Sunday, 21 December 2008

Bring Out the Real Fun

It starts with a simple plan - Meet friends who are back in the city for the winter holidays, go out, get drunk, go home.

It starts with a song that leaps out of a consistently great album and sits in my head for ever and ever.

It starts with a comic book about dancing.

It ends with a minor epiphany, another road-to-Damascus moment, life imitating art imitating life and me being ridiculously happy.

Ready? Go.

My friends are a varied bunch, with very different tastes in music and wildly different degrees of interest in the stuff. So it is that when we are drinking and talking in a student pub in Leicester, me and Adam leave the conversations we are having to high-five when Sound of Silver by LCD Soundsystem plays and then two minutes later both fume at somebody highjacking the juke box and putting on Queen or the Red Hot Chilli Peppers or something like that. Something with guitars that a teenage boy could like without having to think about it or defend it.

We break apart and head to various bars and after a short period in the great-when-it's-empty-shit-when-it's-busy Time (wherein too many shouting bald men and too much bad house music stop me from even attempting to get to the bar and buy one of their genuinely brilliant cocktail milkshakes) we arrive at Mosh, one of Leicester's very few Alternative nightclubs. Metal in the basement, emo on the ground floor, indie upstairs. Which is kind of perfect isn't it?

Firstly I have one of those odd moments where you meet someone in person for the first time that you've previously known mainly online. (In this case we have in fact crossed paths before but not really and we didn't really know each other then and now we do so). Secondly I have one of those odd moments where you are surprised by the appearance of a very close friend you haven't seen in too damn long. Thirdly I have one of those really, really odd moments where someone buys me a drink. C'est bizzare.

All of which puts me in a pretty good mood which is instantly killed when we head up into the indie room and, well...

Indie is a terrible word and if it does mean something to the kids in here, it means boyrock. There are at least two songs by Pete Doherty in some guise played. There's Killers and Kings of Leon. It's grim.

There's a glimmer of hope when a Long Blonde's song is played but it's one of my least favourite songs of theirs and the dancefloor thins out for it and I'm not drunk enough and anyway I'm not planning on dancing because I only have once before ever (You know I really WILL write up the story of Sunday at End of the Road. I'll do it soon. Promise) and I don't think I'm anywhere near drunk enough for such a thing.

So me and my trustworthy partner in indie adventuring, Ashish, find ourselves a corner and sit and talk to friends whenever they appear. You, probably more than I, know how it is with a group of friends and an establishment like this - they go to talk to people you don't know, they go to dance to records you don't like, everyone disappears occasionally to buy drinks.

Just as I'm despairing (full dancefloor for "Sex on Fire" which is one of the worst things ever), something fairly wonderful happens: The DJ plays Broken Heartbeats Sound Like Breakbeats from Hold On Now, Youngster by Los Campesinos!

Me and Ashish shout along but it's not one of my favourites (don't get me wrong, Los Campesinos! are a band I love more than almost any other band in existence but I definitely love We Are Beautiful We Are Doomed more than HON,Y) and I imagine it'd be a bit akward to dance to.


1) A week or two ago, the first issue of Phonogram: The Singles Club was published. This is the second Phonogram mini series written by Kieron Gillen and drawn by Jamie McKelvie. In the world of Phonogram, music is magic [because music IS magic]. The first series was concerned with Britpop and memory and the Manics and Blur and the Auteurs and stuff like that which I understood.
The first issue of The Singles Club is largely about dancing. The music is mostly stuff I know and like (The Pipettes, The Long Blondes, CSS, Blondie) but dancing... I've never understood. And even the one time I have done it was to a live band and was possibly the last time they'd ever do what they were doing and there was a lot of proper fans there and it was Different.
Pull Shapes (the book) is concerned with dancing in a club, with people, y'know. Properly. Kieron Gillen once wrote something along the lines of "I don't get people who don't get dancing" (I've Googled but can't find it on his blog so maybe it was in an e-mail, I don't know) to which I said "I don't get people who don't get people who don't get dancing".
Anyway. I've been thinking about Pull Shapes (the book) a lot and listening to Pull Shapes (the song) a lot and all of this praying on my mind at the time but I think I won't say any more about it for fear of spoiling the thing. Go and buy it if you can, there's a reprint due this week or so.

2) Salt, Pepa and Spinderella by Johnny Foreigner is possibly my favourite single song of the year.

It's incredible. I hadn't heard it before playing the album, Waited Up Til It Was Light, so I was listening to it in full for the first time and very much enjoying all of it. Every song had at least one memorable bit that refused to move from my memory and it rocked and was fun and great.
Hennings Favourite was ending (with a lovely big guitar bit) and this bass line emerges and creeps across stereo channels and keyboard drums bite down on my ears as Alexei's vocals enter and then it turns out to be a duet with Kelly and it's the most melodic thing on the album so far and it sounds incredible and I can't really tell what it's about (I have this problem with JoFo, I always ADORE lots of lines from songs but in many cases I can't tell you what the whole song is about. This shouldn't be a problem, obviously) but it FEELS like an infidelity anthem.

And just when I don't think I could love it any more, Alexei does some spoken word and then it ALL. GOES. MENTAL. LOUDER. BIGGER. INDESTRUCTIBLE.

So. 1+2=


The slow bit at the end of Broken Heartbeats Sound Like Breakbeats fades out and me and Ashish look up as we hear a very distinctive bass guitar sound and then we look at each other. I can't even recall what words are exchanged but something along the lines of:
Him: "Is that JoFo?"
Me: "HELL. YES."
Him: "That's remarkable"

And there I go. It's mostly empty, a few of the "I will dance to anything!" warriors doing their best and then me and Ashish shuffling awkwardly and singing along and then...

I don't know. What I remember is singing louder, closing my eyes, moving faster, knowing that The Loud Bit is coming and then it hits and then ERUPTING and for some reason everything seeming white and then it ends and something I don't care about fades up and I stumble to the bar exhausted and grinning and feeling amazing.

And from that moment on, I am immune. No shitty boyrock, no overheard misogyny, not even being dragged into the METAAAHL basement for 3 minutes can dull my mood. Important lessons learned I: It doesn't MATTER that I can't dance, I can flail with an energy that'd make many a skinny-jeaned I-don't-dance-cause-it-might-mess-up-my-hair type of indieboy decidedly embarrassed. I need to do this more often.

So I do! Later my very good friend Hannah enters the room just as the DJ drops Paris by Friendly Fires which is pretty much perfect because they are the only band I think Hannah has introduced me to that I've ended up loving rather than the other way around. It's a great record, all manner of Rapture-esque funky and sexy (but decidedly platonic and therefore cute).
And then just as we think we've made it away safely, my favourite MGMT song (well. Almost. It's the standard version of Kids rather than the AMAZING Soulwax remix but waddayagonnado?) so more flailing.

Lessons Learned II: Indie clubs SHOULD be small and horrible and ARE largely rubbish (I mean The Average Indie Club here, the likes of Offbeat are another plain of existence entirely) but perhaps worth it if we can get two or three songs I really love over the course of one night.

Lessons Learned III: Don't ever question Kieron Gillen? Except, actually, do, it's more fun that way. But, uh...

Anyway. That was a true story about a thing that happened on Friday night. I'm pretty much still feeling good about it. Please do buy the JoFo album if you haven't already, yeah? Yeah.

What have you done this weekend, readers? What was the first record that you danced to in public? What minor epiphanies and road-to-Damascus moments have you had recently? etc. etc.