Last night the Shacklewell was rammed. The busiest I’ve seen it on a Wednesday in years. And who was filling the space, smoking atop the astroturf where they shouldn’t? A whole lot of strange looking people.
In pursuit of objectivity, artistic freedom and focus, I’d ventured to this gig alone, with only three rollie’s worth of tobacco in my denim jacket. In hindsight, I should have brought more.
This Wednesday, out of four performances, I only saw two. So unfortunately, there’s no review of GFE or Dominic McGuiness, but I can assure you that if they were anything like the two bands I did see, I didn’t miss much.
Third, or first up, Human Music. The first thing that strikes is the name.
I think their name was a reference to a cartoon. Probably Futurama, with it’s zany wit and relatable characters. Human Music’s probably something Dr Zoidberg invented to get his Earth Citizenship, involving bagpipes or a dreidel.
I mean, I could totally accept bagpipes and dreidels were the inspiration for Human Music(the band). They were completely brimming with tomfoolery. Dressed like clowns, their front man lumbered around the stage, let the audience know how much he hates Donald Trump and whoever the Prime Minister is. The music was akin to Irish folk in a cemetery, with demented, but relatable organ (synth) parts, that inspire images of the circus.
As music that I assume was inspired by 7 billion people, it was pretty damn uninspired.
But the crowd seemed to like it.
That’s how, despite a bearded fat man trying to cut the set at time (10:15-ish), the crowd just screamed for more. And they got what they wanted.
Which says a lot. Beware, when a room full of people stops respecting the borough’s strict, but fair, permitted noise levels on residential streets, and potentially cuts the main band’s set short as a result, we should all be worried about how torn the fabric of our society really is.
Maybe that was the point.
Anyway, they finished playing after another three songs.
Then I was left with the relief of the intermission. And what better way to spend it than sitting alone, replying to my many fan emails.
I was interrupted by a pale Australian girl. She has the gall to ask me for a fag. I still feel bad about the colonies, so I offered her what dregs of tobacco I had left, and lashings of opportunity to immediately exit after amply fingering my filters. But she kept talking.
Apparently she knew the band, thought I’d think they were great, really loved wearing fur coats in the summer and was too ill to go to work that day, but cigarettes and gin had sustained her for the gig.
She then asked if I was Australian, and then kept trying to figure out what my name was.
A bit of a dicey situation, I know.
That’s when I noticed everyone was in the bathroom. Twos and threes. And then she let me know, damn, the Deep were a funk band.
And as everyone knows, funk band fans are like hippies. Completely insufferable.
I had to escape.
So I suggested that the band were starting and we really didn’t want to miss the show. I let her walk ahead of me, re-enter the gig space, and then I slunk away to the bar at the front; unseen.
After waiting a while at the bar, I went back in to see the band. I didn’t have much choice, I hadn’t come to the Shacklewell Arms to not review the headliners.
And that’s how I got to the Deep.
Oh the Deep.
So Deep, so deeply cliched.
There was a trombone.
There was a guitar.
There were dual vocals.
There were sing alongs.
The crowd jumped up, got antsy, and it seemed like the people in front of me wanted to start a fight with something. Maybe their libidos.
The songs were punctuated by horns, the bass wobbled and everyone sang about being in love.
Then, as always happens at the shows of touring funk bands, the crowd secreted a rogue saxophonist, who clambered onto the stage to great applause, donned some pretty ridiculous sunglasses, because you know, he wakes and bakes, and then wailed and wailed and wailed.
I left after four songs.
It confirmed to me again, that there’s nothing worse than funk, unless like, you studied music man.
No, I had the pleasure of seeing three acts (ILKA, sorry but you didn’t make the cut) delight in exposing themselves to an audience of friends. It was like a burlesque show, expect less 12A.
Alone at the back, I felt like I’d crashed a party.
Not the usual party (sitting around someone’s kitchen table playing with the salt shaker and sugar dispenser). No, it was a celebration of friendship, courage, dignity and a night of rolling around in magnetic tape (crooning over pre-recorded tracks).
When it was over, I couldn’t help but imagine what my life would have been like if I’d actually been invited.
Then I took it too far.
Now it’s a story that I’m going to tell everyone this weekend.
