I mention this, because prior to the gig I was elated with my imagined artistic credentials. Afterwards, I wasn’t.
Legss’ impenetrably poetic performance forced me to reassess my recent literary output. It helped me conclude that I’m still wanting.
It’s one hell of a thing when a band inspires that sort of retrospection.
English Literature Students Must Know Legss
I’ll start by setting the scene.
Upstairs, the Old Blue Last was rammed with English Literature students from Queen Mary. Considering Coronavirus achieved pandemic status earlier that afternoon, it was an impressive turnout. It also made me notice that the air was acrid, and the usual East London scents weren’t in attendance.
Before the first band, the crowd muttered of assignments due, lecture attendance, summer aspirations, and how often they’d been to Printworks.
Pints were swilled with youthful enthusiasm. Maybe gulped is better.
Someone even wandered around the crowd, shouting to his friends, “You know what we should do, we should buy some drugs.” Yet to realise that everyone does drugs and it’s not really worth screaming about.
It was cool to be present with a student audience though, however obnoxious they may have been. At least they actually seemed to be excited about something.
First up were Folly Group, an experimental, four piece electronic, punk (?) band from London.
Interestingly, they had two percussionists.
Maracas shook, pulse tubes chimed, the vocalist braaped, and the guitarist and bassist shifted scales up and down with reckless abandon.
Each song employed contrasting tempos, but the only one I recognised was Butt Not Rifle (probably because it’s the only one on Folly Group’s Soundcloud and the only one I know).
The set was interesting, but it was hard to distinguish between songs. So I guess that means some of it lacked distinction.
Before Legss took the stage, I unknowingly stood behind a young man with a mullet and a clam-shell necklace. Who knew he’d be the drummer?
Legss kicked off their set with a poem that was hard to navigate, but made the night’s keywords easily identifiable (yes, Folly Group and Powerplant got a mention).
The baseball cap adorned singer references the mundane against the literary and the group acknowledged that this was Legss main draw. Stories of the banal, and yet not so banal, spoken in a way that reminds you of how Pete Doherty rambles, but with better references and way, way more bite.
It was strange that the frontman’s manc accent (??) didn’t translate into his performance. Unless it was a concept thing about how poetry should only be spoken proper. Either way, it made for strange listening against the ‘banter’ between sets.
His lyrics bewildered, but intrigued, that may not really make that much sense when they’re drilled down, but they were the sort of thing that could inspire you to fear and question your own ability to write prose.
I’m focussing too much on the singer. It sounds like I’ve got a crush.
Instrumentally, Legss were an expected post-punk affair. One lead into a song sounded almost exactly like Slint’sGood Morning, Captain. Perhaps it was.
Everything worked, perhaps because it’s easier to weave bizzare concepts with words than experimental sounds.
Legss were bold, pretentious and very different.
I really liked Legss, but perhaps that’s down to me wanting to be bold, pretentious and very different.
You should really go and see them.
With a fill of Legss, I considered leaving before Powerplant started, but having wedged myself in the corner and suddenly surrounded by students, I was forced to stay.
Powerplant played explosive, proto-punk with some electronic elements.
The frontman had an almost Johnny Ramone bowl cut. He also kept requesting more guitar, which is in form with a Powerplant. Did you know that a coal firing power station can take up to six months to prep (clean)?
I’d heard Powerplant’s recordings before and found them flat. Not so live.
In stark contrast to Legss, it wasn’t like they were really doing anything that new, but they did play well constructed, muscular punk. While listening through all of their latest album, People In The Sun, can get samey very quickly, it was actually really electric live.
The crowd liked it too.
But I think most of them had only gone to throw beers, get soggy and inappropriately touch their friends.
Perhaps punk and metal gigs are some of the last bastions of sexual harassment.
So angry that I felt it necessary to sit on it, and reflect on why I hate The Wombats so much.
Through reflection, I’ve realised that I don’t hateThe Wombats, and their status as All Points East 2020 headliners is not a good reason to tell people to rip up their festival tickets (if yours is digital you can still smash up your phone – go on, I dare you).
Anyway, while you should still definitely NOT go to All Points East 2020, I’ll get to that in a bit.
Deconstructing why I hate The Wombats so much made me realise that actually, hating a band intensely is a real symptom of fanboyism / fangirlism / fanthemism. Because it’s the mirror-image of dogmatically repeating what you think is cool, and holding opinions that make no sense (the definition of fanboyism). Which makes sense, because that’s what music encourages you to do, by embedding lyrics and tunes in your head, over and over again.
