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A couple of nights after I went to see Follies N came over for dinner, it was a pretty strange time as we'd heard that my friend Z had died suddenly out in Chicago. We saw each other next night too as I took up his spare ticket to see Sparks in Shepherd's Bush- I've now seen them twice, despite not really knowing them at all, but they're fun and accessible, which made up for the pretty shoddy support act in Mr. Goodnite, whose lyrics weren't audible enough and songs weren't punchy enough to sustain his lounge-singer shtick. On the Friday the gig was at Electrowerkz to see King No-One: first up were Airwaves with some pretty solid indie-rock. King No-One have more of a pop-y, electronic sound than I usually go for but, having caught a snatch of them at Tramlines, I'd been quite enjoying their tunes. The lead singer plays up the sexuality which the young crowd were going mad for, I've never seen a band so mobbed when they decamped to the merch stand afterwards, meaning the show had a real buzz to it.

On Saturday I headed up to Oxford to spend the afternoon hanging out with L et al. in a non-Iris Project capacity, it was such a rare joy to just sit around with friends without there being any event or purpose to it. I'd managed to time the visit with Allusondrugs playing upstairs at The Zodiac*, so I walked down to the Cowley Road. There were a few bands on first: The Kaos were fairly standard guitary stuff, Slate Hearts were grungier but not in full health, metallers Rats Eat Rats, however, were full-throttle and awesome. I got the coach back to London afterwards as I had to be up on Sunday to speak at a service at the church where I work: it was actually really nice as I've been there Mon-Fri for pretty much a decade without ever really connecting to its parallel weekend life. N & I met up at Tate Britain afterwards to poke around its permanent collection, which felt enriching even though it had rather more in it that horrified than enchanted us. M's Mum was staying for the weekend so I headed back for a very homely-feeling roast.

I had Aberrant on Monday, was at N's Tuesday, then out at The Monarch to see Gaz Brookfield once again Wednesday night with E and Ketch: he had some usual suspects supporting him, B-Sydes (who didn't really make an impression) and Nick Parker (more lyric driven and good fun); you know what you're getting with a Gaz Brookfield gig, but luckily I'm still loving it. Thursday's gig was Cabbage at ULU: I just caught the end of snarly Proletariat, then was blown away by some totally unexpected, glorious queer rock in the form of Queen Zee and the Sasstones. Cabbage seemed slightly more muted than the last time I'd seen them, it seemed less attended or maybe Scala just corralled people together more, put there was still plenty of energy.

Friday night was our annual sponsored Sleep Out and staff had been asked to come to help it run smoothly this year: there had been some anxiety because we'd opened it up to more sleepers than ever, then they started construction in the middle of Duke of York Square, where it happens, but in the end there was plenty of space and it all went pretty smoothly. I didn't even try to bed down and chatted quite a bit to various night-owls passing through, then after the clear-up headed down to Southampton on a 7.30 train to help R prepare for her 40th Birthday tea party, which was all very pleasant. I came back up to London in the evening and managed to make it out in Kings X for a friend's surprise brithday drinks for a bit before finally heading to bed. Unsurprisingly, I wasn't really up to much on Sunday, although N and I did have a wander round an exhibition at 180 Strand, which seems to be acting as a fancy pop-up gallery while construction goes on all around it. It had some big names (Ai Weiwei, Anish Kapoor, Marina Abramovitch) but only a few pieces that I really connected with.

Roleplaying got cancelled on Monday and I spent the evening very grumpily at home, failing to achieve anything, which I suspect was the sleep deprivation still catching up with me, then I was at the Lexington on Tuesday to see October Drift, who I'd caught a couple of times on the festival circuit but actually got into more from listening to their recorded stuff (quite the reverse of my usual pattern of engagement with bands); they were supported by Jennifer (who were about my age, which is pretty rare for an opening-slot upstairs-at-a-pub band!) and 485c, who restored the age balance, although the singer's voice had a Cave/Cohenesque resonance that belied his youthful appearance. On Wednesday N & I were over in Willesden having dinner with my old FNB friends, which was lovely and, having not seen them for about a year, I met up with M again the next night, attending a night called Dear Leonard at T Chances. Like all nights at T Chances, it had a very community feel, occasionally bordering on ropiness, but had an endearing oddness to it: in this case, they opened a night purportedly celebrating the life of Leonard Cohen with a short talk on the Universal Basic Income. After that a female singer performed half a dozen or so of his songs, backed by a band that sounded a little like a school orchestra, interspersed with a narration of his life and readings from his books. There was also a Tango demonstration interlude, for no readily apparent reason.

I worked from home on Friday for the first time, in an effort to get shit done away from the distractions of our increasingly populated office, then headed over to N's in the evening and had a really nice time having food and playing Cards Against Humanity with his housemates. I came back home Saturday daytime then in the evening first went to Camden for an earlyish gig: a showcase of bands by This Feeling, who put on a lot of up-and-coming guitar music. The band I originally bought a ticket for had actually pulled out but it was still a good selection: Blackwaters, who I'd seen a couple of times before, Paves, who I think were new to me but I really liked, Bang Bang Romeo, who I'd seen at Great Escape: the singer has a fantastic voice but her stage manner irritated me a bit and the songs don't quite back it up, and The Shimmer Band who had a real Stone Roses thing going on but were very danceable. After that I headed back over to Dalston to meet up with E and R for a very packed and sweaty Pink Glove, which felt like my first clubbing in ages and we made the most of the opportunity to dance. I didn't get much sleep before needing to be up today as N came round to drive all the debris piled in my not-garden to the tip and after that our friends C&M visited for lunch.

*It's possible it's not actually been known as The Zodiac this century.


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