Brick Lane : A Minor Exploration

Bricklane
Sunday night with nothing to eat in the house, J & I went for our first exploration of Brick Lane.   

Located in the East End of London, the street is famous for a Sunday market and also being the heart of the city’s Bangladeshi community.  Previously it was the heart of the Jewish community and it was quite different from the Jewish tales of Brick Lane my grandad told me about as a child.

We wandered down the road slowly, stopping to look at various shop windows, wishing it wasn’t late on a Sunday evening so we could actually buy some of the groovy things we were seeing.

As we grew thirsty and ran out of shops, we ventured into the massive Vibe Bar.   A large dark room with a glassy chillout area, this is a place that definately needs investigating on a weekend evening.  Set in an old brewery, there seemed to be endless staircases that perhaps lead to a further part of the bar on days when more rooms are open.  A drum & bass dj outfit were playing and the listings for the Bar look interesting.  As an added bonus, they serve Pie Minster pies, who make the brilliant Heidi pie which I got so hooked on at Glastonbury.

Continuing down the road and enticed down Dray Walk by the smell of an outdoor BBQ, we reached the Big Chill Bar.   Although I hadn’t been before, I was aware of the venue from knowledge of their annual festival and an intimate Pete Tong set last summer which I’d sadly been unable to attend.   Wandering into the spacious but busy bar, we smiled to see David McAlmont on the decks, playing the sounds of Cole Porter.  What more could I want!

The venue is a large rectangular shape with a long bar running down one side.  Filled with couches, and complete with wireless internet access, and a varied food and cocktail menu, this is one place which I cannot wait to return to.   A perfect place to meet friends or brunch.

Bl_2
But back to Brick Lane itself.  At it’s basest form, its a place where you can get a curry any time of day or night.

The ‘picking where to eat’ experience differs largely from anything I’ve experienced before,resembling more the club/bar scene in Blackpool or Ibiza.   Outside nearly every restaurant there is an employee trying to get you to come into their particularly venue.   If you linger for more than a second outside a menu, without anyone outside, someone will come running out, and so it became a mission to try to read menus without stopping.

We were offered all types of wonderful things – a round of drinks for free, 20% off our meal, free starters, but eventually we plumped for the only restaurant that didn’t try to make us go in, The Aladin.

Comfortable but basic inside, we ordered Onion Bajjiis and Chicken Tikka for starters, followed by a mixed grill thing and a chicken korma, all accompanied by a bottle of plonk from a nearby shop.   Yay for BYOB.   We particularly enjoyed the menus claim that the Aladin was a favourite of Prince Charles, having mentioned it specifically on LBC in the mid 80s.   The menu even invited us to ask the staff to hear the tape of the mention if we so desired.   We contained ourselves.   

Unfortunately though, after such promise, the meal was ultimately disappointing.  The starters were perfectly average, and while J’s mixed grill showed some promise, my chicken korma was darker than expected and the chicken itself was rather chewy.

Well at least we can cross one of many Brick Lane restaurants off the list.

I’m sure there will be many more Brick Lane related blog entries to come.

(writing about Sunday 12 February)

The Hellfire Club : Bethnal Green Working Mens Club

Wmc
When Darren brought up the idea of Bethnal Green Working Mens Club one hazy Saturday afternoon, we looked at him with a bit of confusement.   "No no," he exclaimed.  "It’s really cool!"  Really?  A working mens club is cool?   "Yes, they are sometimes on rollerskates!"  We decided to give him the benefit of the doubt, albeit with one eyebrow raised.

My birthday rocked round and options for where to go seemed pretty limited.  We could have an admittedly great time at Wig-Out or we could try something different.  Purusing the wonders of the world wide web, I happened across Oh My God I Miss You: The Hellfire Club at, well would you believe it, the Bethnal Green Working Mens Club.   Aah this was fate.

The website itself scared quite a lot of my friends who wondered exactly what I was planning on taking them to.  After all the dress code was that you should have a ‘touch of the whore’ about you.   Brilliant.

It promised sleazy kitch, rock & roll, classics, showtunes, rockabilly, oddball delights and a taste of the devil.

Bday
So off we went about 1030, and arrived at a mammoth queue. Hooray.   Eventually after lots of standing in the cold and being allowed in 2 at a time, we all got in and watched cool young 20somethings go to the groundfloor, and those you may associate more traditionally with a WMC downstairs.  What exactly was downstairs we may never know, but the Guardian indicates that our room is run as a separate licensed venue rented out from the WMC itself.

So the room was a large square, mainly carpeted and full of elaborately dressed up twentysomethings with a devil on the stage.   When we entered Editors – Munich was playing.  A fabulous song, but surely a bit safe and regular given the music policy.  Within about 20 minutes the regular indie was pushed aside and a more random selection ensued. We were happy.

