Feature :: Happy Record Store Day?

© 2012 Anthony Barlow

“All this day serves as now, is the music business deciding it feels bad for whoring itself out to iTunes and the like and releasing specials.”

On Saturday, I was wished a Happy Record store day.
I’m not convinced that its happy at all.

I have friends who genuinely buy records for all the right reasons, who love them and listen to them, and that’s great. The problem is I get the distinct impression that these people are in a horrific minority to the people who buy it for the sake of telling their friends that they own it. I was discussing this yesterday and the response was: “But the awesome few take advantage” which was proceeded by a list of the records acquired over this years day. In my opinion its like saying “The lucky few who win university scholarship will benefit take advantage of higher tuition fees, because they’ll be saving more money, and therefore higher tuition fees are a good idea”. Higher tuition fees are not a good idea, and neither is this.
You want to save record stores? Well what you need to do is incentivise people buying records the whole damn year. I’m not taking away from the fact that Record Store Day gets a lot of people in their record shop (once a fucking year) and I’m not taking away from the fact that record enthusiasts get a bunch new, rare stuff and festivities to boot, but I cant bring myself to get excited about it, knowing that its mostly fuelling some prick’s ability to tell someone else about his rare vinyl, even though the bastard doesn’t own a player for them. “Chino wearing wankers, buying up the Refused releases as they reformed.” pretty much sums up my point quite nicely. All that’s needed is a good reason to get all your music from your local record shop, a reason for a guy with a beard and Boilermaker t-shirt to tell you what you might like, and not some robotically generated recommendation from Spotify or Amazon.
All this day serves as now, is the music business deciding it feels bad for whoring itself out to iTunes and the like and releasing specials. It comes down to one big (and nowhere near satisfactory) apology, from the music business to the record shops, and perhaps equally, to the fans. One day does not change the fact that record stores are closing in every town, every day. It’s a token gesture.
You might say that a token gesture is better than nothing, but that’s bullshit, its like someone taking your legs, and giving them back to you one day a year. Are you supposed to ignore your general state of leglessness and get super excited and be grateful for that one day a year, even though the guys giving you your legs are the same cunts who took them off you in the first place? I’m thinking far too much about legs and not enough about records, so this analogy ends here.

In short what I’m saying is there should be more incentive to buy vinyl from your local record shop all year round, and not just turning up one day a year in your beret so you can tell all your friends about how you helped save the music industry.

– John Dykes

Going Underground :: Ren Spits At Magpies (w/Moon & Back Session)

"Ren Sits On Fridges" - © 2012 Anthony Barlow

“I am often mildly wasted so its certainly a fair representation…” – Ren Spits At Magpies

When she’s not providing beautifully haunting backing vocals for Mike Scott or performing alongside Perkie and Katie Raine in Feralus, Ren Aldridge is Ren Spits At Magpies. Her angst-riddled brand of acoustic punk has brought her many plaudits in the UK’s punk sene, and rightly so.

I first heard about Ren from, friend of the site, Emma Hallows – with whom she toured during November last year – but didn’t get to see her until earlier this year, when she played a set at a house show on top of a fridge. Later that month, I saw how she too can turn a kitchen into a venue when she put on a house show for International Women’s Day. My very hazy memory suggests that it was awesome, so it probably was.

Ren is a woman of many talents, so be sure to check her out. If you live somewhere in the London area and you’re into punk you probably know/know of her anyway, and have likely even spent time at Astbury Castle. If you have, then you know what I’m on about. If not, then check out her Moon & Back Session below.

Try and guess who this song is written about. Answers on a post card e.t.c.

Pin Song

Songs To Cure Depression :: Ween – ‘If You Could Save Yourself (You’d Save Us All)’

“…the cheques all bounced. I came in your mouth.”

Depression won out today. It was going to happen eventually. Shit, we got through over ten installments of this damn thing before it go so ugly that a good song couldn’t clear it. So what else could I do? I couldn’t miss the deadline after doing so well, so I thought I’d pick a song that (to an extent) reflected the way I feel.

I’d said it recently on that goddamn blog that I didn’t understand why i was sinking so deep again, and I still don’t. I didn’t have any money, perhaps it was that. I didn’t have any love, so it could be that too. Or maybe I’d become so damn terrified of the prospect of life that I was just bumming out in the biggest of ways anyone can be bummed out by the weight of life, by letting it drag you down and beat you into submission. I’m scared senseless of all the big ones, them irritable questions that crop up when the reaper comes a’knocking.

