We didn’t get to see much at Gigbeth on Friday, our stupidity was the problem. But stupidity driven by the pace of technological change. We’d got those fancy QR Code tickets sent to Jules’s mobile phone. She then went and bought an iPhone, losing all the texts. We were ready with our boots blacked, then had to spent a good hour finding confirmation emails and printing out the little pictures to take with us. We were cheered up by one of the codes looking like a monkey’s face (or Andrew Marr in a new BBC political journalists version of Planet of the Apes for Children in Need):
Then we got there and the guys on the door hadn’t a clue what to do with the QR Codes anyway, but they found our names on a list and were lovely — and agreed that ours did indeed look like a monkey.
The Custard Factory area looked pretty deserted when we arrived, so I’m guessing everyone was ensconced watching the Gulliemots, but we really wanted to see the Young Knives so to the Sanctuary we went. We must have arrived at a bad time as there were no bands in any of the rooms, and what people there were were — like us — awaiting the appearance of the tubby blokes from Ashby.
And then they turned up, dressed as you’d imagine Martin Bell would for a gig in the downstairs room at the Sanctuary, i.e. like Martin Bell always dresses. Maybe they were expecting conflict, but the only thing they had to battle was their lack of self-confidence. Despite churning out effortless, angular, punk anthems they seemed pre-occupied by lack of success. Bassist The House of Lords, who looked happy enough dancing about in the bubbles spurting from their one and only stage prop, said at one point “I’m glad some more people have turned up” (they had, the room was quite full by this point) and they were going on about wanting to be “as big as U2”.
That’s not going to happen, they’re good but too intelligent and difficult for the mainstream. If they were to break it would be on the strength of one song — the kind of “false big” that happens to bands like the Dandy Warhols, with the assistance of advertisers — and it was their early stuff that might have been accessible enough to do that. They played last night a hidden track from their third album — now, I really like them and have the album but that seems a wilfully obscure thing to do in front of “a festival crowd”. Maybe, they don’t really want to be that big after all.
The ‘festival crowd’ were a little non-plussed by the traditional encore-charade, the band said “bye” as bands do, and half the crowd went (off to something else? I’m not sure). They missed not only the band’s three most famous songs, but the best reception I’ve seen a band get at a Gigbeth festival. Young Knives are brill, and if they don’t mind, I’m happy for them to stay our little secret.