gigs,hold steady.

Gig Review: Death Cab For Cutie, Manchester Apollo, 16th July 2008

Unless Death Cab For Cutie amaze us with some future album, tonight’s gig was the last time I will ever pay money to see them play live. Never mind that the new album has all the depth of a wading pool, is bland, full of soppy love songs lacking the quirky lyricism of albums past and all blends together, DCFC crowds have simply become unbearable.

Gigs at the Apollo, 90% of the time anyway, are bad enough, but tonight it was be there to be seen, not be there to hear a band. The four people stood in front of us really took the biscuit, however. To be fair, I was not in the mood to be in a crowd of people. T in the Park was amazing last weekend but it wore me out and I could do with a week of being by myself (except maybe for The Ledge). Neither The Ledge nor I was looking forward to this so we got down there late and stayed in the bar until the band were coming on stage when we made our way into the edge of the crowd where we could see but not get jostled. The first five songs were really good too. Then the talking started.

I won’t make out that it was just the people in front of us because it wasn’t. There was talking. And there was more talking. And even more talking. Where the last time we saw Death Cab I was bemused and disturbed that the average age of the crowd was around 16 yet they knew all the words to everything, this time the crowd knew a few tracks off Plans and not much else. The talking just went on and on. Not that The Ledge and I were silent, but we did keep it to between songs – I’d hate to spoil somebody else’s enjoyment of a gig just because I was not enjoying it myself.

When they started to play “Soul Meets Body,” however, the young blonde thing in front of us suddenly started squealing like a Westlife fan – “I know this one!” she screamed as loudly as she could, squealed a few more times and then talked through the rest of it. “Nice,” we though, “This is a good song.” Then they played “I Will Follow You Into the Dark. “OMG!” she screamed. “I’m so going to cry over this!” Then she hugged her boyfriend and talked through the rest. She wasn’t the only one. Half the crowd sang along, half talked along.

For the rest of the gig we had four people in front of us moving about constantly so I kept having to move to see and loads of yapping, squealing and jumping – none of which was remotely in response to the band. Why they didn’t decamp to the bar is beyond me as all four of them were pretty much behaving as if they were in a pub, not at a show for which the people around them had all paid around £20 a ticket.

During the encore, one of them rolled two cigarettes and made to light up. I’d had enough by this point and I leaned over and told her not to do it. She responded with “Ooh I was only joking! I know not to! Sorry!.” Yeah, ok, whatever.

So as the band were finishing their final song she walks over and leans in and says to me “I just wanted to apologise for making you think I was going to smoke cause i wasn’t.”

“That’s fine, so long as you didn’t.” I told her. “What you should be apologising for, however, is ruining our ability to hear the gig because you talked through the entire thing which is incredibly rude to be honest.”

A bit brutal, I know, but not deserving of the response I got. Oh yes, this little madam proceeded to tell me that she was not going to apologise for talking LOUDLY through the entire performance because she was – wait for it – bored. She didn’t care, it seems, that other people may not have been bored, and when I pointed out that I’d paid to hear the boring band – not her and her friends – I received a tirade about how I have “issues” and I am a seriously anti-social individual – all for wanting to hear the band.

Now, fair dues, I do have issues. And I do get annoyed easily in crowds. But, that’s still no excuse for someone to assume that just because they don’t want to watch something nobody cares. It’s no excuse for behaving like a total yahoo and yapping and squealing and stopping other people from getting to experience what they paid for – good or bad.

If you think the gig is shite and you want to talk – go to the bar.

I’m simply not standing for this anymore. It happened through all of Radiohead the other week and it happens nearly every time we’re not at the barrier at the Apollo. From now on, if you talk, you will hear about how much you’re pissing me off. It probably won’t do any good, but if it makes one person think about the people around them I will have won a small victory.

Gig-goers – help me out. Stop allowing people to behave like fucktards and stop being too scared to stand up for yourselves. If somebody is doing something you wouldn’t do because you know it’s annoying – TELL THEM! And if they don’t stop, tripping while walking back to your spot holding a full pint is pretty good revenge….

If I’d Wanted to Be Trampled By Elephants, I’d Have Gone on Safari.

