Sunday, 31 May 2009

Let's gratuitously squeeze a May blog in

As literally one person has pointed out to me, I haven't been blogging much recently. I suppose I should do more. I guess generally my blogs are to get something out of my system that I couldn't in other written media, i.e. at least half of them are about backpacking adventures and festivals I've been to; what with reviewing every festival I've been to this year for popular website Drowned In Sound doing another blog review would just be horribly tedious, even if it included a few more LULz than the 'official' one. Oh well. I should do a few more article type ones. I have an idea for one on the sound of nostalgia that I think would be too first person and wanky to really work as an article elsewhere. I suppose there's also the problem with being freelance that any writing that constitutes a bit of fun on the side you feel a bit guilty about. Then again, I feel guilty about almost everything, which may in itself be the subject of a new blog. Hmm. Yes yes. Anyway, I'm going to loosely sum up my last month or so, that'll be nice, won't it?

I wrote about my trip to Iceland

Er, yeah, I know I mentioned I went, but I didn't go into it in detail? It was a really good time and I met some top people, it was such a peculiar experience that I couldn't really 'review' it as such, but there are some bands worth checking out on my DiS review here, and I suppose the piece gives you as close a description of the festival as I'd have realistically blogged about without obnoxiously bigging up my free holiday. Though I would like to point out that I CAUGHT A FISH AND AM NOW A MAN.

Sort of travel porn-ish promo video for Aldrei fór ég suður Festival

Plan B ended

It's weird to think I contributed to this magazine for something like half its five year run - actually more than half of the issues, as it started as a bi-monthly affair. Odd. There's no particular need for a general eulogy from me - it was a fucking incredible magazine put together by a spectacularly talented bunch of people. If they'd even printed on shitter paper they'd probably have vastly increased the margins, but whatever, it was essentially four people doing all the work, they decided to end it before they ran into rocky financial straits, fair play. I suppose the most depressing thing is that it wasn't a loss in readership that led to its closures, simply that indie labels couldn't take out the advertising needed to keep it afloat.

Anyway, we're talking about me here. Er, yeah, I think Louis Pattison only let me write for it as I was a commissioning editor of his while at Metro, and honestly, my writing must have been at something like a nadir around late 2006 or whenever it was, personality erased by a near enough two years of said freesheet, with zero freelancing on the side. Pretty sure my first fumblings for Plan B were horrible (Louis politely more or less said as much one tipsy night in London) - a 150 word review was no space to resurrect the ol' conversational style, and I was trying too hard to write how I thought a Plan B writer wrote in an effort to get away from my Metro-ness. But I definitely, definitely improved over time, got given a few bigger pieces, and sort of hoped I might be able to become a major contributer given time.

I suppose I sort of got what I wished for, in that while I still never had so much as an email exchange with Frances Morgen or Everett True, and while I sincerely doubt I would have dominated any hypothetical July issue, in tomorrow's final mag I do have a bunch of stuff, including the two longest pieces I've ever written for the mag: a two page interview with Dave Longstreth from the Dirty Projectors, and the mag's second story, a feature on Constellation records. Bit of a strange feeling, maybe amongst all the sadness a degree of shameful relief that it didn't finish an issue early..? Hmm. Anyway, I guess I'm now far more identifiable with DiS than Plan B (um, were I to be identifiable with anyone), but I suppose what I am saying is that I think I'm a much better writer than I was three years ago, at which point I was a much worse writer than I had been three years previously, and I probably owe a lot of it to Plan B. Sob, etc etc.

I went to two ATPs

So I properly did the double for the first time (for 2007's ATP Vs Fans I arrived on Saturday morning and left late Sunday night). Woo. In many ways ATP Vs The Fans Part II was fantastic (co-authored review here), but I also left feeling a bit shit about things. Just got too wasted, and while I knew lots of people and whatnot, I basically went on a bender that contained at least a nugget of joylessness to it. Didn't eat well. Took drugs for the first time in 2009, essentially for the sake of it. Was just a mess by about 2am every night, and while I typically came to in the mornings with a dim sensation of having had a fun time in the hazy previous hours, I couldn't REALLY remember anything that had happened. Wildly drunk in front of media and music people who didn't really know me. Caught self thinking some dark thoughts by about midway through. Moderately soul-destroying Monday afterwards eventually ameliorated by going to see The Jesus Lizard AGAIN at the Forum and actually having a really good time, totally sober. Probably not a sign of things to come, but still...

By contrast I had an amazing time at the Breeders ATP (review here, basically people grumbling that I didn't like Bon Iver). Was with Team Awesome, we ate well, got less drunk and took less things, there was camaraderie and monkeyshines, not just band after band and blank drinking. Spending a weekend with those folks is half the joy really. Probably a better line-up and better crowd, even if it looked a bit more conservative on paper. Holy Fuck gave us signed pint pots. Strangers were hugged during 'Lovely Allen'. Ward gave us all top trumps cards on the second night and then got into a fight with everybody on the third. Powell had a bath. A SUPER TIME. Bon Iver WAS shit though.

Holy Fuck: 'Lovely Allen'

Am going to Glastonbury, possibly as a result of the magic of Twitter

So the Glastonbury Press Office turns down my/DiS's application for festival tickets. This makes me a bit sad. Then a week or two later our editor Sean Adams bitches to Emily Eavis about it on Twitter. No reply is forthcoming. Just that that afternoon the press office says they've re-evaluated my application and of course we can have two tickets. Wow. Twitter does real things as well. Very enthused. Don't really know what Glastonbury 'means' in this day and age, if anything, or even if it has to, but I think it'll be fun. All the grumblings about the headliners being old seem patently absurd to me - this will possibly be the first year since, like, ever, that all three make good music. A bunch of middle aged newspaper critics suggesting Glastonbury has somehow 'lost touch' is laughable. You could easily shoot down every line-up since its inception by pointing to at least one headliner that's a bit of a joke, plus the quintesstial Glastonbury bands of the 21st century are godawful Tesco-friendly donkeycock like Kings Of Leon and Coldplay, acts only broken by Glastonbury because their fans are so utterly disinterested in music that it takes the BBC's dementedly blanket approach to coverage to break this stuff into their blunted consciousnesses. Radiohead's fondness for the festival is the only thing that's really kept the myth of it being edgy alive, and THAT only came about because it became so entwined in the rise of Britpop during the Nineties.

Anyway, here's a clip from Travis's headline set in 2000. Burned.