Call me Russ L

From wagons and horses to modern-day flyovers

Posted in Modern Living, Music by Russ L on 30 August, 2011

Writing about things that I’ve done! There’s a thing that I could do. Y’know, to alleviate the boredom. That thought occurred to me after the two gigs I went to a couple of weekends ago, and the of course I scrawled some notes and left ‘em for a bit. As ever. At least this isn’t as long as usual, I suppose.

The first was on Friday the 19th at The Wagon & Horses in Digberf, and to my surprise it was actually outside (in their covered-over beer garden/courtyard/thing). I was aware that there were sometimes outside gigs at the DoubleYooAndAitch, but I’d never actually been to one before and I’d assumed that this was would be in the usual upstairs room. It was also apparently in aid of the Ideal Skate Shop, which got hit in the looting. I know nothing about them or their ways, but it’s difficult to imagine that they might have been a deserving target. The gig was fun, I enjoyed it – some sloppy-drunk local-character-types contributed to a bit of hilarity beyond that which the bands provided (it’s always funny till someone gets hurt etc. etc.).

Sadly, that lovely little whippet-y/greyhound-y dog (who I’ve seen at most of the W&H gigs I’ve been to before) wasn’t around. Bless her little heart and her attempts to obtain food from everyone present.

The outdoors-but-with-something-overhead vibe continued on Saturday the 20th, with Soweto Kinch’s annual (although not fixed – there have been four so far, and they’ve taken place in May/June/May/August) Hockley Flyover Show. Under-the-flyover is still the best possible venue for this sort of thing and even beyond that, This Was Important. After all of this recent riot palava it is an unequivocally good thing to show that people of different ages and ethnic backgrounds can spend an afternoon and evening amongst each other without any trouble at all. Most folks will not be surprised by this thought at all, but then again some folks would and they often tend to be the ones with the loudest mouths.

The highlights of the weekend (in terms of actual bands/acts/artistes, and defined in the traditional fashion as being better than “I quite liked ‘em”), then:

Stinky Wizzleteat – It seems that they’re a two piece band nowadays, which I didn’t know beforehand. Great fun – guitar and drums playing jagged bits of thrash riffs over grooving drum patterns.

Drunk In Hell – A total wall of rocking. What they play could loosely be described as noise-rock, but far more importantly they’re horrific yet grooving in a way that reminds me a bit of how Mistress used to be (although sounding different). I had to leave halfway through though, sadly, because of the ever-creeping degree to which Birmingham gigs are for Birmingham people, time-wise.

Julian Joseph – A pianist, who started on his own before being joined by Soweto and then by the rest of the band. The first (solo) piece was absolutely amazing – pulsing menace from the low end, overlaid by acrobatic space travel from the high end.

Soweto himself – Obviously great and salute-able for putting the whole thing on, but his freestyle game (people shout out words starting with every letter of “Flyover”, prior to him coming up a rap about them) was also massive fun.

Baba Israel – The tracks that he’d emailed through beforehand (I wondered how that worked – the house band all seem to know everyone’s songs) apparently didn’t get there. This worked out brilliantly in the long run – we had a great spontaneous feel as he gave out beatboxing for the band to improvise around. He also had fantastically agile vocals, and (oh yes) a didgeridoo. Didge! Didgeridoo hip-hop is definitely something that the world needs to produce more of.

Goldie’s Band – I had no idea about all any of this beforehand, but it seems that Goldie recently had a telly series in which he (assisted by our own Soweto, Ms Dynamite, Cerys Catatonia and others) gathered a bunch of young ‘uns from around the country and made a band out of ‘em. There were only half of them here for this but they were ace nevertheless – awesomely grooving instrumental-jam stuff, markedly different to everything else on the bill. I’d seen Will Pound before (as part of Dan Walsh & Will Pound at last year’s Moseley Folk Festival), and I’m happy to report that his harmonica on the song they called “Turkish Delight” was amazing, combining the bluesyness with hookah-scented ethereality. I may have just made that word up.

Akala – Possibly the best hip-hop set I’ve ever seen, and I’m not joking with that. He started with a long Acapella filled with wisdom (you can see most of it here, but please let me know if you find the whole thing anywhere online) (EDIT: it was Fire In The Booth and you really should listen to it in full), and realistically that was so good it would have been enough on its own. There was more, though, and good it was too: Paul Gladstone Reid joined him on one for piano, the band really hit a funk mark at times, and the righteous fury really shone through during “Yours And My Children”. I have seen Akala before a couple of times before and thought “I’ve got to check him out properly”, but… well, this time I really really really must.

Also: bigup to the fella at The Flyover Show who was wearing a T-shirt with Nye Bevan on the front. That is genuinely righteous.

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