Ever been in the photo-pit? Pretty good, yeah? Well, how about for your favourite live-band ever and arguably the best live-band on the planet, Mogwai? 2,000 people right behind you in the reddish darkness, and in tiers rising 50 feet up; all these eager faces radiating anticipation verging on the pre-coital, and their energy somehow beamed through you, even before the noise starts that makes it literally hard to focus. Not the camera – your eyes, I mean; as in, the vitreous humour of your eyeballs is, like, quaking. After this, I guess Karma had it in for me (not actual "karma" – more like the My Name Is Earl kind of karma). See, the following night, I had the MOST UN-ROCK'N'ROLL EXPERIENCE EVER.
THE BAND (let's call them this for the sake of legal ease) were good, of course. Maybe they were great. I get vicarious pleasure from seeing the aficionados when a gig trips over into an 'event'. There were people who won't be offended if I said they looked like Tank Girl, and plenty of others who just re-discovered the dressing-up box in the loft. For my own part, I bought a gorgeously hand-crafted cassette tape, and plotted an article in my head about DIY aesthetics and the general aceness of packaging that IS as important as the content.
For the record: I didn't have a press-pass, or a photo-pass, for this gig. I went along of my own free will, with my own desperately-horded cash. "I'll write a review," I thought, "this band made my 14-month-old nephew smile, which is good because I'm worried about him being exposed to Abba." I got some great pictures of the singers, too, looking like a mediaeval carnival. Then, one of the venue staff asked me to "Step this way…."
This is when I met A Representative of the Band. "Another camera for you," he said to the girl on the front-desk. Before submitting the offending item for complete erasure, I explained that he'd be depriving the quintet of a review in a prominent music website whose demographic made such a snub foolish, and counter-productive. I offered to contact head office, or speak to the appropriate PR, whilst Ceasing & Desisting for the time being. I used none of these words, but all of the sense. I'm compelled to write like this, though, because of the legalese that cascaded from the guy's mouth like excrement from a coprophiliac in the throes of violent emission: "THE ARTISTES have stated that they will sue any website on which unauthorized pictures of them appear."
Wow. That's punk rock. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, and assume that the paraphrase omits "The management of…THE AFOREMENTIONED CLIENT, et cetera." I'll also speculate that this most idiosyncratic of bands – renowned for challenging normative sexuality – personally took pity on someone clinically obese, and suffering through a bad-hair life, when they authorized him to act as their mouthpiece. I know that I'd have struggled to do so, being a lesser person, on the grounds that someone actually has a choice about wearing a ponytail and goatee (unlike this guy's scalp condition, which would make anyone irritable); plus, central obesity in men before middle-age is caused by poor diet and excess alcohol consumption 99% of the time, so – y'know – I'm not being mean or libellous when I describe him thus (I didn't see a Medic-Alert bracelet, either, to suggest diabetes or hypothyroidism). Basically, there were a lot of signs that this was someone lacking in self-respect.
Anyhow, I missed all of three minutes, and returned – a little more reflective – to my place by the NO STAGE-DIVING sign (Party on, guys!). I contemplated calling the guard, and pointing out the cameras in use, deeper in the moshpit. I pondered the anachronism of policing ones image in the era of MyFaceSter. I remembered Don De Lillo on "The Most Photographed Barn in America", and how nobody sees the barn. I consulted some music industry experts, telephonically, who expressed dismay & concern about all the LIES, BUREAUCRACY, and UN-ROCK'N'ROLLNESS. Mostly, I was pleased that my friends were the ones dancing at the back. I learned my lesson (never do nuffin' for no-one, unless you're prepared to jump through hoops, too). I got my limited copy of THE ALBUM. Still… this would never have happened to Steve Gullick or Nick Kent.
They'd just have got punched.