Your Cheapest Whisky and Soda, Please, To Help With the Anxiety.

Leaving the house feels like a bad idea. Who knows what minor shitty terrors and surprisingly crushing inconveniences are waiting out there? But then I heard Mclusky (supported by Slime City) were playing in Glasgow, and Mclusky broke up before I ever got into them, because I am a stupid prick and slow off the mark and never know what is good until it is gone. I had liked the sound of Mclusky, with all their loud yipping and abstruse shrieking. They were a band that made songs out of the tense and the nonsensical. Mclusky knew that everything outside was probably on fire to one degree or another and nothing made sense, but that it was fine to enjoy it anyway. Mclusky had no answers, but they did have excellent titles that were somewhere between sneers and jokes: Without MSG I Am Nothing, Alan Is a Cowboy Killer, Lightsaber Cocksucking Blues. I also like Mclusky’s lyrics. I don’t understand the fuckers, but I think I enjoyed them. They have that line: “Your heart’s gone the colour of Coca-Cola. Your heart’s gone the colour of a dust.bin.lid.” I’m not entirely sure what that means, but it resonates as an image of some sort of artificial decay, and I’d guess if we could take a walking gallery tour of my innards, they would probably look something like industrial plastic melted by deeply unhealthy soft drinks.

Anyway, despite the discomfort of going outside and then compounding the risk by having to catch a train, I’d booked the tickets long ago before I could talk myself out of it, so I pulled my dusty arse together and made the trip through the unbearable milling swarms of the Embrah Festival crowds. Glasgow would be a holiday compared to that bullshit.

The gig was at St. Luke’s in the east end of Glagsow – which is attached to a comfortably trendy restaurant called the Winged Ox. Because even after all these years I have no goddamn idea when to turn up for gigs, I arrived unfashionably early, and thought I’d brace myself with a few drinks. The youth-infused staff at the Ox were so attentive in their service, taking pity on my decaying self and bringing drinks on over to my table as I ate, that it made me uncomfortable. I’m not used to good service. It makes me suspicious. But getting about is a pain in the arse when your bones are powdered garbage, and since it takes me a few good mouthfuls of booze to get some stiffening action to the old unliving frame, I was grateful for those smiling drinks.

It was whisky and soda they were bringing me. I’d promised myself to stick to them one at a time, but unless you have a pint of water as timekeeper, you mow down those whisky sodas too fast, and to save time, I fell back on the old Noah plan, and had them come two-by-two instead. Whisky soda is the drink for an ancient dry throat. When you are young, when you first start boozing, you drink what you can get – cooking sherry, leftover liqueurs bright with the overseas your parents visited, a bag in box of the cheapest, largest wine you can barely wrap your arms around. Then you move on to sweeter stuff when you start to have a say – sugary drinks like vodka and fruit, or Jack and Coke, or cider with a menacing sizzle, or slow burping lager. I thought lager was tough and manly when I was young and stupider, until a philosopher I met pointed out how they all have an underlying taste of sickly sweet corn syrup in them. I’ve never been able to drink shit lager ever since. Be careful of philosophers; they will fuck you right up.

Whisky and soda is where I am, now and until the end waiting for us. I want the cheapest whisky you have, and I want soda water filled all the way to the top – this isn’t some fancy shit here. Whisky and soda is perfect because you can drink a lot of it and it goes down fine with a vague mournful taste. Whisky soda tastes like a tobacco sunset in dishwater. It is a drink that isn’t terrible, but it also isn’t nice, and you get to a certain stage in life when you know that’s all you deserve. It’s a prophet of a drink too, and even as it goes down you can already feel some of what your hangover is going to be like. I normally order Grouse, or Bells – a low whisky that is a perfect balance of refreshment and world-weariness. Tonight, much to my discomfort, it turns out the local cheapest whisky is Monkey Shoulder, which is a bit fucking fancy a gastro drop for me, but needs must.

With enough of the boozewater in my system to get me steady again, I head into St. Luke’s proper. It’s a former church with a bar and blackout curtains. The organ pipes are still there behind the stage, all lit up, and as the bantam-vibe front guy from Mclusky points out, we are here on a Sunday. I am particularly pleased as piss about one remnant of churchy days – St Luke’s has a couple of pews up against the sides. In my crumbling state, I can’t stay on my feet for a whole concert, so a seat off to the side is a goddamn blessing. This one even came with two beardy men who were happy to save my spot when I went off to get myself more drinks. Thank you, beardy men.

I only stood up from my pew for songs off the best-of album mcluskyism, which were also the only ones I knew. Judge me if you must. I sang along and shouted the few words I remembered. I have no idea why Mclusky are touring now after being gone so long, and them up on stage in front of the organ pipes felt almost ghost-like, a haunting out of the past when we were younger and enjoyed the sound of angry uncertainty. If I’m honest, though, I wasn’t really entirely there for Mclusky. Mclusky was the excuse, but I was really sitting on an old church bench in a dark hall because of the support band, Slime City. I saw them support Art Brut at Sneaky Pete’s (The Corridor that Walks Like a Venue), and enjoyed their stuff enough to make it feel worthwhile to brave the expedition. Slime City are a local three-piece who had released a nippy anthemic song about the futility of existence a little before the gig, called ‘You And Everybody That You Love Will One Day Die’, the chorus of which encourages you to Cling to Anything. You already know me well enough now to suspect that kind of thing resonates in my bones. I’m a fan of the galloping nihilist song, a collection in my knowledge that now consists of Slime City’s banging track, as well as Malcolm Middleton’s ‘We’re All Going to Die’. Viewers are encouraged to write in with any other suggestions for the genre.

Having seen Slime City twice now, I appreciate the effort they put into their inbetween patter – their lowering of expectations at the start, their stage nonsense with a musical shoe, their awkward set of dance moves for one song. It’s like the band is so anxious about playing, they’ve made sure that these inbetween pieces of tomfuckery are there to help support and scaffold their time on stage, and I don’t think they are wrong to do so. Nerviness can be a great motivator. Slime City’s sense of awkward nervousness, the fear that they won’t quite measure up to an audience’s expectations charms the shit out of me.

As I was having my last drink(s), forced by a sudden shortage of cheapest whisky to try and get down the very inadequate substitute of a Bourbon and Soda (Buffalo Trace), it occurred to me that Slime City have several songs about how small things have changed and maybe for the worse – about the simpler early frontier days of technology (Dial-Up Internet is the Purest Internet), about the loss of traditional avenues for television performance for working class bands (Less Jools Holland, More Top of the Pops), but they don’t feel like a grumbly geriatric band to me. They rush through the songs with anxiousness, but with a kind of hopeful anxiousness for the future; nervy, but thinking maybe, just maybe when you head out the door tomorrow the shitshow won’t be quite as bad as you think. That seems to me to be a beautiful, understandable, and commendable youthful attitude.

Total Number of Whisky Sodas: Around ten, although I put one of a pair down for a moment while attending to its twin and someone nicked it. To you, you thieving cockunt, may it only bring you happiness.
Hangover: Mild disgust and an ever so slight gnawing emptiness.

mclusky:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqOp70ZQdkk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GD0J3TT9z-A

Slime City:
https://slime-city.bandcamp.com/

– Larry Dives

poorlarry@subsidingsun.uk

back in that hole

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