Gig Goer(s) of the Week, part 9 – Peter, Bjorn & John at Manchester Academy 2

I think I should start a blog about manners and politeness. Clearly there are a lot of people who don’t know how to behave and who have no respect for themselves or for those around them. As a child the phrase “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” was drilled into my head over and over again. I think it’s pretty good advice and I do my best to follow it. Sadly, most people do not.

Last night, despite still having the remnants of a nasty ear infection and despite being utterly exhausted from a sleepless, strange and rather promising week, realising that I could get to the front and actually see the gig, even though we turned up quite late, I dragged The Ledge to the front of the Academy 2. I mean, it’s Peter, Bjorn and John, right? Even though they “rock out” a bit more live, I didn’t expect any more of a hassle than occurred at Leeds Festival, which was to say none at all as the crowd were very gleeful and friendly. Stood to my right was a rather drunken woman who was swaying about, but she kept smiling at me. Her boyfriend looked disinterested in Maps, but you can’t please everybody.

About four songs into the main set this woman, who had been singing loudly (off-key) and rather gleefully, disappeared, presumably to the bar or the toilet. Immediately upon her leaving, this monster with a face that could crack glass pushed her way next to me. She started bouncing about like a mad lady and was, for all intents and purposes, bodyslamming me. Her singing involved lots of “la la las” as she didn’t know the words. I elbowed back a couple of times, wary that she had a full glass of red wine and I was wearing my favourite stripey t-shirt which has a lot of white on it. Eventually she stopped, but she was exhorting one of her friends to come stand with her. I could see the boyfriend who was waiting for the return of the lady who had been next to me lean in and say something. He probably said his girlfriend was coming back – which is fair enough. It wasn’t one of those shows where you snooze you lose. The crowd was not heavily packed in and, well, politeness dictates that if someone can get back then you should let them! This girl responded by berating him for standing with his arms folded and not dancing because apparently it is wrong of someone to simply watch and enjoy, if you aren’t dancing it’s not fair on the band. He ignored this. How can you tell someone else how to enjoy a gig? Eventually the girlfriend did return and they both had to move back because, well, they clearly weren’t the “Biggest Fans” and didn’t deserve to stand at the front.

This is the point where Elephant #2 pushed her way up and I got shoved into the nice girl to my left. There had barely been room for one person when Elephant #1 appeared. There was certainly no room for two people each the size of two people. But these two did not care, I mean they were the Biggest Fans in the room, everyone else could go to hell. I was at this point treated to loud screechy talking through the next 3 or so songs which involved, mostly, drunken screams of “He’s so hot! I am going to snog him! I am going to make him kiss me! He’s so hot!” directed at lead singer Peter, poor guy. Then they started trying to get his attention by shouting these things at him. It became “You’re so hot! I want to lick you all over! Come give me a kiss!” And exclamations of “He’s not listening to me?! He didn’t hear it! If he did he’d come kiss me.” Now, I’m pretty sure he did hear them because at one point he glanced over and actually grimaced. I mean, if he’d fled the stage at the sight of these two I wouldn’t have blamed him. He’d probably have preffered snogging the shirtless fat, sweaty guy stood a couple of rows behind me. I really wanted to tell them it wasn’t a Take That gig and could they please shut up with the talking as the rest of us were trying to watch the band, but I didn’t think it was worth the argument.

That is, it wasn’t worth the argument until the band started playing “Young Folk” and these two started bodyslamming me again, dragging more mates into a small space that couldn’t fit them, screaming “Where’s John?” (playing drums where he had been through the whole gig, you dumb fucktards!) and, even better, tapping me on the shoulder and going “Smile! You look like you’re not having fun.” (No, you asshats, I’m not having fun, I’m being bodyslammed by a pair of elephants who are shouting over the music and hurting my ears.) I glared at them in hopes they’d back off and went back to trying to hear the gig.

Then Elephant #1 lit up a cigarette. Now, I hate smoke. I really really do. When it was legal I tolerated it, despite chronic sinus problems and asthma. I no longer have to tolerate it because it’s illegal to smoke indoors. So I politely leaned over and said “Could you put that out please?” She responded with “No.” Excuse me? I pointed out she wasn’t meant to be smoking and she said “I don’t care. You can’t stop me anyway.” In that split second I had to make the decision between staying put just to piss them off and making more judicious use of my elbows to defend myself or humiliating her by sending security after her. I opted for security. Sure enough, he was in there straight away and took her cigarette. She may have lit up again the moment he left, but everyone in the crowd saw it happen and I think I made my point of – you can’t smoke and yes, I can stop you. Result.

