Well, obviously I can’t guarantee the title’s sentiment. I get around a bit, but I am still some way from having met everybody’s mother – not even the much smaller set that represents mothers of readers of GofaDM. Even for those readers whose mother I have met, I am unable to provide supporting evidence for all of their statements: to this day, very few mothers submit their statements to me for fact-checking before sharing them with their offspring. In fact, if I’m being honest, all I can really say is that my mother was once right: if I transfer her wisdom from one domain to another.
When I was a callow youth (as opposed to the callow, pretend adult I am today) and was feeling under the weather, my mother would tell me that I’d feel better if I went to school. I don’t think I was really convinced about the veracity of her statement at the time, and can no longer remember if I did feel better at school. However, the idea has stuck with me over the more than three decades since I last had any reason to go to school: sick or healthy.
I currently have a cold: on Monday it seemed to be cured but by Tuesday afternoon it had returned. I am forced to assume that on Monday (and Tuesday morning) I was in the “eye of the cold”: an unexpected parallel twixt virus and hurricane. By late yesterday afternoon, I was feeling like a less-than-fresh corpse and had the energy for few projects more onerous than lying very still on a cold marble slab. Recalling my mother’s sage advice (and lacking a marble slab), I decided that I would reject the option of spending an evening of couch-based wallowing in self-pity while watching the idiot box. This is not the sort of positive mental attitude for which the author likes to imagine he is known in his role as the Norman Vincent Peale de nos jours. No, I would find a gig and go to it: this virus deserved some fresh lebensraum which it was not going to find trapped in my flat (and flesh). This is, after all, the only sort of occasion when I have a real chance to “go viral”.
The range of local options was limited, but there were a couple of bands on at the Talking Heads and following a quick listen to Spotify I decided I didn’t definitely hate their output and would take a punt: it was only going to set me back £6.60. Maybe an evening on electronic synth pop would be good for my immune system…
My decision immediately started to prove its worth, the combination of bumping into friends and the evening’s first pint of Red Runner from Long Dog Brewery seem to work marvels on my cold: my throat was rendered less sore and my nose stopped running. I cannot guarantee that Basingstoke-brewed beer will always work as an alternative to a Vicks inhaler, but it does have the advantage of being legal in Japan! Gigs are always good for people-watching opportunities and last night one lad had a dragon on his shoulder (a cuddly, rather than a real one) and some very impressive (if rather heavy looking) boots. I felt slightly under dressed in my low-rent Robin Ince cosplay (OK, I was in a cardigan and hadn’t made much of an effort, dress-wise). This impression was magnified when the support band, Curxes, took to the stake. The lead singer’s dress had something of a bride of dracula about it and her guitarist/percussionist/laptop jockey was wearing a voluminous one-piece poncho-esque item, which looked to have been hand-made from his mum’s curtains, and a massive papier-maché dog’s head (well, I think it was a dog – might have been a bear). His costume was, I presume, home-made but I was pleased to see that he had properly hemmed his curtains: I may have been ill, but I still like to pay attention to detail. Their set was really enjoyable with strikingly effective lighting at the beginning of one song.
During the interval, I was able to nip to the Maple Leaf Lounge to catch up with some more friends (and sight some fresh merch in the flesh: I can see the sending of postcards making a comeback!). I also had a chance to catch Charlie Hole for the second time in less than a week and find I have become slightly obsessed by the shape the his fingers when playing G on the guitar: two of them seem to naturally splay in way which mine really do (and can) not. Is this a modest superpower? Or am I very mildly disabled? Perhaps we will never know…
I then headed back to see the headliners, Empathy Trap. They put on a really good show, mostly in the dark with the lead singer lit from below with lights which rotated in colour. It was incredibly atmospheric and was a really good fit with the music. He was also very mobile – which combined with the low light, made capturing images for this blog a real challenge. Not only did I enjoy the music and the stage show, but the band made the whole audience (~40 of us) feel part of one big family. We were introduced to Christy on drums – and her additional gifts with lighting and van driving – and Sam on keys and electronics – and his high tolerance for alcohol. The leader singer never introduced himself but a quick search reveals he’s called Isaac and was wise to ditch the beard. I also learned about Adam, who doesn’t tour but has some sort of svengali-like producing role in the band. Rather sweetly, Isaac dedicated songs to both his mum and his nan – who were in the audience. I think that most (all, other than me?) of the audience (and not just Isaac’s family) already knew the band, but as a rube I found the evening had a really fun, inclusive vibe.
It is possible that my minimal expectations played their part, but I had a really a great evening: it might even end up being one of my top gigs of the year. For three hours, I completely forgot about my cold and I’m forced to tip my cap to my mother’s advice. It has withstood both the test of time and the change of activity! My dilemma tonight is:
- do I take my virus to Romsey to see friends play, for the second time in a week, which will definitely be fun; or
- do I take a chance on some less familiar music more locally, but limit my infective scope?
If this virus had any gumption, it would be forcing me to Romsey, but I think I still have free will (assuming it exists at all) so where will I go…