Tag Archives: Bands

Small Tale of Sun, Booze and Rock: Part 1.

Its early on a Friday morning as me and Sam make our way to the train station for Download 2017 and both of us are still feeling the effects of the night before.
It was only meant to be a quick meet up and home before 9 but our annual pre Download drinks turned into something else as we met up with an old friend and three of us ended up making our way through 7 pints of cider, 6 porn star martinis, 5 sex on the beaches, 4 shots of prosecco and a large burger and chips before spilling our guts out in a shop doorway and dragging ourselves home at around 1.
This is not something the average body can take before a rock and roll festival, your body needs rest and a good strong meal because you’re going to be spending the weekend sleeping in a bag in a field surrounded by drunk/stoned rockers and you have no idea how the weather’s going to turn out so getting home at 1 in the morning drinking cocktails and throwing up could make it a very long weekend.
We manage to drag ourselves out of bed at 6, eyes glazed over and a head that feels like a metal bar is wrapped around it, we grab ourselves a quick drink and run for the bus at 7 and start making our way for the train station.
Standing on the platform we look around for other Downloaders and we can’t see any, last year the platform was full of long haired tired rockers and this year it’s just business men in suits carry briefcases looking at us and wondering whether or not we are homeless. We both wait for the moment one of these people throws change at our feet.

After a 30 minute journey we arrive at East Midlands Parkway at around 8:10am, the sun is shining down on us and we both hope that it stays this way for the full weekend.
We look around the station and we both notice that there’s not a Downloader insight, not even a hint of a rocker or a metal head, just taxi drivers and employees.
After 10 minutes of waiting for our bus Sam checks the time “We’re early” he says “It don’t get here till about half 9”
“So we gotta wait for over an hour?” I said
“Yeah, we will be fine, we can just chill”.
After 30 minutes of waiting a van pulls up at the bus stop, the side doors open and a group of rockers fall out, about 8 of them, all holding cans of beer.
They run into the station for what looks like a toilet break and they spend 10 minutes In there.
After coming back to their van one of them who’s wearing all denim and a Motorhead t-shirt turns around to us and says “are you lads going to Download?”
“Yeah” we said
“Well do you lads want to catch a ride with us? We got some space in the back for ya, you ain’t bought much stuff either so you won’t take up any space. It will save you money on the bus and having to wait for the fucking thing”.
Me and Sam just turn to each other and both of us say “Fuck it, why the fuck not”.
We jump in the back and the man who offered us the ride introduces himself as Chris and he offers us a can of beer.
We crack it open, toast all the lads in the van and we start making our journey to the festival.
“Any bands you looking forward to lads” Says Chris
“No one in particular” we say “maybe System and Aerosmith”
“Five finger I’m looking forward to, they deserve a better slot” Says Chris
“Yeah they do, I thought Skindred should have been on the main stage last year” Sam says
“Well we all saw them last year and everyone was saying the same thing”.
Half way into the journey we drive by a group of what look like stoned teenagers on the road holding a tent, booze and sleeping bags and they’re holding a sign saying “Drownload”. Chris turns to the driver and “says can we pick them up”
“No we can’t, there’s no more fucking room lad” he says”
“I’m sure we can squeeze them in somewhere”
“Well if you want to put them on the roof it’s up to you”
“Leave it then, we’ll just leave it”. And we just leave them standing at the side of the road as we get closer to the festival.
As we turn to pull into the festival the driver turns up the stereo and everyone In the van starts singing “burn mother fucker” by Five Finger and Chris puts the window down and everyone in the van starts singing the song, Chris puts his head out the window and yells the song at festival goers as they make there long walk to the entrance.
We pull into a parking space and depart the van and say goodbye to everyone “maybe we will bumped into each other during the weekend and we can grab a drink” says Chris, and we shake his hand and walk off and start making our way towards the entrance.
Maybe we will manage to find them during the weekend or maybe we wont, but if we don’t, we can go on and think about what just happened, it’s rare that moments like that happen and when they do they can change your whole life experience so you have to take it in and except that it may never happen again.