“Is it my time?”
“Oh no, Ian, I’m just checking up on you. I heard you’ve been feeling real down recently and I just wanted to make sure you hadn’t decided to advance our little meeting without letting me know.”
“I wouldn’t give you the satisfaction.”
“Oh. Well. Good. Chin up kiddo.”
“Who told you?”
“The big man.”
“Christ no, that fuck doesn’t care about anyone but himself. No, Satan. He’s worried sick about you.”

So this song is by Ween, arguably my favourite band. They do a lot of crazy shit but once in a while they pull out a gem like this, and as much as it gives some solace knowing that there is other people’s pain (and theirs is probably much worse) it doesn’t pick me up, just makes me feel dumb and stupid and miserable.
Fuck it. I’m going for a drink.

Don’t Panic :: Jimmy’s Stag


“There was a bottle of scotch (a wedding present for Jim) and if I was any less of a man I would have got into it…”

I was inches (or possibly seconds, depending on how you measure it) from a full blown anxiety attack. The kind that makes you feel like you’re going to go over the edge into a state of erratic insanity. Right now I’m on a train to Leeds for Jimmy Islip’s stag gig.

It had started to rain heavily, after a morning of sunshine, I was a cautious (paranoid) little bastard so I’d brought my waterproof coat anyway. Huge explosions of precipitation into the tarmacadam at the side of the tracks. This must be Cambodia for the ants, I thought.

I’d been drinking heavily the past two days this had not granted me the glory of a deep comatose sleep. Insomnia and inebriation were a deadly combination; one that made me sincerely doubt I’d make it through the night. My jaw was as tight as a clamp, my stomach twisted in knots, my heart had elevated to my throat, along with a plethora of other bad vibes that can only be described with the tritest of cliche’s. But I was on my way, so I guess that was something.

I closed my eyes for twenty minutes in an attempt to refuel, even just a little, and find some form of zen to relax this racing mind. When I came back around the sun was back, in full force, it was as if the rain had never existed and this did wonders for my mood.

The whole damn city had become a construction site. This became hard to navigate (especially in the heat of the panic) but, with some perseverance, I managed it. Now I’m sat here (again) with the chess players and emo kids, wondering what the hell I was going to do for the next three and a half hours. There was a bottle of scotch (a wedding present for Jim) and if I was any less of a man I would have got into it (and the thought crossed my mind a lot,) just to pass the mind-numbing tedium of Leeds. I didn’t have enough money to drink as much as I’d need to make it the whole day, so I had to bide my time, what else was there to do in this stink-hole?

I decided to get clear of the immediate center, this turned out to be as shit an idea as arriving four hours early. Five minutes out of Leeds’ main hub and the place becomes a wasteland. The apocalypse had reached Yorkshire before the rest of the U.K., it seemed. Perhaps here was where the fall of society would begin?

It was too much, I debated on entering one of the few derelict looking pubs but in the end vouched for four cans of warm lager, priced at £2.99 (a great deal.)
I sat on the large park near the Brudenell (tonight’s venue) and checked my inventory:

1 x UNDRINKABLE scotch

4 x Starberg (warm) lager

2 x Co-Op premium lager (for the train home)

1 x tin of beans

1 x tin opener

Along with some books, and an abundance of pills, vitamins and relaxants. I had a good enough stock to survive the night and if I could finagle my way into the show on some sort of press trip, I’d have enough for a couple of whiskeys in there.

So here we are, and this is what it has come to.

(I’d like to clarify that this is being written as it happens, without any form of retrospect or hindsight. Like right now, for example, I am taking a shit in a pub called the Eldon (I think) and scrawling in this notebook.) There’s about an hour to kill, sleep deprivation is getting to me. The temperature has dropped significantly but there is still beers to be drunk so I’ll have to keep mobile.

I found salvation on a skate park, it gave me a place to sit while I drank a beer, scrawl some notes, and watch these kids try to break their goddamn necks. Out of what would have been a total sausage fest, a real high school helmet party, one young blonde girl was pushing her mobile piece of wood. She wasn’t too great, and seemed to be using it more as a lazy way to travel the park than an actual hobby, but she was the best damn one to look at so I drank my beer and watched her roll in between the greasy-haired zit freaks.
Keeping at the beer until it was time for the show, I walked around with sun glasses on, I looked an arsehole but the light had become too harsh for me in this state of mind, even though it had begun to set.

