Going back to the start of a most non-bogus journey…

For anyone who knows me or who has simply read a couple of posts on here it becomes rapidly apparent how important live music is to me. For me the perfect night out involves a group of friends, a few beers and, most importantly, a live band. This love of gigs has now crossed into my academic work but had it not been for the right film at the right time things could have been entirely different.

That film was Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.


The 1991 sequel to 1989’s “Excellent Adventure”, Bogus Journey follows the titular characters attempting to live up to their destiny by becoming the band whose music a utopian society is built upon whilst evil robots from the future attempt to stop them. I first saw this film when I was 8 years old and from the moment I saw that final scene in which a band consisting of Bill & Ted, the Grim Reaper, 2 medieval princesses, 2 aliens and 2 robots performed the KISS version of “God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll to You II” a seed was planted. Through the rest of my childhood years and into my early teens my musical exposure was limited to my parents collection of 70’s and 80’s punk and whatever latest pop fad was playing on Radio 1. I bought some bizarre and diabolical records during those years. The first single I ever bought with my own money was Lou Bega’s 1999 hit “Mambo No. 5” and it got worse with Eifel 65s “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” and, to my eternal shame, The Cuban Boys “Hamster Dance”. I was buying this crap because it was popular and easily available but it never really did anything for me, not just because it was pure garbage but because that seed planted by Bill & Ted was still in there somewhere.

File under: “What the fuck was I thinking?”

When I turned 14 I was given my first Mp3 player. It held just 12 tracks but it represented freedom. Before this I would only buy CDs containing tracks I knew from the radio as I didn’t want to risk spending my limited income on something unknown.  I now had the whole internet to select music from (this being a time before Metallica told us all how music piracy was bad), no longer limited to being able to afford 1 CD a week (if I spent my money on nothing else). By this time alternative music was starting to make a comeback, nu-metal and pop-punk were the trends of the day (unless you went down the RnB and hip-hop route, but that was not for me either) but with bands such as Sum 41 directly referencing their own musical heritage with lyrics like “Maiden and Priest were the gods that we praised” it was inevitable that we were soon working our way backwards down the timelines of musical history (albeit not in a time travelling phone booth) exploring bands like Metallica, Megadeth and Iron Maiden and suddenly I felt at home. That seed planted by Bill & Ted all those years ago started to grow rapidly. I started going to gigs (my first gig being the aforementioned Iron Maiden) and can trace a direct links between my ever growing love of rock music and live gigs and my current place in life, the friends I have met, the academic and career choices I have made, all of it directly links to that day when I was 8 years old and Bill & Ted tuned me into rock ‘n’ roll.

This little thing opened up a whole new world to me

It was also around this time I revisited both Bill & Ted films and damn they were even better than I remembered them. At this point I still saw them mainly as wacky comedies that were perfectly in tune with my slightly surreal sense of humour but as I have watched and re-watched them over the years I appreciate them even more each time. I am not going to sit here and tell you how they are under-appreciated classics, the truth is much of my appreciation of them is entirely down to the role these films have played in my life. However, in so many ways these films were so far ahead of their time.

We have seen recently how the films and TV shows of 20 years ago are being criticised by the the millennial generation for containing homophobic and sexist jokes, racist stereotypes and pretty much every other form of bigotry you can think of. The Simpsons and Friends being just two high profile examples*. Now I may be a white male whose love of these films (seriously, I have a Bill & Ted tattoo) probably blinds me to their flaws  but I would like to think that both Bill & Ted films hold up pretty damn well to modern standards of morality. I am overdue for a re-watch of them but off the top of my head the only homophobic slur in either film was uttered by the evil robots in order to demonstrate their unlikeability. The two main characters show nothing but respect for their girlfriends by honouring their wishes to wait until after they are married to have sex. The only potential racial issue in either is the portrayal of Ghengis Khan but given the historic nature of the character any cliches or stereotypes are ones attributed directly to the historic perception of one specific individual than of his people (if there are any scenes of references you feel I have forgotten or overlooked please do leave a comment and I would be happy to discuss it). But more than that the basic morality that flows through the film is something the world needs so much more of today. “Be excellent to each other” is more than just an iconic line in the first film its the mantra that the two lead characters quite clearly live by. At no point in the film do we see them act in a malicious manner or even utter an unkind word to somebody who didn’t very much deserve it (The guy who stabbed Ted absolutely deserved to be called a “medieval dickweed” and Satan is in fact the “ugly, red source of all evil”). Even when everything is going against them they take it all with grace and good humour, they remain calm and look to solve problems rather than get angry about them even if that problem is being murdered and sent to hell (In fact, if two guys as nice as Bill and Ted can be sent to hell surely thats proof that heavy metal is in fact the devils music?).

