Whoa-oh.. the dogs of Brixton..
Gracetonbury in Brixton was going to be another of those pauses in my Ferocious Dog diary that turned out not to be a pause. A sell-out event, I was lucky enough to spot some returns go on sale in a moment of weakness and snapped them up. With Simon and Ella kind enough to offer me crash-space for the evening it made the decision all the more easy (not that I take much persuading, as you may have noticed!).
First order of business was to get myself down to their place, from where we picked up Ella from work. Her boss was somewhat confused to see her literally pounce upon an unsuspecting customer wandering into the place (me), and soon enough we hit the road – the plan being to park the car up in a secure spot in Camden that Simon had access to, tube it down the Victoria line to Brixton and get a taxi back to Camden later.
After parking up and meeting a horse that was close to where we parked (no really!) it was a quick schlep to Kings Cross and off we went. I had planned on playing my favourite tube game of looking at people and smiling – this backfired when a lovely friendly lady sat opposite me, but that was better if anything, friendly people on the tube! Even better still, she asked if Simon was my dad – ha ha! Sorry Simon.
Wandering from the tube station up Brixton Hill to the Windmill we passed a lively looking pub called the White Horse and who should be sat in the beer garden but Ellis, Scott, John and Brad – we stopped for a quick drink with them before wandering on to the venue where we found Dan loitering outside. Upon gaining entry we were handed tickets to exchange for food from the barbecue, headed to the bar and found countless FD folk already in attendance.
As is becoming habit and I’m sorry about it in some ways, and not so much in others, getting distracted talking to people saw me spend a lot of time outside rather than taking in the other acts as much as I should – however by doing so got to put ‘reality’ faces to Facebook names by meeting folk like Craig, Debbie and Skeg which is always a good thing. Since the day was underway by the time we arrived I managed to catch fleeting glimpses of Deferred Sucess, Abdoujaparov and Funke and the Two Tone Baby who led us nicely up to Ferocious Dog who were due on at 11pm.
The Windmill is an interesting venue, nestled in a side street off the main road up the hill from central Brixton. With two dogs patrolling the roof for security (and showing a keen interest in the barbecue) it might not seem inviting from the outset, but it really is a cracking place – a sizeable beer garden/patio area covers two sides of it, inside the bar is central with the stage one side. Definitely one to classify as intimate. And it had lots of men dressed up as Les in it, which was confusing after a few ciders!
Outside in the beer garden numerous interesting conversations took place – Dave’s tactic for dealing with a zombie apocalypse seemed to basically involve him acquiring a tank from somewhere. Although we did come up with a few flaws in this plan as the evening wore on. Hmm. Salty. Wez somehow ended up in a heated debate about food hygiene with the proprietor of the venue, luckily by this time it was time for us to start making our way inside for Ferocious Dog.
Since the ceiling was low and we’d no Dean we nominated Ella for surfing duties. The band were near enough set up – it was a tight space for a moshpit with very little protection for the band on a low stage. After not very long Kenny had a gob full of microphone after someone bashed into his stand which saw Waggy spending much of the gig acting as security – for such a lovely man he can do a pretty convincing stern face!
As an aside, Ella revealed that her ‘Snotface’ nickname was borne from Kenny as she’d worn some green tartan leggings – interesting that this evening Kenny had opted for some green tartan trousers to perform in. The less said about Scott’s reinterpretation revealed in the pub earlier of her nickname the better, however – maybe Ken ‘Snotface’ Bonsall has a certain ring to it? Ha ha. Maybe not.
Despite the lack of space a good natured mosh was going on – but folk who didn’t want to get fully immersed were still able to find good vantage spots near the front, subject to the usual being bashed into a bit occasionally. Ken seemed determined to play Marikana Massacre well ahead of the set list on a couple of occasions which was quite funny. No string snapping shenanigans or mishaps to deal with this time though.
When Freeborn John kicked in I was hoisted and Ella clambered, getting her knees up onto me and realising there wasn’t really any more headroom so stuck to that position for the song, which worked well enough! With a lighting rig just behind her and the low ceiling I think expecting her to get on her feet would’ve been a bit much – I fancy Dean would’ve attempted it but I certainly wouldn’t have!
We were treated to another live airing of Ruby Bridges which went down well with the crowd, as it’s just gone chart time I’ve checked and I’m pretty confident it hasn’t made the top 100 in the main charts which is a shame – I’m not sure whether that’s down to insufficient downloads or possible there being some eligibility technicalities that might not’ve been met as releases need to be registered with the chart people.
On the one hand, disappointing – on the other, I’m not sure Ferocious Dog in the charts sits quite right anyway. I would’ve liked to see them in there though if nothing else for the rebelliousness of it, but also to get a genuinely cracking song aired in front of a bigger audience. I did pick up an email on the night that told us the BBC East Midlands team were playing the song again on Saturday night – and their support is much appreciated.
Back to the gig, Dave and Nadine had to dash off before the end to get the last tube which was a shame – leaving us with Criminal Justice, Hell Hounds, a brief interlude for Ken to wish Simon a happy birthday for Wednesday. We’d spent much of the evening getting Hell Hounds to sign a birthday card for him, a process I started on Thursday up in Evesham getting the band and entourage to sign it, before Freethinker and finally Mairi’s Wedding Part II to finish off.
A cracking gig in a great venue with top people creating a great atmosphere. We had time to cool off and catch up with folk before our taxi picked us up to take us back to Camden – it was crazy how busy the traffic was at gone 1 in the morning in the capital, but I suppose there are lots of events kicking out and no underground in operation so the roads become the only viable option. Either way, eventually our ace taxi dude got us back to Simon’s car.
I had the chance to go see my new horse friend again before we left, and we hit the road back to Snotsville. I thought I’d got away with having a sneaky sleep in the back of the car but Ella gleefully revealed she’d got a picture of me doing so which hasn’t yet made it onto Facebook. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time! Once back it was pretty much straight to sleep, a day of chilling today followed by lunch then a drive home for me.
I’m very lucky to have made such ace Ferocious Friends to take the strain out of gig travelling on occasions, not to mention the countless folks that are at the gigs to make the occasions so enjoyable in addition to the music. All hail the Hell Hounds! Next stop, Settle!