Call me Russ L

Festival Festivities 2018: Thank Your For Your Medicine (Supersonic)

Posted in Films, Modern Living, Music by Russ L on 25 June, 2018

There’s that Supersonic Festival, that they have. It really is the best one. It may not be the best individual festival in any given particular year, but it is so obviously and clearly the best one overall.

According to the programme, the theme for 2018’s Supersonic is ‘Ritual.’ This is a good theme and I like it, but I’m not sure I could feel it shooting through the entire weekend (or at least not in any overt way, beyond symbol-manipulation in general). Daniel Higgs was certainly ritualistic (I liked his set a lot, although I do feel that Jennifer Walshe led a psychically similar charge to more effect), but for openly presented magic I think we’re mainly talking about the Dennis McNett procession. This was amazing. Doogus T. Doggua and The Four Great Animal Spirits Of The Cardinal Directions led Rattle on a little cart and all the rest of us (many of whom were be-masked) from Floodgate Street to the Custard Factory in a celebration of whatever meaning you wanted to give any of it all. It made me very happy. There was no fire involved, and so my usual ritual pre-occupation of entropy can’t be applied, but on the other hand there were lots of animals – every year I say in the post-event survey that Supersonic Festival should involve more animals. Persistence can sometimes pay off

The moment of Wolf Limbo as Doogus T. Doggua had to bend backwards to get under the passage to the Custard Factory courtyard will make me smile forever. And that’s a sentence that you don’t get to type every day.

Beforehand, I’d have guessed that the theme was ‘Shirley Collins’. It did actually seem like the 2018 Birmingham Shirley Collins festival, between the film showing, talk/onstage interview, and performance (all of which I went to. The actual performance was magical. A top ten live set of all time, I’d say, barely even scratched by people trying to make it all about themselves). This all maybe points towards what may be the real theme – the cycle of departure and return over time. Consider how Shirley went to America with Alan Lomax but came back, and then lost her ability to sing with disphonia but is now back. The non-prodigal daughter of English song returned to us. This isn’t something to be taken for granted, as we see from the other film that I watched during the festival – Betty Davis hasn’t ever made the return journey.

This is all apt because Supersonic itself has returned (partially) to the Custard Factory, which really feels like the place where it’s supposed to be. Things have changed (the pond has been bricked over) and there have been losses (the big lizard has gone from outside the Med Bar), but we’re all here, back, and surviving. Just like our Shirl.

Also, I suppose, the narrative of leaving before returning requires a sequential time’s arrow of the sort that doesn’t really make any sense without entropy. So nyaaaah.

Musical turns of particular note: Housewives, Joasihno, Jennifer Walshe, Cattle, Yerba Mansa, Youth Man, Mario Batkovic, Daniel Higgs, Group A, Mesange, and obviously Shirley Collins.

(Title quote courtesy of Dennis McNett).

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