Headbutts / BNP / Taj Mahal / homosexuality / James Dean / Map
Saturday 19th May
The last day of music and we wake up sluggish, still drunk and in the same clothes. The only remedy is tea and a full English, so down we all go to ground level in search of a café. I’m only telling you this because of the dirt I have on Rob Webb – he’s the hungriest man alive, but refuses to put his fried eggs out of their misery, preferring instead to drink the yolk and return the whites to the establishment, hollowed out on his plate like sockets missing their eyeballs. Growl for your dinner when Rob’s around. Truth?
Rob Webb: The Fisherman's Rest does the best F&C money can buy.
Truth. Aware of the pass-shaped gap on my chest after last night’s altercation, I go and fetch credentials and cigarettes from the Queens with Billy, who had taken one of those real beds in the hotel room last night. This is when it begins – the inane chatter that holds me together for the rest of the weekend. If I stop I get the shakes, so on it goes, a near-constant stream of rubbish that spews from my dry, cracked mouth to the sure annoyance of company.
Billy Leeson: Kev Kharas tries to remember what other type of animals there were after mammals and reptiles, and comes up with; “Lizards?”.
New cigarettes. I try and palm the unwanted Royals off on some kids, but even they don’t want them. What’s England coming to when children won’t accept free cigarettes off strangers in the street? My faith in the country is restored by a typically lacklustre Cup final – forget what I said about the big guitar striptease.
BL: …the most boring FA Cup final EVER.
The only saving grace comes with trying to identify the drinker who keeps leaving BNP cards in the gents; grubby business cards with a big, red strike through the crescent of the Great Goddess and a list of demands on the nation’s whites. The conclusion I reach? You find out a lot about people by watching the way they eat.
Post-match, I unravel in a few drinks with some girlfriends of Sean’s from New Zealand. I wasn’t aware of this discourse and the drunken logic at the table means I endure taunts about the red in my hair and my own 'homosexuality'.
BL: I ate a foot-long hot dog all three nights for dinner.
After a while I make my way to Zap with Billy and Rob and a lipstick kiss on either cheek. Girls wear lipstick.
They’ve come on, doubtless. Fred’s motley crew are still plumbing that Nick Cave vein, but now they're losing less blood. At times they sound overwhelmed by their myriad influences, but in Brighton this seemed deliberate - an old English Duke finding new revelry at a sweaty, backwater dive bar.
We go upstairs so Billy can talk to Fred and I’m presented with some tension. It’s healthy though, I think. The evening kicks in, we move Uptown, where Sean’s looking for something to mop up his bodily fluids.
Sean Adams: She should come with a warning: bring tissues. Beneath a big 'I [HEART] XL' banner the newly signed young lady sits, strums, smiles and then, when she opens her gob, blue birds fly out. Imagine if Erykah Badu and Billy Holiday caught the LDN accents of Lock Stock… and you’re not even close to how powerful this is. Beautiful.
Next up, we walk down the beach to The Maccabees’ only gig of the weekend. People have been queuing for at least two hours, so it’s no shock to Debbie Gwyther or myself when we don’t get in. So, it’s back to DiS’s night at Zap before we head to some rubbish pub for some rubbish band uptown.
BL: Johnossi – it’s almost impossible to make the sounds they did with only drums and one guitar, but every one was a song. Quite strange, but in a way that they could all be hits.
Bored, I wander outside to make a phone call and get some air, but the gates are drawn behind me and when I try to get back in I’m told that I’m too drunk. After wasting a fair amount of time glazed over in front of Booze Britain I don’t wanna come over like an inevitable, so it’s eloquence and reason for me. “Foller me in,” I insist to the doorman, waiting for him when he falls behind on the dance floor before introducing him to Debbie, Billy and Phil. I explain the situation to them, and we leave. I commend the bouncers on their prowess. Left standing in silence, they seem slightly put out; heaving frames rendered aesthetic by a lack of conflict.
Course, that conflict duly arrives when Billy attacks me on the way to meet Tom King. He head-butts me three times before I slam him into a parked car on the Kings Road. Then he threatens to punch me and I goad him on, so he does and it takes me by surprise. No hard digs though, eh Billy? Brighton begins to come apart at the seams.
BL: A man in a pub starts chatting to me – he states: “I came down here in 1974 for a long weekend and I’ve been here ever since.” He repeats this six times as he gets progressively more pissed. It is now time to leave.
RW: I get an unexpected but most welcome lift all the way back from Brighton with Reverend & The Makers (thanks guys) on Saturday evening. Sheffield's an awful long way away from the South Coast. Listening to The Shins, watching a Bob Marley DVD - it sure beats National Rail.
If the weekend has been a blur up to this point, from here on it’s angle-less. Rob and Billy abandon ship and take lifts back to Sheffield and London respectively. I find myself in the same park as last night, drinking more wine with Tom King, Debbie and friends in the shadow of what looks like the Taj Mahal. We all head to Komedia… remember Joe Fox? He’s licking spilt whiskey off the floor and robbing fire alarms. We meet a man with money outside as we’re unceremoniously turfed from yet another venue.
Debbie Gwyther: I stay on at Komedia for the NME aftershow and wait two hours for Bonde do Role, who cancel at the last minute. Everyone’s pissed off, so we head to Ocean Rooms for the festival’s official aftershow party; a band plays and no one has a clue who they are, though they’re quite good. At 5am, three stag parties come in and I decide to trek home.
Next thing I know we’re back on the beach, just east of the pier, squawking ‘Complete Control’ and TNP’s ‘Elvis’ down a stolen police radio. Every so often the static spits back at us, requesting: “confirmation, confirmation… is that The Clash?” and Joe is laid out, talking in tongues, face pressed to the pebbles with his trousers round his ankles. We stomp around on walls with our bottles, and the G-string snaps off and slices my hand. Later, during a more sober moment, Joe will put a foot through the instrument before completely destroying it outside the only pizza place in town left open, thus bringing the weekend to a pointless, satisfying crescendo. From here on in, it’s down.
We’ll walk back to someone else’s home, forced to leave Joe in a deserted street looking for the armies of girls who’re obviously awake at 6am as huffy shopkeepers open up and the sun rises between the buildings. It’s the last we see of him, as we get four hours before making our escape back to London.
My eyes slip on the train and I find myself back in the night before. In the dark of the beach, I see an electric power box on the pebbles, leap the three feet and stand there gazing out into the starlit black feeling like Canute. The tide that lapped has retreated back to my throat now - I'd spent the last week at home locked in my bedroom, desperately trying to get fit for Brighton, mucus sucking at my lymph nodes like dutty green leeches. Now I'm back in bed with nothing to show for The Great Escape but some bank charges and a golf ball in my neck. But as long as I live through it, I'll be back in Brighton this time next year; being loud in alleyways, letting wine attack and pushing my eyes past the edges of the sea.
Banner and pier photos by Phil Shaw; Adele photographed by Holly Erskine; Joe Fox photographed by Peter Barlow