Sailing By

Not many bookish thoughts today – mainly ramblings about the live music that has been making me happy recently.

I went to an amazing gig in Bristol on Friday night, which was especially exciting because the venue was a boat! It was my first time at the Thekla, which has been used as a music venue for years, and so I was looking forward to the experience of a gig on board a ship. It’s actually quite easy to forget that you’re on a boat as the Thekla is in the dock and you can’t feel any waves swaying it around, plus the gigs take place in the hold rather than on deck (wouldn’t that be great, though?!). Still, I liked the venue very much and I really enjoyed myself. The band I saw was Wild Flag, who are an American indie/rock band made up of musicians who used to be in Sleater-Kinney and various other bands.

I’d only listened to Wild Flag’s album a couple of times before going but their songs are instantly loveable and the atmosphere was great. It was the first time I’d been to a gig where the band took loads of photos of the audience, telling them to smile and then make various serious/funny/sexy faces. Luckily I wasn’t quite near enough to the front to be involved in this…

Most of the audience were going crazy and I did a lot of jumping around and dancing. I think the friend I went with (who absolutely loves music and introduces me to many of the recent bands I like and tells me about all the gigs that are on) was surprised by this, as I’m generally a quiet person who likes going to melancholy folk-ish gigs where the audience sit in appreciative silence. But I have a more rock side as well, so I’m really glad that I went to see Wild Flag.

Another thing that made me happy recently was getting a ticket to see Bonnie Prince Billy and Trembling Bells do a joint show in Oxford. This isn’t until May but I like having something exciting to look forward to. I’ve liked Bonnie Prince Billy for ages and have become a big fan of Trembling Bells recently too, so I’m really interested to hear their collaboration on the album that’s coming out soon. I’ve seen Trembling Bells twice before – the first time was the gig where I started to like them (my favourite songs are Willows of Carbeth and Baby Lay Your Burden Down, and I also love it when they perform beautiful a cappella duets, such as Seven Years a Teardrop). Then I saw them again last year at a gig they did with Mike Heron from the Incredible String Band, a folk/psychedelic band from the 1960s and 70s. This gig was wonderful because it brought old and new folk music together. I’d heard the Incredible String Band because my mum used to listen to them and she bought me a CD of their songs. I listened to it often and got to know their songs well (my favourite is October Song). It was really nice for me to hear their music performed live, with Trembling Bells joining in singing harmonies and playing as part of the band. Anyway, I am very excited about the gig with Bonnie Prince Billy in May because it’s a chance to see two acts I love performing together.

After seeing Wild Flag, I didn’t have many other plans for the weekend so I spent yesterday afternoon relaxing and reading with a nice cup of tea. I have a stack of books to read, including some authors I’ve enjoyed recently: a couple more Barbara Pyms (I’ve already finished Crampton Hodnet, which is very funny and set in Oxford to boot) and more J.D. Salinger, so I’ll be able to read the other Glass family stories very soon. It’s nice to spend a weekend just indulging myself in books!


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