Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Junction 22

It was exactly one year ago to this day that I ‘voiced’ my fears of impending adulthood and achieving the milestone age of 21. It was exactly one year ago to the day that I sat on my IKEA sofa in my warehouse conversion in Hoxton, procrastinating when I should have been reading some informed authority on company law. TODAY, I sit on an IKEA sofa in a one bedroom flat in Hoxton, procrastinating when I should be preparing for the impending conference I have in the morning. Still fearing impending adulthood, some things never change. I’m sat peering out of the window and on the face of things I realize that I’m getting nowhere with any significant speed these days!

I turned 21 years of age with priorities for the coming year, I was to commence the Bar Vocational Course, try and secure pupilage, find a place to live and continue loving music. I will turn 22 years of age having pretty much completed the Bar Vocation Course, failed to secure a pupilage or any form of job security, having spent approximately fifty thousand English pounds and recently regaining my love for music having lost it to Blackstone Criminal Practice last October. So this is sounding like a dreary life account already but it’s by all means not supposed to, for I sit here in my Hoxton abode, perched on my IKEA sofa and I reflect on my life as a 21 year old. I’ll tell you what; it’s been a pretty good one!

I first walked along Bedford Row on September 16th , somewhat unsure of what kind of hand I was about to be dealt. I can now divulge that I was dealt an exceedingly good hand even if I accepted it with a bit of a Poker face. You see, I went through my degree with a varying indifference towards most people and I assumed I was heading for the same path this time round, instead I was handed group 9. Group 9 consists of some of the best people I’ve met in a while. In fear of turning into a complete girl and gushing about them, I’ll say just this: They to some extent restored my faith in people…

… In the midst of what was an assessment focused year however, I lost a little piece of who I was, it wasn’t until I woke up one morning remembering how cool I used to be that I realized I had a lot to regain. In response to this epiphany there was only once course of action, I rallied the troops and pretty much forced everyone to the Inner Temple Student Associations Spring Ball. If the ITSA Blitz party did one thing for me, it gave me back everything I used to live for [bar friends and family of course]! I hit the shops, had friends over, and started listening to music.

AH MUSIC! Music was like… well, MUSIC TO MY EARS!

An explosion of the senses, like a great big cannon exploding raspberry compote and cream.

I listened to Blur, Muse, the Libertines, Marilyn Manson, Skindred, the Stone Roses, Pavement, Incubus, Maximo Park and much to my happiness made time to work more at the Academy. I hid away my stone washed denim and I was back to my socializing, fashionable, gig-going self in no time. It’s so easy to get bogged down in what you’re doing, especially when you’re joining the dots in a giant dot-to-dot style career path and forget to spend a little time doing what you enjoy. Sometimes you need someone to take your brain and shake it, like a hetcher-sketcher just to scramble things up so you can begin to forge a better path through the rack and ruin you left behind!

As my birthday draws near, I feel that queasy sensation deep, in the pit of my stomach, like a volcano waiting to erupt and probably cause an ash cloud the disced upon London, disrupting everything if recent trends continue! The familiar feeling of unease and uncertainty for the year ahead, somewhat comparable to risking the inclusion of egg noodles two days past there use by date on the menu, you never quite know what life has planned for you. I do know this though, 21 was a good age for making friends. It's like the first time you dunk a cookie into your tea... you know when you're onto a good thing!

I have no job, I have no money but I do have a wealth of friendships old and new to cherish forever.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Down To Earth [Pavement 2010]

The face of so called ‘Indie’ music has changed immensely over the last decade, to such an extreme that you could never really expect a self coined ‘middle-big college rock band’ to remain a hit after a 10 year non-touring streak, surely? Well if Pavement proved anything in their recent comeback tour it is that it doesn’t matter how long you’re away, or how much music has changed if you managed to reach cult status.

Stephen Malkmus propelled into cult status way back in the 1990’s, in the hearts of anyone who could see past the bands former discrepancies, mainly the plagiarism claims, and took the rest of band for the ride alongside him. Pavement, soon became a favorite amongst Indie Fizzpickles everywhere, admired for their mumbling charm and slacking sound. A ‘raw’ band they have always been and a ‘raw’ band they remain today, the awkwardness and the rough around the edges approach to their four-night spell at Brixton Academy demonstrated why they are still loved today. Having achieved cult status, success is much like relying on a good recipe; if you keep the ingredients the same, you’ll never go far wrong.

Many a sour remark towards rival bands such as The Stone Temple pilots and The Smashing Pumpkins rekindled their grumpy attitudes towards what constitutes a crowd pleasing performance, leaving the crowd experiencing the much anticipated awkward, mumbling performance which caused them to fall in love with the band in the first place. There were the usual screams and scowls from percussionist Bob Nastanovich which progressed the band through it’s 31-song set, sweeping from the mundane softer numbers, into the progressive, exciting numbers, sometimes like a hurricane…

It was obvious, when considering that prior to their tour they’ve performed less than a handful of gigs together in the last decade, that the performance was going to be less than perfect but somehow that just added to the charm making it feel special, perhaps more than perfect. The band showed they still have what it takes though, showing their ability to change styles and shift gears at a moments notice they belted through a guitar smashing crescendo post the chorus of ‘Elevate Me Later’ and re-synched, to give a somber final verse which left them swimming into a sea of silence and the audience with every hair on their neck stood on end.

The bands set list, 31 choice tracks selected from all of the bands five albums and eight EP’s was a crowd pleaser, including all the favorites to wet the crowds appetites. For any successfull story, you need a good beginning, middle and end. For any truly scrumptious meal you need a good starter, main and dessert. For any good gig you need a good introduction, bulk and encore. Pavement achieved this easily, starting with favorites Silence Kit and Stereo, they proceeded to move through a jam packed bulk including Grounded, Cut Your Hair, Fight This Generation and finish with not one but TWO sweets. The first encore Date with Ikea and Stop Breathing led to a second encore, lapped up by the over excited audience and their final two songs were conduit and Here.

Generally, the band couldn’t really do much wrong so long as they stuck to what they knew and they sure did that. A truly fantastic, in places, awe inspiring performance by the West Coast Lead Singer and indeed the rest of the band. As though they picked up the very same instruments that had been laying idle for ten years, they proceeded to improve and break them in as the four days went on, leading to a phenomenal performance to end their four-day residence on the final Thursday, proving they still have the talent and followers (including a weird eerie cult atmosphere) to continue being at least one of my favorite Indie bands if not one of the best Indie bands history has ever seen! I was even lucky enough to meet and have a natter with Scott Kannberg, you will be pleased to know they are as nice as they are talented, truly lovely people and I shall end with the question; Can this band do no wrong?!