On Tuesday evening, just as I was getting ready to go and see my mates for our regular Tuesday pub meeting, I got a text message from the aforementioned Chris Beard, a singer-songwriter in the non-pejorative sense. That very night he had a gig in The Cellar, supporting Sexy Breakfast who are local band of whom I am very fond. Of course, like a shot I blew out my friends and went to the gig. To my slightly irritated lack of any surprise at all, the projected start time of 8:30 dragged until 9:30. I think the organiser was waiting for more people to turn up, but the gig suffered from a classic Oxford music scene problem: gigs at the end of the month have to have been organised about a month and a half in advance to have made it into that month's Nightshift. Nightshift is a free music listings magazine sufficiently comprehensive that it's easy to forget that gigs happen that aren't publicised in it, hence those that don't get listed don't get much of an audience. Still, the delay meant that I got to chat and drink with Chris, and a couple of those Sexy Breakfast boys (Phil and Joe).
As advertised, the gay bit. In both the pejorative and non-pejorative senses, I fear.
You know, I feel foolish for saying this, but I occasionally suspect that life would be easier if I was bisexual (bear with me, here). You see, there are men like Chris and Joe who I think are attractive, cool and talented, but I don't quite have a context in which to process that. Basically, if they were girls I would fancy them. As it is, I don't (I try to keep an open mind, but I'm pretty damn sure that I don't actually want to... well... fuck men. Even a bit.) but my admiration for them makes me feel a bit weird, like I feel there should be some more intimate level to which we could take our relationship (or at least which I could imagine taking our relationship) but there isn't one, really.
I have absolutely no idea what I was trying to do there, except vaguely embarrass myself.
Anyway, I hung out with musicians and discussed music, and was asked which band I was in again. I figure that these people must have been put up to it by my future self, no doubt watching me from the shadows, hoping against hope that he can persuade me to start the band that saves the world before the apocalypse happens. You know, like in 'Bill and Ted.' I figure that if I'm that destined to be in a band I can afford to take it easy, and wait until I actually find a bass guitar in the street, or win a drum kit in a packet of crisps, or something. Chris's set was great, if short, and much the same as his last, though it was frantically revised at the last minute when the DJ played Johnny Cash's 'Hurt' which Chris felt might somewhat overshadow his cover of said song. (As an aside, I have never heard a song that so perfectly reminds me of a period of my life. I hadn't even heard it until after Johnny died, nor the NIN original, but it expresses my feelings in the period when I was 19, newly kicked out of college and feeling depressed and utterly adrift, perfectly. Maybe it's a shame that I didn't know the track at the time. Maybe it's just as well...)
Next up was a - sadly fairly forgettable - guy doing a similar 'one guy and a guitar' thing but failing to grab my attention as I chatted to Chris at the bar. Sexy Breakfast followed with a low-key semi-acoustic set and a borrowed drummer, but still sounded good. They did some new stuff that wasn't desperately polished but showed some promise, some old favourites, and ended with a lounge-style cover of 'The Next Episode' by Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg which I thought was fantastic. Also of note was Seb, their bolshy keyboards and decks guy, laying into the audience between songs for talking amongst themselves. I knew what he meant as it was annoying me a bit, but it was a semi-acoustic badly publicised gig, and truth to tell, most of the people there were probably there to drink and socialise on a late license rather than listen to the bands. Joe managed to defuse the situation a bit, but it was (ironically) lucky that no-one was paying much attention as I imagine things could have gotten a bit nasty. There's no stage at The Cellar, so no convenient literal or psychological separation between audience and band. I guess Seb's more used to playing loud music to a bunch of adoring young fans (many of whom look like they're from the band's sixth-form class from school) than quieter stuff met with indifference. I guess it's their impatience to be stars that pushes them into making good and innovative music, but I often fear that it will lead to them falling apart before they make it... I've never heard an audience so heckled by a band since I went to see Jesus and Mary Chain (years past their heyday and just past their abortive 'I Hate Rock and Roll' revival), who called us all cunts for not buying more of their records, thus stopping them from becoming as rich and famous as they deserved. It would have been more sensible for them to have gone out into the street and pick on random passers-by than attacking the people who'd paid to see them, I'd've thought, but there you go. Musicians, eh?
The evening ended with The Anonymen. They reminded me of everything I've heard by Rage Against The Machine since their storming first album: tight band, good riffs, impassioned shouty rap with a reasonable amount of rhythmic diversity, but still not actually very good. I left just before midnight, deciding that a warm girlfriend would be more fun than luke-warm rap-rock. And you know what? I was right...