If you’re like me, you go down various passages of discovery when it comes to an interest. For example, first comes the music then perhaps the media content then you reach the t-shirts and then the films. ‘Good Vibrations’ falls into this final category. It is based on a true story of a man and his wild drive to open a record shop and to record some very different bands.
Terri Hooley was responsible for the creation of the Good Vibrations record label. The record shop came first, opening on Great Victoria Street, Belfast, Ireland. It opened in 1970, two years after ‘the troubles’ began as a conflict between the unionist (primarily) Protestant groups and the nationalist (mostly) Catholics. This did not provide a wealth of opportunity for something like a record shop, but Terri opened one none the less.
The record label first produced a record in 1978. It featured the songs “Big Time” and a B-side “Number 17” by the band Rudi. Other bands that followed included Victim, The Outcasts, The Undertones (including “Teenage Kicks”), The Tearjerkers and Protex among many others further down the line. There proved to be many problems with production from 1980 onwards, but they fought back to release more records into 1982. There was then a hiatus until a 1990-91 revival which again unfortunately led to another downturn in 2000. The shop saw similar successions of closures and rejuvenations over the years…
In the film there is a barren landscape of Belfast depicted, with a coal dark night reining in silence over Belfast. Terri is shown to be a DJ in the film and still turns up for his shift at a bar that has become a ghost town. There is a silver lining as this is where he is to meet his future partner Ruth. He then hatches the idea to fill a shop with his vast record collection. This involves some sacrifices. Terri is then shown to come across something new, unexpected and rebellious. It is punk rock.
The film then progresses from its enclosed beginnings to show what difference music can make to people’s lives. It is quite an inspiring film. It always gives me a feel good factor when I watch it. The characters show such a large revelation and love for the music that is being produced. The music excites me, but the film is about a personal passion, a drive and a will for change in a darker time and circumstance. Punk is portrayed in this film as the light that ignites a group of like-minded people into action. A good find during one of my content-hunting activities.
I have to admit the name of this band intrigued me when I saw it featuring on the Fleece’s gig line up. It definitely helped solicit the first listen. The first listen always being a moment that will determine further interest or avoidance. Luckily on this occasion it was the first course of action. I heard a few of the songs which persuaded me to buy tickets (21st November 2014).
Although not at all comparable, I noticed that the sound was tame compared to some of the faster relentless bands like Minor Threat and Dag Nasty. It surprised me how much I liked them after listening to them. Perhaps I was becoming a little narrow minded in my music tastes? The delivery and production of some amazing rock n’ roll make The Orwells sound unique.
Anyway these were my thoughts before heading to the gig. Bands called Golding and then Kid Wave opened up with some good tracks, some a bit typical for the indie genre. I started to recognise the circles in which these band’s operated. I remember at the time I had been watching a lot of videos about a record company called Burger Records. They produce a Youtube TV show, Burger TV (https://www.youtube.com/user/BRGRTV) which has many episodes featuring bands that are curently on their label.
The support acts barely warmed the crowd up for what was to come next. Before The Orwells appeared on stage I remember looking through the crowd and thinking that there wouldn’t be that big a following for this band and that it wasn’t going to get crazy. I was wrong. There was a massively positive reaction to the band occupying the stage. The guys behaved like true rock performers, with that hungry wild look in their eyes, they meant business.
The music was loud, and more gritty when performed live. The crowd immediately reacted to the music and a throng of loyal fans formed who were screaming the lyrics with that extreme passion you see at these sorts of intimate performances. I knew from the get-go that this was going to be a good night. The band maintained high energy and quality throughout the set. The heat quickly increased as we all hopped our way through every song. You may see some of the pillars in the photos. There were people climbing these, including the frontman, and launching themselves into the pit gathered at the front of the stage, it was a great explosion of energy.
After seeing them for the first time, The Orwells proved themselves to be an exciting and energetic live rock band that I would happily go to see again. I recommend anyone into rock to give them a listen. As I said before, I was surprised that I liked them so much. I don’t feel I could justify a very technical music review as I always go to see live music for the energy release, discovery and enjoyment, not to critique that missed note from the solo in the fifth song or whatever. Please feel free to make any comments about your live experiences below. Maybe you have seen The Orwells live as well?
The original Vans shoe came from skateboarders wanting their own footwear. For something that does not feel durable in the hand, these classic shoes can stand up to some hammering. They can be bent totally in half, which probably contributes to their durability. I may have only had the purple numbers in the picture below for three years, but they have stood up to a lot of abuse in that short time. Skating, cycling (with metal pedals) and the fact that I used to wear them wherever I went should have forced them to disintegrate before my eyes. They may have some visible damage but the bottom of the iconic waffle soles have only just begun to smooth out.
