Another day, another sticky-floored UK indie venue closing. Yesterday it was the Cardiff Barfly.
Usually when one of these vital, band-birthing venues closes it’s another excuse to throw our arms in the air in disgust and demand that the Government starts ploughing money into subsidising them, or that the country’s youth sign up to spending at least four nights a week in such glorious dirt-holes at full price.
But the sad thing is that because of a combination of the recession and the general lack of hyper-buzz guitar bands setting the toilet circuit alight every night at the moment, this sort of news has become a depressing inevitability.
Gigs and festivals in general are still wonderfully well-attended, and as bands shift their focus more and more to playing live in the face of diminishing returns from record sales it’s undeniable that the live scene is still in rude health. But this money crunch malarkey seems to have crumpled those at the very bottom of the gig venue pile, and it’s still a tragedy every time another one folds.
But instead of dwelling on this, I’d rather just think about a few of my cherished Cardiff Barfly memories, for which dates, names and eye colours are very much blurred or non-existent.
1: The Libertines, 2002. I went to see them the week they bagged their first NME cover. Stood front row, I remember thinking that every song sounded as good as a Clash song, and wondered why, unlike Pete Doherty, I’d never thought of wearing two leather jackets on top of each other. Then Pete trying to get off with my female friends at Clwb Ifor Bach later on in the night.
2: Mclusky, 2003-ish. Sold-out show for one of my favourite bands of all time. There was no room in the front row so I lay on one of the monitors and got an upwards view of the band. If they’d been wearing skirts it would have been obscene. Got whacked by Jon Chapple’s bass guitar at some point, like to think I’ve got a small scar in there somewhere from it.
3: Kings Of Leon’s first UK tour. Tickets were £7.50 and I was skint so I passed.
4: Electric Six playing two shows in a row. A ‘matinee’ performance that I went to, then an evening show I couldn’t get into. Really, this genuinely was a hot ticket at the time.
5: The ‘We Love This Fucking Tour’ tour: Eighties Matchbox, Ikara Colt and The Parkinsons. First time I was in NME – the corner of my G-Shock watch on the edge of a picture for a review Steven Wells wrote. I remember Swells stood front row making a big thing of making notes in front of Eighties Matchbox, who threw their mic stand near him and it brushed his shoulder. I think the line he wrote was “The mic stand whacked me full on the shoulder”, or something like that.
6: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, secret gig, 2003-ish. Karen O writhing about on stage like she should have been sectioned (OK, maybe not in this video).
7: Interviewing Crispian Mills as he played there with The Jeevas. I was a massive KS fan so was in awe-ish. Crispian found out I studied Psychology at the end of the interview and yearningly said, “If you ever want to talk psychology…?” as I walked out of the interview. I didn’t call him.
RIP, Cardiff Barfly!