Thursday, January 08, 2009

Lost Bands of Britpop (Part Seven)

One of the strange things about living in the LA is that there are pockets of people into every conceivable type of music. LA's scene is the absence of a scene. During my formative musical years (High School and College) there were people who were the leftover metal heads, the indie kids, the ravers, the hip hop crowd and the britpop kids. Being that I was kinda into all of these styles it made it weird to go to shows and know exactly who I would see without question. Take the Brit kids for example. Here was this collection of boys and girls who dressed like Morrissey or Damon Albarn, attended every show by a band from the other side of the pond and in many cases spoke with fake English Accents. It was kinda sad actually but also they were so rabid and so passionate about these bands that it gave the shows a real energy that was lacking in a lot of American acts when they played LA. Which brings me to the INSPIRAL CARPETS.

The Carpets were a really good band. My first exposure to them came as part of a record label compilation that had a remixed version of "Commercial Rain" that was almost a dub reggae song. What struck me was lead singer Tom Hingley's voice. More baritone then the other Manchester acts, it gave the band's sound a distinctive feel. That along with the prominence of a Hammond Organ in most of their songs (and everything is cooler with an organ accompaniment)

When the Carpets hit LA to support what turned out the be their biggest record (Revenge of the Goldfish) I trekked down THE PALACE in LA to see them. The place was a sea of the Brit Kids which made the venue some sort of weird tribute to the British life style. I can only think the band was backstage laughing. But the show was great, the band was great and the crowd lifted the event to a new level (a similar thing happened when I saw JAMES right around the same time, which might be the best small venue show I have ever been to)

By the time they came back to tour for their next record, the band was being looked at for an opening slot for DEPECHE MODE on their US tour later that year. So we went back down to see them again. I cannot honestly tell you if it was a good show or not because I was far more interested in who was at the bar at the show. My friend Tom and I had a bet that someone famous would be there. It just had that type of feel to it. So when he came back from the bathroom practically hyperventilating I could tell something was up. He dragged me out of the show to the bar where MARTIN GORE and The other dude who doesn't really play but manages the band secretly were drinking. I sheepishly approached Martin with the intent of merely saying hi and asking for an autograph. He was actually looking for a reason to leave the bar and his band mate (who was very interested in the blond next to him) so he walked back into the show with us and we chatted while the band played. It was very surreal.

So what does this have to do with the band. Every time I hear the Carpets I think of that night. I think of the kids who were so into them the first time I saw them and the way Martin Gore spoke of them in such glowing terms (US record label politics did not make the bill materialize). The band broke up after that record and has only been together sporadically since then. Which seems to be a common theme amongst the britpop bands. But I still have a warm spot in my heart for them for giving me two great concert moments.

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