So – a weekend of music. So much music! Too much to really write about. So… bullet points:
- I’ll Be Your Mirror – a two day festival at Alexandra Palace – organised by All Tomorrow’s Parties who usually do festivals at campgrounds (because I’ll Be Your Mirror was the B-side for Velvet Underground’s All Tomorrow’s Parties – see?)
- “curated by Portishead” – which is supposed to mean that Portishead had a big say in the choice of bands. In reality – who can say? But more importantly – it also means that Portishead headlined both nights.
- Saturday – headed along with Jess, and spent the day drinking Japanese Bloody Marys, wandering from stage to stage, and queueing for food
- Beak> – pretty cool. Really good use of heavy bass and slowly changing rhythms. Might have to check out their album.
- Doom – formerly known as MF Doom, amongst other things. I never realised he was such a fatty. Quite the pot on the chap, although he tried to deflect attention by having a very very large man on stage with him. Overall – a fairly timid performance – but worth seeing just for seeing a middle-aged hip-hop star with a beer-pot and wearing a metal mask.
- PJ Harvey – unfortunately I missed a lot of this. Was still in a queue for dinner when she started, and then foolishly volunteered to go get drinks halfway through – which involved going to 2 different bars. Which is a shame – as looking back, it was pretty bloody good. Also – was quite far from the stage – so didn’t notice her bizarre clothing. A lot of the gig was new stuff, from Let England Shake – but that’s alright, because it’s a very very good album.
- Portishead – oh so good. We got a spot just in front of the sound stage – perfect. If I hadn’t been to Flaming Lips a couple of weeks ago – this day would have become my favourite gig ever. Just the Portishead set alone would be close to taking that title. It was just perfect – excellent set list, perfect stage show/visuals, and amazing performances – from both vocals and instruments. Another one of those sets, where you walk away thinking “I’d forgotten how absolutely brilliant their music is – I need to listen to that more often.”
- Sunday – headed along by myself, with Justin promising to come along later. I arrived ultra early to check out Godspeed You! Black Emperor – and then spent most of the afternoon lazing in the sun, drinking Bloody Mary’s, and reading. Because why else would you go to a music festival?
- Godspeed You! Black Emperor – not bad, but I spent most of my time watching as person after person tried to leave via the big door near my spot – and person after person being turned away. Probably THE thing I took away from the entire festival was the bizarre traffic/crowd control. Big accessible entrance/exit points were closed off – forcing people to push through crowds when trying to leave certain areas. And then main thoroughways that were normally open, would randomly be closed off. Aarrgh. Anyway – Godspeed You! Black Emperor – was pleasant enough, but I wasn’t enjoying it because of my old man rant building up in me – so didn’t hang around for the whole set – which was actually a couple of hours long.
- Liars – I again checked out a short bit of their set – looked pretty good, but relaxing in the sun was more enticing
- Beach House – I only caught one or two songs, not realising they were on
- Swans – very loud – and with Justin, as two old men we gave up on them to head to…
- Anika – some random singer ‘discovered’ by Beak> – and an album put together. To be honest – it did sound like Beak> had gathered their ‘B-side’ material – figured it might be usable if they threw a lady in front of it. And it might have worked, except Anika’s voice didn’t seem that great – so it was substandard singing on top of rejected songs. But I’ll still probably check out the album, and see if it was actually just an off-performance.
- The Sundowners – a band performing in the ‘Panorama Room’ – so nowhere near a proper stage. But quite a nice gig – a group of insanely happy young people singing poppy happy songs. I hope somebody kept them far away from the lead singer of…
- Grinderman! Not quite the frantic frenetic frenzied fr… whirlwind that they were last year – but still… anybody who hadn’t seen them before would have been quite impressed with the raw energy displayed on stage. Once again – Nick Cave was strutting, hip-thrusting, yelling his way through the songs, throwing his microphones and guitars to the side when he was done with them – resulting in stage crew running around trying to recover bits, make other bits ready for him when he might want them again, etc. And, of course, Nick Cave getting right up close and personal with the crowd – presumably looking for eligible ladies.
- Portishead – again. Not quite up to the standard of the previous night – but perhaps that was more in the eye of the beholder? I’m old and easily tired out – so maybe the weekend had just been too much for me? But it seemed that it just wasn’t quite as good – individual performances were fine, but just the set-list didn’t flow the same. Strange – just playing the songs in a different order could have such an impact. But Saturday – there just seemed to be a perfect flow of songs, punctuated to perfection with a sudden slow song, or a sudden slap in the face by something like Machine Gun. Sunday night – not quite. But still – very very happy to have been there.
And then after such a weekend, I came back to work – and immediately got dragged into two boozy nights. Monday & Tuesday on the gas – not cool. Wednesday – some evening work. Tonight – a little gig by the Pajama Club. Tomorrow night – probably more work. And then I have to get up early on Saturday to go to watch some stupid bloody rugby.