2010 was an eventful year, for sure. But nothing stops when a calendar gets chucked. And sure enough, 2011 was almost as busy. Gig-wise, the key feature of this year was the increased merging of my DJing with my gigging. Four times I played the role of support DJ at live music events. However, there’s a lot more to those stories than the memories of the live music, significant that it was. Those stories will be written later, in a separate volume looking into my Djing life.
One other fact – it was the third consecutive year where I attended no overseas festivals or gigs. This isn’t something I’d given up on, it’s just I had other demands on the money at the time. Infest, the low-budget indoor festival in Bradford, was still an option, however.
August 2011 – 8-Bits!
The early part of 2011 offer relatively few gigging stories, as I was occupied with buying a flat and then doing all the things you have to do to get it up and running. Getting a mortgage in the midst of the credit crunch was a stressful affair, but luckily none of the adventures you’ve read about so far had damaged my credit rating, so I finally had a roof over my head that I could call my own. Sort of.
But as a result of the above processes and my determination to get ‘closure’ on the whole process, I’d neglected my health – physical, mental, emotional, financial, the lot and hence arrived at Infest 2011 a broken man. Despite everything I’d achieved during the year to date, it had come at great cost. So I made a decision. Have one last 3-day bender, one final weekend of irresponsibility, get it out of the system and then pull myself together and get on with life again. Dosed up on vitamin pills to alleviate the need to ever care about my diet over the weekend, that was indeed the case….
The event as a whole remains something of a blur. I can’t really remember which bands played this year or last, nor how much money I spent. I do remember giving the karaoke machine a go, singing Sham 69′s ‘If The Kids Are United’. In an obscenity-laced London accent. In the middle of West Yorkshire. I probably sung along to VNV Nation even louder, but I believe that’s the idea at their shows.
And earlier that day, I’d finally seen mind.in.a.box live. I’d heard very varied stories about their live shows so far (not that they’d played many), and my curiosity was piqued further when I saw them setting up guitar, drums and other ‘real’ instruments – rarely seen at InFest. They appeared on stage and I was even more confused – were they supposed to be a kind of ‘progressive futurepop’ four-piece, or some kind of synth-enhanced Pink Floyd tribute band?
It’s at times like this that the alcohol really serves it’s purpose, because I stopped caring about genres and realised that whatever it was they were playing, I actually really liked it. I was tripping out during the quiet bits and dancing wilding whenever the drums kicked in. I did, however, long for a no-holds barred anthem. mind.in.a.box are a very ‘technical’ band, which does sometimes impact the ‘instant appeal’ nature of their music. How the hell were they going to end their set on anything other than a drawn-out anticlimax?
Oh, 8-Bits. Not exactly typical of their style, but a perfect set closer, and it still worked surprisingly well with the addition of ‘real’ instruments. Cheered to the rafters (or whatever it was holding the roof up), there was no time for an encore, even if the band had had one to play (looking at tour setlists, they probably didn’t). But my must-see band of InFest, one who had a varied live reputation so far, had delivered the goods this time.
October 2011 – Shine, Shine Your Light On Me
InFest had given me the drive to get my life back on track, but a couple of months on and I still felt there was something missing from my life. In a year of practical achievements, I was feeling increasingly hollow inside. My body and mind were on the road to recovery, but my soul remained on ice. I was a walking, talking automaton. Something had to give.
My epiphany came from a quite unexpected source. A VNV Nation concert. Unexpected, because I’d seen them many, many times before, and whilst I regarded their recent ‘Automatic’ album as a ‘Return to Glory’ release, I wasn’t expecting anything more than some bouncy music interspersed with the between-song chit-chat that’s something of a feature at every VNV gig. And so it was….new songs mixed with (relatively) old ones, nothing pre-Empires, though. Dance a lot, sing along with favourite choruses and go nuts during the instant hit and current set-closer ‘Control’.
And then came the encore. Having cancelled a gig the night before due to voice issues, we had no idea how long Ronan was going to last, but there was enough left in him to manage a quartet of songs. Including one new track that I’d previously heard at InFest but not really appreciated the true nature of until tonight. The song was ‘Nova’. And when the song burst into life a minute or so it, with the trippy LED backdrop as accompaniment, I finally realised what I was missing.
“Shine. Shine Your Light On Me. Illuminate Me. Make Me Complete”
There was a long way to go, but was no longer adrift and lost. Back on track for sure.
Plus these snapshots…..
My mind may have been elsewhere, but I can’t help what it captures along the way. Or fails to.
- Totally forgetting I’d seen the gothic rock band Grooving In Green in March when I became a fan of their recordings a few years later, and then seeing them in the same venue in 2016 thinking it was the first time I’d been to one of their shows. Only worked it out when I started writing this thing.
- If my house move hadn’t already did for me – a Sunday in July saw a trip to Ikea and back, then off to run a D&D game, and finally off to see four-band bill topped off by Combichrist. Nothing left in the tank? I was sure of it now.
- A colleague suggesting I went to see Magazine at Shepherd’s Bush. His reasoning – “I’m too old for gigging so you’ll have to go for me”. He clearly hasn’t met some of my friends yet.
- Diary of Dreams topping off the last-ever Gotham festival, having made their UK mark with their appearance at the first. Adrian Hates pointed the fact out with the oh-so-trad comment “First and Last and Always”.
- Front 242 finally making it to London again, but neutered by noise limits – my return to European festivals would surely have to follow.