Aug 31, 2023
Aug 20, 2023
I never thought I would make it to BlueDot Festival. As mentioned in a previous blog post, my brain exploded and I've been quite poorly.
But made it, I did. It was a real achievement, like Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, or even more impressively, the moon walking all over Neil Armstrong. One small step for a pre-stroke Roland, but a giant leap considering my recent circumstances.
BlueDot is an annual festival dedicated to music and science. The music often has an electronic music bent, which is my favourite kind of bent. And the science side of the programming is especially relevant because the festival takes place at the Jodrell Bank observatory, its giant outer space magic dish looming wherever you go.
Honestly, that dish is so dang cool, firing its radio waves with abandon at the furthest reaches of space. The dish constantly moves throughout the weekend, and during headline performances it becomes the trendiest projection screen this side of Venus. The dish is especially exciting for Doctor Who fans, of which there are many at BlueDot. Firstly, a TV prop version of the telescope killed off the Tom Baker Doctor Who. And secondly, the dish often moves position when you're not looking, like those scary statues in Blink.
So let's go through some favourite acts from the weekend.
Pop powerhouse Georgia plays all of the instruments all of the time. Joyous sunshine on a cloudy day. Her father Leftfield also played the festival, Neil Barnes' perfect sound design making him a contender for the loudest act of the weekend, perhaps tying in the decibel destruction stakes with the raucous Snapped Ankles.
We danced like crazy to Acid Klaus, a wonderfully hedonistic party band led by Adrian Flanagan from the International Teachers Of Pop. Onipa was my surprise of the weekend. They gave us a relentless Afrobeat explosion led by human Duracell bunny KOG. Irresistible Ghanaian rhythms colliding enthusiastically with UK electronica. And the bawdy electrostomp of MADMADMAD brought on the cowbell apocalypse while, later in the gig, channeling the ferocity of very early Chemical Brothers.
There was so much more, including Grace Jones and TVAM and Creep Show, but let's end things with my top two bestest fave acts of the weekend.
Belief were in many ways on of the simplest acts in the line-up. Two guys, a bunch of gear, not much else. But when it's acid house of such housey acidity, I'm not complaining. Oh, it was so good.
And all hail Max Cooper, whose audiovisual extravaganza I'd failed to catch on two previous occasions. He. Was. Stunning. One of the best gigs I've been to, with super duper techno gorgeousness soundtracking colossal juxtaposing visuals. I mean, really colossal. Front rail, eyes the size of jellyfish, brain flung into the cosmos.
There's much I missed, including most of Grace Jones because I was busy maxxing out to Max Cooper. The endless deluge of mud curtailed much of my casual browsing, so I missed Adam Buxton and Toby Hadoke and Pavement. The one talk I did catch was the brilliant Matthew Cobb talking about all the horrible diseases that are going to destroy humankind. Maybe not the best talk to attend when you're up to your neck in mud, but hey ho.
A special shout-out to Nina, Nick, Dave, my surprise neighbour Angela from Nine Arches Press, my glamping tent which lessened the worst effects of the mid, the topless drunk dancer who fed me pizza, and the horrible person who did a big Mr Whippy poo in the showers.
Roll on 2024.
Aug 13, 2023
I'm 50 years old today. The full Five Oh. In da club with 50 Cent. 50 wheels on my wagon.
I don't really know how I got here. I started this blog when I was 31. And now here I am, on a diet of coal dust and zimmer frames. I remember when this was all fields.
I'm super grateful to reach this landmark. It is, of course, completely arbitrary. I might as well measure my life in shapes or whisks or Aphex Twin Soundcloud tracks. Still. It's a sense of achievement, like getting your steps in or putting the bins out.
My original plans for this landmark birthday were grand. Go clubbing. Ride on a pleasure cruise. Launch a rocket and punch Jupiter in the face. But I scaled down my ambitions. I've had to make do with drinks with friends, which has been a whole bucket of lovely. Friends are great, aren't they.
Can I derive any special meaning from having my 50th today? Probably not. Barbie Girl by Aqua is currently number 50 in the singles chart, an unwelcome revival prompted by the (very good) Barbie movie. At number 50 in the current albums chart is Legend, the greatest hits compilation by Bob Marley and the Wailers. This all seems suitably old school for an old guy.
How about the number 50 in terms of Warp Records catalogue numbers? WAP50 is the woozy space jam Wilmot by Sabres of Paradise. That'll do nicely. The track is drunken and lazy and atmospheric and giddy, and I shall wish for no better a metaphor.
Orbital's fiftieth album track, if you line up their studio albums on Discogs then do a rough count that might be wrong, is the Ian Drury-sampling bovver boy techno stomp Oi! Maybe that should set my attitude for the next ten years. Lots of stomping. Shouting "hit me!" a lot. Kick up a bit of trouble.
Earlier this year, Fifty Fifty became the first female K-pop band to score a top ten single in the UK. Cupid is a sickly-sweet slice of Spice Girls-lite pop that, I think, I've heard knocking about TikTok somewhere. I like this much less than the Orbital and Sabres thing. Forget I ever mentioned this.
I feel optimistic about my fifties. Partly because I came through a lot to get here, and I'm grateful for being on planet Earth. And also partly because I have an empty brain and I am easily amused, like a puppy or a jellyfish or Ken from the Barbie film.
Enough waffle about being 50. I've got a pub to go to. I'm going to have 50 pints and them I'm going to have 50 cakes and then I'm going to go to 50 more pubs, because I will double down on this 50 theme until I'm 50 feet under.