Why I No Longer Hate The Wombats But You Still Shouldn’t Go To All Points East 2020

Last week I drafted a blog about how February’s announcement that The Wombats will be headlining All Points East 2020 with The Kooks, justified boycotting the day festival.

Writing it made me really angry.

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 hate The 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.

This was achieved by spending most of last week listening to their first album, A Guide To Love, Loss and Desperation. Wanky title, isn’t it?

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 Eastenders episode, 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?

Also carrots don’t help you see in the dark

Moving To New York

Moving To New York is about how Matthew Murphy is going to move to New York because he’s got insomnia.

My gripe with this song is that he sings it as if he hasn’t considered that the cost of Manhattan apartment (because he’d totally live in Manhattan) would make his insomnia worse.

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).

And when I think about this, it’s totally unfair. Because he’s probably quite nice, and definitely writes better lyrics than I do.

2. My Sixth Form Tutor Said They Were Shit

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.

When was the last time you heard anything good from Bombay Bicycle Club, Massive Attack, Thom Yorke, Kraftwerk, Iggy Pop, The Kooks or The Wombats?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t in the last decade?

So you already know that everyone there’s going to be reminiscing about how the last time they listened to [insert band] they could still see their penis / vagina over their now enormous beer gut. 

Is that how you want to spend two weekends?

Hanging out with those types?

2. The Free-Entry Activities Sound Shit

There’s food, there’s film, there’s a circus. There’s everything that you could think of.

That’s a quote from the video explaining All 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 area for 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.

4. It Means You Don’t Read My Blog Enough

Last summer, I wrote the ONLY honest review about All Points East 2019

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?

Hi Frisco / Two Weeks In Nashville – Sebright Arms, 3 March 2020

A juxtaposition of the bravado of youth and the modesty of age.

Last night I saw Hi Frisco supported by Two Weeks In Nashville at the Sebright Arms.

The last time I was there, I accidently saw Steve Buscemi’s Dreamy Eyes and Cat Princess. The accident salvaged an otherwise woeful afternoon spent with the Jeff Buckley Appreciation Society at Sofar Sounds (got you – that’s not a real band – it’s how you know weekends are better spent with Coronavirus than at Sofar Sounds).

First up:

Two Weeks In Nashville

Two Weeks In Nashville are a four-piece rock band. A young rock band. They’re talented and play well. They might disagree, but pop-rock’s their thing, with equal parts guitar solos, posturing, signing the horns, unnecessary lunges and tartan trousers

Despite a high turnout for Hi Frisco, not many descended to the basement to watch Two Weeks In Nashville’s set. Instead, the audience arrived en masse at 8:45. Shitty crowd – check.  

Two week’s isn’t very long, is it?

Two Weeks In Nashville played four songs (it could have been five). The set sounded like Train or U2 with a caveat. No Joshua Tree era aural landscapes or any sense of punctuated pre Rattle and Hum urgency. 

That’s because Two Weeks In Nashville were missing something. Not with the performance; unless you’re offended by singers who cajole for claps and seem set on receiving restraining orders from their microphone stands; but the songs betrayed their youth. I say youth because it’s like the band’s a couple of haircuts away from figuring who they are (I also held the door for one of their mothers-come-roadie). 

Further, while there’s no need to be obsessed with lyricism, vocals sit at the forefront of pop-rock songs, making derivative harder to hide.

Sure, rock music is built on cliches, but it’s pretty ambitious to cram ‘toy soldiers’, ‘no surprise’, ‘we’re coming home’, ‘at war with the world’, ‘we stand on mountains’, and ‘we are more than numbers’ into a single song. Yet Two Weeks In Nashville managed it with their latest single Take Control.  If you haven’t guessed, I think it’s too much.

I’m not writing this to be cruel.

Last night Two Weeks In Nashville exhibited all the talent needed to entertain and excite. However, without a bolder, more personal direction, I think they’re going to find it hard to achieve.

Hi Frisco

Hi Frisco are an indie band with electronic elements. Apparently last night was their debut headlining gig. They played live as a four-piece, but apparently they’re normally a duo.

Oh Hi Frisco, is your frontman called Henry too?!

Their sound’s similar to Tame Impala, The War On Drugs and the Smith Westerns. Dreamy shoegaze pop, with eighties movie synths, bright guitar flurries and vocals that sort of float – you know, just go with the accompaniment instead of taking charge of the song.

They’re actually good. Surprisingly good. Not No Joy, Hare Tarot Lies good, but easily Smith Westerns, 3AM Spiritual good.

Either most of the audience knew them, or they were recently featured in Time Out, because for a free show, it was busy.

In sharp contrast to Two Weeks In Nashville’s exuberance, Hi Frisco’s frontman wore his fragility on stage, adding a slice of endearing to the performance.

They finished the set with their latest single, The War. While it was a short, more wasn’t necessary. Also, the shiny silver banner, apparently created by one of Hi Frisco’s mothers was very nice. Great job.

It reminded me that I’ve always found that Tame Impala songs drag, as if they’re hard to appreciate unless you’re stoned. Hi Fresco’s songs hit a similar note, but they’re more structured. More listenable. Of course, covered in a layer of sheen, but not applied so thick that you lose sight of the features.

Hi Frisco delivered a compact yet compelling dreamscape last night. The War is also cool, even if it was inspired by Atlas Shrugged.

Assuming they keep this up, I think they’ll be moderately big soon.

Gemma On Hard Times

Between sets, I met Gemma. 

She said to me that the Sebright smoking alley was her turf. She’s been homeless for 26 months.

I gave her £1.10. When she asked me to walk her to a cashpoint, I declined. I bought two beers for myself at £11.00 instead. I regret that.

Gemma was drunk and I rolled her a cigarette. 

We sat together for a bit. We didn’t have much to say. 

She claimed people working at the Sebright knew her, and made her a drink called ‘Diabetes on Ice’, comprised of lemon juice and ribena. She didn’t mention the ice. 

She said that instead of going to a hostel, she usually tried to get into a bed and breakfast. To do that she has to raise £26.00 a day. That’s about £790 a month. It’s more than my rent. 

I’m not writing anything anyone doesn’t already know.

I don’t even know why I’m writing it. 

It’s the first time I’ve had a conversation with a woman who’s homeless during a gig. She was carrying most of her possessions and hadn’t showered for a while. 

I’m not sure that it means anything, but she was a feature of the night.

I hope she managed to find another beer.