The Null Device

I'm Wayne Kerr, and if there's one thing I hate... well, allow me to explain with a story:

Recently a flyer caught my attention; it announced, in ravey typography, that a singer/songwriter named Julia Messenger was performing at a pub known as the Grace Darling. Reading further, it mentioned her involvement in the "downbeat" and "electronic dub" scenes in Germany, and worked with Klaus Schutze (of Tangerine Dream fame). This piqued my interest; this would at least be interesting, I thought, and probably somewhat enjoyable. There was nothing to prepare me for the pinkness and horror that was to await.

The show was tonight, scheduled for 10pm. I arrived half an hour late. Instead of a musical performance, I found a fold-out stage prop in the form of a cruise ship and three inflatable floaties. It turned out to be the set of some dating game show called the Love Boat. Two loud-voiced women in sailor costumes were asking questions like "what is your star sign?" and "which reality TV show describes you?", of a group of fashionably dressed (and probably fashionably drunk) late-twentysomethings. The audience seemed to be similar people, as well as a large proportion of middle-aged people, and a few children running around making noise. A bad sign; definitely not an avant-garde crowd.

I was told the game show was running overtime and Julia Messenger would perform at 11pm. I sat down at the bar, reading a copy of InPress and waited, expecting some music. At 11pm I was assaulted with the Love Boat theme blaring out of the PA, and the synchronised off-key singing of the two hostesses as the next instalment of the game began. I retreated to the other room, lest I win a dinner date there with one of the contestants.

Julia Messenger did perform, finally, just before midnight; though her show didn't seem anywhere near as interesting as the flyers suggested; it seemed more like radio-friendly pop songs over canned electronic backings, with one of the choruses sounding dispiritingly like a Britney Spears song.

If they have band venues in Hell, I now know what they must be like.

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