Archive for the 'Feeling Gloomy' Category

28
Oct
11

How I Spent My Summer Vacation – Part One

Hello…how are you? Well, it’s been quite a long time. Perhaps there are two or three of you out there who still may read this. It’s been a landmark year for me in terms of the gigs I managed to see. Mainly because I kept leaving Winnipeg. In February, I got to see Gang of Four in Toronto, and they were one of the most exciting bands I’ve ever seen. Unlike The Buzzcocks, who I saw last year, GoF are still clearly passionate and earnest about what they do. Andy Gill was a badass, and Jon King was a maniac. And they continue to make excellent, thought-provoking music.

This past summer will be difficult to top, mind. My friend, Laura, and I went on a three-week backpacking trip to Europe built around the Wireless Festival. This was decided in a fevered panic after the Pulp reunion was announced in November of last year. It quickly became apparent that we had no self-control or sense of limits as we continued to plan the trip logistics. Not to mention this is the first time that I’ve had a travel buddy who actually enjoys the same things I do. When we found out that Lou Reed was playing in London the night after Wireless, we bought tickets. When we found out that Big Audio Dynamite was playing in London the night before we flew home, we bought tickets. When we found out that the Manic Street Preachers were playing the Wanaja Festival in Finland two nights before we flew home, we decided we could squeeze it in. Then we threw in the Feeling Gloomy club night on the same day we flew into London, which also happened to be the night before Wireless, just for good, psychotic measure. I don’t regret any of this, but as you will eventually see, it took its toll.

Under the poster of Morrissey with a bunch of flowers…

We attempted to stave off some jetlag by having a late afternoon nap at our hostel, which was perhaps one of the worst hostels I’ve ever stayed in (and I’ve been in ones with bedbugs before). However, exhaustion allowed us to sleep rather soundly for a couple of hours in the mouldering bedroom at the top of a stuffy, crowded building in Bayswater. Slightly refreshed, we then ventured off to Islington for dinner and to the O2 Academy for Feeling Gloomy.

Feeling Gloomy has been one of those mythical club nights I read about, like Stay Beautiful and Against Nature, that I’ve always wanted to go to, but have never had the timing right for, nor have I had a friend that wanted to go. It also seemed related to the mythical indie disco, which we don’t have over here, and for two indie-disco-deprived Canadians, Feeling Gloomy lived up to all expectations. We entered the club to Ultravox’s “Vienna” and were the last to leave as they played The Smiths’ “There is a Light That Never Goes Out.” While it didn’t necessarily stick to doleful melancholia as its title implies, it did fulfill all of my listening wishes, including indiepop, new wave synthpop, 60s girl groups, and post-punk. It was essentially a chance to dance around in a semi-dark room full of strangers and a giant painting of Morrissey to the very same songs already on my iPod. Subtract the strangers, and it’s much like a regular evening in my bedroom. In fact, I’m fairly certain I oscillated wildly between hopping about like Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club, twitching my limbs like Jarvis Cocker, and doing that “Barbarism Begins at Home” twist as performed by Morrissey and Marr. It had been such an amazing experience that it almost didn’t matter that we were stood at 4:00AM in the middle of Islington without a clue of how to get back to Bayswater. We luckily found a cab not driven by a rapist, and stumbled into our pitch-dark, crowded bedroom as the sun came up.

A few hours later, we stumbled back out of bed to wander over to Hyde Park for Wireless. Unlike nearly every other time I’ve visited and/or lived in the UK, there were absolutely no clouds and no rain. After eating small cups of pineapple and Sainsbury pasta salad and watching tourists next to the Marble Arch, we took our place in line with the most eager punters at the Wireless entrance. As much as we would have liked to see Fight Like Apes and Cut Copy at one of the other stages, we enjoyed the pre-Pulp line-up of Vintage Trouble, Devotchka, Metronymy, The Horrors, The Hives, TV on the Radio, and the utterly brilliant Grace Jones, who rode a very surprised security guard over to the crowd barrier. Frankly, we endured leg cramp, exhaustion, sunburn, and dehydration for only one band.

Sing along with the common people…

You could hear Jarvis’s laconic voice in your head as you read through each scrolling line of retro typeface projected on the massive black curtain.

Hello…how are you?
I can’t hear you.
I said!
Make some noise!!
Exciting stuff.
You’re looking good.
Especially you.
Is it nice out there?
Do you want to have a drink?
O.k. I will meet you at the bar.
Is this crazy talk?
Is this legal?
Do you remember the first time?
Is this a hoax?

