The beginning of August is sweaty and steamy and overcast, aircon weather, jittery flying ant days. I’m taking the Overgroud, over the river and way out west, for a rehearsal for Mavis in East Acton. The show is next Sunday and I am as nervous as those ants, suddenly sprouting wings and learning to fly. A little lost in the trading estate I am looking for signs to get me there. Do I take the stairs and go through door 10D for Pleasure? Or stay outside with the angels?
1st anniversary special This week is the first anniversary for Melodica, so weâ€™re celebrating with a bottle of cava and a cup cake with one candle; Blue Rose Code live in the kitchen and a special mix from everybodyâ€™s favourite DJs – Wolf + Lamb. No nostalgia though, new music and new releases all the way. [setlist] Rudy’s Midnight Machine – Open To Your Love 40 Thieves – Donâ€™T Turn It Off (Brennan Green Mix) Paul Lewis – Inner City Blues Sepalcure – Love Pressure Scuba – Tense [Dbridge Remix] Health – Before Tigers (Cfcf Remix) The Kenneth Bager Experience – Fragment 15 (Time Is Up) (Coyote Bloodfire Dub) Blue Rose Code – Whitechapel Blue Rose Code – Ghosts Of Leith Radiohead – Reckoner (Leftside Wobble Offworld Excursion) Wolf + Lamb – Dj Mix
A little field can grow good corn says the screen print art slogan on the twirly washing line in the village fete field. East Londonâ€™s coolest boys and girls sit on bails of hay in their colourful plastic shades and short jeans, discussing the dayâ€™s timetable and whether to enter the boys vs girls tug of war or go for a cup cake and a cup of tea in the Independent tent. This is Field Day, a day festival in a park, not a field, with enough nerdy twiddles and thoughtful young men to fill a trainspotterâ€™s little red book to overflowing. Actually, the crowd in Victoria Park are less nerdy than expected, the sun is out, intermittently, the shades are on and the day ahead looks fabulous so most crack open a can, spark up and get on with the traditional festival pursuits of wandering from one big to tent to another in search of the next thrill, phoning mates to find out if they are having a better time than you and taking pictures of each other making shapes with that distinctive photo face that only ever comes out when thereâ€™s a lens pointed at it. On to the music and the highlights for me were, in order of strength of emotional impact: Atlas Sound in the Adventures In The Beetroot Field tent, one man, a guitar and a box of pedals making an extraordinary sound with delay and layers of beats and vocals. Heâ€™s long and gangly and incredibly geeky but the voice is beautiful and the looped vocals hit home – what do you want to be when you grow up? Caribou, on the main stage, perhaps not as powerful as expected, losing the impact of the album by playing with a quite traditional live line-up, drum, bass, guitar, keyboards; a little lost in the bright sunlight on the big stage without a band front man to take the focus of all those eyes; but redeemed by a stellar version of Sun, surely the tune of the summer. Phoenix, on the main stage, so tight, so tuneful, a proper band for a festival, being brave and playing everything from the last album. The Fall, Mark E Smith owning the stage, with total disdain for the audience and his band, turning down the guitarist half way through a song, looking like the scary, angry old man he has always sounded like, heâ€™s still got that edgy energy and twisted verve that characterised music of the late 70s, and so much character and personality. Love them or hate them The Fall are unmistakable, the dude is a legend and itâ€™s great to have seen an incarnation of his band. Silver Apples, one man and some crazy synths, like some crackpot professor doing karaoke in a parallel universe, itâ€™s crazy and compelling. Ramadanman on the main stage, even though he was too quiet and hidden in the corner. And some boys with hoodies and laptops and some others with decks, arms aloft, doing what DJs do. Some weâ€™re good, some not so good. Many hard to distinguish without a programme to hand. Overall though, the Field Day was a real winner, sun, dust, great music, friendly folk; Iâ€™ll definitely be doing this one again.
Sitting in Belgrade airport in existential trip mode. It’s so hard to focus at these moments. Apparently you can tell if you are dreaming if you can’t remember how you got to the place you are at. I remember a plane, a sleep, a flat, dry cheese sandwich and a smiling old lady with blonde bone white hair. That memory and a slight chill on the lower part of my left arm from the air conditioning unit make me believe that this is real. I am trying to learn the lines from the song but it’s poetry won’t flow from page to memory. I so admire actors who can perform these mental feats and make it look easy. I have three hours here in limbo so I will try again and again. But it is so hard to focus. Mediterranean Bar, Sarajevo So it turns out that I am here, playing CDs in this place at the behest of ronhill (one word, all lower case, simple, sophisticated looking but not overly flashy typeface). That’s ronhill, not Ron Hill, who is probably a very nice bloke who lives in Croydon, but ronhill, the cigarette brand that is sponsoring the Mediterranean Bar, which is a pop up bar that has popped up outside a venue in a large, slightly run down concrete square in a concrete city that is currently in the middle of it’s (actually up and coming) film festival. As a so called artist I can’t afford to be touchy about working for fag brands, even though I don’t smoke and think that I would approve of a complete ban on smoking if it were possible, I think, because surely people should have the right to get addicted to stuff and kill themselves, slowly, if they really want to. It’s a tricky one. Anyhow, the gig goes well, considering the temperature has plummeted to a very unseasonal 15 degrees centigrade and the bar is outside. So I play a good bumpy, pumpy house set. ronhill has a girl dancing behind a screen so I take a picture of her shadow then sneak a peek round the side of the screen just to make sure she is real and not a video that looks like a girl dancing behind a screen. Yes, there she is. And the set flows nicely, in that rather good, unfocussed, not really thinking about it way that good DJing has to be. And I’m thinking: There are so many people smoking here. And I’m thinking: This city is so full of brutalist concrete architecture that even I, a person who loves brutalist concrete architecture, am a little overwhelmed. And I’m thinking: I wish I could stay and explore. And I’m Thinking: Boom, boom, boom.
Now, gliding over the manicured farmland of southern Germany, on the way home, I feel like I have been out on a limb, the frayed knee of the stonewashed jeans of Europe, where our shining, smart, smug, designer West starts to unravel. Where the post modern, post everything notion of caring little for an outward show and the trappings of wealth seems more than slightly ridiculous. Where show is important because show is all there is really. Where reconstruction is slow and belts really are tight; where really having no money is really real and not just some semi-imaginary construct of a bunch of posh millionaires. Now, back in the big, fat belly of the Euro-beast, in Munich, it seems churlish to be disdainful, it feels a little insulting to share the arty shots of concrete blocks and busses that I managed to steal from Sarajevo. But I guess I will, because that’s what I do and I mean no disrespect. I find these images pleasing for their shapes and colours and textures and structure, like an abstract painting or a piece of electronic music, a tiny fragment of joy in a fucked up world.