Month: January 2011

I like lists – 2010 Gigs

I like lists a lot.  Lists are useful.  Lists are no-nonsense.  Lists are all round good solid blokes.

Now that I finally have access to the big ol’ internet at home – I’ve been catching up on some lists.  Lists such as “Best albums of 2010″, “Best Music Videos of 2010″, “Best Singles of 2010″, “Worst Album Covers of 2010″, and “Best Albums of the Decade”.  Some of those lists served as a basis for additions to one of my own lists – “Music to Download – Legally, Of Course, From Websites Where I Pay Retail Prices”.  In addition to my lists “Movies to Download – Legally, Of Course, From Valid Online Entertainment Services” and “Television Series to Download, Not Sure Of The Legality” – this resulted in some rather solid usage of my internet connection over the last week.  It turned out I already had all but 3 of the top 50 albums of the decade – either due to my exceedingly good taste in music, or that each year I check the top albums of the year list and get all of them.  Anyway – I have a 40Gb limit of broadband usage per month.  I can’t check just now how much I’ve used in the last week – but I’m pretty sure it’s well over 40Gb.

And now to produce a list of my own: The Gigs of 2010, with some awards, in an order which doesn’t reflect anything except maybe chronological order?:

  • Don McGlashan – Nice relaxed show with a kiwi legend.  He put on a really good show too, chatting, joking, etc – and showing how talented he really is.  Using some kind of loopback device – he’d record something right in front of us, recording it, and setting it to continuously loop – thereby creating his own backing music on the fly, as if he had an entire band.  Good gig.
  • The Herbaliser – Coolest Venue – Didn’t really know what to expect.  Hadn’t listened to much Herbaliser beforehand.  It was at Koko – which is a very very cool venue.  And, yep – the gig itself was pretty sweet too.  Very cool funky music, and they had special guests Twin Peaks with them, which turned a lot of the gig into a much more hop-hip-ish type deal – which worked quite well for breaking up the long jazzy jams.
  • The Black Seeds – Best Kiwi Accent – The award isn’t for Barnaby or any of the band – but rather a member of the crowd.  The gig was good – once again we met up with Barnaby before the gig, and had a couple of drinks with him.  Gig was good, but the real highlight came afterwards.  After umm-ing and ahh-ing – I declined the ‘afterparty’ – and instead followed some others to get a quick meal and head home.  And then – a good solid kiwi girl – we all know the type – thickest kiwi accent I’ve ever heard – wearing a Crazy Horses t-shirt, talking about another girl in the concert who had been quite obviously heavily intoxicated.  Direct quote: “Oh, she was munted as bro.”  In a pure thick kiwi accent… classic.  Made my night.
  • The Wu Tang Clan – Worst Gig – I’d really been looking forward to this one.  With a couple of really good Wu-Tang albums out this year – this was before Apollo Kids, but after Wu-Massacre – I was secretly hoping that some of the Wu-Massacre songs might make an appearance.  As it was, I don’t think I would have even noticed.  I couldn’t recognise a single song – due to too much bass, and just overall sound quality.  Checking some of the youtube videos though – I’m wondering if we were just in a bad spot.  Anyway – was worth going, just so I could sip on red wine while bouncing to the Clan.  Protect ya neck, y’all.
  • Secret Cinema – Most Immersive Cinema Experience – Not strictly speaking a ‘gig’, I suppose – rather than going to watch a movie.  But – gotta include it in the list – because it was a very very cool experience.  And list’s are cool with it, yeah?  So yeah – Secret Cinema – very sweet idea, and execution.  Am definitely up for some more of that.
  • Modest Mouse – Very very good gig – although there wasn’t anything ‘special’ about the visuals – ie flashing lights, etc – it was just done really really well, with lights co-ordinated with music, etc.  And excellent sound quality – and just the right mixture of playing the songs really well with a little bit of improvisation.  Sweet gig.