Maybe I am unique in keeping shoes for so long in our throwaway society. I’m guessing quite a lot of people would ‘not be seen dead’ in clothing that looks anything short of immaculate. These are the type of consumer that must have around 20 pairs of the same shoe in a rainbow of colours. That is understandable if you see the aesthetics of clothing as a great importance in your life.
They still prove to be a comfortable shoe to wear doing whatever, although walking long distances in the heat can prove to be blister-inducing. I love them nonetheless because they connect me to so much that is important to me. They are renowned for skateboarding which was something that I was drawn to as a child. The shoes conjure up links to punk rock as well. They have a hard attitude statement and are there to be abused in any extreme situation you see fit. At a gig in the pit they make you feel at home. I can identify wearing these. I don’t want to be seen as trying to advertise Vans. They sure don’t need my advertisement thanks to stylistic kids frequenting shops like RouteOne to buy skatewear for fashion reasons. I wanted to share what they mean to me and my way of life.
Demented Are Go! (DAG) are a psychobilly band that were carved out of Cardiff in around 1982. I wasn’t overly aware of them before going to the show (18th October 2013), but I reckoned that it could be an entertaining evening. Psychobilly is a musical area related to punk in some respects that I had not delved into. The Fleece was the venue, and is on St. Thomas Street in Bristol (UK). Loads of great people have graced the compact little place in the past and more recently.
Go Go Cult were on before DAG and they put on a good little set, which got everyone warmed up for the main event. With their comical striped prison outfits and black masks they rock ‘n’ rolled the stage. With beautiful Gretsch guitars adorning their shoulders the band produced some great contrasting rhythm sections for their short performance.
DAG came on at around 10.30, which was an hour late, but no one seemed to mind. They played an energetic show which got everyone in the mood to move. Relentless chunky rhythm and rasping solos were the name of the game where guitarist Holger was concerned. The iconic symbol associated with rockabilly, the upright bass, was hammered by Grischa the bass player. I had never heard an upright bass live. I think it brings a unique sound to the band as a whole. The driving force of the drums was on point and as it should be. Not to leave out Sparky (frontman), who growled his way through the set to a chorus of bellows from the sweating crowd. Sparky was not afraid to walk through the mass after the show, this was good of him and got to shake the guy’s damp hand and thank him for the night.
Looking back I think for my first DAG and psychobilly gig it was better than I expected. It is sometimes difficult to hear a band’s studio work only to be met with a lackluster performance live. As I hadn’t listened to much I had little expectation which was good in a way. I was able to appreciate the great performance, ragged blood-covered clothes and all. I am definitely looking forward to some more gritty rock ‘n’ roll arrogance in the future. If any of the bands are playing in your area I would recommend checking them out.
I attended the Bristol protest against proposals for further austerity measures by the newly elected Conservative government in the UK. Gaining a slim majority of 12 with 331 seats, the Conservatives did the unexpected on election night. Labour (the closest opposition) claimed only 232 seats in parliament. This protest was organised by local college students to let the dissatisfaction be known on the streets of the centre of the West Country.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, a conservative who has held the his seat in North East Somerset since 2010, was quoted in Bristol Post (http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/TORY-MP-claims-Bristol-austerity-protest-failing/story-26495115-detail/story.html) as saying that the protest was actually orientated towards the recent election result (7th May 2015) and was therefore showing a lack of respect for democracy. I do not believe that protesting a government that you do not agree with is showing a lack of democratic respect. If people are unhappy about something, they have the right to protest. Unlike in London, the Bristol protest was also noted as being entirely peaceful, which means the heaving crowd of 3-4 thousand was serious about it’s aim.
What if someone does not like what a government is planning? Are we meant to just lie down and accept that those members of parliament that work for US are exempt from criticism? No. No we are not. This is what this protest was about. We needed to show the government that there are people who DIDN’T actually vote for them. We are still here, we still exist and our opinion matters!
I felt disheartened that the public had voted for a government like the Conservatives, so I decided to go to an event attracting like-minded people. Express your worries and opinions if you can. We need to stand up for what fills us with passion and what we believe in.
I Finally got to see the band OFF! in Bristol towards the end of last year (2nd October to be precise). They were supported by Cerebral Ballzy (New York punk band, check ’em out) who were also thumping. I am not going to give one of these in-depth reviews about sonic highlights or make the bands out to be some sort of extraterrestrial demigod entity like many people end up doing. I do encourage you to watch the live youtube clip of the end of their set above. If you like it then please check out some of the other clips. If you don’t then link me to some stuff you like in the comments! Not here to enforce my music taste, just putting it out there.
Long time no see to all those non-visitors out there. I currently find myself with more time on my hands, so expect more posts soon!