The Devotchkas – not amused!
I haven’t posted much on here lately so in attempt to get out of a rut I’m going to bare all and tell you about my most embarrassing gig moments, because I was reminiscing the other day realised there were quite a few of them. Enough for a Top 10 in fact. Some of it involves drunken foolishness and painful attempts at boosting my punk cred as you might imagine, others are just awkward moments , but they are all here for you all to shake your head pityingly at.
Actually this is not a definitive list , quite a few have been missed out because they are too embarrassing, so here is the censored Top 10, along with an assessment as to whether I can defend the incidents.
10 – Peter & The Test Tube Babies – Nottingham, 97 (ish)
The gig was in a weird little club in Nottingham. I swigged a bottle of cider with my mate on the back seat of the coach (I was 27 not 14, but hey) then had several pints in the pub before entering the venue which had the most confusing layout I’ve ever seen. You climbed a long flight of stairs , crossed an upper level then descended another flight of stairs to the stage which you had to cross to the venue part! So I did – right through the support band who were halfway through a song. People seemed to think this was a faux pas. DEFENCE Not really my fault that the venue had the stupidest layout I’ve ever seen, and refusing to recognise the divide between band and audience is very punk. And I was drunk. Not that embarrassing.
9 – Steve Ignorant’s Slice of Life, Leicester , the other week
I can still do it. A mate asked me at the bar while the band was playing if I was going to see punk supergroup Dead Men Walking. I told him in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t because one of the “Dead Men Walking” was Jake Burns who is “a fucking arsehole”. I kept repeating this point very loudly, not realising I was disturbing people who were trying to listen to the (acoustic) band – I’m not used to acoustic gigs. DEFENCE Jake Burns is an arsehole. And Steve Ignorant’s band, good as they are, should get some proper punk rock electric guitars and play loud. And I was drunk.
8 – All dayer with Conflict , Milton Keynes 2000
A big weekender, with the central attraction being Conflict’s first UK gig for years. I was catching up with mates in the foyer. A guy with a dodgy haircut walked in and said hello. We didn’t recognise him, assumed he was some guy we had seen around at gigs,nodded and carried on talking. As he walked off I realised who it was – Conflict singer Colin Jerwood DEFENCE I didn’t recognise the “star” – big deal! The punk scene doesn’t do hero worship , I’m told.
7 – All dayer with Peter & The Test Tube Babies , Leicester 1998
I could have got away with this, as my shenanigans here were secret. If anybody remembers this gig (probably nobody) and they wondered why Test Tubes set was much shorter than it should have been, this is why. I had been drinking all day. I now faced a crisis. I had run out of cider and cash, and wanted to get to the cashpoint, but Test Tubes were due on in 5 minutes. A mate offered to delay them. While I staggered around town looking for a cash point, my mate skilfully engineered an argument between Peter and Del about the price of their merchandise. They went on very late and played a shortened set, but at least I got to see the whole thing. DEFENCE Not really, a bit selfish. But I was very, very drunk.
6 -The Templars , London 2000
Prior to the gig I spent the afternoon in a pub in London with numerous other gig goers. A weird afternoon as it was the day before the Mayday riots, and from the pub you could see riot police and anarchists already facing off. The incident involved a mate who is frequently embarrassing, as he has virtually no self awareness or sense of humour. He had recently tried to flog me a copy of the debut album by Beerzone, telling me it was “brilliant”. I declined – I thought it was merely ok. I wandered over to this mate in the pub who was talking to Iain, lead singer of Beerzone. My mate introduced me and then quickly announced “He hates your album”. While me and Iain were briefly thrown, my mate added “He thinks it’s shit”. Me and Iain attempted to briefly get around this conversation opener, then I made my excuses an left DEFENCE Not my fault! My mate was drunk (although moments later I drunkenly approached a tooled up riot policeman to ask him where the nearest cashpoint was)
5 – The Varukers , all dayer in Nottingham 1998
After a day’s drinking I expressed my enjoyment of the Varukers thrash punk by going up to the front and showering singer Rat with my pint. A video was put out of the gig with the sorry incident recorded for posterity, and me clearly visible. It’s probably on youtube, but I’ve never looked. DEFENCE I was going through difficult phase of youthful rebellion( aged 28). And it was quite punk. It was also stupid though. Sorry Rat!
4 – Short N Curlies , Derby 1999
My birthday gig! Having trekked over from Leicester, mates managed to allegedly get 14 double whiskeys down my neck. When the Curlies came on I staggered down the front and danced for their whole set. When they finished I approached them an asked when they were playing. They told me they’d just played , and I complained about having missed it. The evening deteriorated from there, but that’s off the record DEFENCE I was enjoying myself. Getting so drunk that you can’t remember the gig is very punk. It also gave Short N Curlies a good laugh. I was very, very drunk.
3 – Angelic Upstarts , Leicester 2005
After having several drinks I watched the gig from a raised vantage point next to a barrier. I could see the setlist and noticed they were skipping the odd song. This was OK until they skipped my favourite song. I started shouting for it , and people started joining in. Mensi shrugged at the band and they started playing it. Getting overexcited I climbed up on the barrier , and immediately toppled and found myself clinging onto it dangling upside down, realising that if I let go I’d bash my head on the floor. A couple of hefty blokes who’d been standing nearby grabbed me and pulled me up, but with expression that said they just thought I was a bit of a pillock. DEFENCE No defence , it was just embarrassing . Except that I was very drunk.
2 – The Business , Bradford – 1998
Not dissimilar to the last story. The Business have form for letting the audience onstage for the last song or two, it’s a tradition. I was talking to a woman at the start of the gig and told her that as soon as they played my favourite song Harry May I’d get on stage. In the encore they started playing Harry May and she turned to me and said “You said you’d get on stage”. A mass stage invasion had started so I went to join in, but couldn’t pull myself up, so one of the bouncers helped me up! DEFENCE None – being helped on stage by the bouncer when you attempt a stage invasion has no cred. I was probably drunk but I doubt it made any difference.
1 – The Devotchkas , Derby 1999-ish.
The Devotchkas were from New York and were attracting a bit of attention at the time. They were doing their first UK tour. At the time I was dabbling with fanzine writing. I was bored with reading bland fanzine interviews , with the usual boring When did you form / Who’s in the band? type questions so I had done a few interviews where I had tried to ask questions that showed some knowledge of the band, and were irreverent or amusing. At the gig a mate who was an old hand at fanzine writing told me he wanted to interview them and asked if I could help him with it and come up with a few questions myself, so I obliged. He then interviewed them first , and everything was quite friendly. I got quite nervous – I had been a bit more prepared when I had done my previous interviews. I had some cheeky questions ready though and with my dry English wit and disarming Louis Theroux style manner surely I would be ok? It was my turn and , having noticed their tendency to wear leathers painted with the names of early 80s UK punk bands who only ever released one single, I asked “Are you having a competition to see who can get the most obscure UK punk band on the back of their jacket?”. As I wasn’t relaxed it came out much more aggressively than intended. They weren’t amused. I don’t think anyone has ever turned on me quite as suddenly in my life. I tried a couple more questions which also came across far too aggressively, after which they were completely pissed off with me. I tried to be friendly through the rest of the evening to show they’d misunderstood, but they weren’t having it.
I told a mate who saw them later on about the incident and he said “I think they were talking about that on stage. I think they’d written a song about it”. I bought the album when it came out and nervously checked the lyric sheet, but couldn’t find anything. Maybe it’s still in their vault of unreleased songs somewhere DEFENCE Fanzines were very boring to read at the time. Irreverent questions are punk. And I was quite drunk.