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