How I partied with your Aunt Lucy, Vanity Fairy and Crying High:
Henry: “So, I went to this party on Tuesday.”
Acquaintance: “A PARTY? OH MY GOD HENRY, YOU’RE SO COOL. TELL ME EVERYTHING.”
It all started with a rap at the door, immediately followed by disappointment.
It was a disaster. That couple ILKA (not-as-synthy-or-strange-as-the-rest) were the first to arrive – no one actually thought they’d show up.
The conversation wasn’t very inclusive, they insisted on telling everyone what they’d achieved since graduation (yes, theyplayed the most instruments: there was a dedicated drummer, some standing keys, a lil’ bit o’ guitar and a pad-thing that you bash with a stick).
I think they thought the boasts were impressive, but really it was just a bit embarrassing (they couldn’t play all the instruments at once).
Also, I should have said to the guy, but if you’re with a new partner, it’s not a great idea to talk incessantly about another girl who you’re trying to get to come over, even if you say she’s like a cactus (sang about how the girl he fancies is a prickly minx).
After one non-alcoholic beer, they left.
Funny how departure can have such a profoundly positive effect on the mood.
Then (you really wouldn’t have guessed it) surprise! your Aunt Lucy showed up.
She’s looking great for her age. Leaving Mike’s given her so much confidence.
To everyone’s delight, she’d done herself up like that guy from Kasabian – decked in a shiny lycra playsuit with shades and stubble.
Don’t look hurt. It wasn’t actually your Aunt Lucy. It was a skinny guy that everyone but me seemed to know.
He spent the whole time requesting songs from Liars’Mess, then proceeded to thrust manically to them.
We had a brief conversation.
He slurred about the previous afternoon (just one more biscuit) and his upcoming weekend plans (a countryside excursion with the fam).
So forgive me for thinking it was your Aunt Lu?
Everyone was happy. The party had started.
Then the conversation turned to feminism.
It got a bit intense, then this pretty girl, Vanity Fairy made a statement by plundering the dressing up box upstairs. She came back down dressed as Little Bo Peep.
She carried the persona well, announcing her emancipation from sheep and stereotypes, while delivering a fabulous new introduction, “Vanity, baby.”
We all celebrated with a bit of a boogie to some ‘nostalgic’ disco numbers.
And then something funny happened. I might have just imagined it, but as the lights turned green, I thought I saw her point out to me and sing in her throaty drawl, “hit me with a move tonight,” but I was nervous, so didn’t.
And just as the mood was beginning to subdue, Crying High found a guitar in the front room.
Internally, we all groaned.
He then proceeded to play and, turns out he can actually sing.
We all groaned a bit more.
Thank god he was only joking!
After one song with the guitar he flung it out of the window and got funky, entering his own sing-on-top-of-the-pre-recorded-track routine.
It injected so much new life back into the gathering.
My friend even found the time to make some paper masks with Crying High’s face on, which we all wore on the back of our heads, while the man himself as he stood on a coffee table.
And he sang and sang. And with two microphones (someone told me that’s how you train mics for live performances – start them off in pairs).
I didn’t want the night to end. But it did.
At least there were party bags (a free merch table) filled with post cards, polaroids and paper masks – just so we could remember the great time we had.
A lot more heart than you normally see at the Victoria on a Tuesday.
Sparse beats and ethereal rhymes under throbbing crimson.
Nike Neblem, female duo draped in black delivered an experimental piece questioning something (?) about a world where truth is an option. Announced their arrival with a distorted amp / guitar duet but despite threats to entangle the audience in their agenda with a ball of twine they didn’t manage to add much originality to subject matter.
Synth and drum combo Hyeanah generated oppressive aural landscapes, underscored with clattering percussion and topped with schizophrenic free-verse. It sort of worked, but difficulty discerning between each song robbed them of a final applause.
Main act, Icelandic Sólveig Matthildur (Kælan Mikla‘s bassist) drew a crowd of her own to mark the launch her new LP, Constantly in Love. Sparse beats and ethereal vocals proved captivating throughout. Despite no live backing, her vocals added much welcomed depth to each song. During the gaps inbetween Sólveig’s interactions with the crowd were endearing and provided a platform for her to dispel various (apparent) online rumours that she just sings about boys. Highlights including Twin-Peak-theme-twinged Dystopian boy and pulsating disco of Tómas.