*For the record my opinion on revisionist analysis of old media is roughly in line with that of Bill Maher

We are now being told a third instalment of the Bill & Ted franchise could be on the horizon. It will feature Bill & Ted having reached middle age still not having written the music upon which the promised future utopia will be built. Personally I hope that it turns out that its not their music that saves the world but simply their attitude to life. If everyone was a bit more like Bill & Ted the world would be a much better place. If everybody would just “be excellent to each other” and “party on dudes” then maybe one day we will finally be able to accurately state that “The best place to be is here. The best time to be is now”

-The scene which started it all


Words to live by


Checking back in and a promise…

Apologies for the recent downtime on here, the recent media focus on how our online date is shared lead me to review my own online accounts and how open to abuse they may be. Its genuinely insane how many online accounts you accumulate over the years and it’s alarming that the more honest you are about who you are the easier it is to identify and track your activity across the various websites you subscribe to. We are often being warned about people hiding their identity online but it seems that if you want to protect your own privacy you have to hide who you are. As somebody who relies on social media to maintain many of my friendships such as with the people I refer to as my “gig-family” and my friends in my hometown I have always tried to keep my online persona as streamlined as possible. This is entirely for the sake of convenience, it take enough of my energy keeping track of my actual persona let alone having to maintain any additional ones. This is why my blog has been offline for a while, I wanted to review how I publish myself online and ensure I wasn’t offering up anything that could compromise my interests (particularly as am planning to begin looking for a new job later this year). As things stand I am not planning to make any sweeping changes to the content on here, I will try to be as honest and open as I can be when I am writing about anything personal, I have no intention of using this blog to throw a written rose-tinted filter over my life but I am also have no intention of dwelling on anything negative. I am probably going to focus more on non-personal posts but with my dissertation being something that has been inspired by my experiences with the gig family it is likely that I will occasionally refer to those experiences. As I am well aware that the majority of the people reading this are probably people who do know me personally I wish to re-assure you that I will not post anything that may allow others to identify you (No names, initials only) and will not post anything about you that I feel you would not want shared (Nothing that I feel we wouldn’t talk openly about in the pub). However, if any of you see anything on here that you feel does reference you that you would rather it not be on here please do contact me to remove it ASAP and I will remove or edit it accordingly.

Again, apologies for the recent downtime, normal service shall resume shortly


Local gigs for local people?

In my previous entry I touched upon the practice of people travelling cross-country to attend gigs in local grassroots venues. This is something I witnessed again on this past weekend. The Crescent in York is the epitome of a grassroots venue serving its local community. On Saturday night The Crescent hosted an act synonymous with the York live music scene, Boss Caine launching their latest album by performing it in full. I would estimate if you were to go top any 10 gigs in York chances are you would encounter Dan Lucas, the brain behind Boss Caine at 6 of them either as a performer, hosting events such as the Sundown Sessions or simply as a member of the audience. Despite this appearing to be a gig as rooted in York as its possible to get there were people in attendance from all over the country who had taken the time to travel to York to be at this gig (Side note: I will never get bored with seeing Londoners joyful/shocked reactions to northern beer prices). What really struck me was how many of these people already knew each other from meeting at previous shows in other areas of the country. They were not just mere acquaintances, they had brought gifts for each other. I could pull out several examples of the community spirit I encounter at gigs every week but I think the sharing of homemade scones between people who live hundreds of miles apart says everything you need to know.

