Saturday, January 14th, 2006
Starry Eyes And Party Nights
I’m having a little trouble typing this morning. Towards the end of Bluescreen’s set at the Horseshoe last night, I dropped my pick during a bout of particularly frantic strumming and had to make do with my fingers for a while and now have a lovely blister on my right middle finger (“I got blisters on me fingers!”) to show for it. But such is the cost of rock.
Last night was the culmination of over a month of moderately intense rehearsals and crash-course song-learning as I stepped in on guitar duties for the CD release party for Bluescreen’s second album, A Survival Guide To Mishaps And Losses. The bill was definitely a family affair, with Fjord Rowboat (featuring Bluescreen’s other guitarist), In Support Of Living (featuring Bluescreen’s old guitarist) and Raised By Swans (featuring Bluescreen’s producer). But nepotism aside, all the bands fit terrifically together with each act represented a different wavelength of the space-rock/shoegaze spectrum – similar enough in style to appeal to the same audience, but different enough to not get tedious.
I’d been told that the other time I saw Fjord Rowboat was one of their worst shows ever, and after seeing them again last night, I’m inclined to agree. This time their old-school shoegaze, recalling Ride and Chapterhouse, came across leaps and bounds better. Better sound, better performance, better energy. They were graciously giving out free CD-R singles to anyone interested but if you weren’t in attendance (and shame on you if you weren’t) then you can download the tracks here.
In Support Of Living certainly took the title of lushest (that’s a lower case “L”) act of the night, with a seven-piece lineup playing over top of some densely arranged samples. As with Fjord, I enjoyed them a lot more than when I saw them last June. Then, they seemed very loose and free-form – this time, while they still had a very ambient vibe, they were much more structured and song-oriented. No doubt the addition of a vocalist helped out greatly in that department. If I were to draw more shoegaze parallels, I’d put them alongside late-era Slowdive (or maybe their Morr Music disciples) with a dash of less goth-y Cocteau Twins.
London’s Raised By Swans recalled the more modern brand of space rock, akin to acts like Doves or maybe moments of Elbow. Very Mancunian, anyway. I’d been told by a few sources that they were excellent, but hadn’t done any preliminary research to see what to expect. If it wasn’t our show, I’d have said they were highlight of the night. Delicate, dramatic and just great overall. I wish I’d remembered to get one of their CDs…
As for Bluescreen? I think we played pretty damn well, if I do say so myself. It’s all a blur when you’re onstage, but people clapped, cheered, danced, shouted things… all pretty good signs, I think. I managed to not fuck up in the spots I expected to (but did find some new spots to botch up) but all in all – no complaints. It had been so long since I’d played live (over a year and a half, I think) that I was a bundle of nerves right up until we got onstage but once we got going, it was over before I knew it. Playing live is always a blast and when it’s combined with a good audience, well shit. It don’t get much better than that.
And now it’s done and band’s future is a little hazy (geography issues) so I’m a little sad, but god it’ll be nice to have some of my time back. Two to three rehearsals a week really takes a chunk out of one’s free time, let me tell you. Thanks to everyone who came out last night, it was really appreciated – I think the night went well beyond anyone’s expectations. I have photos from the first three acts and would like to thank my lovely assistant for keeping the pics coming for our set. And again, thanks to everyone – audience, bands, sound and visuals people, Horsehoe folk, for a great night.
np – various artists / Almost You: The Songs Of Elvis Costello