February 26, 2008

My Exciting Life In ROCK: 7/10/2000 - The Scala, London

Filed under: Uncategorized, mj hibbett — mjhibbett @ 5:26 pm

Here we go then - this one has got VIOLENCE, CELEBRITIES and even GURLS in it! HOLD TIGHT!

The day started well with me meeting a LADY! I have to admit, I was meeting her for a financial transaction - a sentence OFTEN used in the Kings Cross area. She was interested in some of my comics - a sentence almost NEVER used, anywhere.

INDEED the idea that a WOMAN would even LOOK at a comic was a source of continuing AMAZEMENT to Frankie and Mr Whitaker, my travelling companions and fellow Artists Against Success board members. Their ASTONISHMENT only increased when we met her and she turned out not only to be fairly normal but also Actually Quite Nice Looking. The poor woman must have felt a bit WEIRD being STARED at by these two while she and I were discussing the NEAR MINT quality of the publications, and they went on and on about it for most of the rest of the day. I tried to make them understand that the comics she’d bought were old issues of DEADLINE, the only comic that actually ever WAS even vaguely cool with GURLS, but they wouldn’t believe me.

The three of us were down in London Town for Scalarama, a big indie do being organised by the Fortuna Pop!, Where It’s At Is Where You’re At and StupidCat record labels. It featured loads of the bands CURRENT at the time on the indie scene but to be honest we were there because it was a GRAND excuse for a day long piss-up in the big smoke with loads of our PALS. Oh, and also because I was playing a sort of gig.

I say “sort of” because it very much WAS on sort of. There was an England game on that day so as a SOP to the (NOT REALLY INDIE) Indie types who’d be there the organisers had arranged for a big screen television to be set up somewhere, and Sean Fortuna Pop! had suggested it’d be a GOOD IDEA if I popped up during the half-time interval and played “The Fair Play Trophy”. I AGREED - not only would I officially be playing, but I’d also get in FREE!

The getting in FREE bit worked out well, the rest… not so much. I think the main problem was that I wasn’t advertised in the programme, or indeed anywhere, so that when I strolled out in front of the big screen during half time I looked like some random LOONEY who’d decided that he too was going to have a bit of a sing. Another problem was that, having just watched FOOTBALL, everyone was feeling a bit RAUCOUS, and really you could have PREDICTED that they’d start shouting for me to get off. Yet more problems stemmed from the fact that I had no microphone and that the screen was on a balcony overlooking the main stage, so that when bands started setting up down there you could hardly hear me at all. Apart from that: FANTASTIC.

Still, I HAD got in for free so felt I ought to earn my keep and was therefore GRIMLY DETERMINED to get through it. Luckily one of the main hecklers was a Melody Maker (ask your Grandad) “Journalist”, who fortuitously threw a pint glass at me just as I was about to start. As Rock Journalists were as much loved then as they are now I gambled on that saying “I’ve got to do this to get in free, so you can fuck off” and then throwing the pint glass BACK at him would win me some friends. SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE: it did.

I started BELLOWING over the heckling and the band downstairs, and was feeling Quite Good about the whole thing until I looked across to see Frankie (who was meant to be doing a trumpet solo in the middle of the song) WHITE FACED and SHAKING with fear. “Oh yes”, I thought, “This is both ridiculous AND riddled with the prospect of DANGER.”

I BELLOWED my way through, glaring at the enemy to a) show disdain b) keep an eye out for further glasses, and received, much to the surprise of the pint throwers, a MASSIVE round of applause. HOORAH! I felt VINDICATED and STRONG… though thankfully resisted the urge to PUSH it by doing another song, and RAN for the bar instead. Afterwards I was poncing around feeling all COOL and BRAVE and STICKING IT TO THE MAN until one of the pint throwers, himself, I think, a former Melody Maker journalist, came over and apologised for being rowdy and was INCREDIBLY NICE. The rotten sod, it completely took the wind out of my sails! CURSES.

Later on we went round the building handing out copies of the Artists Against Success newsletter, which we’d bought a pile of. Of all the Aspects Of Promotion that you have to TRY OUT when you want people to LIKE your stuff, HANDOUTS of all descriptions have always been my favourite. Putting up posters is lonely and MISERABLE but going round GIVING people bits of paper is EXCELLENT fun… so long as you’re a bit drunk when you do it, and in a good mood. I was VERY drunk and in EXCELLENT humour, so it was all fun until we started to find torn bits of coloured paper strewn around the room. Someone was deliberately destroying our newsletters!

As I’ve previously mentioned, there’d recently been a NUTTER going round Derby slagging us off, claiming that we were STEALING money from bands - a complete lie, of course, but people believed it for quite a while, including one gangly and - SUDDENLY - nervous young man who explained that THIS was why he was tearing them up for us. He was suddenly nervous because he was suddenly FACED with three RATHER BEERY blokes who wished to explain to him where he was going wrong. Now, in normal circumstances me, Frankie and The Whitaker are NOT particularly threatening individuals but in the context of A Bunch Of Indie Kids we were approaching BURLY. Also, The Whitaker is a TEACHER - and not one of those kindly, woolly teachers that you can mess about with either. He has THE EYEBROW! Many is the time Frankie and I would be playing the giddy goat at a board meeting when The Whitaker would simply raise THE EYEBROW and we would be STILLED. OH! The amount of Thinking About What We Had Done that would ENSUE!

After that there was yet MORE action: Martin Carr, one of my GRATE HEROES, was DJing and I had to get The Whitaker to go over and say hello for me and give him one of my CDs as all of my BRAVADO had withered. Pathetic isn’t it? He was very nice about the whole thing though and gave him one of HIS CDs in exchange, which I thought was terribly gentlemanly of him. I haven’t met (or got my friends to meet FOR me) all that many Heroic Warriors Of INDIE, but the ones I have met have ALWAYS followed this very basic rules: the ones who seem like they’d be nice people in real life, usually are.

I didn’t say it was a RADICAL or SURPRISING rule did I? It does work though, which is more than can be said for me at this point, so I gracefully fell over, tried to put my coat on, hugged anybody too slow to get away from me, and wandered off for the train. It had been a GOOD day.

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