The Filthy Spectacula found our way down towards England’s south-west corner on Friday, doing a gig in a cramped basement bar, apparently made of Victorian brick, called the Wunderbar in Midsomer Norton (you may well ask ‘Where?‘).
Not quite Wembley either for space or for tech setup (though the latter was, in the end, perfectly adequate – we all had kittens in advance as it wasn’t at all clear they had a sound engineer of their own … ). And I have to be conscious of at least one tech fail to do with me (I really must get an XLR lead with a very slightly fatter ‘female’ end so it can’t buzz in the socket of my DI box) and a handful of musical slips from the tiny to the probably readily identifiable from the crowd.
But this has to be seen as one of the more successful Filthy Spectacula gigs – and we have played a lot of gigs and the majority of them very successful.
We were the only band playing, but by the time we hit the stage at about 10pm (on a Friday), the crowd were getting numerous (for the size of the space!) and lairy (in what passes for a good way for our brand of debauched rock gigs). I may have only had about three feet square to thrash around in without leaving the stage, and foot up on a monitor became foot up on a bar stool (I could have reached the bar staff much more easily than bassist The Dreadful Helmsman on the other side of stage), but anyone in the near half of the twisting tunnel-like venue seemed to be hanging on our collective every word and note most of the night and were certainly dancing like puppets in freefall most of the way through.
So what compensates for grubby and minimal tech, occasional lapses of concentration and getting your mike stand kicked over by the crowd (who then very carefully saved the drink in a holder on the stand … before remembering you might want the mike), to produce an outstanding time for all present?
Be like you want the crowd to be, only more so. Shout, swear, be affectionately horrifically rude to each other or indeed complete strangers, drink and encourage everyone else to drink. Act like you grew up with the whole room. Posture like failed Led Zep tribute acts and dance like loons (yes, while holding an indeed playing instruments and, when necessary,
singing vocalising into stand mikes); and jump (well, step; it was about 9 inches) off the stage to dance with or at the crowd periodically. Even if you’re out of tune and may have momentarily forgotten which chord you’re on, look like you’re nailing ‘Stairway to Heaven’ at double speed backwards. And if some of the particularly uninhibited crowd start buying you drinks, at least start drinking them, however scared you are. I still don’t actually know what the sweetish strong liqueur / spirit stuff poured into my empty pint glass was, I suspect spiced rum; but it would have spoiled the whole effect to leave it untouched and in the end it went down pleasantly enough. No, it didn’t fill the pint glass silly; our crowds aren’t that generous. Or that rich.
‘That’, some of you may well say, ‘isn’t music.’ And you are in a sense right. But it is entertainment. The Wunderbar didn’t want a recital. They wanted entertainers. And I rather thank they got them (I haven’t been kissed by so many stubbly, dreadlocked men in my entire life; I thought a full-scale stage invasion was starting at one point).
Want to see the results you missed? Easterners, next stop is Brighton for an unofficial steampunk performance weekend next month; on the 26th of March, we follow Professor Elemental on the 25th at the Yellow Book. Westerners, our next gig out your way is a biggie: the Fleece in Bristol (no dodgy leads / DI boxes there!), supporting Voltaire (no, not the philosopher. We tried, but his agent says he isn’t touring much at the minute). Sign up to the Facebook event or email the band for one-third off ticket price at the door!
Meanwhile, my personal next outing is in the capital (automatically makes it between east and west, right?) with new affiliation Kindred Spirit, in duo form for a free gig at, appropriately enough, the Ash Tree in Ashford (Surrey, not Kent). See you soon!