Monday, June 06, 2005

Artsfest/Can I go solo?

I spent a large quantity of Saturday at a thingy called artsfest on campus. It was quite amusing but a little disturbing in places; the early acts on the music stage were quite appalling - the worst being a bunch of ugly scallybirds singing 'a medley* of sixties hits' which was making the campus bunnies run scared onto the nearest traps. But later on things improved as the acts old enough to have grown some facial hair started to appear. After the appallingly bad scallies and co there were some patchy local classical groups. On the other stages (tents) it was interesting seeing my friend Matt playing his violin - he is usually very secretive about it - and some teenagers smashing bins for a reason (unorthodox percussion ensemble). But the day was stolen by a godawful African drums and choir thingy.

Don't get me wrong - when done well those groups can be great. It was in a group very much like that that I got my groove; my dad took me and my brother to go drumming with this bunch of funny west African guys with a brilliant skill for the crazy percussive polyrhythm that you get in the music of Nigeria, Ghana etc.

This group, however, was a assortment of greying middle-class white women dressed in African robes singing out of tune accompanied by a group of greying middle-class white men playing exactly the same beat on identical drums. It wasn't so much bad as crushingly embarrassing - they must be someone's parents.

After seeing one of the better bands I was talking to the performer, discussing his absence of a bass player, my personal instrument, my absence of any other things to do etc** but to no avail. Something that he said though got me thinking: When I was waxing lyrical about absence of band, boredom of, for bass players he said "well you can't go solo can you... "

Can I?

It has been done before***. But so far only by blokes so far up themselves that they can only see where they are going with a periscope. Even though my year of English literature has made me able to use phrases like ‘Pseudo Marxist Political Subtext’ - or similar bollocks - without feeling like a complete pillock I don't think it has got me to the "I'm really expressing myself!" level yet. Does this mean I won’t be able to do it, or that I could actually make music that actually sounded good rather than only being of interest to bass perverts?

It being a sunny day and me being rather intoxicated I decided on the latter possibility.

However this morning**** I realise there is quite a major flaw in this plan for musical world domination through the medium of the bass clef.

I have very little talent.

Yes, though the idea of showing all those guitarists that bass players are people too***** appeals to me greatly, the fact is that I can't sing and play bass at the same time - although the fact that I can't sing at all makes that point pretty academic really. That coupled with the fact that I'm not exactly an extrovert and I can't write lyrics at all means that I would make a really lousy solo artist...

Back to looking for a new band I suppose. There are worse things in life I'm sure; like not having a guitarist to take the blame for your mistakes or a singer to distract people from your complete lack of charisma.

I'm content lurking at the back of the stage looking moody.

- Ben

* The word medley, whether referring to food, music or anything else, invariably means shite - its one of those laws of the universe.

** The musical equivalent of taking his keys and dropping them into my cleavage.

*** It has. At least with the bass as the primary instrument - listen to something like Tommy the Cat by Primus.

**** By morning I mean afternoon. Obviously. Because not only am I a student but I've also finished work for this year so the likelihood of me getting up before the crack of noon is approximately zero.

***** I can't speak for all of them obviously - I'm pretty sure that the guy from Metallica is a chimp.