So it seems like some horrible tradition that every time we return to brummagem after an overseas adventure, there's another historic and awesome local venue shutting down/about to be shut down/scared of being shut down.
This time it's the Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath. I've been watching and playing shows in that building since 1995. jesus. It's now one of the best stages and rooms in the city, with gigs run by a lovely bunch of people who work hard for it AND understand not only how important smaller venues like this are to our bedraggled local musical community, but to the massive global scene of established touring bands that can't guarantee 500 people to every show.
And now they're scared cos someone's trying to build residential nearby, and our shitty council has a reputation of favouring noise complaints over culture/music/scene/happiness of population.
Why should we have to? Why should we consistently have to be so scared and wary. Fuck, I'd like to build a flat next to the hare. I'd like to build flats next to all my favourite venues so i have less distance to my own bed and can have bitchin afterparties in my kitchen.
Our council sold us out years ago when we got bullring. We just wanted a clean shopping centre, with lights that worked. We got (for like, 6 months, thanks spain) Europes Largest Shopping Hub. (The lights still flicker tho)
That was a massive investment, and to keep that reputation, those high end chain stores in business and paying the rent, Birmingham went all snog marry avoid, stripped the grime from its face and tried to fool the rest of the country into thinking it was some kind of culturally aware rennaisance town. The words "trendy" and "upwardly mobile" were probably used at demographic appropriation meetings.
We (as in the city council, me personally was mostly taking pills and listening to Chicago bands) tried to lure people from the rest of the country in with a succession of reasonable priced (for them LOL) high rise flats within stumbling distance of bullring; like a less dramatic (more brummy) version of the hacinda, the eastside punk scene was systematically replaced over a couple of years by a bunch of apartments with a picture of a guitar on their corporate branding.
Even the Rotunda, an epic start to finish story of civic fail and the most iconic piece of skyline we can claim, had false walls and extra toilets installed so customers people could live inside it.
What had been a derelict dingy mess full of discount stores and boarded up failures literally became the new city centre. The old city centre, Corporation Street and surroundings, became a derelict dingy mess full of discount stores and boarded up failures, but if yr one of Birminghams trendy and upwardly mobile new recruits, you can live in your flat, spend your money in the shiny bullring, and never even see the weird grey deathsprawl that lies north of New St station.
Urgh and really there's no point me whining about it anymore. This is what cities do now. cheap space gets filled by people with no money> people with no money make the best art> cheap space gains reputation from art and becomes expensive space>artists move out
all our council did was encourage the shortening of that cycle cos they realised people with multiple credit cards were more likely to buy expensive sushi and seasonal fashion than a bunch of hobos and punks with embarrassing accents. and, y'know, CHEAP LAND.
this is how cities work now.
so i find petitions like this, no matter how needed, desperately embarrassing. a petition against a proposal for a possible flat to be filled with person or persons unknown that might be selfish idiots. After all those guys and girls have worked for, all the promotion and the hours and sheer love over money mindset that's meant the Hare now has a reputation outside of 0121, they don't even know the name of the idiot thats going to fuck them.
The selling point of city centre living is, city centre living. Like, you live amidst the buzz and excitement and clamour and noise. The arrogance of someone who would move into a flat on Westside and complain about the Rainbow, or opposite the Hare and complain about loud music, frankly, astounds me darling. These are the people we should be specifically targeting and petitioning. - WHY DID YOU MOVE HERE? WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, THINK YOU ARE AN IDIOT AND SHOULD MOVE SOMEWHERE MORE SUITABLE. WE WERE HERE FIRST.
Because the council's always fucked us over, and the worse the economy gets, the larger the deathsprawl, the less incentive they have to invest in art and culture and anything that may or may not see a return in 5/10 years time. They'll always side with the noise complaint idiots. It's not that they don't want us, they just need that idiots money cos we spend all ours on guitars and vodka and gig tickets. This is what our cities are now.
