THE BEGINNING

…hello Black Cab Session and an updated way of seeing bands stripped down

hello Black Cab Session and an updated way of seeing bands stripped down

The Others: an east end band of crack-happy drooges who befriended Pete Doherty while he was still considered a musician, infiltrated Universal to ink a major record deal and scored an NME front cover by gobbing worthy lyrics like, “This for all you poor, not you rich kids”. They were fun, weren’t they? Apparently they’re still together, planning a comeback in the name of their cult-ish fan-base, 378 Kamikaze. The nation holds its breath.

For all of their gash-ness though, Dominic Masters’ gang of skanks did leave us something of legacy in their excrement-stained wake. They certainly didn’t invent ‘guerrilla gigs’ – that was probably The Beatles when they made such a racket on a rooftop that the filth swiftly pulled the plug on the Fab Four – but their constant championing of shows on tubes and in radio station lobbies made them something of pioneers when the closest thing we had to another Libertines was The Paddingtons.

We’ve never quite gotten over seeing bands in such intimate and unusual environments; the craze propelled by every fad-gobbling mobile phone company who were quickly on hand of offer The Rakes a packet to play in a kebab shop, and Amy Winehouse a fortune to quack on in an old – not very unusual at all – church. The corporations nearly ruined it of course, but while guerrilla gigs have become more predictable than shows in actual venues (seriously, it does happen!), websites like blackcabsessions.com are breathing new life into the tired phenomenon.

Youtube meets superstar busking, BCS is the brainchild of Gen and Chris, a couple of music and film lovers who take an artist, hale a London taxi, bundle said artist into the back of the vehicle and film them performing one song in one take. The brief show is actually only for a live audience of them and the lucky cabby they’ve stopped, but all of their sessions are then uploaded to their site for fans of The Walkmen, Stricken City, Death Cab For Cuite and even Brian Wilson to see.

“Guerrilla gigs are growing so fast they’re not really guerrilla anymore,” says Gen. “Roof top sessions, black cab sessions, balcony sessions, bandstand sessions – there are so many everywhere, which can only be a good thing in my eyes. I suppose guerrilla gigs are so ubiquitous because there is a worldwide demand for them – fans increasingly want to see their music idols up close and stripped down. It’s this sense of one-on-one intimacy that the contained space of a black cab accentuates, sometimes to uncomfortable levels of intensity, but then discomfort is probably a good thing. It shows we’re trying at least‚””

Also ‘trying’ – and embracing home video equipment and DIY editing software – are the folk behind bandstandbusking.co.uk. Again, the clue really is in the title. The stage is more traditional than five cramped seats moving as one, sure, but permission from an appropriate authority hasn’t always been given for these rushed shows, which is exactly what’s really missing from guerrilla gigs today – spontaneity and mischief.

In that sense, Gen’s right, guerrilla gigs no longer need or deserve their ‘guerrilla’ prefix; Dom Masters’ legacy has finally reached zero.

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Originally published in issue 5 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. April 2009

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