Sunday, 16 December 2007

Earth, Boris, SunnO))), London 11th December 2007

I suppose the tale starts here. I was in work on Sunday, not really paying any attention at all to what I was doing, and suddenly six o'clock rolled around and I was out the door like a shot, and went straight up to my parent's house in Halewood, as this is closer to Ste's and is therefore better for both of us.

Ste knocked off work and we went out into Woolton for "a quiet pint"... we all know how that dance goes, as we've all danced it before. The last thing I remember about Sunday night is drinking sake in Ste's living room and then knocking all kinds of stuff over in the kitchen trying to make a cup of tea.

The first day of travelling starts off the way that all mine and Ste's trips away this year have done; with Ste slapping me around the face saying "Patchie! Get up you lazy twat we're late!" and late we were. The coach I'd booked (the luxury, leather seated behemoth with a half hour break in Birmingham for a smoke and a leg stretch) had left ages ago. I knew that sake was a bad idea, but it seemed like a good one at the time. Cut a long story short, they charged us extra (on top of the extra we'd paid for the luxury coach) to travel on a shitty one all the way there with no break. I got my own back by booting a cup of tea over in the aisle though. Cunts.
Anyway, arriving in London, there's been a car crash in Golder's Green and the scuffers have closed off the road. Deciding that ditching the coach here, and leaving my mobile phone on it, then making our own way to the meet-up would be a good idea, we do just that.
Four hours later, we have walked all the way from Golders Green to Camden.
We walked for four hours. Still, we saw some cool stuff. I can't remember what most of it was, but we must have done because we weren't killing each other by the time we arrived at the World's end in Camden. Crossing the road outside the venue, we bumped into Tom (who he hadn't seen since the Supersonic festival in Brum this summer) and his mate, and off we headed for a pint. I popped outside for a smoke, and look up to see a guy with a long beard squinting at me. It was a friend of ours, Radokaz from Slovenia who we met in Norway earlier this year. So we go back inside to catch up and drink some more, and then Jonas appears from nowhere. Well, from Stockholm actually, but you get the drift. This is weird, it's the five of us who hung out together in Norway for the sunn gig in Bergen all drinking together in London for the sunn gig there. Anyway, we go downstairs to meet people from the messageboards we all use on the internet, then it's more fucking walking to get to the venue.
Earth are on stage first, they play well and sound great, but I'm not really that big a fan of their newer, epic-country-and-western-soundtrack style. Give me Phase 3 or Extra-Capsular Extraction any day. Now it gets a bit mad, as far as I was aware this show was something along the lines of sunn and boris present Altar; with special guests Earth. Now to me, that implies that Earth are the support band, and that sunn and Boris will then come out together to play their Altar album together, right?

Wrong.Boris come out and play a set that is basically their Flood album. Boris live are amazing, this is my third time of seeing them, and I am absolutely convinced watching them that I am witnessing the kind of thing people who saw Pink Floyd in 1971 got to see, proper out-there one of a kind type music being played by great musicians. Half way through their set I start to get excited because this must mean we are going to get to see a full sunn set too. So Boris finish, the crowd are happy with the set and the roadies clear the stage, setting up sunn's backline.

We had heard from friends who had played at and had been in attendance at the previous day's ATP festival in Minehead that sunn members had a fight on stage, so we were just wondering exactly what was going to happen tonight. Smoke fills the stage and one by one the members of tonight's lineup come out on stage. And then, mine and Ste's favourite Hungarian comes out, Atilla Csihar. And he is in the biggest mind-fuck of a costume ever, like the king of the evil forest or something, and I am so glad that I haven't taken any drugs. No picture can do it justice, but I'll have a go:
The set is awesome, this is the fourth time we've seen them this year (and sixth overall) and I must say that their live performances keep getting better and better, especially the theatrical elements of it all. Wave after wave of drone with the bass making your chest vibrate, and banks of fog with Atilla swaying inside them, can't be beat. It seems a pretty short set though by the standards I'm used to from sunn, but I suppose the main event is yet to come.
(and no, they didn't have any on-stage fisticuffs)
The stage is again, swathed in smoke, and bathed in red lights, and sunn, boris and Jesse Sykes come out and play The Sinking Belle. Jesse's vocals are absolutely haunting, Ste shot a video of it that he posted on youtube and it's since made it's way onto Stephen O'Malley's personal blog.
They don't play all of Altar, but Atsuo's drumming on Etna and for most of the show are astounding, he bashes the shite out of the gong so much that roadies have to come and hold it steady; then he crawl over his drumkit and falls backwards into the crowd, getting passed to the back of the hall then back up onto the stage again. Total class, we left feeling happy that we'd travelled all the way to London (again) to see a gig (again).
Afterwards, we walked to a hostel and sneaked in, staying in the warm TV room until we could leave for the second part of the adventure at 4am.....
After a night of squatting, we left the Hostel quietly at 4am and walked, GPS system in hand, to the train station. It's 70 minutes and £12 each to Gatwick on the train that will get us there in time to check in and leave the country, the 4.45am. Neither of us have had so much as a wink of sleep since those few alcohol addled hours on sunday night, and to say that the journey to the airport was one of the trippiest times of my life would be an understatement. Luckily, the gods are smiling at us and at no point does anybody approach us with a demand that we buy a ticket or pay the £25 each penalty fare. Result, a warm hostel for nothing and a free ride across the city to the airport.
I slept in various places of differing levels of comfort, and we arrived in our hostel in Dublin around 1.45pm, checked in, went on the internet for a bit, then slept til teatime. Bliss.
We'd made plans to return to Eamonn Doran's, the scene of many a drunken jukebox-and-guiness-fueled Dublin night out for me and Ste, but the need for sleep and the subsequent need to eat from Subway took over I'm afraid, next time then. We made our way to the venue, Whelan's, and proceeded to get stuck with some guy from New York who was convinced we were Scottish. Anyway, we thought we were in the venue, but we were actually in the bar next door. When we got to the venue it was absolutely packed, seems that Pelican and High on Fire are quite a crowd puller over here.
I used to be a massive Pelican fan, right up until they released City of Echoes and then I sort of went off them for a bit. Watching them in Whelan's had me kicking myself; live, they are absolutely amazing. If you have never heard Pelican before, they fall into that instrumental, post-rock type category, but they are heavy live, exactly what it is that makes them heavy is difficult to put your finger on though. Sort of like Capricorns with less Motorhead influence.
High on Fire are brilliant. Last time (the first time) I had seen them in Manchester, I had literally just stepped off a plane from Las Vegas and had a week's worth of Jetlag catching up on me, and to be honest, I couldn't tell you a single thing about that gig except that I was there. At least, parts of me were. In Dublin though, they are rocking. We met a Ducth girl called Matilda who's friend had brought her along on the premise that High on Fire sound like a mix of Black Sabbath and Motorhead. She is bored by the band so we buy her a drink. Meanwhile, the crowd are going ballistic to High on Fire, and their scuzzy, fuzzy metal goes down a storm.
We leave, boozed up, to eat at a 50's style american diner. Staffed by Mexicans  In Ireland. Three hours later we are back up and on a plane to merry old England.

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