First two acts lacked direction, Sólveig Matthildur made up for it.
Excitement and your free time, when did they break up?
It’s 2018 and you’re currently shackled by the chains of prescribed fun. Rooftop bars, adult-sized ball-pits, and lazy afternoons in the park; just like me, you probably hang out with people because they look good in photos.
Excitement is now the last dash of Ribena in the bottle. It doesn’t taste like blackcurrant, it tastes like detergent because it’s too weak and you stopped rinsing your glasses properly.
Is this life? Hell no.
But it’s ok. Take a deep breath and imagine that I’m holding your hand (my hands are strong, don’t worry, I won’t let go). Now, I’m going to whisper in your ear, “Let me take you on an adventure, a completely unimaginable adventure.” Feel the hair stand up at the back of your neck.
Welcome to the cool, dangerous and exceedingly badass world of Magnet Fishing.
I’ve been waiting for you.
Close your eyes again. Imagine, you’re at the edge of a canal, hands clasped tight around a rope, the end, latched onto a mysterious item deposited, deep under the water below. That object, it could be yours.
Already you’re filled with butterflies and you want to jump up and see how far you’ll rise. Don’t. Keep hold of the rope. Taste the salty air and occasional wafts of diesel and let your soul rise. It won’t escape.
You’ve just forgotten what excitement feels like.
Now fall back. Open your eyes. We’ll get there, but first, you need to know how to magnet fish.
Lucky for you, I’ve written an instructional guide about it!
But as with anything worth doing, before you wade into the depths, you need to know the basics, so I’ll start at the beginning: why would anyone want to drop a dirty magnet into a canal to find treasure?
It all begins with how wealth is created.
How is Wealth Created?
Since the discovery of bodies of water, rich people have dropped expensive things into them.
As you should recall from school, rich people dropping expensive gifts into bodies of water is a fundamental stage in the ‘Circle of Wealth’:
Rich parents buy rich children expensive gifts;
Rich children work too hard and tire themselves out;
Rich children retire to their yachts (generally docked on canals in urban metropolises);
Rich children, being bored and tired, embark on affairs with the yacht’s staff, probably pool-boys and girls. In the throes of these passionate affairs, rich children often forget to properly latch, store, or hold onto their expensive gifts. As the boat rocks (hard), the gift’s position becomes precarious against the yacht’s porthole, edging toward the waves below;
Expensive gift descends deep, deep into the body of water.
This diagram is a useful reminder. I found it in a textbook:
This circle of wealth has maintained social order for millennia. But, you’re probably asking yourself now, where does all that wealth end up?
No doubt this one stumped your economics teacher. It got Marx too. It’s probably the reason Communism hasn’t ever worked.
It’s ok, I’ll explain.
Where do the expensive gifts go?
Into a black void? Perhaps. No-one truly knows what is in a canal, river, lake or pond.
However, it is known that statistically, the greatest killer of ‘stick, hook n’ worm’ fishermen and women is ghost pirates and octopuses.
Knowing this, two conclusions can be derived:
All bodies of water are full of either ghost pirates or octopuses;
Ghost pirates and octopuses are the predator species, and will get first dibs on anything that falls into their territory. (otherwise, why would they be so territorial?)
Now, from this, one can hypothesise which of the two is the most likely to horde expensive gifts.
We know that most octopuses have a higher than average annual income, and might be from space (eminent scientists almost proved this a couple of months ago). However, when field interviewers call on ship wrecks, while ghost pirates are initially quite open, as soon as questions are posed about their income, ghost-cannon balls start a’flyin’. This means that ghost pirates must very embarrassed by their poverty, hence, they have not managed to horde any expensive gifts.
So, the most believable and likely place that expensive gifts end up is in octopuses lairs.
Now, I know exactly what you’re thinking:
“Right now, there’s a stupid octopus spinning around in its lair, laughing at both of us, as it plays with assorted precious trinkets, and it’s grandfather-octopus is ill, and it’s thinking about returning to Jupiter with all of that booty!”
Tick-tock went the clock.
And I’d see it all play out in your eyes, and say, “Yes, you’re absolutely right.”
