take me home

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE LOVED?

Where did our love go?

Epilogue: OK, time for another round up. This may be in the 2005 weblog, but I’m actually writing it in February 2006 so forgive me if the details are a little hazy. Two HDIFs and a HDIF Presents to cover…

December 8th: HDIF Presents at The Windmill. Another magnificent bill, with four bands on offer this time around. We were going to just have three as usual, but Fanfarlo were so keen to play with Suburban Kids With Biblical Names they said they’d do it for nothing – so I thought I’d see if it was possible. And it was. Not sure if we’ll do a four band bill again as it’s a lot to pack into one night, but it was great fun.
Fanfarlo, then, were superb. Two guys and an ipod, playing gentle indiepop in the vein of The Field Mice. They were probably the pick of the newer bands of the night for me – there was something just right about them. The way they looked, the songs, the singer’s voice. They’ll be releasing their debut single soon so watch out for them. After that, The Bleeding Hearts delivered a powerful indie rock set, and Michelmas brought it back to softer climes with their glorious folkish indie. And then it was time for Suburban Kids With Biblical Names. I’d seem them play as a duo in Denmark a few months previously so I knew they could be uplifting, heartwarming and a whole heap of fun, but as a six piece they were even better. Hopefully we’ll be able to get them back over again in 2006 – I’m definitely itching to see them again.

December 16th: A strange night, this one, but a brilliant one too in the end. I spent quite a bit of it upstairs at The Phoenix and Steve Ellis – official HDIF stalwart and all round decent bloke – stepped in to DJ in my absence. He did a storming job by all accounts too – so thank you Steve. I owe you one. I finally managed to get back downstairs at about 1am, possibly a little later, and just clicked into one of my favourite sets of the year. I started with a soul instrumental version of “The Word” by The Beatles, and then went for a wander thought some of the indiepop highlights of 2005.
After that, myself and Steve leapt into a cab and headed south to Offline at Jamm, where I was due on at 4.15am. I was pretty high on adrenalin at that point – I’d hardly had anything to drink all night – so it was nice to relax for a moment in the chippie opposite the venue, muching on chips, salad and pita bread and wondering what state the Urban 75 crew would be in by the time we got inside. We’d missed the Actionettes, Jimbob and a 15 piece Brazllian drumming band by then, but everyone was in fine spirits and my 45 minute set turned into an hour and a half from 4.30am to 6am. By then all anyone could really handle was hits a go go, so I played a ton of punk rock, Toots And The Maytals, Curtis Mayfield, and the shoutier end of the HDIF canon. By the time I got to bed, it was daylight. Just how a night out should be.

December 31st: Our very first New Year’s Eve. I DJ-ed a few times on NYE when I was doing Club Beer – once at the Hobgoblin in Brixton and twice at The Windmill – but that was always with my then partner in crime Angus so it was a lot of fun – and we had an arrangement where I could nip out from behind the decks to spend the bells with Adrienne, so it really felt like a real NYE. Doing NYE on your own is an entirely different proposition – this was easily the hardest HDIF I’ve done. The responsibility is huge – this is people’s New Year’s Eve, after all, and they’re relying on you not to mess it up. Again, it was easier with Club Beer because the whole idea of the club was that we played big, singalong party tunes. HDIF is meant to be a bit different to that – a club that plays the songs you don’t normally get to hear at a club night. But would that be appropriate for NYE? I’d said that I’d be doing a hits-heavy set and everyone seemed happy with that, but even so. Would that be compromising the idea of the night? Was it up to me to prove that Talulah Gosh and the Shop Assistants are just what NYE”s been crying out for? Or was I just over-thinking the whole thing into one big sorry mess?
Then there was the tube strike to consider. We’d sold out two weeks before NYE, so that pressure was off. But then I started to think that perhaps no-one would turn up, as they couldn’t get in and out of town on the tube. By ten o clock, the club was worryingly empty – only 80 or so people in a venue that holds 230. Where was everyone else? Our guest DJ Dickon had travelled by tube with no trouble, so they were working. Why wasn’t the club packed by now?
Half an hour before the doors opened, myself, Kez who does the door and Nal who was doing the coat cupboard for us, busied ourselves creating the HDIF Living Art Gallery. I’d printed off the best of the photos I’d taken at the club in 2005 and captioned them with the date that the picture was taken. It was a nice summation of the year just past – and eighty per cent of the people in the pics had bought tickets for the night. The idea, I told myself, was that it was going to be an exhibition that came to life. I even placed some of the pics where they were taken – ooh, how arch am I? And I expected folk to show up and then spend part of the first hour or so walking around, looking at the photos, taking it all in and considering the year. But hardly anyone was there – and those that had shown up had got their drinks and found a seat and were ignoring the pictures completely. In my little corner, I was silently falling apart. It was all going wrong…!
Typical conversation.
Me: “Have you seen your photo? You’re part of the exhibition.”
HDIF regular: “What exhibition? I haven’t seen any photos.”
Arrrrrgggggghhhhh!
But then there was also this.
Mae: “Aw, you put the photo of me and Alec in the spot where we met for the first time. How sweet of you.”
Me: “Oh…er…yeah. Well, um…”
It was just an accident of course. A happy accident, but nothing to do with me. But did I take the credit? Um….well, kind of. Did I mention that I’d actually taken the photo at the Canterbury Arms? (The night of the Wimpy Milkshake gig, if I remember rightly). Um…well, not exactly.
Still.
The place filled up, Dickon turned in a fine set, and I took over at half eleven to lead up to the bells, bashing out the hits as promised. And it all went swimmingly. Last song of the old year was “It’s The End Of The World As We Know (And I Feel Fine)”. Then a burst of Big Ben. Then “Happy New Year” by Camera Obscura. What else could I play? And then the hits continued for another half hour, before we settled back into HDIF business as usual. Champagne corks had popped, glasses filled, and everyone was having a fine time. Phew. I’d made it.

December 5th: Just a quick note to say thank you to everyone who came along to HDIF on Friday! It was a messy, chaotic and extra drunken one - just the thing for the festive season. My highlights were:
* Another Sunny Day by B&S - first airing for the brilliant new single.
* Shout by Lulu - directly after the Actionettes' set, maybe this was responsible for setting that drunken, chaotic tone...!
* Until The World Stops Spinning by Saturday Looks Good To Me - been meaning to play this for ages, sounded wonderful.
* The Who Who Song by Jackie Wilson - amazing northern dancer!
* The Start Of Something by Voxtrot - spectacular single by a great new American band.
* Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison - A one-off airing for this old classic, possibly inspired by the mood of the night. Went down a storm!

November 27th: So yes, late again. Three HDIFs to cover and I’m determined to get them done, so let’s crack on…!

First is October 13th, HDIF Presents IV on John Peel Day. It was a simple coincidence that our fourth HDIF Presents gig lay on the same date as the national John Peel Day, but a happy one too I like to think. As we paid tribute to John last year by playing all of the 1986 Festive Fifty, I decided it would be right to do it all over again, this time with the 1988 Festive Fifty. I was going to do the 1987 Fifty, but the 1988 one seems more in keeping with the club. Here it is:
1. House of Love - Destroy The Heart
2. Wedding Present - Nobody's Twisting Your Arm
3. Jesus and Mary Chain - Sidewalkin
4. Wedding Present - Take Me (I'm Yours)
5. Dinosaur Jr - Freak Scene
6. My Bloody Valentine - You Made Me Realise
7. Pixies – Gigantic
8. Wedding Present - Why Are You So Reasonable Now
9. House of Love - Christine
10. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - The Mercy Seat
11. Inspiral Carpets - Keep The Circle Around
12. Morrissey - Every Day Is Like Sunday
13. Morrissey – Suedehead
14. Fall - Cab It Up
15. Wedding Present - I'm Not Always So Stupid
16. Fall - Bremen Nacht
17. My Bloody Valentine - Feed Me With Your Kiss
18. House of Love - Love In A Car
19. Sonic Youth - Teenage Riot
20. Sugarcubes - Deus
21. Robert Floyd & The New Four Seasons - Something Nice
22. Morrissey - Late Night Maudlin Street
23. Morrissey - Disappointed
24. Fall - Big New Prinz
25. Billy Bragg - Waiting For The Great Leap Forward
26. Cocteau Twins - Carolyn's Fingers
27. Fall - Kurious Oranj
28. Overlord X - 14 Days In May
29. Sonic Youth - Silver Rocket
30. Pixies - Where Is My Mind
31. Mudhoney - Sweet Young Thing Ain't Sweet No More
32. Spit - Road Pizza
33. James - What For
34. Pooh Sticks - On Tape
35. Stump - Charlton Heston
36. Fall - Jerusalem
37. Shalawambe - Samora Machel
38. McCarthy - Should The Bible Be Banned
39. Pixies - River Euphrates
40. Fall - Guest Informant
41. Loop - Collision
42. Flatmates - Shimmer
43. Mega City 4 - Miles
44. New Order - Fine Time
45. Pixies - Bone Machine
46. Primitives - Crash
47. Darling Buds - Shame On You
48. Happy Mondays - Wrote For Luck
49. Wedding Present - Don't Laugh
50. Public Enemy - Night Of The Living Bassheads
What a line up! Hints of two separate musical movements of the future – baggy with the Inspirals, and grunge with Mudhoney – plus a ton of Fall, Moz, House Of Love, Wedding Present and Pixies. Fantastic. It look me quite a while to track it all down of course – I even ended up emailing Mr Spit of “Road Pizza” fame (at number 32), asking him to send me an mp3 – but we got there in the end. And no matter what, I was going to play all fifty songs, plus put on three live bands. No problem…! What could go wrong?
As it turned out, nothing. I played a few songs in the wrong order of course – a few in the 40s were mixed up slightly – but it wouldn’t be a Peel tribute without a couple of absentminded slip ups. A ton of people came out to support the night, many simply because it was their local John Peel Day gig. And the bands did us proud. Lucky Soul are stars of the future, without a doubt – if you’re a fan of The Pipettes, start stalking them now. Red Stars were cool, and Labrador turned in a top notch set of trumpet-bolstered Scandopop.
I saved the top 25 for after the bands and kicked off with Billy Bragg – always a pleasure. After that it was highlight after highlight – just read the list! My highpoints were playing the Valentines, the Mary Chain and all eight minutes of “The Mercy Seat”, bellowing “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth!” along with everyone else.
It being a Thursday, most people headed off after the bands to get some sleep before work the next day, which made the atmosphere even more special for the select few that stayed behind. And a heartfelt thanks to The Windmill, who really could have closed up and gone to bed a good twenty minutes before they did, but let me see the Fifty through to the end. A wonderful, wonderful night.

