Thursday, 4 March 2010

Death Disco - Notting Hill Arts Club

Decisions are made by those who turn up. History is written by the winners. There's no such thing as a free lunch, unless you're a goldfish.

This evening (or last night, depending on your perspective) I'm in darkest Notting Hill, at Alan McGee's Death Disco. You know how you find yersel chatting to random people at parties, then you bump into them time and time again and cos they're in a band you inevitably go to one of their shows, well here I am.

Three bands on tonight, my acquaintance's band are headlining, on stage at 22:45.

I have to get up for work six hours later.

The database state is bad enough, but here at the cool Notting Hill Arts Club, they demand photo ID at the door then scan it "So we know who's inside". My attractive young ladyfriend mutters something about being stored in a database. The guy on the door overhears and denies there's any database involved. So the point of scanning is?

I'm not taking an international flight. I'm not opening a new bank account. I'm not even taking photos of iconic landmarks in the proximity of a PCSO. I'm just trying to get in to a shitty little indie club night, so why do I need to show my papers?

I don't care that its not the doorman's fault, just management policy, or an alternative to form 696, or the Met Police policy or the local authority or health and safety for our own protection. It stinks.

Its understandable how such a system was introduced, someone clearly though we were living in East Germany. But how to turn it round? How to get rid of having to have you papers scanned for visiting an indie club?

When the management told the doorman, he should have said no fucking way. When the punters told McGee, he should have said no fucking way. When the police/authority/health and safety told the management they should have said no fucking way. When the powers that be sat in a meeting and decided it, the room should have rose up and said no fucking way. Whoever suggested it should have been sacked on the spot, escorted from the building, dowsed in petrol and set fire to, caught on camera, uploaded to YouTube and tagged accordingly.

Maybe I'm being hypocritical with my love of gig-tracking and Songkick. But I do those things by choice, not everyone does. Its linked to my Twitter and Facebook with my permission. God knows what the Notting Hill Arts Club's Clubscan is connected to, but no one asked me.

"Excuse me sir, do you mind if we scan your ID before entry?" That would have been an improvement.

Anyhoo, the entry process left a bad taste in the mouth and if this review ends up grim, that's why. Mr McGee, your precious Labour government have cultivated this, you must share responsibility.

Last time I was here was for a Scottish mob, Q Without U, they were okay, it must have been over a year ago. My ladyfriend was last here before the English smoking ban, the vibe is different. Hear that McGee, your mob have broken it. They've broken it all.

First band on are This Is Munich. One of their piano lines sounds just like Pocketbooks' Autumn Leaves, but the rest of it has Suede vocals, leaning a little towards Bowie. Geneva? I bet the keyboard player cites Coldplay as an influence, he was inspired to form the band after seeing Coldplay at Wembley Arena.

Scratchy samples of 1940s 33s. Then the guitar, bass and drums kick in again, epic soaring lead guitar. Aw man, I used to be able to remember exactly who these guys sound like, now after 543 gigs, its all a blur, a companion suggests The Kills. I think I once saw Coldplay third on the bill at King Tuts.

Tonight, This Is Munich are an odd looking bunch, nineties clothes, stupid hair. They were very competent, they certainly knew how to play their instruments.

Not sure what the deal is with Death Disco, is Alan McGee here? If he's not, it either cos he's too old or cos he's mourning the death of Michael Foot, either way, he's a cunt.

Next up are/is Sangeeta, some keyboard girl with drum-guitar-bass backing. Jazzy rock Kate Bush or Lapsus Linguae for another gender I reckon. Feist and PJ Harvey reckons my attractive young ladyfriend, she's on the money with the latter.

Love the plinky plonk piano at the end of every song. Extra points cos she sure can holler and cos the guitar sound is huge.

The audience are a bit disinterested, chatting throughout over their glasses of house red and tins of Red Stripe.

The headliners, Wonderful World of Cactapuss, take to the stage, spending 24 minutes setting up a vast array of keyboards, effects boxes and colour-changing chicken lights. Truly they are gods.

"Good evenin' earthlin's"

Are they London's answer to Air or Daft Punk. Great big crunchy rhythms, stuff you can not only get your teeth into, but could probably build a shithouse out of, if necessary.

Earlier the two of them were discussing their flashing LED specs, genuine artifacts from the eighties, do they even make them any more. Mark, the one on the left, had dropped his pair on the floor so they were now held together with masking tape.

Finally, for the first time this evening the crowd start moving, the place is packed and the kids are making weird shapes. Tall chap in the middle casting some shoulder moves, heavily make-uped girls on the right doing the cheekbone thrust, and front left a couple who've been snogging throughout, really face-chewing stuff.

In fourteen years time, this'll be the soundtrack to the Hull Olympics.

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