So I was looking forward to this. I’d bought the ticket ages ago, back in October. I stayed late at work, and wandered in to town slowly, taking in a stop at Burger King on the way. I also popped in to the Goldfish Bowl for a lemonade, and then it was past seven p.m., and the doors were open.
I took one last look at my confirmation email, and noticed the following advice: “Please print this email and bring it with you to the event…” Whoops, I had imagined we were in the 21st century, and print-outs were no longer required. I began running through scenarios in my head where I was refused entry; it was early enough that I was sure if I put my mind to it, I would be able to obtain a print-out… But where would I go? Could I find someone back in the office? Or would I have to go into a convenience store and pay a couple of pounds for use of their PC and printer? Or was there an internet cafe open somewhere nearby? As it was, I walked up to the door staff, waved my phone in their general direction, and they ushered me in. Phew, crisis averted.
Up the stairs, I spoke to the receptionist who actually had my name on the list, she gave me a stamp on the wrist and let me in.
I’ve not been to The Haunt before, it’s pretty dark and grim. They were selling cans of Red Stripe at £4.30, I know because I bought one before J came on. On the way home, I bought two cans for £2.80, so that’s an indication of the sort of mark-up they had in place.
I didn’t have to wait long before the support, Luluc, ambled on to stage. They are an Aussie duo playing folk music, although I’m sure the guy had rock god pretensions; he was waving his acoustic guitar around like it was a stratocaster, trying to sustain the notes, I think. They were good, and their harmonies were absolutely astonishing. I am intending to listen to them on Spotify, and if I like it, well, there’ll be a couple of new CDs for my collection…
The place wasn’t rammed while Luluc were on, so when they finished, I went to the loo and bought that can of Red Stripe. Then I noticed that I was surrounded by tall people, and I couldn’t actually see the stage any more. The place got more and more rammed, and fuller of tall people, and then J came on stage – and promptly sat down.
So there I was, standing behind some very tall people, in the dark, getting hotter and hotter, and more squashed, and listening to J play an acoustic set. It was actually quite nice, except that where, if he was playing a normal electric set, he would go into overdrive and lay on a squealing guitar solo, he did that as well during the acoustic set. The effect was quite jarring, as he would go from a gentle strum into full-on guitar-melting riffage, and then cut back to the gentle strumming with no warning. He also had a heavy reverb / echo on the vocals, so it sounded like he was singing from the bottom of a well.
The long and the short of it is, I wasn’t enjoying it. I began to wonder if I was going to last until the end, since I had heard that he now does a cover of “Fade Into You”, a Mazzy Star number, which I thought might be nice. I also read the review of his previous night’s show at La Scala and was looking forward to him fuzzing it up at the end.
But eventually, after about 45 or 50 minutes, I couldn’t take any more. I was too hot, the venue was too claustrophobic, the music was too jarring… I had to get out. As  I left, there was a guy at the back who had obviously overheated, he was sitting against the back wall with his head in his hands – so it wasn’t just me, that was reassuring.
Hitting the cold air outside, the cold, and the quiet, was a relief. I breathed deeply, and felt the cold pricking my cheeks, and to be honest wondered why I hadn’t left fifteen minutes earlier.
I’m a big Dinosaur Jr fan, I’ve listened to the four albums I’ve got a lot, and Freak Scene is one of my favourite songs ever. I saw them about the time they released “The Farm” at the Koko up in Camden, and really enjoyed that. I don’t know whether it was the venue, or the music, or my state of mind, but it really didn’t do it for me that night. Shame.

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