Devil
Great thing  #1
: The bar staff do not care how much you pay them for drinks. Darren got a whole round for free. I got a round of 8 drinks for £15 and James got a Red Bull for "errr lets say a pound?"

Great thing #2 : Lots of people I know happen to live near us randomly.   And we saw them all there. Hooray.

Great thing #3 : Everything was decorated in a really fun way. You can tell the promoters put a lot of effort in.

Great thing #4 : It was fun buying random things to wear, and getting a smidge dressed up in silly things.  James had a cane, Naomi a bowler hat, Darren a leopard skin scarf.  Jeez we’re hardcore.

Great thing #5 : It was like being back at uni, walking from the union to Hurst. It took us 5 mins to walk home. Sweet!

Bad thing #1 : The door queue was massive, and they seemed really disorganised about who they were letting in and who they were making wait longer.

Bad thing #2 : It was quite hot

So yes, it was rather good and it’s definately got the Karinski stamp of approval.  Hooray!

We look forward to many more nights at the WMC.   Sometimes Mark Lamarr plays rockabilly, sometimes they have tea partys and bake sales.  Sometimes they play bingo and learn how to jive.   I get the feeling we might be going there quite a bit.

[writing about Saturday 11 February]

Online

Golly gosh, my very favourite GCap DJ tagged me a week or so ago with a meme and of course being in the throws of moving house, I’ve had no internet and neglected to read his blog.

OscarNow Be have made me happy and all is right in the world as once again I can waste my life on the internet. If you are thinking of changing your ISP or getting the super high speeds Be can give you then please shout at me for an invite as it will get us both a free month. Hooray.

But now to the meme. Everyone’s done this one but me so far…

It’s that one about 4. See you after the jump if you want to read it…

(more…)

Comeback’o’rama : Welcome Back To Planet Boo

BettyTo tell you the truth I’m getting a bit bored of 90s pop reunions rumours.  Take That – yes that’s quite funny and I’m quite frankly very excited about going to see them this summer.  Funny, huh? As I was never ever a Take That fan when they were actually out.  Now though, fun fun fun.

Then there’s All Saints.  To this I say YAY!   The actual band members seemed irritating as hell (although when I met Shaznay at work she was surprisingly lovely) but by eck, they had some good pop ditties.   I absolutely loved Saints & Sinners in my first year at uni.

But rumours of the Honeyz, East 17, and Eternal?   There is quite simply no need.

However, somewhat more interestingly, lots of acts who I missed ‘first time round’ seem to be evolving in different ways, taking their band, tweaking it somehow and coming back as a whole new act! 

You’ve already heard my excitement about the solo Sarah Nixey project, but now let’s turn our minds to the early 1990s and remember Betty Boo.

Betty Boo, aka Alison Clarkson, had 4 top 30 singles between 1990 and 1992.  Not that big an achievement one may think, but she achieved cult status amongst pop fans across the globe. Fans became rather obsessed and even Melody Maker named her as a completely faultless goddess.   Then everything went quiet for years, until Alison Clarkson’s name began appearing on the sleeve notes as songwriters for the likes of Girl Thing, Hear’Say and Girls Aloud.

But now, the Boo is back!

AlexNow before indie snobs start looking away in horror, you might be interested to hear that the person she has collaborated with is non other than Ricky’s favourite member of Blur, Alex James. And screw you anyway, Betty Boo ruled!  Together though, they are Wigwam.

I’ve been following Popjustice’s tidbits of exclusive information on Wigwam for months and months, so I was rather excited when the eponymous debut single landed in my lap a month or so ago.  It’s got a one of those basslines that makes you run to the dancefloor and although it may take a listen or two, once you’re hooked you’ll be singing it for days. 

I’ve been playing it at Miss-Shapes every week and it’s getting a good reaction.  Last week, someone excitedly rushed over to me screaming ‘OH MY GOD, IS THIS WHAT I THINK IT IS???‘.  And last night,  someone came bouncing over to tell me that they are the person inside the cat in the video for the song.  Huzzah.

4 minutes of glorious silliness, the video was filmed a few weeks ago on a rooftop off Dean Street.  Directed by Dom  Joly & involving giant cats & dogs, we look forward to seeing the Boo defiantly back in action.

Let’s just say it’s a lot better than Hanging Around; and it’s out on Instant Karma on March 6!
You can hear it at Wigwam’s Myspace Page.

[the gist of this was originally posted on londonist.com]

Miss-Shapes Setlist : 9 Feb 06

Bah I need some new music.   Hopefully we should be getting internet in our new place v. soon!  Yay for Gnarls Barkley & Just going down super well.  Thanks to the gang for a good birthday night!