Of course, the crowd was getting pretty antsy by the time the screen asked if we wanted to see a dolphin. To be fair, despite all of the teasing, they did show us a dolphin. Once the textual banter finally exited stage right, we heard the simulated sizzle and hum of the lurid magenta letters flickering into full glow behind the scrim. P…U…L…P. As expected, once the curtains came down, amidst the blast of confetti cannon, Candida, Russell, Steve, Nick, and Jarvis began with “Do You Remember the First Time?”

I don’t remember the first time, so to speak. The rush of nostalgia for Pulp’s first time round, and its attendant mid-nineties bliss, is a strange emotion for me since it belongs to a different, but no less powerful nostalgia. Mine came out of an imagined past rather than a lived past. I didn’t know of Pulp until three years after their triumphant, myth-making slot at Glastonbury. And I didn’t get heavily into them until they no longer existed. I don’t actually remember the first time, so like watching long-dead galaxies in the night sky, I had lived through the Britpop scene after it had gone supernova.

It’s hard not to get emotional at the impossibility of it. The fact that I had consigned Pulp to the bin labelled “missed opportunity” meant that I always thought they would remain a mediated experience, a forensic encounter patched together with hours of live footage, music videos, music press clippings, book accounts, and bootlegs. They had famously never really broken up, so somehow it paradoxically seemed even less likely they could reform. If there is a benefit to all of this late-noughties-reunion-nostalgia-jingoism hangover, this particular reunion was it. After all of those years, many of them pre-YouTube and pre-torrent, I had built up my memory bank of Pulp. Through their vintage pop melodies and Jarvis’s on-point (anti)social observations, I felt a part of something years after it actually happened. All those imagined moments of jubilantly jumping up and down in a crowd singing “Misshapes” or “Common People,” all of those dreamed and simulated moments of inclusion had collected in the grooves of my brain as a soundtrack to my own awkward bildungsroman.

After their first song, Pulp slipped into the first times of “Pink Glove,” which has one of the most deliciously malicious choruses in the Pulp canon, then “Mile End,” and on into the depths of A Different Class with slight diversions into This is Hardcore and We Love Life, and a double-back into “Babies.” In an effort to take it all in, my eyes flicked back and forth between all of the band members, the inscrutable shades of Russell Senior, the flash of white jacket from Steve Mackey, the sphinxy smile of Candida Doyle, the pumping arms of Nick Banks. But at the centre of it all was Jarvis. I think we all know how I feel about Jarvis by now. The corduroy dynamo was in full flight, specs strapped on, stomach in, chest out. At one point he stood atop a monitor and leaned back so far that his upper body was parallel to the stage floor, a breathtaking act of limbo. At other points, he raced to and fro across the front of the stage, hair streaming, joints articulating and gesticulating wildly. His dance moves are a feat of improv: immediate, ever-shifting interpretations of his lyrics. Some embarassingly literal, some as oblique as a Brian Eno strategy, all of them without a whiff of self-consciousness. And his banter was better and more self-assured than it had ever been, often evoking elements of his more recent incarnation as 6Music DJ.

After lying on his back and cycling his mantis legs in the air, taunting, “I’m coming to get you,” Jarvis grabbed a torch and walked down the stairs and runway to the front of the gaping crowd. As he spoke-sang the opening lines to “I Spy” several feet to the right of me, he shone his torch into the upturned faces of his fans, his voice juddering with intensity. By the time he had moved to directly in front of me, everything seemed to have shifted into a hyperreality of specific details, mundane and yet alien. I can distinctly remember the contracted pupils in the grey-green of Jarvis’s eyes as the torchlight reflected from my glasses into his glasses, and I can recall the shape his right hand made as it gripped the torch handle, each joint of his lengthy index finger and thumb tensed, his wrist cocked just campily so. I didn’t touch him. I didn’t say the lyrics along with him. I didn’t snap a photo in his face. I just stared back at him and smiled with my entire being. I was desperately trying to isolate and preserve the moment in my mind; it was perfect timing because it seems everything else had flown out of my mind during that minute.