Our walk towards the entrance is a lot different this year, extra security, extra bag checks, extra cameras because of the events that have occurred over the past couple of months and it makes the walk a lot slower this year because of it.
We join the end of the line and begin waiting to be searched, all I have is a back pack and a sleeping bag so my search shouldn’t take long.
We slowly move forward, security continue to remind us about the check over the loud speakers that surround us.
We make it to the front of the line where Sam is searched first, they pat him down and take a quick look through his bag and move him along and then it’s my turn, they pat me down and ask me if I have any sharp objects “I have a hammer for the tent”
“No hammers” says the security man
“Well you can take it from me”. The man opens up my bag and removes the hammer putting it behind him with a collection of other hammers larger than mine and he offers me the chance to come pick it back up after the event is over but I refuse, so he closes my bag and we make our way forward.
They scan our tickets and walk towards a man with this years wrist bands, the man who looks like he’s just got out of school double checks my ticket and puts my wrist band on and says you can go through and I walk and wait for Sam to receive his band.
Sam shows the lad his ticket and puts out his arm to get his band and the lad smiles at first and then starts to laugh “Butlins 90’s reloaded, what the fuck mate” he says, Sam still has his wristband on from a lads holiday the year before. Sam says to the lad “Oh yeah mate, went last year and dressed up as power rangers and saw B’witched” and the lad just laughs and smiles at him. “And you’ve come to Download, you must be the only person to walk through these gates and say that, I hope you enjoy your weekend mate” that lad says and he tells him to walk on through and Sam walks over to me with a large smile on his face. “You just hear what he said” Sam says
“Every word”
“You should have kept you wristband on and then he wouldn’t have just said it to me”
“It’s all good fun mate, don’t worry about”

We’ve finally made it, the sun is blazing and it looks like there’s not going to be a drop of rain inside all weekend, the hangover from the night before has slowly gone away and now our weekend can begin.
We both look around and we both say “We’re home” and that’s what it feels like for a lot of people who come to this festival, it’s a home for them and for us, they play the music you want to hear, the sights and the smells are just as familiar as the year before and it feels like you’ve never left, it never feels like it’s been a year since the last one.
Not a lot of people can understand what you mean by “Home” unless you’ve have the chance to experience the festival for yourself, this is your chance to be who you think you are and who you feel like you are and for 3 days its the chance to forget about getting up for work at 5 in the morning and drag it out and feel like life is going nowhere, you can forget about the shitty news and all the fucked up things that are going on in the world right now and if you want to you can walk around dressed as a fish finger or a power ranger or a Pokémon if you want. Even though it’s just for the weekend, it’s your home and you feel like you’ve never left.

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Small tale of The Shed.

I first heard about the Shed when I was at school. I was sixteen and an old friend who left the year before and went to college to study music was playing at the venue, it was the first time I’d heard ever heard about it. I just remember hearing about how cool and amazing this place was. This smelly little venue on the edge of town, a toilet, a dump of a place and a friend of mine was playing it.
Seeing the picture of his gig were something to behold. The small stage dimly lit and the large backdrop sign saying “The Shed” in the background. And there was my old mate rocking away with his guitar. I think he played the Saturday afternoon under eighteen slot, but I don’t know, I never went at that time.
I just thought to myself I have to go this shit hole one day and see his band play. But his band didn’t last long it was just a simple college band that played about 5 gigs and recorded some really bizarre but heavy songs.
So for the next couple of years after I left school I planned with friends to go to the Shed, I got a shitty provisional ID and I asked everyone “lets go to the shed, it don’t matter who’s on lets just go and fucking see a band”. But it never happened.
The first band I joined just became a bedroom band but we planned on getting tight and eventually playing The Shed, because that’s where everyone played. Get the songs down and then get that first gig on that venue and see what happens. But It never happened.

