Wednesday, 27 July 2011

En Paris

Pop In, Paris, France
I went with Fuzzystar to Paris to play a gig last week.  Yep, I said Paris.  Cool, n'est-ce pas?

Actually, getting there and back on grot-bandits Ryan Air wasn't quite so cool, but never mind.  The gig was fun, and Florence, who ran the Pop In (mercifully utterly unlike the watering hole of that name that once existed in Portobello) was very welcoming.  She was even apologetic that she couldn't pay us anything.  Imagine!  At most venues in Britain, that's taken as read, and no-one even mentions it.

She did however, mention that the beer was free for us . . . sometime later, word had travelled around all the band . . . the upshot was that we estimated that we drank somewhere north of 300 Euros' worth of the rather nice "Pop" brand lager that they were selling.  So, in a way, we did get paid, and rather more than for the equivalent British gig.  Despite being thus improbably oiled (or possibly because), I thought the band played rather well.

That just left the onerous task of hanging out in Montmartre, eating fancy cakes, and patronising various swish cafes to fill in the remaining days.  Somehow, we managed it.

What Florence was saying about the music scene in Paris was all too familiar though.  Not enough decent venues, neighbours complaining at the slightest thing, and basically a real struggle to keep the Pop-In venue going.

So, to help Florence, if you're in Paris, why don't you . . .  no, I won't.  Too obvious.

Monday, 18 July 2011

At The Festival

 One doesn't want to be too cynical.  It's fun, yes, and you can see stuff that would not normally come within an infinity of bargepoles' of Edinburgh  Hopefully you can afford some of it.  The Festival (aka The Fringe), that is.

So, all good so far.  Where I differ from some shiny-eyed optimists, is whether there is anything to be gained from doing much in the performing of one's music in Edinburgh during the hullaballoo of the Festival.

My experiences have thus far suggested "no, not especially".  True, it's possible you may get a slightly larger audience in some places.  But, often that audience just wants to hear "traditional" music (i.e. something not too challenging in the Folk idiom).  And, sometimes, very few people may come to your night at all. 

When you think about it, the population in Edinburgh roughly doubles during the Festival; it apparently rises to around 1 million bozos.  However, the entertainment on offer goes up by a factor more like a zillion.  And competing with the promotional power of say, the Chinese State Circus, or the latest cool comedian is always going to be hard

Which isn't to say, don't do it.  I've had some good times over the years doing some music, playing at The Ross Bandstand will always be a cherished memory, for example.  But, that's the exception, not the rule.  If you do decide to put on/perform music, just be aware that there's a lot of competition, and to do it for fun rather than expecting to be whisked up in a swirl of media attention and glory.

Saturday, 9 July 2011


So, there I was Bozoing around in London last weekend.  I had a slightly "larger" (if I may use that term without sounding like a Radio 1 dance DJ twat) night than I think either George or I expected on Thursday, but was certainly fun.  That left me somewhat tired for the Flaming Lips gig at Alexandra Palace on the Friday, where they played their album The Soft Bulletin in it's entirety.

The Lips undoubtedly played well, their stage show was good, with visuals, balloons, people dressed up as characters from The Wizard of Oz on stage, a man-sized hamster ball, and what-not.  Somehow though, I felt slightly disconnected from the whole thing.  I started wondering if I really do like seeing bands in very large venues.  There's either a massive crush down the front, or you can stand at the back and be constantly brushed by people going to and from the loo.  A draught can usually be felt, and there's always some arses talking constantly throughout the whole thing. And the sound is often not especially good.

I came to the conclusion that I don't think I want to go to many more large-scale gigs, no matter who it is.  I just don't think that live music is meant to be conveyed to masses of people who are so far away that they can barely see who's on the stage.  Give me a packed, sweaty, smaller room.  Which, to be fair, is what I think most bands prefer too, but the sheer logistics of touring mean that you need to get the numbers through the door if you want to make any money at all.

This Sunday, at The Listening Room, it is Ms Fi as the featured act, and I will be doing some percussion for her.  Looking forward to it!