Last weekend I was up in Liverpool with my mate Jeremy. We hadn’t just gone on a whim, but were attending a psych fest, rather grandly entitled Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia (Liverpool Psych Fest to you and me).


This festival runs over 2 days (Friday and Saturday), from mid-afternoon until the wee hours on both days. Obviously I wasn’t going to spend the entire 26 hours with my head in a speaker. I mean, there are other things to do in Liverpool, but I still got to see a few good bands, have a look at some very cool film and lighting installations, peruse the record stall and generally hang out and catch up with other chums.


So here they are, sort of in order of top-ness (although not necessarily exactly), my micro-reviews.

My overall winners of Liverpool Psych Fest 2015:

The Heads


50% of The Heads now = 50% of Loop, so that’s happening, right? But, in any case, I also like The Heads in their own right. By the time that The Heads were really doing the business in the later 1990s/early-2000s I’d gone off into the world of dark drum’n’bass so I pretty well missed them. A quite different group of Bristolians had my attention. I’m happy to be making up for it now though.

To describe this gig as ‘face-melting’ could be considered as something of an understatement. There were moments when the sheer volume was actually making me a bit dizzy. My inner ear took a right battering, I can tell you. At one point, I thought I was going to fall over. But I didn’t. So that’s ok.

This was largely a noise set rather than a sing-song (the gig at The Lexington in April was a bit more of a sing-song. But only a bit). But although, yes, it was stupid loud, it wasn’t stupid, if you see what I mean. And so they went storming around their back catalogue and we had lots of tunes from across various of their albums with barely a break throughout the whole set.

Basically, they went large.


At the end of the set, I was able to get a setlist from Wayne. Thanks Wayne.


THE BIG DECISION for a lot of people at this year’s festival was Spiritualized or The Heads. I made the right choice :D I can still say this, even though I know that Spiritualized played Take Me To The Other Side which, I bet, was a real tear-jerker.

After the set I had to pop upstairs to retrieve the swag I’d bought earlier, and when I was up there, another festival-goer remarked that I must have just seen a great band because I was still doing the monkey-dance :D It was the kind of set that leaves you reeling and high-kicking at the same time :D Fun, fun, fun (with added AHB).


I filmed a couple of songs on my camera, here , but the bloke standing next to me filmed the whole set at much higher quality, here.

Also mentioned in dispatches:


This is Simon Price from The Heads’ other project, and saw the ‘3’ expanded to ‘5’ with the addition of The Heads/Anthroprophh axe-man Paul Allen and Carlton Melton’s Rich Millman.

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This is a slightly less in yr face beast (but only ‘slightly’ less), but the set as a whole had a pleasing driving quality (lots of forward motion) with long (semi-) improvised (?) instrumentals building, evolving, adding layers and texture. A little less rock and a little more roll. One of the stand-out sets of the weekend, without doubt.


Etienne Jaumet


Multi-instrumentalist and producer Jaumet, of Zombie Zombie fame, pulled out a relatively low key set, with saxophone samples (sampled live!), beats and a certain Gallic funkiness. It’s less party-party than Zombie Zombie, but I liked it.


The Lumerians. I was actually in another little venue, District, seeing Vision Fortune (who hadn’t really got going yet) but Jeremy kept sending me texts telling me that there were sparkly monks playing in Camp. Sparkly monks, you say? Yeah, well obviously. So off I went.


I can’t honestly say that The Lumerians were big or clever, but they were fun :)  Lots of synths and rythmic guitars. And sparkly.

K-X-P, more hooded figures to round off Saturday night. These are a Finnish krautrock-y 3-piece with a nice line in ‘motorik’ (*snigger*) with pretty dark, driving beats and a certain amount of yelping. I did like this band but, unfortunately, they were following The Heads so I was still bouncing off the walls. I’ll need to see K-X-P again in order to do them justice but I think that they’re a goer.


