Dreamweaver, Tin Foil Astronaut, Witchdoctor
The Penny Theatre
The Penny can have a weird atmosphere — drunk students and regulars upstairs who seem to resent the fact there's live music downstairs, and the men all have to come down and barge through the front of the crowd to get to the toilets. I didn't really feel comfortable there, but stuck around for Dreamweaver (sounding great, but Harry's vocals were mixed all wrong and sounded unpleasantly harsh), Tin Foil Astronaut (very polished and well-rehearsed, touches of the 'hypnagogic' 80s uncanniness that Bison Bonasus are exploring, interesting stuff) and Witchdoctor (who again dropped in some Cardiacs covers, getting the youth bouncing, the frontman in a Tony the Tiger onesie). I couldn't fault the bands, but didn't really enjoy the occasion — a shame, 'cos I remember great times at the Penny in the early 90s...
Sat 18th Feb
Monumental Launch Party
The Monument, St. Dunstans, Canterbury
I stopped by The Monument in St. Dunstans for this event the next evening. The pub's been taken over by some new people (I think they're linked with Small World Festival, which is promising). Tireless local music organiser Jules put on acts all day. I got there in time to catch the end of a cheerful reggae/ska band called Jimmy and the Riddles, then Yanik doing a bit of rapping (Bulgarian and English) followed by more reggae from Hey Maggie (down to a four-piece: singer/acoustic guitarist, James Ross on sax, a beatboxer, and a bass player, rolling out all the classics in a very engaging sort of way). After that there was a bit of a raucous roots'n'blues singalong led by Jules, Josh, Sam Brothers and some of the other local buskers. Mainly I was struck by what a warm and inclusive social scene had established itself already in this place. It felt like we were all there together in our local hangout that we'd been coming to for years. Apparently they're going to have a permanent PA setup for an open mic whenever one wants to happen. I really hope they can keep this going (let's hope the neighbours agree!).