After four years of waiting to go to The Shed I finally got the chance to go. Four years of hearing about this toilet in town where Kasabian played their first gigs and i’m finally getting to go. It was 2010 sometime around July or August and the music world at the time didn’t really have much of a buzz going for it.
I get a phone call from a band friend telling me that we can go see his cousins band, The Boobytraps play the final of the OBS competition. I’d got to see them a month before at the Musician, a fancy music pub near to the Shed. It was my first live gig. The smell and look of the place when I walked through the door just felt right. A bar was the front and small stage was at the back. A poster of Richie Havens hung on the walls “Richie Havens Live at The Musician”. I should have gone to that. But I was finally getting to go to the Shed.
We turn up around 8:30, half drunk and excited for tonight, the final of a band competition. We walk through the doors and up the small flight of stairs that leads to the foyer. It’s everything I expected, it felt like the centre of the Leicester music scene. The place was packed with people, all kinds of people. Posters from past gigs sat on the wall, sound of music comes through the doors to the left of me and Kev sits at small counter at the top of stairs (Kev, the owner, later would go on to book our first gig). Above where he sits there is a picture of Kasabian in black and white the words “who’s next” underneath it.
We pay the £5 entry and we go in to the main stage, walking through the crowd of people. Older people, young people, indie rockers and metal heads and a guy who looks like Paul Weller (Jesus was that Paul Weller?).
We walk around looking for the Boobytraps, we grab a beer that costs £3.40 and we find a corner to stand in. The lead singer of the Boobys, my band mates cousin comes walking up to us and says to us “We are on next so get ready”. So we finish our cans of beer and run straight to the front of the stage.
As we stand at the front of the stage while the Booby’s set up and with a broken air conditioning unit dripping warm water on to our heads and a small fight breaks out in front of us.
A lady in a stripy shirt and white jeans had touched a girl with ginger hair on the arse and her savage of a boyfriend squared up to him “Fucking touch my bird, ill fuckin’ kel ya'” the boyfriend with a huge forehead and black eyebrows said “i’ll murder your arse”. The boy with white jeans backs off “sorry dude” he says “is that your missus”. The boyfriend with the big eyebrows shrugs his shoulders and walks away and leaves the front of the stage. The lad with the jeans sits on the stage and starts signing a Kasabian song before men in black coats grab him under the arms and walk him out (I didn’t see them at the door).
The boobys finish setting up and their intro music starts to play and red lights fill the stage. They walk on stage pissed as rats and go into a cover The Beatles Day tripper. The crowd of about 35 drunken loons go mad for them and they dance around like chimps. The are unknowns but their small group of drunken fans treat them like royalty.
After about 35 minutes of playing they finish to a huge round of applause from their fans and they stumble off the stage while a group of young blonde students take down their gear and the band head towards the bar.
We stand around and wait for the runner up and the winning band to be announced. As last years winners (The Heroes) play I can sense  tense atmosphere is in the room, you can fell it like a storm is about to come over. I can’t make out the chatter amongst fans of the bands that have played, I just notice their excitement and anticipation for who is going to win the prestigious award.
A huge 6ft something  woman in a black coat and red hair gets up on stage to announce the runner up. All the bands from the night line up at the front of the stage waiting for their name to be annouced “And your runner up is….. The Stiggz”. The Stiggz, a legendary Leicester based band which I only got to see on this night but I would continue to hear about them when I started to gig. They had a bad night. The bas guitar practically blew up and the strings fell off, if I remember rightly the bass amp also exploded into the face of the bas player almost sending him crashing across the room. The bassist had to a borrow a bass from last years winners.
They congratulated the crowd and the fans they brought and they bands that played that night and the eventual winner that’s to be announced. You can sense the disappointment from a majority of the people in the crowd, I think a lot of the crowd wanted them to win. They seem to have worked shit hard for it and just had abit of explosive bad luck on a night they didn’t need any bad luck at all.
They walk off of the stage and mix amongst the crowd, patting the heads of their fans as they walk by and brings back a memory of the film Cool Running’s.
The woman in the black coat and the ginger hair says “Thank you to The Stiggz.. and now your winner”. And that lump of excitement fill the air. They’ve fucking done, they boobs have done” says my friend. And the huge woman announces the winner and a small sigh fills the room. I can’t remember the band that won but it was an acoustic band who’s lead singer’s uncle was on the voting board. And everyone felt it, everyone knew. The bands fans where happy, all 12 of them that turned up. “What a load of shit” says my friend “They weren’t bad but they didn’t deserve to win, The Stiggz where the band of the night, the boobs should have come second at least”.
We decide to leave The Shed in disappointment and remorse and start to walk home. A taxi was going to be booked but we didn’t want to pay out more money. We were already lacking in funds. “I’ve got a text from Jamie” my friend says as we walk by a Subway “He aint happy, he says he’s abit pissed off but they seem ok.. The singers uncle was probably a judge”. We shake our heads and carry on walking home, mostly silent for the journey.

