Day 2, Part 2: Supersonic Saturday

No photos in this one at all because, whoops – forgot to bring me camera. Oh well, will make up for that today hopefully.

So, I popped out for what I intended to be a brief browsing of the shops, but I quickly realised my horrendous miscalculation when I stepped onto New Street – Saturday afternoon in the busiest pedestrianised area of Birmingham – and likely the Midlands. Anyway, ended up in the Bullring and quickly regretted that too. I ducked into HMV, which was quieter, and ended up spotting a fair deal. The Monkees Original Album Series – the first five Monkees albums. Yes, the Monkees. I like the Monkees alright.
Anyway, after that I grabbed some lunch from Tesco then struggled my way back to the hotel to eat and get away from the Saturday hordes. In the end, this led to me not leaving for Supersonic until 3:45, which meant I missed God’s White Noise. Shame really, but hopefully there’s some recording of it I can find later.

Anyway, caught Eagle Twin, which was awesome in pretty much the way I expected, For a two-man band, they’re a real doom powerhouse. Love Gentry Densley’s voice. Nice crunchy guitar tone too. After that I popped up to the Old Library for a taster of Lichens, which seemed pretty interesting, but the Old Library seems to have an issue with overcrowding. Ended up behind a big supporting beam. Then it took me ages to squeeze my way back out again. Hopefully it won’t be so bad tomorrow, especially if I take the back route I discovered. But I may not even get a chance – will have to find out if I can work a part of my first shift half-hour earlier so I can duck out for Ruins.

This was followed by Gnaw, Alan Dubin’s post-Khanate project, whom I had been meaning to listen to for a while. I really need to get on that, because Gnaw are a pretty striking proposition. I’ve always thought of Khanate as being a deconstruction of various doom metal tropes, but Gnaw is like a Venn diagram intersection between doom, industrial, noise and ambient. Dubin’s voice is terrifying as ever. And the drummer (whose appearance reminded me of Matt Berry of all people) was playing some interesting things. Hell, the whole band was top-notch and moved in a very different and more varied direction from Khanate.

And then it was time for Dosh, another one-man project, with a distinctly chilled-out vibe. Quite a nice come down after Gnaw. Lots of looping and breaks and bleeps. I ducked out early though to head to the Theatre to catch a panel called Fear of Music whose subject matter struck me as remarkably close to an observation I made to my sister fairly recently – namely that modern or abstract art has fairly wide audience acceptance (eg. Rothko), yet the same is not so true of abstract music (eg. Stockhausen). The title and subject comes from a book by panelist David Stubbs, which I will very shortly be buying based on the ideas expressed in this panel. The other two panellists were Brian Duffy of Modified Toy Orchestra, and Christian Jendreiko whose God’s White Noise performance I had unfortunately missed earlier. Interesting to see the conflict between Duffy’s art-as-entertainment, and Jendreiko’s art-for-its-own-sake mindsets. Ultimately it seems a lot of the barriers exist due to the temporal dimension music has but painting does not. In music people have to stay for the duration to really experience it, but for paintings they just walk past, maybe look at it for a minute and move on.

Unfortunately, I had to leave about 20:50 to go sign in for my 21:00 ticket shift. This time though, there was almost nothing to do. Most of the tickets had already come through. So we wound it up about 22:00 and took to tidying up. Box office team leader Eduardo got a fright when we returned only three of the e-ticket PDAs, so we went on the hunt for a missing one. Turns out he had put it away in the box under the press/guest list table. Panic averted.

Also happened to be there when Michael Rother showed up with Hallogallo. Didn’t talk to him or anything, but good gods that man is an enthusiastic presence.

Anyway, after doing some wrapping up, we were done in time for Godflesh, which was nice. Thing is, I’ve really not delved very deeply into the Godflesh pool yet, and I find their music quite cold and disconnecting. It worked well live though, so hopefully that’ll satisfy the proper Godflesh fans. It did seem oddly quiet though. Notably quieter than earlier acts. I wonder if it was an SPL restriction on the venue after that time of night. More than a few people were shouting for it to be louder in between songs, but it seemed like a perfectly reasonable level to me. I’d rather it were that loud than deafening. After all, the louder it gets the more definition gets lost in the sound. If you’re there to listen it’s diminishing returns, but if you’re also there to “party” or “lose yourself” or whatever lingo the kids are using, I guess it was a bit low for that.

I left a little early to get some fresh air, a snack and a seat out next to the pool. Then I headed to the outside stage for Melt-Banana. Now Japanese culture seems a lot more accepting of weirdness than our western culture, but MB are weird in a way that simply can’t be fully accounted for by their nationality. Melt-Banana are a schizophrenic kid’s show soundtrack on speed.

I saw them last year in Glasgow, and they were just as fun this time. They opened the set with a fifteen minute headlamp-lit drum and bass and squealing noise routine before jumping into MB proper. They did their 9 short songs routine too, which is always a crowd pleaser. I even recognised quite a few of the songs even though I only have the one MB record.

Anyway, after that I headed back here to the hotel.

Tomorrow, the plan is slightly different, because I really need to see a couple of extra-curricular performances – particularly the Steve Reich’s Pendulum Music cleverly re-interpreted through the medium of light-detection rather than pure audio feedback. I have two new jobs tomorrow: tidying and merch. Merch should be fun, will get a chance to hang out with band-folks and splurge on a couple things myself. Also, it puts me right in earshot of the Hallogallo performance, which is extremely handy. Just need to work out the Ruins conflict and I’ll be golden.

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