MarlJim Brando

I met Jim in the gig and he gave me a pint and I gave him the scotch. There was still an hour until the first band, but at least I was inside now. The soundcheck for Milloy sounded great, the vocalist was no where to be seen but musically, they were spot on and the guy behind the desk was working magic.

Waiting for the gig got tedious, so I went out of the venue, bought a bottle of scotch and snuck back in. I sat there nipping at my drink and was sure that, as long as I didn’t leave again, they wouldn’t charge me.

The music started soon after and even though I was on deaths door I stood at the front and danced with the rest of them, behind the stage a projector had been set up and was beaming pictures of Jim whilst the bands played. This depressed me, I didn’t ever want to be in a situation where my life was being summed up by a selection of images, it began to feel more like a wake than a celebration.

The music was good though, and the negativity soon dissipated allowing me to really let loose and enjoy myself. The clock was counting down though, if I didn’t leave soon I’d miss the train home and be stuck in this godforsaken hell hole for another three hours with no money and no way of getting home when I arrived back in Manchester, and Milloy hadn’t even started their set yet.

I caught a few of their songs, and as hard as the other bands played, they were instantly put to shame after thirty seconds of the headliners opening song. I caught what I think was around five songs (the whiskey was almost gone by this point and so was my memory,) which wasn’t too bad, and the songs played were all favourites of mine. I held out to the last second then grabbed up all my supplies and apparel. Running out of the venue and keeping a steady pace all the way to the station.

I arrived at 23:37 the exact time the train was meant to be departing, but I still had the platforms to navigate so it looked like all hope was lost. I continued regardless and soon saw a large crowd at the final platform, perhaps all hope hadn’t been lost. The train had been delayed five minutes and arrived at the platform soon after I did. A feeling of relief engulfed me and for the first time in this entire day I felt some normality, the anxiety was retreating in the final moments. As I entered the carriage a woman pulled at me. “Your bag is dripping.” She was right, I had felt a moistness around my lower back and I quickly found the source of the leak, expelling the now drained can to the platform.

I was a beer down but it didn’t matter, I was on my way home and making good time. I opened the beer and the tin of beans, ate them straight from the can and relaxed for the remainder of the journey.

Songs To Cure Depression :: DJ Format (Feat. Charli 2na & Akil) – ‘We Know Something’

“My brain cells have tweaked from insane levels of heat”

My God. Just sober up. A wise woman once told me “it makes it [the depression] feel a little less harsh if you’re drunk” and she was right, at least in the short term. But there has to be a way out of this with diving into a 75cl pool of liquid escapism. There has to be more. So, once again (and I realize this is getting somewhat repetitious), I’ll try to pull myself out of this constant inebriation, this life-binge of sorts, and break myself down into little-bitty chunks, build myself up again and be a real goddamn human being.

Though probably not, but it’s good to have hope, ideas of grandeur, even if it is pretty fucking obvious that nothing will come of it. Perhaps a day or two of head clearing, before diving back into the pits of drunken oblivion. And that’s only if I’m a lucky son of a bitch. But perhaps I’m missing the point, and instead I should be taking these baby steps and be happy with them. So here it goes, a three stage plan to tide me over at least until mid-week:

1. Burning bridges with all the people I seem to only get in touch with when drunk. A good start at being a wholesome moral person is not use people for your own goals. A good lay is not worth the nights of borderline insomnia, rattled by the guilt that you’ve once again give yourself up to someone you don’t see ANY form of foreseeable future with.

2. Fly straight. The beers in the fridge are not going to dematerialize if you leave them in there for a few more days and nights. It is much easier for the reaper to slice your spinal column and send you, paralyzed, straight to hell for an eternity of licking Satan’s sweat drenched scrotum if you’re far too drunk to even give a little chase.

3. Dj Format and (some of) Jurassic 5.

That was some tangent I took you off on, but we got here eventually and while we’re here we might as well talk a little about the music (I have to justify this somehow, right?) It was a toss up this week of either some good honest hip-hop or Simon and Garfunkel. The hip-hop won out. Because this is exactly what We Know Something is, good and honest. Dj Format and the J5 boys have, for quite some time now, been breaking all the stupid conventions of “rap,” that makes a bunch of rich white kids parents shit their pants repeatedly every time their
spoilt little bastard leaves the house and makes moron’s like 50 cent billionaires, by rapping about the REAL things in life, what REALLY matters in music. It isn’t guns, bling and bitches but instead love for the music, your friends and family, having a good time partying and yeah, probably a little about the “bitches” but fuck, we’d never call them that, we respect our women. Fuck gangbanging and “bigging up” real rap is about dancing and having a real nice time without hurting anyone in the process by being a cocky arsehole. If we could all take these words of advice into our day to day lives, the world would be a much better place, because we’d all be grooving like maniacs. Rant over.