I think the flat will get built. Cos they always get built in the end, and i am a negative person.
but i do think there's good and reason in every human being ever, and i can't help notice how anonymous the constant barrage of threats and closures and license removals are. Has any of us, ever tried talking to any of them?
Lets ignore the cops and the council and everyone in the middle and invite ourselves over with a bottle.
We can be like, thanks for choosing to be part of this community, because cliquefuck or no, that's what they've done. They found us attractive and wanted to be part of it. We can explain that if it wasn't for the Hare and Hounds, or the Flapper, or the Rainbow (or whatever venues next), then Birmingham would be off map for 100s of touring bands around the world, and it's taken years of constant non profit work to build the reputation of these places, so please don't call the council if you get some teenage puke on your doorstep or some police sirens in your dreams because it's a really small price to pay for living in an active and thriving and exciting and connected and FUN part of town.
Wah wah. i know this is hella gay and emo, urgh sharing feelings, is totally not the birmingham way, but honestly, we played like 20 american quasi-legal basements/houses/apartments/warehouses last month, and they all exist because somewhere along the line, some people had conversations something like that one above.
In Chicago, the council only shuts them down when they turn into full on 3 story 5 days a week drug fuelled punk squats. In Durham, our hosts Joe and Ashlee live in this beautiful converted apartment next to the town hall. It was out of their price range, so they wrote to the land lady explaining they were both part of the art community that Durham sells/prides itself on, and it seemed unfair to price them out of their own city centre. In a dozen towns notable for nothing, kids asked their neighbours to be cool and let them have a few hours of noise each month, then they asked their friends to be cool and not act un-neighbourly.
AND IT FUCKING WORKS YOU CUNTS SO WHY DOESN'T IT WORK HERE.
So far, America, you have missed:
Us playing in Wilmington. Us on a beach at night. Us staying in a mansion. Us on a beach in the day. Us failing to play a Halloween show in Durham in costume. Us being jealous of everyone's lovely houses. Us climbing onto a roof opposite the Lucky Strike factory and setting off fireworks. Us playing to 7 people in a sports bar in Richmond. Us projecting shapes onto the Lincoln Memorial and us playing a rad show to lovely people in DC whilst SOME CUNT STOLE MY FUCKING IPOD TOUCH FROM OUR DRESSING ROOM.
We've been playing shows supporting the excellent Hammer No More The Fingers and it's almost over and it's been rad fun and THERE'S NO TIME TO BE SAD.
our last show with them is today/tonight/11/3/2012 at Golden West in Baltimore MD
the next leg of tour-lamb is going to be at least 1 whole sense better cos Mr Ben Rausch will be rejoining us to do his awesome visual projection magic:
4th - The Fire, Philadelphia PA tickets with Hop Along and The Sidekicks
6th - Glasslands Gallery, New York NY tickets with Motive and Rumours
7th - Great Scott, Alston MA, tickets with Guillermo Sexo and Speedy Ortiz and Infinity Girl
8th - Sierra Grill, Northampton MA, 10pm $3 with Pachangacha, Nervous Passenger and Speedy Ortiz
9th - Binghampton University, Vestal NY, free entry, with Steve Labreque's Wild Ride
and then, home stretch, we're joined by our labelmates, responsible designated drivers and rad punk rock band, Nervous Passenger.
AND THEN FUCKING CANADA YEH?
thanks to the beyond helpful and super awesome music band Elos Arma, who'll be our support and emotional crutches for the whole leg.
21st - Blackshire Pub, London ON with Elos Arma and More More
22nd - TBA, Guelph ON with Elos Arma and Bowjia, $5 all ages
23rd - TBA, Toronto with Elos Arma
24th - TBA
25th - Montreal TBA
tbas will be a'd in the next week, we'll shout about it loudly for sure.
two things we cannot stress enough yo:
1) this is thee most fun ever
2) fuck nose when we'll be able to afford to come over again so you should totally book that flight
3) if anyone has an Ipod touch they want to offload for cheapy price (real cheapy) then plz get in touch
SEE YOU SOON!
