Read part 1 here
And so the weekend arrived. What a weekend it was! It all started bizarrely and quite badly. Me, Hannah (from Owl and Mouse) and Caroline (AFDFS) nervously met Jens at Paddington and took him for a pint of real ale, to calm him from the flight. Sadly during said pint someone managed to sneak up and steal his iphone and wallet from the pocket of his coat. What a way to start your stay in London. He was so great about it, but also anxious because he’d lost most of his contacts, access to money, and he was playing a secret show that night up in Tottenham! We took him to the police station, where he joked about how we were the most cheerful promoters he’d ever dealt with – trying to distract him from his sadness by asking him for his top five bands, if he had a Smith’s tattoo what would the lyrics be, that kind of thing! We ended up getting in a taxi to Tottenham, which got hopelessly lost, but eventually got to a warehouse in the middle of nowhere. The gig was put on by some Swedish fans, who happened to live in an art studio. It was like something from another world, when we all went in barefoot to see the space. They’d made little huts for each of them to sleep in and a fairylight decked space for Jens to play. There started one of the best nights of my life. Jens treated 30 of us to an acoustic set, and even took requests (I was lucky enough to get Tram #7 to Heaven.) At one point he put his guitar down mid set to come and dance with us all. It was wonderful to say the least. The only downside was being in the middle of nowhere in North London at 3am, with the knowledge that you have to run an indiepop festival the next day.
Having woken up with a sore head, it was onto the venue to set everything up. There was a lot to sort out, but so many volunteers showed up to help. Their support was overwhelming and I couldn’t have done it without them. We had fellow musicians, members of the community, colleagues – everyone chipped in. I’d hired this guy called Jez from Atlantic Sound to do all the engineering etc and he took the burden of worrying about that away from me. Not only did he set everything up and manage the stage, but I hardly ever saw him away from the mixing desk all day – constantly twiddling buttons and checking the sound was alright. He was the first of my heroes that night. The first band the Sunbathers went on and people started showing up. Throughout the day it just got busier and busier and the atmosphere was great. We had your very own Paul from Scared to Dance Djing between bands, as well as the amazing Librarian’s Wanted (Silja, David and Roo) and the brilliant Matthew from Big Pink Cake. Silja had even made a huge plate of fresh waffles for everyone to share around! People wore our Save Libraries badges, our Read and Shout banner hung proud above the stage, and everyone seemed so supportive of the whole thing.
My only concern was that so many people sat down that we couldn’t squeeze enough people in. At one point I tired to bribe them with sherbet flying saucers to stand up, but this had minimal effect. In the end I had to get up on stage and demand it. Each and every band performed memorable sets. I stood there feeling like the luckiest guy in the world because all these bands had come together to play music in my library, have a good time, support the cause, and they also waved their fees. I can’t thank them enough. I won’t go into which bands I loved the most. I know it sounds corny, but each and every one of them were great and dead special. At one point, just before my band A Fine Day for Sailing went on I remember looking at all those indiepopsters, cardigan clad or not, crammed into our hall and being close to tears that it had actually happened.
By the time Jens played – this time a more upbeat set, full of charm and beauty – I was enjoying every second (perhaps helped by a fair quantity of G&T) and just felt so proud of everyone who came, played, volunteered and helped in any way. I couldn’t believe that we’d managed to pull it off. I spent much of the later part of the evening just wandering around and staring at it all in disbelief. What a truly magical experience. After the show we bundled Jens into a taxi (which would eventually get lost taking him to his hotel and require us to direct him via google maps for 45mins!) I felt awful that I wasn’t able to go on anywhere with him or the others (to How Does it Feel), but I could barely stand. Collapsed on one of the seats in the library I was asked if would I do another one. I could barely move, but my first thought was ‘hell yeah! Next year!’
That’s if we have anything left to save.
I hope what we did with Read and Shout was a start. I hope those 300 people go away and think about what they can do to support their local libraries. Even if just one of them writes to their local MP it will have been worth it. We made some money to put into the Save Libraries campaign, we made a noise, got some press, got people talking about it. It’s not everything, but it’s a start. Please go into your local library and join – we need the numbers. Sign your local petition. Write to your MP. Just…
Read and Shout!
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