Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Goths in Spain

Listening to Fame by David Bowie

Over six months later and I deliver as promised! Click here to read scene relevant material from when we first got home. Be aware that this is written from the perspective of Australian Goth who had previously not been clubbing overseas at all. What I have to say may be standard for other parts of Europe.

It’s expensive! We have it good here let me tell you, cost wise. Your entry usually includes a free drink. You mix your own mixers. They give you the glass with spirit, ice and a bottle of whatever you wanted mixed in. You pour that part yourself.

It appears that the Goth scene is bigger in Madrid than in Barcelona. There are more clubs and clothing stores. According to a fellow clubber at Club 666, several new clubs and stores opened in February.

Club 666 website – we enjoyed it but get there at 10 because it closes at 1am! There’s a hotel next door to it. Ah the universal language of music. The goths were friendly :) An English speaker was helping out a German couple after the club had finished and we were outside so we got some info off him as well. Flyers were being given out at the end of the night for other clubs, one of which we walked and went to.

New Order Club website - as fun as it sounds, lots of synthy stuff. The venue is shared with another club. Small dance floor with video screen.

There was a goth clothing shop we discovered in our explorations off Calle Fuencarral, next to a fetishware shop. Unfortunately it had weird opening hours that they didn’t keep to. In the 3 times we were in the area it was closed.

Touch Me clothing website – 5 Calle Colon had friendly staff and some nice stock. They were just opening a new store around the corner (27 Calle Fuencarral)that month with more men’s clothing. Style wise there isn’t a huge difference in what is available in Spain compared to Melbourne. You may find less to no Victorian influence including corsetry, and a few more black items with little buckles and strappy bits.

Black lace fans are not a part of Spanish Goth club accessories. I guess it’s a cultural thing. You won’t see much of a Victorian influence in the fashions. If you want a fan there are more to choose from in Madrid than Barcelona. I got both of mine from souvenir stores for less than E8. Have a look around and see what is available before actually buying one. My burgundy, layered with black lace fan was from a souvenir store opposite the Prado museums and the GPO.

We went to one club in Barcelona and didn’t spend much time there. Sanctuary Club website – heavier music, annoying strobe light going all the time, weird floor layout. The venue is made up of several levels of floor but overall is actually only two levels with steps and sunken floors. This breaking up of the floor results in several impractical, small spaces.

There are a few stores in the side streets off La Rambla selling jewellery, accessories and clothing that would appeal to Goths.

Hope that helps :)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Keane - Under the Iron Sea: Reviewed

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Veteran readers of the previous incarnation of this blog will know that I enjoyed Keane’s debut album, Hopes and Fears. Fortunately it did well enough for them to have a second album, Under the Iron Sea.

The cover art - by Finnish artist Sanna Annukka - is cute and funky. You will have to buy the CD to fully appreciate it since it folds out to 6 panels in total. Starting at the surface of the iron sea is a mixture of good and bad equine waves. Underneath is a fairytale seascape featuring among other creatures a giant octopus, a whale, and a squirrel! Visit their website or Annukka's to get a taste of it.

Atlantic sets the tone, evoking the wash and rhythm of the sea with soaring, sweeping vocals and piano. Beautiful, it’s my favourite track.
Is it any wonder? opens with a heavy, U2esque bass before mellowing into piano. This album overall has a greater emphasis on the bass. Compared with their self-titled debut album, which was built around the piano/synth, this has a more of a rock feel to it.
Nothing in my way, is a piano based ballad. Lead vocalist Tom Chaplin has either improved his breathing technique or his gasps for air at the end of each line have been produced out – or a combination of both. His breathing was clearly audible on the softer or more passionately sung tracks from the previous album.
Leaving so soon? and A bad dream both feature longer notes yet they contrast nicely with each other. The first is a strong song of defiance and independence while the latter is a ballad about exactly the opposite sentiment. A bad dream has particularly lovely soaring and layering.
Hamburg song has an organ rather than a piano sound and feels more like a hymm. It isn’t clear why it has this title. Soulful, but depressing if you’re already sad, it’s feelings laid bare.
Track 7, Put it behind you ends at about 3:30, as a song but appears to have a secret piece within it. An atmospheric bass, synth and strings instrumental sweeps in then fades out 3 minutes later - another favourite for me.
Crystal Ball is an upbeat track though lyrically or musically not one of their strongest. The album title is derived from a line in this song.

