Supersonic Festival 2011: Day 1 – Part 1 (Some Thoughts on a Train)

Hey ladies. And gentlemen too, I guess.

So Supersonic Festival 2011 kicks off this evening in the fine post-industrial city of Birmingham. And that’s where I am travelling to as I write this, on the 10:00 Virgin Trains service to Birmingham New Street, delayed by about an hour due to vandalism on the line by what I think I would be well within my rights to generalise as a bunch of idiots.

Here's me writing this post that you are now reading, on the train.

It’s a train journey so there’s not much to report. Not sure why I would even write this, but I got bored, and can’t sleep, or focus on reading (annoying because there’s books I want to read).

Last night I went for a drink with some work colleagues, which is not something I normally do because I am bad at socialising, but it turned out to be totally pleasant because nobody was really there just to get drunk. We sat and chatted, and I tried to explain to people that I would be performing live on Saturday night with an instrument that I have never touched, and isn’t even built yet… More on that later.

On a completely unrelated note, while at work I was speaking to a girl who disputed my claim that I can remember with perfect accuracy strange singular details from certain moments in the past, such as the pair of trousers I was wearing when I last played badminton with my friends in the School badminton club (which I went to probably twice), or that exact piece of music I was listening in certain exact places at certain exact times. I recognise the point she was making, about memory most often being extremely inaccurate (which is something I read about last year in The Invisible Gorilla), but this isn’t my false realistic remembering of a subjective event, in most cases it’s a memory of a an actual object in an actual place. In many cases it feels like it’s imprinted on my brain, that I was walking somewhere, or sitting somewhere, listening to an album on my Discman or mp3 player. Now that I have last.fm on my phone which I now use as my mp3 player, I’ll pretty much have a record of all that going forward anyway, but still, I was thinking about it this morning.

For an example, in 2003 and 2004, Murray and I saw the band Yes performing live. I remember very clearly several details from the trip to Edinburgh, including that I purchased a Frank Zappa box-set named Threesome No.2 containing Hot Rats, Waka/Jawaka, and The Grand Wazoo, and also Forever Changes by Love. I think there may have been another, but if there was, I do not remember what. I also remember Murray purchased The Flaming Lips’ Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, which we listened to in his Dad’s car on the way home. I also remember that my parents were on holiday that week with my sister, and when I got home to the house sometime after midnight, I put some of this music on the stereo, and felt really weird and lonely, because it was one of the first times I was basically staying all on my own in a house for a whole week. Also because Forever Changes is an album that’s mostly about loneliness and despair and confusion.

Is this memory false? I don’t remember everything in clear detail, just several specific moments out of context, plus some albums that I bought and own. Those details I remember are clear as day in my mind… But then again, as she pointed out, that’s kind of how this illusion works. Maybe she’s right, maybe it didn’t happen like that at all…

Oh, but right now I am listening to Stained Glass by Kayo Dot (which happens to feature Trey Spruance of Secret Chiefs 3 who will be performing this morning at 12.50AM – words cannot describe how excited I am about that fact) and I am very vividly recall a time, earlier this year, when I was walking into town, listening to Stained Glass on my now obsolete Creative Zen, and I was walking alongside the Clyde while the twenty minute piece’s controversial synth solo happens, and it made me feel profoundly emotional, sadness and loss and bitter regret all at once.

Stained Glass by tobydriver

I don’t know how that memory could be false, because to this moment, that music makes me feel this way. Though some of the details may be incorrect, I firmly believe I was listening to this song walking beside the river Clyde. I’m pretty sure I went home and told somebody about it too, because I felt real weird about it at the time, and I tend to tell people about stuff like that.

Anyway… just some thoughts about the fallibility of memory, which of course has nothing to do with anything. Train has now just passed Penrith, and Stained Glass is nearly over – 20 minutes is way too short for this song. Next up, Bjork’s Biophilia, which is friggin’ awesome (possibly the second best kind of awesome there is).

At Supersonic this evening, I am due to start working at 8.00, though I do not yet know in what capacity. Presumably box office like last year, but we shall see. The box office has moved location this year to across the canal. I’ll post this when I get to the hotel, and later on, before I leave, I’ll probably write something actually about Supersonic instead of a delayed response to a conversation from 15 hours ago that nobody cares about.

Cheerio for now.

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