Back in the heartland days of the U.S. punk scene, it was normal for labels to build an identity around a particular city or region – hip hop has a lot of the same focus: maybe it’s a consequence of the vastness of America that location forms a core approach to defining belonging?
Blank Editions does a great job of documenting the remarkably creative swirl taking place in Stoke Newington. It was a real surprise to me, having long since decided that London was a black hole, that there was still something culturally alive taking place so close to the dead centre.
One of my favourite gig moments this year – god it’s nice to be so surprised I couldn’t stop giggling! – was catching Camp X-Ray (CXR) at Rough Trade in Bristol. I’d been about to leave, but Eva Prinz told my girlfriend that we really had to stay to see these guys. Wow. Stripped down and sharp instrumental presence but their front man…I’d seen him at Thurston Moore’s 60th birthday, this sharp, angular, slightly stern looking bloke – and he’d been around all evening. Performing, imagine Iggy Pop blurred into Mick Jagger’s stage moves and English tone, moderated by 2010s awareness of the rules around physical contact and courtesy to audiences. He was magnificent! Dog on a leash, straining at the limits of how far his mic cord would let him go, mic stand wielded, lyrics declaimed directly into the faces of the semi-circle of audience staying resolutely an inch out of his reach except when one brave soul or another would allow themselves to be dragged into the shaking, shivering, pogo’ing, braying, snarling, beautiful punk dance. I couldn’t catch a single photo where he stood still enough to seem real – most of the photos I took he’s genuinely a ghost – there’s the outline of where he’s transparent or the mass of his body is already a blur half a foot away from where his body begins. Brilliant.
Anyways! They’re on the sampler.