Wednesday 19 April 2017

findlay's forgotten pleasures: putting stockport on the map at moth club

oh the joys of being a (poor) student; i'm currently writing this post by candle - and fairy - light. not as romantic as it sounds, as the bulb for my lamp has blown and i've not had chance to go and buy a new one due to spending all my time in the library trying to finish my uni project. so to avoid falling asleep, i'm going to write a post about a gig i went to on monday: apologies in advance for any typos i may miss due to the lack of decent lighting.

let me take you back to last sunday. i was aimlessly browsing twitter in bed - as usual - when i saw that one of my favourite artists findlay was doing a gig the next day. this appealed to me for three reasons: 1. it was at moth club, a venue i'd heard so much about as it's frequented by various Cool Girls i follow on twitter and instagram and is best known for its glitter covered ceiling, 2. i wanted to give her newly-released album forgotten pleasures another chance, as i didn't love it upon first listen, and 3. it was free. as i mentioned earlier, funds are not in abundance right now, and i really shouldn't be spending money on gig tickets (the irony being that i'm going to see charli xcx on thursday). 

the only problem was that i live half an hour out of london; practically in the middle of nowhere compared to all the aforementioned Cool Girls who can somehow afford to rent flats and houses in Actual London; the place i live isn't even in zone 6. added to that was the fact that the overground line was partly closed, meaning i'd have to get a bus to the venue, and nothing fills me with dread quite like travelling on a bus in an unfamiliar part of london. also the rudest people in the whole of the city seem to congregate on the various buses i've travelled on during my time down south. so i spent the whole of sunday evening debating whether to even go to the gig but decided i might as well seeing as it was bank holiday and all my friends at uni had gone home for easter (ya girl can't even afford to get the train back ~up north~ right now). 

the journey - there and back - was as horrific as predicted. it started with a trek through whitechapel to find the right bus stop, followed by a hellish twenty minute journey through hackney - some of the smells i experienced will stay with me forever, and not in good way - and concluded with me walking right past the venue and having to do an embarrassing check of my phone for a text that wasn't there, to go and meet my "friends" who didn't exist, but given the size of the place, i'm sure most people would make the same mistake. 

for a place kitted out with a glitzy gold ceiling, the moth club looks from the outside like any regular Old Man Pub, i.e. the kind of place i usually avoid at all costs. once i'd found the entrance, shown the door guy my ticket on the handy dice app and made my way inside, i walked into what was a tiny pub inhabited by one or two of the Old Men nursing a pint. i immediately froze, feeling that prickle of shame-anxiety all over my body as i convinced myself that i was in the wrong place, despite seeing a poster on the door with the stage times for the gig. after taking a few tentative steps forward, i went through another door which led to another room, through the window of which i could see the gold glitter of the ceiling reflecting off the walls. i was finally here. after a quick touch-up in the toilets, i walked into the room only to feel the same prickle of awkwardness as it was almost completely empty. if i'd been with friends it would have been fine, but as it was i tried to Be Cool and order a drink that i sipped while standing by the bar and making eye contact with a kind-of cute guy - who was also alone - from across the room, though despite the initial feeling that Something might happen, it turned out he was just waiting for his friends, and i lost him in the crowd later on. 

to be fair though, i was pretty early. i arrived just before eight, when long teeth, the first band of the night, were scheduled to play. it was another half an hour before they finally took to the stage, but luckily more people had arrived by that time and i didn't feel as self conscious about being alone. as i waited, i saw findlay - also known as natalie - herself arrive with her band and who i later worked out were various friends and family from her native stockport. it was weird though because it almost felt like seeing an old friend; this was my fourth time seeing her live after two stints supporting the courteeners and a headline gig of her own in either 2012 or 2013, somewhere in manchester (the only significant detail i remember is that it was the first time i ~legally~ bought alcohol). she seemed like just an average girl, but despite this i couldn't quite bring myself to say anything to her, and she soon disappeared - presumably to get ready for the show - once long teeth started to play. 