The whole thing however left a sour taste in my mouth and although I could have returned back to where I was as The Ledge is very good at saving my spot, I figured I felt ill, I was tired and I didn’t want a fight with a herd of drunken animals.

The point? Why is it that people feel the need to make a spectacle of themselves in the hope of the band spotting them and branding them the “Biggest Fan?” Everyone there is there to enjoy themselves and everybody enjoys music in a different way, so why force your enjoyment on others, particularly when it spoils a gig for everyone around you? Most of the audience was in fact dancing without bodyslamming anyone or screaming like a slutty hyena over the band. So ladies, it’s time for you to learn some manners, to realise that you are not the world, and to develop some respect for both yourselves and for those around you.

Posted by JustHipper on 3rd November 2007 at 1:01 pm | comments (9)
File under gig etiquette,Gig-goer of the Week,manchester gigs,manners,mosh pits,peter bjorn and john,Rant.

Gig Goer of the Week part 8: The Wedding Present, George Best Anniversary Tour

Last night we took ourselves down to see the Wedding Present on their George Best 20th Anniversary tour. Now, I have a funny relationship with the Weddoes. I have seen them live repeatedly and always enjoy the shows, but I never listen to them on CD. So I’m an anomaly in the crowd in that I do genuinely love them, but I don’t know the song titles (with a few obvious exceptions) and I don’t know the words. Not that this has anything to do with anything though.

I tend to like Wedding Present crowds in that they’re all about 10-15 years older than me, they are rabid fans and even though the mosh pit is pretty intense, it’s also pretty friendly. Last night, when my friend and I decided to risk the barrier, we were taking this fact as a given. As always, however, there’s always one (or 2) idiots…. The girl stood to the left of my friend was so drunk before the first of two opening bands even finished that she could barely stand up and was slopping her pint all over herself. Nonetheless she demanded more and off to the bar her suffering boyfriend went. When she demanded another, while clinging onto him for her life, however, swaying and banging into my friend, he finally refused. A fight ensued and she stormed off. He let her go and we ended up getting eased into where she was standing by the crowd. Her boyfriend didn’t make a move to stop it. When she came back about 20 minutes later, still angry and with another drink (how she got served is beyond me), the poor guy ended up having to move back, from his really great spot, to appease her. Frankly, he should have told her to piss off, as there is no excuse for that level of inebriation that early in the night, and there is no excuse for letting your inability to know your limits ruin other people’s night. I can’t imagine she lasted more than 2 songs into the main event.

Naturally, the moment they moved a group of big guys replaced her. We were a bit worried, although I figured they weren’t jostling, so they’d probably be fine, just enthusiastic. And then their single female friend turned up with a bag slung across her front that I swear must have contained a small child it was so large. On top of this monstrosity she’d put her jacket because gosh she couldn’t affect her outfit by tying it around her waist. As The Ledge had abandoned us to chat to some other friends who were a bit farther back, we had no protection between our backs and heads and the world’s largest handbag. The thing is, moshing bodies aren’t so bad. People on the whole don’t want to batter you in a pit and most of the pushing is down to people landing funny and the dancing, not deliberate attempts to injure or remove you. But when you wear a bag while jumping up and down the bag flies upwards and outwards and pretty much batters anyone nearby in a way you falling against them slightly does not. So there we were as the band came on being beaten with a handbag that actually weighed more than I do. Luckily for us, the other physics rule governing handbags in a mosh pit was in our favour – bag on string gets caught between moving bodies and inevitably it goes in one direction while you go in another. So she didn’t last long.

