after weeks of investigation and chasing, encountering on my quest star-eyed individuals who could only articulate something that can be translated as "you too?", after once again having to overcome the "sold out" obstacle, i got there: in a church, where else of all venues, when i am getting ready for a new kind of spiritual experience?
the Union Chapel is a lovely building from the XIXth century, with balconies hanging like flower baskets from the arcades, and alcoves that seem to whisper to each other across the nave. it is somewhat strange to view the cans of budweiser pop up on the wooden benches. the side bar spilling out its crowd onto the centre of the chapel indicates the imminent arrival of the band. running from the back of the church, armed with all kinds of instruments, from trombone to tambourine, the white-clad musicians climb onto the stage. the leader, Tim DeLaughter (what kind of name is that?), hushes the standing crowd and slowly starts talking, his unamplified american words immediatly clung onto by the assembly.
in the space of three months, the Polyphonic Spree have gone from a support slot for the Divine Comedy to staging their own gig in front of avid UK fans. giving in to the formidable enthousiam that has brought all of the people there, the band explode in a joyous cacophony while the choir already starts to show signs of trance. ok, the sound is appalling, but the energy on stage and in song is absolutely incredible and previously unheard of, even by those who have witnessed more festivals and after-gig parties than you could shake your backstage pass at. and that is just the most miraculous thing about the Polyphonic Spree: how could a bunch of over-excited americans so radically and unconditionally convert the hardcore of cynicism and seenitallbefore that is the music industry crowd?
in that respect, Tim DeLaughter bears a resemblance with Wayne Coyne, not to mention the similarity in voice: like the Flaming Lips, the Polyphonic Spree defy all cynicisms, because nothing is more engaging and disarming than their sheer spontaneity and enthusiasm. so if it is all too goodie-goodie for you, fear not: the band have enough rock'n'roll attitude to spice up truckloads of marshmallow.
for example: do you know why Ecstasy was never as popular in the US as it was in the UK? i once read the answer in an E interview, yes, Mr E from Eels. it went something like that: because the Brits are so tigh-arsed that only chemicals could give them a sense of fun, or maybe because Americans would be so unbearingly loud-mouthed and positive-energy radiant that the world thought it better to give them heroine to shut them up. my theory is that Americans on E would look something very similar to the Polyphonic Spree: people in trance, headbanging and clutching fists over chest, hugging, pacing, stomping, jumping up and down, waving, leaping from the pulpit, flying over drumkits and fellow musicians, rolling on the floor and still smiling like like they've just been called for ice-cream.
and yes, the Polyphonic Spree are about music too. sometimes, the harp and flute and full orchestral drum and choir get back in synch and deliver pure inspirational moments: the performance of Follow the day sends me to new heights of musical excitement, the kind that sends shivers down your spine and justifies everything all at once. in the encore, the band delivers the best version of Bowie's Five years i was ever born to experience: who are they, who can render a song i am so precious about because i have to be precious about beautiful things that always seem to bounce back at me and punctuate my life?
i see you are worried. i have been "spreed".
yes, the performance sometimes felt like i was witnessing some devil worshippers' celebration. yes, Tim DeLaughter is long-haired and charismatic and wears a white robe and makes ample use of the word "sun" in his songs. so what? that is rock'n'roll ma'am, and rock'n'roll is bigger than Jesus.
so finally i got to see "them".
it had all started in Camden. July 11th.
i was at the time following my NY streak of sweaty gigs and rock'n'roll nights out. the Rapture were one of these bands, which the London infatuation for "the new New York" had pulled out of the darkness of gigs in the shabby venues of the Lower East Side, and brought into the limelight of continental cool in the shabby venues of Camden. yet i was grateful to that fad for bringing over these uncombed&uncouth youth: the speed at which london appropriates and gentrifies irreverence means that fresh supplies of blood & punk energy are always eagerly awaited.
in spite of the hype, the audience wasn't unfazed and blasé. i suspect we precious ABC1 target market high-spending individuals are starting to get used to being hyped into the new new toppermost of the poppermost revelation of the year. we weren't expecting anything much, and thus enjoyed the performance for what it was. what was left of my unwashed brain let me assess that the Rapture were just that bunch of nice kids playing rather good music, raw chunks of garage punk energy entwined with the kind of funk that gets discerning young adults shamelessly indulge in a mad saraband with little cousins dancing & screaming around.
the Rapture's "House of the Jealous Lovers", which was recently remixed by our homie Trevor Jackson and released on Output, is a truly exciting dance track: as the post-summer blues sets in and Ibiza compilations flood the market, reclaim your individuality & pump up the volume to that tune. as some wise punter once said: "if you do not dance to this, it means you are probably dead".
