Saves The Day @ Hit The Deck, Nottingham, 20/4/14

As you may know, I’m a little obsessed with Saves The Day. But, until, Sunday, I’d never seen them live. The truth is, I think I was scared. I’ve often loved a band and then a desultory live experience has put me off them and I’ve stopped listening to them at all. I really didn’t want that happening with STD as their music is so important to me.

So, it was with equal parts excitement and trepidation that I squeezed as far to the front as I could at a packed Rock City main hall to pop my Saves The Day live cherry.

They were magical.

They started off with newie ‘Remember’ and instantly, we were all seduced. Everything about STD live works. Firstly, there’s the assured grace that musicians have when they really, really know what the fuck they’re doing. On top of that, there’s Conley and his pitch-perfect vocals. He’s probably second only to Ben Gibbard in the way he can make live versions of songs sound better than the recorded tracks.

Saves The Day live are the classic two guitars, bass and drums lineup ~ no backing tracks, no choirs, no redundant synth player noodling away. And within that essential configuration, they give the audience worlds of songs. So deft is Conley’s songwriting and the band’s arrangements that you never stand there, thinking, “Hmm, I’m liking this but it’d be BRILLIANT with a synth rave preset tacked on the end.”

They are perfect. They were perfect. When ‘Anywhere With You’ was followed by ‘Freakish,’ I did, indeed, lose my shit and do proper emo crying, smiling as I was singing as I was crying as I was remembering who that song will always make me think of and how much I miss her.

The whole set, old or new, was loved by the crowd and pretty soon I was ejected from my prime position by kids moshing their tits off. Which is entirely as it should be: I’m an old man, I should be left out for the wolves to gnaw. What does Conley, who’s 34 now, think when he sees all these teens totally in love with his songs? Probably the same as me when I get asked for an autograph by someone who wasn’t even born when ‘Your Woman’ was released: ‘FUCK, I’M OLD.’

After the gig, I spotted Palma doing the merch just by the Rock City doors, totally chilled. I went up, mumbled some bullshit, took the pic above and shook his hand. He was sweet, I was tongue-tied. I’d just seen songs I’ve loved for over a decade come alive before me, I’d heard them a way I never have before.

If you get the chance to see Saves The Day live, don’t be hesitant like I was. Go! You won’t regret it!

Hit The Deck 2014

Woohoo! Hit The Deck was, once again, lovely fun! I went with my mate Emma:

We caught mostly the same bands but split up for a few – the worst thing about HTD is that there are always gig clashes! BOO!

The first band I saw was Hands Like Houses. Very poppy and confident, the Aussies played a great little set.

Next up were The Charm The Fury who turned out to be my second-favourite band of the whole day. From the first note to the end, they played with passion and energy, owning the room and getting the crowd properly moshing. But more than that, I’d never heard their stuff before and I loved the songs, they’re just so chock-full of killer riffs.

I missed most of Vukovi‘s set due to clashes but caught the end which was soooo much fun! They had a fucking whale of a time and so we did too. Wish I’d got to see a bit more!

Bastions were ferocious and intimate, a weird mixture but they carried it off. There’s something about their music, it’s obviously still rock but there’s something that’s very intensely quiet in the heart of all the glorious noise.

Dead Harts looked pure metal but sounded pure hardcore, slamming away through a set that seemed woefully short. I could have done with at least another two or three songs. They have a glowering presence that crackles and is as seductive as it is unhinged.

Next up were The Front Bottoms who I was so chuffed to be seeing after their album made it into my top albums of 2013. Live, TFB are confessional and transgressional: I love songwriting in which the protagonist is not a hero but an honest, fallible dickhead like, y’know, real human beings are. They got a huge reaction from the crowd and all around me kids were singing their fucking hearts out, completely lost in the lyrics. As they should be!

Now, that isn’t the last band of the day but I’ll save that for the next post… 😀

Ignorant People

The last few years have been pretty stressful for me. My separation and subsequent divorce generated emotional responses in me that, in retrospect, I should have questioned. My life was so lonely that I put up with a lot of shit from people.

I established and maintained friendships that were pretty much one way because something is better than nothing. The biggest issue here is when, as the old saying goes, you make people a priority who only regard you as an option or, in most cases, a last resort.

One of the manifestations of this breakdown in reciprocity is an astounding level of ignorance in communication. This runs the gamut from people not replying to texts to actually physically standing me up. In just one week, I was let down/stood up *with no explanation* four times by four separate people.

When something like that happens, you have to re-evaluate your approach to friendships. To be treated in such a cavalier manner by so many people in such a short span of time indicates that something is not right.

Here are some choice examples of people being ignorant:

No reply after that. Not a word in around two months now.

