Jeru tha Damaja, The Art School
An evil event from start to finish, where I learned first-hand about the cruel tactics of the Art School. They open their doors at 10pm, but the act doesn’t come on until 1am. Giving us plenty of time to spend our money getting good and drunk. Or drunk and impatient, as in this case. We were already well oiled before the Art School opened, so three hours later we’d hit the ugly side of binge drinking.
While at the bar, we spot Jeru over in a corner with his sidekick Afu. I try to work up the courage to say hello. Emboldened by shots and beer, I head over. Then, at the last second, I bitch out. But I’ve started walking, so I have to go somewhere. I pass Jeru and end up in the toilets instead. Returning, I opt instead to graze against him, as if some of his emceeing skills might literally rub off on me. They don’t.
A friend, who I’ll call Thewart to protect his identity, is the ugliest drunk of all. Not a hip-hop fan to begin with, he began hating the event hours before Jeru got on stage. But he had paid for his ticket, so he was staying. Buy the ticket, take the ride. So when Jeru’s hype-man comes out and tries to work the crowd with “Are you ready for Jeru That Damaja?”, he’s met by one little, long-haired chap at the front of the stage screaming “Nooooo!” and giving him the finger.
It gets worse from there. The acoustics are so bad that the tracks are eaten up by the walls. All we can hear is a drum beat bounce around the room, out the door and down the street. Jeru’s lyrics similarly evade us, and are later found in Sauchiehall St, talking to a tramp. It was practically impossible to tell the songs apart. Still, we waited it out to the end. And then the other end of the horrible Art School scheduling showed itself. It is now too late to get into a club. Drunk and frustrated, we do what most men would when drunk in town at 2am. We buy chips and go home. After killing some hookers.
Jeru tha Damaja, The Arches
A vast improvement from the last time. Better mood, better scheduling, better sound, better people. The sound in The Arches is as clear as the nose on your mum’s face. Every filthy drumbeat on Come Clean goes in my ears and straight to my worthless soul. At one point, a friend, who I’ll call Dobby, sees the future. He demands that we move. Right now. We oblige. He splits the crowd wide open like a child’s skull, with the stomping and drunken sway of a Professional Boozehound, leading us to the front of the stage. We clear space with the awkward movements of white boys at a hip-hop gig. And then Dobby’s goal is revealed. Jeru drops D Original, and joy-pee is had by all. Pure East Coast hip-hop rains from the speakers, covering us in DJ Premier’s audio-love. So to speak.
Roots Manuva, Arches
The same venue as above, yet completely different sound. Manuva sounds so bad that we spend the first 20 minutes staring at the lights on the equipment for amusement. Soon bored, we rely on shots for entertainment. The gig becomes an excuse to get steaming, the music is forgotten. The boozing leads to problems after we leave to go to a club. As we near the club, I realise that my legs are working independently of my brain. I’ve been slowly falling over since we left The Arches, and have only now noticed. Humiliatingly, I have to say “I’m too drunk to stop”. We have to walk beyond the club entrance, then turn so I can make another pass, like a plane trying to land in bad weather.
Mr Lif, King Tut’s
Another drunken gig, pretty much from the start. There’s little memory of the gig itself, except jumping around like a bouncing idiot when he performed I, Phantom. After the gig, Lif sells CDs from on-stage. I buy two, demanding that he also sign them. He tells me to take the shrink-wrap off first. But the drink has given me hoove-hands. Ten minutes later, with Lif about to leave, I am forced to resort to drastic measures. I chew through the shrink-wrap, managing to curse and swear while doing so. I leave the venue alone, yet triumphant, with two signed CDs in my pockets and plastic still stuck in my teeth. I walk to a club to meet some people, talking and laughing to myself. Somehow, I was considered sober enough to be allowed entry to the club. Within minutes I had dropped and smashed a jug full of booze. Winning.
El-P, King Tuts
This was round about the same time as the Mr Lif gig, and resulted in the same drunken outcome. El-P comes on stage with blood on his head. An appropriate look for a gig where most of the audience seem to want to smash their own skulls in. I don’t think that there was a sober person in there. At some point I got up to buy more beer, suffered some memory lapse on the way back and ended up at the stage instead. El-P played a song I really liked and I bounced about and tried not to fall over. Then beer-fatigue set in and I stood there, pink-eyed and drowsy for the rest of the gig.
