Tag Archives: Rock music

Wednesday 3rd December 2014 – The Fish Finger Conundrum again

It’s the Fish Finger Conundrum again. Please feel free to check out 20th October 2014 if you have no idea what I’m on about.

Because of what I learned while window shopping in the frozen section Farmfoods not long ago, I decided that I could do with some new clothes for gigs.

Like the varying frozen Fish Fingers I have sampled, I know that pretty packaging does not improve the contents inside. However, it gives an indication of what may be in the box. I’m not just representing myself when we play, I’m representing my bandmates too. And since my wardrobe is pretty vanilla for a rock band, my (nearly) new leather jacket was a good purchase. It smells of smoke, which is both sad and ironic, since I got it from Cancer Research. However it fits pretty well and is quite cosy.

At future gigs and practices I will look more like a rock musician, and all thanks to some Fish Fingers.


Thursday 20th November- The Pretty Reckless, Heaven’s Basement and Nothing More Concert at Glasgow O2

At College I came in early to try out a Personal Listening Device. This piece of equipment should help me to listen in lectures. If all goes well, I will have my own Personal Listener to use soon. Even in the small Learning Support room, where we tried the equipment, voices sounded clearer, directed straight into my ears, minimising background noise. My Learning Support teacher said that she may also look into getting a Personal Listening Device for someone with ADHD. It may help him concentrate in lectures too.

In the afternoon my class had a Weed, Pest, Disease and Disorder identification exam. Pests, weeds and diseased plant material was numbered and laid out on tables. We had to write the names of each problem on an exam sheet.

Tonight was something I’d been looking forward to for ages! I went straight from college to Glasgow for a concert. Way back in the summer I had booked a ticket to see Heaven’s Basement at Glasgow 02. They are supporting The Pretty Reckless.

I had never been to Glasgow 02 before. Until Johansen IAS therapy helped me with my serious Auditory Processing Disorder, I was scared of loud noise and didn’t go to concerts apart from the classical events which were part of my music school experience. This was the third of fourth rock concert I have been to.

I still have some difficulties with Auditory Processing, which is why I was trying a Personal Listening Device this morning. Back before Johansen, everything was deafeningly loud, even fairly quiet sounds such as people talking could feel painful, and sound distorted. Without Johansen IAS therapy, I would never have learned to play drums. Instead of being my favourite thing, the loud sound would still scare me.

Hearing the words in songs for the first time was a revelation. I had no idea that songs were also stories. Music had so much more meaning and I could hear each instrument. It used to be so unclear, any vocals being a mush of vowel sounds with instrumental backgrounds blending together like runny paint. After seeing Camilla at Johansen IAS, individual colours and shapes started to separate from a mush of sound.

As soon as I can, I’ll post a before and after drawing of my hearing in the Synaesthesia section of this website.

I have always loved music, but now it is INCREDIBLE. Able to hear clearly, I found the kind of music I like. I love Heaven’s Basement. They were the first band I saw after my Auditory Processing Disorder got better. They played at Glasgow Cathouse, somewhere else I had never been before. It was an amazing experience.  

The line was huge, stretching all around the side of the Glasgow O2 and down the road. Inside, I had to put my backpack in a ticketed cloakroom. Only handbags were allowed in. My folders of plant malfunctions and baked potato dinner wouldn’t fit in a handbag. I remembered to get my earplugs out my bag just in time. Now that I have clear hearing, there’s no way I want to start losing it. Backpack ransomed for a  ticket, I found a balcony seat.

The 02 is bigger on the inside. As crowds filled the building, speakers played Audioslave. I like Audioslave. They were also being played at Paisley Bungalow just before our first gig, which was last week.  My parents might say that  going to another city to see a concert on a college night means that I’m not focusing on my education. This is musical education. I would love to play music for a living. Tonight was an amazing field trip.