Boss Caine.jpg
Boss Caine at The Crescent

Another gig last night (Monday), this time it was Ginger Wildheart at The Fulford Arms. I am a huge Wildhearts fan and it was my Wildheart fandom that first lead me into the “gig family” community that I have previously written about. I know I can walk into a Wildheart gig and I see people who I know well without having to make any advance plans to meet up with them. This was the case last night and unsurprisingly most of the people I knew had travelled a not insignificant distance to be there. During the show Ginger (himself currently in the process of becoming a York local) asked how many people in attendance were from York and it was maybe a 50/50 split of local fans and those who had travelled.

Ginger Wildheart at The Fulford Arms

You may by now be sensing a trend that fans are generally willing to travel to see their favourite bands and to meet up with people who share their musical tastes. If that’s the case you may ask whether it really matters if a few venues close down, surely the fans will just travel elsewhere to see bands? Maybe so, but I would like you to think back to your first gig. How old were you? How far did you travel? For me it was Iron Maiden, Manchester MEN arena, Dec 9th 2003. I was 16. I travelled an hour on the train from Chester with my friends we were only able to attend thanks to the willingness of my dad to pick us up at nearly midnight (the last train back to Chester left from the other side of Manchester at the same time the concert finished). For years as a youth living in Chester this became the normal way to attend a concert. Until the opening of the Live Rooms in 2013 Chester did not have a venue regularly hosting touring bands. Occasional acts at Telfords Warehouse that could draw a crowd such as Frank Turner in 2011 but generally we were restricted to DJs, open mic nights, cover bands and local part-time folk musicians. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with any of those things (I saw some cracking cover bands at the Flookersbrook back in the day), but a lack of variety, badly promoted gigs and venues that were simply not set up for hosting live music meant people simply were not engaging with the local music scene. Go to any local club night and you would meet people who loved their music but rarely if ever went to gigs. Even I, who now regularly travels up and down the country for live music, rarely travelled more than about an hour to attend a gig despite not having a local venue to attend. As I mentioned in an earlier post it was only when I moved to a town with a handful of grassroots venues that I started to feel part of the live music community that gave me that extra motivation to start travelling to gigs I admit this is an anecdotal account of being a music fan in a small town but I expect that if I were to speak to fans up and down the country I would hear about similar experiences. And that is exactly what I intend to do, as part of the survey I am designing for my dissertation I will be asking fans about their early live music experiences particularly when they attended their first gig and how far they travelled (please feel free to share any first gig anecdotes in the comments section). It is my hope that I will be able to demonstrate some correlations between fans having easy access to local grassroots venues and feeling a part of a wider community within live music fandom. This is why we need grassroots venues, they not only give so many people their first taste of live music, they also nurture that sense of community that larger corporate venues don’t (please don’t read that as a dig at large venues, I have enjoyed many gigs at bigger venues to its just a different form of enjoyment). Yes people will travel for gigs but if we want a thriving live music scene that spans the country we need to ensure that we maintain and protect our network of grassroots music venues.

Finally I just want to thank those of you who have taken the time to read and support my first forays into blog writing. Seeing the visit counter slowly tick upwards and getting notifications when people follow me has re-assured me that this could turn into a worthwhile endeavour.


Keeping it in the family…

In yesterdays entry I spoke about how live music fans form their own communities with their own intangible cultural heritage. Today I am going to talk about my own experiences as part of a live music community.

