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PartyLine European Tour 2005 Diary installment 1

Simple Social Graces has commissioned a tour diary from the fabulous Allison Wolfe documenting her recent tour with Partyline and Spider And The Webs in Europe. I had the plasure of meeting them along the way but I believe that will be in installment two.

Friday 20th of January 2006

Thursday, October 20 London, Brighton

Dear Diary,

“I remember the first day we were ever in Brighton…” as the Frumpies once said, and here we are! It’s simply beautiful here, jetlagged as we are. We, Partyline, arrived at Heathrow via Virgin Atlantic, having not slept a wink. Virgin’s cool cuz you get TVs in your seat with myriad selection of movies, TV shows (Alan Partridge!), and video games. And you get a little comfort packet and free alkie bevies and headsets, unlike American carriers these days. But what you gain in perks, Virgin seems to make up for in lack of space and bathrooms. But whatever, at least our flights were non-stop.
So Rosie of Local Kid Gang fame picked us up at the airport and we loaded up in the cute little red van (“Bessie,” they call her), only to realize that we probably brought too much stuff and just about took up the whole van, even though we still had to go pick up Spider & the Webs at Gatwick. Yikes, ladies! We cruised to Gatwick to find Spider already there waiting for us, crazy James having not slept in days. It’s his first time across the pond, and he’s not gonna miss a minute of it! It’s crazy!
And it’s off to Brighton we go! We got there in no time and made a beeline straight for the (new) Palace Pier. The sun shone brightly in our hopeful faces. Would it be a dirty weekend? We pranced along the pier at 10am, amongst countless young teens swarming the casino rooms and beyond. We stood in awe of the great Helter Skelter ride, a wooden tower of fear. Throw down your gunnysack and fly out into the sea.
There we rendezvoused with our gracious hosts— Steve Dore for Partyline, Jon Slade for Spider & the Webs— and proceeded to our respective much needed crash pads. We awoke that night to Steve and Rachel frolicking in their room, the hang, and headed out to my fave veggie spot, The George— the scene of fake bangers & mash, yay! Then it was on to Kay from Comet Gain’s hardcore band (Bullet Union) shredding at— where else?— the Free Butt. We drank the cheapest beer purchasable (UK= not cheap!), while Rachel moshed up front to her ex-band mate’s show. Back at the house I’m suddenly wide awake and had to stay up all night anyways to work on my freelance manga job, Nana. Ed. Note: Nana is a Japanese comic and Allison adjusts the translation into American colloquial English, or Allisonglish! Imagine! 5 am… ok, man… must… crash… now…

Friday, October 21
Brighton, UK

Dear Diary,

What time is it? Where am I?! Good thing I slept in like all day, and it’s sunny and beautiful outside. Jet-lagged, starving aside from Hob Nobs, I’m still working on Nana, and we gotta play our Ladyfest show tonight. Shit, man. Luckily, Rosie recognizes our need to be babysat and comes to pick us up and deliver us to the Core Club by the beach for sound check and whatnot. The insanely strong wind nearly blew us away before we could duck into the club. Spooky dramatic. As we hurry up and wait, I proceed to proof read Nana, surely coming across as a total jerk while people are trying to talk to us. The modern age gives birth to modern diseases. Anyways, we’re fucken hungry and waiting like baby birds to get fed. But we’re psyched to see Corey Orbison. (Go tell yer ma, go tell yer pa, I’m gonna send you back to Arkansas… or Rock-n-Roll High School Forever.)

I finally realize I’m gonna lose my mind if I don’t eat now, and we find out the food that was coming actually isn’t, so we set out foraging in the howling wind. As we settled into some fancy-pants veggie restaurant where I’d just as soon eat my neighbor’s arm off, we get the call from Michal that the food arrived at the club. So we ran back to drool while hurrying up and waiting some more. It was indeed yummy, thanks Ladies! (Tour has become all about eating for me. Good lord.) So now I gotta sift through the crowd to find some sort of wireless signal so I can send my late late work off late. I look like an idiot sitting on a speaker in the stairwell frantically trying to e-mail Nana off to San Francisco while all sorts of cute Brit brats are descending upon the place. But ‘tis done, thanks to the Queens Hotel. Now it’s time to party.

