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Blog: Burn Koko

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We headed to chilly CAMDEN on Friday night, to KOKO, to see Cherry Ghost. Koko is The New Name For The Camden Palace, and inside is very similar to Astoria 2, or Shepherd's Bush Empire, or any of those old theatre type venues, and as with EVERY time I have ever been to one the evening started with me thinking "It's not so bad in here, why do i not come to this sort of larger gig more often?" At this stage of the evening i never MIND the inflated ticket price, or the "booking" fee, or the MASSIVE amount of "security" that's bullying you as soon as you get in with a "bag check" that seems to be designed purely to stop you bringing your own BOOZE in.

We went in and all was well, the company was DELIGHTFUL and I really didn't mind the fact that a single can of Fosters Lager cost £3.50 - that's a SEVEN HUNDRED PERCENT increase on the price you'd pay in the Supermarket - because you just sort of expect that sort of thing. And it WAS just a supermarket can of lager too, maybe it is the plastic beakers they pour it into that costs so much?

The support band were on and MY WORD they were AWFUL. If MIDSOMER MURDERS had had an episode where the vicar's daughter went to an "Indie" "Gig" then THIS would be the sort of band they'd feature - lead singer sat down at a keyboard MOANING WITLESSLY, bass player with a STARSKY AFRO, drummer on backing vocals, and TUNELESS DIRGE after TUNELESS DIRGE. At one point they seemed to wail ONE NOTE for five minutes while ROCKING OUT and I thought "Are they doing this to take the piss?"

They finished and we hung around waiting for the main band to come on - I'd emailed the venue to see when they'd be on, as it was an Early Show and I wanted to make sure we didn't miss them. They're emailed back 8o'clock, so i was surprised when we arrived to see a Note To Staff beside the bar CLEARLY STATING that they weren't due on until 8.45pm. As I say, at this stage all was still WELL so I thought no more about it, and it was only when i went, full of Friday Night Lager, to the LOO, that i saw THE LIGHT.

For LO! the toilet was BROKEN and CLOSED, with one of the ubiquitous "Security" people stood in front of it. Of course, they weren't very interested in telling people where any other toilets were, and I ended up following a group of other bladder victims upstairs, through the windy corridors into the entrance, up another flight of stairs to the first floor, round more corridors through a bar and finally up MORE stairs to THE ONLY OTHER LOO.

"Hang on", i thought,"they've only got basically FOUR urinals for all these people? Do they not CARE?" and they the SCALES FELL! The WHOLE enterprise was set up to FLEECE as much CA$H out of us as possible!

The booking fee! The LUDICROUSLY priced lager! the checks to ensure we had no drinking choice! The huge ticket price! The security to make sure nobody did anything UNSANCTIONED! The lies to get you in earlier than you wanted! Most of all: the gig was starting early so that it could finish by 10pm, they could FORCE everybody to leave straight away, and then get ANOTHER full house in for ANOTHER gig and a whole OTHER load of CA$H.

OK, you might say this is the same at all big gigs, but i don't really MIND it at an Arena Gig, as it's what you expect. They're BUILT for Functional Entertainment and tend to be efficient, sanitised, unemotional SYSTEMS for providing food, seating, beer and music to as many people as possibly for maximised profits. At least at those sort of gigs you get a seat with a few, and there's PLENTY of toilets. I think what I really objected to on Friday night was the PRETENCE that this was somehow GROOVY - that THIS sort of place is Where The Gigs Are, that THIS is The Live Music Scene, and that THIS is how ROCK occurs in its natural setting. One of the MANY reasons why i stopped reading the NME was their extensive coverage of JUST this sort of CORPORATE FLEECING, claiming that their was something HEP and UNDERGROUND about these massive act of UTTER GREED.

Goodness knows pub gigs and the Smaller Venues are not perfect, and there's cynicism and money grubbing aplenty, but BLIMEY after a visit to these PITS OF WANTON AVARICE i YEARN for a pint of greasy John Smiths and a hippy on the door.

Cherry Ghost, by the way, were Quite Good - they do have three or four dead good songs, and tho the singer wasn't the most CHARISMATIC of front men he does have a lovely singing voice. It wasn't really enough to get over the venue - unlike Art Brut last year, who were SO VERY EXCELLENT i forgot all about where I was - but they were pretty good, tho the BEST thing they did all night was their final encore cover of "Back To Black", which was GRATE.

As soon as it finished tho we were SHUNTED to the exits and, as usual, it took about 10 minutes to get to the front doors. GRRR! My dislike of these places! It is A LOT!

posted 26/11/2007 by MJ Hibbett

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