  • King Kapisi – Best Motivational Speech – May actually have been a smaller gig than Don McGlashan – but I’m making this up as I go, so I’ll leave it.  Anyway – sweet gig.  Champagne & King Kaps.  And somehow, at the end of the night, I ended up standing next to Kapisi at the urinal (although I didn’t realise it was him for quite some time) – and he was feeling rather talkative.  I suspect somebody had stepped up to the plate after he’d made a couple of references to drugs during his set.  Anyway – he was very talky, very happy – and we started conversing – continuing out into the main bar, where everybody else was being kicked out.  He talked my ear off for about half an hour – eventually teaching me that I should really “big myself up” more – and forcing me to admit “I run that shit”.  And referring to himself in the 3rd person a fair bit – which was even more disconcerting as he used his real name.  Yeah Bill – I run that shit.
  • Grinderman – Best Gig – It’s a pretty close-run thing, but I reckon this was the gig of the year.  Great music, performed by the most energetic manic frenzied frontman I’ve ever seen.  Nick Cave was a lunatic.  I actually started feeling sorry for the guys who had to sneak onto stage every 5 seconds to untangle his mic cord, or upright a toppled mic stand, or whatever.  And after the gig, we ended up going to the afterparty – where I shook his hand and told him that he’d done a good gig.  Just in case he didn’t know.
  • Shapeshifter – Very good.  Pat yourself on the back boys.    With Tiki Taane fiddling the knobs, and some Shihad covers thrown in – all good.  Chur chur.
  • Cowboy Junkies – Very small, intimate show in a church.  Which suited it really well.  Margo talked constantly between songs, telling stories about backgrounds to songs, growing up, etc.  All of which added to the intimate setting really really well.  No drinky-drinkies in the church, of course – but a quick whiskey in the tea-room at the halftime break, and it was all good.
  • The National – Possibly my most anticipated gig (although Wu-Tang would run it close).  Producing 3 of the best albums of the last decade – I had really high hopes.  And I wasn’t disappointed.  We had seats in the circle, but that was all good – got to sit and just watch the gig, rather than fighting to find a decent spot.  And it was a really really good set.  Again – nothing fancy or flashy – just really really REALLY good music, played well, and with enough variations from the studio versions for you to know that it was live music.    A fully acoustic playing of Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks was sweet, as was a stagedive into the crowd, and, well… just awesome music.  Except not my favourite song, and no extra special guests – like they apparently did on every other night during their tenure.  Grrr.   I’m a festival, I’m a parade.
  • Arcade Fire – Biggest Gig – for rather an eclectic indie band, the Arcade Fire have become quite popular.  Sold-out gigs at the formerly-known-as-the-Millenium-Dome is not to be scoffed at.  Like The National – having released 3 of the best albums of the decade – hopes were high.  And only slightly disappointed.  It was a good gig – really good – but I just couldn’t seem to get into it.  Having had a couple of drinks probably didn’t help – and being in a generally irritable mood – leading to my getting furious at the big TV screens (anger at inanimate objects – not a good sign) – and the guy next to me taking photos or videos with his phone – and it’s very bright large LCD screen in my peripheral vision.  (Yes – I do note the hypocrisy in getting angry with people taking videos or photos at concerts – while also hoping that somebody got some really good footage to put on youtube so I can link to it.  I wouldn’t mind it – if they just didn’t have these big bright screens in my face.)  But yeah – pretty good gig, with some crazy drumming, good visuals, and great songs.  Sweet.
  • The Black Keys – Loneliest Gig – Yes, this was the one I went to all by myself.  With four tickets in my pocket, and some stubborn refusal to sell any to the stinkin’ touts – I went and watched the Akron duo all by my lonesome.  And it was all good.  A close second for the best gig of the year, I’d say.  Really really good visuals – nothing amazingly fancy, just really simple, understated, but powerful stuff.  A disco ball raising out of the stage for a couple of songs.  A simple banner with their ‘Brothers’ logo – which changed colours by light show.  But while moving – which confused me at times.  I guess I am easily confused, as I later figured that if the spotlights which were illuminating the banner were actually attached to the same structure – they would move along with the banner, allowing the effect they achieved very very easily.  Anyway – yeah, awesome gig.  Was reminded at how amazingly diverse sounds they can achieve in a song – despite there (usually) only being the two of them.  Cool.  Second-best gig of the year.  I reckon.

