MRR #396

mrr_396_cvr-2-300x391Slowing Down but Never Stopping

Damn, London is wicked! I’m back here for a couple weeks and I’ve not spent one whole day at home! I’ve been to punk shows and noise shows, got drunk on champagne beer, high in cemeteries and marshes, had divine food from around the world, bought a bunch of records, spent time with family and was generally a bad influence on friends, convincing them to skip their responsibilities and instead get day drunk with me on French Kisses. Also, I went to DIY Space for London, finally! I was so psyched to be there I actually had crazy butterflies in my stomach for the first half of the evening. ALTER and Static Shock were putting on a mini fest, with a bunch of sick hardcore bands and electronic projects, with highlights from NO FORM, the LOWEST FORM and of course headliners DAMIEN DUBROVNIK. I reunited with the Spanish contingent, met the Greek punk goddess after my own heart Alexandra from EFIALTIS (interview coming soon! EP out any second on Static Shock London/LVEUM), bulls-eyed a bunch of darts tipsy on fruity ciders, and hung out with the NO FORM boys—ugh, sweetest bunch! They played an impressive live performance that I found superior to the record, which is still pretty darn great and kinda Dadaist in a way that’s uncomfortable and tantalizing at the same time—def one of the most exciting new bands outta the UK right now! The Lowest Form (interview in the works!) whom I saw again a week later, were both times tight and on point. The new songs aren’t banging, they’re mental! A tad more mid-tempo than some of their first, hella catchy but hella mean riffs, with simple yet smart drum arrangements that highlight the rest of the frenzied action, and of course #chrisbresswickedreggae on vocals and in the pit! The crowd went wild, knocking over the front monitors, moshing, pogoing, head-banging, stage diving—it was great! Who needs drugs when you’ve got hardcore? Perspex Flesh were also hot and raging (as a friend put it, “that band that wants to be American but is, you know, English?”) while DAMIEN DUBROVNIK were simply stunning. Loke and Christian, who run Posh Isolation Records in Denmark, delivered a set that was hella stirring, and not necessarily in a comfortable kind of way. While their tone and dynamic is often harsh and prickly, their sounds and textures are often soothing and subtle—it’s a magnificent combo. I was standing right in front of a massive tower of speakers so every time a beat came down I would feel a little gust of cold air coming from the subwoofer. The eerie keys and growling vocals punctured the high-pitched frequencies that cut through the room like earthquake cracks from floor to ceiling. The walls of sound made the real walls shudder, the reverberations of crashing metal panes permeating my whole existence, my eyes firmly shut throughout the whole set. The two tall men in white shirts felt more like mediators than performers. Like modern day Teslas, they were harnessing a force that was as electric as it was electrifying. This was more than just noises coming from speakers, it was a deluge of sound waves, and I was soaking it up. More unapologetic, uncomfortable, uncompromising musick please!

I also got to meet with both Robert Refuse and Alex Ratcharge—who were, by cosmic coincidence, in London at the same time as me—and hang out and chat for hours with thee Tony Gunnarsson, who is simply the coolest! (Hopefully a new issue of More Noize is dropping soon!) After so many years of online communication, with all three of them, it was exciting to be in the same city all together, getting drinks, catching up, talking about MRR, our projects and future plans! The whole crew of punks I’ve been with in London has been super friendly and welcoming. I definitely look forward to hanging out with them again.

***

Bollocks! I’ve just missed my coach to Bristol. Fucking train sat for 20 minutes outside Victoria not moving! As I ran towards the coach station, my chest burning, my feet feeling like cement blocks, I worked myself into a panic attack before even reaching my gate, where of course there stood no coach. I paced back and forth outside the station, chain-smoking until my hands were numb from the cold and I was calm enough to speak to another human without either bursting into tears or punching them in the face. “Nah, next bus is fully booked I’m ’fraid.” Ugh, OK then the next one, when’s that? “Three hours from now.” Right on, no harm done, beer before noon it is! I also urgently needed to change my bloody tampon but had no change. Even peeing in London is expensive, fuckin’ hell! So I bought more cigarettes and shoved my 30p into the slot with vengeance. Here, take it! Now can I go freak out in peace?

Three hours later, finally in my seat, looking grim and feeling like I’ve just been run over by a red double decker bus, I listen to MOLLY NILSSON to calm myself down. I am basically here to visit family I haven’t seen in years, but also to look into potential job opportunities. As I stare out the window, contemplating the pros and cons of living—nay, surviving—in a place like London, I wonder if perhaps I’m fooling myself into thinking it’s even possible. Can I hack it? Do I even really want it? Fuck…what do I want? I wake up in Bristol to a drizzling sky. I’m so ready for a few days of peace and quiet with my aunt and uncle! After six years it’ll be good to see them again and catch up. Life is short, time flies and terminal illnesses really put things into perspective, so I’m taking each day at a time and appreciating the fact that I’m alive and well. “Got my neck, got my boobs. Got my heart, got my soul.” I’ve got life and that’s more than enough right now. Others aren’t so lucky.

