Situationists on the BBC Introducing stage
Ryan enjoying free Alabama Fudge Cake
A genuine massage parlour and no euphemisms
This weekend was a mini-landmark moment for Tough Love. With Situationists playing Reading and Leeds, it was the first time that one of our bands has played a major festival. Sure, HEALTH and Disco Drive have played numerous festivals and high profile gigs, but that had very little to do with us. We weren't integral to the process. We can't take credit for those achievements. This time it felt different, because both us and the band have grown together, somewhat organically these past six months. And it was a heart swelling feeling. It was a father's pride to see them grace that stage with such confidence, charm and above all, great songs. For them to be there it felt like recognition, like a nod in our direction, that people are paying attention. We don't need their sanction or approval, but it makes a difference when you have an opportunity to reach more people. They certainly received a warm response from the crowd too. I even saw one especially enamored fan request a copy of the setlist. That's fame right there.
The BBC staff were horrendously polite and welcoming, interviewing the band and filming their set for streaming on the site (which you can access here). I'm gushing here, but the whole experience was characterised by friendly faces and open arms. At least at Reading - unfortunately a rather expensive snare was stolen on the Saturday in Leeds. Not cool. Hopefully the free booze and food supplied backstage compensated slightly for that misgiving. AAA passes were an unexpected novelty: a window into an alien world. But I still think I prefer ATP's more egalitarian set-up. I like being able to speak to Thurston Moore without him worrying if I'll steal all of his Doritos and green tea.
Rather than slide too far in solipsism, we also took the opportunity to watch some other bands that I should probably mention here. Well, the good ones anyway. Pulled Apart By Horses were not only noble gentleman, but a fraught and aggressive live act, with a nice line in Bill & Ted phraseology. The lead singer played hard enough to projectile vomit, which is much better than shitting in a towel.
Vampire Weekend were tight and absorbing, perhaps attributable to the fact that we were lucky enough to be stood about 2 metres away from them. From the perspective of the stage, thousands of people singing back every word in blissfully tuneless unison is both utterly terrifying and wonderfully captivating. The new song sounded a bit ropey though, like a poorly conceived version of their Discovery side project.
Flashguns were of the same school of Bombay Bicycle Club (perhaps literally), but with a more engaging frontman. There's a tendency to fetishise youth, as if their tender years some how make the songs better, whilst condescendingly inferring that they'll only improve as they become more adult. It's their youth that instills the songs with charm. These songs couldn't be sung by a band of thirty-somethings. That would be disingenuous, whereas Flashguns have a wide eyed naivety that is tenderly compelling. Apparently Rough Trade have taken note too...
Friendly Fires were the highlight though. "Paris" is one of the pop songs of the year, or last year, or whenever it came out. The specifics are irrelevant, because it sounded as good on Friday as it did the first time I heard it. Ticker tape, a Notting Hill Carnival type troupe of drummers and two Vegas style peacock suited dancers were also instrumental in winning me round. And slinky hips. The lead singer has the most fluid hips I've seen since Boogie Nights. He might like to consider purchasing some clothes that fit him though. Exposed midriffs are so 90s.
And that's about it. Most of the other bands I saw were terrible or unworthy of mention. But I was only there for one day. I'm making a trip to Offset next weekend, giving me ample opportunity to see all the great bands that were spread across the other two days (Wild Beasts are very high up that list).
Situationists have promised to write a post assessing their experiences, replete with pre-requisite rock 'n' roll tales of debauchery I'm sure. Or not, given that they're not awful anachronistic cliches.