Blanck Mass, him out of Fuck Buttons, pulled out a great, pretty upbeat dance set (much of my Friday was on the dance rather than psych side). Described as an “eclectic mix of krautrock, minimal synth and Detroit techno”, which is about right, but it also made me think that this is what hard house could be like if it wasn’t so bloody boring.


This was followed by Factory Floor who rounded off Friday night with another rousing dance-along. I understand that they sometimes have a live drummer which I think would have been even better (I like drummers. More drumminess please). It was more like a club vibe for the latter part of the night with hard techno beats and visuals there was no time for sleepiness until my head hit the pillow at stupid-o-clock.


Not bad, so-so and meh:

What’s Russian for ‘shoegazer’? Pinkshinyultrablast. These are getting a bit of a buzz at the moment and they’re alright, but a bit of a one-trick-pony. They are clearly (very clearly) big fans of MBV but I think that the reliance on one, very girly, female vocal becomes a bit samey after a while. The music is not bad, all late-80s fuzzy indie guitars, but I hope that they’ll push it a bit more and not stick to the one tried-and-tested formula.

Virginia Wing were also alright. They had a touch of the Stereolabs about them but I really felt like they could do with just a little more bounce. The songs (I think we saw 3 or 4) were pretty good but needed a little more energy to stop them tipping over into becoming a bit boring. One to watch, maybe.

Vision Fortune. Well TBH, it hadn’t really got going before I was lured away by sparkly monks (see above, The Lumerians).

Jane Weaver, yes yes I know you all love her and she’s the saviour of music (or something) but I just couldn’t shake the feeling that she was going to end up being the next Dido or Adele, and doing a Bond theme for nice middle class Guardian readers. I’m sure she’s very nice but I just don’t really need this.

There was another band playing in Blade Factory who we saw 5 minutes of by accident. One of the blokes had a hat on that was just upsetting me, so I had to leave. I don’t know who they were.

Damn and blast it:

At festivals it’s inevitable that you’ll end up missing something that you wouldn’t have minded seeing, either because of clashes or because of late-night-early-morning-I-don’t-want-to-get-up-ness. Anyway, I missed Destruction Unit, but I’ve heard that the sound wasn’t great for them. I probably would have liked to have seen Hey Colossus but I was in Kandodo5, and ditto for The Octopus Project, but I was in Pinkshinyultrablast. Another time, hopefully.

In addition to all these musical shenanigans, the festival had lots of other spaces to hang out in and see stuff.


There was a chill-out cinema.


With groovy lights. (Look, Loop t-shirt :) )


There was silk screen printing which looked like fun (I didn’t really have time to do one).

P1150281 P1150280

I really liked the room with the projections. They had bands playing in there too but it got too crowded to be able to even see anything.



And what about all those other things-to-do in Liverpool?

I had actually determined that while I was in Liverpool, I was going to have nothing at all to do with the B****es (because I’m contrary like that). I was doing pretty well until  I ran into this splendid specimen…



A legionary fortress in Wales: Who are you?

The Romans were a relatively literate lot. That is not to say that every common man and woman went around spouting Horace but they did leave a remarkable quantity of written information about themselves. Inscriptions, dedications, painted and handwritten notes, monikers, you name it, they left it.

At Isca, Caerleon Roman legionary fortress, we can see a whole range of written evidence for the people who lived and worked there, including the very people who built the place.

Lets start with the Legion which called Isca home, the Second Augustan Legion, Legio II Augusta.

We’ve already seen the terracotta tile in the bathhouse stamped with the moniker of the Legion.


But the Legion is namechecked again a number of inscriptions recording the dedication or rebuilding of buildings in the fort by units of the Legion.



This inscription (above), one of the few in Britain cut in marble, records rebuilding at the fortress, although it is not known which building it relates to. It was found later reused as a paving slab.

Individual units of the Legion also left their marks, often recording construction works. These few are from the construction of the amphitheatre.

This records work by the century of Rufinus Primus, from the third cohort.