Next was HDIF at The Phoenix on October 21st.
It was set to be a memorable night, for many many reasons. David Gedge of The Wedding Present was returning as guest DJ, which always means a bumper crowd. It was the first night trying the new start time of 10pm, which was unknown territory for me and the venue. And the next day I was off on holiday, so it was to be the last HDIF for a month. And as you can imagine, I’d left everything to do with going away on holiday – like, say, packing - to the very last minute, so what with the club and everything, I was in a total rush…!!! Business as usual then.
The 10pm start went like a dream. Hans, the new manager at The Phoenix, had put signs on the tables informing everyone that the downstairs bar would be shutting at 9pm and the room cleared by ten, and everyone went, no problem. We opened the doors at 10pm, and before long we were sold out. Lovely. Two less things to worry about for me.
David once again merrily trashed the HDIF music policy completely and played Steps and Sugababes, much to the consternation of some regulars, but I had a great time. Admittedly, HDIF does stop being HDIF when the likes of Steps are played, but there’s something comforting about hearing “Kung Fu Fighting” again – a song, incidentally, which always makes me think of impending violence, thanks to its usage in “City Of God”. And then it was me. Before the night, I’d decided I was going to play five Saturday Looks Good To me songs throughout the course of the evening, and I’m happy to say I managed it – Underwater Heartbeat, Alcohol and Lift Me Up in my main DJ slot, and two more I’ve forgotten before David went on.
I’d love to be able to post a list of highlights, but of course I’ve forgotten almost everything. But it was a great night! Thanks everyone for coming along.

Next was HDIF at The Phoenix on November 18th.
First HDIF after my holiday and we’re back at The Phoenix. Unfortunately our guest DJ The Legend! had to pull out at the last moment, but thankfully Harvey Willliams of Another Sunny Day stepped in as a replacement. I’d been meaning to get Harvey back for ages, and was glad of the opportunity. He did a fine job.
This one’s much fresher in my mind, so I can turn in a list of highlights:
Envelopes, “Sister In Love” – amazing indie pop from this Swedish band, had the dancefloor bouncing
Millie Jackson, “My Man Is A Sweet Man” – one of those moments when you spot a song on a CD and go “Yessss!!”
Architecture In Helsinki, “Wishbone” – a four four and a two two! Brilliant and went down a storm.
Sandie Shaw, “Girl Don’t Come” – an early request for Rob, sounded wonderful.
The Decemberists, “The Sporting Life” – that bassline again!
The Supremes, “Honey Bee” – amazing bongo-driven dancer!
Orange Juice, "Wan Light" - looking out at the dancefloor, watching people singing "this is what life is all about, ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba" was amazing. Still makes me smile thinking about it.

October 17th: Hey, nearly up to date. First off, HDIF on Oct 7th.
I thought we'd have a quiet one after the pre-B&S bash a fortnight before, but it was packed! This was easily my favourite HDIF for a long while. A nice relaxed atmosphere for the first few hours and then a chaotic and fairly drunken one until the end. Thanks to Darren Hayman for turning in an excellent set. And thanks to everyone for coming along…! I danced and danced and danced.
My highlights:
* “It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” - starting with an earthquake...!
* “You Set The Scene” - "Now I'm going to clear the floor," I told Jona. I was wrong.
* “Steaming Train” by Talulah Gosh - punk rock!
* “Ca Plan Pour Moi” - le punk rock!
* “Rebellion (Lies)” - just glorious

Sept 26th: So here we are, the Monday night after the weekend before. All is quiet. Not a drop of alcohol has passed my lips today. I’ve done some work. I’ve eaten healthily. My cough has almost gone. I’m starting to feel human again.
Because, my, what a weekend that was. Belle & Sebastian were magnificent at the Barbican centre last night and not just because they played all of “Sinister” in order. They opened with “Slow Graffiti” and really the night was made for me right there. If it isn’t my favourite B&S song, then it’s definitely in the top five - there’s something about the way Stuart pauses and then sings “You’re still falling” that gets to me every time. Oddly enough it was the first song I played on Friday, to an entire ten or so people, and it sounded magnificent even then, so hearing it last night felt like squaring a circle somehow. And there was a full show to come.
My highlights then:
• Stuart forgetting the words, just like in the old days. I remember going to see B&S at the Zodiac in Oxford, a few days after their first show at the Union Chapel. The London gig had been pretty ropey - it was the first show in the capital in front of the media and the pressure was clearly too much for them - but Oxford was just right. I remember bumping into Harvey Williams there and a few people from the old days - it was almost like something was starting up all over again for me. As Stuart said last night, “I’ve been looking around and I recognise loads of people I’ve met from over the years. There’s definitely some characters here”. Well, Oxford was a little bit like that. Me stepping back into a world that I’d wandered away from seven or so years earlier. And that night Stuart forgot the words constantly. And we laughed. And felt part of something.
• “Another Sunny Day”. Talking of Harvey, the song named after his Sarah recording nom de guerre - a pleasingly jangly, effortlessly melodic sweet pop song which bodes very well for the new album. I have to admit I’m not the greatest fan of the song B&S recorded for War Child and was worried that they might be heading off in an odd direction with the new material. But this was classic Belle & Sebastian. Looking forward to the album.
• We were sitting quite near the front on the right hand side. Row H, seats 9 and 10, to be precise. So when Stuart called up some kids to dance to “Judy And The Dream Of Horses”, we have a great widescreen field of vision. On the right, filling almost a third of the frame were the dancers, gyrating and bounding about with gleeful enthusiasm. On the left, in the other two thirds of the letterbox, but further away of course, were the group. If Ink Polaroids could move then we’d be in business. Weren’t there Ink Movies at one point? Well, there we are then. A ten second short.
• I nipped out to the loo during “Dog On Wheels”. We’d sneaked in mini cartons of wine and had been topping up our supply during the performance, right under the nose of a rather stern looking security guard. I’d lean down to tie my shoelaces and emerge with two glasses of wine. Magic! So I had to go, “Dog On Wheels” or no. And, unsurprisingly, I had the gents to myself. Another Ink Polaroid - the clean lines of the men’s loos, a neat rectangle in white tiling, urinals along both sides, another door at the far end, the room completely empty. “Dog On Wheels” is being piped in over the tannoy. And I stop to take it all in for a second. But just for a second…
Two days previously, the Canterbury Arms in Brixton. The place is packed with members of the Bowlie forum who’ve travelled to London for the B&S show, old and new friends from the Sinister mailing list, HDIF regulars, and folk who’ve found the club via the net. As the venue is full of people who haven’t seen each other since the last Meet Up/indie event of this kind, there’s a lot of catching up to be done. And not so much dancing. Which is cool - means I get to play a solid hour of extremely slow songs, which I love:
• “Slow Graffiti”
• “Riding On The Equator”
• “Apology Accepted”
• “That Joke Isn’t Funny Any More”
…amongst others. Then it’s all of “Tigermilk”, greeted with cheers and danced to by the hardcore. And then it’s back to me again. My highlights:
• “November Spawned A Monster” followed by “Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy” - HDIF debuts for both
• “Radio Free Europe” - watching everyone singing along was glorious
• “Crush The Flowers” by The Wake, an excellent request from a girl who didn’t quite believe I was going to play it. Another HDIF debut. I’ll be playing this again I reckon.
• “I Can Hear Music” by The Beach Boys. A request from a regular who wasn’t even there - and it sounded wonderous.
• “Bringing Up Baby” by Talulah Gosh. Requested for someone who “hasn’t had the baby yet”. I had no idea who the chap was talking about - until I saw a pregnant girl dancing. A great request!
• A girl came up towards the end of the night and informed me that a male friend had just asked a female friend to marry him and she’d accepted. Ah, romance on the dancefloor. Could I stop the music and make an announcement? Alas, I don’t have a microphone, but I said I’d play a couple of appropriate songs to wish them well - “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and “Band Of Gold”. I’d make a great wedding DJ, me.
• “Reel Around The Fountain” - still my favourite Smiths song of all time.
And that’s it. Thanks to everyone for coming along and thanks for the three cheers at the end. It all means the world.

