“We are not Groupies. Groupies sleep with rockstars because they want to be near someone famous. We are here because of the music, we inspire the music. We are Band Aids.”
– Penny Lane, Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe, 2000)
I write this from the bed of the lead singer of Fiende Fatale. There is a baby blue plastic cross dangling from the bed frame like Mardi Gras for christians. I am alone, fully dressed, and hungover. It is 9 am.
Last night, I experienced a parallel universe where my parents never moved me out of London. I finally had my British adolescence, and it was just as magical as I imagined. And trust me, I imagined it. I read all ten books in the Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series, and watched Skins, and the Inbetweeners, and Bridget Jones Diary – all of them. Just last week I read a YA novel by Sara Manning about a 16 year old girl with mommy problems losing her virginity to a college student in Brighton. Yes, it was very uncomfortable to read on the tube.
Last night, I went to a gig at the Horn in St Albans to support my new colleague-friend and his band Fiende Fatale. A pub in the front, a concert venue in the back. Slip through the door near the loo, and you’ll find yourself in a fluorescent adolescent black box theatre. Band posters, records, and faces of the greats – aka the Smith’s, the Clash, and the Rolling Stones – lined the walls flush in a neon light.
My new friend Katie (we had met 40 minutes before at King’s Cross Station, but we were already BFFs for the night), my newer friend Myra (we met ten minutes ago, she’s my work colleague’s neighbor) and I entered the room. After sneaking in a water bottle filled with raspberry flavoured vodka and soda, and a gummy vitamin jar with gin, we handed over our DIY yellow-printer-paper tickets and found a place to people watch.
There were six ladies, a few supportive moms, and the rest men, glorious men, supporting their mates live their rock n’ roll dreams. To judge a scene by its fashion, there were six flannels, one Smith’s shirt, a Hawaiian shirt, and four denim jackets, one with fur around the collar. The indie hipster punk rock n’ roll nostalgia scene is alive and well in the suburbs of North Weezy.
485C were on, a skinny ginger singing with sunken eyes looking sad as shit, the guitarist with the guitar hair – you know what I’m talking about, parted in the middle to his chin, thick curls that waggle as he moves his whole body, wild and chaotic. They were great, moody. I felt like Humbert Humbert and briefly empathised with him; some things you’ll just always find attractive. I also read Lolita on the tube, and that, too, was very uncomfortable.
Then, a band of geezers came on, or the UnderView: three men in their 30s with beards and tattoos. The crowd loved them. One guy who could really pull off bald and a stache knew every word and crooned to Myra – putting his arm around her, her dimples diving into my skin.
Their sound was quite pop punk with catchy choruses. By the end, we were singing along. I couldn’t help imagining what each one was like in bed based on the way they performed. The guitarist was grooving his hips; the singer was a sweaty bear; the bassist was solid, just the flick of fingers, his Yankee blue baseball cap pulled over his ears.
Then, they came on. Fiende Fatale. Rolph on the right, his jutting cheekbones and flannel jacket, Dom on the drums, his beautiful shapely eyebrows peering out from behind the sliced metal banging utensils, Alex, the bassist giving off quiet, edgy vibes, and then Matt. Matt in his grey jacket with the straight lipped front he wears to work most days, jutting his mouth so at moments he looked like Voldemort. They brought the night to another level.
A seething anger bristling behind playfulness, irony. His voice was different, memorable – a raspy Radiohead with a Troggs influence. The Catholic boy crew all met in high school, pale as fuck pitted with rebellion and Jesus.
Gosh, it was so awesome to see my work colleague like this, any friend like this, his body twitching, pulsating with every note. He was puppy dog dancing to his guitar, lolloping his tongue about as sweat glistened on his forehead. He slunk off his jacket to reveal he was the fool, pink lipstick sliding over his lips, loose and a little bit slutty, with thick black eyeliner. They looked like a pack of mods. They vibed off each other. At one point, Matt and Rolph were responding to each other’s riffs, Dom held it all together.
It was rough and jovial and we danced, hair everywhere. Let it go.
They sang their latest tune “My Own Worst Enemy” (which makes an Oscar Wilde reference!) and even had an encore of “Chelsea Girls” before the Juicebox Live Anniversary night dispersed. And then, like a dream – they came off the stage and gave us a hug. They had made us feel so alive, so wild, so fun, and now we were sitting on a couch together having a chat like one does most days with most humans.
We hopped in the van, ate McD’s,and went to sleep. Matt and Dom on the couch, while Katie and I took the bedroom. Oh what a life I could have had.
If this makes you want to see them, they are performing on November 30th in Camden. Find more details and get your tickets here.