Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Jazz hands at the dee-eye-ess-see-oh

Last night I truly stepped into the unknown and did something I've never done before: I went to a gig - on my own. 

Yes: On. My. Own.

As you know, I'm quite happy to toddle off to the cinema on my own, but a gig is something a bit different, and I've never really considered going to one without a sidekick in tow. But seeing as my usual trusty sidekick Yaz and been kidnapped by a certain other lovely person to go see Bunch of Hippies Band of Horses at the Shepherds Bush Empire, I decided to fly solo.

And who was special enough to warrant breaking the habit of a lifetime to go see? Why, Panic at the Disco of course!

Now, let's be honest straight off the bat: they were amaaaaaaazing. But that's not to say that there weren't some bumps along the way.

Things started to go just a little bit unnecessarily pear-shaped during a brief stop at HMV on Oxford Street. After becoming absolutely obsessed with Flight of the Conchords, I've been wanting to get my grubby little paws on a copy of their first EP release, The Distant Future, but was unprepared to pay the unexpectedly exorbitant price that Amazon were charging for it. Problem solved in HMV, however, where it was priced up at the princely sum of just eight of your English pounds (I don't know what it is in Quatloos, the exchange rate has been fluctuating a bit recently). Well, three of the four copies were priced up at eight quid; guess which one doofus here picked up? Yes, the only copy that had been priced up as costing a tenner. 

Cue startled look at till, and furious pointing at the three eight-pound versions.

Having eventually managed to purchase the CD at the lower price point, I wandered up to the Astoria where the gig was being held. I've never been to the Astoria before, but have wanted to see what it's like as a venue before they bulldoze it to make way for more pointless flats and characterless chain stores. Arriving there, however, I realised that the queue stretched from the front of the venue, down a side road, and halfway around Soho Square, which for those unfamiliar with this part of London, is a rather annoyingly long distance. After a five minute walk I managed to jump on the end of the queue, behind three teenage emo-girls and their mums.  To be honest, when the queue did start moving it actually moved quite quickly, which was a bit of a blessing because the emo girls decided that they wanted to take lots of close-up photographs of each other while holding the camera above their heads at a 30 degree angle. On the plus side, it was refreshing to see that the queue wasn't entirely comprised of teenage emos wearing stripy socks on their hands and displaying overly-sullen expressions. Seems like Panic's new musical direction really has opened them up to a slightly broader audience; there was even some dude their in a suit.

As the queue continued to wind its way around Soho Square the emo girls decided to write PATD on their faces, which they found absolutely hilarious, unlike everyone else in the vicinity. I decided to hold my tongue by not telling them they'd probably regret it in about 20 years, or at the point when they discovered they'd used a permanent Sharpie, because their mothers were there and really it's a parent's job to tell their kids these sort of things. And anyway, I was busy glaring at the Hare Krishna dude who was banging his tiny thumb-cymbols, handing out some kind of karmic propaganda and trying to impart his wisdom on the people queuing, knowing full well that they were a captive audience. Fortunately he decided to leave me well alone, based, I think on the aforementioned glaring and the fact that I had my headphones on. Anyway, I would only have drawn attention to the smudge of paint on his brow and made reference to the fact that it looked like a bird had shat on his face.

A few minutes later and I was in the lobby of the Astoria being patted down by some security guy, despite the fact that I'd made a bee-line for the attractive young security girl. After an unnecessarily thorough rub-down (awkward note to self: this is actually where they host G-A-Y on a Saturday night…), the security guard asked me what the hard thing in my pocket was. I was very tempted to say [insert your own joke here], but decided that honesty was the best policy and told him it was my car key. Apparently my word was good enough, because he just sighed and waved me through without making me prove it. 

All the queuing meant that I missed about half of the first support act, which was some dude called Cosmo Jarvis who I thought was actually rather good, especially his song about Jessica Alba. He did say there was some dude walking round with a clipboard where you could sign up to a mailing list and get a free download, but amid the crowd of thousands I was buggered if I could find him, so no free download for me.

Next up was a band called The Golden Silvers; note the 'The' in their name - while trying to check them out on Myspace earlier in the day I made the schoolboy error of missing it off and ended up wasting 10 minutes listening to some bizarre and rather shite Japanese band. On the other hand, though, I actually wasn't terribly interested in them anyway, although they did get a song played on 6Music this morning, so maybe I'm missing something.

Anyway, what you need to know here is that, seeing as I was on my own and the Astoria is a pretty small venue, I decided to secret myself toward the back by the bar, figuring that I wouldn't get caught up in a heaving mosh pit of teenage angst and massively unkempt haircuts in desperate need of gallons of Frizz Ease, and would be ideally positioned to make a quick getaway when the lights came up at the end. Unfortunately, it seems I wasn't the only one who thought that, and about 20 minutes before Panic came on a teenage couple and their third wheel decided to stand, well, rather close to me. As it was there was plenty of space for the two guys, but the girl had nowhere really to go. So she decided to stand RIGHT. IN. FRONT. OF. ME. 

She was actually rather short and I could see clearly over her head, but for some reason she decided that she really wanted to be standing where I was standing, so she began subtly moving back to the point that I was basically beschnuffling the back of her head. The thing is, if her boyfriend had moved along a bit she could've easily squeezed in; and to be honest, if she'd actually said something along the lines of "do you mind moving along a bit" I probably would've. Because I'm polite. But she was rude, and by the time she began ramming her handbag into my gut I decided that I was going to have none of it.

So I sniffed really loudly like I was hawking back a massive loogie.

And then I did it again.

And again.

*it rubs the lotion on its skin…*

I was just about to kick off with a massive fake-coughing fit when she clearly decided she'd had enough and dragged her boyfriend off to the bar where they glared at me every now and then. Moments before Panic came on they walked past me again and the boyfriend actually stopped in front of me, but I quickly dispatched him with my best crazed Grant Mitchell-style stare. Wuss.