And below, (top) the century of Claudius Cupitus (centre) from the fifth cohort, the century of Paetinus and (bottom) the century of Julius Gemellus from the eighth cohort.


RIB334; RIB340; RIB339

These blocks record sections of work carried out but this less formal inscription (below) looks more like a personal mark, perhaps left by a particularly keen gladiator-fan. It shows symbols of the amphitheatre; the victory palm and the trident of the retarius gladiator, flanked by representations of the shoulder-pieces worn by the gladiators.


Smaller and more personal inscriptions can be found on objects from the fort.  Living in close proximity with so many other people, individuals often tried to ensure that personal possessions didn’t go walkabout by engraving, writing or scratching the name of the rightful owner into the fabric of the object.

This mortarium, an ever-useful kitchen mixing/grinding bowl, has been etched with the name of, presumably, the owner.



Ok. That isn’t easy to make out and I have to fess up to not photographing the label. If anyone is in Caerleon and can go and have a look, or if anyone knows, please leave a comment. I’d be very grateful.

Right, here’s one that I did make a note of.


Compare this one to the one above. The hand is more polished, more formal and, as a consequence, more readable. It even has that little decorative flourish.

It runs:

‘(GENIO FELI)CITER AEL ROMULI’ which is translated as:

‘Good luck to the presiding spirit of the century of Aelius Romulus’ and is presumed as being connected with an annual regimental dinner.

And talking of wine…


The shoulder of this wine amphora bears the name of the legion, ‘LEG.II.AUG’ and a cursive inscription. This kind of wine jar arrived in Britain, probably from Crete, in the ’50s and ’60.

There is one type of object in the museum which is always of particular interest. An ink writing tablet. These are great. The most well known ones have been found at Vindolanda, up near Hadrian’s Wall, but there are others, from Carlisle, London and here at Caerleon.


The writing on the tablet is pretty crisp and clear but it’s still tricky to make out as it’s written in a script called Old Roman cursive. Basically Roman handwriting. This should help


Still none the wiser?

Well it has been dated to the late first century CE and it’s basically a record of works being carried out my men of the legion. Some guards have been sent to fetch the pay (ad opinionem petendam) and parties who are out collecting building material (material). One of the soldiers in charge of the pay-escort is called Ofillio.

Phew!  So there you have a little selection of the written evidence from Caerleon and I’ve managed to get through an inscriptions post without even mentioning gravestones.


Roman Inscriptions of Britain: http://romaninscriptionsofbritain.org/

Roman Trajanic marble inscription from Caerleon: http://education.gtj.org.uk/en/item1/25413

A legionary fortress in Wales

And so back again to the legionary fortress at Caerleon, Isca. This is one of the relatively few legionary fortresses in Roman Britain. Home to around 5000 men, Roman citizens recruited to Legio II Augusta, the Second Augustan Legion  from northern Italy, Provence and southern Spain.

Visible remains around the modern town of Caerleon  include an area of barracks, an amphitheatre, stretches of fort walls, a number of ovens in which the troops’ bread would have been baked and impressive bathhouse. We’ve had a little look at the impressive bathhouse, so let’s have a look at the rest of the remains of Caerleon Legionary Fortress.

Let’s start with walls.

There are stretches of the north-west and south-west quadrants’ walls still standing, some now just under the under turf, some standing up to a height of about 3.5 metres.

There are the remains of a turret in this stretch of wall but there was a young couple canoodling in there so I couldn’t get a decent picture of it without looking like a total creep.


You’ll just have to use your imagination. It looks like a turret.

In the north-west quadrant are the excavated remains of the barrack blocks.


Each barrack block had rooms for ten groups of eight men (a century) with a suite of rooms at the end for the centurion.


The excavated blocks are just a small proportion of the accommodation in the fortress. These particular barracks are situated nearest to the fort wall in the north-western corner of the fortress, and there was a road that ran around the fortress just inside the walls. Between this perimeter road and fortress wall is a series of circular ovens. They are situated in this area so as to keep the fires used for baking well away from the buildings.


