11 February 2004

The Projects

Track and Field Winter Sprinter Night Three – Kicker, James William Hindle, The Loves and The Projects, King’s Cross Water Rats, Friday 9 January

We’d miss it when it was gone. Here was the last night, day three and final of the Track and Field Winter Sprinter series. I'm aware that for students and young people, going out three nights running is hardly remarkable, but for people who have to get up the next morning, I find it pretty impressive. I've never been one for festivals - I will not camp, I don't like mud and I do not share my toilet with thousands of others - so you could say this was an ideal festival - four bands a night and your own bed and bog to go back to. I arrived drunker than the last two nights, having picked up my brother, down from Brum for the football - another very full day ahead on the Saturday - and made my way to the venue by the simple method of not walking past any pub en route.

The idea - the way I'd sold it to my brother - was to see Tompaulin, a band he likes but one of those I can't make my mind up about. Alas, they'd had to cancel due to a bereavement - one of those things that can't be helped, and hats off to Track and Field for e-mailing everyone and giving us all a couple of quid back on the door.

Ah, there were the familiar faces we had come to know over the last few nights. There was intense looking man with beard. There was the person of indeterminate sex reading a book about real murders. And there were the cliquey groups who'd come along purely so they could gather together and maintain a constant conversation.

As my brother grabbed armfuls of 7” singles I tried to work out who the band was. Wasn’t impressed at their tuneless thrashings around, so I was surprised when it turned out to be Kicker. I’d seen them before and thought them good, in a sub-Stereolab / Broadcast / Saloon kind of way. Sure they’d had a women singer. Turned out they did and she wasn’t there, so they were gamely pressing ahead with one of the blokes from the band filling in. Marks for carrying on regardless, but it wasn’t quite the same.

Returning from Wednesday night to fill the gap was the man with too many names, James William Hindle, or is it William James, whose quiet, dare-we-call-this-folk songs struggled against the nosier Friday night crowd. Again, opinion was divided, but I came down on his side of the fence.

I knew I’d enjoy The Loves. They live in the 1960s and make ramshackle two minute tunes with bubblegum choruses. Most of them contain the word ‘love’. I’d seen them before and in my memory (I might have remembered this wrong) they were all wearing uniforms, whereas this night they were disappointingly drably dressed. Apart from that, my heart was genuinely warmed. I don’t want to live in a world where these kind of pointless, never-going-to-make-it bands don’t exist.

With The Projects stepping up to fill the Tompaulin-sized hole it meant that for the third night running I hadn’t heard of the headliners. I was now quite drunk and very hungry, so ready for any excuse to leave and sink into the usual seat at the legendary King’s Cross Tandoori, but I had to stick around and delay my date with a dansak because, hey, the Projects were any good. They came, I suppose, out of that same Stereolab / etc. (see above) school but they did it with style, with rhythm and even with tunes. The woman singer was excellent, the drums and keyboards insistent, and you have to find a word to describe the guitars that isn’t angular. They managed to do what the last bands hadn’t done on the nights before and made me stay to the end. Memo to self: track down any Projects records.

Right, curry time.

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