That was the first time I went to The Shed and it would become a staple for the future. 22 gigs will be played at the venue and I will be surrounded by people living a minimum wage lifestyle trying to become rock and roll stars. It’s the centre of everything rock and pop in Leicester. It makes sense to go there when you’re 18 and watch an drunk out of tune rock pop punk band playing songs you will most likely never hear on the radio.
It happened to one band and it might happen again, Kasabian played it and they got signed and eventually played to 50,000 people on Victoria Park. Arctic monkeys and Ellie Goulding they even had the chance to play a headline slot at The Shed.
It’s ok, these toilets exist and I will keep going to them.
Just another lock in and smoking and drinking around an acoustic guitar in the middle of the room while Dawn mops around us will do.

………

Ste Harris is entirely fictional and the writings in this blog are fictional. Some writes may be based around real places and real people but the stories are pieces of fiction and should not be taken literally.
As well,  the views and opinions expressed in this blog by the people in them do not come from a personal or private place and should again be viewed as apart of a story.

 

Small tale of cigarettes and fishbowls.

It’s the middle of summer and we turn up to the Y theatre to see The Curve, one of Leicester’s top bands play a headline set. We made friends with them after a gig a couple of months back and they have invited us to join them backstage to “party”. When we played with them the last time the scene two hours after the gig is something Keith Richards could be proud of, there blonde’s walking around and smells of all herbs flowing through the smoking area.
The great us at the door and show us to the backstage area. When we get to the back the scene is just as famous as the one before. Pills, powders and poppers lay wasted across chairs and lay on top of tables. Mark, the bands lead singer hands us (me, Liam, Jay and our bands manager Dave) glasses of straight triple vodkas and goes onto present a bag of white powder and says “want some?”
“Not yet dude, a bit later maybe, lets get watching some bands first” I say.
“Ok lads, we are on after the next band is on”.
We all down our drinks and head towards the stage where a band is finishing up their set. We stand at the foot of the stage as The Curve start to put their gear on the stage and Mark leans over to me and says “if you want any drugs to ask our manager Chris and he will sort you out”
“Maybe later dude, lets have some drinks and watch you lads play first then we might do later”.
Mark then calls over his manager and gets him to give some more drinks, it’s the same again, straight triple vodkas and this time a beer, just to wash the vodka down with.
After 20 minutes of setting up their gear and a quick line check they start to play and almost immediately you can tell substances have taken part in their day. Song after song is out of time. They speed up or they slow down, the drummer Trey speeds up and slows down, he’s trying to keep up with the bassist who I don’t know the name of and the bassist is trying to keep up with Mark who’s dazed out in the crowd and the nameless guitarist is trying to keep up with Trey. Song after song is the same but they look like a rock and roll band and they are putting so much energy into what is a chemically fuelled performance.
They finish the set to a huge round of applause and cheers from a packed house and they wave us into the back. So we make our way and Mark comes running up to us covered in sweat and says “How was we?”
“You were ok” our manager says
“Good” and Mark and the rest of the band run off into their dressing room and telling us to join them. But at this point it’s time for us to go, we all want to hit the bars around the town centre and see where the night takes us. Liam walks into the room to see mark snorting white powder off of a chair and tells him we are leaving and that we will party another night. Liam comes walking up to me and says “shits getting wild in that room right now and I just want to get pissed so lets go, they are fucked and I want to be fucked so lets go to the nearest pub”.
Just before we leave Mark comes running over to us, his eyes glazed and still covered in sweat, his leather jacket hanging off by one arm and his white vest torn right down the middle. He says to us “You can’t go, we haven’t partied yet”
“We are going to party right now mate, we are gonna hit some bars, if you want come and join us later” says Jay
