© 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.