So it was two weeks before the show and ticket sales we’re minimal. It’s a 500 capacity venue, more than twice the size of any night we’d put on before. We’d all agreed that we’d be happy to get 250 people in there. That’s a good enough crowd to celebrate with and from where we’d be standing it’d be half full not half empty. Still, we were concerned we might not even get that!
Ever since we’d moved to Bristol back in 2007 we had always talked about booking a show at the Fiddlers, mostly because it’s a great venue. It has a vibe and an interesting past but there was always an unspoken reason as well. If you can pack out the Fiddlers you have earned your stars as an underground band in Bristol and thus know you have a true following in your hometown. Surely the first triumph of any band.
We’d been rehearsing for weeks, enough weeks to be months. We’d written new songs and enlisted two new horn players. We’d even bought new clothes! So when the day of the gig finally came we were in the venue early working on décor and generally soaking up the place, making it familiar and making it home. You can’t be shit-your-pants-scared in your own home!
Décor ran overtime and sound check was tough. Loads of the venues’ sound gear was out of action and the mics were shrieking. It was 8pm before we got to eat and the doors were open. I went home to grab a shower and a bite and to get my head together. I came back on my bike around 10pm through a busy Friday night town, over the river and into the old, dark industrial estate where the venue lives. It’s a brave move to put a music venue in such a place. Bristol is a town full of invisible boarders; a mass of villages they call a city. As such I’ve never thought of Bristol folk as city dwellers. We’re South Westers and do not like to leave our respective villages for no good reason. Therefore, trying to get 500 people to leave their home and exodus through the city over rivers and M roads is no small ask and the deeper into the estate I got the more ominous this fact became. I turned the final corner and saw the Fiddlers straight ahead.
I’d been riding fast because I was nervous so I couldn’t hear anything besides the wind howling in my ears. But as I turned the corner I was met with the steady roar of a massive hoard. A cue of people 4 wide flowed down the street. Opposite was a 52-seater coach with people stumbling, laughing and streaming steadily out. I’d assumed that people were just arriving but inside the venue it was even busier. The cue for the girls toilets snaked to the front door and those ladies brave or desperate enough to face the terrible smell just sauntered into the mens. The dance floor was heaving and the bar was 5 deep. The greenroom, far from being a relaxing place to get your head together was as buzzing as the dance floor and equally as rammed. I can’t tell you how good it felt.
As with most successful gig nights the festivities culminated into one hectically glorious and colorful blur. A final clear memory however is one of standing on stage around three quarters of the way through our set. We’d just finished a number, ending all together with a final blast and bow. There was almost no gap between this penultimate note and a roar from the crowd so loud it sounded more like bad weather then human voices. As we all stood looking out at the faces of 500 people who just wanted to hear more we all thought, possibly for the first time, this might actually work!
P.S If you still havent downloaded the EP get it here, http://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/desperation-state-ep/id526394093