Friday, 7 February 2020

Do It Together Diary: Part Two

Saturday 25th January: Day Two of Do It Together Fest 2020

I felt absolutely horrific when was I woken up by the back garden train. So much so I wondered if I would even be able to get through the day. However, Emma and I gradually dragged ourselves out of bed and got ready for the day. First job was to have a shower. Then we went and found somewhere to have breakfast. Knowing that I wouldn't have much chance to eat properly throughout the day, I had the biggest breakfast possible in the hope that it help keep me going. Massive breakfast devoured, we then made our way to the local Sainsbury’s to stock up on painkillers, blister plasters (Emma had a massive blister on her heel) and some snacks. We then made our way to New Cross to meet with Sarah and Paul.

When we arrived, Sarah was already there and getting the tombola ready. Her parents, who were attending all weekend, were also there and it was lovely to be able to meet them. Very nice people! I'd made myself a promise to try and be more helpful with things today as I had a nagging guilt that I really hadn't done enough the day before and was determined to try and pull my weight. This meant learning how a tombola works. Basically it's a raffle but instead of waiting to see what you've won, you draw a ticket and see if the number matches to any of the prizes. Pretty simple stuff.

The next job was to organise where the eleven acts playing would have their merch and where the record fair would be set up. Part of this involved waiting for Paul to arrive as he knows how to set up the venue better than we do. When he FINALLY arrived it was decided to let the bands sell their merch upstairs and that the record fair would go downstairs. After hastily moving some tables around, we were ready! Day two of Do It Together was about to start and we were happy to see lots of people had arrived in plenty of time for the first band – NXI favourites Our Lives In Cinema.

Our Lives In Cinema haven't been playing that many shows lately whilst they work on their first full length album but, when putting the line-up together, we all agreed they were a must for Do It Together. Lead singer Mark is one of the most enthusiastic and dedicated people we know in the DIY scene, always passionate about helping bands and spreading the punk related news. He's also an absolute sweetheart. OLIC are such a fun band to watch live and continue to go from strength to strength whenever I see them. I have to assume that the folk who hadn't seen them before came away really impressed.

Continuing with my promise to myself to try and help out more today I headed to the tombola stand so Sarah and Freddy could have a break and go and enjoy Fabled Mind. I have to admit I actually enjoyed doing the tombola much more than I thought that I would. I got to talk to people as well as welcome friends and bands as they arrived at NXI. I also got a pretty decent view of the crowd and the band that was playing – Fabled Mind in this case. The Danish quartet are a fairly new band and this was their first time in London. I think we were all pleasantly surprised by the size of the crowd that they got to play to at 3 in the afternoon. I know a lot of people really enjoyed their set and are looking forward to seeing them again soon.

Up next were one of the bands I was most excited to see and one I was even allowed, personally, to book – Bristol's Toodles & The Hectic Pity. We basically decided to book them because Sarah and I both loved their first EP Call In Sick but neither of us had ever seen them live. Our own festival seemed like the perfect opportunity. In a beautiful coincidence, Do It Together coincided with the release of their phenomenal new EP Ghosts, Guilts & Grandparents. They then decided to book a little tour with their friends in Triple Sundae around Do It Together to help promote the EP even further. Before they even started their set, Sarah and I had claimed places at the front of the crowd and there was a great sense of anticipation for the upcoming set. What came next was a highlight of the whole day for me and quite a few people I spoke to afterwards. It's always lovely to see a relatively new band make their first appearance, at a venue that is so important to the scene that it houses, and play a truly magical set. Toodles & The Hectic Pity are going places, be sure to get on the bandwagon immediately.

Following Toodles were another band that I was in charge of booking. The one and only Katie MF. If you've been a regular reader of CPRW then you will know how much Emma and myself have been really championing the three piece and it was only right that they played this show. Talking to Katie earlier in the day, she remarked how this would probably be the biggest crowd they have played to at the New Cross Inn and I think it's really well deserved. They are one of the best bands in London at the moment and deserve to be heard by more people. It had actually been about six months since I last saw Katie MF perform – far too long, –so it was nice to be blown away by how good they are once again. Clearly not a band that rest on their laurels either, as they had three new songs in their set list. They all were superb and I can't wait until they get them recorded and released!

After Katie MF had finished their set I went in search of a job. Paul sent me off to pay Katie, whilst doing so I congratulated them on a smashing set and met bass player Ben for the first time. Lovely guy, great hair, really fast fingers.