Miss-Shapes Setlist : 9 Feb 2006

Weird Sisters – This is your night
Doloroso – High Times in Middle Management
Everybody Else – Poor Girls, Rich Girls
Phoenix – Too Young
Le Tigre- Viz
Annie – Me plus One (James Iha Remix)
Billie – Something Deep Inside
Rachel Stevens – Dumb Dumb
Frank Popp – Hip Teens Don’t Wear Blue Jeans
Shout Out Louds – Please Please Please
Violent Femmes – Blister in the sun
Dandy Warhols – Not if You Were The Last Junkie On Earth
Fischerspooner – Never Win
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Gold Lion (Diplo Remix)
KT Tunstell – Suddenly I See
Maximo Park – I want You To Stay
Ordinary Boys – Week In, Week Out
Kaiser Chiefs – Time Honoured Tradition
David Bowie – Suffragette City

Late Set
———–

Michael Jackson – Beat It
Kim Wilde – Kids in America
Meck – Thunder in My Heart Again
Gwen Stefani – Hollaback Girl
Editors – Munich
Mark Ronson – Just
Gloria Jones – Tainted Love
Girls Aloud –  Love Machine
Kylie Minogue – Hand on Your Heart
Green Day – Basketcase
The Jam – Town Called Malice
Pulp Fiction Theme
The Knack – My Sharona
Kaiser Chiefs – I Predict A Riot
Rachel Stevens – I said Never Again (But Here We Are)
Charlotte Church – Crazy Chick
Depeche Mode – Enjoy the Silence
Gnarls Barkley – Crazy
Mylo – Doctor Beat
Prince – Raspberry Beret
No Doubt – Just A Girl
Wigwam – Wigwam
Beck – Sexx Laws
Ash – Girl From Mars
REM – Shiny Happy People
The Only Ones – Another Girl, Another Planet
Shocking Blue – Venus

Feeling Gloomy

Gloomy_03
As we lazed round Darren’s house at Saturday lunchtime, we pondered what we would do with our evening.   Our Friday night was spent DJing and unpacking so another night could not be wasted.  Perusing the Guardian guide we came across two options.   The first, Finger Pop, was being held at Bar Aquarium on Old Street.  I’d often wanted to go to their Carwash night and see what the club (which I think has a swimming pool in it!) was like.   

Finger Pop is held on the 1st Saturday of the month and promises bubblegum, garage-rock, psych, freakbeat, soul and more.  Sounds good, but we decided to go with something else.    FP should definately get a visit in the future though.

The something else was the incredibly hyped Feeling Gloomy.  Held at the small Islington Bar Academy, the night sounded interesting.  It’s manifesto was to play songs which have sad lyrics, but sound happy and you can dance to.   So off we toddled…

What a disappointment! 

The night that had been hyped so much – hell even Radio 1’s One Click had done a feature on it, was nothing more than a pretty mediocre indie disco.    The venue was maybe 1/2 full when we arrived at midnight and it thinned out quite quickly.  Most people were standing about talking, with a minority dancing down the front while your completely average music played.   The only highlights musically were Editors – Munich (which was just a relief from the drabness of the rest) and excitingly for Darren Billy Idol’s Dancing With Myself which he’s been nagging me to play at Missys for ages.  He emitted a very large whoop upon hearing the intro.

Drinks were expensive, but that’s to be expecting from a Carling venue, and the cloakroom was shockingly £2, resulting in a bit of a coat dump in a corner of the club.   The crowd was a bit bizarre.  I’ve been used to teenage/20something crowds really at the nights I frequent, and this seemed like mid 30somethings.   Not that there is anything wrong with that, it was just unusual and perhaps too Islington couply. 

So there we go.  Feeling Gloomy is most certainly NOT recommended and I have no idea why it’s being hyped so much.   True to form we ended up at Ghetto, dancing to pop with Duncan and his crew before having an enjoyable first nightbus to new house home with lots of people we vaguely know.

Edit: Okay okay, perhaps I was a little intensly BOOO-some at this.   So here’s a mini edit with a link to one of the DJs setlists  which it seems was from this night.  I know we arrived on Sex Dwarf, but perhaps mainly heard the other DJ, or was in the toilet when good songs were on or something.   I know that I would have been majorly excited if I’d heard Angel Eyes.  I still don’t think it’s worth £8, had a very good atmosphere or is deserving of the hype as it’s essentially just a standard indie disco, but I wouldn’t object to giving it another go.

Untitled

Nixey_1

Although I didn’t know them when they were around, I  love Black Box Recorder.  James introduced me to them in 2004 and I’ve loved them ever since.

So it was with some delight that I heard the news their frontwoman Sarah Nixey was embarking on a solo career.   I was sent the singles in December and finally saw her live last week supporting old band mate Luke Haines.

Read my review of the gig at the lovely CDUK.com