From Ego to Emo.
This week was a fairly busy one, both for myself and for the Make-That-A-Take collective. I was faced with a serious dilemma; I had tickets for the Social Distortion show in Glasgow at the same time that the collective was putting on Franz Nicolay in Dundee. While it was a tough choice, I simply HAD to see Social D as they are one of the bands that I hold dearly to my heart that I had yet to see live. Abbie had bought me the tickets before we booked Franz and, difficult though it was, I had to go see Social D. This is only the second time that I’ve missed one of the collective shows, the other being Direct Hit when Uniforms were away in the States. From all reports, the Franz show was a major success that was very nearly a sell-out. Franz is coming back next summer and it’s highly likely that we’ll be putting on some sort of all-dayer, or something along those lines, when he does so. I’d like to sincerely thank the other guys in the collective for taking care of everything and to Billy Liar, Algernon Doll and Davey Nolan for playing too.
Jamie and I, however, jumped on the train to Glasgow after work and other commitments were fulfilled, went for a quick pint and arrived in the sold out Garage just in time to hear Dave Hause strumming his first chords. I always find it slightly strange when singer/songwriters play solo shows with electric guitars, but it didn’t impact on my enjoyment of his set. It picked up a gear when he switched to his acoustic guitar and I’m sure that he converted a few of the rabid Social D fans, many of whom didn’t seem interested in anything other than skelping pints and hollering along with Mike Ness. Dave himself didn’t look particularly well with big bags under his eyes, but he has been doing some serious touring so that can be forgiven. His passionate delivery was undimmed and he appeared genuinely humbled to be supporting one of his favourite bands. His set was well-received and he seemed happy when I spoke to him in the merch area afterwards. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Edinburgh show the next night would have been incredible, as was reported to me by everyone who went. I also bought Jamie the 7″ collection that was on sale. I can be uncharacteristically sound like that on occasion.
Social D were up next and the first thing that grabbed my attention was the amount of knick-knack artefacts that Mike Ness had on top of his amps and the fact that they had rugs taped to the stage floor. Our friend Ryan had related some stories about Mike Ness as told to him by a certain transgender punk when we were in the States and, to my observations, it seems as though all the horror stories are true! One thing that I thought was telling was that Johnny Two Bags only played guitar solos when the band did Johnny Cash covers and never on their own songs. Something else that was odd was the fact that the band had apparently told security to stop people filming and taking photographs, despite the fact that Mike spent half of the show posing as opposed to singing. The thing that properly took the biscuit though was when they pulled a 14 year old kid on stage, gave him £20 and said something along the lines of “fuck school tomorrow, you’ll be the coolest kid around ‘cos you were at the Social D show”. In a moment of unintentional comedy genius, Mike called for his tech to come and switch the microphones before he’d let the kid speak into it. A man of the people for sure is our Mike!
Massive egos and unintended hilarity aside, the band were incredibly tight and they reeled out all the hits, as you may have expected them to. The place was absolutely rammed, as befitting their first ever Scottish show, but I can’t help but feel that there was a little something lacking. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so glad that I got a chance to see them but I can’t hide my slight disappointment. It’s like the old cliché says, never meet your idols. Not that I met Mike Ness, but it would’ve been nice if he didn’t come across as such an asshole. The look on Johnny Two Bags pretty much said it all. I’ve never seen someone looking so depressed and miserable playing rock’n’roll in my life. It was strange for me too as I hardly ever go to “big” shows these days, so there was a real disconnect for me. Still, the songs speak for themselves and Social D are undeniably punk legends, so I remain happy with my choice. I also stood at the back and filmed a little bit of their encore;
Then on Friday night, it was all hands on deck as the collective co-promoted the Everyone Everywhere / Chalk Talk / Kaddish / Bonehouse / Uniforms show with GW! at Kage Nightclub. It was a bummer that Defiance, Ohio and Some Sort Of Threat had to pull out and cancel their tour on account of visa problems, but we still had an amazing line-up on our hands. I had been in a mad rush after finishing work, going to my doctor’s appointment and stopping by the printers, not once but twice by virtue of me originally sending the wrong file to be printed. As such, I was running around like a mad man and forgot to pick up my video camera, which annoyed me no end. Luckily, Andy McGarry of Pet Piranha Records had organised for the show to be filmed by his pal Liam from Man Alive Studios. The footage should be available for your viewing pleasure before too long.
Abbie and I rushed to the train and got to the venue for around 6pm, then set about getting the new posters on the walls and flyers cut up whilst the PA was being set up. Everyone Everywhere then soundchecked before Uniforms set up to open the show. Everything was in place and we went on at bang on 8pm and were off less than 20 minutes later. We played a couple of new songs live for the first time and considering the fact that we had all had pretty shitty days (and I’d just come off a sleepover at work) and hadn’t practised in a couple of weeks, I thought we played pretty well. I’m really enjoying our new songs and was so happy to get to play Jolene, my beautiful new Les Paul, at a show for the first time. Abbie filmed our opening song on my phone and, given the quality, I probably should’ve filmed everyone on it. Please accept my apologies for not doing so but I was absolutely shattered after we had played and no matter how many times I went outside between bands, I just couldn’t seem to cool down!
