Tour Diary: Leicester (UK / Day 8)

Salty Snack of the Day: Jacobs Mini Cheddars: Like cheesy Ritz crackers. A somewhat sophisticated Cheez-It. I want to eat these forever. The BBQ ones are crap.

 Britishisms Heard Uttered: SPAM! When the conversation turned to male pattern baldness, as it does, Olie said his hair was beginning to recede a bit. Then he patted his forehead and said, “I’ve always been a bit spammy though.” “Spammy?” “Well yes, when we were kids we would smack each other on the forehead and yell SPAM!”

 Birds: Ring-Necked Parakeet

We woke up, drove, checked into our hotel, Joe and I had a half pint in a lovely pub called the Red Cow, (with a really cool ‘70’s thatch roof) and drove into town.

The night previous our days destination had won the Premier League in football, which is the biggest deal thing you can win around here. They are a club that started in 1884 for pete’s sake. They haven’t won a title in something like 120 years I heard someone say, but honestly can’t make heads or tails of their history. They had started the season as 5,000 to 1 against winning it all so at least a few dreamers made some money. While we played our last night at the Windmill, the City of Leicester was losing its mind in a chanting, beery, party in the streets. It would have been a bad night for a show but probably amazing to witness. By the time we arrived the city had settled into a bleery, hungover, haze.

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We had been told by more than one person the Leicester can be a bit grim. And the first impression upon landing at our venue for the evening, which is located in an isolated industrial corner of the city, with the low hanging grey clouds sapping the color from the air, a concentration of Brutalist* architecture surrounding us, well I guess it could lend credence to this view. Shortly after arrival, with the club needing more time clean after the celebrations, we worked our way to the city center, which did feel little schizophrenic with the mish-mash of architectural styles. However, there were immense pedestrian walkways going off in every direction and an obviously vibrant modern city humming all around us. I could find no Leicester City swag to commemorate the historic victory as of course it was all bought up. The longer I spent in the city the more it all started to feel cohesive. I know that it is ultimately ridiculous to say anything of any depth with these glancing visits. It’s presumptuous to assume I can bring any insight to a place where we people actually invest themselves, their time, their futures. Take these missives for what they are: geographically limited impressions influenced by the need to find something to eat. Anyway, I noticed that Leicester seemed to be a very worldly city and when I looked up its stats I saw that it had experienced several significant waves of immigration. I’m always pleased when I find myself in a place where there is a polyglot of voices and a feeling of peaceful cohabitation.

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The club was called the Musician and it was easily the Cadillac of venues on this tour. Beautiful room, excellent stage and sound system, and a veteran soundman named Malcom who continually chuckled as if life was a constant source of bemusement. The opening bands were flat out wonderful. (Luna Rosa and Echolocation) I’ve had this feeling that perhaps the UK still loves guitar rocknroll in a way that the States does not at the moment. I don’t know if I’m in a bubble and the general population has moved on from the electric guitar here as well, but the bands we keep hearing seem to be evolving the form in a way that has been reviving to hear. For instance the band Echolocation could have fit in any era from post-punk to obviously now. There was an angularity and artiness that was amazing to hear people still doing. Chuck compared them to the Fall, which seems pointlessly vague, but he can’t always be brilliant. I was kind of thinking maybe Pere Ubu with trumpet and a lighter touch. I mean how much fun is it to talk about bands like that? Anyway, after a small onstage bout of insecurity worrying that the reserve of the crowd indicated apathy, or even worse it’s second cousin antipathy, we recovered ourselves and played well. We were just being stupid as once again we were blessed with a generous and attentive audience.

Tomorrow is Darby.

 

*I’m no architecture expert. Feel free to correct me if I’ve got it wrong.