Nothing More were first on stage. They were astonishing. Their drummer was amazing and at one point, three of the band played one bass guitar on a specially made stand. The sound of three people playing one bass (one of them using drumsticks) was incredible. They got a huge tune out of it, which sounded like multiple instruments. One of the coolest things I’ve ever heard or seen. Their music is out of this world. I’m really happy to have seen them tonight because I have a feeling that before long, tickets to see Nothing More may be quite expensive.

Heaven’t Basement introduced themselves to the crowd as “We’re a legless band from England!” They were a bit legless, but still brilliant. I love their music. They played the same songs I heard at their last amazing gig I went to. One of the albums I’ve bought where I like every song on it. Their music was loaded full of energy, at the end they looked a bit like they wanted get back on their bus and pass out.

The headliners, The Pretty Reckless, were great. They have a huge sound. Songs I hadn’t heard before and really want to hear again. At the end there was a long drum solo. Incredible to watch. What an end to the night!


Thursday 11th September- Day 4 of Student Life – Fresher’s Week Rock Gig

Tonight I went to a rock gig with the Edinburgh Uni Goth & Rock Society. They’re really nice people with a passion for music and a great sense of humour. I wished I had brought my earplugs because it was so loud, but it was great. There were other first-years there too and we swapped phone numbers. I met the society’s Grand Vizier, who jokingly introduced himself as “the Grand Vizier Self-Titled”. I love how they are much less serious than other Edinburgh uni societies.

When one of my new friends asked the organizer what was the name of “that big guy with long hair”, he said that didn’t really narrow it down. Some people there looked a bit scary, but they were really friendly. Despite the loud music, I could hear no worse than anyone else there, probably better than most, if they were regularly exposed to this decibel level without earplugs.

There were four different bands. The first sounded something like Guns ‘n’ Roses. The second group were a loud punk band. After than came screaming heavy metallers with garden gnome facial hair. The final band played industrial music. I hadn’t heard much industrial music before, but I liked this. The group I saw performing were kind of like the Prodigy meets Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. There was a woman in a black headdress behind a sound board, and two men, one singing and the other drumming. They were both smeared with black paint. It sounded stranger than most music but I’d definitely listen to it again. Industrial music is darker in colour than most music, because of the bass. The singing is distorted and so instead of the ordinary pinkish line of a voice, it’s a darker shade, sometimes white or yellow. Blue tinges for lower vocals. The shape of the singer’s voice was rippled and cut into slices midair by the electronic distortion and sometimes had a texture like 3-dimensional static from a TV screen. The bass was zigzaggy and the electronic backing more brightly colourful and beautiful. The undistorted electric tones were smoother, slightly glassy and transparent and bright, pure colours. Smooth, oval-like shapes. They were at the background of a stage-sized mass of distorted, grainy, zigzagging, spiky sound slamming out into the room. The drums gave it some more even, solid flattish pulses of colour, and the cymbals put gold into the mix from the side of the stage. It was unusual looking music, like standing inside a fireworks factory in the middle of an arson attack. Quite a night.

Wednesday 10th September- Day 3 of Student Life- Wind Band tryout

After some course-related paperwork in the morning, I went to the Societies Fair with some of my flatmates.

A Societies Fair is where you can sign up to join a huge range of activities. About one hundred choices, ranging from the Tea-appreciation society to the Cheese society, Pole-dancing society and the Anarchist Society. I joined mostly music societies, one of them being a Wind Band. Their first rehearsal of the year is tonight.

At Wind Band, my Auditory Processing Difficulties were not a problem, in the past, before Johansen Individualised Auditory Stimulation therapy, I had found it difficult to hear conductors’ instructions such as what bar number we were starting from. In fact, this was the first time I had played in a wind band since my hearing was fixed. However, tonight I  had other things to worry about.

When I signed up to Wind Band, I hadn’t thought things through. All that had computed with me was that I would have the chance to play on an acoustic drum kit. I missed my drums back home in Glasgow and my electric kit was still in pieces in IKEA bags in my new room. Already playing that acoustic kit in my mind, I hadn’t even considered some important things such as:

  • I haven’t played in a wind band in about five years
  • I have never played drums in a wind band or with a conductor before
  • I have been playing drums less than a year and a half
  • Rock, punk and metal drumming will not be helpful in a wind band
  • I have never played drums in front of anyone besides my mum (when my times up and she wants to use the attic computer) and my bandmates (in our cosy little studio room)

I arrived, I was enthusiastic, and I didn’t know how to put a drum kit together from pieces. Luckily the percussion section were much more cluefull than me and we were soon set up.

