geoff barrow's INVADA record label: s/d

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Was at the Invada Invasion yesterday. On paper, seeing Crippled Black Phoenix, Zu, Mogwai, Gonga and Fuck Buttons seems incredible value for money, right? Here's why it wasn't...

The legendarily bad sound at the Colston Hall

I have never seen a band with a decent sound here but the refurbishment work, if anything, has made the main hall stage worse. CBP lose all the bottom end to their sound and before they get to grips with it, it's like watching a 'Misplaced Childhood'-era Marillion tribute band in the back room of a pub. Mogwai, however, are a complete abortion. When it's quiet it's fine, but as soon as any volume gets added all you can hear is the keyboards, the bass drum, a ridiculously clean bass tone and parts of one of the guitar lines (the most conventional metal one) - the rest is an indistinct racket, but a very quiet one. The net result is they very nearly get QUIETER in the loud bits of quiet/loud. This also means there are other problems, but more on them later.

The new 'Hall 2' actually has very nearly decent sound but Gonga are the only decent band in there so it's hard to judge, particularly since there are so few people in there (shy of a wave of <1 minute visitors at the end of the Mogwai set) that the sound bounces round uncontrolled. Neither this, nor the lack of a vocalist (Christ knows where Matt is, and no Joe Volk reunuion materialises) deters them though and they run a whole 100% over their allocated time over just 4 extended stoner jams.

By default then, Gonga become the best band of the day because the 'Foyer Performance Area' is just that. It's a low stage outside the cafe that you have to watch by hanging over balconies. In other words, you are watching a band AT THE BOTTOM OF A STAIRWELL. Zu make by far the best fist of this, and are as good as ever, but - and it's worth repeating - THEY ARE AT THE BOTTOM OF A STAIRWELL. This does not have a cool Link Wray effect as you might have hoped but is more like listening in to what's playing in the downstairs flat. Fuck Buttons probably get the closest to overcoming it but only because so few people are left by then you can get into the cafe where the sound is at least acceptable.

Geoff's idea of what makes a festival

This was supposed to be inspired by Supersonic and ATP, but it differs in one crucial aspect - THERE ARE THINGS TO DO AT THOSE. Invada 'schedule' bands by putting them all on at different times with almost no overlap (literally, over the whole day there is possibly only 15 minutes where there are two thing on) so people shuffle round standing in front of things they have no interest in for something to do. The advertised art gallery turns out to be 6 pieces from Geoff's shop stood in a corner, the merch area is an Invada shop and Amnesty don't exactly fill much time. The hall themselves have made no effort with the bar - in fact, they run out of everything - and Geoff can't be arsed to do anything as simple as set up a Caribbean food stand. MUST TRY HARDER.

Also, having a word with the venue might have been a good idea. Seriously, having my ticket checked three times between leaving the foyer and the main hall - about 20 yards - is a massive pain in the fucking arse.

The Bristol crowd

Fuck knows what was going on here, but the audience is mainly made up of people here because it's what they're supposed to do. This means that at most bands there is a whole pile of people (maybe over 50%) scratching their heads at what's going on and BORED. In the queue for the gents (check this out, some FUCKING GENIUS refurbed the toilet so it takes a WHOPPING 6 PEOPLE) I hear two blokes having an earnest debate about whether Coldplay or U2 are more cutting edge - "Viva La Vida is maybe the best album ever made" vs "You can't deny that for more than the past 10 years every time they've put an album out it's raised the bar in experimentation for the whole world" - but EVERYBODY talks through EVERYTHING. The people behind us during Team Brick's ill-conceived piece (seriously Matt, I love you but this was the sort of self-indulgent bollocks you'd expect from a sixth former being told he could use an orchestra for the first time) talk about yachting to France with Jonty, and how this was interesting because they'd only heard of 'real' bands like Kasabian doing stuff with an orchestra although Elton must have done it at some point and wasn't he great at the County Ground? Braithwaite's wife freaks out at it during 'Cody' that these people aren't paying attention to the one her husband sings. (Compare and contrast with Geoff's wife, who falls out with him before it has even started for daring to spend some time RUNNING HIS OWN FUCKING FESTIVAL and not spending every minute with her...) SHUT THE FUCK UP. Maybe it's because I see nearly as many wristbands and passes as people with tickets...

Ultimately, the best option would have been to turn up without a ticket and just hang about the front door. There was next to no sound reduction from the noise in the foyer so you could have seen Thought Forms, Zu, Fuzz Against Junk and Fuck Buttons with a better view and not worse sound than anybody inside FOR FREE. I wish I had, to be honest.

I thought I could make it work because you look a bit like a man (aldo), Sunday, 27 September 2009 13:02 (4 years ago) Permalink

Arse, missing "for just £20" from my very first sentence.

I thought I could make it work because you look a bit like a man (aldo), Sunday, 27 September 2009 13:03 (4 years ago) Permalink

Dang, I've had ppl say this was good but in approx 2% as much detail as your review so for now I'm saying I'm glad I bailed on this

I told u I was deathcore (DJ Mencap), Sunday, 27 September 2009 13:43 (4 years ago) Permalink

i went and i thought it was great. didn't think the sound in the main hall was bad at all, or the second hall, and when thoughtforms played in the foyer, the several floors of natural reverb above them made them sound immense. and i really didn't miss any of the non-musical festival sideshow stuff, because i guess in my head it was more like zipping between the rooms of the RFH in london than even something like ATP.

thought the crowd was cool for the most part, though people lying on the floor during gonga was annoying. some crazy ecstasy dancing from some pretty weird dudes in the audience at the end of fuck buttons too.

hot wampa cave (stevie), Monday, 28 September 2009 08:13 (4 years ago) Permalink

2 years pass...

So, Barrow's Judge Dredd inspired record with Ben Salisbury. Halfway through and it's a good John Carpenter homage with some Vangelis thrown in there.
http://drokk.bandcamp.com/

LaMonte, Wednesday, 25 April 2012 03:47 (2 years ago) Permalink

I want to buy this but the only option seems to be boxset + t-shirt = £40. Hmm.

kraudive, Wednesday, 25 April 2012 11:01 (2 years ago) Permalink

This record is fun! Reminds me of that Gatekeeper record, as well as Carpenter/ Vangelis mentioned above.

good luck in your pyramid (Neil S), Monday, 30 April 2012 10:53 (2 years ago) Permalink

Adding this to my list of Geoff Barrow side projects to obsess over along with Anika, BEAK>, Quakers, etc.

fffv, Monday, 30 April 2012 18:35 (2 years ago) Permalink

It's not on Invada, but man, Quakers is fucking great. Also the podcast for Stones Throw (mixed by 7Stu7, I think) about a month ago. Silver Apples, KMD, Joe Meek, Gang Starr, Public Enemy, mmm.

muus lääv? :D muus dut :( (Telephone thing), Tuesday, 1 May 2012 00:01 (2 years ago) Permalink

I think a new Beak> record comes out next month.

LaMonte, Tuesday, 1 May 2012 00:46 (2 years ago) Permalink

Invada Twitter confirms that new Beak> stuff will follow the release of the Drive OST vinyl. I'm very much looking forward to it.

and yeah, my only complaint with the Quakers album is that it's too long and that the length makes the MCs blur into one another. but I don't think that's an entirely valid complaint.

fffv, Tuesday, 1 May 2012 02:14 (2 years ago) Permalink


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