Today is a good day. I could feel it was coming in my bones. My first true day off since the month began (did you notice my silence, blogworld?) comes near its close, and is spent duly doing nothing but watching some football, getting up at a disgraceful hour, putting finishing touches to a demo and, as dusk arrives, going for a run in an ongoing attempt to keep the scales from creaking mercy.
But, you have missed a lot. I've been a whirling dervish of activity, trying to promote the new record to all and sundry, making tireless arrangements for the next record (the curse of the musician forced to work within the strictest and smallest of budgets) and going to Real Life Work. In between I did some gigs, and came to the realisation that this summer's Exclamation! tour may well be the best fun ever. In Swindon, Jim Lockey, Oxygen Thief and I meet together in the same room for the first time - a fact which makes our split record even more remarkable, in my eyes - and all goes well. The crowd are warm and fuzzy, and out for both a good time and a post-set celebration. We sign photos, t-shirts and converse with people; I get offered a job teaching guitar to children and wonder if London can top it.
It can. A couple of days later, Lexapalooza 09 is a sweaty gathering in a dimly-lit goth venue, where hardcore bands mix with acoustic wonderment, all in the name of charity. Barry dares the crowd to be better than Swindon in terms of crowd participation for his cover of 'Gold' and they duly oblige, Jim excels with his collection of persistently catchy numbers ('Morning Wake-Up Call' and 'The Boat Song' a real highlight) and I myself am surrounded by friends and stangers. I meet James Richard Addis, general hero and Frank Turner fan, as well as the mighty Phil Makepeace and 'The Chipper' Chris Chip, and Kev and Jay are in attendance too, and later preside over mine and Barry's illegal wedding in the little Lexapalooza chapel of love, with Jim as best man. I also meet Paul Hawkins of Paul Hawkins and Thee Awkward Silences, who I reviewed back when I wrote for DiS. He looks nothing like I imagined. We get lost on the way to the gig after being overexuberant with our celebration of 80s Phil Collins anthem 'Easy Lover' so I manage to miss a lot of Chris T-T's set, but soon all this is forgotten, and I hope Evan's tireless efforts in putting the show together are worth it. Shattered but happy, we arrive back in Reading after midnight.
And so, given the unexpected highs of both Swindon and London, there was always a risk that perhaps the remaining two dates might struggle to match the heady highs of the first shows in this short stint of appearances designed to drag me into the future and August's Exclamation! tour, a solid string of dates which will either be the sole defining point of my musical life foreverandever or reduce me to a husk of a man. Or both.
And they did. Reading was a mess. No, excuse me, Reading was a fucking mess, a shitstorm of anger to make up for the one that didn't arrive (well, here), the culprit a combination of underage drinkers shrieking loudly to each other at stage left endlessly, some sound issues and a four-act night mixed with the humidity meaning the crowd just werent ready to come in and watch acts with such regularity when they could be outside with a cigarette and a beer. I bite my tongue for six or seven songs, and even though they really are just having fun, I have to dispatch the kids with a sharp ultimatum, though I choose to do it at a point where two people who I have no problem with are leaving the room, and they later find me, enquiring as to what they could have done to incurr such wrath from I. Someone at the back mutters "that was harsh" post-dispatch, and earns another slice of rant pie.
But by now, I'm angry at them and at myself for having reacted, and probably at everyone else for not reacting, and whilst I struggle on things lack the magic that I know Club Velocity can provide. I head out on the town afterwards after Oxygen Thief heads home to Bristol, unaware that I'm expected to do a 50-minute set in Bracknell the next day. The all-day family-friendly festival is very, very warm and relentlessly humid, gagging for a storm which still doesn't (and won't) arrive. It soon becomes clear that angsty-folk is not suited to a happy, sunny family festival, but the crowd are generous with polite applause, and what they lack in enthusiasm they make up for in not being a bunch of drunken idiot children. Acknowledging their friendly-faced patience, I cut the set short on thirty five and spend a couple of hours wandering amongst the children with painted faces and the parents pushing buggies, and at least a few people here have the sense to pick up a copy of the mini-album.
But there's a lesson to be learned in here, despite the troughs. It's always good to catch up with Aubrey Dye and I'm never, ever sad to see Oxygen Thief, plus it was good to finally meet opening act Jemma Willard after a few months of on/off Myspace banter. Similarly, Bracknell led me into the path of some young guy in a Funeral for a Friend shirt, and a foreign pair who were genuinely appreciative. As time goes on and the inevitable thoughts creep in - of how long I can keep spending all my time and money on music whilst my friends get married, buy houses and have kids and whether it is, after all, me and not them who is wasting their lives - these people, and the support of the people who constantly give up their time and money to indulge me in this pursuit, are more important than ever.
And now, in front of the Glastonbury highlights, as Lauren Laverne gets on my nerves again for no reason other than she seems to be the next Jo Whiley, and Jo Whiley herself looks more and more like a hippy-witch-cat-lady with every passing year, I bid you farewell. Roll on July; RIP Michael Jackson.