The unsigned band scene, at times, is very similar to the British road network. It's very busy and it only takes one person to be an insufferable pillock to ruin it for everyone. Recently I've sat stationary on the M25 for nearly an hour while the Highways Agency wombles closed it to retrieve someone's wing mirror that had fallen off, had my journey home from work doubled in time and turned into a long (but very scenic) detour over the South Downs because some idiot managed to crash into their own caravan on the A23, and got home way after midnight on a Tuesday night because of a band acting like a bunch of right ball bags.
First, I should explain that this band plays, well, I'm not really sure what you'd call it. That sort of blend of moronic punk and moronic metal that I'd wager is very popular on UG. Butthole Surfers guitarist Paul Leary once described his band's recorded output as 'music to drool into a bucket to', and I'd wager it's a good term to apply here. And, of course, anyone playing such boneheaded music is probably not going to be a reasonable person. I make a lot of generalisations about people who like metalcore or nu-metal or whatever you call it but I'm yet to make one that hasn't been proved true on many occasions.
Since I'm now bandless, I was opening this gig up as a solo artist. There were some friends of mine, a blues-rock outfit, headlining, and a remarkable duo on before them who sounded like the White Stripes stuck deep inside a K-hole. And this bunch of miscreants on second. The promoter was quite keen for the night to run smoothly as she and the headliners lived out of town, and for some reason possibly involving leaves on the line, the trains were being replaced by buses from 11 o'clock onwards. Anyone who's been on a rail-replacement bus will know this is an experience to be avoided at all costs.
The idea was, to cut down on changeover times, for The Ballbags (as I will call them) to set up before I went on. Since I was just playing my acoustic straight into a DI, I'd then step up, play my set, finish, unplug then they'd be away. This would have worked fine had the band got there on time with all their gear, which they didn't. They were about an hour and a half late, stumbling through the door 20 minutes after I should have started. Then, they dumped all their gear in the middle of the room and went straight to the bar. At this point the running-on-time thing had gone out the window so I was told I might as well go and play. So I did.
A respectable crowd had gathered by this point, most of whom were listening, apart from one consistent and very loud group of talkers at the side of the room. Through the stage lighting I could just make out... yes, it was that other band. Not only had they derailed the whole night with some cant about being stuck in traffic (probably the same traffic jam I got stuck in, and I managed to get there on time) but they didn't even have the respect to pay attention to anyone else on the bill.
Then they spent a brief glimpse of eternity doing the setup they should have done over an hour ago. This was a four-piece guitar band, none of whom were using more than one guitar or pedals or anything like that. I can't see how setting this up can take any more than 2 minutes. Oh, of course, they've got the typical metal drummer who has to have 87 different cymbals and arrange the bass drum and floor tom slightly differently to how the previous drummer had it, then hit every single drum as loud as they can while the soundman is trying to set the levels for everything else.
This band were awful. They overran their set time. They spent ages packing down then immediately left. The promoter vowed never to book them again, possibly egged on by me and the headliners... Now, my similar experiences with bands playing this genre include a drummer busting the skin of the bass drum from the house kit, meaning none of the other bands could play that night, and a guitarist leaving all his gear on stage after they'd finished to go and get a beer and talk to his mates while my band were meant to be setting up. Well, I figured that he had an ESP which probably wouldn't break if I shoved it to the side of the stage, which is what I did.
Still, though, I started out playing indie and in the Morrissey/Damon Albarn/Thom Yorke vein I'm thrilled to have someone to slag off. I just wish I could remember their name...