My first attempt at playing drums in front of sixty people went badly. I couldn’t read the music because it was on two lines instead of a music stave. I had to stop before I’d started and one of the other drummers took over. He played it perfectly.

Standing around not sure what to do, something else dawned on me. Oh yeah, I’ve never played percussion either.

That’s when they gave me the hand-cymbal part to Liberty March.

Hand cymbals are huge, hand-held cymbals which you slam together in a specified rhythm. For most of Liberty March, you slam them together every second beat. Slamming is really fun until your arms get tired. Halfway through the piece, I began to slam gradually more slowly. If I were on triangle duty, I would have got off scot-free, but unfortunately, I was the loudest thing in the room.

Somehow we got through to the end of Liberty March. Now I was on triangle duty.

The percussion section were lovely. They were supportive of my lack of ability and tried to make me feel better. Their great sense of humour and carefree attitude cheered me up a bit. At first I had felt like crying with frustration, but now I saw the funny side of my situation- I was a talented music school-trained flautist, choosing to play very badly in the percussion section.

After a slightly disastrous first attempt at playing a rack of long, silver tubes (which had beautiful colours) I had a chance to go back on the drums. I had a lot to live up to. The other two drummers were very talented. The not only kept time with the conductor, but also improvised parts of the music while sight-reading. And they could do rolls on the snare, which I envied.

The chosen piece was YMCA. It is not hard, but I had never played in front of a crowd, let alone sight-read. I enthusiastically hammered out a messy, out of time beat, struggling to follow then conductor and read at the same time. I had forgotten whether arms up or arms down signalled the first beat in a bar. I was so nervous, I probably tried both just to be sure.

I feel like the conductor might be glad to see the back of me after that.

Probably looking very sheepish by now, the lovely percussion people gave me coconuts to play, and fairly easy-looking coconut notation. Coconuts are a percussion instrument I had only ever seen in Monty Python’s The Holy Grail. I was excited to try them. This went okay. Coconuts were fun and about my level. Matte-White, circular sounds, the size of small balloons, in the air just in front of me.

Rehearsal over, the percussionists told me not to worry, and said I’d learn percussion if I came to rehearsals. I think I might just stick to trying to improve my drum skills on my electric kit back at the flat. I’d like to see them again, but I might not be cut out for Wind Band drumming.

I have the enthusiasm to be a good drummer, but beside the other drummers, who may have been music students, my playing was pathetic in the loudest way possible. I still had fun, but realised that if I want to be as good as those guys I will have to practice, practice, practice. I will. I’d love to be a good drummer.

Packing away my sticks and getting out my helmet for the homewards cycle, I was asked by one of the leaders of wind band, I thing,  if I played any other instruments as well as percussion. I think they saw I was a bit crestfallen about my deafeningly-displayed lack of ability and were trying to make me feel fetter. I said that I didn’t play percussion, this was my first try. I said that I could play flute too. Well, they said, smiling warmly. We take players of all abilities.

The next time I’ll play drums in public will probably be with my bandmates at our first gig. It’s reassuring to think that at least it probably won’t be as bad as tonight.

Wednesday 19th March 2014

I still have no curtains. Wearing a beanie pulled down over my face to block out the light so I can sleep better is not a permanent solution. I need a better and less itchy, woollen answer to the window problem.

I had been looking forward to tonight ever since I booked my ticket in January. I almost didn’t. I thought “It will be noisy, full of people, I’ve never been to this venue before, and, I’ve no idea what it will be like”. But I knew that I would regret it forever if I didn’t go.

On the bus into town, I met a friend’s brother on the bus. We chatted a bit and I barely missed a word over the rumble of the engine, hardly needing to lip read.