End of a decade – Hogmanay

Well, that’s over.

First, I’ll attempt to quickly do my normal blow-by-blow of my trite little life since last update.  But all I can promise is attempt.  Firstly – check out my own little gift to self.  I saw it, I knew I had to have it, and now I have it.  And I must say, I am not at all disappointed.  It really does work remarkably well.  My first power tool.

So – I headed up to Edinburgh to spend the few days up there before New Years.  Not a particularly pleasant trip – I need to remember to reserve train seats when travelling around holiday periods in the future.  Spent the entire trip standing in between carriages.  But, I had some books and beer – so was sorted.  Spent the 24th walking around the central part of town.  And yes, I guess it is quite a pretty town.  Quite pretty indeed.  Well done Edinburgh.  Most of the Princes Street Gardens were closed off, as they were putting up marquees and what-not for Hogmanay.  But – still managed to get the gist of the whole thing.  There was snow everywhere, but clear blue skies – really quite the perfect day for some touristy oohing and ahhing, and taking photos of it all.  So – took some photos, and wandered up the hill.  Checked out the gateway to the castle, but rather than going in and having a look, I opted for the “Whisky Experience” instead.  Which turned out to be really rather cheesey, but possibly worth it.  A little Disneyland style ride, and then checking out the largest collection of scotch in the world – nearly 3,500 bottles, I believe – and then some tastings.  Touristy, but also a little informative.  And not having had lunch, I did end up a little light-headed.  Bought a bottle of whisky that our young hostess had recommended to me – and then off to stumble around town a bit more.  Met up with Katie and some of her bicyclist buddies – and proceeded to taste quite a few more whiskies, beers, and the like.

On the 25th – I cooked lunch for Katie and her ex-flatmate Esther, while they gossipped and giggled and etc.  We were intending on heading out for a drink in the evening, but ended up staying in, Esther’s new flatmate came around – and we finished off the wine, some port, and some whisky.  All in all, a fairly good day.  Snow on the ground, but no fresh snowfall – so once again, I guess not technically a ‘White Christmas’.  That evening I finally managed to get through to family – so made all the traditional phone calls.  Unfortunately, with quite a few more drinks down than the previous night when I’d initally wanted/attempted to have the calls.  But – did all those phone calls, and was reminded that I had family in St Andrews – and it just happened to be their golden wedding anniversary the next day.  So – the next day I gave them a call – confusing them terribly – and arranged to visit the following day.  The rest of Boxing Day consisted of being rather lazy, and then I think Katie & I went out for dinner.  So – the next day, Katie went a-bicycling, and I headed up to St Andrews to visit Fenella & John.  Unfortunately it was extremely foggy/misty up there – but John still gave me a little drive around the township – and I saw enough to know I definitely need to go back and have another look.  Spent the afternoon with them, and caught them up on all the family goings-on, etc.

On the 28th – I think – I headed up to Aviemore.  Let myself into the apartment I’d booked, and checked out the village.  Rather a small place – but pleasant enough.  I took stock of every restaurant/bar – and chose The Winking Owl to be my first meal.  It passed, barely.  Mussels were fine, wine was disgusting.  Chook arrived the next day – and I showed him around town, did some shopping, before we spent a pleasant evening with a cheeseboard, music, and books.  All very pleasant.  Civil.  And all that.  And then the girls arrived – a campervan full of chattering babbling madness.  Katie, Genevieve, Esther, and Genevieve’s flatmate Susie/Suzie(sp?).  After failing to get them to “hush” – we gave up on our pleasant evening.  Chook & I escaped the next day, driving around the countryside to find the source(s) of all this scotch whisky I’d heard about.  We eventually found a single distillery open, and did the tour.  But, we also found a very very well-stocked and friendily staffed whisky shop – and we eventually headed back to the apartment with approximately £450 worth of whisky between us.  Bibby had arrived in our absence, and Genevieve had found one of her old bicyclist buddies, and when we returned – we discovered that this bearded hippie bicyclist was going to cook us dinner.  And that our apartment had pretty much been usurped by the ladies.  Backpacks, skis, snowboards, bras, panties, strange pieces of clothing with no discernable use – everywhere.  But we had dinner, and then started whisky-tasting.  Chook, beardie and myself stayed up until the wee hours tasting the various whiskies – and rating them.  On taste, packaging, and even the sound of the ‘glug-glug’ as it came out of the bottle.  Altogether, some successful whisky drinkin’.

