Sunday, November 09, 2014

So by now you know how sceptical I am. Stories of the Funtastic Dracula Carnival over the years have entered into the annals of legend. Some of them may or may not have been picked up and been given urban myth status. The blurry reality of the situation is that, as an event, what might be considered hype is actually 150% for real. You really have to be there because it’s about the big picture, the people perhaps even more than the bands. So it came to pass that I actually got to attend. Some of the crew were unable to get there this year but I did my very best to represent those that were missing in action for whatever reason.
The FDC is exquisite and the fact that there just happen to be some great bands and stellar DJ action to be had is just the icing on a particularly yummilicious big sticky cake. I’d never been to Benidorm before and it must be utter hell in the summer but the balance of elderly retirees and the rock’n’roll folks makes for a pretty damn good chemistry. Like some kind of Mediterranean Blackpool.
And let’s be clear about this, it is rock’n’roll. Of all persuasions. You might not like all of the bands , all of the time but when that happens you just step out on to the patio where there’s always music in the air. When the bus that’s going to town is carrying kids wearing Ramones and Hellacopters t-shirts then you realise you’ve made it to the right spot.
The venue was something else I’d heard about but took some time to get to grips with just how unique it is. Between this and the curation, there’s no way this could not be something else entirely. I think it sort of blew my mind and I just wandered around wide-eyed for an hour or three. The scepticism transfusion was complete by the wee small hours and I didn’t feel like an interloper anymore. By the time The Autoramas came on I was fully integrated into the vibe and they were fantastic. I don’t know what I expected of them but it sure wasn’t what I got. Of all the combos I saw over the days, these kids from Brazil could go furthest. They have the chemistry and the shapes to send of the Food Fechters scurrying back under the stone where they belong. If only there was a commodity along the lines of justice. Maybe a drawback is that there aren’t too many songs in English but like in all good music, lyrics can become an instrument irrespective of language.  Their swinging pummel is utterly contagious.

To tell the truth, I was a little afraid to hear them on record after this account but can happily report that they have captured whatever the heck it is their peddling sonically. To see Flavia and to check out Bacalhau’s wee dance though, you’ll have to go to a show and I can report that they’re playing Hipsville this coming May here in the UK.
Day two started at Rockstar a downtown bar with several aperatifs and the very wonderful Lord Rochester who dignified and diddley-fied us with their presence. The assembled throng loved them and they set the bar very high way before teatime.
Frannie and Ruth, being the foremost host and hostess took me along for some tutti frutti ice cream on the beach front in Villajoyosa. It was fitting that there was some TF in this episode as it took me back to the Blue Whale speeding toward Madrid city limits with the Quattros in 2008.
Now that I was acclimatised it was time to get down to the business of socialising. And due to the efforts of Steven Tagg-Randall, I can keep the gig gab to the minimum and you can sample the musical goods at leisure. All of the sets presented in glorious FUNTASTOVISION black and white and colour for all you’re wishing you were there pleasure.

I’ll tackle the GT movie as a separate entity in due course. It piqued the excitement of getting to see them for the first time in, I think, 18 years. Kurt maintains that the gig we saw in San Francisco was awful but my memory serves me different. My defence is that Girl Trouble could never be less than monumental but you know how these artistic types are. By the time they were ready to go on stage I was wound up like a kid at Christmas. By the time they were done, I was covered in and coughing up glitter in addition to being somewhat out off puff. As I remarked to Bon earlier in the evening, I would have been happy just to keel over in such hallowed company.
Exhaustive coverage of the event can be found at MagicPopcat.  This in conjunction with Steven’s excellent videos would provide a fine Christmas getaway should you feel the urge to escape to another world for a bit. Just hop on board the UFO that Ms Paloma and Snr Varo curated.
“Spanish jetlag” is a known condition that is not caused by actual time difference in relation to the regular body clock. SJ comes as a result of special powers that manifest themselves as soon as you hit whatever city in Spain you happen to be visiting. My previous bouts have been of the Wurlitzer strain, a particularly agreeable way to run oneself into the ground. FDC is likewise a place that would not be unlike my idea of heaven. Not one obnoxious blowhard or drunk in sight, just kids of all ages raging against the all-enveloping tide of shite that they have to deal with in everyday life rather than the light.
Doctors should fucking prescribe this as a treatment but be warned, it’s not for lightweight. I have the added bonus of looking like one of the retirees I mentioned earlier that cut about like The Banana Splits but by night, the mutant stamina kicks in and it’s away we go. I like to think that Ralph Kramden would be proud.
So now I’ve been bitten then I pledge allegiance to the frat. Resistance is utterly futile.

The Excitements returned to the daftest wee country in the world a couple of weeks ago. I’d missed them earlier in the year. This isn’t an act that should be consigned to a Sauchiehall Street basement. This is a big show that requires a stage that is at least 4 times as high as this one. They would appeal to a wide swathe of people if those individuals actually knew they existed.

It’s difficult to get people out to shows but this is surely compounded when there’s no visible sign of posters. Are we to assume that everybody checks websites? Er, that would be a major ASS-umption that is literally not happening. But the criminally underattended show didn’t hamper the energy level and I’m pretty sure that word of mouth – and maybe a Friday or Saturday – show should determine a bigger audience next time.
Anyway, them Excitement types more than live up to their name. Utterly unphased that the joint wasn’t exactly jumping in terms of bodies it sure was by the time they hit their stride. Barcelona’s primo R’n’B powerhouse tore it up in a fashion of a true showband. If it hadn’t been for the Alvin brothers hitting town the next day then I would have gone to the Edinburgh show too.  
In keeping with the notion of the road going on forever, and maybe a wee bit beyond that, the last few weeks have presented several revisitations of my past. All of them good. It makes me feel pretty damn fortunate despite what you might read from my actual fizzog.
30 + years ago, I met Dave and Phil Alvin when Art Fein was managing The Blasters and also The Cramps. I’m happy to say that it’s a friendship that has endured the years and seeing them back together with The Guilty Ones on a stage in Glasgow was nothing short of phenomenal. I completely plotzed during the encore. It was like the roadhouse in Twin Peaks. When they broke into the instrumental section that was “So Long Baby Goodbye” it was like time froze and before I knew it tears were streaming down my face. No drink or any other substance was taken. It was like watching a stop motion film. When all the instruments blew back in, it kind of jarred me back to pretending I had something in my eye. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t kidding anyone at that point. I can’t say what a privilege it is to see something like this. So many acts just go through the motions but this was fiercely life-affirming and heartbreaking in equal measure.
Between needing to be up to go to the salt mine early the next morning and heading for Spain at stupid o’ clock the day after, I didn’t see them afterwards. I had also been through the emotional wringer but I don’t think I would have had it any other way. We’d all witnessed one of the greatest sets played by anyone ever. It was even better than the Opry show and the venue was excellent too. Dave reckons they could do with some ramps to get the gear on stage but apart from that...