I can’t believe how many people crammed into that basement pub, wow. It’s stuffy as shit and no one can breath or move. But hey, the music’s great! I couldn’t see the Corey-O’s (except a li’l bit of Lisa), but I sure could hear wee Michal’s high pitched squeal— incredible! Angela and I were trying to change into our show outfits while downing 2-for-1 East Euro California Coolers in the “backstage” which was a glorified closet (ok, not glorified) soaked in beer, boxes, and nails on the floor. Ah the rock star life— it’s show time!

The stage is tiny and shaky, and Crystal tells me not to move or the drums will fall over! But I’m like, how can I not move? So anyhoo, the drums were swaying like a hurricane and landed on my ass a time or two. I jumped on the bar at one point, an oasis in a sea of bodies. According to one Ladyfest organizer, it was at this point that I flashed my knickers in the face of a lady bartender who was a big bully back in their secondary school daze, so that was my good deed for the day. (Angela got some good photographic evidence of that bartender’s wit and grace when she wrote “I heart boners” with matchsticks on the bar at the end of the night.) Of course I also did my obligatory begging for fancy shots, as the alkie ain’t free for us bands at these shows, and it seemed the only way to survive the suffocation. So a nice fan brought me a cherry shot after we played— cheers! So how did we outlast Jon Slade, king of parties?! Of course I wasn’t feelin so swell the next day. Oh well…

Saturday, October 22
Brighton, UK

Dear Diary,

Once again, I slept in way too late, with 15 minutes before I was supposed to be at my speaking panel! And Angela was like, “Oh I’ve been up for hours!” (I think I need a Molly, who’s like “Allison— get yer shit up and in the shower, now!”) And then we cruise all over Brighton, each of us having a different idea of where we think the panel might be. I suppose we took the scenic route. Rosie was calling us frantically, and by the time we finally figured out where it was, the film/panel was over capacity and burning up.
I have a hard time watching myself talk like a stoner in Kerri Koch’s “Don’t Need You” documentary, so I ducked out for some high tea and returned in time to open my big mouth. So it was open Q & A to a panel consisting of riot grrrl experts: me and Tobi! But all I could think about was nostalgic stuff like, oh yeah, I remember that day, or wow, we all look so different now, or, why do I sound stoned and what was that awful haircut I had or whatever while Corin and Kathleen are wearin make up in their interviews and sound smart and look perfect! The important stuff, ha! But it was really interesting to hear Tobi’s take on things, and to talk about it all with some hindsight, perspective. The audience participation was engaging, but I kept wishing there was some British riot grrrl representation on the panel, like Huggy Bear girls, Karen Ablaze, Pussycat Trash, Skinned Teen, etc. It’s easy to forget, but it’s important to remain connected to your history, to process it, discuss it, own it. Ok… now let’s go eat and hang out!
So then we mastermind a big posse (including Marissa and Marianne all the way from Ladyfest Olympia!) to The George! Bangers & mash all around, making the hang out back for hours. Ok now we gotta find our way to the Electrelane show at some modern building. Art school? We get there and the beer line is long enough to make friends. I spot the Legend, who looks great by the way. He just had a baby, which must be doing a number on them, but he looks so happy. We also met Georgina, a friend of the Coolies from New Zealand who’s squatting around the UK. Aw man, we miss the Coolies!
We were soon in for a treat with a girl duo from Japan playing Ladyfest as “Afrirampo.” I liked how they poked fun of “civilized” notions of “primitive” culture by coming out in fake “traditional” outfits made by wrapping sweatshirts over their heads and banging on metal pipes and jumping around the stage. They sported velour red matching outfits while pushing standards of what constitutes a song, music, performance, and audience/performer distinction. Well, they were just really fun. So then came the headliners, Electrelane. I haven’t seen them perform in ages, so I was psyched. They look and sound so different now, and Mia is of course just so damn beautiful.
Then it was time to round up the gang to hit some buddy butt-shaker DJ dance night thingy in time to get in for free. Ya had to fight yer way across the room and beg for the cheapest XXXX beers, which weren‘t cheap! We got in a lotta drunken dancing, saw some sorta impromptu British break-dancing circle formation, and ran into Miss Pain and Helen there. Was cool to hear about Helen’s thesis on Left Bank ladies, right on! And don’t forget to hit the all-night mini-mart for drunken Hob Nobs on the way home!

Simple Social Graces