Humans have a terrible propensity for creating routine. Time stopped meaning anything for a short while when we embarked upon this thing – away from my desk and out in the World, the tapestry of habit I’ve developed over the past few years crumbled to dust, rendering my self-created notions of so-called-time meaningless, unaviagatable.
But soon enough, new habbits are formed, stringing the hours together like beads on a wire. The spliff outside the Travelodge. The packet of mini cheddars and the packet of Skittles from the vending machine in the hotel every night. Russia Today. Argue with the bell boy about check out time. Get into the new town at 3 or 4, and go straight to Soundcheck. Search for Wireless, do some work. Hit the stage between 7:30 and 8:30. And so on and so forth.
But not today. Last night we passed the peace pipe around outside the Americans’ van and swapped stories and props and mutual respects, and I avoided the vending machine… and this morning I was up and out of the hotel and in the new town before lunch. The new town was Leicester. It was a new town on me, anyway.
I had my magic Dongle, so it didn’t matter that Nandos didn’t have wi-fi. I sat myself down, and did some work for a few hours, over a chicken burger, chips, and the whole library of exotic sauces they have up in that piece. I was a happy Don. I took this photo:
I spent the next few hours doing similar in a Starbuxx, over a single, goliath caramel macchiato. The world seemed to buzz around me in fast forward, like in music videos when they have the singer stand in the middle of a road lipsynching to a super-slowed down version of the song then speed the footage up. Before I knew it, soundcheck time had dawned. I picked up my many parcels, and walked my traditional 15 minutes or so to the venue. The venues always seem to be a about a 15 minute walk from wherever I happen to be working beforehand. Routine lurks at every turn.
Leicester reminded me a little of Redditch. Like an old Redditch, with a soul in it. I wandered through a forest of factories, up a hill, and saw a giant on the top of it, blocking out the horizon. Jack was Back!
Yes, DJ Jack Nimble, who’d missed last night’s gig because he got stuck in London trying to find a mixer after the one he was using ended up on a train to Manchester, had returned, triumphant. He had a mixer. And not just any old mixer – this was a mixer he’d sat up all night BUILDING, like some mad scientists, out of bits of other mixers. Lacking a table, we set it up on a plan of wood sat on top of a keyboard stand, and hoped for the best.
Soundcheck went good. We built a mighty merch stand, out of an old wooden box. I was pretty proud of it. I’ve gotten pretty good at this merch shit . Making it look nice and selling it. I wasn’t fully comfortable with it at first, but now I love it. If I position it right, I get a dope vantage point to watch the whole show from, and I get to meet loads of cool people AND cover our costs. At the time of writing we’re still in the black (that does mean credit, right?), which is incredible for an opening act on a tour of this size. I am forever indebted to all of you that come down and hang out and buy stuff, and of course to David DV for setting us up some nicely with his knowledge and excellent laminated Point Of Sale stuff.
The venue very quickly filled up with excitable drunks, many of whom wore Akira The Don shirts and joyful smiles. The safe dudes who I made come onstage at last night’s show had turned up with their womenfolk. The barman was playing Gang Starr and random dubstep. I sold and signed a ton of stuff before we even went onstage. All signs pointed to yes.
After my night with the robot, it was good to be back onstage with Jack again. The crowd was LIVE, and I didn’t give a shit that the CD skipped. Shit was going off. Jack’s homemade mixer was working. We were having a ball. When the music disappeared 4 bars into the second verse of Hypocrite I just thought Jack was doing some hip-hop shit. When it didn’t come back I just kept on spitting that thing acapella. Then Jack informed me that the mixer had blown up.
So I left Jack to entertain the crowd while I went looking for my laptop. Jack later said those were some of the toughest 5 minutes of his life. I have no idea why he decided to do a impromptu stand up comedy routine, but he did. And so followed what Jack described as "Terrible Jokes about Sven Goran Erikson, Walkers Crips, Emile Heskey"… he says he “didn’t get as far as the Red Leicester material, but that was next”. Praise Jah for small mercies. And praise Jack for holding that crowd down with his laughstop while I hooked up the laptop. Phono through to jack and we were back off like rockets, and we blew a hole in the roof. FWOOM! It was awesome. Thanks For All The AIDS was a particularly beautiful interactive moment. Actually all the crowd vocals was awesome. I filmed them shouting a message to my Mum for me to use as an emergency Mother’s Day present should I ever need one. I did some more crowd surfing as well. I think that was after I joined Lars and Science during their set. It was dope, I got them to carry me to the bar where I had myself a tequila.
Yeah, I had a great night. When I wasn’t onstage I was partying behind my awesome merch booth, taking occasional trips to the front of the stage to jump up and down.
But for some strange reason, the force was not with Science. After a strong start, at some point during the show something happened, and he retreated behind his skin. It was weerd, bubba. After nine nights of flawless merkery, Science retreated to the back of the stage where he stood to the left of The World’s Greatest Punk Rap Drummer, JTL, glowering uncertainly.
The fact that Science barks the illlest machine gun spit fire spray this side of RA The Rugged Man goes a long way to making one forget that he is a relatively new cat sharing a set with a headliner whose fans don’t necessarily know his shit. It’s a brave thing to be doing, putting yourself out there in a foreign country, inserting your hardcore rap songs about gonorrhea and coke addiction between the headliner’s well loved crowd favorites abut Ahab and Edgar Allen Poe and downloading MP3s. Science has stunned me these past nine days, and he is officially my favorite new emcee.
My respect for Lars grows daily. Only the most scrutionous eye would have noticed any sign of him being phased by his right hand man’s dip in energy. He whipped that crowd into a righteous frenzy. His pacing is perfect. He’s never out of breath, and always seems to peak with the final song, to which he’s jumping up and down on the spot throughout.
I’m getting a lot better in that respect. The first few shows I ran out there like a fucking tornado, and I was panting by the fourth song. I’ve got it to the point now where I can spit the last 8 bars of Hypcorite’s second verse , which we tend to do towards the end of the set, in a single breath. By the end of this tour we’re gonna be so sharp we could cut you by just thinking about us. Just in time for the launch party. I can’t fucking wait.
Photos by Anthony Stratton, Jon Finn & Akira The Don