Songs To Cure Depression :: Wheatus – ‘Anyway’

“…even if I’m luck I’ll amount to zero, but I thought that you’d love me anyway.”

As I sat at the goddamn desk, sipping at my second coffee and wondering what the hell I was doing with my life and if any of this would ever lead to anything close to a wage, I felt a strange sense of something, not quite satisfaction or contentment, that is best described with the word “apathy,” a less crass way of describing the sentiment “I don’t give a fuck.”
Which to most might not seem like a good way to feel, but it was better than the 100 tonne anchor of depression pulling me into another week long black out binge session where I achieved very little apart from a few scrawls here and there. Yes, apathetic was progress, I had so many deadlines and so little enthusiasm to do them, but at least I wasn’t going under. But how did I get to this place? I sure as hell didn’t feel like this a few hours ago. Was it the fresh air I’d taken in on a stroll? The 30 minutes of meditation I had just recently done? Or was it the music? The beautiful music that has saved me from the jaws of that bastard death-shark more times then I can recount. A dose a cheesy indie-pop was just the ticket. Wheatus had been my guilty pleasure for so long that it wasn’t even a secret anymore, so much I just admitted it to anyone who inquired. And why shouldn’t I? As much as they will always be tarred as “that teenage dirt-bag band” (shockingly, they have other songs) Wheatus were in fact a group of talented, fun loving, song writers who could spin a mood from minus to plus within three minutes of high-pitched vocals, bouncy rhythms and tongue-in-cheek lyrical content (I mean, BMX Bandits is about jerking it to 16 year old Nicole Kidman) and there is few other examples of Wheatus at their best then the song “anyway.” I have no clue what the hell this video is about though, but it was the best YouTube had to offer.

Review :: The Voice

“…spin around in their thrones with all the decorum of The Emperor at a wet t-shirt contest…”

Television talent shows are nothing new and certainly nothing original. Whether the great British public is falling flat on their faces for fifteen minutes of fame. Or warbling out their favorite karaoke hits to a TV audience of millions, it hardly matters anymore.

With that in mind, the BBC has jumped on the bandwagon in a big way with The Voice. Following the successful formula of continental Europe, who says we’re not a part of the EU, The Voice has its roots in the Netherlands. The Beeb therefore has employed “major” stars in their effort to foil the vindictive machinations of Lord and Master of Earth, Simon Cowell.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, and quite frankly why wouldn’t you be, the show compromises four judges listening blindly to aspiring singers. If interested, they will spin around in their thrones with all the decorum of The Emperor at a wet t-shirt contest. Should more than one judge spin around, the contestant has to choose who will be their mentor. Simple really.

So to the judges. The four esteemed representatives of a multi-billion pound industry responsible for social trends, political awareness and the fashioning of infinite taste across the globe.

Up first, the alliterated Danny O’Donoghue, a man so anonymous that MI5 still have no clue who he is. As if to add insult to an already bleeding gash of an injury, he proudly promotes his own band, The Script, as Irish “soft rock.” Credits on Mr. O’Donoghue’s sparkling CV include a nomination at this year’s BRITs for best international act. That, in a nutshell, is it.

Second in the lineup is Jessie J. A vocally sound, enjoyable lyricist with the slightly left field style that is still safe for the masses. Her only problem is her relatively green respectability within the industry. Having enjoyed success as a songwriter to the stars before exploding onto the scene in 2010 with a string of catchy hits, her album sales were moderate at best as was her general billboard performance. The BBC, however, always leaps at the chance to capitalize on a popular star.

Then comes Tom “The Voice” Jones. The only member of this venerable cavalcade of follicle freaks who can spell longevity let alone boast it as an accolade. The man who attracts ladies’ underwear with his throbbing, muscular, pulsing… voice and charm is by far the standout star of the show. He is, of course, the visible difference between BBC programming and other broadcasters. Where The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent all attract recognizable names, Jones is a five star, silver bullet star and has been for nearly fifty years.

