Some time the other week there was an RT from the band Veronica Falls, about getting tickets to be in the audience for a TV show. After running away scared from their Flashback Records show last month I felt kind of obliged to try to see them again as soon as possible, so I went along to the Topman CTRL website and duly applied.
The tickets arrived in my mailbox on Wednesday, and after a few moments of skipping round the office, I began to prepare myself. Along with Veronica Falls, two other Glasgowish acts would be playing, The Mighty Mighty Edwyn Collins and my arch nemesises from 2005, Glasvegas.
I was a little confused about what Topman CTRL MX is, some kind of all encompassing Topman-endorsed music TV, concert and website brand, with gigs in other major cities and a Top of the Popsish TV show on Channel 4.
Wednesday night had me illegally downloading as much music as possible from the three acts, just to familiarise myself with what to expect. It was the first time I'd consciously listened to Glasvegas, which may come as a surprise considering the legendary events of early March 2005 when they were pitted head to head against The Plimptons on a Radio Scotland demo competition. The Plimptons won decisively with 62% of the vote thanks to the huge effort by their fans voting online.
That didn't stop Glasvegas from complaining to Vic Galloway that we'd cheated and then getting their song played the following week, and then going on to have an album that reached number two in the pop charts.
Anyhoo, its all water under the bridge as far as I'm concerned.
I have to say though, I was quite surprised on listening to them to find they're more vaudeville and cabaret than even the Plimps were back in the days, with cheeky songs about social workers called Geraldine.
Thursday night I spent trying to figure out what cool kids wear these days, and what I ought to wear for the show. I settled for stripey hoody, bootcut jeans and a Glasgow Indie Eyespy badge.
The thing was filmed in Hackney, at an industrial unit called The Stoke Newington International Airport. I was meeting my attractive young ladyfriend (whom I love very much) after work, but her phone died so I wandered the streets methodically for a while hoping to bump into her.
I did have this thought that perhaps if the presenter, Radio 1's Huw Stephens, was somehow incapacitated, and a new presenter was needed, then maybe with my experience of TV presenting (BBC 2's Culture Show and Last Night From Glasgow) and my experience of radio presenting (Strathclyde University's Fusion Radio 1999 to 2001), I'd be the ideal choice. I'd be good at interviewing the bands too, "so Patrick, when are Clockwork Bear going to reform?".
Alas, in wandering the streets looking for my ladyfriend, I arrived at the venue too late to incapacitate Huw Stephens (although we did have a wee together during an interval in the filming).
My companion and I soon got in, our names on the guestlist and everything, we found the free bar, grabbed a beer and another beer, and then hid in a shadowy corner watching other cool kids arrive. I recognised almost no one, except for some girl who looked like fashion blogger StyleBubble and then wee Patrick from Veronica Falls when he wandered in, but he doesn't really count.
There were two stages set up, a dark and moody neon-lit stage in one corner and a happy antiques fair sort of stage on the other side. The ceiling of the place was festooned with coloured shapes befitting the Topman CTRL brand, and amongst the creeping mould the walls decked with flea market/antiquey paintings and junk. I think I found an old Arthur and Martha residency flyer which seemed odd.
It wasn't long before Edwyn Collins and band shuffled on to the happy stage and launched into perfect rendition of Orange Juice's Rip It Up, I was so excited I think I weed just a little.
The crowd were urged to be all enthusiastic by some chap at the back with a microphone, and heck, I was enthusiastic, and obediently followed his directions bellowing at the crowd to move closer to the stage or crowd round the hosts. See, unlike some people, I realise that this wasn't a gig, it was the filming of a TV show, we were merely extras. Its all fake. When they film a link then the band start playing, of course they have to stop and film again to cover any mistakes or anything. Its not going out live, you don't just plough through regardless. And hell yeah, if someone's phone goes off, you stop and do it again.
So the evening went on, Uncle Huw recording linking segments with Ryan from the Cribs, who seemed a little nervous and clunky. Whilst Ryan's hair was immaculate, his leather jacket was falling apart. Like my old gigging leather jacket is pretty rough, but at least the stitching only comes away on the inside, Ryan had shoulders all falling apart, its not going to last long in a live environment, I know, I've been in live environments. His anecdotes about Steve Davis and his 1999 fanzine were hilarious, look out for them when the show is broadcast on Friday 11th March 12:05am.
At some point Shug asked him about other new bands he was getting into and he checked Shrag, which reminded me I was missing a Shrag gig at the Lexington, bah, anyhoo, I'm going to be on TV.
Now I think about it, there were some really rough bits in Ryan's interview, like how he doesn't usually watch the Topman CTRL show, he didn't like the music industry, and also that The Cribs are not working on a new album, it made me wonder "why is he here?".
I reckon I could do a music show, just a wee bootleg one, hmm, do people still listen to podcasts?
Glasvegas did a song, I'm not sure about the sound quality, it'll sound different when its on TV compared to standing at the front behind the most enthusiastic Glasvegas fans ever. They were all right I guess, a bit epic like, a touch too far up their own arses, but that's just my indie bias coming through.
Veronica Falls did two songs, Fountain and Found Love In A Graveyard, which sounded good. Whilst Patrick and James's hair was pretty good, Roxanne's was about two points less cool than usual, when it should have won by a mile.
There's a couple of other people who were there who've blogged about the evening, so when future historians write about that night, there'll be some more balanced and reliable sources. Emily Anderson's Musical Bloggery and London Thein Side both present quite concise accounts, Bright Lights and Fairground Rides provides a more verbose and entertaining account.
I can't quite remember what order the bands played in, did Edwyn play twice? Must have done, possibly for the warm up, then again after Glasvegas. Then there was an interval or a wee and fag break and Veronica Falls played, then we grabbed out coats and did a runner before Glasvegas played again.
There's a wonderful kebab restaurant down the road, where they serve lambs testicles, its preferable to listening to Glasvegas.