Halfway through the set, Laura mimed that her feet were over there. “Over there” turned out to mean several feet to the left of the rest of her body. Shortly thereafter, my feet also ended up being over there. It seemed fitting that we were contorted in a gravity-defying, Cocker-like pose. We were being quite literally carried away by the buoyancy of the crowd. There was none of the grasping tackiness and hollow gesture of so many other recent reunions by other bands. In spite of myself, my vision actually went blurry with tears during the last half of finale “Common People.” Just like the emotion of impossibility realized, a lot of my emotional state was dependent on the transcendence of the crowd; I couldn’t help but get emotional when thousands were singing along with me like every word mattered as much as every gasped breath, especially when just five years ago, I was regarded with boredom and mild confusion as I sang a lonely version of “Common People” at a karaoke night in Winnipeg. With that many people willing the night to be special, it came to pass.

Two men in their forties were behind us in the crowd, and as the audience dissipated, they chatted to us for awhile. One of them felt ecstatically vindicated that he had finally gotten to see Pulp live after missing their 1995 Glastonbury performance due to illness. His eyes were wild with disbelief over what had just happened, and his voice was hoarse with shouting “Was that not the best fucking show ever?” into the night air. He had also told us about how his grandfather always told him to “take snapshots” for his memories; these “snapshots” weren’t stored on film or hard drives, nor were they obtained at the expense of placing a lens between you and reality. His grandfather meant taking photographs with your memory. This man we had met only two minutes ago then asked me if I had taken a snapshot. At that moment, I realized that that was what I had been doing when Jarvis stood within inches of me, pointing a torch in my face. A shred of paper streamer in my damp palm; the nausea that comes with having subsisted all afternoon and night on two jammy dodgers proffered by friendly strangers in the crowd; the shaky limb weariness of catharsis; the dizzy light-headedness and body fever of heatstroke; the dazing aftermath of the enormity of the event causing me to meander aimlessly through the park as I processed it. I finally had my truly first time with Pulp, and I’m so grateful that it came at a time when they were so experienced.

To be continued…

I’ve decided to split this gig-going European vacation into at least two parts, so I will be back at least once more in the near future to write about the rest of the trip.

After that, however, this blog will likely remain relatively dormant, but for good reason: Laura and I have decided to start a new blog called From a High Horse. It will mainly be an MP3 blog, but we may also write about non-musical things as well. I figure having one extra writer may make the endeavour more sustainable. So, if you’re so inclined, pop on over…exciting stuff.

At the Indie Disco – The Divine Comedy

Do You Remember the First Time? (Live at the 2011 Wireless Festival) – Pulp

I Spy (Live at the 2011 Wireless Festival) – Pulp




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Gigs Attended

Arcade Fire w/ Bell Orchestre + Wolf Parade (2005)

Arctic Monkeys w/ Reverend and the Makers (2007)

Austra w/ Young Galaxy + Tasseomancy (2011)

Big Audio Dynamite (2011)

Billy Bragg w/ Ron Hawkins (2009)

Billy Idol w/ Bif Naked (2005)

Bloc Party w/ Hot Hot Heat (2009)

Buzzcocks w/ The Dollyrots (2010)

Damo Suzuki (2012)

David Bowie w/ The Polyphonic Spree (2004)

Diamond Rings w/ PS I Love You + The Cannon Bros. (2011)

Diamond Rings w/ Gold & Youth (2012)

Dragonette w/ Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees (2009)

Frank Turner w/ The Cavaliers (2010)

Frank Turner w/ Into It Over It + Andrew Jackson Jihad (2011)

Franz Ferdinand w/ Think About Life (2009)

Gang of Four w/ Hollerado (2011)

Good Shoes w/ The Moths + The Envelopes (2007)

Hot Hot Heat w/ The Futureheads + Louis XIV (2005)

IAMX w/ closethuman (2007)

IAMX w/ Coma Soft + The Hourly Radio (2007)

Interpol (2007)

Janelle Monae w/ Roman GianArthur (2012)

Joel Plaskett Emergency w/ Frank Turner (2012)

Jonathan Richman (2011)

Keane w/ Lights (2009)

Lou Reed w/ Buke and Gass (2011)

Manic Street Preachers w/ Fear of Music (2007)

Manic Street Preachers w/ Bear Hands (2009)

Manic Street Preachers at Wanaja Festival (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Old Folks Home (2009)

Mother Mother w/ Whale Tooth (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Hannah Georgas (2012)

MSTRKRFT w/ Felix Cartal (2008)

Muse (2004)

Nine Inch Nails w/ Death From Above 1979 + Queens of the Stone Age (2005)

of Montreal w/ Janelle Monae (2010)

Owen Pallett w/ Little Scream (2010)

Patrick Wolf w/ Bishi (2007)

Prince (2011)

