Sunday, July 27, 2014

"Who brings dental floss to a festival!? Um...can I have some..?"

I am, for my sins, a member of the PRS. They’re those annoying people who put stickers on the door of your hairdresser’s or your local artisan-curated coffee shop stating that the music played within will be properly attributed toward the account of whoever you’re listening to while you have your roots retuned, or your decaf skinny mocha frothed and served in a cup with your name on. That’s them. Last year they deposited £3.64 in my account with regard to my work on various works of interest, which at least paid for a latte. In truth, Paul McCartney gets most of it. That’s what writing ‘Yesterday’ gets you.

This weekend I played two engagements with my friend Tony James Shevlin - one at the Felixstowe Carnival and another at The Secret Garden Party. At the first we set up early and, in the way that gig-scarred veterans are prone to then retired to the pub to discuss old war stories. Gibbon related the first gig that he ever did, which climaxed with the guy from upstairs taking exception to the performance going on below and attempting to come to some sort of agreement regarding how it should proceed by laying about all and sundry with a baseball bat. Shev looked around the bar we were in and recalled dark evenings of watching folk getting slowly sozzled. One more chorus of ‘American Pie’. Gib reflected on the parade which passed our temporary home. “The brass band” he recalled fondly – “A bunch of bikers threw fifty pence pieces at us”.

Dirk the Drummer told a story about a student of percussion of his who had claimed that he wouldn’t need to know how to set up a set of drums. “I’ll just use the house kit” he said. We looked around us. If there’s a pub out there who actually has a house kit, we’d love to hear from you.

Today I played at The Secret Garden Party, which as far as I can ascertain seems to be a weekend-long excuse to get as fucked up as possible and dance all night, so the opening slot in The Living Room (anomalous sample menu, pot of tea and two crumpets - £4.50) on a Sunday afternoon would suggest that we were not about to experience any combination of the above approaches. As it happened, we had a lovely time – having had to validate your invitation online, check in with a PIN and provide license-quality ID notwithstanding. We nearly lost Jules at that point.

Once entrenched, the splendidly be-bearded stage manager loomed toward me asking about my monitoring requirements, and then provided them with a stroke of his iPad – no “One two…one two….bit more acoustic in the wedges” for him. We played what could reasonably be described as ‘the hangover slot’. Behind the stage walls, years of signatures paid tribute to the countless bands that had gone before us. A grateful Ed Sheeran had scribed in sharpie. “He was great, Little Ed” said the stage manager. “Came back and did a secret gig for us when he was big”.

We got the “Five minutes” warning through the monitors. Three minutes later, through the power of mime, Shev asked if we could do one more. “Short?” came back the universal sign language of the crew who have a long day ahead of them and don’t want to start their working day running over time after the first turn. We cut it short. We ensured we thanked the crew, we were grateful for our pot of full English tea, scones, cream and jam afterwards. Jules may even have sprayed the portaloo with Tramp. Or whatever it is she wears. A girl approaches us with a clipboard. “I need to know what songs you played” she says. “I’m from the PRS”.          

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