September 20th: Right then, a couple of HDIFs to round up. Sorry again for the delay in this.
First, Sept 16th at the Phoenix. Another weird night, but only for me I suspect. This was the first night trying out the new system for HDIF at The Phoenix, the idea being that the downstairs bar is closed at 8.30pm, everyone leaves, and then we reopen at 9pm with an empty bar. All fine in theory, but when we came to asking people to leave at 8.30pm, they reacted like it was eleven o clock and we were trying to turf them out onto the street. Half an hour of raging arguments and general stubbornness later, we managed to get the place to ourselves and opened. And, of course, everything was fine – people showed up, Paul Court of The Primitives turned in a fine set, and many regulars said it was the best night at The Phoenix yet. But for the first couple of hours or so, my nerves were frayed into tiny pieces. From now on, we’ll be opening at 10pm, with the clearing out process starting at 9pm. So we lose an hour, but it’ll be for the best. Just means I’ll have to hit the ground running…!
So anyway. Paul’s set really was excellent, and he got everyone up dancing in no time. Check it out on the Guest DJs page. Then it was me. By then my nerves had settled back to normality, and I really enjoyed myself. In fact, I remember thinking at one point that this was going really well – I was wandering off into odd little areas, going through a set of floaty, dreamlike songs at one point that I don’t think I’d chance elsewhere. There’s something about the atmosphere at The Phoenix that I really love. It feels like people are really up for dancing. It's inspiring. And it encourages me to take chances, which has to be good.
My highlights then:
• “September’s Not So Far Away” by The Field Mice – the hazy, dreamlike, stomping feel of this really got me tingling
• “Help” by The Beatles – a rare airing for the Fabs at HDIF, but perfect. You could feel a rush of surprise rippling through the room
• “Cybele's Reverie” by Stereolab – another dreamy one, and gorgeous with it
• “Ladyflash” by The Go! Team – not a band I usually play, but it was a request in advance and I do love them, so I thought I’d bend the rules a little. Sounded glorious.
• “(Remember) Walking In The Sand” by The Shangri-Las – another dreamy one, just fingerclicking perfect
• “Pretty Ballerina” by The Left Banke – and another, this one just floated.

Then, Sept 17th: PopRevo in Aarhus. I have to admit, I messed this one up. Not the actual DJ set – that seemed to go like a storm. But my camera went missing fifteen minutes into my set and it just put me in an angry mood. A few days later, the camera showed up under the decks, which is weird because I looked and looked under there with a torch and nothing. I kept hoping the camera would show up and that I’d put it somewhere crazy and then forgotten about it – mostly because it had the photos from the night before at The Phoenix at it. But it didn’t. I don’t know – I felt like I was being punished for something, that it was indicative of something wider. I’d had a bad run of luck at work in the last month or so and this felt like the final straw. I just wanted to bash my head against the mixing desk in frustration.
But, of course, people were there to dance, so you just get on with it. You let it go – and actually, walking around the Aros art gallery in Aarhus the next day, actively thinking “OK, just let it go, time to move on” was really therapeutic for me. My luck since then has changed, fortuna’s wheel has turned in my direction, the great Ignatius Reilly in the sky has been smiling down on me. I took my punishment, and came through it. And they found my camera and I got my photos back. All’s well that ends well.
Mere minutes after the discovery of the loss of my camera, however, I was still raging. And, in many ways, it inspired me. I turned in an angry set for a short while – “John Cage Bubblegum” turned up LOUD, the guitars just fucking ferocious, “Stupidity” by Solomon Burke voicing my opinion of humanity in general. Obscure soul songs because I wanted to hear them. Obscure Felt songs because I knew my friends at PopRevo and the bands that played – the fantastic Suburban Kids With Biblical Names and Rough Bunnies, plus the amiable and equally as brilliant Sambassadeur – would enjoy them. And, amazingly, people seemed to like it. “You are the bravest DJ,” one girl told me. It was cathartic, fun.
But you know me – I’m a populist at heart. The last thing I’d ever do is indulge myself in a tantrum and lose sight of making sure people have fun. So striking a balance between the obscure indie pop tunes for the diehards and the danceable soul and indie tunes for everyone else, I kept on going. Until it was 5am and suddenly all over.
So, really, I’d like to say thank you and sorry to everyone. I hope one day I can come back and make it up to you.
My highlights:
“Sunlight Bathed The Golden Glow” by Felt – a rush of people onto the stage, the bands and everyone else dancing with glee. Quite an amazing sight.
“Balloon Song” by 14 Iced Bears – would they dance to it? Of course…!
Three Field Mice songs! Or was it four? I can’t remember now…!

September 14th: Just added three more Great Lost Singles. Sorry it took so long to put them up - a few had been in my in box for three months or so. Ooops! We have 40 now. Be great to get to 45.

By the way, I spoke to Stacey at the Buffalo Bar last week and there's still no sign on any movement regarding the Buzzard/Purple Turtle, and she didn't think there'd be any until the new year at the very earliest. So until further notice, The Phoenix is now HDIF's permanant north London home. Or for as long as they want us anyway. The manager who took us on has just left to go travelling to so we have to impress the new bosses. Fingers crossed for Friday!

I'm off to see Hayseed Dixie tonight - nothing like a bit of bluegrass metal to get you in the mood for HDIF. And if I wasn't going to see Minotaur Shock tomorrow at the ICA, I'd be heading down south to see Envelopes - a cool new indiepop band. Hopefully we'll be able to get them to play at HDIF Presents. See you in a couple of days!

September 5th: Thanks to everyone who came along to HDIF on Friday. It was my favourite one for quite a while. Not too crowded, loads and loads of new songs, and for me a sense of it all actually going somewhere throughout the night.

There were a couple of pivotal moments for me:
(1) The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Amazing new indie pop from Brooklyn, very very danceable, but also very new so it meant that the full dancefloor cleared out to about a third. But for those who stuck with it, it was one of those bolt-from-the-blue moments that makes HDIF what it is, the vocal and the momentum rising and rising with buzzy abandon, like the Violent Femmes tussling with the Arcade Fire. I almost gave myself an internal injury dancing to it.
(2) The Killing Moon by Echo & The Bunnymen, around 1.40am. It had been a night of (mostly) new music up until this point. A few classics thrown in every so often to keep the pace and the energy up, but a lot of stuff I hadn’t played before, both in terms of indie pop and northern soul. That was the idea of the night – to refresh things a little, keep it all moving forward. So the cheers to the intro of this song – on its first airing at HDIF – were part joy, part relief to my ears. And they served as a watershed. I thought “OK, we’ve done enough”, and from then on it was hits and euphoria to the end at half two. Quite a few people had gone around 1am, so it was nice to feel that those who’d seen it through were rewarded somehow. The final tune of “The Boy With The Arab Strap” sounded wonderful.

So yes. Not a bad night. Seven out of ten once again.

September 4th: Another quick round up. One HDIF Presents and a HDIF to take in. I’ll do them in chronological order this time…

HDIF Presents III on August 8th.
This was the one I’d been waiting for. The night I’d dreamed of when I first set up the HDIF live nights, but one I never really thought would come to pass. A gig by Saturday Looks Good To Me, easily my favourite American indie pop band of the last few years. A band I liked so much I once wrote to them asking if I could start up a record label to put out their albums in the UK. Luckily for SLGTM they were already well looked after on the record label front, but they did consent to playing a live show at the Windmill. They’d played the Windmill earlier in the year and clearly had a great time, so they were happy to come back on their way to Scandinavia for some festivals. So that was it. I’d set up a night with the intention of putting on SLGTM and here we were, mission accomplished on only our third night. I couldn’t believe it.
And it went like a dream. Cool performances from our support bands, The Gresham Flyers (who were particularly excellent - stars of the future I think) and Spencer deVere, and then on SLGTM came for a gloriously rough and ready show that felt like they were knocking out songs in rehearsal with a couple of close friends. It was one of those gigs that came and went in a blur - far too short, as good as I’d hoped it could be, if not better. I’ve always loved the legend of the raw Beatles shows in Hamburg, buzzing with energy and talent, unpolished gem after unpolished gem knocked out in record time, and tonight reminded me a lot of that. The songs were faster and rougher than on record, and they threw in a load of new songs for good measure, which sounded fantastic. You just felt they could turn their hand to anything - shout out a request and they’d be tearing into it in seconds. Magnificent stuff.
And that was it, suddenly all over. I played a few songs afterwards to a select handful - it was a Monday night after all - and that was that. One of those nights that you want to do all over again as soon as it’s finished.

