Last night, Left Hand Red played an opening slot at the Hope & Anchor in Islington, London. The venue has quite a punk pedigree, with appearances by loads of famous bands dating back to the ‘Seventies, and it also serves as a ‘feeder’ venue for the Dublin Castle, so we were naturally quite excited to be playing there. Unfortunately, the reality didn’t really live up to the expectation.
Things didn’t get off to the best start when Russell, Jane and I ended up getting ourselves lost in East London, but in the end we were only about 15 minutes later than our prescribed sound-check time of 19:30. Being late for sound-check never creates a great impression, so we were relieved to see that the other bands were still sound-checking themselves when we arrived.
When our turn to sound-check came, we were told that we only had 10 minutes, so we hurriedly went about setting up. Disaster! My bass failed to produce any output at all! I tried a different lead, just in case, but going in to two amps and my tuner showed that I was in trouble. Fortunately, we were able to borrow a bass from another band, and did a rushed and very ropey sound-check through a couple of verses and choruses.
By the end of our sound-check, it was already time to start our set, so we didn’t even bother leaving the stage. We played through half-an-hour or so of our most gig-friendly stuff, and of course, gave it the usual gusto. The whole thing felt like a bit of an effort though. The monitoring made it difficult to hear what we were doing, and the tiny stage (and we’re only a four-piece) was cramped and difficult to move around. It wasn’t the ideal environment for getting in to a performance. The unfamiliar bass and an unusually mobile drum kit didn’t help matters, either!
In the end, I think we put in a reasonable performance, and there were some positive comments on how everything sounded. We’ve learned not to let setbacks get us down, and to put as much effort as possible whatever the venue, crowd or situation, and hopefully that helped the impression we left.
Russell had an exam the next morning, and Jane and I had to be up early for work, so we left shortly after finishing our set and speaking to some of the people who’d made the trip up from Sussex. It might have been nice to stay for the other bands, but I didn’t feel particularly compelled to hang around, either. So, after two-and-a-half hours of travelling, and just an hour-and-a-half in the venue, we were off!
We’re often told that we need to look outside of Brighton if we’re going to go further as a band, but I have to say that I’m not sure we’ve got much from our travels to the capital, either. The venues we’ve played in just don’t seem to match up to those in Brighton, and it doesn’t feel like we’ve achieved much extra exposure (but it’s always great to play to those who come to check us out or make the journey with us).
Maybe we’re spoiled for choice in Brighton, or maybe there’s so much competition in London that it’s hard to get in to the good venues. We are going to be looking outside of Brighton for future gigs, particularly in big Uni towns and cities like Southampton and Reading, and I’m sure we’ll keep trying London, too.