but what about "them"?
hype-starved individuals who went to the Rapture gig will have notice the unbelievable queue which serpentined from the doors of the Monarch all the way to the garish petrol station. did all the punters turn up for the headlining band, Fingathing? no. for the Rapture? not even. oh my gawd! i was there and yet missing the hype? nothing more credence-blowing and humiliating for an urban creature like me.
so who was it then that they all turned up for?
the polywhat? the Polyphonic Spree. ah. +2 please. what do you mean, no? i can't see the first band on when i am on the guest-list of the headlining band? the venue is full because the band themselves use half of the space? you are taking the piss? do you know who i am? please... bitte schön. NEIN?? you said what?
who the f*** are the Polyphonic Spree who are so big i can't see them? band from Texas? Bowie invited them to his Meltdown on the Southbank? supported the Divine Comedy?
we see 25 ruffled haired boys and girls, draped in white capes, walk past us. when they come back down again 45 minutes later, steaming with sweat, i get that horrible feeling i have missed more than a hype. i missed something real. why else would this drenched audience look blissfully at each other like they all just had some kind of orgiastic tantric sex which would have contributed to the conservation of dolphins and world peace?
comme vous l'aurez peut-être remarqué, je m'étais absentée pendant quelques jours (oh oui, dites-moi comme vous l'avez remarqué!), et me voilà de retour.
au fond les retours sont parfois aussi durs que les départs, heureusement que mon retour n'est pas un vrai retour à proprement parler, puisque, comme me le rappelait gentillement une amie "you're not coming back to anything". il s'agit donc d'un départ, non pas au sens "quitter quelque chose" mais au sens de "nouveau départ". et dieu sait que je suis heureuse d'être sur la ligne de départ, même si j'ignore où la course me mènera!
il faut dire que j'ai préparé et pris ma course allégorique au sens littéral: j'ai couru, beaucoup, sur la plage, un peu comme dans Rocky(1), sauf que c'était bien plus beau.
ah oui! comme j'aime les grandes vacances d'Eté à la mer, comme quand on est petit, vacances si longues qu'on en perd la notion du temps, et que mercredi, c'est aussi bien que samedi. on est tout beau, on a le cul blanc et encore du sable dans les oreilles en rentrant, on en aurait presque envie de ne pas se laver pendant une semaine, une façon de retenir un peu ces sensations, ma crasse ensablée pour deux de vos coquillages ramassés sur la plage, ça se vaut bien, non?
profiter du moindre rayon de soleil entre deux immeubles, imaginer le soleil miroitant au même instant sur la mer.
reprendre le blog?
argh, le blog serait-il le contraire de la vie? la question n'est qu'un reflet de l'éternel débat Life vs. Art, l'Art ou la Vie, qu'est-ce que vous choisissez?
j'aime avoir de longues plages de vie, intenses, que je garde pour les longues journées pluvieuses, où je les recrée et les modèle à l'infini, jusqu'à ce que l'exercice du souvenir sublime l'expérience originale, explose et retombe en une perle parfaite de circonvolution de cerveau, épuisé mais heureux.
(1)celui que me trouve une photo de Rocky qui court sur la plage a gagné, impossible à trouver ce lien!!
ok, the discrepancy between my posts and what is actually going on round me is sometimes so big it becomes surreal.
today is raining really hard, some sort of summer rain you see in the hollywood chewing gum ads. oh, and i have been walking in the rain too, lucky i am wearing my baywatch t-shirt. as i am ill, it might not have been such a good idea.
anyhow. i won't shame my mum when i proudly told her people talked about me in the papers and she went. horrified "what?? you are doing one of those personal pages?", so i won't go any further, no worries mum!
in the meantime, anyone who's ever felt that thing is their stomach when time for goodbyes came round...
please stand up, please stand up!
c'est l'Eté, et je suis malade.
baah! peut-être un peu de glace? je ne peux plus rien avaler d'autre.
vous aurez remarqué qu'en Eté l'activité des blogs se ralentit, devient plus paresseuse et nonchalante, soit les posts se raccourcissent et s'espacent, le style devient factuel, 'y fait beau/pas beau, ou au contraire on se perd dans les pérégrinations mentales causées par les excès de veille ou de moîteur. l'Eté, c'est l'occasion de penser trop ou pas assez, de remettre les pendules à l'heure, de tout recommencer ou d'en finir, de boire comme un porc à ayia napa ou de se taper un summertime blues à vous faire vous languir d'une pluie d'hiver.
en attendant, je mange ma glace et regarde par la fenêtre, bientôt la mer, où j'y retrouverai un rythme lunaire, loin du bruit et de la fureur de la ville.