Day 5 + 6: Newcastle and Leeds

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Wire and Talk Normal in Leeds

The first weekend of the tour saw us make stops in Newcastle and Leeds respectively, and both turned out to be bangers. Newcastle, I guess you could say, was an unexpected surprise. Held in a large, old theater, Talk Normal and Wire played on the top floor, while some English band called Alabama3 played in the big room below. In keeping with our weird venue scenarios, as you can imagine, the third floor of a large theater space proved an interesting load-in, but not quite as interesting as our green room – the entire balcony overlooking the Alabama3 show. While we all took guesses to figure out who they were (the three remaining members of Alabama? The third generation of Alabama?), the Talk Normal / Wire room quickly filled up.

The show went off without a hitch (Seriously, these shows have been so formulaic with load-in, set-times, break-down, hotel, it's almost too good to be true. I think I just jinxed us). In fact, the Wire performance had the most energy we have seen thus far on tour. And the fanbase was the most friendly we had met to this point, often taking time to talk to us about New York and wax poetic about their own town. But the real prize goes to me, for figuring out that Alabama3 is the band behind “Woke Up This Morning”, or as you probably know it, The Sopranos theme song.

Alabama3 in Newcastle
Alabama3 as seen from our green room.

Newcastle was also the “home of the sluts,” or at least that's what everyone kept telling us. The venue was situated in a very busy club section of the city, and a quick drive around the block to find parking seemed to prove that theory right. Despite the temperature hovering around 40-degrees, most of the women on the streets were scantily clad in little other than short skirts and tube tops (to be fair, the men also seemed douchey, rocking only t-shirts at night). We decided to make Newcastle our first night out before heading back to the hotel – most of the nights we're too tired, or find little reason to pay for more drinks when our van is already littered with copious amounts of free booze we can't finish and can't bear to toss.

Unfortunately for me, we were not heading to where the sluts were. Instead we hung out with Megan, an awesome lass who originally hails from New Zealand, and is now an indie radio programmer here in Newcastle. We followed her to the fifth anniversary of Popklubb, an indie night where Tracyanne Campbell from Camera Obscura was DJing. It was held in what Americans would consider an UAW or Eagles hall, essentially an union social club that was filled with a wide range of ages, from teens to adults. Definitely the most fun we've had after a show. Thanks Megan!

Talk Normal with Megan
Talk Normal with Megan.

Popklubb UK
This is what Popklubb looked like after last call with the lights on.

Leeds followed the next day, and after a two-hour drive through some of the thickest fog you'll ever see, we pulled into a city that seemed to have an identity crisis. An uncomfortable mix of industry and modernism, with low-income housing surrounding the university district, which might help explain the Occupy Leeds camp set up in the middle of town. What the city might have lacked in flair was made up for with the best music scene we have come across yet. Held at the Brudenell Social Club, the posters on the wall quickly tipped us off this might be a good place – Oneohtrix Point Never, Dum Dum Girls, Daniel Higgs and Oxes, Thurston Moore, Iceage, etc. have all played here – and sure enough, despite being a Sunday, it was the largest crowd we've enjoyed on tour.

Leeds as seen from our two-block walk before leaving town.

Occupy Leeds
Occupy Leeds.

Another great show was capped by the coolest fan we've met yet — Noah, a gigantic American Bull Dog whose snot still calls my hoodie sleeve home. Back home to London with some lifted spirits, and I don't just mean the truck full of wine and beer.