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diskant rewind: Honey Is Funny #3

Posted: July 25th, 2008, by Chris S

(Originally posted May 2002)

Honey Is Funny by Chris Summerlin

So anyway.

My intention was to write loads on why the notion of punk rock is bullshit but Luke Younger told me he was writing a column on why hardcore sucks so the appeal seems to have gone all of a sudden.

To be honest being so fucking miserable all the time has its downsides. My job is perhaps the worst it’s ever been in my life to the point where my bosses told me they thought my commitment was unacceptable because I flat refused to cancel my (pre booked!) holiday to go to ATP because the work load had doubled and I should put the job first.

I considered dropping my pants and placing my cock and balls on a gold tray and asking them to take a long run up and do their best.

I won’t bore you with the details. It’s all relative in the sense that even the very finest parts of my job can be equalled by a really good shit, or cheese on toast in terms of satisfaction in an unpaid environment.

But just to fill you in, I work for the northern branch of a large company. There is/was a southern branch that does/did the same job but used a totally different system to do it. The bosses decided our system was better so began a process of transferring all data from the south to our system in the north. The good bit is it hasn’t worked. But they sacked everyone in the south before realising this so all of a sudden (with just a weekend’s warning) the goalposts of my job have changed dramatically as I am doing the job previously done by our southern colleagues.

I have heard my role in all this referred to as a “challenge”. I prefer the less Record Breakers style terminology of “getting done in the ass”.

Fuck them.

Needless to say I went to ATP (though thoughts of my job tried their best to invade my mind during most of the bands) so in a break from moaning here’s my round up kinda thing.

First weekend was cool though the bands didn’t make much of an impression with notable exceptions such as Blonde Redhead who were in another league. It looked almost choreographed it was so cool. Some people found this unappealing, I just couldn’t take my eyes off them. It was telling that they kept songs from the last record to a minimum and just hit us with the rock. The social side on the first weekend was awesome though. Second weekend was the exact opposite, the place was like a morgue but the bands all blew me away.

Shellac especially.

I guess if you know me this is not much of a surprise but what blew me away was the amount of genuine heart in their performance, especially coming from a band whose reputation is founded on being blunt, to-the-point, economical, machines, emotionless.

I saw a lot of people from bands I knew watching Shellac and it struck me that loads of bands get compared to Shellac in the sense that they are an economical way of a music journo saying a band is angular, angry and sparse (in the same way as a band playing sparse, spooky music can be likened to Slint to save column space). But how many bands are as genuinely rich or deep as the real thing? None of them.

How many bands have the ability to come up with something as concise and affecting as Billiard Player Song lyrically (or as rocking musically) without feeling the need to trumpet the reasons? But Shellac call it the Billiard Player Song. How many bands would be able to write something like Prayer To God without a 2 page press release detailing (or at least hinting at) the object of the song’s venom?

Seeing Albini cradling his guitar in his arms and slow dancing round the stage with it was incredible. People laugh a lot when he introduces songs. I remember once I saw Shellac and he introduced the Billiard Player Song as being about “a sense of immense loss” and people laughed. They should have been listening. That Shellac could care less that they weren’t only makes them more appealing to me. It’s rare that a band so loud and grand can have the good sense to be subtle too.

I’ll stop kissing their ass now and move neatly onto Nina Nastasia. The best thing I saw all of the second weekend for similar reasons as Shellac. It sounds impossible when referring to a 7 piece band (accordian, cello, viola, drums courtesy of Jim White, bass, electric guitar and Nina herself on acoustic guitar and vocals), but this was all about economy. When you see bands large in number it almost seems there is a need to maximise the “extra” instrumentation or “get your money’s worth”. I understand this, especially if the band in question comes from a rock background and a lot of effort has been expended to put a large band together (for example, Godspeed You Black Emperor – who were also awesome). The extra instruments are such a novelty the temptation is to have
everything playing all at the same time. But Nina’s songs were often under a minute long and very rarely did all 7 musicians play at the same time. Her voice is simultaneously commanding and nonchalant, so good that she doesn’t care if you listen or not but she knows you will. The best bit is the album Blackened Air on Touch And Go is as good as the live show.

After the disappointment of Smog it was pretty disheartening to see Preston Long walk out solo after thinking it would be PW Long’s Reelfoot. Not a whiff of shit here though – a few covers (Al Green), some Mule tunes and some Reelfoot oldies and newies. He played acoustic guitar so hard and loud he barely needed the PA and it was the easiest victory by performer over crowd I witnessed at the festival.

Other highlights:
I pushed Luke into a bush when he was pissing on Monday morning.
I also walked in on Ian Scanlon approximately 1.5 seconds before he began having sex.

So that’s it this time round. Sorry it isn’t more entertaining. Marceline put a deadline on me, I am steaming drunk on wine and trying to finish this. My computer is fucking up and I am tired.

Again I didn’t have time for a good new comp tape for this column but luckily when clearing out my car I found a really good one anyway. There’s a few duplicates on this one from the first column but this is a sure fire winner. We road tested it going down to ATP and it stood firm. It’s called “Chris, Neil, Jo and Jude’s going to Scotland tape”.

ACDC – Let There Be Rock
Le Tigre – Hot Topic
The Breeders – Head To Toe
!!! – Intensify
Heresy – Caged Rat
The Stooges – TV Eye
Low- Just Like Christmas
Pavement – Grounded
Palace Brothers – Horses
J Mascis & The Fog – Back Before You Go
Excelsior – Sailing The Sea Of Hoag
Girls Against Boys – Cash Machine

Smog – The Morning Paper
Antioch Arrow – can’t remember the title but Luke can.
Rah Brahs – The 5th Allan
Bikini Kill – Rebel Girl
Swing Kids – 43 seconds
Minutemen – History Lesson Part II
Sonic Youth – Stereo Sanctity Live 1993
PJ Harvey – Naked Cousin (Live at the Forum 1993)
Aerial M – Lay
Elvis Presley – American Trilogy
Burt Reynolds – Let’s Do Something Cheap And Superficial

Chris S

Chris lives for the rock and can often be seen stumbling drunkenly on (and off) stages far and wide. Other hobbies include wearing jumpers, arsing about with Photoshop and trying to beat the world record for the number of offensive comments made in any 24 hour period. He has been married twice but his heart really belongs to his guitars. All 436 of them.


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