Tuesday, September 20, 2005

stephen malkmus and the jicks @ koko

headed down to Koko tonight to check out Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks (former Pavement fontman). Koko is the new name now bestowed on the former Camden Palace. the place has enjoyed a refit, with blood-red walls and gaudy gold, gilt trimmings. it’s also home to an enormous, sparkly mirrorball spinning over the main dance-floor which gives it a nicely trashy Studio 54 feel. Koko’s major downfall is its lack of adequate bathroom facilities – a major issue when serving alcohol - and its overpriced bar – the only gig venue where you pay £3.20 for a can – not even draught! – of lager. saying that though - the excessive queues have led to some great conversations with other women - i've been invited to front someone's goth band because i had cool shoes on, been drawn into a debate on csi vs. desperate housewives and i've even spoken to someone's boyfriend on the phone while she went for a wee.

so, the place does have its charms. Koko has retained its three tiered structure, so the place looks like a magnificently gory cake. the dance floor is so small that even when standing at the back by the bar, you get a pretty good view of the main acts, but the real top spot in my humble opinion, is on the first section behind the shiny black lacquered sound desk – a great tech-y spot where you can happily read the set-list and watch the techies key up the lights in time to the beats. unfortunately, such extra charms makes this an extremely difficult position to keep when needing either the bar or the bathroom – both activities also being necessarily linked. Koko’s layout also approaches a rabbit’s warren when it comes to travelling to either the bar or the loo – no crows fly in this place!

so, as minifig and i arrived at Koko early, we thought we’d try and bag one of the very few booths. because Koko turns into a club after gigs, it has a few seating areas – most of which are entirely useless if you’re trying to actually watch a band. but there are some crafty little tables and bar stools in the curved sections around the stage on levels 1 and 2, and so long as you’re not fussy about having an amplifier blocking part of the stage, you get a much comfier gig – and for something a little more lo-fi and chilled like stephen malkmus and the jicks, it seemed like a good idea.

it was excellent – from our newfound spot, we could see proper facial expressions on the performers and it’s the only place you have a hope in hell of getting to the loo quickly! Absolutely marvellous place to go and hang out for a gig. I have no idea what the first band onstage were called, but they were strangely intriguing. minifig absolutely despised them – and to be a fair, they were derivative – like really bad pj harvey (as if there could ever be such a thing) mixed with a heavy dose of rizzo from grease and the do me bad things. they were like a sixth form band – but from Cheltenham ladies’ college with one older, bad-influence-boy. the song writing was poor and repetitive and the performance was quite affected and self-conscious – but perhaps because of these flaws, i found them quite engaging. and although their lead singer is a bit irritating, she’s extraordinarily pretty, which, if you look at most crappy music channels, obviously is part of the package these days. if anyone else was there at the gig and knows who this band is, please leave a comment and let me know.

clor were up next. i decided a while ago that i didn’t like clor and i still think that they are the weakest group in the current new-wave of guitars and synth bands. i would probably award the prize for best guitar/synth band to the kaiser chiefs – better lyrics than the killers and they remind me a lot of pulp, of whom I am extremely fond. plus they were pucker at glastonbury. however, clor were entertaining, tight, had a great, full sound, expressive performance and their song-writing is actually quite fascinating – lots of neat little sound games. if you get a chance to see them, do.

stephen malkmus and the jicks were laidback and self-assured with a fabulously dingy, grungy, spaced out guitar sound that reminded me of sitting sulkily in my room as a teenager, staring moodily into the mirror. malkmus’s songwriting is so subtle and warmly familiar – plus he is incredibly likeable because he doesn’t play the big moody rock star game - which is obviously good fun with some bands – but its absence is enjoyable where the jicks are concerned. despite all this goodness, however, the gig was pretty much thoroughly spoilt by two wasted teenage boys with stinky flailing limbs and dodgy balance, sweating and swaying all over the place just before stephen malkmus and the jicks came on. they were so stupidly wrecked i don’t think they noticed that three people left our little booth, and rudely elbowed minifig out of the way halfway through the set before assaulting me with their pissed up antics.

if you want to get wasted - go to a pub, and if you want to hurl yourself around at a gig - go into the pit. do not, ever, get so pissed, that you forget who you’re seeing, or end up inadvertently battering everyone standing either side of you. if you love the band so much you want to be as close to them as possible, get there earlier – don’t screw up other people’s night. a special nod here should go to radiohead, who, at south park in oxford, gave wristbands to the first few people that hurled themselves across the park and to the front of the stage, a good ten hours before radiohead played – enabling us to get food, pee and chill out without fighting with pissed up bullies later on in the night. Hurrah!

gripe over. now i guess it’s time for me to stand outside and shake my fists at the passing youngsters! maybe i should start keeping an excessive number of cats and swearing at people in the street....


At 25 September, 2005 20:04 , Anonymous anna said...

oooh, teenage mirror staring! oh so familiar. & the do me bad things - i saw them at truck that time we went. & camden palace - sorry, koko - & teenage pissheads & overpriced alcohol & toilet queues - sigh.

you make me miss london (not as much as i miss you, obviously).

At 26 September, 2005 11:27 , Blogger Effortlessly Average said...

Your adventure sounds like what my buddies and I used to do in college: show up early, get the good seats, watch the various bands on stage, pick up girls. Well, you didn't do the pick up girls part as far as I know, but you did have more interesting conversations while taking a bathroom break. Guys just stand there talking about girls or football scores (sorry, that's American football scores). I wonder if/when we'll hear these bands on this side of the pond.

btw, thanks again for the nice comments about my blog. I hope you enjoy it. And I personally think CSI is way better than those needy, whiny, clingly, housewives. lol.


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At 26 February, 2006 02:29 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

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