All the gigs of my life

All the gigs of my life: Gig 46 – Super Furry Animals, Wednesday, November 3, 1999, Brixton Academy

The was my sixth Super Furry Animals gig, but only my second time seeing them headlining their own show. I’m sure it was a fantastic night. However, my memories of this gig are somewhat overshadowed by that occasional bane of the female gig-goer’s life: the Unnecessary Man.

We were hurtling towards the end of the century, and I found myself in a slightly troubled state. I’d lived in London for nearly three years, and had built up a close-knit circle of friends from amongst my work colleagues over the course of that time. But drama was brewing in my friendship group, and I found myself being pushed out, the object of passive-aggressive suggestions to ‘find other friends’.

This was on my mind when I went to Brixton to see the Super Furry Animals on this early November night. So when I found myself being accosted by a highly suspect character, I was not so quick with the ‘fuck off creep’ as I should have been. From my diary:

“I got there just after eight and wandered towards the front, Gruff-side. As I pull off my jumper a tiny birdlike bald bloke appears next to me and asks me if I’m feeling hot, offering me his beer. He chatted away for a while, assuring me he wasn’t chatting me up, as he was married, he said, showing me his ring.” Older, more cynical and jaded me would have had alarm bells ringing at this, but I was still very green when it came to romantic relationships, having spent my twenties thus far being either (a) too obsessed with my favourite bands or (b) too depressed to care about finding a boyfriend.

Alarm bells certainly should have been ringing when he asked me to accompany him to a quieter section of the Academy, “but still he seemed so entirely harmless that I didn’t think twice.” And of course, once we got there,“all weirdness took hold.” I found myself at the receiving end of an extended romantic plea. “I don’t know if you’re spoken for, said birdy bloke, but I’ve seen you and I feel like I’ve been born again. He went on and on.” And though I found this guy neither interesting no attractive, I was still so young and so full of the social brainwashing all young women go through telling us that we must look after others’ feelings at all time, that I was more concerned about hurting his feelings than taking care of my own sense of discomfort.

“I explained I wasn’t spoken for, but I wasn’t looking either, and expressed concern that he was speaking this way to me when a few moments earlier he’d told me he was married (but i’m a gothic! it was a pagan wedding! he protested, somewhat dimwittedly).”

I was also in the weird situation with my own group of friends previously described, where I was being portrayed as the needy, clingy one who needed to find other friends. “And for this reason most of all, I gave this guy my phone number. Then we wished each other a good evening and I wandered back to my place in the crowd to watch the Furries.”

Happily, the end of this chapter of the Unnecessary Man chronicles is fairly boring. He left me a voicemail, I returned the call intending to tell him I wasn’t interested, but he couldn’t talk at that moment – any bets as to the reason being he was with his wife who had so suddenly become a non-wife during his conversation with me? He asked me to ring back later, but I decided I couldn’t be bothered, and diverted all my phone’s calls to voicemail so I wouldn’t have to speak to him again – an early solution to unwanted calls in the absence of a blocking function on those ancient brick-like mobiles.

It wasn’t the first time I’d been the object of seemingly well-meaning, yet on reflection, highly suspect male attention at gigs. And it wouldn’t be the last. I’ve been lucky not to have anything truly untoward happen to me whilst attending a gig on my own, but on the other hand, why do we have to put up with any of this?

Anyway! Let’s move on to the actual reason I was at the Brixton Academy that evening, which was to see the wonderful Super Furries, after their triumphant set before the Manics at V99 that summer. Unfortunately, I had been so annoyed and distracted by the Unnecessary Man that I only wrote one paragraph about the gig itself.

“They were great, played all my faves, but I can’t really say anything about this gig, distinguish it from any other SFA show, apart from the ending, the usual mosh monster of “The Man Don’t Give A Fuck” morphing into the most fantastically bangin’ techno tune and making me sorely pine for my clubbing days of ’93. The band leave, only to reappear as five mad aliens, standing with their backs to us in a quietish bit, then turning to face us with one arm aloft, completely still for about ten minutes though the choon literally demanded demented dancing. A demented dancer did finally appear on stage, flinging himself about in front of the frozen five, and then it was all over and everyone went home.”

As with any gig where my diary records are sparse, this is a frustrating one for me to relate. But it’s made all the more infuriating by the fact that, instead of coming home and regaling my diary with tales of the wonderful tunes I’d just heard, I had to instead pour out all the discomfort I was feeling about some random bloke. I just wish that men like him would learn that solitary women at gigs are there to enjoy the music, and not to be the receptacle of their need for attention.

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