But I don’t think dogmatism’s cool, so I decided to change my mind about The Wombats.
Here’s how I did it.
Why I Thought I Hated The Wombats
I started by rekindling my intense hatred for The Wombats.
Listening to it again helped me distil this hatred into four key points, which I wrote down and then felt pretty stupid about.
Here are the reasons.
They’re stupid, aren’t they?
1. The Wombats’ Lyrics Really Make Me Cringe
I don’t know why, but the lyrics in Wombats’ songs always make me cringe.
Take the singles from their debut album:
Kill The Director
Kill The Director involves the frontman finding himself in a situation that plays out as if it’s a romantic comedy or Eastendersepisode, and references how ‘carrots help you see much better in the dark’.
I’ve always felt like the frontman Matthew Murphy’s prose would be perfect for a BBC funded Romcom, like, I dunno, a feature-length version of My Family, which is an awful idea, isn’t it?
It’s also like it was written in reaction to an episode in which Matthew Murphy’s parents forced him to revise for his General Studies AS-Level, and his very mature reaction was to run around the kitchen table, waving his hands in the air, saying that he was going to slit his wrists because General Studies is definitely way too hard.
Let’s Dance To Joy Division
Let’s Dance To Joy Division is apparently about how the singer was in a pub in Liverpool and everyone was dancing to Joy Division (it’s alluded that the song was Love Will Tear Us Apart Again, and I think fair to assume, because that’s probably the only Joy Division song that people who listen to The Wombats know).
The chorus hinges on how ironic dancing to Joy Division is, because I dunno, Joy Division songs are about being sad, and people never dance to sad songs when they’re happy. Yeah, that’s totally a reason people don’t dance to songs isn’t it?
So yeah, I don’t think there’s anything ironic about dancing to Joy Division, and in context it comes off as a song dedicated to what I assume is Matthew Murphy’s snarky, yet poorly justified, superiority complex.
As you can see, most of my hatred here is based on a completely imagined version of Matthew Murphy. It’s like he must have stolen my girlfriend back in 2006 (ha! I didn’t have a girlfriend).
My sixth form tutor, Mrs Blay, used to let us pick music to play during morning registration.
One morning, a girl I didn’t like kept requesting on The Wombats. Mrs Blay proceeded to say they were shit.
I didn’t like that girl. I really hated that girl. So by association, I started hating The Wombats.
3. They Remind Me Of Mid-2000s ‘Indie’ TopShop Girls Who Wouldn’t Go Out With Me
I remember The Wombats as a band liked by teenage girls who’s rock / indie credentials were store bought from TopShop in the early 2000s.
Remember that uniform of stupid hats, plaid shirts, skinny jeans, oversized sunglasses and unwavering sense of superiority (over the other girls, who just didn’t understand real music)?
I don’t know why, but this really annoyed me.
Perhaps it’s because at the time, the coolest attributes I had were owning a copy of the Pixies’ fourth LP, not understanding Daydream Nation and a pretentious aversion to Best Ofs. It was also that none of the girls appreciated just how cool all of those attributes were.
4. The Wombats Are Really Inoffensive
Listen to their songs.
They’re not hurting anyone are they?
I don’t know why, but I’ve always felt like music should like say something in a pseudo-it’s-not-saying-anything-but-it-makes-you-feel-better-about-listening-to-it sort of way.
Why? I don’t know. It’s just a stupid pretension.
Why The Wombats Are Not A Good Reason To Avoid All Points East 2020
Having written down the reasons I hated The Wombats, I realised that they’re all really, really stupid and I should stop hating The Wombats immediately.
I mean, the more I think about it, the more I’m sure that The Wombats are probably alright.
It’s also impressive that they’ve managed to make a lot of money as a reasonably cookie cutter indie band, and are now headlining a reasonably big UK (day) festival almost fifteen years after they were relevant.
Finally, they’re getting a bunch of idiots to pay for their retirement, which I think we can all totally applaud.
Why You Still Shouldn’t Go To All Points East 2020
But although I’ve stopped hating The Wombats, I still don’t think you should go to All Points East 2020 and here’s why.
1. It’s Has-Been Central
With the exception of Tame Impala, all six days are a complete nostalgia trip.
That’s a quote from the video explainingAll Points East’s new, free programme of mid-week activities. It’s like it justifies how the festival is now commandeering a large portion of Victoria Park for another weekend.
While I guess it’s great that they’re pretending to do something for the local community this year, it doesn’t sound like much.
Wait, let me rephrase that. It sounds like a completely hollow cop out.