In the museum are these two lead bread stamps (because who doesn’t want leadie-bread? Right?). N.b. the bread isn’t original. This isn’t Pompeii!.


The top one, and the stamp in the bread says ‘Century of Quintinius Aquila’ [QVINTINI AQVILAE] (2nd century).

And below, ‘Century of Vibius Severus (produced by) Sentius Paullinus’ [VIBI SEVE – SEN PAVLLIN] (1st century).

The museum contains a large number of lovely artifacts, many of them directly associated with the military. There is this well-preserved helmet. You can see the much shinier replica on the model in the background.



Other bits of soldiers’ kit include this great little field flask,


This beautifully decorated 1st century plaque depicts Victory carrying captured arms.


There is a selection of the large quantity of gaming equipment found around the fortress. You know how I love gaming equipment.


Soldiers were cash-rich in comparison with many of the locals, but some of them seem to have lost/left some of their money behind when they left (or were killed), including this large collection of denarii.


And I love this beautifully complete little money box.


Well, as this is a Roman jolly, there must be an amphitheatre.


This amphitheatre would have held around 6000 people, seated in tiers. The lower part of the structure was built in stone, with timber upper levels. Amphitheatres attached to forts were used for the usual gladiatorial games, beast hunts and the execution of criminals, but also for  military training and drilling.


This is a lovely spot for a mooch or a kick-about on a sunny day.

Next time, we’ll meet a few of the individuals who lived, for a while, at Isca, including some of those who actually built the amphitheatre.

A legionary fortress in Wales: Rub-a-dub-dub

After visiting the civilian site of Venta Silurum at Caerwent, it was time for some military action, so I set off for Caerleon and the Roman legionary fortress of Isca.

Many of the (very cool) Roman forts in Britain were home to auxiliary units. Non-citizen troops working and fighting for Rome with the promise of citizenship and a nest-egg at the end of the period of service. A few sites, however, were home to legions; huge forces of citizen troops. Legionary fortresses were huge, the size of an large Roman town, housed at least 5000 men and had all mod-cons and amenities, and Isca was one of these. Home to Legio II Augusta, the Second Augustan Legion.

Visible remains around the modern Caerleon  include an area of barracks, an amphitheatre, stretches of fort walls, a number of ovens in which the troops’ bread would have been baked and impressive bathhouse.

I’ll start with the impressive bathhouse.


Fort sites always have a bathhouse but, being attached to a legionary fortress, this one is particularly fine. It had all the usual hot, warm and cold rooms for getting clean but also a large external games and exercise area, an indoor exercise hall and a long swimming pool. More like an Imperial bathhouse.

The visible remains represent only a small part of the whole structure. The section of swimming pool gives a bit of idea of scale and construction. I notices that in the walls of the pool there are lots and lots of pieces of tile, mainly tegulae. I wasn’t sure why this was, except perhaps they helped in getting the stonework really level and watertight.


Looking closely (and with the help of some handy indicators) you can see some other signs of fort life.

There are several animal footprints, cat and dog, left when those naughty animals walked across the wet clay times.


Other, more human, animals also left their mark.


And this more deliberate, and more official mark records the work of the unit responsible for the making the tiles and building the bathhouse, Legio II Augusta [LEGIIAVG].


Around to an internal area of the bathhouse. This area is the end of the suite of bathing rooms, the frigidarium.


Against the wall is a rectangular plunge pool which would have been filled with ice cold water, perfect for tightening the pores after the sweating and scraping in the hot rooms. On either side of this pool is a semi-circular recess which would have housed basins for dowsing with cold water.


Also displayed in this area is this fragment of one of the basins. Carved from purbeck marble and decorated with the Gorgon’s head.


Also this fantastic drain cover. It’s quite large. About a metre across.


