Vote for the Duke Spirit

MTVU – which is Guess is some MTV university channel, or programme on MTV – has a regular online feature called “Freshmen”, where people vote on new videos to see which gets introduced to MTV’s regular playlist for that week.

The Duke Spirit’s new video, “The Step and the Walk” is on there. Take a minute and hit the pink button by their name to vote for them, please. There’s clips of all the videos, plus some university kids discussing them. If you’re not in the US I don’t think you can see the vids, though. Doesn’t matter: just vote for the Duke Spirit. A couple of times. It’s worth it to put good music in front of kids. And if you want to watch the video, it’s in my VodPod in my blog’s sidebar.

“A message from forever”

London has quite a few underground public toilets. I quite like these: they’re handy when you need them, and sometimes have interesting architectural bits like wrought-iron gatework aboveground and coloured tiles below. Sure, they’re often unpleasant, since they’re most often used by bladdered pissheads, but it’s to be expected: they are toilets.

A couple of them have been converted to other uses, however. One such isGinglik, no longer a loo but a scruffy-cool subterranean bunker bar at the point of Shepherd’s Bush Green. Giving a new meaning to “watering hole”, Ginglik is small, dim, but funky.

I was there last night to catch a gig. Fancy that? The room where bands play is small and simple; it can’t hold more than 200 people, I think. It was part of a monthly west-London live music promotion night called Not In Kansas Anymore.

The first band was called Four Dead In Ohio. Unfortunately, they sounded very little like CSN&Y. They weren’t bad, but their droning rock wasn’t very interesting, either. The songs certainly didn’t sound as good live as they do on their MySpace. They’re just kids, though, so I’m sure they just need some time and practice.

During FDIO’s set I people-watched a bit. One guy caught my eye: a small fellow, with a sullen, brooding look, and a jumper with his hood up over his head. He paced in and out of the room from time to time, as though he were up to something. I kept my eye on him, just to be safe.

The next act up was called Dead Kids. They set up a couple of synths, a drummer, and a bassist, and started laying down a groove. I was eager to see what came next. Suddenly I noticed the sullen guy with the hoodie move through the crowd toward the low stage. He reached up, and grabbed a mic stand, and took it. I saw some people tense and look at him. Without a backward look, the guy grabbed the mic and jumped onto the stage and started singing. The band kept playing. Oh, the room thought: he’s actually their singer.

Without warning, Dead Kids exploded into a whirlwind of punk-rave fun. I was shocked and surprised and overjoyed. It was like a cockney Iggy Pop was fronting LCD Soundsystem. You felt like dancing while this nutty little guy starts ripping the shit out of the ceiling while shouting at us and sweating up a storm. It was far more dynamic and dangerous live than you can tell from those MySpace songs. I loved them. The singer was in the crowd, jumping around, climbing on people, making no sense, but making a glorious racket. The DJ had to run down and stop him when he actually broke some of the flimsy false-ceiling supports. That was proper rock.

But the main act were my current faves The Duke Spirit. I got to see them play from a distance of about 3 feet, which was super cool. They ripped the place up just as they did in November. Their garage-art sound is perfect for a converted underground toilet bar: tactile, fuzzy, and booty-shaking. They played a lot of songs from new album Neptune, released next week (but already heard by some of us at the listening party last weekend and through – ahem – other means). “Send A Little Love Token”, “Into The Fold”, and “This Ship Was Built To Last” sounded especially good. I’m seeing these guys once more soon, at Koko in Camden, and at the moment I’m just basking in how cool they are.

Note that the Guardian has reviewed Neptune (which I think is awesome) and while they seem to think it’s great and said it’s better than their first album, they only gave it three stars.

“I was one the Internets, using the Googles…”

This has been a super weekend.

On Friday night we went down to Shepherd’s Bush with one of neighbours. We stopped in to The Defector’s Weld pub and had a bite and a drink. Afterwards we went across the green to the cinema to see No Country For Old Men. It lived up to the hype: what a serious, slow-burning, well-crafted film. What a portrait of evil from Javier Bardem. I definitely need to see it again.

Saturday was jam packed.

  • I got up early and went for a 10km run, ate breakfast, got cleaned up.
  • Went to The Social, a cool bar on Little Portland Street, where The Duke Spirit were having a CD playback of their upcoming album,Neptune. It sounded great, just like their other stuff. It was a laid-back atmosphere, with a couple of dozen people and a couple of guys from the band hanging out around metal tables and dimmed light bulbs.
  • Met up with a couple of friends at The Ship on Wardour Street, had a few drinks, and sold one of them a Queens of the Stone Age ticket I can no longer use. After catching up, we had a tasty dinner at Neal’s Yard Salad Bar since one person is vegan, and then had a quick drink at The Boardwalk in Soho (half-price drinks before 8pm, and the place was empty!).
  • Afterwards, Kitty and I broke from the crowd, because we had tickets to see Henry Rollins at the Hammersmith Apollo. It was a spoken-word event, which is Henry’s shtick these days. He came on promptly at 8pm, and didn’t stop ranting, even for a drink of water, until just after 11pm. He’s nearly 50 but he still channels that punk rage, and in a really entertaining way. He talked about his penchant for visiting places like Islamabad, Damascus, Tehran, and Beirut on his own, wandering the streets and meeting people (he was in Pakistan when Bhutto was assassinated). He talked about being disappointed by heroes like Ted Nugent in his youth, but finding new ones like Van Halen. He talked about being an obsessive musical collector. He talked about loving – and then getting a chance to perform with – The Ruts. He talked about how awesome Canadians are. He apologised just a little for George Bush: since his days in office are numbered he suggested we simply sit back and laugh, since without Karl Rove the president is saying stupider things than ever. Henry’s irascible and funny and loud and inquisitive; it was a good show.
  • I got home in time to enjoy the tail end of a dinner party thrown by our neighbour two doors down.

So far, the only excitement Sunday has held is doing some laundry. Even if that’s it, it’s been an excellent weekend.