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Category Archives: gig review

Save The Crane on Brick Lane!

Whilst I have fully come to terms with the fact that I will never understand everything (the Higgs Boson malarkey tends to escape me), negative public opinion regarding street art and the laws that surround it, generally comes as somewhat of a surprise.

I always think of my Mother when it comes to old fashioned thinking.  The kind of people who still find it shocking when they see men holding hands and who insist that girls should be chaperoned after dark.   Madre deeply mistrusts any hooded, young person with a spray can, assuming they were up to no good and tends to shudders at the word “graffiti”.

She’s been hailed the “female Banksy” at 10 years old.  My Mum would probably give her an ASBO

It seems like there’s a team of graffiti whistleblowers, who rule the streets across the world, whacking Perspex over every Banksy paint speck and clearing off everything else.  In Sao Paulo, the authorities also went so far as to wash away the work of a “reverse graffiti” artist who had cleaned skulls into a dirty underpass.  No one owns the dirt!  The artist, Alexandre Orion was trying to highlight the shocking pollution and when push came to shove, the authorities only washed off the part of the underpass Orion had been working on!  You’ve got to question what the actual problem is; it seems less about vandalism and more about power and government ego.

And the legalities! We could bang on about the legalities forever.  I won’t, but I WILL point out that the maximum sentence going for those “caught in the act” of graffiti is ten years; similar sentences go for drug trafficking and sexually assaulting a Chihuahua.  True story.

But even when permission is granted, pieces have been created and landmarked, street art still has no rights.

Two years ago, Belgian artist ROA came to town, saught permission to paint and proceeded to create a 40 foot crane.  Originally intended to be a heron, ROA’s design was swayed when he found out that cranes are sacred in Bengali culture.  Since then, people flock (no pun intended) to Brick Lane to take photos of the fantastic painting that ROA gave to the community.  In short, it’s a fantastic piece, it’s well loved and it is has a special place in the hearts of those who live and visit the area.

However, last week someone thought it would be a great idea to install a 10x10m corporate banner right on top of the painting declaring “Banglatown, Brick Lane, Curry Capital 2012).  They did not wait for permission (the decision won’t be finalised until 29th May), they’ve covered the crane and it’s a bloody ugly banner.  Talk about obnoxious!  Plus, once you’re up that end of Brick Lane, it’s pretty obvious that there is a lot of curry to be had.  There are 52 restaurants there, for Christ’s sake.

Do you reckon they’ll get ten years in prison for this shameless vandalism?  As if.

There’s an online petition put forward by Alternative London which needs 5000 signatures to make the council take notice.  So what are you waiting for?  Let’s unite and set the crane free!  Authorities can’t just bung up corporate advertising willy nilly and especially not over fine pieces of art.  Who do they think they are?  Art not advertising; let’s get talking.



A guide to handling gig talkers

Oh the joys of a gig. The band so close you can see their frayed shoelaces, the hot air that smells of hard work and being in the comfort of strangers. Strangers that lean on you when they’re not feeling so strong or when they’ve been a bit overzealous in the mosh pit after too many ciders. It’s a happy place. But every so often you encounter the poisonous mushroom that sprouts in the warm, damp conditions and sours the sweet taste. It happened when my Uncle took me to a gig when I was 16 and he was bouncing on the shoulder of a girl he thought was a boy who told him to f*** off. It also happened the other day, when a miserable beard didn’t like me talking to me friends by the bar. Using sarcasm as his weapon (lowest form of wit springs to mind) wasn’t too bad, but then he went forth with his toxic thoughts all over the internet. Try as I might, I can’t imagine skinheads tweeting mean things about those they fought at punk nights. Not very rock and roll.

“Totally mad night last night.  Bottled a punk then bottled it.”

Talking at a gig isn’t the end of the world, but I’ve written a quick guide for those who are less socially ept to help them deal with it. After all, the internet is littered as it is; it doesn’t need any more rubbish.

1. Prepare

As some wise old man once said “acceptance is the first step to enlightenment”. Or something like that. If you go to a gig knowing that it’s not going to be full of tongueless kids and that occasionally, one may embark on a conversation or two, then you’re going to be a lot better off when it absolutely, definitely happens . Gigs are often in public houses. Public house = open to the public. Public = people. People like to talk; we’ve all seen the BT adverts from the 90s. Spend the tube journey there mentally preparing yourself; where there are people, there be noise. You could be at the best gig in the world and chances are a patron may whisper “Bless you” to a man who sneezes. Deal with it.

 Preparing for a Bentcousin gig

2. Choose your spot

The law of logistics quite clearly state that those who are in close proximity to the band are guaranteed to be interested. And those who are hanging back a bit, getting a drink at the bar or snogging by the toilets are probably less into the band than you are. And in this beautiful world of justice, equality and tolerance, you need to accept different levels of attention. If someone is talking, move closer to the band. Chances are the gig-talkers won’t be standing near the speakers, either. Also, if you’re such a massive fan of the band, why aren’t you up the front dancing manically and sweating your tits off instead of hanging back, giving evils and looking for the next person to tell off for talking? Such behaviour belongs in Church, not at a gig.

“Shut your face.  Bentcousin are playing.” 

3. Ask nicely

Now, no one is trying to undermine your manhood or suppress your spirit. If you really feel the need to say something, then please feel free. We’re not in the punk age anymore; no one is going to smash a bottle over your head or find you afterwards in the smoking area and “do you” with a rusty nail for asking someone to be quiet. At the same time, there’s no need to be rude. We will tell our Mums.

4. Socialise

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Why not engage in some friendly banter with the vocal offenders? After all, you’re at the same gig so chances are you have similar interests. If they really are too young and the age gap really is too scary, then maybe you had better stick to conversing with your own friends. Or is it the case that you’re there alone which is why you’re getting ratty at the bright young things who are talking in the corner? There’s no need to be a sour puss because you’re lonely.

“Do you want to talk any louder?  I can’t hear the band.”

Gigs are a sociable environment and like monkeys, we engage in communal activities differently. A mother monkey may sit suckling her young, whilst the adolescents swing from tree to tree. One of the elders crouches over a log, scratching it with a stick whilst the leader monkey sifts through it’s own excrement. Who is anyone to decide on what is “gig” behaviour and how we listen to music?

If you really hate people talking so much and the helpful tips above don’t help, why not hire out Phil Collins to play a private gig for you in your basement and see how much fun you have there.

Bentcousin V Da Nihilists