Friday, March 04, 2016

The Milk Diaries: Strangers

I had assumed my position, pressed up against the stage of the Corner Hotel. It was an earnest thing to do, after all there only a handful of other people standing around, waiting for Ratcat's support act to appear. I internally smiled at every frantic girl sporting a black and white striped t-shirt. I felt prepped and elated when suddenly a stranger emerged from the guarded doors next to the stage: "You won't believe this, I just interviewed Simon Day for over an hour!" Without qualm or hesitation, I demanded to know every detail of the exchange, requesting a bootleg of the encounter. Just like that, Damo Musclecar and Missy El became friends forever.

We marveled at our similarities to one another, how we both had blogs and a podcast series, we both made zines, we both had previous radio projects. There was still a little gap in our respective areas of music specialisation, he had an encyclopedic knowledge of 70s New York punk and 80s hair metal whereas I lived and breathed 80s British new wave and synthpop. I recognised immediately that Damo possessed this unique kind of passion and enthusiasm that made you want to learn more, regardless of the genre in question. He had a wholehearted willingness to share all that he knew and I could recognise this when he coincidentally managed to define one of my core musical values: "I just want to document genres of music that haven't been properly documented before."

Damo stood alongside me during the show, among the girls squealed and swooned in the front row. Rose petals fluttered across over the stage and over Simon's Beatle boots. Fuzzy moments from the Tingles EP suddenly became real, shared and distorted. I wished for songs they'd never play, like Good Buy, Holiday and World in a Wrapper. Any sophisticated appreciation for their music was superseded a sudden onset of fangirl hysteria on my part. It was largely inspired by a look from Simon during the introductory moments of That Ain't Bad. This undermined any musical credibility I had established with Damo and I apologised profusely for it, explaining that I just had a moment with the most perennial of teen crushes. Damo reassured me that it was OK, insisting that he would introduce me to Simon after the show.

It did happen: Damo managed to convince the bouncer to let me "backstage", a corridor and small holding room held together with MDF, stained carpet and gaffa tape. We waited round and I felt more awkward than most, assuming a place among the band's friends and crew. Damo and I leaned against the side of the stage and discussed Bret Michaels at length before we realised it was time to accost Simon in the adjoining alleyway. It's embarrassing to recall the details of it now, my flushed cheeks and my inadequate, unrehearsed praise. Damo set about documenting the moment on camera, one such photo had my head in my hands and my hair flipped over my face in what was an ineffectual attempt to obscure my embarrassment. It was a wild moment after a night which managed to reaffirm so much.

I recalled all this today, when someone asked me why I have such a predilection for the musical past. I immediately quoted what Damo said to me because he managed to articulate the motives of fans creating culture in such a thoughtful way. He made me realise that I want to lead a life where I create and honour musical histories, fleshing them out and make them real to those who missed it the first time round.

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