Pulp w/ Grace Jones, TV on the Radio, The Hives, The Horrors, Metronomy, Devotcka, Vintage Trouble (2011)

Rufus Wainwright w/ Teddy Thompson (2010)

Snow Patrol w/ Embrace (2005)

Snow Patrol w/ OK Go + Silversun Pickups (2007)

Sons and Daughters w/ Bodies of Water (2008)

Stars w/ Thurston Revival (2006)

Stars w/ The Details (2008)

Stars (2010)

Steven Severin (2010)

Stroszek (2007)

The Antlers w/ Haunter (2012)

The Flaming Lips w/ Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti (2010)

The Jesus and Mary Chain w/ Nightbox (2012)

The Killers w/ Ambulance Ltd (2004)

The New Pornographers w/ Novillero (2008)

The New Pornographers w/ The Mountain Goats (2010)

The Ordinary Boys w/ Young Soul Rebels (2006)

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart w/ Suun (2011)

The Rakes w/ The Young Knives (2006)

The Raveonettes w/ Black Acid (2008)

The Stills w/ Gentleman Reg (2009)

The Subways w/ The Mad Young Darlings (2006)

Tokyo Police Club w/ Smoosh + Attack in Black (2008)

TV on the Radio w/ The Dirty Projectors (2009)

Yann Tiersen w/ Breathe Owl Breathe (2011)

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The only certain thing that is left about me

There is no part of my body that has not been used

Pity or pain, to show displeasure's shame

Everyone I've loved or hated always seems to leave

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So I turned myself to face me

But I've never caught a glimpse

Of how the others must see the faker

I'm much too fast to take that test

The Smiths Queen is Dead

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're happy

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Oh, Keats and Yeats are on your side

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're wanted

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Keats and Yeats are on your side

But you lose 'cause weird lover Wilde is on mine

The Clash London Calling

When they kick at your front door

How you gonna come?

With your hands on your head

Or on the trigger of your gun

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Charles Windsor, who's at the door

At such an hour, who's at the door

In the back of an old green Cortina

You're on your way to the guillotine

Here the rabble comes

The kind you hoped were dead

They've come to chop, to chop off your head

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Then you came with your breezeblocks

Smashing up my face like a bus-stop

You think you're giving

But you're taking my life away

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Won't someone give me more fun?

(and the skin flies all around us)

We kiss in his room to a popular tune

Oh, real drowners

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Don't walk away

In silence

See the danger

Always danger

Endless talking

Life rebuilding

Don't walk away

Walk in silence

Don't turn away in silence

Your confusion

My illusion

Worn like a mask of self-hate

Confronts and then dies

Don't walk away

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You don't want to hurt me

But see how deep the bullet lies

Unaware I'm tearing you asunder

Oh there is thunder in our hearts

Is there so much hate for the ones we love

Tell me we both matter don't we

The Associates Affectionate

I don't know whether

To over or under estimate you

Whether to over or under estimate you

For when I come over

You then put me under

Personal taste is a matter of gender

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I wake at dusk to go alone without a light

To the unknown

I want this night inside of me

I want to feel

I want this speeding

I want that speeding

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You'll never live like common people

You'll never do what common people do

You'll never fail like common people

You'll never watch your life slide out of view

And dance and drink and screw

Because there's nothing else to do

Vanilla Swingers

All I have is words, words that don't obtain

And I feel I'm a stain on your horizon

So I stay away - it's easier that way

And there won't be no-one I need to rely on

Is it him, is it me

Or is there something only I can see

How did I get here, why do we blow around like straw dogs on the breeze

I'm a special one, what they used to say

But I've to stay on, finish levels-A

You don't need exams when you've read John Gray

The Indelicates American Demo

And nobody ever comes alive

And the journalists clamour round glamour like flies

And boys who should know better grin and get high

With fat men who once met the MC5

And no one discusses what they don't understand

And no one does anything to harm the brand

And this gift is an illusion, this isn't hard

Absolutely anyone can play the fucking guitar

JAMC Darklands

And we tried so hard

And we looked so good

And we lived our lives in black

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Plucked her eyebrows on the way

Shaved her leg and then he was a she

She says, hey babe,

Take a walk on the wild side

Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side

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Hide on the promenade

Etch a postcard:

How I dearly wish I was not here

In the seaside town...that they forgot to bomb

Come, come, come - nuclear bomb

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Back when we were kids

We would always know when to stop

And now all the good kids are messing up

Nobody has gained or accomplished anything

Wire Pink Flag

Prices have risen since the government fell

Casualties increase as the enemy shell

The climate's unhealthy, flies and rats thrive

And sooner or later the end will arrive

This is your correspondent, running out of tape

Gunfire's increasing, looting, burning, rape

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Well, maybe there's a god above

But all I've ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you

It's not a cry that you hear at night

It's not somebody who's seen the light

It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah

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And what costume shall the poor girl wear

To all tomorrow's parties

For Thursday's child is Sunday's clown

For whom none will go mourning

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My body is your body

I won't tell anybody

If you want to use my body

Go for it

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Oh it's opening time

Down on Fascination Street

So let's cut the conversation

And get out for a bit

Because I feel it all fading and paling

And I'm begging

To drag you down with me

Mansun Six

And you see, I kind of shivered to conformity

Did you see the way I cowered to authority

You see, my life, it's a series of compromises anyway

It's a sham, and I'm conditioned to accept it all, you see

Japan Gentlemen

Take in the country air, you'll never win

Gentlemen take polaroids

They fall in love, they fall in love

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We just want to emote til we're dead

I know we suffer for fashion

Or whatever

We don't want these days to ever end

We just want to emasculate them forever

Forever, forever

Pretty sirens don't go flat

It's not supposed to happen like that

Longpigs The Sun

There's no perfume I can buy

Make me smell like myself

So I put on perfume

To make me smell like someone else

In bed

Calvin Harris I Created Disco

I got love for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

I've got hugs for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

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Does his makeup in his room

Douse himself with cheap perfume

Eyeholes in a paper bag

Greatest lay I ever had

Kind of guy who mates for life

Gotta help him find a wife

We're a couple, when our bodies double

Simple Minds Sons and Fascination

Summer rains are here

Savaged beauty life

Falling here from grace

Sister feeling call

Cruising land to land

No faith no creed no soul

Half a world away

Beauty sleeps in time

Sound and fury play

Bloc Party Silent Alarm

North to south

Empty

Running on

Bravado

As if to say, as if to say

He doesn't like chocolate

He's born a liar, he'll die a liar

Some things will never be different

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LCD Soundsystem

Well Daft Punk is playing at my house, my house

I've waited 7 years and 15 days

There's every kid for miles at my house, my house

And the neighbors can't...call the police

There's a fist fight brewin' at my house, my house

Because the jocks can't...get in the door

Johnny Boy

I just can't help believing

Though believing sees me cursed

Stars Set Yourself

I am trying to say

What I want to say

Without having to say "I love you"

Josef K Entomology

It took 10 years to realise why the angels start to cry

When you go home down the main

Your happy smile

Your funny name

Cocteau Twins Bluebell

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Doesn't she look a million with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Yes, she's a beautiful brunette angel from heaven with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Augment a beautiful brunette

New Order Power Corruption

How does it feel

To treat me like you do

When you've laid your hands upon me

And told me who you are

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You must let her go

She's not crying

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Baiting

Feeling like I'm waiting

Modern times

Valentines

Hating

Hating to distraction

Just leave them alone

Whipcrack

Girls in the back

Girls in the back

Puressence Don't Forget

They say come back to earth and start getting real, yeah

I say come back to earth and start getting real

I know I can't

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So I walk right up to you

And you walk all over me

And I ask you what you want

And you tell me what you need

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The problem of leisure

What to do for pleasure

Ideal love a new purchase

A market of the senses

Dream of the perfect life

Economic circumstances

The body is good business

Sell out, maintain the interest

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Sitting in my armchair thinking again and again and again

Going round in a circle I can't get out

Then I look around thinking day and night and day

Then you look around - there must be some explanation

And the tension builds

Psychdedelic Furs

India, India

You're my love song

India, you're my love song

In the flowers

You can have me in the flowers

We will dance alone

And live our useless lives

Ladytron Light Magic

They only want you when you're seventeen

When you're twenty-one

You're no fun

They take a polaroid and let you go

Say they'll let you know

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No consolation prizes

Spit out your lies and chewing gum

Cut off your hair yeah that's it!

If you look like that I swear I'm gonna love you more

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All the neighbors are startin' up a fire

Burning all the old folks, the witches and the liars.

My eyes are covered by the hands of my unborn kids

But my heart keeps watchin' through the skin of my eyelids

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Prince charming

Prince charming

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of

Don't you ever, don't you ever

Stop being dandy, showing me you're handsome