Dotted around the bathhouse site and in the nearby museum are other finds recovered from the bathhouse. There’s this lovely dolphin water spout, probably from the fountain house at the end of the long swimming pool.


One of the most interesting places for finds in Roman bathhouses is…the drains. Ok, bear with me.

Roman bathhouses were undoubtedly places in which people could get clean. Bathers would smother their skin in the oil, then spend time in the warm and hot rooms, sweating out the dirt, which was then scraped off with a curved blunt instrument called a strigil. At Caerleon, several bathers seem to have had accidental breakages.  These bottle necks, complete with bone stoppers, are from the little globular bottles that bathers used to carry their olive oil to the baths.


But these baths had other functions; they were meeting places, places where deals were done, places to exercise and to relax, places to get a massage, places for naughty assignations, places to play games and get a bite to eat. All  of these activities have left their residue in the drains, heating flues and rubbish dumps of the bathhouses.

At Caerleon, the bathhouse drains have turned up a remarkable number of intaglios. These are the little gems made from materials like jasper, garnet, carnelian, agate, glass and rock crystal, engraved with images such as gods or animals, that were set into jewellery, often finger rings. The heat and damp of the baths evidently caused the gems to come loose as 88 of them have been found in the drains.



There is a bit of reflected light on this, but you can see from the blown up image that this gem depicts a horse.


Nice, but I bet that a few Romans would have been annoyed at losing them.

But bath-time is over now. I’ll have a look at the rest of the visible remains another time.

Pip pip.

Go West

Last weekend I spent a little time in Wales. I had to go over to Cardiff for work and so that seemed like a perfect excuse to stay an extra day or two and have a look at a couple of sites in South Wales while I was there. I’ve never been to these sites before so I was keen to get a look at them.

First stop was Caerwent, Roman Venta Silurum.


Venta Silurum was the largest civilian centre in Roman Wales and the  administrative centre of the tribe of the Silures. This tribe was bested by the Romans in the third-quarter of the first century, but were finally allowed elements of self-government by the early second century. The Roman street grid, public buildings, shops, houses and other buildings were laid out around the late second century.

I got off the bus on the edge of town, by the Roman East Gate, and set off along the town walls. These survive up to a height of about 5m, complete with towers and were built towards the end of the third century. Who could resist such lovely #wallporn? And so much of it!


In some area, the external facing stones are still in place. I expect that a lot of these have been taken away over the years for use as building material.


Where the facing stones have been robbed out, you can see the rather beautiful internal structure of the walls, forming this rough herringbone pattern.


A few specific features still survive along the wall.

The most obvious are these towers. They are five-sided in plan and were not built as part of the initial wall structure but were built onto the pre-existing wall at a later date, around 350CE. You can see that the stone blocks aren’t bonded into the wall, but butted up against it.



The South Gate, a single lane gateway, was blocked up late in the town’s Roman history. The square (-ish) hole is a culvert built through the blocked up wall.


Likewise, the West Gate was also a single-lane gateway and was also blocked up during the late Roman period. In this case, a postern (a little doorway) was built through to allow for pedestrian access.


The floor and lower courses of the associated guardroom still survive.


Round the corner, the blocked-up north gate is now in someone’s garden (the picture below was taken from the road) as, along the north side, there are houses and a pub built right up against the wall.


As well as the walls, surviving in-situ remains include this fantastic area of shops and workshops.


The lower courses of the stone buildings survive marking the layout of these small business units.



Nearby there is this courtyard villa, built in the first half of the fourth century. At least some of the rooms had hypocausts and mosaic floors.



Just down the road is the forum-basilica.


And just round the corner is this temple.


The  most striking feature, and what really marks it out as a temple, is the apse-ended cela.


Caerwent is a very small village and the kind of place where missing the scheduled bus can mean a very long, possibly fruitless, wait so I made my way to the bus stop heading for Newport for my next visit. But that’s another story.

Sound and Vision

This weekend I’ve been at the Hackney-based multi-venue festival, Visions.


