Noise Agents & Infa Riot ….
Fiddlers Elbow, London
31st Dec 2012
Keith Goldhangar, unlike most of us I’m guessing, spent New Years Eve carousing in a roomful of noise & Oi. And luckily for us he remembered enough to review it.
I could have stayed in and watched “Miranda” y’know.
Fireworks on New years eve? – didn’t see one.
I did get to see the bear arse of a young pissed tattooed faced, mohican’d punk rocker though.
Is this the way the future’s really meant to feel?
I went back to 1980 to see in the new year. Except there were no glue bags, no violence, no one throwing up, we are all good for our ’round nowadays and there’s a lot of mobile phone activity going on. There’s a bloke DJ’ing called “Tottenham Saun” – I haven’t established whether its where he’s pissing off to as soon as he’s finished or whether its a football thing. There a bloke in the room in a crombie jacket with a West Ham scarf wrapped inside it! Years ago you’d know what football hooligans looked like -they’d have looked like this- there’d have been all hell break loose those many years ago at some point in the evening. But not anymore. No one can be bothered this century – no one can afford to go to football anymore and anyone that does go to football definitely wouldn’t be able to afford to go to gigs AS WELL!
“Tottenham Saun” is playing very loud OI! records – so loud that we cant hear each other speak. We buy beer (after beer after beer after beer after beer….) with the use of sign language. I stumble to the back and knock someone’s beer over…DEATH !!!…well not today. It could have belonged to any of the tattooed faced, mohicaned headed people here tonight but as I glance up at the only other chap in the room with facial hair (and no longer with a beer in his grip), I do the casual nod that says “I accept your charades version of an apology, even though you’re the beerless one now” then continue my conversation with the use of my fingers and eyebrows as though nothing happened. I’m lucky…sometimes the best way to overcome this situation would be to put your arm around the beerleess victim, stagger around like two long lost brothers, punch the air and scream along to the Cockney rejects tune currently being played over the PA in the background …all for one …one for all…fuck the system …..got 10p mate…oi oi oi oi ..”it was the greatest caaaaarckneeeeey RRrrrrrriiiiiip Offfff” and fall over into a heap on the floor…..you gotta know your way around here…THEME PARK at KOKO this is not.
And then there’s the bandsâ¦.
“Noise agents” shout a lot and do all the right things that bands of this calibre should do, like rhyming words “revolution” with “solution” and giving the crowd value for their money by having a lot of songs you can raise your hand in the air to whilst repeating the choruses over and over and over again until the next verse comes in. It’s great actually. If you’re in a band playing rock and roll, heavy metal, disco, bedwetting indie schmindie music, it’s advisable to do it well. Let the paying public know that you know what you’re doing. Noise agents do this very well.
There’s a stage invasion very early on that no one seems too concerned about. Most the people up there with the band are members of multi ukulele punk rock band “The Pukes”, more about them another day (or now if you want – ed). No one gets concerned about the amount of alcoholic liquid being thrown around amongst all the electricity up there (such a worrier…) but this activity does make some space available at the bar in order to make more use of the sign language required to purchase beer that some of us learnt in East German squats during the 90’s (basically, put yr thumb up and direct it towards your open mouth). Its the universal beer buying sign language for occasions like this. Make a scribbling sign with an invisible pen to establish the cost and then just hand over a tenner anyway and let the bar staff work out the rest
“I SAY INFA…YOU SAY RIOT…INFA…RIOT..INFA…RIOT…INFA…RIOT…INFA…RIOT “…………and so on and so on and so on. We’ve all lost the capacity to scrutinise any of this by now. Old blokes (but younger then me) with guitars shouting and throwing even more catchy sing-along choruses that would still be banned from radio one due to some of the very bad language being used – do they really need to swear? – that’s what my mum used to say 30 years ago. If she was in the venue this evening she’d probably still say the same….well if she did then we wouldn’t hear her and the idea that i would ever bring my parents to a gig like this is preposterous….we are watching flat capped bass players, occasional visits by audience members to help out with the backing vocals that probably know all the right words and the tribal sharing of the beer from a single pint glass. No one gets hurt, the mosh pit varies at times, during songs between 4 to 30 pissed happy people that aren’t as scary any more like they used to be. Infa Riot have been at this for years now. You can tell. Tight drumming. The trademark oi guitars and a bass that you don’t really notice too much, but if you took it away…..yeah, you know it….Everyone moves around either to join in or to avoid the moshing and the band play on and on and on and on and on and on…until half the audience are back onstage to sing the worst (therefore brilliant) version of “Auld lang syne” we’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing.
So it’s therefore midnight. All the UK are finally agreed on something. There’s no streamers…no bells ..the already mentioned ARSE (I wont mention that again) more shouty oi records being played and a nice slippery floor to now skate on before stepping outside and realising that we’ve suddenly re-entered 2013. And the tubes are still working. And they’re free. And there’s police sirens and ambulance sirens all going in opposite directions in and out of the Camden Town area (a bit like that Clash Intro) trying to keep law and order and make the most of what must be the job from hell on new years eve. Its a good job these windows are boarded up in the Fiddlers Elbow otherwise the old bill might have walked past this place at 9 o’clock taken one look at what was about to go on and probably not allowed it to begin.(For the same reasons they had 30 years ago….i.e. NONE). And that bloke on crutches wearing the leather jacket with the initials ACAB would have been right wouldn’t he?
2013 — be ridiculous and do ridiculous things – it’s all out there now just waiting for you. A potpourri of musical culture for whatever the mood suits. Do we need another youth culture? have we squeezed enough out the ones we currently have in the UK? Probably not – party hard everyone it’s one big dance floor out there – big enough to share with everyone.
Happy new year !…. oh …and don’t have nightmares xx
Words by Keith Goldhanger, Pics by Debbie Dade. More writing by Keith on Louder Than War can be found here.