Bonehouse were up next and absolutely nailed it. You can tell that they’ve been on tour as it shows not only in their tightness, but in their levels of comfort both with one another and with the crowd in front. I was very heartened by the fact that a lot of people had made the effort to come down early and catch all the opening bands, standing close and engaging with them like they would a headlining band. It’s always a good sign when you don’t recognise the majority of the faces in the audience and I have to thank the people that went to a lot of effort to make plans and travel to the show from all of the country. I believe there was a couple that had come to Dundee from Norwich for the weekend, inspired by wanting to come to this show. That’s dedication right there. People of Dundee, please take note! I’ve written about Bonehouse quite extensively before and they more than deserve it, so if you haven’t done so already, please make a point of checking them out. They absolutely nailed it on the night and it’s safe to say that they are rapidly becoming one of the finest bands in the country. I also spoke to Owen and Dave about them playing Book Yer Ane Fest VI, so that’s definitely going to happen.
The mighty Kaddish were up next. I could spend all day being hyperbolic about how much I love this band, but then again, pretty much everyone that comes to our shows loves this band. Hell, everyone in the country loves this band. They rattled through a quick six song set that included “To Another”, the epic jam that closes out their first LP. They also ripped through some new jamz from their upcoming second LP including “But A Beat From Your Bones”, an abrasive emotionally-charged belter. To be fair, that description could be used to describe any of their songs and characterises every Kaddish performance. Their intensity levels surpass almost any band I’ve ever seen and there are very few bands, especially locally (ie, Scotland), that inspire such levels of awe and devotion. I spent the majority of the set “dancing” down at the front and screaming along before helping to clear the “stage” for the touring bands. Honestly, Kaddish are fucking amazing and their new record is going to blow minds when it eventually comes out. As ever, I nagged the guys about donating a song to the forthcoming Make Yer Ane Comp IV collection that will be out before Book Yer Ane Fest. You can bet your botton dollar that Kaddish will be making an appearance that weekend too. Such a jaw-dropping band. In the absence of any new footage at the moment, here’s one from a few months ago;
Next up were Chalk Talk from Amherst, Massachusetts. They’re a three-piece basement-style east coast emo/punk band who played brilliantly poppy lo-fi indie rock that really comes alive in the live setting. Jonny and I were speaking to the guys in the band room before the show started and it continually amazes me how people and bands in the worldwide DIY community can so easily bond over the shared experiences of touring and putting on shows. We shared a couple of mutual horror stories, but being “accommodated” by Ukrainian neo-nazis is definitely worse than being bumped by 80’s hardcore relics at a biker bar in downtown San Diego. The Chalk Talk guys were lovely fellas and appeared genuinely humbled to be getting taken care of so far away from home. It’s pretty easy to keep touring bands happy if you can give them some food, get a couple of beers down them, get them a place to crash and pay them (at least as close to) what you agreed to pay them originally. On the hospitality front, I have to give a big shout out to Papa Gain and Dave McCaffer for sorting out the food and to Owen for sorting the guys out with a place to stay. Much appreciated chaps. It’s this sort of community and togetherness that makes our scene so special. Regarding their actual performance, Chalk Talk absolutely nailed it and definitely won everyone over with their unassuming charm. I think they did pretty well on the merch sales side of things too, although I didn’t manage to get my paws on a record myself as I always seem to leave these things to the last minute when putting on shows and the merch was already in the back of the van by the time I remembered about it. Ah well, I’ll pick one up from them when we’re over in the States next year. Bryce, I look forward to playing in your basement!
The magnificent Everyone Everywhere rounded out the live musical entertainment side of things for the evening with a passionate and well-received set. These guys have just released their eponymous second record and played a good chunk of it along with some choice cuts from their back catalogue. They went on around 10.45pm and played for around 40 minutes, although the did appear somewhat confused at the end of their set when everyone began chanting “one more tune”. They obliged, however, and wrapped things up with “Tiny Planet”, one of the finest cuts from their first full-length. By this point in the evening I was absolutely shattered and spent the majority of their set watching everybody’s heads bopping up and down from the back but their somewhat delicate, introspective yet rocking jamz went down an absolute treat with everyone in attendance.
Again, I can’t over express how heartening and inspiring it is to see a room full of people who are totally on the same page being united in an experience, especially when soundtracked by a band who have never visited these shores before. To me, that’s what the DIY community is all about; having a safe space where everyone involved is united in purpose and looking out for one another, having respect for both the similarities and the differences that we all share. That may sound idealistic but in this instance, it was the absolute truth. After the show, Kenny and crew quickly loaded out the PA then everyone got involved in loading out the gear. I spent a little time talking to the Everyone Everywhere guys and explained to them the concept of “the blag” is I duly “blagged” a record from them. There are varying degrees of “the blag” and in some cases it’s absolutely not appropriate, but I felt that it was okay for these guys. It was pointed out to me that my most frequently asked question of touring bands is “everyone happy?”. It’s important to me that bands, not just touring bands but every band that we deal with, is happy as without happy bands and happy punters, there are no shows.
Abbie and I left about an hour into the Entropy club night thereafter as we had to jump on the last train to Perth. We left utterly exhausted but jubilant at what had been an amazing show and an amazing experience of togetherness for our scene. No two bands on the bill sounded alike yet were afforded both the respect and the attention of the audience. Yes, it was loud as all hell and there was no way that you’d be able to hold a conversation even if you wanted to, but the focus was on the bands, the music and the release afforded you when you feel like you can be yourself. Knowing so many disparate groups involved in the scene, it’s these moments of unity and togetherness that make all the hard graft worthwhile.
Thank you to everyone involved in making the show so special, from the other members of the collective to the bands to the people who travelled from both near and far. These are the kind of nights that restore faith. Let’s please keep this up!
Next up we’ve got Blacklist Royals in Dundee. Should be sweet.