HDIF at the Phoenix on August 19th
A chaotic one, this. We knew we were gong to have a relatively quiet start as SLGTM were playing at the Marquee and a lot of people were going to see them first before heading over to us. But by the time Eugene Kelly came on the place had started to fill up nicely, and there was one of those relaxed, friendly atmospheres that really makes HDIF for me. The Phoenix had undergone a refit and the new look was a huge improvement - there was now a little stage in the corner where the decks and DJ stuff was set up, the Athena-style rock paintings had been replaced by a far cooler paintjob, and the whole place looked more like a venue set up for dancing than just another west end bar.
Eugene played an excellent set of sixties rarities and I filled in for half an hour at midnight to give SLGTM time to make it over from the Marquee. In retrospect, I think I enjoyed that half an hour the most - there was a good crowd in and you could tell people were really up for dancing. So I leapt in with some faster, most obscure songs to really get it all going - “Me And The Major” by B&S, “Grits Ain’t Groceries” by Little Milton. God knows where we’d have gone next if I’d have carried on for the next three hours (and I’m looking forward to finding out next time), but SLGTM turned up for their hour and all sense and order went straight out of the window.
SLGTM, bless them, decided they were all going to DJ, and it was a classic "too many cooks" situation. It was quite a sight to see them all hunched over my record boxes, flicking through for choice songs, but it soon became apparent that they weren’t entirely sure what they were doing. One member would play three songs, including, say, the Velvets, and then another member would step up, and think, "hey, let's play the Velvets"! Then they’d cut out the sound suddenly or two songs would play at once and I’d be summoned back to their aid with a cry of “Iaaaan!” And, oh, they weren't the best at putting the records back in their sleeves. Eventually I said I was going to put the records on for them, just to save my record collection...!
But it was fun and chaotic and unpredictable and you can’t really ask for more. As Phoenix Phil noted on the HDIF messageboard: “SLGTM were an amazing addition to dance floor and decks. They were loving it. They played ‘You Made Me Forget My Dreams’ by B&S which was a strange contrast to all good-foot getting toe tappers that had been played leading up to it. It was like someone had turned the gravity off and we all floated away for a coupla minutes.” Fantastic.
So a great night. Thanks to everyone for coming along. Looking forward to the next one…!

August 14th: Another late round up of past HDIFs. Apologies as always…! Nothing like a rainy Sunday afternoon in the height of summer to focus your mind on tying up loose ends…!

Right then, here we go. Friday July 15th, The Phoenix, Cavendish Square.

I have to admit I was nervous about this one. We couldn’t clear out the downstairs bar before we started without paying a huge fee, so I was praying for sun so that everyone would be outside. I popped along to the Phoenix a couple of weeks before the 15th to pay a deposit for the night and the downstairs room was packed. I felt a bit ill. If it was as full as that to begin with on the 15th, the whole night would be a disaster. But I had nowhere else to go. I was quietly panicking and keeping my mouth shut, hoping for blazing sun.
Come the 15th and the weather was fine. I got to the venue at 8pm and it was nicely empty. Phew. Just an hour to go. I spent that hour in a state of mild panic, willing people not to come in and praying for Kelly, who was doing the door, to show up early so we could get going as soon as possible. By nine, there was about 40 or so people down there - not too bad. But, of course, the problem then was battling with people who were used to coming into the downstairs bar for free on a Friday night. I had to spend the first hour or so on the door basically having arguments with people, which wasn’t much fun. Big Steve stepped in for 45 minutes or so, allowing me to do some DJing, for which I am eternally grateful. Thanks Steve, you’re a lifesaver. By then I was convinced - that was it, we’re not coming back to the Phoenix, never again.
But with venue security replacing Steve and things settling into place by about half ten, eleven or so, it all started to work suddenly. The Friday night drinkers finished off their pints and headed out and HDIF-goers made up the majority of the crowd and we started to get a good atmosphere. Sarah and Maddy from The Actionettes put in a terrific DJ set, as always, and their dance set was great fun. The fact that they were dancing on the same level as everyone else made it more infectious somehow - there was one girl who seemed convinced that she was an Actionette too, joining in with her own moves. All my nerves and worries had gone and I was having a great time. Phew! Better still, one girl had taken it upon herself to distribute stick on hearts among the crowd and the sight of everyone with hearts on their faces (I had three at one point!) made it feel like we were all in it together somehow.
Then it was me and it’s all a bit of a blur from then on. Highlights are sketchy but here they are:
* “London” by The Smiths, a gloriously raucous way to kick off
* “Band Of Gold” by Freda Payne. I only play this very very rarely, but one girl talked me into it. In fact I agreed to play it and then forgot as I always do, only for her to come up towards the end and demand “Where’s my ‘Band Of Gold’?” Classic stuff.
* “John Cage Bubblegum” by Stereolab. A fresh infatuation for an old favourite. I’ll be playing this at quite a few more HDIFs yet. God, what a song. Just sounded immense. Makes me want to dance just thinking about it.
* “Get Ready” by The Supremes. 50p from a charity shop in the Cotswolds. A fantastic, swinging version.
* “The Sporting Life” by The Decemberists. Another homage to Martha Reeves’ “I’m Ready For Love”
And a load of other stuff…!
And so, by the end, I’d changed my mind, of course. It was a great venue, we just needed to sort a few things out. Get the place cleared out. Make sure the sound is cranked up from the off (we had to have it on half power for the first hour so as not to disturb the regulars). Get a few more people behind the bar. Thankfully, the Phoenix were impressed by the night and are happy to work with us - for which I’m very grateful. It was up to us to prove ourselves - after all any fool can bowl in off the street claiming they can draw a crowd of 200 people - and we did - thank you thank you thank you! So next time, it’s going to be a bit different. The downstairs bar will shut at 8.30pm and be cleared out, to reopen at 9pm. I’m also going to do a bit of decoration, to bring a bit of the spirit of The Canterbury Arms to the West End. I really think we’ve stumbled upon somewhere special with The Phoenix. Next time it'll be perfect.

And so onto…Friday August 5th, The Canterbury Arms, Brixton.
Ah, home sweet home. After two months away, we returned to the venue I really think is the spiritual home of HDIF, for a wonderful night. Possibly one of our biggest crowds for Brixton - 230 or so - and an excellent set of indie pop from Chris and Gill from Offbeat in Sheffield. There’s something about the Canterbury Arms that just makes it feel special. There are moments when I look over the dancefloor, seeing everyone dancing to The Razorcuts or something, and .. well, let me just clear my throat and offer a hearty handshake. Well done everybody. Sorry I appear to have something in my eye.
I had a bag of new treats for this one, which always makes it exciting for me. Some of my highlights:
* “John Cage Bubblegum” - still sounds spectacular. I’m not going to tire of this one for quite a while I suspect.
* “L.O.V.E Love” by Al Green - the original of the song covered by Orange Juice, lovely
* “Please Help The Cause Against Loneliness” by Moz and Sandie Shaw. Yet another song with that “I’m Ready For Love”/”Town Called Malice” intro! I’ll be able to do a full set of them soon…!
* “Tell Mama” by Etta James and “Unwind Yourself” by Marva Whitney - two shots of funk to liven things up
* “Hello Kitten” by Hefner - the Hefner revival continues apace! Brilliant.
* “If You Can Want” by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles - possibly my favourite new soul song. Super smooth and very very danceable.
* “End Of The Affair” by The Field Mice - played early doors and just sounded magnificent
* “If I Could Turn Back The Hands Of Time” by Vernon Garrett - storming northern soul
* “What Goes On” by Velvet Underground - I’ll be listing the whole set at this rate, but this did sound fantastic. Haven’t played it for ages, but it just set us in the right direction
Thanks to everyone for coming along this. Especially the bloke who came up at the end and said “Yeah well mate, quite good. Seven out of ten I reckon”. Onwards and upwards!

July 11th: Had a fantastic time at the Little League night in Glasgow. Thanks to everyone for coming along. Here's what I played:

