The Following article was written by British band, Spring Offensive:
Coming back to Oxfordshire was a welcome relief. We’d been on the road for all of four days, but it felt a lot longer. Pathetic really. Anyway, heading to a pub in the village of Drayton to play in the beer garden isn’t what you’d consider a glorious homecoming, but the Dead Jerichos had done a great job running their new D Fest. A few bands that you haven’t heard of but probably should have and might well at some point soon were there with us: The Scholars, Dial F For Frankenstein (with their new t-shirts fresh from China bearing the strange message: ‘Dail For Frankenstein’), The Empty Vessels. We took it upon ourselves to get heroically drunk.
Next gig was in a castle. Seriously. A castle. Having spent two weeks in dingy little pubs and clubs across the country, this felt like something of a step up. For once, we were pleased to see that, backstage, our rider had been followed to the letter: a single, red claw hammer, that sat untouched by the door throughout the day and was not removed by anyone (see photo below). We performed alongside a group made up predominantly of folk acts (plus the excellent Adam Barnes, Ute, Message to Bears and the supersexy Charly Coombes and the New Breed) to a large group of families and bands lounging on the former prison’s lawns. It was charming, delightful and weird.
It was a day, however, not as weird as the next. We pitched up in Leicester, for our northernmost gig to date. Firstly there were no posters of the gig at the venue, but this is something we’d frankly come to expect. Secondly, the only local act had recently split up and would therefore not be playing. Thirdly, it was a hardcore punk and thrash night. Welcome to the world of unsigned and unpromoted acts traveling across the UK. We sat and watched Rash Decision soundcheck with a brutal minute and a half long burst of noise and scr ams, wondering why on earth we were there. The drummer confided with me that he felt that the band had recently let themselves go a little by writing two tunes that shockingly ran over three minutes, one even pushing the dreaded 3:30 barrier. We nervously considered whether it was worth dropping our 13 minute epic, for fear of inducing the wrath of the purist punk. We took the stage to a small but somehow terrifying audience.
We then fled to Birmingham. We’d got a call on the weekend from the local band that was meant to be headlining and promoting the night, informing us that they had (shock horror!!) recently split up and would therefore not be playing (see Leicester). So we ended up running a night in a town we didn’t know, owing £70 to the soundman and needing a minimum of 24 people through the door in order not to make a loss. Thankfully, our friend Tom Anderson, and his helluva voice, filled in last minute, and brought enough people to stop us from being stranded on the way home. In fact, the night was a positive success. And, for the first time, someone came up to us and told us they’d heard us on the radio, and was coming to see us live as a result. This was so massively satisfying that it could have carried us all the way back to Oxford, where we now are (following a late-night stop at a service station for some “deliciously meaty” chicken snacks) because our Nottingham show has been cancelled. The reason? Because the promoter who offered to pay us and put us on has left and the new one had no idea we were meant to be playing.
It’s not an unusual story. It’s the price you pay for trying to do things yourself. Our check list of things to look out for when arriving at the venue,
1) Make sure the venue is open and still running.
2) Make sure they know you are playing.
3) Have a check around, just to be doubly sure that there are no posters promoting the night and that you don’t appear on the venue listings.
4) Meet the other bands and find out that no one is local, no one is expecting a crowd and that our music couldn’t be further from each others.
5) Pray for soundcheck.
6) Play gig.
7) Listen to promoter tell you how they can’t afford baby food let alone pay a pissy indie band.
Tomorrow we go north. Far north.