This is where the fun really started though as the band launched into the start-to-finish delivery of George Best: we were suddenly swamped by men, much bigger than us, about as enthusiastic as a crowd gets, and all jumping up and down with gusto. Now, there’s nothing quite like the experience of being in a friendly pit and this was no exception. Hands came round us at the barrier as people tried to stay afloat, apologies and promises to make sure we didn’t fall, giants tapping me on the head to tell me how “hot” the bassist is, blokes screaming the words and punching the air. It hurt like hell but the number of people around me (and it was changing rapidly as everyone fell about) who kept trying to keep me on my feet is one of the things that makes the bad people and idiots at gigs stand out so much. The press during “Kennedy” at the end was possibly the most physically painful thing I’ve ever experienced at a gig (and I can feel it today as I type this, it feels like I’ve been kicked in the chest), but someone had hold of me the whole time, and after the show everybody around us was apologising for pushing and asking if we were ok, which makes a huge difference in the atmosphere and the quality of the whole night. When you’re in a crush by the barrier watching something that unites everybody in the room, why would you be a selfish fucktard when you can spread the good atmosphere by being friendly, aware of others, and part of what’s going on around you, rather than being there in spite of it?

It only takes a little consideration, some kindness to your gig neighbours and the realisation that everybody is there for the same thing to make the difference between a good gig and a bad one, and sets a really good fanbase apart from, well, a fanbase that no band deserves.

Gig-Goer of the Week, Part 7: Brakes, Manchester Club Academy, Oct 6 2007

It’s been a while since I witnessed such clearly idiotic behavior at a gig that it deserved to get the “Gig-Goer of the Week” headline. Last night we went to see Brakes. When they came on stage they announced that they wanted to do something special so they had decided to play through both albums back-to-back. I’d have thought they were joking except Eamon clearly had a copy of their first album, Give Blood, on stage and he kept referring to it to see what was next. Despite this, some young groupie-wannabe in an unfathomably short skirt for a gig* pushed to the front and leaned across the monitors, motioning Eamon to her. He leaned in and she whispered something. His response was, “We’re going to play ‘All Night Disco Party’ when we get to it in 2 songs.” Despite this, she continued to scream for it until it rolled around in the set. The she started screaming for something else. Now, while her enthusiasm was nice to see, why she felt the need to request songs that they were blatantly going to play is beyond me, especially when she should have known exactly where they would be in the set, seeing as how they were playing through both albums, start to finish (without ‘Mobile Communication’, sadly. Why they left that out I will never understand).

Now, hopefully you’re laughing already at this somewhat ridiculous and blatant attempt by a rather silly young thing to get the band to notice her. She wasn’t nearly the most mentally challenged person in the room.

As some of you may know, Brakes have a song called ‘Hi How Are You’ which is directed at irritating hipsters who stand next to you at gigs and talk shit during the quiet songs. The chorus actually goes “Won’t you shuck the fuck up, I’m a-just tryin’ to watch the band!” They played it twice. After this double-rendition, on which the crowd joined in twice, I ended up stood in front of two women who chose to talk loudly through, you guessed it, the next quiet song. To make matters worse, and in a brilliant twist of irony, they were stood behind a young guy wearing a t-shirt which said on the back “Won’t you shuck the fuck up, I’m a-just tryin’ to watch the band!” to which, at the tail end of their noisy and unappreciated conversation, one of them pointed and went “Oh isn’t that T-shirt funny! I love that song!” or something along those lines. If I were bigger and it had actually been a farce, I would have turned around and knocked both their heads together.

*Tip: Girls, don’t wear short skirts if you’re going down the front. When people start to dance in such close quarters, your skirt will ride up and you’ll end up wearing it as a belt, backside and knickers exposed to the world.

Brakes – Hi How Are You

Posted by JustHipper on 7th October 2007 at 4:38 pm | comments (17)
File under brakes,gig etiquette,Gig-goer of the Week,mp3,Rant.

Leeds Festival – Ain’t What It Used To Be!

The Leeds Festival CrowdI’ve been an avid festival-goer since about 1992 when the local college radio station, WRAS, held a one-day event at Lakewood Amphitheatre in Atlanta. On the bill were The Soup Dragons, The Connells, +Live+, Material Issue and Arrested Development, among others. I was 18 years old and it was fantastic – a day of live music in the sun with loads of other teenagers and college students. The following summer, I attended my first Lollapalooza at an airfield in Rhode Island. We watched Rage Against the Machine, Fishbone, Alice in Chains and Primus. The Verve were also on the bill but we were queuing for the carpark at the time. It was 100,000 grunge kids getting off their faces, moshing and having fun.

