Shimura Curves

Friday, May 26, 2006

Dude, we're all grown ups now...

In the end, I went to Sonic Cathedrals by myself last night. I was in a bad mood, and I tried going shopping but I just couldn't find anything I wanted to buy, so I figured walking over to Old Street and then some lovely, lovely shoegazer noise would sort me out. And mostly, it did.

First the good things: Will Carruthers Yes, he's still a handsome man, but that's besides the point. Oh sweet lord, what an amazing DJ set he played. Lots of great drone and shoegaze, but more to the point, he played almost every song that Sp3/Spz ever covered. Marianne, the JJ Cale song that became Run, some Suicide, lots of Velvets (and weird acid house covers of Velvets songs) with bizarre Hunter S. Thompson dialogue over the top. I was so awed, I couldn't even bring myself to talk to him, just kind of smiled at him with this dewey expression of "oh my god, you are one of the best bassists, well, ever."

The High Dials played quite sweet, though rather polite psychedelic pop. (Of course they're polite, they're Canadian, it turns out.) However, at the end, they got the sitar out, and wibbled up a couple of gears. That was bloody impressive.

And then we waited. And waited. And waited. Now look, but Sonic Cathedrals are really starting to piss me off with this kind of thing. Face it - the audience for shoegazing and drone is aging. We're mostly in our 30s now, we all have day jobs and have to get up in the morning. So making us wait AN HOUR AND A HALF between the support band finishing and the headlining band goes on is just not on. I'm tired, I'm hot, my feet hurt, and I can see the band lounging around to the side of the stage chatting with their mates. As the audience grows more disgruntled and aggressive, this is not the best situation for the band. And it's not a fun decision to decide how much of your money's worth to get, as you ponder whether to make the last train and catch exactly 4 songs of the band's set, or stay for the whole set and face the night bus home.

By the time Serena Maneesh came on, I was not in a good mood. They looked, frankly, stupid. An image band gone horribly wrong. Headscarves and frilly shirts and turbans that even Carlos Santana would be ashamed to be seen in, plus a Nico lookalike bassist who hopped about like a mad ferret, in time to no apparent rhythm I could discern onstage.

The sound was awful. It's one thing when it's so loud you can't tell the guitars one from another. It was so loud and just... mushy I couldn't even tell the guitars from the drums. Like they couldn't have spent at least some of that HOUR AND A HALF doing a soundcheck instead of rearranging their scarves to drape exactly the right way? I was so annoyed that I just decided to take off, pushing my way out through the crowd.

And then, just as I got past the bar, I ran into a little gang of my friends. I griped and complained, while Rich tried to explain that it was not the band's fault they'd gone on so late, and Jesse urged me to give them a second chance, explaining that their record really was the lost MBV album. So I stayed for a bit, and ended up closing out the bar. The sound - miraculously - was marginally better, back by the sound booth. And yes, they did settle down from unlistenable mush into kind of metallic sheets of sound. (Though I never did figure out what the violin player was for, as I couldn't hear him at all.) I'll listen to the CD and make my decision based on that.

So, in the end, I guess it was worth the torturous hour and a half night bus home.


At 12:20 PM GMT, Blogger Andrew Farrell said...

I think the sound is almost by definition best nearest the soundman.

I considered coming out, but I have been tired all week, and I had to pack for my return to The Aul' Sod. Glad to hear you had a good day.

At 12:20 PM GMT, Blogger Andrew Farrell said...

night, I meant.

At 12:26 PM GMT, Blogger Masonic Boom said...

Yeah, but it's just weird that it's a long, passage-like room and the soundman is quite far away from the stage area, up by where the bar is - which is generally the *worst* place to watch a band from.

It's really badly set up for gigs.


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