i'd never heard of the band before, but they were the kind of lo-fi indie-punk band my fifteen year old self would have loved, and to be honest my twenty one year old self loved them too. the band played songs from their latest EP, canned laughter, and the clever songwriting of famous girls (the riff of which sounds exactly like this; i thought it was a cover at first), ur a winner and nice guys left me wanting more after their short set was over. they can be found on spotify and their EP can be bought on bandcamp.

next up was bang bang romeo, a band i'd heard of but never actually listened to, and they certainly got the crowd - which had swelled to almost full capacity by this point - hyped up for findlay. lead vocalist anastasia walker can only be described as a powerhouse, with a range to rival adele and a frantic energy that seemed infectious. the influence of fleetwood mac and the yeah yeah yeahs can be heard in their music, given a hard rock twist with heavy guitar riffs. i also like that they hail from sheffield, and that findlay chose artists who hail from up north to support her. highlights included johannesburg, chemical and closing track invitation. 

once the crowd were suitably warmed up, findlay took to the stage just after i'd got talking to a guy next to me in the crowd who also happened to be from manchester. you'd never see londoners talking to each other at a gig, but he regaled tales of his work with the police, arresting people for offences ranging from assault to possession of class As, no doubt a cheery topic just before you're about to watch one of your favourite artists. he had that typical northern friendliness about him, but sadly my new friend disappeared to the toilets just before the show started, and i was in such a rush to make the last train home (more on that later) that finding him after the show was last on my list of priorities. 

back to the show, which began with electric bones (i think - my recollection of the setlist is pretty hazy, but don't blame the two vodka and cokes i had, it's just my terrible memory), released back in 2015. it struck me that i was one of the only people around me to know the words, and though i felt self conscious singing along at first, i was yelling along to the older songs with carefree abandon by the end of the show. after that, she played several of the new tracks from forgotten pleasures which, as i said earlier, i wanted to give another chance. it hadn't impressed me much the first time i listened, but often seeing songs live can totally change my mind about them, and this gig was no exception. 

it's obvious that findlay has an incredible voice; her range stretches from a delicate falsetto to a deep, bluesy husk with no obvious effort, but it was that blues-inspired sound i hadn't been too keen on when i first heard the album, a departure from her previous tracks, which were heavy on the electric guitar and synthesizers. however, songs like wild & unwise and anti-consumerist anthem junk food thrived in a live setting, and i know i'll be playing them on repeat in the coming days/weeks/months. she also played the brooding title track forgotten pleasures, as well as stuck in your shadow, greasy love and my favourite track from the album, waste my time, which retains the electronic lo-fi scuzz i loved so much in her earlier releases. she also played a couple of them, and i was pleased to discover i still knew all the words to the sassy your sisterstoned and alone and closing track off and on, which incited a small mosh pit in the centre of the room. 

despite thoroughly enjoying the gig, i had one eye glued to my watch as google maps had told me i needed to be leaving the venue at 10:57 to make the last train at 11:42. however, the same app also directed me to the wrong bus stop, meaning i missed the 11:02 bus and had to wait ten minutes for the next one; ten minutes too late as i got off the tube at waterloo just as the clock struck 11:43, because life is just sick and cruel sometimes. but just as i was mentally preparing myself to pay upwards of £60 for an uber home, i remembered the train at 12:15 (yes, a.m.) that went straight to my house back in suburbia, and i just managed to get a burger king before they closed the shutters on the few stragglers left in the restaurant (though being trapped there all night wouldn't have been so bad, providing i had unrestricted access to their supply of bacon double cheeseburgers). i then bought a new ticket before realising it wouldn't be valid for the next day, so i had to buy another one, only for it to not be checked for the entire journey. luckily the train was empty save for a few people who got off at clapham, meaning i was free to blast teenage dream-era katy perry at full volume without being judged. 

i ended the walk home playing green light as loud as i could stand, and it took all i had not to dance down the empty streets like lorde in the music video, though i hardly had any energy left by the time i arrived back at my front door, my ears still ringing from the gig. overall the evening was a success, though given how much i spent on train tickets, i'm not sure it was value for money. but in all seriousness, if you're looking for the perfect mix of electronic, indie and blues all in one album, forgotten pleasures is the one for you. turns out fourth time really is a charm. 

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