“What you’ve got to imagine,” Alex from Holy Ghost! decides, “Is not the three hundred people here. It’s that there are thousands, literally thousands, of people watching you… It’s pretty much the equivalent of playing Wembley.”
He looks peaky. Like he’s finally managed to wrap his head around this slightly abstract notion in a way that fully drove it home. Nick, his musical partner, sits on the same couch in the bowels of the Berlin Museum of Communication pre-gig, looking just as green-gilled at the prospect.
Three weeks ago, Holy Ghost! were on the other side of the world, booking the last lap of a North American tour, when Noisey.com called them up and invited them to star in their second celebratory ‘Special Engagement’, a one-off slightly-interactive gig livestreamed on their website and on NME.com.
They’ve been flown in especially for tonight, with a six-piece band, and are then flying straight back out to do the rest of the tour. So they’ve had to rent all their equipment, but that’s OK because the production here seems to be no-expense-spared. “We asked for a piano, just a little one, and all they had was a grand piano.. so at least we’ve got somewhere to put our drinks…”
Outside, a white truck like one of those backline ones for F1 teams sits in a carpark, filled with dials and levers and general CERN levels of tech. “If I told you how much that cost to rent,” the technical manager says, “Your jaw would hit the floor.” Not shy of a bob, Noisey have invited a raft of press and a corps of competition winners over to help drum up interest in their big flagship show in Berlin.
In the end, the nerves seemed to transmute into beaming nervous energy onstage: while their oily krauty funky thingy lends drifts up six storeys to the glass-domed ceiling, Nick gabbles enthusiasticaly into the mic, thanking everyone for everything ever like he’s just liberated Sirte. Or, if you prefer, played Wembley. Which he technically has…
In terms of the number of eyeballs watching them – probably in the tens of thousands – the Brooklyn duo certainly aren’t used to these levels of attention. But that seems to be central to the Noisey concept – taking pretty ‘umble indie types like themselves, or Spector, or Gross Magic, Bo Ningen, or Giggs, and recording their shows at a decent level of production – two cameras or more, proper editiing, then available as one continuous spool forever on their website.
There are, Noisey.com’s logic goes, a tonne of crappy YouTube clips of on-the-up-n-up groups. But once a band’s profile is below a certain level of T4-readiness, very little content that you would actively want to sit down and watch.
Perhaps it’s a measure of how spoliled London can make a man that my first question was: “Yeah, but who exactly wants to watch a live stream of a gig?”. The truth, of course, is that there are significant fractions of the globe: from Buttfuck, Idaho, to Buttifucci, Italy, to Bhu Tu Fuk, Thailand, where kids now have the capacity to follow small proper-indie acts, but will never get to see them in the flesh, in their own town. Noisey.com in part offers them a proxy, the next best thing
The first ever Klaxons show – at Soho’s St Moritz club – is already documented online: on all of 30 seconds’ worth of mobby phone footage.
But go back a couple of techno-steps, and the trail disappears: not much of the Arctic Monkeys’ early performances survives if you weren’t theeeeere maaaan. A little of the Libertines’ earliest incarnations. Next to no sense abides for forthcoming generations of what The Strokes played like pre-fame. Noisey is perhaps the next stop in the increasingly professional cataloguing of the of history of indie. And, depending on how you feel about the role of the fickleness of memory in re-shaping experience into legend, it’s either a good thing, or a bad one. Proust’s madeleine you can’t livestream. The rest, however, seems inevitable.