***

Today I’ve just spent the day walking around the Lanes, thumbing through records and spending too much money. I’m in Brighton, which is hella charming; a vast contrast to the hustle and bustle of London—an hour and a world apart. It is of course quite graphic—with its neat rows of houses arching up the hill, its narrow streets and famous pier—despite the fancy mall stretches and modern constructions on the seafront. It has a good selection of record stores, all within walking distance of each other—and the Hope and Ruin pub. I didn’t even go to half of them, but my favourite so far was the Record Album. Not because it had some bonzer punk records or anything. I liked it because it was real niche; run by 86-year-old George Ginn, an ex-8mm travel videographer, who is the definition of adorable English granddad with an encyclopedic knowledge of classical / orchestral / soundtrack music. The shop has been around since 1948 and specializes in film soundtracks, stage, musical and high quality classical recordings, with a world reputation for having OOP and discontinued records. There was a lot in there I could have bought, but decided the OST to Vamp with Grace Jones was good enough. However, I blew most of my Queen Es at Monkey Music Emporium (thanks Tadpole Records for the suggestion!) and it was well worth the visit. The wall alone was impressive (you coulda blown a month’s rent and still only have a handful of them) and the chap who runs it is friendly enough, busy cleaning old record players. My best find was An Electric Storm by the WHITE NOISE, when trailblazer Delia Derbyshire was still a member. I also visited Across the Tracks (nothing life changing at first glance but enough to check out) and the Singles Bar (loads of movie soundtracks and, you guessed it, singles). With dirty fingers and an empty stomach, I was ready to chow down south Indian food and get cozy with the cider… though vodka eventually won the debate. (Hint, it usually does.) I was hyper as always and even though I’d spend almost two weeks bumbling about London somehow I wasn’t yet exhausted. At such great heights it’s easier to envision flight than impact.

So it’s 3am and I’m still awake. Can’t get no satisfaction. Sleepless in Brighton on a Monday night and the beachside chippy is closed. Woulda killed for more chips and curry sauce—the greatest food combo to rock my world since I discovered pineapple on pizza! (Thanks Paco!) So I walk down to the beach, not a human in sight. I’m drunk and I’ve just lit a joint and, even though it’s the end of February, I’m quite warm in my underwear and long coat. All I can hear is the rhythmic crashing of the waves and the shrieks and squawks of the seagulls. I can see their dark bodies outlined against the bright and cloudless sky. The moon is full and the stars are out—what a night to be alive. It’s the first time in a long time that my mind’s not racing or that my body’s not on the go somewhere. (“Victoria line all the time”) For an hour I sit on the cool rock, almost perfectly still, staring at the sky, trying to think of nothing: “The delicate illusions that get us through life can only stand so much strain.”

ENDNOTES:

  • Now I am back at my temp home base in Athens, staying with my sis. Making fresh orange juice every morning, cooking (though poorly), catching up on the last four years, getting tipsy on wine binge watching sitcoms (Ilana Glazer I love you!), hanging out with my parents, celebrating my 30th birthday—life could be much, much, much worse, so I am extremely grateful to all the people whose life I whirl-winded through these past couple months; who let me crash on their couch, fed me their mum’s chicken soup and showed me around, who shared drinks and drugs, put up with my highs and lows, and generally tolerated my intense existence! Wherever I am, you are welcome!
  • Looking forward to RIXE in Athens this weekend! It’s also carnival, so it’s gonna get messy! Their new EP is coming out soon on LVEUM, so keep an ear out for it, first track is up on the label’s bandcamp page and it’s banging! Editor’s note: RIXE were banging! People singing along, fists in the air, a Camera Silens cover…a great time!
  • By the time you read this another radio show will be up on das blog. I’m preparing shows with Japanese HC and punk, bands that played the MRR fest (I heard yall had fun!), women in music that have inspired me (because every day is International Women’s Day!), a film soundtrack special (long live Ennio Morricone), a synth-wave / post-punk special from Greece in the ’80s, plus much more! Stray tuned at obsessionism.wordpress.com.
  • Habi from NE! Records and I have been working on the second part of the Yugoslavian punk special and it’ll be inking your fingers in these pages soon, so check it out! KAOS from Rijeka are gonna be in it, so I’m extra excited! I still remember when their record came through MRR—raw, passionate, inimitable!
  • By the time you read this, I’ll been and gone on the road again, this time vanning it round the UK with Diät, then heading back to Berlin with them for a few days. So excited to go to a bunch of places I’ve never been before and help spread the Positive Energy—I’m ecstatic! Next column will be a report back from all the rad places we went through! Until next time, stay punk, stay strong! lydia@maximumrocknroll.com

 

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