Archive for the ‘The Scala’ Category



The Swedish girl who worked with us got into Robyn.

I loved this album.

Not my usual kind of thing at all. But the production, the writing, the attitude, the voice.

It was great on headphones.

And it helped that I really wanted to like it.

The show was amazing. She’s a serious star.

And like most serious stars, shorter than you’d think.

This is what it was like. Only it was better.

High: it was honestly, (honestly), thronged with Scandinavian girls.

Drinking: enough for euphoria

Thinking: you’re a star.




I discovered the Donnas through their cover versions.

I still think their Keep on Loving You is genius.

And in 2003 the Donnas were having a moment.

Spend the Night was out, and some of the other guys at work were into it as much as I was.

We worked near Kings Cross too, so it was a local show as well.

We got drunk, we got in there, and to my surprise we managed to get in down the front.

Scala’s a great venue if you’re at the front (regardless of whether you feel a bit wrong about being one of many men in the mosh pit who are older than the girls on stage).

The band were loud.

And they were incredibly compelling.

I remember backing up to get the bar about halfway through and seeing the other guys still bobbing in the thrash, huge grins on their faces.

I still think it’s a shame that the band never really made it.

High: Take it Off.

Drinking: Hell yeah.

Thinking: Will you marry me, Donna R?



Like everyone else, back in the 80s if you didn’t hear bands on the radio you’d form a preference or prejudice based on the the basics – their name, their album titles and the sleeves you’d see when you browsed the racks at the record shop.

My biggest mistakes in my early teens? Deciding that I wouldn’t like Motorhead.

Best success? Falling in Love with Kiss through the cover to Destroyer.

It’s not the kind of mistake that should happen in the days of the internet.

But it happened to me with Okkervil River.

A colleague, knowing my taste made the recommendation in the early 00’s. I just didn’t like their name enough to check them out.

This would have been around the time that Black Sheep Boy came out, so I came to that record late. The one I came to in real time was 2007’s The Stage Names.

It was one of those records of the mid-2000s that I became obsessed with.

Like the Hold Steady’s Boys and Girls in America.

I played it to everyone.

One of those people was someone I was working closely with that year.

I remember the two of us moving into new office space at the start of 2008.

A lovely big studio of an office where there were just the two of us and the managing director’s PA at a big desk in the back.

She had no problem when we commandeered some speakers from elsewhere in the office and put on Our Life is Not a Movie to mark our first day of moving in and starting a new project together.

So that was the friend I took to see this show.

By the time that job ended a year later, my friend would be starting a descent into mental illness that finally hit bottom a couple of years later.

Me, I descended into a strange and short-lived drink and drug fuelled thing with the 25 year old PA that bottomed-out within two months.

She’d wanted me, she said, from the first day she saw me.

That day when all I wanted to do was to find some speakers and play her my favourite record by a band called Okkervil River.

She’d loved that record too.

High: Our Life Is Not a Movie

Drinking: Double fisted double vodka tonics and Red Stripes in the upstairs bar, before standing on the balcony all gig to be close to re-fills.

Thinking: Or maybe?

Gig on Songkick

Why: I’d seen them earlier in the year (ticket to be posted if I find it) and had kind of messed up that show by overdoing things. That said, the memory was of a fantastically cool stage presence and all those killer, moody first album tunes. Again, another band who somehow seemed to segue from the Strokes but with a completely different vibe. Still no idea what “The Subway is a Porno” means, but christ they were cool.

High: That would have been the porno subway…

Drinking: Not nearly as much as usual – no one wanted to go to the bar.

Thinking: Carlos, you’re either a total dick or one of the coolest guys on the planet right now.

Gig on Songkick 

Setlist on 

Why: Back in 2006 when their Lesson in Crime EP came out, I loved this band. Sounds awful to say it now, but they had that thing the Strokes had at first, and we wanted a new Strokes.

I’d seen them before at a Barfly show and loved them, and this time I took a date. Little did I know at the time (though I had my suspicions…) that my otherwise lovely date had a drinking problem.

What’s worse is that after drinking, she had a pissing the bed problem.

This was one of those nights, and a couple of bottles at a Spanish place prior to the show wasn’t the best way to start.

High: Watching from the balcony (always good at the Scala – where this show was moved to from the Garage) as they powered through Nature of the Experiment.

Drinking: Not nearly as much as my date who spent basically the whole show knocking it back at the upstairs bar and terrorising the poor barman.

Thinking: You need help more than I do.

Gig on Songkick

Andmoreagains - Scala, March 2003

Why: What do you mean it’s not obvious? It’s clearly ‘un nomme du rock’ for a ‘secret gig’, and it could only be one band – the mighty Love.

(OK, you might not have heard of them but Forever Changes IS as good as all those critics’ best ever polls will tell you and this was the chance to see the 90s incarnation – still with Arthur Lee singing – do a stripped down rock & roll show instead of the more reverential ‘with strings’ Forever Changes shows they’d been doing around the same time).

High: Has to be the guitar solo on A House is not a Motel.

Drinking: Fuck loads to help balance out the weed and the blow. Spring 2003 was the start of my final year of seriously hammering it, and it didn’t help that the friend who sorted my ticket couldn’t keep her nose clean if she tried.

Thinking: “Arthur, you might be a weirdo, but you’re a legend.” (Changed the day after to “I wish I hadn’t stood so close to the front right speaker stack…”)

On Songkick