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The music that nobody likes - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
j4
j4
The music that nobody likes
Carter USM + The Sultans of Ping
Brixton Academy, November 2nd

Carter USM split up in 1998. The Sultans of Ping split up in 1996. So you might be forgiven, on seeing the above billing, for having a moment's confusion over what decade we're actually in these days. (You might have been similarly confused if you'd seen me on my way to the gig, in faded black jeans, stripy tights showing through at the ripped knees, black DMs with rainbow laces... only the Dieselsweeties t-shirt ("I liked you better before you sold out") would have given me away as a time-traveller.

The thing is, those of us who were teens and twentysomethings in the nineties are now twentysomethingelses and thirtysomethings with nearly as much money as nostalgia. It's no longer the music that nobody likes; it's the music that everybody with a disposable income liked, and still likes, whether genuinely or just because it's forever associated with the hair they're sorry to be losing. A cynic might claim that it's all just a big cash-in... the fans, fortunately, don't care. There are those who would argue that it's somehow cheating to go to the reunion gig; a certain type of rockism would claim that if you weren't really there, then, well, you weren't really there...

Well, I wasn't 'really there' in the 1990s. I was a spotty teenager with very little money who wasn't allowed to go out very much; there's certainly no way I'd've been allowed to go to Brixton to see a band. (Loughborough Students' Union, Nottingham Poly -- those were just about within reach.) My main experience of most of the bands I liked -- Carter and the Sultans among them -- was home-copied cassettes of tapes from the library or tapes that my cooler friends already had. (Just as well, or I might have been disappointed by the sound quality at the Academy.) So I'm inordinately grateful to the bands who are giving me a chance to see them now. Particularly when -- as both last night's bands did -- they give the audience what they want: all hits, all the time.

And Jim Bob (still cute) and Fruitbat (still not) really did provide all the hits, the full-on Carter experience: complete with videos, strobes, terrifying moshpit of death (which I watched in part-fear and part-envy from the safety of the circle), a brief appearance in shorts and baseball cap from Fruitbat, and even some opening and closing words from the legendary Jon "Fat" Beast. A cheerful (and beerful) crowd chanted "YOU FAT BASTARD" at every available opportunity, and shouted along with every shoutable chorus (and there were lots of them -- if you can remember it, they played it).

I wonder how it feels to sum up your band's entire career in 2 hours of hits before calling it quits for ever. Jim Bob looked sad to be leaving, but to their credit, the band didn't milk the closing moments: one last song, one last storming standing ovation, and then it was left to the Beast to come back onstage and tell us "now fuck off". The video screen showed the closing scene from "The Life of Brian" as the audience filed out. That combination of shoutiness and sentimentalism, blokeyness and bounciness, obscenity and optimism: that's Carter USM.

All in all? It was fun. Silly, bouncy, shouty, fun. I'd've loved it as a teenager; I could still love it as a -- nearly -- 30 Something.
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Comments
lnr From: lnr Date: November 3rd, 2007 10:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay! I'm glad you went. It sounds great.

And I don't care if it's just nostalgia. Chap pointed out to me the other day that I was a bit young for the Bauhaus tshirt I was wearing. I agreed I was too young to have seen them first time round, but I'd seen them a couple of years back on a reunion gig at Brixton and it had been brilliant. He said he was enjoying following Siousxie at the moment. And good for him.

Now I'm trying to remember who on earth it could have been, I don't think it can have been my dentist (he has classical FM on in the surgery).
annajaneclare From: annajaneclare Date: November 4th, 2007 12:08 am (UTC) (Link)
I remember Carter USM and knowing all the words to 'The Last Living Boy In Newcross'. I suddenly feel appallingly old.
d_floorlandmine From: d_floorlandmine Date: November 4th, 2007 02:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Do you remember the words to "Rubbish" or "Sheltered Life", though?

*goes to get zimmer frame*
julietk From: julietk Date: November 4th, 2007 11:43 am (UTC) (Link)
I was at that as well, & it was bloody great. Although I missed the Sultans due to being at a wedding.
d_floorlandmine From: d_floorlandmine Date: November 4th, 2007 01:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
I missed all but the end of the last half song of Sultans due to trains. But I'm with you on the brilliance of the gig.

Also on the sweatiness of the mosh pit ...
jiggery_pokery From: jiggery_pokery Date: November 4th, 2007 06:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Somehow I can remember you going to a gig for one of these bands (from context, I think it must have been the Sultans of Ping because you mentioned still remembering all the lyrics to Where's Me Jumper?) not so long ago, or perhaps you saw them at some festival, or perhaps I'm confusing you with someone else. I am so helpful!

But in any case, someone (who may have been you) went to some gig somewhere (which may have been for one of these bands) and posted a review. That review definitely was fantastic. So was this one!
(Deleted comment)
the_elyan From: the_elyan Date: November 5th, 2007 07:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I could have quite fancied going to see that, had I not been in Venice. Someone else on my F'List (dodo_1975) was there too - I went to see Carter with her in 1997-ish at a Nottm gig at Rock City, and unexpectedly ended up with AAA, so met them. I found Fruitbat easier to talk to than Jimbob, and my main memory was of swiping one of their peanut butter sandwiches, and realising just how hard it is to eat peanut butter on white bread when you have a dry mouth from dancing like a loon.

Going further back, one regret of going to Uni at the precise time I did was that Carter and the Sultans played the main venue in the hometown about a week after I left. Said venue being Middlesbrough Town Hall (hello, jiggery_pokery...)
the_elyan From: the_elyan Date: November 5th, 2007 07:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
And thinking about it:

Survival of the fittest
The fattest and the richest
God save our travesty, and
Call in the next Jehovah's Witness

"Dead on arrival, the 90's revival"
martling From: martling Date: November 6th, 2007 01:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was in that terrifying moshpit of death. In Glasgow.
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