I realised wondering around the Green Gathering festival a few years ago that a certain type – shall we say – comes out the crowds to say hello. The place seems to be the refuge of choice for a load of us lot who were involved in the direct action scene in the 90s.
Back in those days, we were all trying to smash capitalism by any means necessary. This usually involved setting up sound systems in bizarre places, (Trafalgar Square springs to mind) and having banging parties. A cursory glance around you will demonstrate that we weren’t especially successful (in smashing capitalism, I mean.) Still, we had some great times and a host of very interesting stuff came out if it.
You catch some of it in the campaigns area in the Green Gathering festival itself: activist groups challenging nuclear power, patriarchy, heteronormativity, the class system, racism and a whole host of contemporary and not-so-contemporary ills. Plus musicians still rocking (ahem), vegans still munching lentil burgers, craft folk still being crafty and various other hands-on approaches to dealing with eco-armageddon by learning skills (e.g. blacksmithing) that we seemed to have forgotten. Oh, and lots of solar power.
Basically, it’s the sort of place that would give a Daily Mail reader a hate-induced aneurism, after which they’d swallow a hash cake, chill the fuck out and have a great time.
It was with all this in mind that I hopped on the train to Newport and to the new independent venue Le Pub, managed by the redoubtable Sam, who has created an oasis of independence in small town club-land. She was more than happy to host the evening – a Green Gathering campaigns party, right up her street – with a host of characters from far and wide, newcomers and old hands.
I turned up early enough to catch folk-punk rabble rousers Kilnaboy demonstrate they have a sensitive side by doing a sit-down acoustic set. Ok, that was a cheap jibe…it was actually awesome! A whole new approach to their sound – and great to see a whole load of people out early for the first act at 7pm.
Cara Means Friend was up next, showing that her innate lyricism and songwriting can stand as much on its own as it does with the Defektors, the band she normally fronts. There followed what appeared to be an extraordinary double act: the Brewer’s Daughter and one half of Eff Off a.k.a Rhi and Frag. Rhi demonstrated a deep level of musical and lyrical intensity, then Frag appeared to play ten songs in ten minutes. (I can’t remember which punk rock luminary said something like: “If you can’t say it in two and a half minutes, don’t bother saying it at all. But Frag, you took it to a whole other level.)
Then a big-nosed lanky streak of piss, a.k.a me (Cosmo) got up and fully sober, beheld a half 8 crowd who were actually more like ten o’clock pissed. And I was sober. Still, I survived. Sort of 😉
By now, everyone was sweaty and wanted a sing-a-long and a dance. This was heartily supplied by Mercurius Rising. Not a still person in the house! And finally, the highlight of the night, where Mel and Magnus from festy-stalwarts Tarantism, got up and did a folk disco!
A what, I hear you say? Well, it is exactly what it says on the tin: disco classics played on acoustic guitar and a flute with a kick drum thrown in for that authentic “doof” sound! If you think February is a dark, dank and miserable month, then the sight of a bar full of hippies and punks strutting and singing along to disco classics will prove that there is no problem so great that you can’t dance it off if you really want to.
A great night out, and with consciousnesses raised too, courtesy of the big stall with campaign info at the back. Just how I like it. Sweaty but satisfied, we all trooped off home. Big shout out to Clint and Lisa Peppermint Iguana and Tom for sorting it all out. When’s the next one, then?!!