Schizophrenia Is Taking Me Home

In typical music snob fashion, I disdain SPIN’s views on music unless they affirm my own. And in naming my two favourite members of my favourite band (i.e. Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo from Sonic Youth) as joint number 1s of their “100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time” list, together with my favourite Sonic Youth album (which is not actually Daydream Nation) as the high water mark of their guitar work, and my favourite song on that album as their “Most Heroic Moment”…well, let’s just say the last time someone’s views coincided so much with my own, we were exchanging vows on our wedding day. (This is not to say that Alec’s views generally coincide with mine, because that would suggest he is more obsessed with Simon Cowell than is healthy. But I’d say we were pretty much in agreement on stuff like vows and shit on our wedding day.)

If you will bear with my fanwank a little longer, this is a nice opportunity to meander into a little story about seeing Thurston Moore (i.e. one half of the Greatest Guitarists Of All Time winners) live in London last year. I previously described the wonderful luck that allowed me to attend that gig at all. As always seems to happen to me in London, this was not the last serendipitous musical moment I was to enjoy there, and the extent to which this was all Sonic Youth related is kinda ridiculous.

Earlier in my trip I’d been to the fantastic Gerhard Richter exhibition at the Tate Modern. The only reason an art doofus like me even knew who Gerhard Richter was, of course, was that Sonic Youth had used one of his Candle paintings for the cover of Daydream Nation, and I’ve basically been longing for a print of that painting ever since the age of 14. So I went to the exhibition, loved it, and bought the print.


So far, so freakin’ awesome. There was just one problem. Given that I was frequently changing accommodation to crash on different friends’ couches, a 100 cm by 100 cm poster stored in a large protective tube was rather unwieldy to schlep around London with the rest of my luggage. While standing in crowded trains with this monstrous protuberance wedged between my legs to save space I couldn’t help but feel like some train perv with a massive boner, and after various instances of dropping or nearly dropping it while digging out Oyster card and suchlike, I did begin to question the wisdom of going through all this just for the sake of a poster of a giant fucking candle.

So how did I resolve this problem? The same way I resolve most of my problems in London: I imposed on Russ. Which is how, just after dropping the huge poster off at his workplace (for him to hold on to until I was leaving London), I was wandering around Shoreditch with no particular agenda other than to indulge in one of my I-love-East-London reveries, and suddenly this materialized in my rose-tinted, Lomofied, heavily vignetted sights.

ATP Pop-Up Shop

(ATP, for anyone who isn’t a music nerd, is a music festival I love, firstly because its lineups are far more interesting to me than those for more famous festivals like Glasto or Coachella, and secondly because attending it doesn’t require you to sleep in a tent. Sonic Youth are pretty regular features at ATP festivals, as are many other favourite artists of mine. So basically a shop like this, to me, is like Famous Amos to the Cookie Monster.)

I must have looked like the dramatic lemur upon spotting the sign, and then the OMG cat while exploring the shop. While I was very restrained in my shopping – lugging around a poster of a giant fucking candle can have this effect – I also noticed a poster on the wall advertising the Thurston Moore gig I would be attending on 2 December. And because I am a huge sap, I really really wanted that gig poster as a souvenir of both the first instance of serendipity I linked to earlier, and this second instance of just chancing upon my dream music nerd shop in the course of an errand involving a Sonic Youth poster. (Still with me? When the going gets tough, just imagine how much more stupefyingly boring this would be if I were telling it to you face-to-face!)

Gig posters like that are usually for advertising purposes and not for sale, so I shyly asked, feeling really awkward about the weirdness of my request, whether it might be at all possible for me to buy a copy of the poster. Most commendably, instead of calling psychiatric social services to come pick up this stammering, bug-eyed Stan, the kind shop attendant shrugged her shoulders, smiled, and said, “Just take it off the wall, you can have it.”

Cue embarrassing gushing in the vein of “OMG, you don’t know what this means to me and you just totally made my day!”, me lovingly removing the poster from the wall, rolling it up and holding it with more care than I held my degree scroll, and then me bouncing happily down Rivington Street while calling Russ on the phone and explaining that, um, I needed to meet him again to pass him another burden poster.

The story ends, predictably yet happily, with me seeing Thurston at the Union Chapel. The gig was everything I had hoped it would be.

Thurston Moore (Union Chapel, 2 Dec 2011)

Months later, the story I’ve dragged you through here remains one of the most treasured memories of my 1.5 month holiday. I don’t know if my convoluted tale strikes a chord with anyone other than me, and the poster I snagged from the ATP Pop-Up Shop isn’t really much to look at. But as an instant, soul-elevating reminder of a moment when multiple things that take up a fair bit of my heartspace (Sonic Youth, ATP, London and the awesome things that happen to me there) magically converged to make me the happiest or at least most mawkishly sentimental girl in East London, nothing holds a giant fucking candle to it.

Thurston Moore - gig flyer

ATP 2007: Road-tripping

I explained before why I never managed to attend All Tomorrow’s Parties when I lived in England, despite it being my dream festival. But several years on, I’ve brainwashed Alec into liking cacophonous clangy music, Jeremy (long-time music benefactor – see last bit of this post) now lives in London, and Russ finally has more disposable income and better taste in music :P which meant we had a lovely little group for our Butlins chalet. After a seven-year wait, I was finally on my way to ATP!