Dundee's Uniforms took to the stage next. It's not often Uniforms make the long trip down to London, so any chance to see them is always exciting. Uniforms lead singer Deeker is also a member of the Make-That-A-Take Records collective, one of the most respected groups in the UK's DIY scene, so having them at Do It Together only felt right. Of course, they played a storming set – they always do! Uniforms have this unique quality to really get me amped up. I think this is due to the raw, no thrills approach they take to their music. I don't think there are many better punk bands in the UK than Uniforms and it was an absolute pleasure to see them as always.

After Uniforms, I headed towards the tombola stand again to do another shift there. I decided it was okay to be at the back of the room for Triple Sundae as I'm lucky enough to see them what feels like every other week and I knew that Sarah was super excited to see them herself. I actually really enjoyed being at the back of the room and seeing them playing to such a big and loving crowd. I also took the time to get some food down me as I was beginning to flag slightly. I again enjoyed my stint at the tombola, having the opportunity to talk to folk who were in attendance, meeting plenty of folk and being asked a few times "are you THE Colin?" I always get pretty awkward being recognised for doing CPRW but it's lovely when people come say hi.

At this point, I took the opportunity to go and stand outside as it was getting pretty stuffy inside. Outside I got chatting with the legend that is Chris Fishlock and the guys from Toodles who I'd met earlier in the day. It's always lovely to see Fishlock. We spoke about the day as well as Toodles’ tour and new EP (out today!) and it was an extremely pleasant time. It made me want to visit Bristol more. If all the Bristol punks are a nice as these gentlemen, then it must be a pretty wonderful scene.

Goodbye Blue Monday have become big favourites at NXI over the past couple of years and had driven down from Scotland very early in the morning to get to New Cross in plenty of time for their set. I'm pretty sure that every time I've seen Goodbye Blue Monday play they've managed to get all their gear set up and soundchecked before they are due to start – the ultimate professionals. This lead to five minutes of awkwardly standing around and making jokes between one another before launching into Love Is A Noose For Two. Talking of being ready – pretty much every band managed to start and finish their sets at the right time throughout the day, this meant very little stage managing had to be done by Paul, Sarah or myself. Huge credit has to go to all the bands for this. Goodbye Blue Monday were in full on party mood for their set. Playing favourites such as the aforementioned Love Is A Noose For Two, The Sickness The Shame, Take Your Pills and Misery-Punk Ruined My Life (which included a small stage invasion from Uniforms and Forever Unclean), they also took the time to play a new song from their upcoming full length as well as playing three covers of songs by their favourite Scottish act, The Garry Biscuits Band. It was all a bit lost on me and I imagine a lot of the crowd but it was an awful lot of fun.

Completing a run of sing-along punk rock were the Burnt Tapes. The collective love in the room for these four guys was like nothing else. As soon as their set started, the majority of the room launched into a big sing-along. The best moment for Paul and I was when they went old school and played Go Drunk for us. It's both of our favourite Tapes song and it's probably one of my favourite songs ever. The moment where Tone shouts "IS THIS GROWING UP?!" felt so incredibly apt at this moment. I often question what I'm doing with my life and see so many of my friends settled down with families and proper grown up responsibilities and I wonder should I be doing the same? Then I go to the New Cross Inn, am surrounded by many people I love and respect and decide this is exactly how I want to be living my life at this moment. If this is growing up then I'm having a bloody good time doing it. I sung myself so hoarse during this set I wondered if my voice would make to the end of the day.

By this point of the day, I was absolutely starving so popped a couple of doors down to grab a snack. I surprised myself by not just grabbing a chocolate bar but also a banana. This isn't my usual behaviour, I guess this is growing up? It was a slightly chilled and a really tasty banana and I was pleased I broke my usual dietary habits to buy it.

It was soon time for the first ska band of the day. One of the things I was most proud of about the Do It Together line-up was how we managed to put together a varied mix a lot of our favourite bands from different punk genres and it all seemed to work. It was nice for the punk fans and the ska fans and the pop fans and the folk fans to all have the opportunity to gather together and appreciate each other's different favourites. You can't have a New Cross party without Call Me Malcolm, it's basically the rules. It wasn't long before Malcolm had the crowd down the front in full swing, plenty of dancing, plenty of singing along to many favourites from I Was Broken When You Got Here. As the set progressed the amount of dancing in the crowd began to increase and it wasn't long before most of the room were skanking. During the song Jacob, Lucias asked the crowd to lock arms with the person next to them. Not expecting the next request to be create as many mini circle pits as possible, myself, Emma, Mark from OLIC, Dan #2, Paul and Taj joined together and made one long line. Needless to say, our attempt at a circle pit failed quite miserably but I did find it pretty funny. Obviously they finished with All My Nameless Friends. On this day it didn't feel as if the room was full of nameless friends though, it felt like I knew everyone in it and it was lovely.

