Broadway/Hockley Hustle

Last Sunday Fists played a raucous gig at Broadway for the Hockley Hustle festival.

I left the house at dusk feeling really below par.  For the last week I’ve had what my Dad identifies as the Nor Virus which is a kind of a cold without the congestion but all of the run down feelings and a few extra visits to the toilet.  Seems difficult to shake this illness. 

Upon meeting Pete I found out that we would have to pay for our wristsbands to see other artists at the Hockley Hustle.  I was outraged.  We were playing for free, taking a car load of equipment for other bands to use, paying for our own food and drink, and we had to pay to see the other bands!? This put my sensitive outlook on tilt. 

I arrived at the venue with a face longer than a Kings of Leon guest list.  But things soon turned around.  After dragging my 100Kg bass rig through the crowded bar, I grabbed a Leffe and ensconsed myself upstairs, where I found a very agreeable scene.  Yeah I’ll Play it Later DJs were playing some reggae, and a few friends were there.  I ordered some stew and drank some red wine, and found myself in a warm cafe-culture environment, food and drink on the table, friends all around, good music, nice lighting, conversation.  Suddenly I was up dancing, just shooting the shit.  An hour ago I longed for a Lemsip.  Now I didn’t need it, and I was ready to gig.

We got on about half ten, and my word what a lot of people had turned up to see us.  Probably it was a fortuitous fluke of timing, like there was a break between bands at neighbouring venues, coupled with a gravitational effect of a group of people saying ‘we’re going Broadway now to see Fists’ and people around them saying ‘OK lets go too’ and perhaps some other drunken stragglers attach themselves to this group without even knowing their destination, and anyway Broadway was the only Hockley Hustle venue where you didn’t have to pay to get in, which is a good job because they probably would have tried to make me pay to get in to my own gig.

Someone had the bright idea of taking one of the benches from the floor of the bar, which opened up a lot of space to allow more people in.  The place was packed!  And the factors which make the Broadway cafe bar such a dry and normally unsuitable venue for a gig now seemed to add to the quality of the experience.  There was no stage, just one corner of the room cleared for the band to squeeze into, so people were standing on tables and chairs to see.  The flow of people into the room bottlenecked at the doors between the bar and the foyer, making it difficult for people to get in or out, making the room seem more crowded than it was, and creating the impression that there was loads of people outside who couldn’t get in.  The sound system was absolute pants, and because there was no stage all the sound got absorbed straight into the first section of the audience.  That might be why people at the back were pushing forward and standing on chairs to hear us.  Perhaps also the fuzzy sound almost suited our DIY, eclectic, wannabe rockabilly style.

Anyway I felt really good about the gig, and there were enough folks in the audience familiar with the songs to react to the ones they liked, and many people liked it who hadn’t even heard us before.  It didn’t seem to matter that various instruments and mics cut out during the set.  A year ago we would have freaked out in similar circumstances, and a year ago we would not have had so many people turn up or had so many people recognise the songs.  So I think that Sunday night will become very memorable for me, and when we (very soon) have a load more songs in our set, and a record out and a bunch more people listening to our music, I might remember it as the start of something.

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