Since I’ve been in the UK – 10 years next month – I’ve been to every major festival, excepting Download, and some of the smaller ones too, and I’ve enjoyed myself immensely. Each one has its own personality, its own quirks and its own unique vibe and fanbase. Glastonbury, my least favourite, truth be told, has the reputation of a hippie lovefest. In reality it’s loads of yuppies getting off their faces so badly they can’t tell how anti-social they are, but it’s unique and the music is amazing, even if most people aren’t really there for the bands. T in the Park is like the Scottish Glastonbury, it’s everything I expected from Glastonbury from the happy, outgoing, friendly crowds, to the range of bands across all the stages, to the laid-back attitude. V is like a festival-lite. It’s a festival for folk who don’t rough it, who listen to MOR stations like Virgin and it’s corporate and full of bands that 30-somethings play at dinner parties. Occasionally they outdo themselves, like when they booked the Pixies and NERD on the mainstage one year, but even though it’s incredibly corporate and the music is distinctly average, it’s also laid back and I have, usually, enjoyed it. Guilfest is the hippie family festival. The acts are folky, older and the crowd are middle-aged, but the year I went it was well organised and the bands were okay. Summer Sundae is more of a folky and world music place, with rock bands included. Sponsored by 6 Music, it has a wide range of acts, a family vibe and people are definitely there for the music. All Tomorrow’s Parties is indie heaven. By indie, of course, I mean old school indie where the bands are actually on indie labels, not merely guys with guitars who’ve been on the cover of the NME. It’s indie snobbery at it’s finest, where you talk to people about the obscure stuff on the bill that they love and you’ve never heard of, and you compare gig stories. Reading, and later Leeds, is, or used to be, somewhere in between ATP, Download and T. It was the rock, metal and indie festival for music lovers. Used to be.

In prior years when we went to Leeds Festival – and we’ve been all but about 2 years since it started – it was an ecclectic audience of young emo/skater kids in hoodies with chains attached to their baggy trousers, aging, grey-haired rockers and goths and old school indie types like The Ledge and myself. It was a proper rock festival and even if the three groups didn’t necessarily mix happily, we all had our stages and bands and could look on at the other lots, slightly bemused. Leeds was a festival that put acts like The Moldy Peaches, Whale, Pavement and Eels on the main stage. One year we watched Sparklehorse in a tent while the sounds of Ice T spilled over from next door. We’ve seen Guided By Voices, Stereolab, Richard Hawley, Arab Strap, The Shins, Adam Green, Clor, Evan Dando, Frank Black and the Catholics and others over the years. It was a festival where if it was metal day on the main stage, you could count on seeing unusual and ecclectic indie acts in the tents that you’d been meaning to check out for months, if not years. It was great. We would buy our tickets based on a couple of main stage acts and tent headliners and wait for the joys of the smaller stages to be announced. This year, in fact, we did the same, thrilled at the prospect of Interpol, The Arcade Fire, Smashing Pumpkins and The Shins. Apart from The Hold Steady being added a month later, as expected, that was as good as it got.

No mind, we thought, Leeds is always an interesting festival with a crowd deeply into their music, we’ll go, we’ll watch a few bands, we’ll have fun. And then the rest of the lineup came out. Gone were the vast range of indie bands, replaced by NME favourites. It was as if the bookers could not be arsed, picked up an issue of the NME and booked everything mentioned. Tents and main stage were no different, all the bands were either second rate emo acts or sounded like poor imitations of the very poor Arctic Monkeys and Babyshambles. Oh and Razorshite. Who the fuck booked Razorshite as a headliner? Does anyone really even like them or do they just tolerate them?

Ok, so the bands were a bit shite, but maybe the crowds really are into these acts and we’ve just morphed into the world’s biggest indie snobs and we just don’t get it anymore? Except the Leeds crowd was not the same Leeds crowd. Gone the hairy rockers. Gone the goths. Gone the emo kids with their bad behavior and their love of screamo and metal. In fact, the whole crowd looked like they’d been vomited up by Topshop aged 18-22. And these kids were not at this festival cause of the bands. These kids were at this festival cause Kate Moss says it’s cool. How could we tell? There were far more girls wearing wellies ala Moss at Glastonbury (in subtropical conditions, no less) than there were people wearing band T-shirts. We experienced about 2 crowd singalongs – during The Hold Steady and, oddly, the 1990s. These kids weren’t even drinking! Nope, the campsite was can-free, sans puking kids, sans early morning drunkenness. It was sterile and full of people who simply wanted to be seen – often in matching, specially printed T-shirts announcing “Sal’s Girls at Leeds 2007” or “Lads out and about from Newcastle to Leeds 2007” complete with names on the back. These kids didn’t care if they were in the Carling Tent, the LockUp Stage or the Main Stage – it all sounded the same anyway – all they wanted to do was stand around, look cool and throw their £3.30 pints into the people trying to enjoy the music.