HDIF at Little League, 8/7/05

Felt, “Riding On The Equator”
Francoiz Breut, “Si Tu Disais”
Irma Thomas, “Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)”
Keith, “98.6”
Orange Juice, “In A Nutshell”
Ketty Lester, “Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid”
Jonathan Richman, “New Teller”
Brenda And The Tabulations, “Hey Boy”
Os Mutantes, “Panis Et Circenses”
Simon And Garfunkel, “Somewhere They Can’t Find Me”
Joannie Sommers, “Don’t Pity Me”
Razorcuts, “Jade”
Les Escarlatinas, “El Divan”
Simtec And Wylie, “Maggie May”
Saturday Looks Good To Me, “The Girl’s Distracted”
Shangri-Las, “Right Now And Not Later”
The Smiths, “You’ve Got Everything Now”
Shirley Ellis, “Soul Time”
Shop Assistants, “Safety Net”
Little Milton, “Grits Ain’t Groceries”
Primal Scream, “Silent Spring”
Bar-Keys, “Soul Finger”
Pastels, “Nothing To Be Done”
Belle & Sebastian, “String Bean Jean”
The Supremes, “My World Is Empty Without You”
Dexys Midnight Runners, “Let’s Make This Precious”
Four Tops, “Reach Out”
Lloyd Cole And The Commotions, “Rattlesnakes”
Aretha Franklin, “Change”
Beach Boys, “Then I Kissed Her”
Stevie Wonder, “Uptight”
The Byrds, “Feel A Whole Lot Better”
Martha Reeves And The Vandellas, “Nowhere To Run”
The Brunettes, “Dancefloor”
Smokey Robinson And The Miracles, “Tears Of A Clown”
Ballboy, “Avant Guarde Music”
The Temptations, “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg”
The Smiths, “Still Ill”
Brenda Holloway, “Just Look What You’ve Done”
Love, “Alone Again Or”
Camera Obscura, “Number One Son”
Dusty Springfield, “Son Of A Preacher Man”
REM, “Don’t Go Back To Rockville”
The Blendells, “La La La La La”
Belle & Sebastian, “Get Me Away From Here I’m Dying”
James Taylor Quartet, “Mrs Robinson”
The Pastels, “Comin' Through”
Marie “Queenie” Lyons, “Fever”
Aztec Camera, “Walk Out To Winter”
The Ronettes, “Be My Baby”
The Field Mice, “If You Need Someone”
Jimmy Frazier, “Of Hopes Dreams And Tombstones”
Orange Juice, “Wan Light”
Jackie Wilson, “Higher And Higher”
Saturday Looks Good To Me, “Lift Me Up”
Martha Reeves And The Vandellas, “I’m Ready For Love”
Jens Lekman, “You Are The Light”
Mary Wells, “Satisfaction”
The Smiths, “Nowhere Fast”
Beach Boys, “Help Me Rhonda”
The Supremes, “Get Ready”
The Sea Urchins, “Pristine Christine”
R Dean Taylor, “There’s A Ghost In My House”
Dexys Midnight Runners, “Geno”
Bobby Sheen, “Dr Love”
Belle & Sebastian, “Sleep The Clock Around”
The Outsiders, “Time Won’t Let Me”
Freda Payne, “Band Of Gold”
Morrissey, “Suedehead”
Mitch Ryder And The Detriot Wheels, “CC Ryder”
Lovin Spoonful, “Do You Believe In Magic”
The Stone Roses, “Sally Cinnamon”
The Isley Brothers, “This Ole Heart Of Mine”
Joy Division, “Love Will Tear Us Apart”
Bob Dorough, “Three Is A Magic Number”
Belle & Sebastian, “Judy And The Dream Of Horses”
The Smiths, “How Soon Is Now”

One of the things that I learnt last time is that if people don't know a song at the Little League, they're unlikely to dance. So for a short period of the set, I played quite a bizarre but fun game of dancefloor tennis. Put on a famous soul song: dancefloor full. Put on an obscure indie song: dancefloor empty. Put on a famous soul song: dancefloor full again. Put on an obscure indie song: dancefloor empty again. Stuart Murdoch wrote a very funny thing last year about Little League, saying that people spent so long debating whether each song was cool that it was almost over by the time they'd come to a verdict. Not sure what was going on this time around, but as long as people were enjoying listening, I was quite happy. I was pleased to see people dancing to "Dr Love" by Bobby Sheen - what a song! And the faux "Town Called Malice" start to both "Lift Me Up" and "Ready For Love" had everyone grooving.

Everyone was very friendly, as usual, and the atmosphere was great, and I really enjoyed myself. See you next year...!

July 4th: Oh lord, here we go again. Apologies for not updating this but the bus ate my homework and there’s been all manner of chaos going on around these parts - not least not having a venue for July, which has taken up more of my waking moments than is strictly healthy. Thankfully we’ll be at the Phoenix in Cavendish Square for July 15th, with the fabulous Actionettes dancing and DJ-ing. It’s going to be fantastic. But first…

The last ever Buffalo Bar HDIF.

Well, this was always going to be an emotional night. End of an era stuff, in a way. I still can’t quite believe we’ve left the place. I loved the Buffalo Bar and I’ve had some of the best nights of my life in there. Everything about it is right. The cool room for the DJs with the white leather sofa. The relaxed vibe and cute candles in jars. The dark blacks and reds. It was all just right. And it’s been our home for the last three years, pretty much. Where it all began. Where our heart was.

But things have been getting difficult. As the popularity of the club’s grown, people have been stuck in queues outside, often in the freezing cold. And once inside, there’s sometimes not been much room to dance. People started, quite rightly, to complain. Some people said they wouldn’t go to the club any more while we were there. Much as I hated the idea, I knew that it was time to move on. The nights we were having the Canterbury Arms seemed much more fun - there was more room to dance and so the atmosphere was better. Even the folk at the Buffalo Bar told us we had to go.

And so it came to pass. We thought we were moving to The Buzzard in Mornington Crescent for July, so this was to be the big farewell. As it turned out we were wrong…it’ll be a few months yet before we make it there. But having said goodbye it seems wrong to go back on ourselves, so we’ll be at the Phoenix for the summer. The night we did there in February was fantastic, so it seems like the right thing to do.

Our guest for the night was Martin from The Flatmates, who was excellent company and turned in a fine set. Some people sat on the stage for some of it, but he got them going in the end. I guess that was another example of the venue being a little too small. More seats and people wouldn’t have had to clog up the dancefloor. It wouldn’t have happened at the Canterbury, that’s for sure.

Then it was me. A load of old friends had come out to wish us well and there was the usual host of regulars - thanks everyone, it really means a lot! My highlights are as follows:

Turn Turn Turn - sounded fantastic
Ballad Of The Band - glorious
All eight mintues of Fingertips by Little Stevie Wonder
Really Stupid by The Primitives - sounded huge

And then my final three farewell songs

I Know It’s Over
Homeward Bound
Wouldn’t It Be Nice

Aw, I miss it already.

July 2nd: HDIF Presents II. What a night! I thought it was going to be hard to top our first show, but this was a blast. Thanks to everyone for turning up and thanks to the bands for playing. First on we had The Postcards from Brockley, who were playing their first gig and had brought along a mob of mates to cheer them on. At the end of their first song, a cheer went up like they’d just finished playing the best tune in the world and they continued to play their set like they were headlining Wembley - even introducing the band members, bless ‘em. Try and catch them, their Lucksmiths goes Postcard songs are excellent.

Next up was Aujourd’hui Madame from Paris, who turned in a storming set of Teenage Fanclub-style indie rock. They were delighted to be playing at a decent volume - “if we played this loud in Paris, we’d be arrested” they said - and made full use of the opportunity by rocking out to eleven. They even thew in a cover of “Atmosphere” by Joy Division.

Last on were The Language Of Flowers from Belfast, who went on to play what they described afterwards as “the best gig we’ve ever done”. It was hard not to flourish in the atmosphere - everyone was up for having a good time and the bands grew with confidence as they went on. I finished things off with a few songs and about an hour or so of dancing and that was it. A glorious night.

June 14th: Right, I'm going to get this thing up to date if it kills me. Three HDIFs and a HDIF Presents to talk about, most of the details of which are lost in the haze of time...but I'll give it a go anyway. Let's do this in chronological order.
First up, then, is May 6th, at the Canterbury Arms. Our guest is Duglas T Stewart, who is genial and entertaining company, as one might expect. He arrives at the venue at the same time as Amelia and Rob, pretty much, so I leave them to chat and catch up and run out to the shops, bumping into Phil Wilson on the way. Not bad going: only four people at the club, but all of them indie pop legends.
I warm up with a few requests for people who aren't there: "Steam Engine" by The Monkees, "Tell Her No" by The Zombies, "Go Ahead On" by Dusty. Duglas tells me that "Tell Her No" is his favourite male vocal performance of all time. He takes over and plays "Little Red Riding Hood" by Chris Montez, which I've never heard before. The cover to the Christ Montez album is spectacular: our man, adoring ladyfriend on his arm, looking up at him, and an extensive clock collection in the background. There simply aren't enough album covers featuring clock collections. This should be rectified.
Duglas plays an excellent, eclectic set which takes in plenty of pop and has everyone dancing. He even chances "Ooh Stick You" by Daphne & Celeste, which is a HDIF first! As you can imagine, highlights of my set are a little hazy but I do remember playing:
* "You Say You Don't Love Me" by the Buzzocks. Punk? Indie pop? The debate raged on the HDIF messageboard and I gave it a spin. Sounded glorious.
* "The Day That Thatcher Died" by Hefner. That's right. It was the day after the election. I remember now. This seemed strangely appropriate and went down a storm.
* "Feel A Whole Lot Better" by The Byrds. Haven't played this for ages and it sounded wonderful. Got a real rush dancing to it behind my decks.
Well, that was quite easy. Let's see how we get on with the second one. That's May 20th, at the Buffalo Bar. Our guest is Huw from The Pooh Sticks. He looks, as he remarks himself when I show him the photo I've taken, "like a man who's been playing a lot of golf". Healthy and tanned in other words. And not much like a former indie pop star. HDIF regular Graham decides that Huw is, in fact, an imposter and challenges him to sing a few bars of "On Tape" or somesuch. Huw politely declines...but then he's already given the game away by talking to me about a party we both went to at my friend Nic Allport's flat in south Woodfood in the late Eighties. We've met before, apparently. I, needless to say, have no recollection of this at all. If anyone has any idea what I got up to between 1987 and...ooh, 1990, please get in touch. Last year, I found a diary from 87/88 of gigs that I went to. Apparently I saw The La's at the Marquee. Who knew? I remember Joan Jeff at the Marquee. I remember Lawnmower Deth at the Marquee. I remember Poison Idea at the Marquee. But the La's? Nup. Nothing.
Huw plays an excellent set of indiepop, northern and bubblegum, including "Sugar Sugar" by The Archies and "Kiss Me, Honey Honey, Kiss Me" by Shirley Bassey. I respond by playing "The Lonely One" by Tom Jones.
Hang on, I've just remembered something. It was the indiepop eurovision that night. Of course it was. How could I forget? The ten contenders were as follows:
(1) "First Kiss Feelings" by Girlfrendo (Sweden)
(2) "Birthday" by the Sugarcubes (Iceland)
(3) "Dieci Ragazze" by Lucio Battisti (Italy)
(4) "Mr Iceman" by Maria Solheim (Denmark)
(5) "Go Lotsi Go" by Throw That Beat In The Garbagecan! (Germany)
(6) "El Divan" by Las Escarlatinas (Spain)
(7) "Do People Ever?" by Trembling Blue Stars (UK)
(8) "Let's Get Falling Down" by The Revenents (Rep Ireland)
(9) "Ne Me Quitte Pas" by Jacques Brel (Belgium)
(10) "Les Cactus" by Jacques Dutronc (France)
And the winner was...Belgium, thanks to the applause of Annie from Wintergreen who was determined to cheer on her countrymates. Unless I'd played Plastic Bertrand. Then she was going to leave. My vote would have gone to "El Divan", which was a Spanish language version of "Storytelling" by Belle & Sebastian. I should play it again. It's...bizarre. Great, but bizarre.
Runaway highlight for me was "Jade" by The Razorcuts. What a song!