All that aside, Panic at the Disco came on stage at about 21:30, and played for the best part of an hour and a half - and they were absolutely stunning. The lead singer, Brendan, has a really unique and beguiling voice that can hit some truly astounding notes. The new songs from their latest album Pretty. Odd sounded fantastic, and it seems like they were trying to retro-fit their older tracks from A Fever You Can't Sweat Out into their newer, more guitar-led sound, which worked surprisingly well. There were even a couple of acoustic tracks, and lots of interaction with the audience which led to a mass jazz-hands session. Which sadly I did not capture in the picture below.

Perhaps the only real failing of the evening was an attempt by Yaz and I to share our respective gig experiences with one another by leaving a voicemail message featuring certain songs from each gig. I left her 'Nine in the Afternoon,' while she left me 'No One's Gonna Love You'. Sadly, she could barely hear my message over the adulation of the Panic crowd, while having just listened to hers I can only assume that the song was played on an old-fashioned gramophone in an entirely different room…

Still, good times were had by all!


Tala said...

hey. I stumbled here by link-hopping on Dinah's blog, and figured I'd out myself as a lurker (hmm, strong word.. how about audience member?).

I've been to shows alone... it's unavoidable sometimes, and definitely worth it if it's a band you really want to see :).

Tara said...

Jeepers, for all they knew, you could've been a terrorist with a key-sized bomb activator in your pocket! And yet they passed you through without asking for proof. I'm kinda scared. ;)

I'm very glad to hear that you venture into the cinema by yourself. I may have mentioned this before, but I like doing that too from time to time when I need to see a movie without anyone slowing me down. I intend to see "Hellboy II" on my own this Friday.

T-Bird said...

I've never been to a gig alone before - that was pretty brave. Would you do it again?

That crazy stare dude link was scary, by the way.

Tim said...

Tala - Hey! Welcome!! Always nice for a lurker to de-lurkify themself!! Yeah, I agree - sometimes if you really want to see a band you have to go on your own. I really don't know where this whole 'doing things on your own' stigma came from, but I'd definitely do it again.

Tara - I did say to Yaz over coffee the next day that I was tempted to say it was a machete, and her reaction alone was a signal that it was lucky I didn't. Maybe next time!

Ooo, Hellboy II - I'm looking forward to that one. I think it's out in August here…

T-Bird - I'd defo do it again if I really wanted to see the band and couldn't coerce/force/drug someone into coming with me. No one really pays any attention to other people anyway, as shown by the annoying girl who tried to occupy the same space as me.

*scary stare!*

watch*paint*dry said...

Was Jarvis Cocker there? I went to three gigs in a row at Astoria and he was at all of them, I think he may live there. I love the Astoria, one of my favourite venues.

I have been to a handful of gigs on my own and it is fine, except that I couldn't go to the bar for fear of losing my excellent viewing spot. I also sometimes find myself babbling to myself in post gig excitement.

Inexplicable DeVice said...

Hmmm... You let yourself be 'rubbed down' by a man, the lead singer beguiled you, and you were at the G-A-Y venue...?

Then you'll have no objection to me confessing that the thought of you dispatching someone with a crazed stare leaves me a little hot under the collar.

Tim said...

Watch*Paint*Dry - No sign of Jarvis … unless you count Cosmo Jarvis, the support act. He was definitely not Jarvis Cocker, though. That's weird that he's always there. If you could live in a gig venue, which gig venue would you live in? I've always rather fancied the dome at the top of the Shepherds Bush Empire.

Inexplicable Device - Is that your three strikes and you're out (literally) rule?

T-Bird said...

Jarvis Cocker? Jarvis Skinny and Sexy Cocker? Pulp Cocker? Jarvis he drives all the girls wild Cocker? Jarvis cheekbones Cocker?

Jeebus H Christmas. I am living in the wrong place.

Only three strikes? What sort of a stalkee are you? You have to give at least seven. He can't help it, you're clearly massively sexy. We've all established our belief in that. It's a compliment, it is. I wish I had hot tall gents panting after me.

Inexplicable DeVice said...

That wasn't my rule, but it is now!

::Nelson Muntz style:: Ha ha. You've come out of the closet.

T-Bird, Massively Sexy Tim's other four strikes are: Love of shoes, Knowledge of French Manicures, Shopping and his seething jealousy whenever I briefly transfer my attentions to someone else. ErosWings, for example. There are at least two instances I can think of where Tim was overcome by the green-eyed monster and deemed me "fickle" and a "slut".
Pee ess, Thanks for the compliment. I am quite hot because I've just come back from swimming. I'll have cooled down soon, though.

watch*paint*dry said...

I quite fancy Coco, lots of levels to hide in. I used to like Shepherd's Bush Empire a lot but the sound has been sucky on the last 3 gigs I have been to there, really weird.

watch*paint*dry said...

@ t-bird: The very same! He was beardy and bohemian looking then, but still driving the girls wild. My friend spoke to him at the bar but I was too shy. I probably would have asked him what his favourite colour crayon was or something equally lame. Ho hum.

Tim said...

T-Bird - Am I? Really? I think you and I are alike - we're both unaware how utterly awesome we are.

After that statement, I would add that I'm probably the more modest, though.

Inexplicable Device - But you are a fickle slut. Whore!

Watch*Paint*Dry - I'd go for the Shepherds Bush Empire. I'm quite partial to the bush.

Inexplicable DeVice said...

Uh oh. You'd better not read the latest comments at mine, then.

On second thought, do. I wanna see your monster again!

WV is dbuzi. Now I want to chill out to Clair de Lune by Debussy...