I have never – not even at V – had such a bland and sterile festival experience. There was no, bite, no kick and no sense of real rebellion. This was “indie” as defined by the NME, packaged up by Topshop and sold at £145 a ticket to kids who don’t understand that it’s not rebellion if 80,000 other people are doing it exactly the same way.

Sadly, this lack of atmosphere affected the music as well. Whereas 3 years ago I stood unable to see at the main stage screaming along with the whole crowd to The Hives and Franz Ferdinand, this year, packed in at nearly the same place, the crowd all but talked through The Arcade Fire and Interpol. There was a hint of attitude during the Hold Steady but possibly because the crowd contained the freaks and outcasts who had come for the music and again, the few remaining indie fans danced during Battles, but the tent was only half-full. While we saw a few acts we’d genuinely wanted to see – Devendra Banhart pulling a fan out of the crowd to play a song he’d written was charming; The Hold Steady were as amazing as ever and Tad Kubler’s guitar spin was a seriously great rock moment; Peter, Bjorn & John were brilliant and I need to buy their newest album now; Brakes were as cheery and enjoyable as ever and The Shins had me jumping and singing like a drunken fool – I fear that this will be the last time we attempt a whole weekend at Leeds. There’s too many great boutique festivals now that do have the atmosphere and do challenge festival-goers to broaden their musical horizons.

It is a sad day to see Reading/Leeds sell its soul for a few bucks. Leeds Festival R.I.P. You were a great festival once.

Pavement – We Dance

Guided By Voices – Hot Freaks

Whale – Hobo Humpin’ Slobo Babe

Posted by JustHipper on 27th August 2007 at 4:38 pm | comments (134)
File under Festival Reviews,Gig-goer of the Week,Rant.

Gig Review: Polytechnic & Cherry Ghost, Manchester Academy 3, February 24, 2007

This should have been up days ago, but I’ve been suffering from a nasty ear infection and have not been in the mood for reviewing, so apologies. It also means it probably will not be the most coherent review ever. Coming from me that may be trouble, but I’ll do my best.

We really like Polytechnic around Indie Cred HQ and were intrigued by Cherry Ghost’s performance on Jools Holland a few months ago, so needless to say we were pleased to see these two upcoming local acts co-headlining a show together. After our rather crazy two weeks of gigs, however, we did not have the energy to get there early enough for the first band. When we did get down to the Uni, the gig was sold out and I ended up queuing at the bar through the first two songs. That’s fifteen minutes in the queue to get two drinks. It would have been faster but for the notoriously slow and useless Student Union barstaff and the rudest group of punters ever. Now normally, blokes let me in front of them at the bar if they can tell I’ve been waiting ages. This time, I had a bloke twice my size elbow me out of his way, apologise and then order, delaying my getting served by a good five minutes because he was ordering drinks for about 30 people by the looks of it. I had another rubbing up against me from behind. It was not so crowded that he needed to do that, especially after he had space to move to the bar next to me and he stayed put. Then a nice girl in a very ridiculous anorak first put her elbow into Ledge’s pint, nearly spilling it across me. When I said “Careful!” to alert her to stop backing up into the pint and me, she called me a rude name and told me to chill out. Needless to say, by the time I got back to The Ledge with his pint I was rather irritated. People really should be more aware of other people, especially in a crowd.

As for Cherry Ghost, I think The Ledge was more impressed than I, although I did not dislike them. The first couple of songs were quite catchy, folky pop. At times they reminded me a great deal of the better moments of Starsailor. At times they just sounded very MOR and uninspired. It’s early days for them though so hopefully a good producer will help them bring out the more interesting ideas in their songs. More I couldn’t tell you because it’s been over a week and I was not familiar with their canon at all. It did not help that all I could see were the backs of the blokes in front of me in the crowd.