I mean, how does food, film and a circus sound any better than sitting around in the sun with your friends, watching half naked people (cinema), drinking bottled beer (food), while Australians throw rugby balls in your direction (circus)?
It doesn’t sound any different at all. If anything, my version includes more nudity.
Also, they say this portion is free, but I’m sure the food isn’t going to be.
So it’s probably just another justification for them to charge vendors more for the privilege of selling overpriced food.
3. It’s STILL Commercialisation To The MAX
American Express and Firestone are still sponsoring the event.
Which means that there’ll be a special wristband areafor twats who have American Express cards, or eat tires.
While I guess it’s a positive that such dickheads will be segregated from the wider crowd, the concept is still dreadful, and if you go to All Points East 2020, you’re endorsing it.
My review clearly explains why it was so bad last year.
While I’m not clairvoyant, given there are three more days of it this year, I can and will definitively predict that it’s going to be worse this year (or was there a whole two weeks last year? I really don’t remember)
Given the evidence, why would you go?
Why I’ll Probably Go To All Points East 2020 Anyway
So, now you know why it’s not The Wombats’ fault that All Points East 2020 is going to suck. It was going to anyway!
Also, you now know why you should revise your opinion of The Wombats too.
Despite all of these brilliant reasons not to go to the day festival, both you and I are probably still going to.
Because honestly, what else are we going to do? Balloons?
What’s Everyone Doing With All Those Chopped Tomatoes?
As I was perusing the aisles, the first thing I noticed was that the only canned food completely out of stock were chopped tomatoes. Not canned plum tomatoes, because when you’re ill there’s going to be no mashing in the frying pan.
But surely there’s only so much pasta and chopped tomatoes you can eat?
It made me wonder, what’s everyone going to do with them?
I guess they’d be good for brushing your teeth if you’re trying to hide your persistent gum disease, or a great way to create really realistic scenes of coughing blood ahead of the annual performance review.
It’s a shame, because either I don’t know enough about cooking, or everyone else is really unimaginative with their pasta.
Take it from me, you can put olive oil on it too, or even put it in a sandwich.
Baconnaise Is More Popular Than Ketchup
I don’t go round friends’ houses much, so this was a big surprise, but apparently Baconnaise is the nation’s favourite condiment (based on the definitive evidence that there wasn’t any of it left on the shelves when I went to Tesco).
I’m not sure what it is, but my best guess is that it’s ground up pork guts and it’s great for getting squeaks out of doors, which as far as I know is one of Coronavirus’ first symptoms.
British People Think Coronavirus Is A Beer
One of the few beers left in the alcohol aisle was Corona.
The story of Henry’s epic search for a free chair, and how he eventually found one.
Last Wednesday, my chair’s back snapped.
I’m not sure what happened. Either it could no longer stand my poor posture, or it’s been transitioning into a stool on the sly.
Despite a valiant attempt to reconstruct it with superglue, it’s still broken and now my jeans are sticky.
I’m not a stool-ist, but the wound’s pretty jagged. So, like a hairless cat, or a multipack of Walkers crisps without any salt & vinegar left, there was no reason to keep it.
So I set it free by putting it in the cupboard where the bins live.
However, after dropping it off, I found myself in a predicament. You see, my amp is too low, and my dirty-clothes-mountain is too perilous.
That meant I no longer had anything to sit on.
Thus began the most epic adventure since Star Wars: The Last Jedi, a tale that minstrels will to sing throughout the ages:
If you’re looking for a way to find a free chair in London, this is probably the best guide you’re going to get (because who the hell else is going to write one?).
So at about 15:00 last Wednesday after my chair broke, I started roaming Hackney’s streets in search of a new chair for my room.
Gather Your Party Before Venturing Forth (Get Some Help)
Knowing all great adventures begin with a party of unlikely companions, I decided to recruit some merry people.
My severe lack of friends presented the first challenge.
It wasn’t really a challenge though, because the economy’s provided me with loads of friends by consequence. That’s right, I tried to convince my flatmate to join me. You can probably do this too, even if your face looks like a potato (not these potatoes though).
Anyway, my flatmate’s a medical student, so we share similar hours (and work just as hard as each other 😉 ), and I knew that he wouldn’t have anything better to do.
Here’s how I masterfully approached the situation:
I proclaimed, “Oh naive Medical Student, forsake those dusty tomes, and join I, Henry the Humble, on the quest of the ages. We shall overcome formidable obstacles to find the one true grail, a new chair perfectly suited to my chamber. Your healing skills will be indispensable, for many foes will stand in our way.”
To which he replied, “Go toArgos and buy a new chair. They’re£20.”
