Improvizone gigs will be back at the end of July. Meanwhile, I've either been to or played at a few other gigs over the last couple of weeks.
California-based looping percussionist Rick Walker played a Klinker Club evening a couple of weeks ago on 20 June 2008. I went with Mike to watch him downstairs in Maggie's Bar in Stoke Newington. When he finally got to play at 11pm, after an interminable half hour of chronically grating poetry [sic] from Klinker-meister Hugh Metcalfe, and further 10 minutes of Rick trying to find an electricity supply after someone unplugged him, what I could hear was teriffic. Pitch-shifting exotic percussion noises into quasi-tuned loops, beatboxing and howling indescribable noises into his mic, the orange-clad RW was brilliant.
Sadly, he was in a totally unsuitable venue. Upstairs there was a sing-along-to-pop-songs evening going on, really loudly. The intricate Walker sounds constantly struggled against it. Every five seconds, someone opened the door to come downstairs to the bog, or go back upstairs again afterwards, each time letting in a huge rush of generic pop that overwhelmed him completely.
As I waited for Rick to begin, suppressing the urge to take out my car keys and disappear off home to escape the Hugh Metcalfe stream-of-conscious onslaught (Mike had sensibly caught a train some time before), I took some video underneath a frosted glass floor from the bottom of the stairs, of dancing shoes casting oddly sourced shadows as their owners jigged around to pop standards. Good improvizone projection material.
Also in the audience was one Jeremy Tranter, who did a heady Improvizone gig with us in April last year at Imbibe. Hadn't seen him since. None of us missed the rucking suited drunks.
A week after Rick's Klinker showing, there were a couple of Aimless Mules gigs. First we played a Friday night at the Plough on 27 June 2008. Improvizone nights are usually on a Wednesday there, the Mules had played there on a Thursday, I wondered how the Friday would compare. Answer: more people in the bar area, very few interested in the live music. Some drifted in later on though, drunk as bastards, leaving us wondering how we were ever going to get off the stage while they shouted out for more songs. It was OK. Nick's bass amp had a bad connection at the input. Immediately in the first song it started cutting out, scarring his whole evening. Usually when one person starts to have a bad gig it propagates through the rest of the band, and things started to go wrong all over the songs. Nothing critical though, and I think it wasn't a bad gig at all.
I got a second chance to try out some visuals. At the last Improvizone gig I took in a DVD, which had taken me an age to burn using the crappy DVD software on my Windows laptop, and didn't play very well in the Plough's worn player. Good then that the boffin sector of my brain had made a mental note that the Plough's projector is connected using a composite video lead. My phone can play mp4s and has a composite video output. So this time I took in one long mp4 put together from rehearsal videos Chas and I took a couple of weeks before. Joining together my compressed AVIs into one mp4 using MOVAVI is much easier and quicker than burning them onto a DVD, and I can work my phone much better than the tempramental DVD player at the Plough. Except I forgot to set my phone to flight mode. Someone rang me in the middle of the gig.
It was Irene, the Chingford Festival organiser, for whom we were playing the following afternoon at the Chingford Assembly Hall, Saturday 28 June 2008. She was calling to confirm that we were going to play twice at the Chingford Festival (to cover for a band that had cancelled). I love these all-too-rare kinds of gigs: hot summer afternoon, ample secure car park, huge stage, big PA with sound engineers, and a provincial town hall environment. Much less pressure than a full-on professional performance. Substitute provincial town hall environment for white-haired bodies sitting inexplicably close to the stage with fingers in their ears.
I drove Chas to the station after our first set, because he'd booked his train home weeks ago, and we pondered the obvious question, why don't they go ouside? It's quieter and warmer out there. I got back minutes before our second set with just the four of us, a bit shorter. Both sets went really well. Nick's amp behaved better, and we clearly benefitted from Friday night's live rehearsal.
That's it for the Mules at least until September, mainly because of Mike's and my involvement in the three No-Man gigs in late August and early September, for which we've now started rehearsing. Before then, Improvizone are back at the Plough in a few weeks.