Gigs, eh? I make a point of not really going to any. I’m not sure why: the best musical experiences of my life tend to be live performances. I just can’t be bothered with it. What will the crowd be like? Will I be allowed to dance? Will the band play their best songs, or just the latest material I’m not that bothered about (speaking of which, I’m seeing Bob Dylan in a few weeks)? Will there be a cloakroom, or will I have to hold my jacket all night?
I’ll admit these are mostly petty concerns, but they all add up, and when you combine them with insanely escalating ticket prices (I saw Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in May 2001 – when Blixa was still in the band – for £17.50. Try that now), they outweigh my desire to see most bands. I’ve seen bands not play what are clearly their best songs more often than not, but for different reasons. Mercury Rev not playing ‘A Drop In Time’ is probably because I am the only person in the world who thinks it their best song. Gameface didn’t play ‘Hey Radio’ because they probably just couldn’t be arsed. Pitchshifter refused to play ‘Underachiever’ because they were prissy idiots who seemed to think its fame was sufficiently comparable to ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ to warrant them invoking a similar self-censorship.
There are some bands I will see, even if they are not the bands I should be seeing. I really should, for, example, have seen the mighty Metallica. They are one of my favourite bands ever, I haven’t seen them since 1996, and lots of my friends dig them. Despite my best intentions, though, the £50 face value must have put me off. I’m at that age, too, where time passes quickly enough that a gig comes and goes before I realise (hello last time Boris, Converge and Melt-Banana each played).
Anyway, I have a few gigs coming up. Asva, who are yet to overly impress me on vinyl, had a lot of potential, but sadly their travel to Europe fell through. The promoter expressed his hope to me that they will turn up in England soon enough. I am going to see Earth, who have overly impressed me on CD, vinyl, and the in-the-ether substance that Apple Lossless files are made of. As I missed them when they were touring HEX (supporting none other than sunnO))) ), I am desperate to see them. I’m gonna punk (rock) it up when I see NOFX and Propagandhi. Not together, which would be amazing. They don’t seem to like each other very much.
Most imminently, though, I will see Animal Collective. I have blogged about them in the past, and meant to do a lor more blogging on them, but it’s an inevitability of life that most of my blog posts won’t come to fruition. I look forward to seeing them, not just because I’ll capture the zeitgeist for once (and who’d have thought said zeitgeist would be located in a working men’s club in Woodhouse?). It should be fun, is within walking distance, and their best song has just been released as a single. They have to play it; they just have to.
Years ago, I met a man who would prepare to attend a gig by listening to nothing but that band for the week preceding. I half really respected that, and half thought it was insane. BUt I often think that, hey, maybe I should do something like that. Get immersed in the back catalogue of one band, get in the mood for them to play, refamiliarise myself with the material. The gig itself would be a massively awesome slice of catharsis.
Just after I experienced my initial spurt of Animal Collective obsession, I did something I swore I would stop doing, and I illegally downloaded their back catalogue. The plan was to make friends with a history of music I had previously ignored, and to get ready for the gig. I never used to like them, but now was as good a time as any to change that. I would bung it all on the phone and hit ‘artist shuffle’. It’d be great.
It was, in theory. Problem came when I actually tried it. The first song, coincidentally, was the only one of theirs I had been familiar with before this year – 2005 single ‘Grass’. I didn’t like it then and, try as I might, didn’t like it during this walk home. I failed in my self-set challenge, and haven’t gone back to it since. The urge to plunge into albums-worth of unfamiliar material is reduced from its already meagre level of enthusiasm by the fact that the current album, Merriweather Post Pavilion, is still sufficiently exciting to make me want to listen to it and nothing else by them. I managed to listen to Strawberry Jam the other day, though, so perhaps there’s hope for me yet.
Then again, the gig is the day after tomorrow…
Postscript: Apologies for any typographical errors. I’m writing this on a laptop whose keys have so little travel I may as well be vaguely waving my hand a few inches over them, for all the tactile satisfaction I glean from typing.