“Ok, I’ll gather the band together and meet you somewhere soonish, where are going”
“Probably the Firebug”
“See you there lads”.
Mark goes running back into the backstage area as we the leave venue and start making our way to the Firebug, all of us now starting to feel the vodka that’s now flowing through us like a wave.
On the way to the Firebug Liam spots a pub and says “lets go in there for a couple, it won’t take long”. When we go through the doors the place is empty and Wonderwall is playing on in the background. We go to the bar and we all order cocktails, those big great fishbowl cocktails with all colours of the rainbow floating around it and ice peeping over the top. All of us head towards the DJ with our bowls and start trying to dance and make complete arses of ourselves and we down the bowls while Blur finish up playing and we then go grab some more. None of us know what’s in them, we just know that they taste good and we down them again and then we all get another two and do the same thing. Liam says “I think it’s time I better be going, I’m too fucked now, I’ve drank too much goldfish water and I need to go”. So Liam leaves and me, Jay and Dave have a shot of Jack Daniels for the road and then leave for the firebug.
We get there, we hand the bouncers our id, he lets us in and we walk through the doors to a room full of people. Mark is on his own at the bar with two girls and he spots us and calls us over and gets us triple vodkas again. We all down them quick and he orders us the same again. “Lets go outside I need a cig” says jay so we all walk outside and Mark leaves the girls at the bar “I don’t even know them” he says.
We stand outside talking and sipping our triple vodka’s and Mark offers me a cigarette and I tell him I’m not hungry. He looks at me with a drunken confused look like I’ve just tried to tell him the meaning of life backwards “You’re not hungry?”
“No, I’m not hungry”.
He just looks at me and stares right through my soul “It’s just his party trick” says Jay
“Party trick?”
“Yeah, I have this thing where I will just eat a lit cigarette for no reason at all, I would do it now but like I said I’m not hungry”.
Dave shouts “Bloody do it, just bloody do it he wants to see you do it”
“Ok, I’ll bloody do it loud mouth”.
Mark then gives me a cig and I light it and smoke it half way and then put it in my mouth. I chew and chew and it burns and burns but I make it through to the end I swallow it and I still out my tongue to show everyone and they give me a big cheer.
“Do it again” says Jay.
“I can’t do it again, it’s already burnt my mouth”.
Then he gives me his and I do it again, chewing and chewing and it burns like crazy but I make it through to the end again but I wash it down with the vodka, just to help it reach my the lower ends of my stomach and to give my mouth a little booze to kill off any infection.
After spending two hours in the pub and 6 triple vodka’s we decide to leave and go home. Walking towards the McDonald’s I start to feel that’s somethings not right in my stomach and I know it’s that feeling, everything is about to come up like a volcano. I turn to Jay “I’m gonna be fucking sick”. He grabs me by the arm and pulls me towards a bush and then it happens, everything comes up. Vodka and the rainbow fishbowls all decide to make show again. For the next 30 minutes I hunch over a bush throwing up everything I can from the lower ends of my stomach and at one point a group of about 8 lads stand behind me dancing and doing a conga line and singing football songs as I water the bush with my sick. And then Jay grabs me under the arms and that’s when everything goes blank.
I wake up the next morning in Dave’s flat on his sofa and bowl on the floor. Jay slept next to me and I wake him up and say “What the hell happened last night after I was sick? I can’t remember anything after the conga ended”.
“Well we picked you up and took you back here, we put you on the bus where you fell asleep and when we got off you threw up again next to a bin for another 15 minutes and then like a zombie you stood up straight and started to walk and we had to run after you. Then for some reason you started to sing Love Me Do by The Beatles and then you fell over a curb as you tried to cross the road”.
“Oh, ok”.
“Then when we got you back here you collapsed on to the sofa and passed out so I just got you bucket and a pint of water just in case you woke up being sick again”.
“So all in all it ended up being a bloody good night out than. Just wish my tongue didn’t hurt”.