The year is at the end, so naturally always a time to reflect on the previous 12 months, and 2014’s not been too bad, outside mundane “real life” at least. I’ve somehow managed to put on 14 gigs mostly by myself, and I thought maybe this deserves a proper reflection, rather than what Facebook wants to automate into a tacky feature.
I started the year on a pretty big high using the first Saturday of the year to put on UK ska punk heroes Fandangle on one of their comeback shows, in true party style at Global Café in Reading. Particularly special to me as the first gig I ever went to was a Fandangle show somewhere in Bracknell back when I was just 13, if it wasn’t shows like that getting me into ska punk I imagine life would be pretty different and a hundred times more rubbish right now, so to be able to put on Fandangle at one of my shows felt full circle in a way.
The next few months were quiet, I had a short break from putting on any shows and I imagine this time was full of depression of doing nothing but wasting life in a minimum wage job, but profusely using my evenings to put together the next shows. Aside from a few smaller shows with friends such as Bandit The Panther, Bandits and Ill Gotten Gains, who all played my shows multiple times this year. Everything though was just building until Fishstock in April, my annual mini-festival, probably the best day of my year, getting a bunch if my friends to play, including getting the magnificent Chewing On Tinfoil over from Dublin to headline the night, and went all out securing one of the UK’s greatest live acts Beat The Red Light to destroy the place, perhaps with the greatest set played at one of my shows this year.
In May I had what was for sure the greatest week of the year and certainly one of the most memorable of my life when I went on tour around Europe with my favourite scumbags Will Tun and the Wasters. Someone dropped out of the tour at the last minute so a spare seat became open for me, giving me no time to book time off work and ended up going in the office the day before tour to tell them I’m going AWOL for a week and to feel free not to fire me, it was rather liberating, unfortunately they didn’t give me the sack and I had to spend some more miserable months then, but the important thing is I ran off to Europe with my best mates for a week full of absolute nonsense and chaos as our sacred hired ‘waste-van’ made its way through Dutch squats and German forests amongst other places.
May ended with what became sadly the last time I put on one of my favourites, Dirty Revolution at Global Café in Reading to a ridiculously huge turnout, not too long after that show they announced the band would be no more, but we’ll always love them not just as a band but as people too.
June started with a complete banger of a festival… Inside a house. Roomtown Fair was hosted in the house I now live in and embodies some of our favourite aspects of Boomtown Fair but set in our house, complete with an indoor garden, two stages and some fucking mental sets, have you ever seen Faintest Idea in a living room? I really recommend you invite them to play in yours, I’m unsure how the footprints on the ceiling got washed off. The next weekend I put on one of my favourites Drones in the tiny venue Iguana where they played their first show, seemed like a great way to celebrate how far they had gone, having just played their biggest show ever at Download Festival the weekend before.
Another June highlight has to be Glastonbury, which lacks a bit of DIY punk culture, although The Tuts did play, at a really unfortunate time when I was challenged with finding a dry place to poo in the middle of a massive storm so I only caught approximately half a song. Other highlights were definitely seeing Anti-Flag smash it on Billy Bragg’s stage, rare to see a punk band of that ilk play Glasto, was great to see them get such a mental reception. My pals in the fabulous Bristolian ska-funk band Crinkle Cuts also played at 3am (I think) one night, one of which my memory barely exists of but certainly filled with that spontaneous Glastonbury magic where you end the night watching the sunrise.
August was the month of what always seems to be the highlight of the summer, Boomtown Fair, my memory barely exists of whatever sort of crazy nonsense went on at Camp Waster but I’m sure it was crazy good, countless friends attend the festival, and countless friends are always playing the festival, where ever I went I bumped into good friends and that is the mark of a brilliant festival. The overall highlight may just have been one evening that ended with a 3am Captain Accident party somewhere in the wild west where a ridiculous number of people I knew turned up, and even though their set got delayed for ages due to a power cut and then water cutting off the sound desk after only a few songs, it was just another ridiculous great Boomtown experience that should always be cherished. I finished off my festival season at the end of August by being sneaky and convincing someone leaving Reading Festival to donate me their wristband so I could go see one of my all-time favourites blink-182, slate me as much as you want but I loved it and more importantly I got in for free, and had some fun times with my fish-fam Jim and Rachel from country-punk-rock-n-rollers Fish Hook.
Throughout August, September and the Autumn months, I embraced putting on shows from European bands, meaning a eccentric array of characters ended up crashing on my floor and becoming friends, from the skacore rocksteady brilliance of Thee Infidels from Germany and Belgian dub punks Cop On Fire to my favourite Austrian hardcore punks BHF and the brilliant Dave aka Slack Bird all the way from Finland. It’s great to make cool friends from far away and help out such great acts with tours, definitely the best reasons to bother promoting and going on the sometimes crazy adventures I do is making friends and having fun. For the rest of the year I also had the pleasure of putting on a few greats such as The Roughneck Riot, Chewing On Tinfoil (again) and The JB Conspiracy, it’s always a wonderful feeling when bands I already love want to come and play my shows and it’s always pleasure seeing them all, and the wicked memories that join them.
Another big aspect of my year was finally getting off my ass and try to change my life a bit by ditching out on Reading town and moving off to a much more exciting place, Bristol. Living with some friends all either part of or at least interested in the DIY scene and being in a much more creative household is good for you, I recommend it. A few crazy times have happened, my first Saturday night I ended up seeing Caves cramped in someone’s basement and Faintest Idea stayed round to cause their usual havoc and next year we have some exciting stuff including house shows to have and zines to make. I’m starting to work on a few shows to put on in Bristol and maybe I’m starting to try to do a few bigger shows in Reading to, as well as blagging myself on a few bands’ tours around Europe, just so I can top some of my adventures for the last year.