Now that’d be a crazy lineup and a half wouldn’t it? Instead it was a 3 day booze fueled jaunt by myself and long time Collective-Zine forum denizen, Victor Lazaro, taking in the sites and sounds of London and Cambridge. Things were to begin and the rickety little den that is the Windmill in Brixton. I had not been here since around 1999 or so, the fateful day that I met Chris Bress for the first time, saw Alkatraz, and scored a bunch of cool emo sevens for not a huge out-lay. This time around, mostly we hung around outside waiting for the Strange Boys to start. The support bands failed to capture the attention and the names of both have long since departed my brain. Instead me, Vic, Alex Deller and James Deller hung around outside like grumpy 30 somethings do, talking about the olden days, although James later told Alex that listening to us talk about records was like listening to people speaking in code. Regardless of our anti-social nerdery, we made our way inside to check out Texan foetuses, the Strange Boys. This beguiling foursome have a combined age of 9, yet play music that sounds like it should come from the instruments of hoary old bluesmen. The only hint on record that these guys are youthful are the slacked jawed vocals of pure youth. The rhythms and guitars however are classic ye olde time American, and this band played for around 40 minutes, not even coming close to outstaying their welcome. There was barely a word uttered, and no hint of an encore (I wish more bands dispensed with an encore, don’t tease us), and they cranked it. Very few hipsters in attendance either, though a couple of oafs elbowed their way to the front near the end, presumably to be seen or something. We all rather enjoyed the Strange Boys, and you should ensure you pick up their LP on In the Red post haste.
The next day saw me and Victor wander around London in the heat, sleep in Hyde Park, wind up in Camden, leave our bags at a scummy hostel that charged us a mere tenner for a nights sleep.
Then it was on to Camden, to try and find a pub that did not want upwards of four pounds for a pint. Duly successful, we had the nutritionally satisfying dinner of “a plate of nachos”, before we hit up the Camden Electric Ballroom to witness the mother fucking Get Up Kids. What were we thinking? I have detested this band since the 10″, and Vic is not much more tolerant than I. Nevertheless, things looked up when they opened with the impetuous “Coming Clean”, maybe things would be OK after all. Sadly, it was a false dawn. Although they treated us to a solid rendition of “Woodson” that I was happy to air guitar stupidly to, and try and sing a long to the bits I remembered, it was like watching a Get Up Kids covers band. It was a complete farce. At one bit they even made everyone cheer for the bloody keyboard player. To me this was the gravest insult, once that dude joined the band it was all down hill. Me and Vic retreated to the smoking area. I have asthma. That’s how bad the Get Up Kids were. I probably took 5 years off my life to avoid seeing them play a few shitty songs. At some point they played a dub song. A fucking dub song! We returned to yell out of tune at “Don’t Hate Me” and some kid walked past me and said to his pal “That’s Andy Malcolm, I used to buy records off that guy”. He was gone before I had a chance to stop him. Very odd. The Get Up Kids struggled on to the end, playing a couple of dire covers (how bad is it that a band on a reunion tour plays 2 covers, yet only 2 songs off their best LP?), and it was embarrassing. Not nearly as the site of me drunkenly singing along to “Is This Thing On?” with Vic and no-one else at the Camden Barfly later, one bright, requested spot amidst a torrent of Fall Out Boy and MTVmo smashes. We were later to return to the Camden Inn and pass out, but not before laughing at some girl in the cooridor, who was trying to get to the toilet. I am not sure why were laughing at her. She did not look that impressed by us.
After that shocking evening, I woke up at 8am and left to wander Camden and shake off the fuzz of too many lagers. A lucozade later and Vic stirred, we were off to Cambridge, feeling a little worse for wear. Vic encountered a naked 50 year old man in the showers, and was feeling a touch off colour. “Good morning!” was the nudists pleasant greeting, but Victor was not in such high spirits. I shunned the showers, and waited to see what erstwhile friend of the C, Toby Canham-James had to offer in the way of hot water and no naked 50 year old guys. It proved the correct decision. So, off to the Junction in Cambridge, a venue I had not visisted since I saw the Wildhearts in 97 or something. Again we turned our nose up at the support and arrived at 8.45, just in time to see a few roadies tuning up guitars. At approximately 9.15pm, the old bastards that make up Dinosaur Jr sauntered on stage. And proceeded to blow us away. It was 75 minutes of pure belligerence. My ears may no longer be ringing but the frequency range is certainly diminshed. The band pummeled us into submission. Barlow pounded bass, and Jay sleepily played towering solos. They were having a whale of a time. Many old hits and new classics from the two excellent recent LPs. This was as good a band as I have seen in years, the sound was perfect, the set was great, and the music was untouchable. Thank you Dinosaur Jr, after the inexcrable performance of the once mighty Get Up Kids, you have shown that it is possible to grow old and fat and not forget how to be any good. A beautiful evening, I didn’t stop grinning.
Thanks to all the bastards involved in making this a brilliant three days! Except for the Get Up Kids. Screw you guys.