But, the next day was New Year’s Eve.  Bibby and the ladies all headed up to ‘the slopes’ – while Chook & I assigned ourselves the task of actually getting ready for Hogmanay.  So – we went and bought a couple of the biggest steak pies we could find (apparently some kind of scottish tradition) – and a whole heap of booze.  Eventually everybody else returned; Fraser arrived; we had some fish-n-chips, deep-fried pizza, deep-fried haggis; and we got our drink on.  After quite a few bottles of wine, and then a couple bottles of champagne – we headed to the Ol’ Bridge Inn.  Where I immediately decided to buy some champagne.  In a panic at how many bottles were left in the fridge – I bought them all.  Only 2 I think – but still.  Without realising they actually had a huge stock out back somewhere.  So – next time – I ordered 4.  And some barman overhearing me, said “Four – is that all”.  So – I yelled out to my barman who was heading out back – “make it five”.  That’ll show ‘em.  I also showed the barman the correct method of opening a bottle of champagne, with my stop-bouchon I’d happened to bring along.  (Somebody please let me know if that link is inappropriate – the picture for the video looks fine, but the video is blocked at work citing that it is pornography)  That did gain a fair bit of kudos – “He’s even brought his own equipment for opening champagne!”.  Standing outside with a huge ice bucket filled with 4 or 5 bottles of champagne – yeah, we had a pretty good night.  But I have been avoiding checking my bank statement.  Stupid champagne – I think I need a New Year’s Resolution to crack down on it.  But Hogmanay arrived – with pipers and kisses and what-not.  It’s all a little blurry.  At one stage, I fell over, into a girl, knocking her over so that she hit her head, quite badly.  Then her brother wanted to sue me, and there was all sorts of nastiness, but it all ended fairly peacefully.  I think I gave my bowtie to the girl as a memento, which I thought quite amusing – but nobody else seemed to appreciate it.  Oh well.  I eventually returned to the apartment, to which everybody else had already retired – and a few of us stayed up chatting until the first sunrise of the new decade, before cooking breakfast for everybody.

The campervan-o’-girls had to leave the next afternoon, so we bid them adieu.  And so we were left with 4 ever-so-slightly hungover gentlemen in an apartment in Aviemore.  Steak pie was had, and then Trivial Pursuit came out, followed by the two most ridiculous games of Scrabble I’ve ever experienced.  If it wasn’t for that my camera is gone (explained later), and the fact that there were rather large bonuses on offer for levels of offensiveness – I’d post photos.  And then it was the 2nd, and I felt much much worse.  Bibby fled early – followed by Chook & Fraser at a more reasonable time.  I stayed on to try and get the apartment, and myself, into some semblance of order.  The flat was relatively easy.  I walked into town to try and find some curtain hooks (obviously) – but of course everything was closed except Tesco.  I must have spent half an hour walking around Tesco in the off chance there might be curtain hooks on one of those random dangling hooks of products they have spread around the isles – and trying not to throw up, but no luck.  Eventually returned to the apartment, and cannibalised curtain hooks from other rooms to fix the one curtain I needed to rehang.  I then considered the possibility of catching a train back to Edinburgh that evening – but although the apartment was starting to look respectable – I most certainly was not.  So, I spent a quiet evening trying to recover and read – hampered slightly by the fact that there was a small amount of leftover booze.  Luckily not too much – so I managed to force that down, had as much of the leftover food as I could stomach, and tried to get a good night’s sleep.  Next morning, found all the things I’d forgotten about the previous day – tidied up some more, made a last ditch attempt at using some of the food, before throwing everything else away – locking the door, and getting on a train.  Scotland, by this point, seemed to have it in for me.  It was bitterly cold, my system was not in a state to be dealing with such cold – and I had to change trains in Perth.  I’d always been told Perth is very hot – but it’s not.  It’s very cold, and it doesn’t even have anywhere for a man to buy some lunch.  Eventually I got back to Edinburgh, and collapsed in Katie’s door once again.  A little spot of recovery, washing, changing, catching up on internet, etc – and then dinner out.  The next morning, Katie went to work and I went to London.