Two down, two to go. June 3rd at the Canterbury was next and our guests were Shirley and Samanthi from Spearmint, fresh from Primavera Sound in Barcelona. It was the night of the great Brixton indie face off, with Fortuna Pop putting on a gig at the Windmill (Wimpy Milkshake/The Chemistry Experiment/Kicker/Wintergreen), and us at the Canterbury. I knew the first hour was going to be quiet and really enjoyed playing odd bits and pieces. It really felt like the club was a secret again. Just me playing music and people chatting over their pints. I remember playing:
"98.6" by Keith - amazing Beach Boys-esque perfect pop
"Si Tu Disais" by Francois Breut - in tribute to her fine Primavera performance
"Sueno Merengue" by Las Escarlatinas - more excellent Spanishpop
"The Jerk" by The Larks. Ethereal dance craze anthem.
"Don't Forget About Me" by Dusty - any excuse to dig out "Dusty In Memphis"!
Shirley and Samanthi turned in a fine set, even playing "Celebrity Skin" by Hole, which is a first for HDIF, and then I went back on. We'd filled up nicely by that point and it all went like a dream. I played The Arcade Fire, again in tribute to Primavera, and they went down a storm. "It's About Time" by the Beach Boys was a birthday request and that flew too. "Lee Remick" sounded great too. I had a bit of a B&S splurge as well. Five songs in all. Or was it six. I can remember...!
Right, that's enough for tonight. I'll write up the HDIF Presents night tomorrow. Or today when you read this...!

June 2nd - First off, yet another apology for being tardy in updating this. Just been caught up with the toing and froing of moving to our new venue. Should be able to announce it all soon. Have a fantastic guest DJ booked for August and potentially an amazing bill for July. I'll let you know as soon as I know...
But first, a journey back in time. Two dates in Denmark and two HDIFs to deal with. Here goes.

April 22nd, Copenhagen.
Met up with Andreas, my host in Copenhagen at the airport and we travelled into town by train to catch a bus to his flat. The big news in Copenhagen around then was a shooting at the free town of Christiania. I've been to Christiania a few times over the year, so it was shocking to hear that things had turned nasty. It's not really a town as such, more of a converted Army base in the south of the city. Looks quite a bit like a Lambeth council estate to my south London eyes. It's been squatted by beatniks and hippies and free thinkers for the last 30 years or so, and the most striking feature on my last visit in the mid nineties was Pusher Street - a street of stalls selling lumps of hash the size of a child's fist. Hard drugs like heroin are strictly forbidden in Christiania but dope is all part of the experience. I remember a smokey night there once when we watched a girl's hair catch on fire when she stood too close to a tall candle. It was the funniest thing. We laughed and laughed. Terrible really. A decade later, Pusher Street is gone and gang warfare is cropping up. The shooting was apparently between rival factions of mods and rockers. Or the local equivalent at least. Oh, and it was with a machine gun. Of course.
Met up with Anna, Andreas' girlfriend, and Stefan their DJ-ing partner, at Anna's flat. They were intelligent, erudite hosts, and we talked about their education system, the British election, and the Danish government. I learnt a lot. In return, I played them "Hard Times" by Baby Huey. That's the kind of deep thinking guy I clearly am. We wandered over to the venue which turned out to be more of a restaurant than a club. We had to keep the music quiet for the first hour so we didn't upset anyone's dinner, but I like to play quiet stuff to start off with anyway so that was fine. And isn't "Riding On The Equator" by Felt the perfect soundtrack to haute cuisine?
Two girls turned up almost straight away, one of whom - I learnt later - was the host of a music show on Danish TV. Anna, Andreas and Stefan each took a turn at DJing, and then it was me. A few more people had arrived now and there was a good, buzzy atmosphere, but it was clear from the off that no one was going to dance. It just wasn't the right kind of space. Although they do have clubs there normally and people do dance apparently, so maybe it was me. I had fun, though. It was good chatting to everyone and - hey - I danced. In fact, there was one point where I had the rush where I thought "This is a great set, it's all coming together". I looked up expecting to see the usual mob of dancing bodies and...nothing. Everyone was standing around chatting away. All looking quite happy, but no sign of any dancing. No matter. I was still enjoying myself.
And then I put on "Get Me Away From Here I'm Dying" and up sprung two girls into what should have been the dancefloor. To be joined by two more. And a bloke. Alright - I'd only been DJing for two and a half hours at this point. I managed to keep them dancing for an entire three songs and that was it. Everyone was very nice afterwards, though, and said how much they'd enjoyed it. The consensus was that tomorrow would be the night for me. Aarhus is a party town, apparently.

April 23rd
After bidding farewell to Anna and Andreas, I headed off to catch the train to Aarhus. I had an hour or so to kill so i went into the Tivoli Gardens. I've always wanted to go in, but it's been closed when I've visited before, so I was pleased to have a wander around the grounds and the rides and just see families enjoying themselves in the sunshine. It was a gorgeous day. The train ride was lovely too. Three hours of speeding through the Danish countryside, occassionally crossing over high bridges. I sat with my walkman, working out fresh songs for that night and enjoying the view, feeling quite happy. If this is what touring life is like, I could get used to it.
At Aarhus, my hosts Soren and Bjorn met me at the station. There was also a couple who'd been at the night in Copenhagen - they'd been on the same train. They said they'd see us at the club later on. Cool! We walked through Aarhus' town centre, talking about the Popfest that Soren had Bjorn had put on the previous year. A ton of bands, two venues, loads of stress, but a huge success. The boys cracked open a beer and stuck on some records to get into the mood while I went for a disco nap. One of the many pieces of advice that musicians have given me over year was grab your disco nap while you can. It was going to be a long night after all. We were due to be DJing until 5am.
Soren is a gifted philosophy scholar and a journalist, but we just talked music, music, music. Fine by me. I was very happy to join them. It felt like it was going to be a good night.
The venue was perfect. A big club with an upstairs bar, sweeping staircases going down to a lower bar and then a final big room downstairs where an electro band called Baconflex were due to play. I was opposite the bar on the middle floor and soon made friends with the barman by playing Jonathan Richman's "New Teller" and he came over with a shot of Danish hooch for me. I was going to enjoy this. Aarhus is a big student town and you could just feel the Saturday night atmosphere brewing. I nipped out to call Adrienne while Soren was playing his set and the square was buzzing with people starting their nights out. Singing at bus stops - already! If anyone showed, we'd have a fine night.
Soren and Bjorn put in fine sets and I took over to a packed room. The bar on one side, me on the other, a mass of people who started dancing straight away and didn't let up for three hours. It's too long ago for me to remember highlights now, but I remember "You Are The Light..." by Jens Lekman being a big hit. A real pleasure. The photographs show it all really. Lots of cool, friendly, dancing people. I really felt at home. And hello to the girls from Iceland - I'm still waiting for your email about DJing in Reykjavik!

Thanks to everyone for looking after me in Denmark and being such excellent hosts. I really really enjoyed it. Hope you did too.

I'll have to write about those HDIFs a little later. I'll post this up now.

April 20th: I should have written this up at the time, but too much happening at once has meant that the weblog has been neglected. Apologies for that. And apologies for the gaps that are bound to be in this round up of what's been going on. So, with the disclaimer out of the way, here we go.