Clearly Cherry Ghost have some buzz around them, possibly off the back of that same television appearance we saw, as a large part of the crowd disappeared when the left the stage. It made queuing at the bar a lot easier the second time. It also meant we were able to move down to the front for Polytechnic, where I could actually see. The Ledge pointed out, as he could read the setlist, that “Caring Is Creepy” was the last song. The idea of Polytechnic covering The Shins actually gives me goosebumps. It’s a brilliant prospect. Sadly, it didn’t happen. But, the songs they did play were great, as usual. They’ve certainly plowed their own Mancunian furrow, and the combination of Manchester rhythms and keyboard sounds and those gleeful American indie-style guitars, make me want to sing along and dance every time. They jog through their set like it’s a party and the likes of older single “Pep” and new single “Cold-Hearted Business” do not offer a great deal of variety, but they provide wonderfully catchy, singalong tunes. The album is out in April and hopefully it will make this band a household name across the country.

Polytechnic – Man Overboard

Posted by JustHipper on 6th March 2007 at 7:17 pm | comments (1)
File under Gig Reviews,Gig-goer of the Week,mp3,Reviews.

Gig Goer of the Week, Part 6

I think I cursed us by saying that we’d had a good run of gigs because tonight, I don’t know where to begin. Should it be with the groupie who had 5′ of space in front of her but chose to dance on top of me, leaving me pressed against a post at the Night & Day? Should it be the former drummer of Manchester no-hopers, Exit 52, who practically stood on The Ledge and waited for The Ledge to move?

Actually, no.

This particular post is reserved for the drunk bloke who fights with girls.

Yes. You heard me right. The 6′ tall man who starts fights with girls over a foot smaller than him.

Yeah, so during the Aliens first song, the nice woman who had been stood to my right gets thrust out of the way. This is the woman who’d moved to make room for my tiny self and who’d been giving origami pigeons to the guy from Lone Pigeon while he was setting up his gear. She got pushed out of the way and suddenly this tall drunken lout is elbowing me in the side, moshing in what was certainly not a mosh put and pulling my hair! I shoved back. He shoved back harder. I told him he was hurting me. He didn’t care. He said he was having fun and I could go to hell. He kept talking to me, I couldn’t hear much of it. He pushed harder. I pushed back. The guy on the other side of him started screaming at him. He ignored that guy and kept pushing me and shouting in my ear and jumping. The Ledge shouted at him. He ignored the Ledge. The people on the other side of me got annoyed, they were getting pushed cause I was getting pushed into them, and the talking was pissing them off. They were nice to me about it though, they could see it was not my fault. It was actually so bad that at one point I seriously considered using the empty Corona bottle I was holding. I thought I might have to. He was being that aggressive.

Luckily, this was the point at which the couple on my right pulled me across to their right and the bloke stepped in to sort the problem. He shrugged and said “There’s always one, and that one is always next to me,” just before he grabbed the drunken lout and started screaming at him. They had words, possibly ineffective ones, and eventually the drunkard just walked off.

The thing is, I felt a bit bad, all this fuss, because, quite frankly, the Aliens were shite. If I’d known that to begin with I wouldn’t have been at the front. We’d probably have left after iLikeTRAINS. Ahh well.

So here it is folks, I’m not sure what to say about this one but here’s my best go:
1) Personal space. If there’s room, try to honour people’s personal space. Be aware of that person behind you and give them room when you can. Don’t stand on someone as a means of getting them to move, they were there first. Find somewhere else to stand that isn’t on someone’s feet or head.

2) Umm…don’t be a dick. Don’t hurt people. Don’t elbow and pull hair. Don’t talk into someone’s ear when they’re watching the band. Don’t shove people out of the way. Don’t pretend it’s a fight when it’s a gig. If someone says you’re hurting them it’s because you are, so stop doing whatever it is that you’re doing that’s causing physical pain!

Posted by JustHipper on 28th August 2006 at 11:41 am | comments (1)
File under Gig-goer of the Week.