Throughout my teens and early twenties my attendance at gigs was dictated by my impoverished financial status and which gigs I could convince my equally impoverished friends to attend with me. Being young and kinda socially awkward my interaction with strangers at gigs was generally limited to bashing into them in a mosh pit. Then in 2014 I moved to York to start a new job. The income allowed me to be able to afford to attend far more gigs than ever before and my new location was far better connected to get to gigs all over the country with relative ease. However, being new to York meant I didn’t really know anyone who I could drag along to a gig. As such I began to attend more and more gigs on my own. As I am the kind of fan who will see his favourite bands on every tour and on multiple legs of the same tour I began to recognise familiar faces of people who also did this. Another factor of my newfound financial status was the ability to afford to buy alcohol at gigs in large enough to act as a social lubricant  and chat more with total strangers. I began to match faces to the names I recognised from various bands message boards and Facebook fan pages and over time I found I was not just going to gigs to see the band but to catch up with people who I had grown to know through following the same bands. These people became genuine friends, I would show up to gigs hours early not to be at the front of the queue but to meet friends in a bar nearby for a drink or even to sit down for a meal together, sometimes the gig felt like the secondary reason to travel over to Leeds, Manchester or down to London or wherever. Rather then legging it off to get the last train home after a gig I began booking a hotel in order than I may hang around after the gig and continue partying with my gig friends. We began to refer to funny little group as our “gig family” in an increasingly un-ironic manner. We formed our own traditions (such as “Spragg-tagging” and the drinking of “Green shit”), we became a genuine community with shared memories and values that were inherently tied to the places we congregated. Certain venues took on an almost mythical status for us (The Parish in Huddersfield I am looking at you!) with members of the group travelling across the country to attend a gig with the “family” rather than seeing the same band playing closer to home. As with any community we supported each other through tough times, celebrated good times. We worked together on projects such as arranging a private gig exclusively for ourselves. Couples have been formed, members who have passed have been mourned, birthdays celebrated, gifts shared. We have had a Christmas meal together. To an outside observer we may appear as little more than a loosely familiar bunch of music fans who like the same bands and enjoy drinking together, but scratch below the surface and you will find communal bonds equal to those you will find in small communities around the world.

Even a favourite bands battered old van can hold shared symbolism for a gig community

It was seeing the similarities between my gig-family and importance that communities and their shared associations with place that hold in heritage studies that first inspired my choice of dissertation topic. The challenge I face with my dissertation is to demonstrate to the academic community that the intangible heritage of gig-families like my own are as present and valid as any other more “traditional” community.

My gig-family


Fans need venues too…

Ok, enough of me introducing myself and my blog, let’s get down to business!

I am currently studying for a masters degree in Cultural Heritage Management at the University of York. The course itself covers a fairly broad spectrum covering subjects such as archaeology, architecture, museum studies and town planning amongst others. The final stage of my studies is to complete a dissertation on a heritage topic of my choosing.

As a music fan who spends most of my free time attending gigs it seemed only natural to focus my dissertation on live music. Some people may see this as a shallow attempt to appear cool and youthful or simply an effort to avoid a more academically dense topic such as the ongoing planning debate surrounding English Heritage plans to develop Clifford’s Tower and on some level they would be absolutely right in that assumption. However, the regular threats of closure faced by UK music venues is something that I passionately feel needs to be addressed.

The Roadhouse in Manchester closed in 2015 but it still holds many fond memories for me. (Image © Manchester Evening News, 2015)

That is not to say this issue has been entirely overlooked, groups like the Music Venues Trust do some fantastic work in supporting the needs of independent venues and the newly introduced agent of change bill has been adopted primarily to protect music venues from development enforced closure (although it only protects against very specific threats and is by no means a fix all solution). The vast majority of this work to protect venues has been built on two key arguments. The first being that small venues are essential to the development of new talent that can grow and develop into the UKs next major international musical export act like Muse, Ed Sheeran, Adele or Coldplay (Please note these examples are not indicative of my personal music taste, they just a few of the most regularly cited examples). The second argument focuses on the economic value that venues bring to their local areas. These points are completely valid and a great deal of serious research has gone into supporting them such as the UK Live Music Census. However one area that, whilst not entirely overlooked, hasn’t received the same degree of focus is that of the importance that of the fans that turn out to watch bands perform at these venues. Without an audience both the bands and the venues become redundant. Despite this, nearly all the discourse regarding the relationships between fans and venues offers little more than anecdotal evidence from individual fans. What is needed is a systematic study to truly asses the role music venues play in enabling genuine communities with their own cultural identities to form and grow and the impact of what happens to these communities when they lose a venue.

Clarks-Sunday-crowd-too (1)
Whether it’s 50 or 50,000 bands and venues need an audience (Image ©Daily Record, 2016)

What I intend to do for my dissertation is to conduct a survey of my own in which I will ask music fans about their experiences and relationships with the venues they frequent. My hope is that I will be able to demonstrate how live music communities fit within UNESCOs definition of intangible cultural heritage and as such the places in which they congregate should be subject to many of the same safeguards we apply to our historic cultural sites and the preservation of shared memories.

