Camden.
Doc Martens.
Leather jackets.
Beer on cornflakes.

It can only be...


SUMMER OF '94
by Claudia Conway

30-something acid-house casualties have all the fun. Everyone nods their head or simply goggles in admiration as they regale you with white-burger, dungaree-bandana 'n' ponytail-Sunrise-Danny stories of '89 to '91. OK. So it was a big deal. Maybe it did change the world. But - shock, horror - there were other times that were exciting, guys!

Days of my youth? Well, I'm still in them, I hope, but my apotheosis, my first scene, as I believe the young people call them these days, was (as with many of my fellow North London middle-class kids) in the heady days of Britpop.

Let's get one thing straight: I never called myself an 'Indie Kid'. That was for sad girlies who hadn't quite broken free of Take That and consequently wrote into the Melody Maker or NME with letters claiming that 18 Wheeler, Whiteout, Orlando or somesuch non-entities were the future of rock and that they would love them for ever and EVER.

 

 

 

Our drug was alcohol, and whilst I didn't go for the staples of cider or Bud, it gave us a tremendous sense of well-being to drink together.

 

I remember the first moment I felt really cool, not like a kid anymore. It was sitting on the pavement by Camden Market in my purple DMs and matching leather jacket, eating curry with my mates. So it's not exactly necking your first Dove at Shoom with Andy We'eraaaaaal spinning dub plates, but who cares?

Our temples: The Garage, The Underworld, Astoria, Monarch, Water Rats. Saturdays daaahn Camden‚ (never one for The Good Mixer, though). The clubs: Smitten, Cabbage Patch, Smashing, Silver, Feet First, big Saturdays at Club X. Our Bibles: the NME and the Melody Maker. (Well, not exactly... we never took it that seriously, which is why it was so good. We were young, we were green, kept our teeth nice'n'clean, and we could have a good night out for a tenner. What more could you want?)

There was a distinct thrill to seeing bands we'd spotted early - Sleeper, Echobelly, Elastica et al - work their way onto the front pages of the weeklies. We rode The New Wave of New Wave, skipped along with the Teen-C Revolution, and laughed off lazy ego-trips like Romo.

My friend Alex and I used to have a fanzine. We weren't just indie kids - we were names. Seeing one of us, small bands, regular giggers and other zine hawkers would ask after the other. A definitive contribution towards shoulder-squaring teenage pride. The indie zine world was, and I dare say is, a self-breeding hive of innocent-enough incest.

 

 
The scene had its types - perhaps most notably "The Man with The Plait" whom no Camdenite could fail to recognise upon naming. And we never found out who he was.


The Reading Festival was still a bit metal, but we wore it our way there - second-hand cords, 70's shirts (competing to have the worst), bleach experiments, multiple ear-piercing. Anyway, it was the best timed festival for all of us, post GSCE and later A-Level results. It may not have had the thrill of circling the M25 in search of a party and on the run from The Filth, but for three years, that painful trek from Reading station to Rivermead with a donkey-load of tents and provisions was full of west-of-London promise.



 

But it all had to end. And end it did. In a crashing-bore of Lad-rock, Dad-rock indie-schmindie- long-fringe-y comedown. It all went pop, then bang. The cry goes out to save Britpop, but it's way past saving.

 

One of the same four identikit all-male strummers front the NME and MM every week. The Backlash starts before any given band has even released a second single, and even the occasional quality album such as Radiohead's OK Computer‚ is knocked down just because they've liked it for a bit too long. Female-fronted bands seem to be back in the box marked 'novelty', as the journos revert to their boys-club mentality, boringly emulating the witlessisms of a certain pair of tiresome Mancunian brothers.

I don't know anyone, except those letter-writing girlies I mentioned, who ever said or thought that Indie Would Never Die, but the attempts to revive it are as embarrassing as they are futile.

These days, Camden at night is principally the domain of the under-18s looking for what their older siblings were making all the fuss about, or the over-30 Nick Hornby-type male waffling on about punk, and proudly flaunting his battered leather jacket to prove that he's still a punk at heart.

Indie as a phenomenon has been and gone, the components cannibalised into numerous subgeneres that no-one can quite follow. It was perhaps the girls that brought the most excitement to '94 and thereabouts, and in the hands of the Stereophonics (who I always confuse with The Supernaturals) and their ilk, it has nowhere to go but Q magazine.

So the sad but true moral of this article is, if you love your music scene, let it go, and if it doesn't come back in fashion, that's probably because it's dead.


Claudia Conway

 



 

 

 

rock

MUSIC:
FOOD OF LOVE.
NOT AS GOOD AS REAL FOOD, THOUGH


BANDS:
Le Tigre: They're Grrrrrrrrreat!

No drummer, just a dat, some samples, and three kick-ass muscian /art activists.

Ten Benson:
A bunch of noisy motherfuckers with dodgy headgear.
Suki Kent is in love.

Do It Yourself:

Grow Your Own Craig David:
It's simple and fun!



REVIEWS:
Reviews of many things including Magnetophone, Anjali, Mount Florida, Peaches, cleaning products, an exhibition of Iggy Pop pictures
and more.












rock

Brian Wilson once woke up to discover he'd bought a property with the sole intention of running it as a 24-hour- telescope shop, just in case anyone else needed a telescope at 3am while off their head on drugs.

 





















































LINKS
Hate indie kids? You are not alone.





R


TOP OF PAGE