You know the sort of thing; see a band, run down the road, see another band, spend 10 minutes studying the schedule, run back to the  first venue, see a band, grab a sandwich, see a band…

Now, I’m pretty lazy, so all that running sounds less like fun than I’d like, but I did get to see the usual mix of hits and misses.

The day didn’t start too well. I aimed to get to the wristband pick up point in time to get my wristband and then see at least some of the set by Oscar @ The Laundry before my ‘must see’ for the festival, Girl Band. Alas, the best laid plans of mice and men oft go astry, especially when they come up against the monster that was The Great Wristband Queue of 2015. Honestly, I’ve been in some monster queues before but this was ridiculous. Stretching away into the distance, round the corner, stretching away into the distance again, round the corner, oh! I can see the end of it. Starting off a festival like this is a little disheartening, to say the least, as I really thought that despite being there over an hour before Girl Band were due on, the queue situation would probably mean that I was going to miss them (one of the security people was actually telling people to go away and come back in a hour!).

I’m pleased to report that the process didn’t take as long as I had feared it would and I was able to get the necessary wristband and get to the venue just in time to bag a spot for the Girl Band set. Phew! Disaster averted.

So, to Girl Band @ The Laundry. I’ve written a little about this Dublin 4-piece before. They haven’t played in London for a little while and have new material, so I was keen to see them.

Girl Band 1

They started their set with their fun cover of Blawan’s Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage. This is always pretty  popular at gigs and the gruesome video has gone down a storm :D

Girl Band 4  Girl Band 3

The set wasn’t that long, but it did include the new single and album track, Paul. The vocalist, Dara sounded like he’d been gargling with gravel, but, as always it was good fun. I’m looking forward to the new album.

Girl Band 2

After a fortifying cup of coffee, I went back into The Laundry to see Merchandise. I don’t know this band and so didn’t really know what to expect, but I have since seen them described as “meat ‘n’ potatoes indie rock” and I’d say that sounds about right. To be honest, there was a bit too much of the U2s about this band for my liking, so I only stayed for about three songs and then skipped over the road to The Brewhouse to catch a bit of Torn Hawk. This is a one-man project using laptop and guitar, with visuals, samples, spoken work clips and beats. It was ok but I found myself movie-spotting his samples and film clips and the whole thing didn’t hold my interest enough to compensate for the extreme sweatiness of the venue.

For the next bit of the early evening, I had to make a big decision; Son Lux or Gazelle Twin. They were playing at venues that were about a mile apart, Oval Space and the new, not even open yet, Moth Club, so there was no possibility of skipping between the two. In the end I opted for Gazelle Twin @ Moth Club but as I had a little bit of a wait before they were due on, I went for a cuppa. In retrospect this probably wasn’t the best idea because when I got back to The Moth Club, there was a queue and it was ‘one-in, one-out’. So I  waited. By this time I couldn’t go to Son Lux as it was too far away to be able to get there in time to see anything (and, of courses, with no guarantee of being able to get in there), so I just waited.

I did get in eventually and the venue was rammed. It was really good though.

Gazelle Twin

Two faceless hooded figures pumping out quite sparce but relentless beats, and chanted vocals. It’s actually a bit creepy despite the cool danceability. There’s a lot of dark energy in this.

Gazelle Twin 2

For the rest of the evening, there was a variety of choices, but most of the ones I might have been interested in were either in the Moth Club where I already was, or in venues all the way back down past London Fields, so I decide to just stay put. Due to the threat of more queuing, I didn’t even go back outside, I just took up residence at The Moth Club and this proved to be a good move (or non-move).

The next act was Blanck Mass, another solo project, this time by one half of the Fuck Buttons.

Blanck Mass 1

The first part of the set was essentially soundscapes, arrhythmic and meandering, but this also kept morphing imperceptibly into rocking beats that had the crowd whooping like a dance crowd. This felt to me like a cross between music production and DJing where the DJ works the crowd and builds different moods throughout the set without anything as obvious as a break between tracks. Put together with some great abstract visuals, this was a real treat of a set.

