Monday, July 28, 2008

Scaledown

The trouble with gigs in pubs, of course, is that your memory of them will tend towards the hazy next day. So if you don't get around to writing about Friday night until Monday lunchtime you're ineviatbly going to end up a bit vague. Fortunately I have the excellent people behind Scaledown's website to remind me more or less who played, and the rest I must piece together as best I can.


Everyone here's an amateur tonight, in the best sense: that is, they're here for the love of what they do, and barring whatever pennies get thrown into the hat that's passed around halfway through the evening they're getting no payment for their performances.


First up is Alain Lacroix, who is both small scale in that his act consists of just him and his guitar, and large scale in that his 15 minute set consists of just one song. It's all about the story, he tells us. I'm not sure what the story was, to be honest. The sound's a little bit prog, with a dash of XTC in it. Perfectly pleasant, if meandering and ultimately not my thing.

Dave Hopkins represents something rather different for Scaledown, not least because he's not actually here. His 30 second films are very funny, and I recommend you go over to YouTube and watch them, it'll be a lot easier than craning to see a laptop as we had to do. There are a couple of gig shorts at the end of his set that aren't as interesting, as there it turns into a camera pointed at a band, and his links between films ramble, but the main meat of it's very good indeed.

Vic Goddard was supposed to open the show, but he got stuck on the tube from work (his day job is as a postman these days), but he manages to get here and performa several songs, accompanied by Scaledown hosts Mark Braby and Dan Whaley on ukes and the guitarist from Subway Sect (can't remember his name, sorry - this is what happens when you try to remember details from a night in the pub several days ago). Goddard's a legend, and again, the vibe is, in the best sense, amateur - a man who's standing up becasue he has something he's passionate about, with no ulterior financial motive.

The Southern Tenant Folk Union have played here befroe, I see, but I wasn't there. At the moment I'm partial to anythign with "Folk" in the title though, so I'm looking forward to this one. Disappointment looms when they announce a song called "Cocaine" thjat turns out not to be the one Davy Graham sang. Every song seems to be preceded by a mention of their two albums, and that palls fairly quickly. They play very well, very slickly, but there's something not quite right about them. Maybe it's the over-earnest, mannered replication of a certain style, maybe it's the fact tht they sing in cod-American accents, which seems fake after Goddard.

There's always one act at Scaledown you think's wank, and tonight Oli Mayne, Thanos Chrysakis, and Jerry Wigens are it for me. As my companion notes, anyone advertising their use of a "Chaos board" is boding ill, and so it proves. I'm sure it's great fun playing with your knobs, but that's no reason to do it in public. Music to stroke chins by (or other parts of the body. But not in puiblic).

John White also twiddles knobs, but as you'd expect from the man who invented Systems Music, played a leading role in the British experimental music movement of the early '70s (that also gave rise to such diverse composers as Howard Skempton and Michael Nyman) and has written over 160 piano sonatas, it's of a different order to the previous turn. It's determinedly lo-fi stuff, a couple fo cheap casio keyboards wired together and forced out of their comfort zones. What makes it fascinating rather than self-indulgent though is White's keen ear for what works, and his sense of humour. He's very serious about what he does, but never po-faced, and will happily title a piece "Significant parachute jumps of 1910", after the fact that the first successful paarchute jump took place in 1911. It's this combination of seriousness of purpose with a sense of the ridiculous that gives his music substance, and it's a priviledge to be able to see this inventive and under-appreciated man peform.

I do have some photos, but they're not great, so here's something different, a little extract from the sound between sets:







3 comments:

Cheerful One said...

This might not work:

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2220/2702778905_635dac7efe_o.jpg

Cheerful One said...

bah

petemaskreplica said...

maybe this will?

Great pic, anyway! :) It really captures the feel of the gig.