Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Heatwave Fuel (second letter to Lowri)

It’s a heatwave! The Greater Manchester outback bushfire is raging near Stalybridge. Friends are saying the smoky air in the city is making the atmosphere seem like India, where people are always burning garbage. Stretford and Withington seemed unaffected by the pollution, at least as far as my nose can tell. Yesterday near Stretford mall I got shouted at by a turban wearing car passenger of probable Indian descent. Usually men who shout at me from their cars are shouting abusive orders to get my hair cut. This was the opposite. I couldn’t hear him at first as I had earphones in but a mother with two children waiting at the crossing next to me pointed him out, and asked if I knew him. I didn’t and I was a bit confused. Had I done something that had made him angry that I didn’t even know about? Even after I’d stopped listening to music I couldn’t hear what he was shouting over the noise of the car engines. As they drove off he gave me two thumbs up signs. The mother told me that he was shouting that he loved my hair!

That evening I caught a 25 bus to Fuel. How long is it since you’ve been there? I remember when Hotpants Romance and the Lovely Eggs played there and you walked around with a tray full of Hotpants Romance souvenir trinkets like a snack seller at a cinema, which was almost funnier than the funniest band in the world. Could this have been your first solo performance?
Fuel recently had a stage installed and it’s painted with black and white zig zags with a red curtain hanging at the back, like the black lodge from Twin Peaks. This was the first time I’ve heard a band play on that stage who actually sounded like Twin Peaks music, at least for some of their set. JFrisco are a jazzy trio from Leeds playing guitar, keyboards and clarinet or at least that’s what it looked like they were playing to me. Between songs the guitarist informed us that time and gender are illusions so I’m not sure if they would be happy if I described them as women, but I would if I was judging by appearance. They were a nice surprise as I enjoyed them as much if not more than the two bands I’d heard before. Cynthia’s Periscope is the one man synth pop and percussion dancer Paul Morrice who also often does the sound for gigs at the Peer Hat and Aatma. He played a set of what he said were his happiest songs as it was a very hot sunny day. The last song was much noisier than the others and he danced to the far end of the room banging a drum and danced on a table. He’d brought some flyers for a couple of gigs he’s putting on and these were very useful as fans. The bassist of Stoke instrumental trio Owte told us all their tunes were proggy, and that’s true if it means complex rhythms and time changes that catch dancers out. If I was judging the illusion of gender by appearance I’d say they were all men. The guitarist was wearing a Bilge Pump T-shirt and as they are one of my favourite bands we got talking about them after the bands had all played. Before they played the bassist joked that they’d probably clear the room, but promoter and compere Brandon M Bizzle told them the whole point of his monthly night “You Might Not Like This” is to have bands of different genres or styles play together. K1square finished off the night with some techno that got most people dancing, but I enjoyed dancing badly to Owte more.

Last time I did any vocals was in May at the monthly Fuel night “The Noise Upstairs” where improvising trios are formed at random by picking names from a hat. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone vocalise there so it was odd that the trio I was randomly thrown into was with Brandon, also on vocals but through effects, and a guitarist I’d never met before who plays in a band called Good Guts who I’ve yet to hear. Maybe I’ll put that right now if they have any music online.

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