Some musical briefs carry with them certain implications to anyone with experience.
Say you’re playing in a bar (rather than a function room or venue), free entry. You’re asked for two 45-minute sets. The venue is supplying a PA but you have a suspicion it might have been borrowed for the occasion, and you’re topping it up with some bits of your own.
All of this tends to imply that the normal booking is crowd-pleasing covers, pub rock, maybe even tribute acts. Which, if you’re the Filthy Spectacula, playing all-originals sets of off-centre gypsy-pirate-steampunk-goth-cabaret rock-n-roll, might cause you to seriously question your trust in the person that recommended you to the venue or vice versa. Nothing wrong with those gigs, they’re good and bread and butter and I play a lot of them with other groups, but, well, we’re not a covers act to keep the maximum number of people happy at the cost of being unremarkable …
That was us in the Music Mill, Plumstead, about half seven on Saturday. And as we set up and got our set started, there was a visible mixed initial reaction (ignoring the less than a dozen people we brought with us!) – some guys down the front getting right into the lairy bantering energy of a Filthy gig from the off, quite a few more clearly wondering: ‘Who are these guys with the weird black clothes and shouty stage manner? Do I want to stay for this?’
Uniform testimony is we won them over. Most of the near half of the bar seemed to be dancing by the end of the first set, and I think we sold more merch in the interval than we do in the whole of most gigs. Once we’d recovered the crowd’s attention after the break, this was heading into being another high-energy, no-holds-barred extended gig, with me out in front of the speakers dancing, the place almost too hot to breathe and the calls for more so loud and extended we ended up repeating two songs rather than disappoint. When we finally had finished, I think the booker was as happy to suggest we should come back as we were to agree. And it took me as long to disentangle myself from all the fervent compliments, thanks and handshakes as it did to actually pack up, before I could leave!
In the words of Chuck Berry, ‘folks it goes to show you never can tell’.
Here’s to two more unknown quantities for the Filth in the next fortnight: a new-to-us festival, Landed, in mid Wales, and on the east side Rochester Sweeps. See you at one or the other for more mayhem!