Thanks for reading, if you have any thoughts or ideas regarding this subject please leave a comment of drop me a message. Any contributions that make it into my dissertation will be fully referenced and credited. In my next entry I plan to talk about how I first developed the idea behind my dissertation topic and possibly share some entertaining anecdotes about my own little gig community

– Reed


Reeding the book first…

I am not going to sit here and preach that you should always read the book before watching the film or TV adaptation. Personally I like to develop my own mental image of characters and locations in a book before seeing how a film maker has chosen to portray them. I find if I read the book after the film I cannot help but picture things as they appeared in the film. This preference is a bit of a double edged sword however, I have found that my enjoyment of an otherwise good film can be negatively impacted if it deviates too far from my impression of the source material.

I must stress this is not a hard and fast rule that I stick to, there are some instances where I am only casually interested in the film, not enough to dedicate the time to the book or where I simply cannot get into the book. A prime example of this being Game of Thrones, whilst I enjoy the TV show for the fantasy soap opera it is, I simply do not get along with George R. R. Martins style of writing and find the books a chore to read.

This brings me to the actual point of this entry, a book I recently read in the down time between flights during my recently holiday debacle and how it partly inspired me to start this blog. The book is Ernest Cline’s “Ready Player One”. I chose to read this after a number of people whose taste in fiction I trust spoke well of it and after seeing the, frankly ridiculous, trailer for the film which launches next week. I expected a light-hearted romp full of geeky references (something for which I am an absolute sucker for). In many ways that is exactly what I got but there was also something mildly depressing  about it which I could not quite put my finger on. I am not going to tell you how this book will change your life (it won’t!) or wax lyrical about its hidden depths. If anything it could have made far more of its underlying themes. It did however make me question the manner in which we chose to portray ourselves online. We can chose to be anyone we want to be, some people may make up an entirely fictional persona but many of us chose to portray a version of ourselves we aspire to be where we have total control over what others see of us. I sit within a generation that did not grow up with the internet as a factor in our everyday lives and even once “going online” did become the norm the internet was still developing into the tool it has become today and few of us had any notion of the fact we could one day live out entire alternate lives online (God I feel old writing like that). What really resonated with me was how much of ourselves we chose to omit from our online personas, whilst reading the book I experienced first hand the often awkward experience that can occur when our digital and analogue lives. I have a friend who I met online and whilst I have met them a few times in person it has always been planned well in advance and as such I (and I suspect they) have been able to plan what we wanted to talk about and do together, there has never really been any spontaneity in our interactions. I don’t mind this as in truth I have always been somewhat intimidated by and envious of this persons talent and ability to effortlessly cool (not that she is aware of this ability which is what make her so damn cool). A few days ago I actually saw this person from a distance and could not bring myself to go over and speak to her. She appeared to be going about her daily routine on her way to work, dressed smartly and emitting the air of confidence of somebody doing something they do every day. I on the other hand was at the tail end of what was at that point a 28 hour journey, having not slept or showered and only consumed a single cup of coffee in that time. I platonically love this person, we regularly text and chat online about the many things we have in common and talking to her is often a highlight of my day. Usually in any other circumstance I would jump at the chance to spend more time (however brief) in her presence but seeing her in her everyday professional persona made me realise how little I actually know about her and question whether ignorance is bliss and ask do I really want to know about the stuff she doesn’t share with me? Of course I didn’t want her to see me in my sleep deprived scruffy state either having previously taken great care to present myself as somebody I hope she would be proud to call a friend and now seeing myself as somebody the polar opposite of her offline persona. I don’t think she spotted me (if she did she had the same instinct I did to turn the other direction). I have not told her about this blog (yet) but if she ever reads this I hope she takes no offence and understands my reasons for avoiding her. For the record we did have a pleasant and totally unrelated text conversation a couple of hours later.