Over 100 million records sold across genres as diverse as R&B, techno, dance and country, he was great friends with Elvis and called Las Vegas his performing home up until as recently as 2011. It therefore begs the question, if offered the chance to be mentored by this legendary music industry figure of the past half century, why would a contestant choose anybody else?

It should also be noted there is a fourth judge. Will.I.Am takes a break from goading aging rock stars and faded prima donnas to boost his UK image as something more than a sideshow in Cheryl Cole’s circus.

The show is fronted by the usual nodding dog combination associated with prime time Saturday night TV. Reggie Yates draws himself up from obscurity while Holly Wiloughby, the woman offered the role of The Joker without the need of any makeup, glares dead eyed at the audience spouting gibberish.

All of this, of course, and nobody has sang a note. It is ironic, therefore that the public is the one constant throughout this latest masquerading of entertainment. They will always be relied upon to buckle and crack for the viewing public’s pleasure and dismissal.

The Voice therefore adds its name to the ever lengthening list of shows that continues to grow momentum year after year. The formula and unique approach to this format is, however, refreshing in its originality. A blind audition plays well to the highly publicized, moral dilemma of contestants failing to make the cut because they do not have “the look”. For every Susan Boyle there are ten Girls Aloud after all.

In that respect, The Voice seeks to level the playing field. But in a market so overly saturated with similar shows and time tested formulae, originality may not be enough to keep viewers interested. On star power alone, however, The Voice is about as premier league as anything currently on television. A quarter of it anyway.

Going Underground :: James Choice

“I know every Alkaline Trio song on guitar…”

The first thing I noticed when listening to the three songs by James Choice that I have on my portable music player (a.k.a. the pie-pod) is the fact that after the first ten seconds I was greeted by a Futurama quote, so straight away the guy was on to a winner. But hell, we’re getting ahead of ourselves right now. The first time I met James Choice was at a house party in Manchester, where he happily let me sing a couple of Alkaline Trio covers with him. In the morning, he gave me the details for an online medium I could listen to his songs. This was two months ago and here we are, finally, with the article I’d promised, half inebriated, that Saturday morning.

Now I’ve had a few run ins with Jame Choice and I could write an entire article about him as a person but, fuck, I have to maintain, not an air but at least a slight draft, of professionalism so lets move onto the music.

There are obviously similarities here with such Asian Man Records acoustic acts like Matt Skiba (the stuff the split with Kevin Seconds) and Mike Park (Asian Man founder). These are clearly a huge influence on James Choice and rightly so, he has taken a strong influence and placed his own twist in both terms of vocals and production, so lets address both.

The vocal talent of this man is surprising. Surprising in a sense that I am genuinely surprised that the first time I saw him play was a house show for little to no money (but perhaps this was a personal choice). At times the vocals are reminiscent of Anthony Raneri of Bayside fame. Seeing as Raneri is also a known Skiba fan, there’s cause for seeing this similarity as, at least to some extent, intentional.

The production of James Choice is what makes the music the most unique. Apart from the fact that, for being demos, the three songs I own would sound perfectly comfortable on most low-key studio recordings (this isn’t a put down, I prefer a bit of raw studio against the “over polished turd” studio sound). James Choice also takes this a step further adding extra instrumentation and synth/samples, creating an atmosphere wholly different to that of 99% percent of underground acoustic acts on the scene at present. Hell, perhaps even 100%, there’s definitely something else in these tracks. ‘Take A Leak’, for example, shows James Choice take a completely different path to the norm, vouching for a much darker style, which would probably be better affiliated with Marilyn Manson’s Holywood that anything in the ‘punk acoustic scene’.

James Choice is available to listen to here

Songs To Cure Depression :: Austin Lucas – ‘Farewell’

“Yes, it’s true. Oh Lord, it’s true.”

It had been yet another night of tossing and turning. I’d been so tired earlier in the night I made the statement “you can take a 20cc shot of exhaustion and anxiety yet, when laced with a sense of glee, you can sleep easy.” But this had been made hastily. I’d preemptively counted my chickens and now they’d hatched, I released all they held was moldy yolks with the bitter taste of insomnia.

I hadn’t drank for two days, which wasn’t that strange an occurrence, but after the past month or so (hell, who was really keeping count?) of hard binging my mind rejected my attempt at sobriety by placing an Olympic long distance event of racing thoughts and disabling my ability to get a decent nights rest.