Here’s what an artist thinks it looks like at the bottom of a river:
Magnet Fishing: Your Motivation
Now you know exactly why need to embark on a magnet fishing expedition, post-haste.
However, in case you’ve missed anything, I’ve summarised your motivation below:
You want to magnet fish because your life is meaningless and boring;
You don’t like octopuses constantly laughing at you;
You want to save rich people’s Rolexes, diamond rings, gold bars, and other precious items from being transported back to Jupiter, where they’ll probably be used to adorn octopus breeding tanks.
Cool me ’arty! Welcome aboard!
So, how do you magnet fish?
Magnet Fishing: What You Need
Unlike those scurvy, fish murdering dogs who use tackle and bait (fishermen and women), magnet fishing is an ethical way to reclaim expensive gifts at the bottom of your local body of water.
Unlike conventional fishing, the equipment requirements of magnet fishing are minimal. You can also customise your equipment to make yourself look totally radical!
Here’s what you need:
1. Primary Neodymium Magnet
It should have a closed eyebolt and a pull of over 100kg. This will be the primary fishing device.
When buying a magnet, avoid the following:
Hook pulls instead of closed eyebolts. Don’t buy these; they’re manufactured by octopuses that want aspiring magnet fishers to lose their magnets forever.
Anything within the region of 10 to 80 kg pull. In practice, this doesn’t present enough attraction to do anything. Online magnet selling platforms will try and trick you into thinking you’ll get some booty with weak magnets like this, but you won’t. You need a much stronger magnet. You’ll never manage to pull a rich person’s moped out of the canal with less than 150kg pull.
At least ten meters, ideally twenty (you can’t let something as basic as rope prevent you from venturing into deeper waters). Brighter colours help passing boats stay out of your way, particularly useful if conditions are foggy.
3. Secondary Magnet (smaller pull)
When you let one of your friends use your magnet, it is inevitable that they will be careless, and as they drag it along the seabed, the pin threading the eyebolt to the magnet will unravel, and you’ll think, ‘golly, I’ve lost that magnet forever’. Get a secondary magnet to pull the other one back up. I’ve done this once, and can confirm that it works 100% of the time.
4. Decent Sized Bag / Shopping Trolley
Poor people don’t live near canals or the rivers. If you’re considering doing this, you must be poor, so you’ll need something to carry all of the stuff you find back to your tenement block.
If you’re a baby and not already infected with Hepatitis C, wear gloves. You’ll look less cool, but might be immune to needles (rich people drop expensive gold needles, these are a common gift from Daddy, he doesn’t approve of sharing needles following his own IV-ing experiences).
6. Nautical Themed Attire
Passers-by may come up to you and question what you are doing. They could be colluding with octopuses, so keep your identity hidden with a cool pirate hat or Breton sweater.
Securing a decent catch can take time. Bring beer, it improves the experience immeasurably.
8. Radical Music
Don’t play sea shanties, they attract ghost pirates. Anything else is cool; consider post-punk as the genre of choice, given this is such a post-conventional-fishing activity.
9. Ignorance of the Rules of Magnetism
What’s magnetic? Who knows! Like dating, objects that will be attracted to your magnet might surprise you. Not understanding the principles of magnetism helps you develop an unreasonable expectation when embarking on your expedition. Wilful ignorance is a must for magnet fishing!
The checklist below has pictures. It’s for people who can’t read:
Magnet Fishing: Directions
You’re now suitably prepared for magnet fishing. This is how you do it:
1. Locate a suitable body of water
Find somewhere to drop your magnet. Think about where rich people go! If you live in London, consider these suitable locations:
London Fields Lido (the guards let you swim in your undergarments before 7am, hence, security’s pretty lax)
Think of the people you need to save. They’re probably bored of life too, e.g. want to spend the weekend hanging out at Dalston Curve Garden. What losers. Invite them along! If they’re apprehensive about joining, punch them hard and tell them you brought beer.
3. Carefully Carry your Supplies
Keep your magnet and mobile telephone apart. Magnets are quite jealous, and like to divert attention away from other objects to themselves. Be warned, if you put your phone in the same bag as the magnet, the magnet will break your phone it in a fit of envy.
4. Get Ready to Fish
Tie your rope with a double knot around the eyebolt of the magnet. Double knots work, don’t do anything more complicated unless you want everyone to know that you used to belong to the local Rainbow platoon (lame).
