Five For Friday – 12th April 2013

So, the Wicked Witch is dead, eh? Super. About time. Fuck her, she was a cunt, and it is basically impossible that she suffered enough. You don’t get to cause that much harm to that many people, especially when you do it with such glee and hatred, and then lecture me about etiquette or compassion when your frail, dusty old cadaver finally quits twitching for good, its remaining years fuelled not so much by anything resembling life-force as by the simmering neutron star of weapons grade bile at the core of your viperous soul spitefully refusing to be extinguished once and for all.

Well she’s gone now. Good. Fuck her. Bring me the head of David fucking Cameron next.

1. Song of the Week: The Fight For History, by M.J. Hibbett and the Validators

The song in the video at the top of the page comes from this absolutely excellent album by M.J. Hibbett and the Validators, and I am not sure a political song has resonated quite so strongly with me, well… pretty much ever, really. It’s an oldie, of course, and I heard it many years before Thatcher’s death, but I knew immediately at the time that he had absolutely nailed something with this tune.

We’ve already seen this with the revisionist accounts of Ronald Reagan’s presidency in the U.S., and of course one of the main reasons the political right in this country are jumping up and down in outrage at those celebrating Thatcher’s death is of course because they don’t want any challenge to their view of her legacy. They want to control the narrative, to paint her as a strong, principled leader. And of course she was, but then so was Emperor fucking Palpatine.

If we want the world to remember the way she destroyed industry after industry in this country, whilst simultaneously dismantling all the safety nets she was ensuring people suddenly needed, and then setting the police on them when they complained as if they were her own private army, then we have to make sure that story is told often and well. The same goes for her support for murderous dictators around the world, and encouragement of Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. And for her privatisation and deregulation fetish, which pretty much handed the keys to the generation of wealth in this country to the very richest amongst us, in order that they could lock everyone else out.

She was a cunt. She is dead. Good.

2. The Ginstitute

Yes, seriously, the Ginstitute. You can go there, learn how to make your own gin, and then do batches, order more later and stuff like that. I don’t mean to sound either shallow or like too much of an alcoholic (I am both, I just don’t want to sound like it) but this shit has my name written all over it!

3. Fora Do Eixo & Off-Axis

As you know, I was at Wide Days yesterday (see Newsnight feature here), schmoozing with industry types (or just catching up with some pals, depending on what way you want to look at it).  This one is bloody amazing. The Unconvention guys in Manchester are trying to build a British equivalent of Fora Do Eixo in Brazil. That network allows artists to play sold out shows across the whole country, even in cities they have never visited before. It is free to use and now involves 3,000 artists from across 200 cities, generating $44million for the independent music sector, but it basically started with bands from three different towns wanting to set up gig swaps to allow them to tour outside the main Sao Paolo-Rio axis in Brazil. Instead of conventional gig swaps, however, where you end up tied to certain bands, here when you put on a gig or host a band you earn credits in a virtual currency (now so widespread in Brazil it is underwritten by the government) which you can then spend in the system however you please. It’s hard to explain properly, but if you’re a band looking to tour the UK and reckon you can bring an audience of at least 70 people to a hometown gig, then it’s worth having a look at.

4. Siobhan Wilson, Garden of Elks and Saint Max & the Fanatics

In the evening at Wide Days there were three showcases, and these are my three favourite bands from the ones we saw. Firstly, Siobhan Wilson’s set was fucking lovely. Oddly, at times it feels like you might be in a musical, and then at others the songs had just a bit too much of a nasty undercurrent, such as this little peach from her latest EP.

Saint Max and the Fanatics were awesome too, if a little odd. I can’t really think of anyone else making music like theirs at the moment, not that I don’t think is shit anyway. I’m not entirely sure what it is they’ve got, but it’s definitely something. And finally, Garden of Elks made a massive, gleeful racket of shouty guitar music. Awesome.

5. Olaf Furniss is a Pretty Cool Guy

I don’t take to these pages to directly praise my pals very often, but this one deserves a little mention. As we walked between showcases yesterday evening, Olaf directed us off into one of the little lanes off the Cowgate. I thought he was taking people to somewhere the delegates could get some food, and I impatiently suggested heading off to Sneaky Pete’s with the others, because I had already eaten and wanted a pint instead.

Without really going into details he said that I should just come along, which I figured I might as well do, and bloody good that I did, too.  In one of the alleys Olaf had stashed a van full of tasty food from Henderson’s, and as we were mid scoff, he opened the back of the van and out popped Stanley Odd to do an impromptu, two-song acoustic set. I am not exactly Mr. Hip-hop, but their first tune – about the independence for Scotland debate – was great, and in fact the whole thing was just brilliant – a sort of vegetarian deli, hip-hop ambush. Even the locals who complained (like a couple of whinging pricks) were pretty funny. So well played, Olaf, very well played indeed.

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