Gig Goer of the Week, part 5: Festival Campsite Etiquette

I’m going to interject before The Ledge finishes his Summer Sundae reviews, as he’s been too busy with Fantasy Football to bother. We’ve had a pretty good run of shows, actually, so I’ve not been inspired to one of these, but there was this guy on the campsite at Summer Sundae who deserves a special mention.

Now, I’m a really light sleeper and as a result, I don’t always do well at festivals. I could not cope at Glastonbury in 1999 because we were camped next to a group of speed freaks who had decided if they were not sleeping then nobody else should. I didn’t try the whole camping thing again until last year when we decided driving back and forth between Leeds and home was just too exhausting. We took our airbed. I took earplugs. I prepared myself for late nights drinking with people on the campsite and we had a blast. I did not sleep well, I was wrecked for the whole next week (I do need a good 8 hours to be human), but I had a great time. But it wasn’t that loud. It wasn’t that loud in that the noise was more of a general din that could be tuned out than one horrid booming voice right next to me.

T in the Park worked out well because we didn’t get our tent up til about 3am when most everyone had gone in, and then it was raining so hard on the Saturday that nobody could sit outside and so just went to bed. Plus we weren’t camping on the festival site, so it was sparse.

So, 2 for 2 in recent years yeah? Yeah. Third time lucky it seems.

Now, Summer Sundae is an unusual festival. It’s small, it’s indie, and it’s geared at families and an older crowd. It’s also in a residential area. The campsites are in a local college and the local university and they regulate the number of tents. They also ask for a “silent” campsite between 11pm and 9am. It’s written on the ticket. It’s written in the newsletters they start sending you regularly when you buy a ticket. It was repeated a few times from the stage during the course of the day. There’s a good reason for this – if it’s noisy, the people in the houses next door to the site will get a bit irritated and the festival won’t get licensed again. Plus there were loads of kids about, and who wants to be at a festival with tired, cranky kids? Let the kids sleep!

Now, I was looking forward to this. Imagine, a festival where I might get a decent night’s sleep! Heaven! Umm..almost.

Night number 1. After a few drinks I was dead to the world until about 2am when I had to get up and take myself to the toilets. Halfway across the field I heard a guitar. In a silent field, I mean totally silent, some asshat was playing a guitar and singing. Badly. Like it was sub-James Blunt bad. At 2am. Everyone else was asleep. Luckily he soon shut up because I’d probably have fixated on it and not gotten back to sleep.

Night number 2. We get back to the tent and behind us a group of middle-aged cockney men had set up tent. One of them had the loudest voice ever which was coupled with the filthiest mouth ever. Luckily he shut up when I climbed out of my tent, shone my light on him to see where the effing and blinding was coming from and then made a loud remark to The Ledge about filthy mouths around kids. Rude on my part, I know, but every other word involved the act of copulation. The moment he went quiet(er) we could hear the guitarist again. Only this time he was trying to play the blues. Badly. Like, very badly.

Here’s the thing: What on earth goes through the head of someone who’s been asked to be quiet on the campsite by the organisers (I assume they meant try and keep it down to normal speaking voices), who decides to bring his guitar, play it as loud as he can around 1,000 people who were trying to sleep and think anyone wanted to hear it. Were girls flocking over there and offering themselves to him? I mean, he was really really really bad. He really should have been too embarassed to sing in front of people, yet he was forcing the hideous sound of his off-key caterwauling on hundreds upon hundreds of strangers. Did he think a record exec might be around and just pop over to his tent and offer him a record deal? Seriously? What goes through the head of an extremely amateur musician in a field full of sleeping people?

So here’s some festival campsite etiquette for you:
If you are a shite guitarist and/or a shite singer, leave it at home. And if you must, don’t wait until the entire campsite goes quiet to serenade people. At least do it when all the other noise will drown the sound of your hideous voice out!

Posted by JustHipper on 21st August 2006 at 9:02 pm | comments (2)
File under Gig-goer of the Week.

Gig-Goer of the Week: Special Mention, Other Blogs on Eels Gigs

I came across a review quite accidentally of Eels in Glasgow on a site called Bigmouth Strikes Again

He puts so many of my frustrations so succinctly into the first two paragraphs, I think he deserves a mention and some applause.

Posted by JustHipper on 20th July 2006 at 3:59 pm | comments (2)
File under Gig-goer of the Week.