Danish indie skatey poppy punks Forever Unclean were on next and I have to admit I was a bit worried for them. It's not easy to follow Call Me Malcolm. Particularly coming towards the end of a long day and when you sound nothing like them. If it did phase the Danish trio however then it didn't show. They started out with some new songs, which I thought was pretty ballsy, before playing the old favourites. This is when the crowd began to get pretty rowdy, but in the best way possible. Possibly encouraged by three members of Goodbye Blue Monday taking the opportunity to jump into the crowd, the rest of the set became an abundance of stage dives and crowd surfs whilst singing along to Forever Unclean. A couple of days after Do It Together, I had a memory of Sean from GBM giving me a kiss after I caught him coming down from a crowd surf. The three guys in Forever Unclean must have been blown away by the reception they got and how they can come so far from Denmark and still feel like they're at home. They finished their set by taking it in turns to crowd surf, despite the fact there was no music playing – it was a fun way to finish their set for sure.

After taking another little break outside, I came in and I was feeling so pumped to see Lightyear. I think I may have excitedly mentioned it to a few people on my way to getting a decent spot at the front of the crowd. I'd taken up many spots at the front throughout the weekend, claiming it was for the purpose of "stage management". This, however ,was full on fanboying because I love Lightyear. This was a pretty special Lightyear set for a couple of reasons. Firstly because we were lucky enough to have a pretty much proper Lightyear band. On the last tour they did in November the band were filled with mostly stand ins along with Chas, Neil and Jim. The only stand in for Lightyear tonight was drummer Bob Barrett. Who also played with JB Conspiracy the night before, so he headlined both nights which is cool. The other thing that made it special was that they announced that this would probably by the last ever Lightyear show. I would assume it probably won't be but, if it was, they made sure they went out in the only way that Lightyear know how. In the silliest way possible. I think it's pretty hard to really put into words and it make any actual sense of what went on during this set but it was exactly what you would expect from Lightyear. All around me there were people singing, dancing and smiling away. Whether you were a long time fan or you'd never seen them before, you went away knowing you had seen quite the spectacle.

The night wasn’t ending there though. For the hardcore souls who remained at NXI, we had another after party to enjoy. This time brought to us by our good pals the Burnt Tapes who would be performing their brilliant Menzingers cover set. I'd joked with guitarist Pan that I assumed that they would be playing The Menzingers’ newest album Hello Exile in full. To my complete surprise, they opened with the song Anna from that album before working their way through a handful of older Menzingers favourites. This was the perfect way to finish the weekend. Being surrounded by lots of friends, old and new singing many modern punk rock classics at the top of our lungs. Massive thanks to the Burntzingers for sticking around so late and entertaining us in this wonderful way.

I spent the rest of the night wandering around the room, hugging and thanking everyone I knew. It was during this time when Burnt Tone said "I just enjoy seeing everyone having a good time." I think this was the quote of the entire weekend and it summed it all up beautifully. That's all we wanted from the weekend, our pals to have a good time. We definitely achieved that.

I felt so unbelievably blessed and lucky to be surrounded by so many of the best people you could ever wish to meet and to be so involved in such a special event is something I'll be proud of for a long time. I can't thank the people who came, the bands, and especially Paul and Sarah for inviting me to be a part of this event, enough. It couldn't have been more perfect.

Monday 27th January

Back to work and going over the weekend again in my head. A lot of lovely things were said about Do It Together and people seem to be hoping for a Do It Togther Fest 2021. Will it happen and will I be involved with it? I have no idea. Originally, the idea was for it to be a one and done thing and I spent the whole weekend telling people that I will be retiring from the promoting game after this because I certainly won't be able to top it. But Do It Together was a bigger success than any of us could have possibly imagined so who knows. I kind of think we won't be able to recreate the magic of the 2020 edition and we should leave it there. That's also my thoughts on The Matrix trilogy, they should have stopped after one and not gotten greedy! That being said, it was nice to be able to do this amazing thing with two of my best friends and try something new. Either way, I think the weekend proved Doing It Together is much better than Doing It Yourself.

DIT or die!

This Do It Together Diary was written by Colin Clark. Photos by Emma Prew.

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