I've waited a few days before writing this one, but still, easily offended should look away now ...
So, I arrived at about 8.30, and as I get in, I can hear the drums indicating the start of I Nagual Eye, which means I've missed Linea again, and the first earthtone9 song, probably Star Damage.
And as I walk in I'm greeted by a sight that even now a few days later after reflection, I still think sums up the sheer apathy of the country that is the oh so GREAT Britain. The band are doing their thing, and there's about a 10metre semi circle emerging from the stage into which no-one, that's NO ONE, as in NOT A SINGLE PERSON OR HIS DOG has entered. After the reasonably uplifting experience of the previous night in Northampton, my optimism plummets. And this isn't an earthtone9 thing. This is with respect for the whole tour, for One Minute Silence and for Linea77. Three bands, numerous critical reviews between them, cover appearances (OMS), an extremely energetic and well publicised live show (OMS) and there's about 200 people here tops on a Friday night.
I apprciate there can be extenuating circumstances, Dudley is awkward to get to, I believe it's an over 18s venue, and for all the flack thrown at "the kids" and whether they are following trends or not, the fact remains that it's the older generation who are not there, who are not supporting. Without "the kids" to make up the numbers, attendances are pitiful. It's also pretty expensive to get in, and the tour hits Birmingham in a few days time, and you have to think that may these gigs are too close together in terms of proximity and time.
But I still think the UK is apathetic, cos I'm a git like that.
Still, Karl is doing his best, pleading with the crowd, "you need to warm up to dance for OMS, and we're your chance to warm up", and "COME ON", and "I'm trying my Rock God poses to get you to come down here, COME ON, you're making me sound like a desperate man". And you have to think, should a band really need to try that hard. There've been numerous arguments about how you show appreciation at gigs, and I think it's about time people got over the misguided notion that you can only pit to show appreciation, and that otherwise you have to stand right back. I'm on the edge of the semi-circle. I feel self-conscious, and I don't like being the centre of attention, so I don't feel able to make that step forwards. That's my failing, and yes, it may be hypocritical of me to complain about this, but I'd rather be able to just merge into the background. I think that people could've wandered forward rather than "pay 10 quid to sit on the steps". They don't have to throw each other, just take a step forward. Close that gaping ominous space. And if they had, maybe I would. As it is, about 10 people by the end of the set have made the brave move and start dancing. It's weird because the sound is much better tonight, and maybe it's the old "in the face of adversity" syndrome, but the performance feels better tonight, and the fact that the applause seems to be greater than the sum of the 10 people indicates to my way of thinking that either people did enjoy it (in which case why not step forward), or the applause was sympathy. It felt like it must be for a band playing their first ever gig, unknown, punters looking on out of curiosity and boredom, rather than a band with 3 albums under their belt and relentless touring over the last 18 months. I think that in this instant, any notion of people crying "sell out" to at a UK band that effectively relocates and concentrates on the States, or makes more commercial music, is made utterly redundant. If the UK ain't interested, then bands should take it to those that may be, and fuck the moral guardians who will complain.
But it was summed up much better than I could ever do by Karl, who as binary approaches it's climax walks away. He puts his glasses back on, turns and cooly extends his middle fingers to the crowd. You can argue should you blame the people here, or the people who are NOT HERE. Or you could say it's a gesture that maybe just ought to be pointed at the UK in general.
Fortunately my personal disgust on the night is somewhat placated by seeing one of my dearest friends, the ever delightful Vickie for the first time in far FAR too long.
One Minute Silence acknowledge the small crowd immediately, but decide it's not going to phase them, because they're much better people than I am. And the crowd have moved up, and through the likes of Roof Of The World, Holy Man, 1845 they continually hurtle themselves off the stage, which is high, and there's not that many people there to catch them, but they still do it, such is the mentality and loyalty of those dedicated to the OMS cause. One guy seems to spend most of the evening on stage, playing imaginary bass (though he's playing it in the Fieldy almost upright manner - noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo, bass is meant to be slung low and played!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). I'm a git, he makes me think of the Jar Jar Binks character from Star Wars, but he gets a mention from Glen along the lines of "I don't care how many people are here, you've made my night." Other speeches tonight are from YAP regarding the Anti Capitalist March on May 1, and encouraging people to take part, arguing that money should be spend on the homeless, disabled, elderely rather than more police to effectively run an authoritarian state. And Glen throws in an impassioned speech about the bands that choose to hide themselves in the bus or in the changing rooms all day and then complain that their only enjoyment is the hour on stage, and how OMS enjoy all of it because they spend time wiht their fans etc.
The gig is used as an opportunity to try out a new song for the first time, A-Z Revolution, which kind of sounds like typical OMS and fits in nicely (I kind of feel sometimes that they limit themselves by creating music that works live within the context of their set - slamming music, and I think they're talented enough to be able to push themselves further, to extend themselves. But hey, that's just me.) Glenn does his back flip from on top of the speaker stack, which is HIGH here given the lack of people, virtually everyone in the pit goes to ensure he's caught safely. No matter what size crowd, they always seem to give it your all. As a punter, you can't ask for any more than that. As a band ... I may be harsh but, maybe they ought to be able to expect a crowd.