Are you going to text me that you can or can’t make it? No, why bother, eh? Over a month later, no reply.

This is probably my fave in that WhatsApp lets you see for sure that they’ve read the message. So, they read the message and just didn’t reply. Nothing since then, four months.

Bear in mind that I put these ones up because the senders’ identities are protected. I have more, sadly.

If any of these people had messaged and cancelled, for whatever reason, I’d be cool with that. Just let me know so I can go and make use of my time. It’s the sheer ignorance that galls me!

The major reason I put these up is to show that I didn’t chase after these people. In 2012, I would have, forgiving them time after time when they ignored me.

I won’t do that any more. I refuse to let myself be treated badly and I’m done with chasing people who patently don’t give a fuck about me.

It’s a process. I can do better. The trouble is, divorce is utterly devastating to self-esteem, possibly the biggest rejection a human can ever face. So, I have wobbly days where, foolishly, I miss people who don’t miss me. I’m lonely and start thinking things like, ‘Ooh, maybe I should text them? Maybe they just didn’t get five texts in a row! IT COULD HAPPEN!’

Then I take a breath and realise that I deserve better. I put the phone down and go and do something useful with my time, with people who are my actual friends.

The US Propaganda War ~ TV Division A-OK!

I’m currently watching the second ep of Intelligence, the new spy-fi TV series starring Josh Holloway as an agent with a chip implanted in his head. This wondrous chip connects him to the internet and allows him to be a walking Google but with access to all manner of restricted government data, satellites and presumably Xhamster.

It’s light, fluffy stuff, good to watch while you’re eating your tea. It has the same lack of emotional realism that is a hallmark of all modern US TV and most cinema. US TV is basically outrageously attractive people being cops, being doctors, being spies, being firefighters. Normal = ugly on TV, it cannot be shown.

The biggest problem though is the continuing divergence of US TV from any kind of embedding in current social or political reality.

The tough director of Holloway’s agency is grilling someone as I’m typing. She’s just told a suspect he better talk unless he “wants more blood on his hands.”

Really?

America is the country that murdered 1.2 million Iraqis in their bogus “war on terror,” a cover for their imperialistic adventures wherever they choose to invade and occupy. And this new American Empire fully intends to be permanent:

Few Americans had ever heard of a SOFA until earlier this year, when the Internet lit up with a revelation many observers of US foreign policy had long predicted. Despite repeated claims to the contrary, US officials were pressing the Iraqi government to accept an indefinite US military presence, including—and here was the shocker—up to 58 American bases on Iraqi turf.
(Source: Mother Jones)

America and specifically Obama is the country and President currently carrying out drone attacks.

During the course of their illegal, terrorist drone attacks, the USA has murdered at least 2,500 people.

Note that I don’t call them terrorist because there were no arrests, no trials, no weighing of evidence. The US just thought they looked a bit funny so they murdered them. No law applies to the US, they murder with impunity.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International issued a pair of reports in October fiercely criticizing the secrecy that shrouds the administration’s drone program, and calling for investigations into the deaths of drone victims with no apparent connection to terrorism. In Pakistan alone, TBIJ estimates, between 416 and 951 civilians, including 168 to 200 children, have been killed.
(Source: Huffington Post)

I’m sure those 200 children they blew to bloody bits were dangerous terrorists. Probably crazy Islamists, eh?

Meanwhile…

IN US TV WORLD, BRAVE CIA PROTECTS FREE WORLD FROM NASTY MUSLIM TERROR AND CHINESE IMPERIALISM! GO USA! THEY HAVE NCIS AND INTELLIGENCE AND 24 IT’S ALL TRUE AND GO USA! THEY’RE THE GOOD GUYS! THEY’RE NUMBER 1!

Does *anyone* outside the US swallow this horseshit any more? Really?

On US TV, the grandest and most successful propaganda vehicle ever built, every week brings a new threat to world peace from Muslims or Russians or Chinese but never, ever from the the biggest terrorists in the world today: the USA.

Dancing

I realised tonight that nowadays I’m only happy when I’m dancing.

Should I be worried that the rest of my life is pretty grey?

Or should I be grateful that I’m happy at all? So many people are never happy, I’m lucky to experience joy.

Tonight, when TSSF came on, I was so happy. I was in a little, safe cocoon of joy that the thought of being sad didn’t exist, the concept wasn’t in me. I felt light, like I could jump over mountains.

My mates were round me, we were dancing and singing and shouting and punching each other occasionally. It was awesome fun.

When I shouted:

I’m trying hard
Real hard
Everyday not to lose my temper.

It was truer than I can explain with words. Sadness and anger twist and turn around each other. This confuses me. But then I remember I’m angry at myself.

Home now, the weight returns to my shoulders and every day it gets a little heavier.