There are other tracks. The first album was less than 50 minutes and this is another shorty at just over 50 minutes. Quality not quantity. I have not felt the compulsion to skip any tracks except Hamburg song and only when I was feeling blue.

Overall there’s a nice balance of light and shade, ballads and upbeat tracks. The heavier use of bass, more complex vocals, and stronger, tighter production works well. It took a few listens but it has grown on me. I recommend it to anyone who enjoyed their first album.

Websites of the Day
Keane's Official Website
Sanna Annukka's portfolio
, which includes beautiful art for all the the singles from Under the Iron Sea

Friday, October 06, 2006

Meerkat goodness

Listening to: Crystal Ball by Keane

Quite a few hits to this website are meerkat related, probably due to my user name and blog title since there is very little here about meerkats. I feel obliged to provide a little meerkat info if only to make that hit worthwhile and talk about one of my favourite animals :)

1. Google this:
'emo meerkat'
I don't know why anyone would but someone did, and look what happens! Weird :P

2. It is my understanding that there is now a full meerkat group at the Melbourne Zoo. Last time I went a few years ago there wasn't. The matriach had died. This caused so much in fighting that the remaining group was relocated to join an existing group at Werribee Zoo. At the time when I visited there was a solitary meerkat on display. Not a natural situation since they need to have someone on sentry at all times. I watched this little fellow eventually nod off, asleep on a log. Cute, funny and a bit sad too. Aww.

3. Meerkats are not totally immune to the poisons of their prey. With scorpions they will nip off the stinger. With snakes it may look like they've taken a hit but in fact they've dodged it. As those of you who have been watching Meerkat Manor know, a meerkat can survive a bite but not without some suffering in the meantime. I suspect the ingestion of enough poisonous prey may provide some immunity. As long as there are no internal lacerations for the poison to enter the bloodstream it is safe for a meerkat to ingest it.

4. Meerkat Manor quotes the Cambridge University study as being 10 years long. It's actually older, starting in 1993. There was an article in National Geographic, September 2002 about the study in which the University of Pretoria is also involved. Why study them? To provide insight into the evolution of mammalian cooperation. Meerkats are the very model of this.

5. You can buy one as a pet in Madrid for E1000. I very much doubt you could own one in Australia. Apparently you have can't have a pet hedgehog here either. [pout] I wouldn't mind a hedgehog :)

Website of the Day

National Geographic, Meerkats Stand Tall

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Bauhaus concert, Barcelona, February 2006

I've been meaning to post this since coming back.

Bauhaus in Barcelona
Peter might be old and losing his hair but he rocked as did the rest of the band. Daniel plays a mean axe. Fine showmanship and camaraderie between Peter and Daniel. Highlights were when Peter paced around Daniel throwing rose petals at him, She's in Parties, and their encore performance of Ziggy Stardust. They are not a band I am particularly familiar with but it was well worth our while.

Concert Etiquette

Though I doubt the people who need to read this sort of thing would here 't is anyway. I wrote this back in early March while my annoyance was still somewhat fresh though not palpable ;)

O No big hair. Save the mohawk and any other kind do that increases your perceived height for elsewhere.
O If you have long hair, tie it back so people don’t have to look through/past your hair. Tie it back low so that it doesn’t go in the face of the person behind you.*
O Take photos if it's permitted but show some restraint and have some consideration for those behind you. I don’t want to watch some of the best parts of the concert through your f@#$ing mobile phone/digital camera because it’s blocking my view**
O If you’re 6ft tall don’t stand in the middle near the front. It’s f@#$ing selfish - particularly if you’re built like a bouncer.***
O Do NOT show your appreciation by sticking your fingers in your mouth and whistling loudly at the end of EVERY song.****
O Dance by all means but respect others’ right to see the concert without having your head come in and out of their view. ***** Don’t sway your head/body while moving from foot to foot. You take up twice the visual space. Bounce in your place, tap your foot, nod your head, jiggle, whatever.

 photo Bauhaus_zps588e0509.jpg
Bauhaus concert in Barcelona, February 2006
ink on paper
*Chick just in front of me, kept leaning back which put her high ponytail in contact with my face several times
**Same chick
***His saving grace is that he was bald, so no big hair. I have a vivid recollection of the shape of his head
**** My ears hurt! The music was loud enough without this git doing that.
*****Several people. WTF?