Sometimes winter in Yorkshire can get depressing, and after a while the phenomenon of ‘sideways rain’ is likely to get to the most upbeat of people. So to get away and experience a few days of not getting drenched every time I left the house, I decided to head down to London for the weekend – although it didn’t hurt that there was a multitude of skateboarding planned around the city, and Agent Orange and the Stupids were playing on the Saturday night. After a Friday morning spent skating wet, muddy curbs, and thoroughly enjoying it, in Elephant and Castle with Jon, I headed over to Stockwell to skate around, and watch Questions do FS inverts on a 5 foot high quarter…no idea how that works, but needs to be seen to be believed. Despite my head being slightly fuzzed on Saturday, I pulled my shit together and headed toward Hemel Hempstead, which was the scene this year of Concrete Carnival – with attendance from most UK heads, along with Rune Glifberg and Eric fuckin’ Dressen! Seeing him do FS grinds in the pool made my day, as did the rest of the insanity going on….skateboarding these days is savage! And what better way to round the evening off with some 80s hardcore, who said the 80s are over?
Getting to Tufnell Park pretty early meant some chilling time with some cans and chronic on the steps across the world, where we made first contact with the drunkest woman on earth at that moment (asking us for some card), along with her close-to-as-messy mates. They were heading to the show as well, brilliant…After catching the end of the Rocco Lampones, who seem to have changed their style a bit and improved considerably since I saw them with the Swingin’ Utters (unless I was seeing a completely different band and got confused), the Human Project took to the stage with a brand of very melodic hardcore that didn’t appeal to me much. Fair play to them, they put some energy into it, and the drunks at the front seemed happy enough with it, but it didn’t do much for me. Next up were the recently reformed and still killing it Stupids, who kicked things back into shape with their high octane skate rock. Unfortunately for them, and the audience, this was the point of the show where drunk stupidity struck, and after a sozzled mongoloid sat on their drum kit, totally demolishing it, that was it after a 15 minute set. You could tell that the band were as pissed as the crowd, the bouncers had already kicked that group out more than once and let them back in so who was to blame? Enough to make you straight edge!
Luckily hardcore legends Agent Orange had no difficulties stepping up to the plate and appeasing the crowd with a set of tight, melodic surf tinged hardcore that covered most of Living in Darkness and a good selection of their later materials. Highlights for me were everything played from the first record along with a couple of covers; their usual version of the Dead Kennedys’ Police Truck, along with the more eclectic choice of Tom Waits’ Whistlin’ Past the Graveyard, which actually works well! Apparently the b-side to their new single, after hearing the single played as well I can happily say I enjoyed that more. Unfortunately we couldn’t catch the very end due to transport issues but I can only imagine they finished with Fire in the Rain and Bloodstains, and if it was as good as the rest of the show it can only have been sick as! The next day I was recharged by the power of hardcore and ready for a skate at Stockwell, and a day spent battling through the weather eventually paid off, with the first ever Stockwell Winter Games going down a treat. Only one corner of the park (the biggest part of the snake run) dry, some wooden grind boxes and jump ramps, and about 30 stoked skaters buzzing for a shred, and the session pretty much writes itself! Great to see people making the most at this time of year, fuck ya’ll fairweather cunts because we’re living this! Gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling to think about….though finding a bar that allowed some blazing of the chalice in the beer garden probably didn’t hurt. This was part of an art exhibition solely focusing on skateboarders and BMXers. Probably because I have a lot more in common with these people than other artists, this turned out to be one of the best art exhibitions I’ve been to, some of the ideas put on canvas made me grin, others just got me dead stoked. It’s great to see people using their time to be creative and do something interesting outside of just spending all day in skate parks (not that I’m knocking that, it’s kept me going for the last 11 years).
Getting back to Leeds on a Monday morning is always a treat, but sometimes you just can’t beat getting away for a weekend. This weekend was another reminder to me about just how lucky we are to have such strong scenes in both skateboarding and punk music – the economy might be fucked, our leaders might be leading us to the brink of destruction as they so dearly love to do, but at a grass roots level, shit is tight!