But to refocus on my initial point regarding online personas, does any of what we chose to include or leave out really matter? We are still living in a world that remembers life before the internet. In the future portrayed in Ready Player One peoples online personas are accepted with the same, if not greater, degree of legitimacy as their offline selves. Soon people won’t remember a life without the internet and whilst that comes with certain dangers it also allows us the opportunity to create a world in which people do not have to be defined or restricted based on the level (or lack) of privilege they are born into. In part that is why I created this blog for myself. Whilst I acknowledge I am far more privileged than many that doesn’t mean the real world always allows me to present myself as I always want to. I am not looking to deceive anyone reading this about who I am, I merely see it as a way to explore ideas and parts of my own persona that I have struggled to fit into areas my offline life, be it professionally, academically or socially.

To quote a passage from RP1: “We’d connected on a purely mental level. I understood her, trusted her, and loved her as a dear friend. None of that had changed, or could be changed by anything as inconsequential as her gender, or skin color, or sexual orientation.”

I feel like I have started to ramble at this point but I hope that this post, along with my previous two entries, helps anybody who may stumble across this page understands the motivations and intentions behind me starting this blog. Over the next few days and weeks I intend to start populating the page with a bit more interesting, and less narcissistic, subject matter. For now here is the trailer for the upcoming film for which the book started this whole train of thought

My 10 most important albums ever…

Whilst I don’t want to get into a habit of copying and pasting content from my Facebook on here this one is kind of relevant as it will give you an idea of my musical tastes which will form a significant portion of my updates (and just because I am a fan of lists). Its a bit roughly written as I typed it on my phone last week as part of the current Facebook trend of posting the albums that “have stuck with you”. I stress it is in no particular order and is subject to constant change. If you to ask me to produce this list again next month probably about 50% of it would change.

10) Like You Do… The Best Of The Lightning Seeds – Feels like a bit of a cheat to put a greatest hits album on a list like this but this was the album that introduced me to a world of music beyond the top 40. I first played this album on my parents stereo as a 10yr old who loved football and wanted to hear “Three Lions”. I then discovered there were plenty of other really good tracks on the album and was asking for a CD player of my own for my birthday and HMV vouchers for every Christmas and birthday through my youth. The journey started here.

9) Guns N Roses – Live Era 87-93 – My first live album and one of the first rock albums I ever owned. It introduced me to a world beyond studio recordings.

8) Pearl Jam – Ten – My favourite debut album of all time. An album to suit almost any occasion and every track an absolute classic.

7) Soil – Re.De.Fine – I was in HMV at 9am the day this album was released. As somebody who generally listens to mixed artist playlists over full albums its rare for me to listen to any album without skipping a track after the first few play-throughs but this is one album where I cannot skip a single track.

6) The Wildhearts – The Wildhearts Strike Back – Another live album on the list. Anyone who has known me for more than 10 mins will know how much I love The Wildhearts. In truth I could make up this entire list of Wildhearts and Ginger Wildheart albums but this was the one that introduced me to the band and started a journey that lead to me naming their most recent album (fittingly another live album).

5) Machine Head – The Blackening – Whilst my musical tastes have mellowed a bit in recent years, during my youth I was all about the heavy stuff. This album was an absolute game changer. I was given it on my 20th birthday and spent that afternoon with my headphones turned up to 11 blasting this album. It remained pretty much on repeat play for the next 18 months.

4) REM – Automatic for the People – One of the first albums that introduced my teenage self to a world beyond heavy metal.

3) Black Sabbath – Heaven & Hell – I may be in a minority of people who prefer Dio era Sabbath to Ozzy era Sabbath but this album is just absolutely perfect. An example of an album where every member of the band is at absolute peak form for every track including some of the finest riffs by my all-time favourite guitarist Tony Iommi.

2) Feeder – Echo Park – A large part of the soundtrack to my uni years. One of the few albums everyone in our house agreed we liked so it got played A LOT.

1) Volbeat – Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood – There are a small handful of bands who grip me enough that I have flown to another country specifically to see them. Volbeat are one of them (The others are on this list too). The title track to this album introduced me to them, at the time like nothing I had ever heard. Hooked me instantly and hasn’t let go since.