Dan the Automator and others – Glasgow University Union
An early standard-setter for drunken gigs. Afrika Bambaata was supposed to open up, but never made it. I think Maceo from De La Soul might’ve been there too. The night was drunken nonsense from the start. Forced to drink spirits out of tiny paper cups, our table was soon covered in them. I went to the bar and returned to find out that a bottle had been lobbed towards our table. With no obvious enemies, this was presumably just an eccentric start to the night. More drink was consumed. We danced. Or shuffled. Or scuttled, depending on your definition. Automator came on and we became more frenzied.
Much more drinking and ‘dancing’ later, and the night winds down. A chap I’ll call Devin, a renowned fondler, decides that this is the time to put his grubby little hands to work. He patrols the outer rim of the dance-floor, seeking a victim. He stops. We follow his inebriated gaze as it lands on a female bouncer. We simultaneously shake our heads at him, like a dance routine for quadriplegics. No, not in here. This is foreign land. We could be consumed here, and our parents would never know. But Devin is stubborn, he’s locked in. He goes in for the ass, we go into Stranger Mode, pretending we don’t know him. The bouncer doesn’t flinch. Being a female bouncer, there’s a lot of meat back there, so maybe she can’t feel it. He goes in again, double-handed. I lose my nerve and leave. Devin is forsaken.
Outside now, and we’re down to two, me and Dobby. Glasgow Union exits onto a small hill. The kind of hill that demands a forward roll contest. We enter, we roll, we both lose, but we survive. Which may be more than Devin does. A passer-by warns us of the injuries we could sustain, saying we “could break our necks”, or something to that effect. Not the last time tonight that we receive such a warning.
We leave and stagger down a lane. A car has the audacity to not be covered in plants and soil. We remedy this quickly. Soon the car is adorned with greenery and dirt, like a lovely, vehicular flower bed.
Down the main road, and Dobby has found something that demands our attention. I hope for a dead prostitute. It’s not, but it’s the next best thing – a disabled seagull. The gull (which is quickly named ‘Beanie Seagull’, in a surprising display of quick-wittedness) has problems flying. Its wing is dysfunctional. Dobby picks it up and inspects it. A taxi drives by and the driver shouts that the seagull “could break your arm”. I think he has it confused with a swan. West End people are so negative. Dobby is determined to fix Beanie’s problem. He assumes the mantle of seagull-repairer. He strokes it, giving it a motivational speech, much like Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday. Confident in Beanie’s improvement, Dobby lobs the gull into the air. Fly, Beanie, fly. We visualise it soaring high into the sky, proud and strong. It crashes into a bin. We abandon it.
We hear a noise behind us, from the lane we just passed through where the flower-car is parked. It’s the noise of stumbling, scraping and mumbling. The outline of a figure becomes visible. It approaches. But not directly. It pinballs through the lane, bouncing off of the buildings on either side. We watch, astounded that the thing has not yet collapsed. The beast stops and rests. My phone rings. It’s Devin. The drink has dulled my logic sensors, I have not yet come to the horrible conclusion.
“Where are you?” Devin asks.
“Byres Rd,” I respond, “where are you?”
“In a lane”
“I don’t know, I can’t read the sign”
It’s all downhill from here. The figure has gained a face. Devin barrels out of the lane towards us, still colliding with everything in his vicinity. He’s in worse shape than the seagull. Another revelation hits. He’s too drunk to get home by himself. I consider abandoning him, again leaving him for dead. I think about it for a long time. Something inside me, possibly my Catholic upbringing, rears up and demands that I take him with me. I am a fool.
Three or four taxis won’t even let us in. Devin is broken, ready to fold up the second that I let him go. Eventually, a kind taxi driver lets us in. But not for long. As soon as Devin mentions that he feels sick, we’re both unceremoniously dumped to the kerb. As I unfold him, I realise that we’re in Possil and it is three in the morning. I am tense. After several sweaty minutes I hail another taxi. Somehow I convince the driver that Devin is well enough to make the ten minute journey without vomiting, pissing himself or bringing himself off into an ashtray. Maybe I convinced the driver that Devin wasn’t drunk, he was just a dead body. Regardless, we make it home. My task has ended. I dump this shell of a man on a chair and feign sleep as quickly as possible.