5. Start Fishing
Magnet Fishing Techniques
There are only two magnet fishing techniques. It’s like swimming, there will never be any more than two strokes (front crawl and butterfly):
1. Swing and Release
This one’s pretty easy, and should be used for bank-based fishing.
Hold the rope a meter from the magnet in your dominant hand, and in your secondary hand, hold the rope at around seven to ten meters.
Swing the rope back and forth, until it builds enough momentum to knock someone’s teeth out.
Release the rope from your primary hand into the body of water; keep hold of the rope in your secondary hand.
Let the magnet settle at the bottom of the body of water.
Once settled, drag the magnet towards you. If you feel a tug, you’ve got a catch!
Repeat until you find something that would make your parents proud. Imagine their smiling faces when you return with a sizable booty. They might forgive you for dropping out of University.
2. Drop and Pray
A technique predominantly used when launching your magnet from a pier or bridge.
Use your mind’s eye and imagine where an octopus would build its lair. You’ve imagined below a bridge. Exactly right. Now that you’ve located the octopus’s lair, lean out until the magnet is dangling above it.
Drop the magnet.
Keep extending the rope until it has descended to the bottom of the body of water.
Hold your breathe and wait for either a tug or some resistance on the magnet. If it’s a tug, it’s an octopus.
Pull up gently. I normally abide by half an arm’s length at a time. You have to be careful or you will lose your catch. Once your catch has breached the water, consider using two hands to pull up.
Continue until you’ve got the booty back to dry land.
Well done, you’ve got a catch. Celebrate with another beer!
6. When You’re Finished
Once you’ve caught enough expensive gifts you should take them home. Water is dirty, so your treasures might be dirty too. If you don’t have a shopping trolley, but instead a rucksack, wrap your catch in a plastic bag.
When you get home, wash your items in the communal shower. Get the shower very dirty. Now your flatmates will ask what you’ve been doing all afternoon. This is a good way to attract new people to magnet fishing.
What you can expect to find
I found a bingo card for this exciting pastime, as below. You’ll probably find a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line on your first outing. If you get a full house, you’re officially king of magnet fishing.
Rich parents give their children a new Rolex or Omega at least twice a year. As thee items are worn on the wrist, they often fall into bodies of water. Also expensive watches are always water resistant, so they’ll work irrespective of how long they’ve been in the water!
Rich children are often engaged to other rich children. Given the number of affairs they have, sometimes these engagements go sour. This normally happens when a rich child is annoyed that his or her partner didn’t restock their yacht with enough Moet. Annoyed, they use their partner’s rampant affairs as an excuse to make a scene; normally flinging their engagement rings from the yacht into the canal. This act has two functions:
ensuring that there is always enough Moet on the yacht;
the excitement of a new, fancier engagement ring.
Yachts aren’t loud enough, and how do you impress your new poolboy by pretending to be captain? Exactly, you can’t, they’re probably sleeping with him or her already! So, sometimes rich children feel the need to drive supercars on the deck of the yacht. As most rich children do not have driving licences, this sometimes results in the supercar falling overboard. They have their dignity though, so in the event of a fall, they wouldn’t degrade themselves by pulling the supercar out of the water. Conservative estimates suggest that there are over three and half thousand supercars in Regent’s Canal alone.
You could find a murder weapon, perhaps a candelabra, a rusty pipe. If you find a weapon, you’ve also found a murder investigation. As an enterprising individual who no longer abides by social convention, you should use the opportunity to set up your own detective agency. Don’t tell the police, find out who the murderer was and maybe blackmail them.
It’s difficult to make friends in the city, magnet fishing is guaranteed to make you intriguing and attractive to the opposite sex. I can confirm this as a user of Tinder. I spend all of my free time, when not magnet fishing, explaining the principles of magnet fishing on dating sites. People are all like, ‘Whoa, you’re so cool. Too cool for me. Maybe message someone else’. Or at least that’s what I assume they say. It’s difficult to know, because they must be so intimidated that they unmatch me before they have a chance to share.
Ok, so now you know everything there is to know about magnet fishing! Get out there you sea-dog and find yourself some expensive gifts. If you find a great spot, let me know. I’d be more than happy to join and drink your beer.