First, they don’t cost £20, they cost £45.
Second, what he didn’t say was more important than what he did say.
“Forgive me, Henry the Humble. Nothing would bring me greater joy than joining someone as magnificent as you on this great quest, but alas, I have made a sacred oath to St Thomas’ Hospital. Rest assured, a man of my considerable cowardice would do you no favours in battle. If I came along, you’d probably end up sacrificing yourself to save me from a berserking bin man.”
That was when I understood this task was too dangerous for ordinary men. I’d have to complete it alone. (No one was was going to come with me)
If you’re looking for a free chair though, you should probably bring friends because, well, you don’t want to die do you?!
With the quest begun in earnest, I journeyed to the source of new seats.
Finding it was simple. I just used my mighty powers of recall.
(remembered where my previous flatmate had found the old one)
At the other bin collection point!
I knew that I had to approach the bin collection point with trepidation.
That’s because when discovered, my former chair looked like it’d been staggering the streets for days. While we never spoke of the past, I assume that my chair had either been pimped out by a sofa, or forced to work in Vietnamese nail salon (both would explain the scratches).
In other words, there were probably some mean old chairs sitting in that cupboard, betting on stool fights, stealingseat slips and smashing each other’sshoes.
But nothing could have prepared me for this scene:
Doors completely hewn from their hinges, rubbish everywhere, and no chairs.
I knew then that all of the chairs must have escaped, or more likely, been kidnapped.
Yes, they’d definitely been kidnapped.
Facing such a setback, I reconsidered my options.
(Considered whether I could actually be bothered to find a new chair)
Is Buying A New Chair Really That Bad?
Beset by what I knew now must be a kidnapping, I uncharacteristically considered buying a new chair.
Then I remembered that buying new furniture is scientifically proven to cause global warming.
Yes, instead of blaming politicians or coal, the true culprit for all of those emissions is actually DFS.
Sure, “half price” glue and staples might be a great temporary diversion from the regret you feel after buying that two-bed, semi-detached new build, on the Government’s Help To Buy Scheme, but it’s going to do nothing for your carbon footprint.
So instead of shying away from this mystery (and succumbing to evil) I set out to uncover who had kidnapped these chairs and complete my quest.
Unfortunately, the only way to do so was to follow a trail of destruction.
I discovered that sustainability is a great excuse to be cheap, and is a great reason never to buy your girlfriend or boyfriend any presents, ever again
There wasn’t an obvious direction to go, so I just walked down the road looking for chairs.
These are the chairs I came across, with an assessment on whether they’re suitable replacements for your own broken chairs.
Chairs In Front of Cafes
The first chairs I came across were on the patio at Venerdi, an Italian restaurant on Chatsworth Road.
The chairs were just about to tell me where they’d seen a large lorry load of chairs going by, when the restaurant manager leapt out and told me to stop eyeing up his seats.
If I’m honest, I’m not even sure that one of those chairs would look good in my room.
It’s ok to steal chairs in front of cafe’s, but they’re not always great alternatives to office chairs.
Next I spoke to this mobility scooter.
It looked pretty suitable. And I liked the idea of finishing my quest early.
It had wheels like an office chair, with the added benefit of being motorised, so I would have been able to make trips from my bedroom to the bathroom with great ease. It’s also completely covered, so there’d be no splashback or any little accidents.
However, I then remembered that my bedroom has absolutely no floorspace, so the chair would be impractical, unless it was like offroad, and didn’t suffer from malfunctions after change got stuck in its wheels.
It would also be quite difficult to get driving stick under my desk too.
So I trundled off, further down the road.
Motorised chairs are fine to take, as long as the person you’re taking it from is only pretending to be ill. The easiest way to discover if this is the case is by stealing their mobility scooter and seeing if they’re able to run after you.
Chairs That Are Really Damaged
Next I came across Arnold the Armchair.
He’d been playing in a skip and some plasterboard ripped up his skull. Poor Arnold.
For a chair that was dying, he seemed quite cheerful. He also knew about the bin cupboard kidnapping.
With the last wheeze from his leather cushions, Arnold divulged the details.
Apparently, a small man with an Indian accent and a very bad case of erectile dysfunction, knew that I had nowhere to sit in my room, and wanted to use the opportunity to scam me by pretending to be HMRC.
Arnold said the man needed £50,000 for a new battery operated penis, and had invested all of his remaining savings in hiding the chairs around Hackney from me.
That’s because when he called, he wanted to make sure that I had nowhere to sit down. Because that’s how you make people really, really worried.
Arnold said that he was going to call on 020 3631 5675.