Eventually I got some sort of micro sleep, not even enough to increase the battery life of my being to a working level, and I headed out into the day. The sun was beaming, as it had been for the past few days, so a walk seemed a logical option. Not just due to the weather, but a bus ride would possibly result in a snooze and it was always better to run on empty than a little.

This should probably be called “Songs to Cure Sleep Deprivation” (at least for this installment) because, even though I was burning out, I still felt a wind of optimism on an otherwise still day. But this may have been due to Austin Lucas, and his album Somebody Loves You. Not an obvious choice for a pick me up, emotional or otherwise, but there was something in how the songs shifted from intense guitar riffs to sombre, more mellow, sounds that allowed the body and mind to shift between a perky state to one of relaxation. The anxiety and depression was depleted, but this was done whilst shooting an energetic rocket of adrenaline up my caboose. The song that really did it for me, mainly because I’d completely forgot about it, wasFarewell’. The song ends the album with a fast paced ecstasy paired with vocals that could cause an iron girdle to tingle with that special excitement that comes only with the greatest of vocal melodies.

Unfortunately, this was the only video I could find for the song, so sorry about that. It’s just one static shot taken from another video. But maybe you could load some girl on girl (or guy on guy if that’s what makes your motor hum). Mute it, and just have Austin play in the background. That way you can have both your visual and audio senses completely satisfied. Hell, it worked for me.

Don’t Panic :: ManchFESTer II


© 2012 J-Clique Photography


“That’s the problem with drinking, I thought, as I poured myself a drink. If something bad happens you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen.” – Charles Bukowski

This article wasn’t going to write itself and, if I didn’t, someone else would. They’d do it better, and I’d be out of a job. And if I was out of a job, then some other drunken maniac would have to step in and ruin Moon & Back’s air of professionalism. It could take weeks to find someone that inebriated and insane, so I guess I’ve got no choice. It’d been around five days since the London fiasco and, having planned to spend these days sober and resting, I’d spent them drunk and sleeping very little with meager winks. Perhaps 3 of the 40, being spent on various couches.


It was Friday and after a few drinks at a local pub, I was on a bus to Manchester to watch a selection of UK bands pretend to be US bands, an interesting concept that seemed doomed to fail. Or so I thought…

I arrived in the center and entered a bar called Tiger Lounge. Heading down the stairs into the dimly lit ambiance of what looked like a shrine to the 1950’s (or perhaps even early 60’s?), ordering the cheapest pint at the bar, pining over the pink haired bar attendant that had just served me the glass of already stagnant alcohol.

Barlow arrived shortly and we proceeded to the venue – Kraak Gallery. Not knowing where it was, we followed anyone who looked the part. Upon entry we were met at the door by the man behind it all, KK. He let me in for free, with Barlow having won a ticket somehow.


ManchFESTer Pre-Fest Lineup © 2012 Clare Arnstein


The first act was Weezer, being played by Well Wisher. I couldn’t make it far into the crowd, so instead headed for the bar and ordered drinks. A girl I’d once had a drunken fumble with six years ago – and who I had  maintained a good friendship with – offered around a bottle of rum, which I drank heavily from.

We sat at the back of the venue, Barlow, the girl with the rum, her boyfriend, Emma Hallows also joined later, and myself. The rum was drank exessively and, along with the cans of lager, gave me that warm sensation of inebriation, much like a hug from a loved one without the fear of abandonment.

The acts sailed by and at some point we left to buy cans from a nearby off-license, cans were three pounds in the venue but seven pounds for six in the off-license for the same brand.

I was drunk, but back at the venue in time for Hot Water Music, they looked a lot younger than the last time I saw them but they sounded pretty similar so I let loose and enjoyed myself, singing all the hits from A Flight And A Crash and Caution.

I left after that, having a strong dislike for the music of Rancid, and headed to a bar where I drank white rum with orange, pineapple and cranberry juice. After a number of these, and the fact the bar closed, I decided to leave.


I awoke in my own bed for the first time in weeks. It seemed I’d made it home last night, but like hell could I remember how. All I wanted to do was stay in my own damn bed for the day and peacefully enjoy the company of my hangover, but instead I had to do this whole damn thing again. This caused the hangover to react violently, like a young brat with no discipline, throwing its toys all around my frontal lobe and causing mini migraines wherever they landed.

