Brushing off my dancing trousers and smearing kohl around my eyes, I’m nervous. This is technically my first gig in two or so years. Thoughts bounce around my skull like the cards from a successful solitaire game on windows xp ‘what if I freak out at the crowd’, ‘can I even dance anymore – will my knees snap like old kindling?’ and chief among these thoughts: ‘am I too old for gigs?’. All the people I see on Instagram and music blogs, everyone looks so young. I’m used to sticking out of the crowd, my hair is neon for chrissakes, but to be hanging out at the back looking like someone’s dad here to pick them up is a fate I want to avoid until I at least need absorbent underwear (so about four or five years). I drink the last of my rum and head out the house. I’ve forgotten to get travel drinks. I am out of practice.


I’ve never been to the Night Owl before and to be honest my brain hasn’t really got it entirely clear that it was a separate entity from Mama Roux’s next door. It’s smaller than I imagined but a nice space – not in the art world sense of ‘it’s a nice space’ used at a friend’s exhibition when you can’t say anything nice about the work – but an actual nice space, the courtyard covered with awnings and carpeted with astroturf. Decent sized floor space with small stage and bar at the back. I needn’t have worried about being the oldest person there, in fact by the look of it, my arrival brings the median age down by five or six years. I mean what should I expect for an obscure rockabilly Japanese band that briefly broke the public consciousness in a film that is twenty years old? 


But the crowd wasn’t wearing M&S cardigans and elasticated slacks. Everyone here is a subculture collage from the last seventy years, rockabilly quiffs, wallet chains, brothel creepers and Doc Martens, male baggs and blue denim, motorcycle brand T-shirts and Hawaiian shirts, even a hippie or two. To be honest I’m far more comfortable here than potentially at the instagram gigs where all the kids are dressed like a combination of 70s porn mechanics and kids tv presenters from the 8os. I start a conversation with the woman at the table I’m perched at:

“I love your hair, that’s a great colour” I say. She’s got long blue hair with black undertones, with her black rimmed glasses she looks like a librarian from John Wick. we swap hair dye chat and she tells me,

“My mom stopped saying I’ll regret it when I’m older because now I am.”


The first band starts: The Masonics, banging little three piece with an eclectic rock and roll sound, a little bit bluesy, in that its a little bit 50s surf guitar, in that it’s a little bit 60s british invasion, in that its a little bit britpop, in that its a little bit landfill indie and so the wheel goes round. Weeeeeeeeeeeeeee.


The 5,6,7,8’s next and they do a lot with just three of them, the drums are tight and the guitar is showy but never grandstanding. Now into an age where Hollywood would cast them as mothers or elder aunites they still give off enough ‘fuck you’ swagger to match the rock and roll they play. Despite being dressed like The Ronettes they rock and stomp like The Runaways. Towards the end of the gig you can feel the crowd waiting for that song, which they oblige, but not after more than proving they deserve more than being known for it alone.

I’m suspicious of nostalgia, I treat it like salt, if it’s a balanced part of the recipe I can stand it, but if anyone is adding a lot they’ll probably be dead soon. For a lot of boomers nostalgia is part of their DNA both a retreat and a goal to be achieved. But this aint that, here is gen-x nostalgia second or third wave postmodernism nostalgia where the past is a palette, or a buffet. People loading their plates with bits that resonate with them, patchwork people with scars for seams.


First gig back, what’s next?

photo credit – Lucy ‘Poachers’ Chambers

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