Our road trip to Minehead was quite enjoyable. I fiddled round with Russ’s iPod to make a playlist for the car journey, asking thought-provoking questions such as “So which is better, the normal version of Mariah’s Breakdown or the Mo Thugs Remix?” and sharing unarguable truths such as “An iPod with only 1 Roxette song is an iPod not worth speaking of.”

Alec and Russ had fun too:-

#1 (Russ mentioned that he sometimes accidentally deleted entire albums from his iPod.)
Me: Just goes to show how much iTunes sucks!
Alec: No, it only goes to show how much Russ sucks!

Russ: I don’t know why, but the last few people I’ve fancied have all been Irish or of Irish descent.
Alec: Wow Russ, I didn’t know I’d made such a significant impression on you.
Russ: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…oh sorry, think I laughed a bit too loud there.

We intended to cook our own food over the weekend so stopped off in ASDA to stock up, where Russ and Alec (our cooks) proceeded to load our cart with about three times the amount of food I’d have thought we needed. I ventured the timid suggestion that we could maybe use dried herb mixes instead of forking much more out for fresh herbs. They looked at me in silent derisory disbelief. We got the fresh herbs.

Continuing on our way, ten minutes away from Butlins the playlist I’d programmed hours before turned out to have been perfectly timed – the song itself started on the car speakers. Yay.

After checking in and a quick spag bol dinner where the boys served me, unsurprisingly, three times more food than I could eat, we rushed off to see The Dirty Three (the curators) do the first big gig of the festival.

Silks And Linens Of Yesterday’s Gowns

Okay. I’m green like the Hulk. This year’s All Tomorrow’s Parties lineup has six curators and is held over two weekends. Out of the six curators, three are Sonic Youth, Stephen Malkmus and Mogwai. OMFG.

I’m always a little self-conscious using the word “dream” because it feels so Judy Garland but attending this festival has been my dream since it began in 1999. Under a deluded sense of priorities, I never managed to go while I was in England because it always managed to coincide with the freakout period in April where I realized I had four weeks to claw myself out of a year of complete academic neglect. Well, that and the fact that until my last year in England I didn’t know anyone who a) shared my taste in music and b) had the funds to commit to a weekend residential festival as opposed to a gig in Shepherd’s Bush and c) were good enough company for me to actually want to spend an entire weekend with. Benny only made the transition from ostensibly sane but potentially axe-murderer email buddy to real life friend in my Masters year.

I’m sure I’ll finally get my chance some day, unless (God forbid) I lose this hunger for music and start thinking Dido CDs should actually be played rather than used as cool holographic coasters, but in the meantime, I am here and All Tomorrow’s Parties is there, and all I can say is that this post was originally liberally dotted with obscenities but I edited them out because I’ve been thinking lately I swear too much.

All Tomorrow’s Parties Are Elsewhere

GUESS WHAT??? All Tomorrow’s Parties!!! Has been rescheduled!!! To March 14-17!!! In UCL….A.

Sigh. So near, yet so far.

Would’ve made a great birthday present. Sigh.

Is anyone out there very rich, very generous and very foolish? Anyone at all?

I didn’t think so. Sigh.

My Name Is Michelle And I’m A CDaholic

Russ thinks my CD buying is an addiction. He might be right. Bricolage (Amon Tobin), How It Feels To Be Something On (Sunny Day Real Estate) and Mag Earwhig! (Guided By Voices) arrived this week. I also ordered Whiteout (Boss Hog) and The Sophtware Slump (Grandaddy). All from Django. But see, they’re all really cheap, relatively. I’ve been waiting to get the first three for *ages*, and I’ve only just got them now, because they’ve always been too expensive at special import prices. So it just happens to be that expenditure I’ve always intended on incurring is suddenly being incurred all at once, but I’m buying all of them at used CD prices, so they’re really much cheaper. I can stop any time I want. Really.


(other random music notes to self)
Current gig-related frustration:
The Magnetic Fields are on tonight at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith. I only found out this morning. It’s sold out now. Argh. Argh. Argh. I must keep track of these things.

Upcoming gigs worth thinking about:
– Grandaddy 7 Feb at The Forum
– Goldfrapp 22 Feb at ULU (3 minutes away from home. I love living in central London.)
– My Vitriol 1 March at ULU (even more so if Marten can get us on the guest list again)
– Low 22 March at Shepherd’s Bush Empire
All Tomorrow’s Parties some time in April somewhere out of London. It looks very promising. I didn’t go last year and had to listen to Sonic Youth’s weird set on the radio instead.
– Asian Dub Foundation, apparently some time in April at the Barbican.
– All Tomorrow’s Parties at UCLA, October 19-21. Curated by Sonic Youth. I need say no more. I am *seriously* contemplating a hop across the ocean, although it may well be wishful thinking for reasons I’ll outline below.

Probable future gig-related frustration:
– Almost none of my friends even know any of these bands exist, let alone like them, Marten, Jeremy and Jason being exceptions. I watched the Smashing Pumpkins, Built To Spill and Flaming Lips alone, but that’s because I’ve resigned myself to my plight.
– I actually have to study, unfortunately.
– I’m a poor student who already spends too much on music as it is.