HDIF Presents: Thursday April 7th saw the first night of our sporadic forays into putting on live music. Thank God it's only once every two months, as I don't think my nerves could take it. Soundchecking is a stressful business. With DJ-ing it's easy - you take the CD out of the sleeve, pop it in the machine, and as long as it's not too scratched and the player isn't too knackered, it all works. Instant gratification. You even get to hear the song you want. Putting on a gig is achingly, painfully, stressfully slow in comparison. Setting up a bass amp seemed to take half an hour. Then, in order to celebrate, everyone appear to stand around for another half hour, presumably discussing how successful the bass amp set up had been. Tim, the genial in house promoter at The Windmill, just laughed at me. "Ian, there wouldn't be any records for you to play if bands didn't go through this. Don't worry, it's normal." I eyed the clock nervously. We were almost at our opening time of 8pm and Wintergreen, our first band on, were nowhere near soundchecking. It was like waiting for lava for solidify. I tore out my hair, grew a fresh crop, and tore it all out all over again. Meanwhile, the soundchecking went like clockwork and come 8.30, we were ready to go. "Next time," Tim said afterwards, "Just turn up at nine, OK?" God knows what it must be like when you have kids...

It took a little while for The Windmill to fill up (yet more stress, worrying about being able to pay bands who'd come from Sweden and Germany), but we had a decent crowd in the end - about 120 or so. And the groups did us proud. Wintergreen's kraut pop really flew. Vermont looked like they were having the best time on stage, and their literate, playful indie pop was a delight. And Sambassadeur are just superstars in waiting - the drop dead cool of the Mary Chain given some glacial Swedish style. I rounded everything off with Bangang's version of 'Stop In The Name Of Love' and Luna's 'Sweet Child O'Mine', and everyone went home happy. Phew. We made it.

HDIF in Valencia: I had a relatively quiet night on the Friday after the gig. Just went to a local restaurant with friends - Ibex on Brixton Hill, in the old cinema buildiing, highly recommended, gorgeous food and good and cheap - and then got an early night. And could I sleep? No chance. As a result, by the time I met Sergio at Jesus metro in Valencia, I was knackered. We met up with our hosts at the Swan bar and then I went back to Paco's flat to grab a disco nap. This was going to be a long night, after all. We were meeting at ten for food, and the night didn't kick off until midnight. A totally different horario for a chico ingles like me. At midnight, the place was empty of course, but I had enough wine inside me to not care a hoot. "If there's no-one but us, it doesn't matter," I gabbled. "I'm having a great time." Less than an hour later, the place was sold out. I stepped up at one and kicked off with 'La La La La La' by The Blendells, which is rapidly becoming my favourite northern/garage crossover favourite. And that was it - two hours just flew by. Paco's cool team of garage rock guys running the bar were pleased with the likes of Jacques Dutronc, the indiepop kids got into the usual run of Field Mice, Saturday Looks Good To Me, B&S, etc, etc, and you can't go wrong with classics from Brenda Holloway and the rest. Juan Carlos followed with a brilliant set of Spanish pop that had everyone but everyone singing along and Sergio closed the night with a great mix of Teenage Fanclub, the Boo Radleys and the like. And then it was four o clock.

So what do you do at 4am in Valencia when you've hardly had any sleep and you've a skinful of San Miguel and adrenalin keeping you buzzing? Well, time to join in with Paco and the lads for their post-work night out. They'd been busy serving the crowd, after all, so were ready to go. First stop, Bar 52 for the last hour of their northern soul/seventies disco night. We got there just as the northern selection was coming to a close, but the closing tune of 'It'll Never Be Over For Me' by Timi Yuro made my night. After that it was talking Wild Weekend and garaje with los chicos (all in particularly bad Spanish on my part - luckily they were kind enough to put up with my linguistic fumblings), and tapping an absent minded toe to 'I Feel Love' and so on. Half five? Six? Time for another club. No idea what this one was called, but it was a size. Main room held six hundred or so getting down to the electro sounds del dia, and the side room contained four goths (including the DJ) dancing to...well....goth. We lasted there til eight, then the boys kindly dropped me off at Paco's before going off to yet another club. No idea how they do it, but I salute them. A fantastic night.

Thanks to everyone for their hospitality - to Sergio and Juan Carlos for putting me on, for Paco and the gang for taking me out on the town and giving me somewhere to lay my weary head, and for everyone who turned up and got into it. Muchos muchos gracias amigos.

Our third birthday: Less than a week later, we were at it all over again. back at the Buffalo Bar for our third birthday party with Norman Blake from Teenage Fanclub. We had a few technical problems - apologies if you came up to say hello while everything was going wrong, I was too worried about what was going on to say much - and eventually we had to admit that the CD player was kaput and there was no way the night was going to be able to go ahead with what we had. Not what you want to face when it's half nine and the venue's pretty much sold out. Luckily, the Buffalo Bar were able to hire in a new CD set up and an emergency hi fi man turned up around half eleven with a whole new system. In the meantime, I played a lot of old vinyl, going for a set of indie pop classics. Norman was held up on the drive down from Scotland and didn't make it to the club until half ten, so the guest slot shifted back by half an hour, with him going on at eleven and carrying on til one. And what a set! Loads of brilliant garage rock, an original vinyl pressing of 'Raw Power', stuff by Os Mutantes, Ennio Morricone, and - oh yes - The Pentagle, plus 'Freak Scene', 'Hey Luciani', 'Bedsitter' by Soft Cell., and a ton of northern. Thanks Norman, you did us proud. Of my hour, here are my highlights:

* Two songs by The Isley Brothers! In an hour! That's the way to DJ. No messing about with variety. 'Leaving Here' and 'Why When Love Is Gone' did the trick for me.
* 'I'll Still Be There' by The Razorcuts - a perfect request from long term regular Kieron. Sounded glorious at half one!
* 'Coming Through' by The Pastels - what a song! Just the intro was enough to give you goosebumps. Fantastic!
* 'There Is A Light That Never Goes Out' - haven't played this for quite a while, so well worth digging out again for the final, extemely emotional song!

That's about it. Next stop Copenhagen and Aarhus! Can't wait.

April 5th: Great night on Friday. Another packed Canterbury Arms - looks like Brixton is turning into the venue of choice for some. It is great having room to dance! I tripped the power switch again - this time during 'Lazy Line Painter Jane' - and once again everyone kept the song going by clapping until the power came back on. Thank you everyone! My highlights:

* Sweet Jane followed by Lazy Line Painter Jane
* What A Good Man He Is by Tammi Terrell - slow, cool, and super soulful
* Sleeping Gas by Teardrop Explodes
* Peaches And Cream by The Ikettes - great guitar twanging soul dancer

Don't forget that this Thursday is the first night of our HDIF Presents nights at The Windmill in Brixton. We have Sambassadeur, Vermont and Wintergreen playing, which is a glorious bill. Please please please come along and support us.

March 25th: Just added some more Great Lost Singles and the details of the HDIF in Copenhagen!

March 20th: Just added a couple more Great Lost Singles. More of these please!

March 19th: From worrying about the cold two weeks ago, this time I was worrying about the heat. One thing I've learnt from doing club nights over the years is that the on the first weekend that the weather changes, no one goes dancing. They head to beer gardens or parks or back gardens and celebrate the arrival of spring - even though we all know that in two weeks time the sun will have gone and it'll be pelting it down.

So it was a quieter Buffalo Bar than usual. Amazingly quiet to begin with. By 10pm, we had about thirty people in the place - at the same time in January, we were almost sold out! But slowly it started the fill up and in the end we had around 120 people - which is just the right amount for the Buffalo Bar I think. A bit of room to dance and a nice relaxed atmosphere. Rob from Sweden Made Me turned in a fine set of Swedish Indie Pop - including a brilliant euro pop version of Morrissey's 'We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful' - and I got to play a whole load a new songs, including one inspired request for Ballboy. My highlights:
* 'Avant Guarde Music' by Ballboy - just brilliant. Watching everyone dancing, really really dancing to this was a joy.
* 'One' by Chris Clark -
great Motown version of the Nilsson classic (also recently covered by Aimee Mann and another version cropped up on some advert for something or other).
* 'A Minha Menina' by Os Mutantes - everything is possible! Fantastic psyche pop from Brazil.
* 'Just Look What You've Done' by Brenda Holloway. Another fabulous Motown dancer.
* 'September Gurls' by Big Star followed by 'Discolite' by Teenage Fanclub! Still singing the former now...!
* Martha Reeves & The Vandellas - 'I'm Ready For Love'. More untouchable Motown.
* 'Valeri' by The Monkees - always a pleasure.
* 'Riding On The Equator' by Felt - the highlight of Stuart Murdoch's desert island discs selection. Eight minutes of heaven.

March 15th: Apologies to everyone who's applied for membership but hasn't had a card in the last few weeks. I've got a new computer and the change over has been anything but slick. Hence the lack of updates on here. I'll have this sorted out very soon (I hope!). Bloody computers.

March 10th: Well, what a night! What with the cold weather and everything I thought we'd have an intimate but cool night - just music shared amongst friends. As it turned out, it was the second busiest Brixton we've had. Thanks to Phil for playing an excellent guest set and thanks to everyone for showing up and dancing. My highlights:
* How Soon Is Now? then Good Vibrations then Since Yesterday - fantastic!
* Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand) and Baby Don't Look Down by Irma Thomas - the former is amazing, a slow heartbreaking classic to rank alongside 'Let Me Down Easy'; the latter is a brilliant upbeat dancer.
* Get Me Away From Here I'm Dying by B&S - just sounded superb.
* Right Now And Not Later by The Shangri Las - First HDIF airing for this classic.

