K's boyfriend's band was playing at the Forum in Tunbridge Wells last night, in a 'Battle of the Bands' gig. We took her and Bob over there and, faced with limited choices (drive home, then back again to collect; go for a meal and spin it out as long as possible; see a movie) we chose to do the gig.
Blending in was not going to be easy. At the British Superbikes meet at Brands Hatch the previous week it had been a doddle. All one had to do was affect a limp, neck the odd beer and remark 'uphill blind camber' or 'dual stage fuel injection' at intervals, and you were indistinguishable from the real thing.
At the Forum, though, there would be a bit of an age gap issue. The kind of stuff I wore to gigs last century might have been fine for Motorhead or whoever at the Leas Cliff Hall, but it was never going to wash here, where the average age would be about 16 ¾. Buggered if I was going to wear a hoodie either. Could I pull off aged rocker, mind-blown but unbowed? Talent scout? (astrakhan coat and cigar - or have I seen too many Ealing Comedies?) Shave my head and go as a bouncer? Stop washing, wear bum-crack jeans and make like a roadie? Or should we just be Darby and Joan, looking as if we'd got the wrong night for bingo? Whichever, I imagined the offspring were going to want to walk in several hundred paces ahead and then have nothing to do with us until slipping unobtrusively back to the car at close of play.
I may have overdone the parental wind up on the way - "Is it going to be a cool jig, then?" "Will there be a nosh pit, because I'm feeling a bit peckish" - but in the event it was fine. There was time for a preparatory jar in the Pantiles, and the Forum was not quite as I'd imagined. Once the largest public lavatory in Europe, it has the ambience of...the largest public lavatory in Europe. (There are lavatories attached to it, which must make it the only lavatory ever, big enough to have its own lavatories).
The audience was undeservedly small - there was one valiant attempt at crowd surfing but, as it involved a crush at the stage only one person deep, it came out more like a pole vault. The very competent sound man was squeezed into a space above the bar, which he reached by climbing a ladder, and the bands shared a drum set. I like the Forum. It reminds me of tatty folk clubs in back rooms in Falmouth, in the days before the likes of Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh turned talent into a commodity.
Cabaret Doll played a cracking set and deservedly won the contest. For a quality head bang, visit them here.