WHY MUST EVERYTHING HAPPEN ALL AT ONCE VS LONDON IV: THE LAST STAND
no time for introductions, all these bands are rad and you'll regret missing them. unless yr already coming, in which case everything is totally fine between us and it's you that's making a THING about it.
Stephen H Davidson - him from Tellison, all heartybreaky ahhhhh
The Spills - THE GREATEST BAND IN THE COUNTRY RIGHT NOW STOP ARGUING WITH US AND LISTEN TO THIS
Evans The Death - stunning fortuna - grrl - pop with melodies that make the 90s seem kinda embarrassing
how rad it will be if you all print out and make them and the front row is all ghost faces. excited! You will need string to thread thru the holes. and scissors for cutting. and a responsible adult. hey i can cut a fucking ghost out on my own, mom.
there's a few tickets available here and there should be some at the venue too. probably.
sorry to wait so long to divulge all this. it wouldn't be us if it wasn't delivered last minute and sweaty right?
the end and everything after: it's just gone 1am and it's mostly over. The venue is empty, erie dark and silent. We've finished loading out and go back in for goodbyes. We're slightly drunk and slightly high and still damp and dazed from the show. The bar staff are sitting round a table downstairs, smoking and waiting for us to clear out. One of them has a big fur coat like richey manic. I wander over to borrow a light. - and then we'll be out of your lives forever, i say. She looks me in the eyes, and, in the most bored voice in Nottingham tonight, sighs - excellent.
and our tour is over.
The worst part about being a touring circus, easily my most heart busting problem of being in a band, over money, sales, money or whatever, is leaving places. and the better the show/scene, the nicer the people, and the more we do it, the harder it gets. It's like being trapped in some terrible indie quantum leap episode, where every day you wake up in a new town, make new friends and see new bands and then come midnight you drive to the omnipresent magic travelodge. and when you pull out of the carpark the next morning, you have to start all over again.
THIS MONTH HAS BEEN THE WORST FOR THAT.
by which i mean, the last month has been the most positive and awesome time ever. I don't just mean the usual; many people came and everyone had fun speech, tho that happened mostly everywhere and everywhere respectively.
October is bands on tour season. we peek at each other thru blacked out splitter van windows in service stations at 3am. After a few days on tour, you can start to feel kinda processed; no matter how awesome (you think) your little circus is, yr still just venue fodder, calender filler, a bubble easily burst by one bored barmaid with an excellent coat and the only lighter.
bar staff of the toilet circuits of the world, this time you were too late. We have consistently had our minds bent out of bitterness on this tour. We didn't have to argue for a bottle of gin once. That's never happened before. We've met bands that we've never heard of that are AMAZING. We've met promotors that promote! Promotors that love what they do and want to be proud of their local talent and fucking work and flyer and network and help and foster a scene and make it look like the easiest, most natural thing ever. In that way, this tour has felt like a succession of party crashes, where, up until we play, we're never quite sure if people are there because we are, or there because it's clearly the best place to be.
It's also been the total opposite of that. I told you our minds were messed up. It's not just being overwhelmed by so many familiar faces, it's that all you faces seem to know each other, or have come to visit each other, or are-dating-and-blatantly-in-love-with each other. It feels like some massive messed up beautiful family reunion and we got to play prodigal son each night. So many alternate universes we could settle down in..
I'd like to think that this is no fluke. That we have left behind the world of promotion being a 3 year old black and white photo of us in a window, and local support bands who want to be lost prophets or whatever. I'd like to think of this tour as a statement of where/what "our" scene is, post crash, right now. And, best of all, it really has fuck all to do with us. Most of these shows would have been awesome shows even if we never turned up. A whole bunch of thriving communities starting to see the rewards of the last few years graft. People proud of -their- bands. For all the cynics in this industry that are my age or older, THE KIDS ARE GOING TO SHOWS AGAIN.
So this tour ends on a small piece of forgotten grass just outside Birmingham city centre by the abandoned old train station, us and playlounge lighting the last of our sky lanterns and watching as they sail out of view over the skyline. urgh hippies.