For the end of the evening, I’d had a choice between Holy Fuck @ Oval Space and H09909 @ Moth Club as I’d decided to end the night on something fairly fierce. H09909 it was.

HO99O9 3   HO99O9 4

I also rather liked the Moth Club, despite the fact that, by now, it was pretty sweaty, so it seemed like a good place to end the night. Good choice.


I’ve seen H09909 described as hip hop and I can more or less understand why, but this was really hardcore. The whole this reminded me strongly of some of the old school hardcore gigs that I used to go to at the end of the ’80s. They don’t play the same kinds of instruments, these days it’s a laptop and samples, but they also had a live drummer and, overall, the set had a air of unpredictability and, at times, more than a touch of chaos.

HO99O9 2

This was enormous fun. There was a proper mosh-pit and I’m afraid that The Moth Club may have to do some repairs, as revellers were hanging off the lighting  track and may have trashed the projector. I hope that the people at the club think that it was worth it to be christened in such a joyful and memorable fashion.

So this proved  a fine ending to a mixed day.

I’ll start with the not so good. The queues. I didn’t get it too badly, overall I probably spent about an hour or so queuing, but I’ve seen a lot of frustration being expressed on Twitter about being completely unable to get into gigs. Last year’s festival really didn’t have this problem, so it must be because of the increased capacity brought by adding St. John Church to the list of venues.

The other problem that this caused was that the venues are now quite a long way apart. There’s a little cluster near-ish to London Fields and then two more and the food/beer market up at Hackney Central. This is about a 20 minute walk, making it far more difficult to flit between venues, perhaps checking out unfamiliar bands. It became more necessary to plan every move and try to get to the appropriate venue well before the bands were due on.

Talking of the food market, the Visions-affiliated food outlets involved a bit too much ‘pulled-porkery’ for my tastes. There is definitely an American influence running through hipster food. It’s very meat’n’cheese-heavy and everything has to be ‘pulled’. I gave it a miss.

The good? The music, of course. For me it was Girl Band, Gazelle Twin, Blanck Mass and Ho99o9, who were all cracking. A lot of Tweeps clearly had a good time despite the odd hiccup. For me, the quality and range of music on offer outweighed the negative points outlined above.

And then there’s the brand new Moth Club.

Moth 1

How could I not love a new club that has a golden ceiling? Golden ceiling!! :D


I look forward to spending more evenings there.

The cupboard of indie nonsense – slight return

The recent chance meeting with someone I haven’t seen in a year of donkeys has sent me scurrying back to the Cupboard of Indie Nonsense to seek out some historical artifacts.


The time: Christmas 1993.  The place: Bristol, Thekla. The occasion: One of Sarah Records’ infamous Christmas parties.

Sarah records was known as the home of twee bands. The Field Mice, Heavenly, The Orchids, and a whole host of other jangly guitar bands playing nice songs for nice people. In the early ’90s they used to host legendary Christmas Parties.

In 1993, that Christmas Party was on the moored boat The Thekla, in Bristol. WAAAH! Magazine organised a coach trip from London, known to one and all as The Cutie Coach and all of us coach trippers were given a pack to keep us quiet on the journey (not that it worked but, hey ho, you can’t blame them for trying).

One of these packs still survives in The Cupboard


complete with ‘interesting’ reading matter,


sticky sweets and an unpopped party popper.


Obviously the events of that night weren’t quite as cute as the coach trip name would suggest, and I have recalled that there were one or two ‘incidents’ :/ , but there was fun to be had and lots of bowl haircuts. Here are a few of the usual suspects.

Grub stop + stripey top

Cutie Coach 002

Floppy hat + floppy fringe

Cutie Coach 001

Anorak stripey top

Cutie Coach 003

So indie. 1993 was a long time ago.