March 3rd: Been ages since I've posted anything here. Sorry about that, but I've been on holiday. Three weeks in Cambodia and Vietnam. It was lovely. Very very hot. Unlike here. Just thought I'd mention this week's musical discovery - The Arcade Fire. From Montreal. Sound a bit like Mercury Rev on first go, but subsequent listens reveal much much more. They're playing Primavera Sound in Barcelona at the end of May. I booked tickets back in January, before the line up was announced. And what a fantastic line up it is. New Order, Sonic Youth, Iggy and The Stooges, Mercury Rev, Tortoise, Psychic TV, Wedding Present, TVPs, American Music Club, loads and loads and loads. I might play an Arcade Fire song early doors on Friday. You'll know it when you hear it.

January 30th:
Just added the latest entry for Rupert's Records. Would love to have some more Great Lost Singles to add too - please email singles@howdoesitfeel.co.uk with your heartfelt paeans to those noble singles that should have conquered the charts but didn't.

January 25th: HDIF returns to a Thursday, for a special one off night! To try out a new venue in central London, the next HDIF will be on Thursday feb 3rd - that's a week on Thursday. The venue is the Phoenix, Cavendish Square, which is a great basement bar with a capacity of 230, which gives us a little more room than the Buffalo Bar. This is strictly a one off, to see if we like the feel of the place. The HDIF in March will be back at the Buffalo Bar as usual.

Our guest DJ for the evening is Dickon Edwards from Fosca. Dickon's DJ-ed a few times at HDIF and put in an excellent set each time, so we're really looking forward to him playing. The evening will start a little earlier than usual - 8pm until 2am - just in case people have to get home early as it's not the weekend, and will include a special one off feature - the Sarah Jukebox. This will run from 8pm until dickon starts his set at 10.30.

Here's how it will work. This week I'm going to buy 60 Sarah singles from a guy called Marc for an undisclosed but hefty sum. These singles in fact - 1, 5-31, 33-49, 51-54, 56-62, 64, 68, 73, 86 ,91. So, in order to make back some of the cash I'm having to shell out...iImean, celebrate the glorious back catalogue of one of our favourite labels, I'll be running the Sarah Jukebox in the first part of the evening. You'll be able to come up and - for a nominal fee, say 50p - be able to select any of the above, a or b side for me to play immediately. I'll have no choice in the matter. Whatever you choose I'll play. And between your requests, I'll be spinning my own records as usual.

The details then:

How Does It Feel To Be Loved?
Thursday February 3rd
The Phoenix, Cavendish Square, W1, five minutes walk from Oxford Circus tube
8pm - 2am, £3 members, £5 non members
Guest DJ: Dickon Edwards (Fosca)
Also starring: The Sarah Jukebox from 8pm until 10.30pm

Please please please come along to this. I know it's a school night, but it's our only chance to try out a new venue and see if we like it. Even if you just come along from 8pm until the last tube, that's a good four hours entertainment. And if you stick it out until the end, it'll be just like the old days! I'm extremely excited about it all.

January 23rd: First HDIF of the year and it was a good one...although it almost went very very wrong. We had trouble with one of the decks to start off with so called over Martin from the Buffalo Bar to have a look - one quick fiddle later and it was all fixed...but then the other deck wasn't working! Some more fiddling and nothing helped, assistance was called in, more fiddling ensued, and suddenly the CDs weren't working either. If you wondered why there was a short period of silence early on, that was everything breaking down. More fiddling later and the whole thing was fixed - by which point I'd torn out of all of my hair and had several nervous breakdowns. Sorry to everyone who came up to say hello during that half hour...! I was a mite distracted...
  It was another busy one. We sold out by half ten, with a fairly large queue still outside. Apologies to everyone who had to queue in the cold. We may well have to move to a bigger venue if it carries on like this - I'd be keen to hear what you think of the idea. Email me!
  My highlights:
   * Bringing Up Baby by Talulah Gosh - first airing and it flew. Great to see a packed dancefloor rocking to this one at half one in the morning!
   * If You Need Someone by The Field Mice - another first airing and another stormer.
  * When The Boy's Happy by The Chiffons - glorious
   * Of Hopes, Dreams And Tombstones by Jimmy Frazier - a real footstomping northern tune!
   * You Are The Light by Jens Lekman - just fantastic. What a song! What a singer! People coming up going "what's this??"
   * Beginning To See The Light by the Velvet Underground - last song and that final singalong has never sounded so good.
   We're off on holiday now for a while, but we'll be back in March. Until then I'm DJ-ing twice this week. First off at the Oxfam Tsunami Benefit at the Marquee (with The Pipettes and two other bands) on Tuesday, and then at Offline at the Dogstar in Brixton (with The Actionettes and Tom Robinson doing a DJ set) on Thursday. Info about the former is here -
http://www.clubac30.com/ - and info about the latter is here - http://www.urban75.org/offline

January 17th: Vote for us! In the My Islington mini oscars. There's a category of best club, which has three club venues down and then a space for "other" - if you'd like to give us a nod then please put in the club's full name - How Does It Feel To Be Loved? - in there. And you never know...it worked for B&S...!!!

Click here to vote

January 13th:
I know there's been a lot of these lately, but please try and come along to this. A great bill of bands - especially The Pipettes who are like a very rough and ready Shangri-Las - and I'm DJing between the bands and afterwards for a bit of dancing.

Tuesday January 25th, The Marquee Club, 1 Leicester Sq

In aid of Oxfam's Tsunami Appeal, Club AC30 presents:
The Pipettes
The Caves
Mohanski
+ me playing some records

7.30pm til Late
£5 on door

More on The Pipettes here:
http://www.geocities.com/thepipettes/

Jaunary 11th: So here we are, another year. It's very strange to see that there's links to three years' worth of weblogs down there. Think I'll go and have a wander through 2002 in a minute. But first - traditionally the last poll of 2004 is now upon us. Drum roll please for the results of the 2004 HDIF POLL!!!

SINGLE OF THE YEAR
The Concretes 'You Can't Hurry Love'
Graham Coxon 'Freakin Out'
Morrissey 'Irish Blood English Heart'
Johnny Boy "You Are The Generation Who Bought Most Shoes'
Belle & Sebastian 'I'm A Cuckoo'

Runners Up
Belle & Sebastian 'Wrapped Up In Books/Your Cover's Blown'
Franz Ferdinand 'Take Me Out'
The Shins 'So Says I'
Morrissey 'Let Me Kiss You'
Britney Spears 'Toxic'
Container Drivers 'The Girl On The Bus'
The Magic Numbers 'Hymn For Her'
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds 'Breathless/There She Goes My Beautiful World'
The Projects 'Entertainment'
Xiu Xiu 'Fabulous Muscles'

ALBUM OF THE YEAR
The Go! Team 'Thunder Lightning Strike'
Jens Lekman 'When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog'
The Magnetic Fields 'I'
Morrissey 'You Are The Quarry'
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds 'Abattoir Blues/Lyre of Orpheus'

Runners Up
Brian Wilson 'Smile'
Franz Ferdinand 'Franz Ferdinand'
The Concretes 'The Concretes'
Le Tigre 'This Island'
Graham Coxon 'Happiness In Magazines'
The Delgados 'Universal Audio'
Bjork 'Medulla'
Language Of Flowers 'Songs About You'
The Shins 'Chutes Too Narrow'
TV On The Radio 'Desperate Youth Bloodthirsty Babes'

And I'd like to add:
Saturday Looks Good To Me 'Every Night'
Skinnyman 'Council Estate Of Mind'
Sufjan Stevens 'Seven Swans'

GIGS OF THE YEAR
The Pixies at Brixton Academy
Morrissey at Reading Festival
Belle & Sebastian at Somerset House
Love at Glastonbury
New York Dolls at Royal Festival Hall

Runners Up
The Pixies at V Festival
Franz Fedinand at Brixton Academy
Television Personalities at Bush Hall
Lloyd Cole at Hammersmith Apollo
Brian Wilson's 'Smile' at Royal Festival Hall
Trembling Blue Stars in Glasgow
Tom Waits at Hammersmith Apollo
Alan Bennett at Meltdown
St Etienne at Shepherd's Bush Empire
Hidden Cameras in Leicester

And I'd like to add
Simon & Garfunkel at Hyde Park

 

Proof, I think, that 2004 was a pretty good year, especially where gigs and albums are concerned. Looking back, it's interesting to see how many excellent chart pop singles were released in 2004 - Estelle '1980', Girls Aloud 'Love Machine', Britney Spears 'Toxic', loads more that I can't think of right now. And it was a year of events in the indie pop world too - from the comebacks of The Pixies, New York Dolls, Morrissey and the TVPs, to the release of 'Smile' and the emergence of The Concretes and Jens Lekman and another excellent album from Saturday Looks Good To Me. Wonder what 2005 has in store for us?

January 10th: We're sorry to say that we've had to cancel HDIF south in Feb, as we're going on holiday. We'll be back in March!

 

2004's weblog is right here

2003's weblog is right here

2002's weblog is right here

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