Saturday, May 23, 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Saturday, July 05, 2008
So last weekend I was right in the middle of this year's Glastonbury Festival in all its mad muddy glory (though actually it was only a bit sludgy and wet on Friday), and I got to see plenty of good stuff in between working on the glowpot stall - which was remarkable fun and came with certain priviliges (cleaner lavvies, central and comparatively quiet camping location, nicer wristbands, etc.). So here's a top 10 rundown of sorts of some of my personal festival highlights...
- Wall-E - a special preview on Sunday night some three weeks before its UK release, and an absolute treat it was indeed. Full review over at my reviews blog.
- Pivot - I had seen the Australian three-piece perform at Royal Festival Hall supporting Yellow Magic Orchestra as part of the Southbank's Meltdown Festival curated by Massive Attack. And although they were now on the tiny G Stage in the Dance Village on Friday afternoon, they still blew me away thanks to the up close and personal setting. Some monstrous drumming too - the drumkit kept falling apart thanks to the punishment it received during the performance. Stunning.
- Smerin's Anti-Social Club - while making my way between Saturday headliners Jay-Z and Massive Attack, the bandstand had pulled in a sizeable crowd for this band, a brilliant brassy ska band who got the audience jumping about like loons. Their closing cover of the Doctor Who theme was a winner.
- The Raconteurs - a swell selection of tunes from both of their albums performed impeccably well, yet filled with a raw live energy lacking from other bands at the festival. Great songs that feel like you've somehow always known them - in a good way.
- The Actor Kevin Eldon - a great chance to see one of the finest comic actors, who has appeared in pretty much every great British comedy of the past 15 years, do some of his stand-up in character as political poet with delusions of grandeur, Paul Hamilton. The must-see of the Cabaret tent this year.
- Goldfrapp - not sure why the rest of the crowd didn't seem to be feeling their performance - maybe it was the slot, or the heavy dependence on material from their latest album (I guess people wanted more of the glam-electronica, but I like it all, so was happy with all the song choices) - but I certainly thought they delivered one of the most engaging and beautiful sets of the festival. And the weird Wicker Man-esque folkiness was scary and sexy in equal measure, complete with May-pole pole-dancing and bikini-girls with werewolf masks.
- Neon Neon - one great thing about festivals is stumbling upon stuff you'd not make an effort to see but happen upon as we walk from place to place. But when Har Mar Superstar appeared as guest vocalist for Neon Neon on the Other Stage, he certainly held my attention. It's not often you see a rapping cross between Jon Lovitz and Ron Jeremy singing a verse while doing one of those shoulderstands with his legs in the air. Made me giggle anyway.
- Lightspeed Champion - caught the end of his rather pleasant set, which featured a rocking rendition of the Imperial March followed by a Star Wars medley. The ultimate festival sing-a-long.
- Kings of Leon - I don't doubt their place as Friday night headliners because I think they're a terrific band and their most recent album, Because of the Times, was my favourite released last year. But I expected to be a little more wowed by their performance. It was good and all, but didn't blow me away like it should have done.
- Taiko Meantime - a taiko-drumming group based in Greenwich, they offered some typical taiko banging, but their best performance actually came with the four main musicians knocking out a clock-like percussive number with little cymbals before launching into a ping-pong-esque to-ing and fro-ing of sound between them. Great to listen to and watch in action.
at 1:50 PM
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
With examinations long gone, dissertation handed in and term time officially drawing to a close, so begins my gradual ebbing away of studentdom. Through as I am with academia, I now must accept that I will soon shift from nominally being a "student" to "unemployed", which isn't really a good thing. I am no stranger to holding down an occupation or two but whereas previously I had summer jobs and gap year fund-raising jobs, now it's a "work until you retire or die" situation I have lined up ahead of me. And simultaneously the priviliges I have enjoyed the past four years have started to vanish.
Yesterday, I handed in my SOAS card, as it was essentially property of the university. Now if I wish to enter the school's hallowed doors, I will need to sign in as a visitor. Similarly, if I ever want to borrow a book from the library, I'll need special outsider access, with all kinds of extra limitations and fees, while gone already is my Senate House Library validity.
However, my student status is still intact for a few months yet. I can still use SOAS computers and keep all my files for another three months, and my SOAS email address is still active three months after that. More useful is my NUS card, which I'll keep on using until I am literally turned away from a point of sale (they change the colour and design every year to make sure it's obvious I'm out of touch with the youth of today). I've been making a concerted effort to catch as many films at the cinema as possible just to wring every last drop of ticket discountability it offers. A couple of quid here and there soon adds up, and you can then go spend it on seeing another film. Bonus. With even more longevity is my student Oyster card, which gives me a third off travelcards until 14th October. And then there's my Young Persons Railcard which doesn't expire until 3rd September 2009, so there'll be plenty of cut-price travelling for months to come.
Cards and tickets are one thing, but I'm already starting to feel old - recent university open days and tours for prospective first years highlighted just how young and fresh-faced these new whipper-snappers are. I don't think I could cope sticking around for a masters or postgrad degree with so many youngsters around; I'd just get horribly depressed. At least in the world of work I'll still be considered something of a young'un. A trainee of sorts. Nothing's worse than being asked by a first or second year "What's it like being a fourth year?", not because it's impolite or annoying, but rather because it's just plain upsetting. Suffice to say, tales of mid-mid-life crises have a certain substance to them.
Listening to: Masami Ueda, Shusaku Uchiyama, Syun Nishigaki - The Library
at 2:40 PM