In which Um has a tough gig.   Leave a comment

I have to say I had a tough gig at Eclectic at APU the other night. It can feel a bit lonely sometimes when you’re a psychedelic avant-pop karaoke experimental entertainer looking around a room full of kids virtually half your age nodding and smiling and grooving their shoulders to 50 Cent (and other, lighter stuff that I couldn’t put a name to) and you know you’ve got to get up onstage in front of them very soon and try to win their respect somehow, or at least keep them from leaving or staying to throw things. I started looking at the students, many of them freshers presumably, all keen to make an impression on each other, and perhaps fronting a bit, and I began to feel a bit cynical and old. Then I realized that I was cynical and old, and I felt even worse. I looked at the flashy new bar, with all the staff in uniform, and the two guys on the door, and the football playing on all the screens, and the kids all trying to look grown-up and cool and happy, and like they were much more concerned with doing that than worrying about whether this world is going to hell in a handcart, which is what it appears to be doing to me. It also seemed to me that The Man had all these kids exactly where he wanted them, doing what he wanted them to do, and thinking what he wanted them to think. It was like the guys on the door were there to keep them in, rather than keep anybody else out, just in case the collective false consciousness evaporated or something.

Anyway, I could turn this one into a huge screed but I don’t want to continue in this moany tone (for too long), and I don’t want to offend anyone (like the promoter, for instance, because it wasn’t his fault I had a bad gig). The two main problems with the night were the fact that it had been advertised as an open-mic night by mistake, even though there were more than enough performers actually booked to play, and the fact that the PA system was unsuitable and there were no monitors. The PA also has the fiercest limiter I’ve ever encountered (worse than the Dev’s) and so the sound kept cutting out entirely. Anyone who wasn’t a mime artist was more or less fucked. So, at roughly 10PM we had a queue of open mic types swarming near the front, and as I was due to go on last I was starting to think that there was no way they were going to fit me in. The open mic posse were:

· A red-haired dude with an acoustic who sang with a gutsy, Rod Stewart-esque voice. Whenever he finished a tune he said “Awl—right!” and everyone cheered.

· An indie kid whose guitar was making some quiet, mangled noise and to whom the PA in general was particularly unkind. He did an Athlete song and a Biffy Clyro track. The crowd loved him.

· Marc Abrahams did a couple of poems about the rape of the planet and the erosion of our civil liberties, but I think he got away with it.

· A very spiritualised yet geezerish Essex boy told us about his mental personal journey from drug-dealing, burglarising bad bwoy to meditating poet. The crowd dug it.

· A good-looking man-child called Tom with an acoustic did the 12″ disco maxi mix (well, it seemed to last forever to me) of “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” by the seminal group Poison. I looked across the room and I could see a girl sitting alone, staring at the guy like he was the most beautiful and deep creature she had ever been blessed to encounter. When I looked back at her a few minutes later she was crying. I almost began to cry myself, as I haven’t given up any semblance of a normal, happy life to chain myself to my fucked-up gesamtkunstwerk just for some acoustic-strumming muppet to bring down the house with a Poison song. Except that he did, even though the PA kept cutting out and he was there playing his little heart out in silence once or twice.

· Then two hip-hop monkeys, one of whom was terribly nervous despite looking like a bit of a hard nut, got up and MC’d over a CD. I was interested in this because I’m a sad grime fanboy of late but they were more your traditional UK hip-hop ting and the PA wasn’t doing them any favours whatsoever. Nevertheless the audience were very positive.

· Finally a metal kid with lank hair and a flying V did some fairly virtuosic fretwanking. He declared that he “couldn’t be arsed” to take the stage so he sat off to one side and played. It didn’t seem fair that someone who was too scared to perform in front of people was literally stealing the show from a pathetic attention-junkie like myself, but in any case he went down extremely well indeed.

It was now just before 11PM. A lot of people had left. I got up and did about four or five very short songs, and the PA cut out in all but one of them. The remaining crowd looked at me like I was an alien in a wheelchair, if you know what I mean. Tough gig.

It’s probably something to do with the fact that I was a cocky monkey in Bury the other night and there was some kind of karmic balance to be restored. Well, I’m presuming we’re even, at least. Thanks and good night.

Posted October 20, 2005 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

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