On Nottingham and Indiepop and Belonging

At the start of this month I went to the Nottingham Pop Alldayer, my first visit to one of the mainstays of the indiepop calendar. I love how I’m part of a scene that has regular big events that punctuate the year with pop. No matter how tedious or difficult your everyday existence, you never have to wait very long until the next time you’re standing in a room watching bands that you love with people that you love. Become part of indiepop and you’re always safe in the knowledge that you’re never more than nine weeks away from a fresh opportunity to apply glitter.

Nottingham was great. Must admit I’d had concerns over the venue. Too hot, I’d heard. Poor ventilation, said another. Not phrases that fill someone who experiences regular migraine attacks with any confidence that they’d reach the end of the evening without keeling over, losing speech or experiencing the fleeting paralysis that my tiny brain can achieve all without the aid of strong drink. As it was, my fears were unfounded and I had a great time.

Knowing that I can no longer stand up for twelve hours, I reluctantly opted not to join everyone for pretty much all of the first half of pop fun. And whilst I was sad to miss City Yelps, The Hobbes Fanclub (I’d caught their album launch last month and they were ace), The Fireworks, Night Flowers, Manhattan Love Suicides, and later, When Nalda Became Punk, I knew I’d potentially saved my friends the hassle of having to look after a poorly me later in the evening. With the rest of the Sheffields that I’d arrived with now safely ensconced in the venue, I had some time to explore. The Maze is in an interesting part of Nottingham and a few doors down from the venue was a lovely real ale pub that did superb veggie food. Not far away from the lovely real ale pub was a gorgeous second hand bookshop (complete with authentic 1930s till), so mashed potato, John Donne and a disorganised hotel check in provided the entertainment until I arrived late afternoon to catch the majority of  the noisy tuneful aceness supplied by Slum of Legs.

Another trip for delicious veggie food later, I was back to watch The Spook School. Bloody hell, I love The Spook School. Niall’s between song banter is a delight (I wonder if he’s seen Peter Cook’s Revolver…) and for other bands it might upstage the music but this is The Spook School and their quality catchy tunes refuse to be in anything other than the limelight. They can do light and shade with the best of them, too. The moment of hush in the audience when Nye sang a song so clearly rooted in personal experience was both breathtaking and humbling. I hope that my own writing and creative endeavours can match that level of emotional honesty. As a band, their songs don’t half stay with you and five days later you find yourself singing I am bigger than a hexadecimal to the bemusement of a South Yorkshire pensioner, as you select a “reduced for quick sale” loaf in Asda.

Oh, Milky Wimpshake! It occurred to me during their set that if I stood any closer to Pete Dale I’d either a) be on stage with him or b) be issued with a restraining order. The mighty Wimpshake have been my post Indietracks soundtrack having purchased Popshaped from the merch tent (remember I’m really new to Indiepop so I have lots to catch up on). Bus journeys to work have been vastly improved by listening to Hackney and Cheque Card over the past few months. This was only my second live Wimpshake experience. I want more. If The Sweet Nothings didn’t exist (let’s not imagine this) I’m fairly certain Milky Wimpshake would be my favourites. Or would that be The Mini Skips? Or perhaps Lardpony? Or The Swapsies. Oh, you’re all my favourites. Especially if you’re the Nothings.

The School gave us that bit of Indiepop that is all 60s harmonies and melodies and loveliness and glock. Music that if you close your eyes transports you back in time into a world of Dansettes, pretty frocks, beautifully applied eyeliner, boys with ace haircuts and permanent sunshine. Or Indietracks, as we like to call it.

During The School, the headline acts started to arrive. You can tell they are the headline acts because the haircuts become more expensive.  I faintly recall that back in mists of time I may have woken up in Spearmint T-Shirt that was not my own. Scandalous! They played some new stuff and this was when their set came alive. I like watching how bands interact when they’re playing newer material. Observing the freshness and urgency of delivery can be just as fun as hearing an old favourite.

Topping the bill were The Lovely Eggs. During their set I committed the ultimate act of indiepop treason. Yes. I sat down during The Lovely Eggs. If there ever was a band you’re supposed to enjoy standing up it is The Lovely Eggs. Look, I was still doing the sausage roll thumb hand aloft, I was just giving my feet a rest at the same time.

The bands were ace, so was the jewellery stall and the record stall. But even acer than the bands was catching up with everyone. You all feel like family now. Even those of you whose names I don’t know yet feel like the distant cousins whose presence at a wedding feels rather comforting. If this awkward only child has ever belonged anywhere it is here: Indiepop.

Thanks to all the Nottingham pop organisers, you’re all heroes in my book (The Bumper Lost in Indiepop Annual 2015).

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