A seriously early start for this one - first act at 6.30, so bearing in mind the current traffic chaos, off we set at 3 pm! And of course we had no problems at all, ending up parking at that bloody expensive Hammersmith car park (not so bad split between 4 of us) at 4.30, and having a little time for a trip to Forbidden Planet (haunt of, "nerds and perverts!" according to Ady, who we dragged in kicking and screaming) and a beer in my old haunt "The Tottenham" on Oxford Street! Grabbed a couple of beers to cushion myself for my anticipated participation in the moshpit. Little did I know how things would turn out in that direction...
Got in just after 6, in time for another beer before first "act", Peaches, came on. I was immediately confused as I thought I was at a rock show, only to be confronted by some wailing PVC-clad ropey old slapper from Canada via Berlin, slagging the audience for taking no notice of her whilst "playing" the most god-awful Sigue Sigue Sputnik-esque stilted electronics from her beatbox. It got worse as she ended up divesting herself of the PVC, ending up prancing around in skimpy pink undies. Oh dear Lord. Thankfully this didn't last too long, and she was off by 7!
Took a trip through the already crowded venue, bumping into ...TOD's Neil Busch (again!) who remembered me from previous such meetings and popped back for a chat with my crew. Good of him to take time out, just before his band were due to play to undoubtedly their biggest audience to date! Good also that he described the ritual ...TOD stage trashing as "cathartic", as that's how I've always described it myself!
Next band on, The Strokes, joined us at 7.30. They've been mentioned in the same breath as ...TOD and At The Drive In as being at the vanguard of meaningful US rock as an alternative to this shouty date rape nonsense, so I was expecting something between Sonic Youth and Nirvana. What we were presented with, however, were 5 skinny Noo Yawk boys in skinny ties, drainpipes and too-small suit jackets, and when they kicked off their set they were nothing less than brilliant, immediately recalling a whole host of spiky angular 70's new wave bands, from Joe Jackson to The Embarrassment, from Television to Wire. They had the great pouts and angular streetwise suss of a band that could have walked out of New York's new wave birthplaces Max's Kansas City and CBGBs circa 1977, and in singer Julian Casablancas (!), they had a frontman with the lips of a young Ian McCulloch and the attitude of a younger Iggy Pop, singing about New York cops and street urchins. And just as I was starting to really grin from ear to ear thanks to their spiky effervescence and resemblance to The Figgs, they then played a song which completely appropriated the circular hook from The Sheila Divine's "Automatic Buffalo"! Totally blatant, but I could forgive them for that after a great set.
The place, already full to brimming, seemed to get fuller still, so Ady and I took a wander up the balcony to watch Rocket From The Crypt from a distance. Not really my cup of raucous San Diego gangster punkabilly, but I appreciated the strident dynamics of their performance and also their matching black silk outfits with red trim. Very fetching! Wandered back to the heaving dancefloor after da Crypt had finished, bumping into our fellow travellers Rachel and Thom, and also an old rock hero of mine, namely Tara Milton of Five Thirty! Nice of him to remember me as well, and stop for a brief chat.
Piled into the moshpit for the arrival of ...Trail Of Dead, fully intending to immerse myself in their "cathartic" live experience. For a couple of numbers it went well too; "Mistakes And Regrets" was a strident squalling beast of a song, second number in, and really set the mosh afire. Then it started going wrong for me... Firstly, instead of chucking our bottles or paper cups of water into the crush at the front, some fucking idiot steward thought it'd be a good idea to fire a water gun into the audience. His first salvo caught me straight in the eyes, dislodging a flippin' contact lens in the process! Then, just after I'd checked my eyes out in the gents and revisited the mosh, locating fellow moshers Thom and Rach, I got whacked severely hard in the back of the head by the sturdy thigh of an idiot crowdsurfer, which totally dazed me and left my head throbbing for the rest of the night. A real shame, as ...TOD were on totally top form, justifying their biggest ever gig status tonight, with an incredibly intense and passionate performance. However after my trials I wasn't feeling it, and was further disappointed by their omission of "A Perfect Teenhood" as finale. The instruments were duly trashed in a fit of rock'n'roll catharsis, though, and found their way into the frenzied moshpit, particularly the drumkit which was followed by the drummer Jason! We then followed Jason into the back alley behind the Astoria, where he duly gave the bass drum to a group of moshers to trash into firewood. Phew, rock'n'roll; shame about my head!