Immediately back into England I regretted my moment of anger towards Scotland.  It can’t help being snow – and Perth, well Perth has more Arsetralians than Scots.  But York – York decided to really kick me when I thought I was getting back up.  Once again I was standing between carriages – but had sorted myself out a snug little spot.  Unfortunately, some english people got on at some point and ruined it, but anyway… I had my bag-o’-useful-stuff hanging from a door hinge.  Nice arrangement, where I could reach in and get a new book, or whatever.  But – I went to the restaurant car to get a drink.  But then we pulled into York.  And somebody wanted to get on the train, or off the train, or something – and opened the door.  Apparently.  And apparently, my bag of course fell right off the hinge, straight down the gap which we’re always reminded to mind.  I got back just as the train was preparing to leave, and somebody pointed this out to me.  I tried to open the door and jump out to get it – but the station guard was having none of it.  “I’ll send it through on the next train”, he said.  Well – I wasn’t sure how this would work… King’s Cross is a very large train station – and I had no idea where my bag would be arriving.  But, I hoped for the best, and got back to my book.  Which I soon finished, and suddenly realised that my backup book was in my bag which I no longer had.  Dumb.  Also in this bag – the keys to my flat.  Not cool.  My camera – a little annoying – and all photos from the last week – very annoying.  But – I held out hope.  When we arrived at King’s Cross I asked about – and figured out where my bag was most likely to turn up.  But, it never did.  I waited for several hours – going between lost+found, the station management office, information desk.  Eventually I gave up – and went to stay with Caro & Malachy.  Very tired, and not in a good – I was a terrible guest, but that’s what you get when you’re willing to give me aid and assistance with little to no notice.  Anyway – the next morning I made some phone calls.  And was led to believe that my bag was indeed now at lost&found at King’s Cross.  Cheered up no end, I picked up my backpack, and headed to King’s Cross.  Where my bag was not.  Once again, I walked around all the likely spots – but nobody knew anything, and there was no paper trail.  I made some more phone calls – finding a wide range of levels of helpfulness.  Some people told me that the station guard shouldn’t have been allowed to put my bag on the next train – so there you go.  I’m not sure how that was supposed to help – but apparently them’s the rules.  I talked to York station – they didn’t know anything about it.  I filled out a form with a vague description of the bag – and trundled off home.  Organised a locksmith to let me into my own house – and yes, it turned out to be the same one I’d used only 3 weeks previously.  Inside my flat I had a spare key to one of the locks on my door, but not the other.  But – I can indeed ‘snip’ the other one open, and I now have full access to my flat again.  Yay.

And that was my trip to Scotland.  I still have no bag, and therefore no camera, and therefore no photos (except those I took on the 24th of pretty pretty Edinburgh).  Which reminds me – also during the trip, my work laptop turned against me.  Yesterday, after many failed and frustrating attempts – I finally managed to get the data off the hard drive – which includes the aforementioned photos of pretty pretty Edinburgh.  So I’ll have a couple of photos of my first trip “up Norf, innit?”.  And my keys included my “Big Screw” (which it took me 3 orders to finally actually receive one – but I’m bound to order another one very soon), and my Colombian keyring memento.

2011 New Year’s Resolutions (not in concrete yet, still working on them):

  • Only eat red meat on the 10th, 20th, 30th of each month (plus the 28th Feb, probably)
  • Be like a proper dieter type person, looking at calories on foods and stuff
  • Cut down on the booze drastically, including:
    • No beer
    • No stuff that doesn’t taste good – ie: shots, jagerbombs, all that shite
    • Come up with some idea to fix “The Champagne Issue”
  • Try to save some money – Turkmenistan isn’t likely to be cheap

So – pretty much all reasonably reasonable resolutions this year.  I probably need to come up with a novelty resolution also – but can’t think of one just now.  Maybe I’ll just cheat and continue with Monthly Resolutions.