There are a bunch of free gigs in London. Each week I go to three and review them.
The rating system’s simple. How many beers did I buy (drink)? The more, the better.
4. Crying High, Vanity Fairy, Aunt Lucy, ILKA @ the Victoria, London
Tuesday, 28 May 2019
Henry crashes a karaoke house party, fails to make friends and realises that no, it really isn’t about the music.
On Tuesday, I went back to Dalston’s Victoria.
I expected to see another bad gig.
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, they played 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).
When they started recounting the merits of owning a 4-bed, I realised that the chattier half (singer) sounded like that guy from White Lies (a posh English boy who still plays rugby).
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.