In the city centre, I joined a line outside The Cathouse to see Heaven’s Basement. We were right next to their tour bus, a huge double-decker thing with blacked-out windows. For the past few years, I’ve been a hermit. The last gig I saw was McFly at the SECC when I was thirteen years old. That was…..six years ago.
I was very excited. I love their music and they’re supposed to be amazing live.
The Cathouse was much smaller than I expected. We showed our tickets to people at the door and walked up brick stairs with red lights to a man at the top who was patting people down for weapons. He didn’t bother with me. Guess I don’t seem like the stabbing type. Maybe I was smiling too much. The concert area was a stage with a smallish floorspace and a bar. Behind that was a merchandise table and a lounge area.

It was not like any concert I’ve been to before. Besides McFly, I’ve been to a lot of classical concerts and recitals (willingly and otherwise), where everyone claps politely after a piece and people who cough are given annoyed glances. The highlights of classical concerts I’ve been to was seeing Ian Clarke (the best flutist and flute composer in the world, as far as I’m concerned), James Galway (another great flutist with a phenomenal sound), and a boring school piano recital when some oyster catchers had a noisy and vicious fight outside the window.

This was completely the opposite of a classical concert. Everyone was packed together on the floor, waving their arms, shouting and going mental. I didn’t know that there was two hours of supporting bands first, but they were brilliant. I had arrived early and got to see both of them. I also got a space very near the front where I could see the drummers (or at least see them on the front-row people’s phones).

The music was amazing! I wore my earplugs so I wasn’t reeling from the volume, but could still hear everything clearly. The two support bands were really good. The Dirty Youth and Glamour of the Kill. I recognised some of their songs which I’d heard on the radio. Everyone was really excited and the second band, Glamour of the Kill, asked for “A wall of death”. A mosh pit appeared in the centre of the crowd. I was quite happy to be at the side of the floor, safe from getting battered. Bright lights, noise so loud I could feel it buzzing in my chest, and people packed tightly together. In the past it would have been an Auditory Processing Nightmare for me, a recipe for sensory overload with my synaesthesia adding to the mix.
I absolutely loved it.

Finally it was time for Heaven’s Basement. We waited for half an hour, as people tested the equipment. There were three drum kits on stage, one for each band. Just as everyone was getting bored, they came on stage. The music was just as good as everything on their CD, and they were full of energy. It was an amazing concert! I tried to see the band members’ colours, but I under the bright stage light I could only see a vague yellowish glow around the singer. To be honest, I wasn’t really thinking about colours because I was enjoying the music too much. They are all incredible musicians and gave it everything.

At classical concerts, when people want an encore, they shout “Encore!” at a polite volume and applaud. Here, we all chanted, “Here we F***ing go!”, until they came back on. This seems to be the acceptable thing to do at a rock gig, and it’s much more fun.

Concert finished, I bought a Welcome Home Tour t-shirt from the table, drank two free cups of water (it was really hot in there!) and dashed for one of the last trains home.

On the train a drunk was swearing at the ticket attendant. When the ticket attendant swore back, he was surprised as hell and kept saying “What?” in disbelief. I realised on Saturday night that it’s a very good idea to avoid people who may be a problem, and I moved carriages just in case the universe thought I hadn’t learned my lesson yet.

Before my hearing became clear enough to realise that songs had proper lyrics, and the background instruments separated out from a mushy din into individual parts, I thought that music with words, really any kind of songs, were pointless. Without my new improved hearing, would I be in a crowd of strangers listening to blasting rock music? I doubt it. All of the music which I love now would still be a garbled, sludgy mush. Music is one of the most important things to me. Nowadays I can’t imagine, and sometimes barely remember what it was like before my new hearing and awareness that there was so much wonderful music out there! Every time I listen to a CD, the radio, or hear the words in a song, that’s thanks to Johansen IAS therapy

I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy the gig or not, but there was only one way to find out and I absolutely loved it. I went home smiling after one of the best nights of my life.