Rhodri Marsden, like most thinking persons, recognizes the ugly desperation in the pay-to-play, rock showcase scene, but unlike most of you, he’s summed it up nicely.
Underdog went on at 8.20pm to a smattering of people who were gently moaning about the fact that all the draught beer was off, and the only liquid refreshment to be had was expensive bottles of Leffe or Bacardi Breezers. Underdog were as mundane as their ludicrous press photo suggests, with a series of plodding, semi-anthemic numbers which merged into a tedious, predictable whole. The stage was tiny, and the singer looked frustrated at not being able to walk about. So he looked at the drummer. The drummer looked back at him. The singer turned around and looked at us. It was that kind of gig.
I hate bands. I loathe them. I can’t reserve all my bile for Underdog, but their website neatly sums up what I mean. It informs me what amps and make of guitar they use: I don’t care. No-one does. I abhor press releases which say “The band have only been gigging since January this year,” as if that’s somehow meant to impress us, or provide a useful excuse for their lame attempts at performing. I hate bands who are supposedly “building up a reputation as a band to watch”. It’s meaningless. Utterly meaningless. An empty, meaningless phrase which tell us nothing more than the fact that maybe one person has asked them for a “demo”. I don’t know whether I actually find the endless procession of appalling bands through London venues depressing in itself, or whether it’s seeing the faux confidence on their faces, that misplaced self-belief which suggests that they think they’re actually going to get somewhere. And where is somewhere? When are bands ever satisfied? If they’ve started rehearsing, they want to record. If they’re recording, they want a record to be released. If they’ve released a record, they want it to be on the radio. If it’s on the radio, they want to be in the press. If they’re in the press, they want an agent. If they’ve got an agent, they want to be supporting a big act. If they’re supporting a big act, they want to be headlining. And so it goes on, until they split up. And then what? What mark have they made? All they have left is the music that they’ve produced. Which is, of course, what they should be doing it for in the first place.
I let out a stifled scream after innumerable rubbish guitar solos and went around the corner to The Hawley Arms, where I finished off the book I was reading, and watched two drunk men in their 20s smash a series of pint glasses against a wall before being ushered out.
By comparison, it was marvellous entertainment.