I’d slept like a drunken baby, yet I was still exhausted. It seemed that one night of good rest doesn’t make up for a month of drunken insomnia, so I pottered around the tiny room, showered, and lazed around until I felt optimistic enough to take the three beers in my fridge and face the world.

On the bus in my jaw clenched with so much anxious tension, I feared my teeth would grind to dust. I knew of only one solution, and I had three of these solutions on my person. I removed the first ice cold can from my breast pocket, sipping it in terror until the panic subsided slightly.

I was surprised, as I walked through the same door/stairs/door routine I had to get into the venue the night before. The place was packed to the rafters, and hot as the devils arse hole. I found Barlow and opened my second beer. I tried to enjoy the show and ignore the fact the walls were beginning to close in, but it was too much with so many people. I didn’t want to become corned beef with these sweat drenched strangers, so I left.

I shifted through the back alleys of Manchester avoiding civilization as best I could, realizing I hadn’t even told Barlow I was leaving.

This stumbling around back passages went on for a couple of hours, much longer than a regular panic, no, this was something more catastrophic. I sipped at my final beer and waited for the road to crack open, the sky to turn blood red and the apocalypse to fully set in. I wondered if I’d ever reach a point in my life of regular stability and a sense of sanity, but did I even want that? As much as I hated having to live with this almost constant fear, and feeling of impending doom, the chronic anxiety was what drove me, made me push myself harder than I had ever done before. Plus, it made the usual day to day living a lot more interesting.


Giles Bidder (Great Cynics) - @ 2012 J-Clique Photography


When I eventually returned the show was at intermission and, with the sun setting, hunger dawned on me. I hadn’t eaten a thing since the day before. I considered leaving, the weight of the whole damn thing was too much. I rendezvoused with Barlow and headed to a record shop called V-Revolution to watch acoustic artist, P.J. Bond. PJ played exceptionally well and clearly had a lot of talent, especially with his vocals. We left before he finished, so as not to miss Giles and the rest of Great Cynics. KK offered me something to eat from what had been made for the bands. This consisted of a little bread and some humous, which was greatly appreciated and eaten with the voracity of a food deprived hyena. The food changed my mood, giving me a second wind and a renewed sense of hope. Barlow added to this by producing a six pack of beer and offering me three.

Great Cynics took to the stage, and, as always, they played like they wanted to be there more than the audience; and the audience wanted to be there a whole fucking lot. There was a genuine honesty and refreshing originality to the G.C. sound, enough to make the hangover relax and enjoy the show too. So the two of us, the hangover and me, shared the rest of the first can until it was time for Sam Russo.

It seemed strange putting an acoustic act amidst an abundance of punk rock, but Russso played with the energy of of four and the crowd reverberated this feeling, creating an atmosphere as dramatic and theatrical as any KISS concert. Well, not quite. In fact, not at all, but it was pretty intense and the room had an air of gleeful ecstasy, even with the often sombre tones of Russo’s music.

My memory became fuzzy, and the beer went down almost instantaneously, resulting in an attempt to find something harder around the venue. Unfortunately this search was in vein, only beer was on the menu tonight it seemed.

Both Calvinball and Apologies, I Have None put on a good show, maintaining the cataclysmic flurry of bodies at the front of stage, keeping them in full tornado mode. It was hard to resist


Apologies, I Have None - © 2012 J-Clique Photography


merging with this hurricane, it pulled you in. The only way I could see as being an adequate survival technique was to climb on a nearby speaker and dive head-first into the eye of the storm. The fluctuation of half-drunk carcasses flowed around me like an ocean and tried to pull me under, back to the panic, but I was drunk, or far too tired, to care.

When it was time for Above Them I forced my way to the front and perched on a speaker. The band recognized me, having interviewed their singer for the site some time ago, and, somehow, we came to decision that I’d sing one song with them. Fuck, I was just the right amount of insane and had enough booze fueling me that I’d try anything. A couple of songs in I got up on the stage and could see the perplexity on the peoples faces. Who was this fool? He wasn’t in one of the bands, or a musician, so what the hell was he doing on the stage? But we kept playing and soon everyone forgot (or stopped caring?) about my presence and just enjoyed it all. The final song saw the carcasses break through the fence of etiquette and swarm the stage. Like drug fueled looters, they fought for microphones in a bid for the final note. I tried to fight them off, but in the end it seemed irrelevant. We were all the same, we’d all been a part of what had been yet another instance of me hitting the brick wall until it caved. All in the name of good music and booze.