Despite their having left the Copyrights stranded in France, we couldn't pass up another opportunity to see the Zatopeks, so Wes, Georgina and I piled into the behemoth American Jeep Cherokee that Wes unaccountably imported to the UK when he moved over here from Los Angeles and motored on down the A23 to London-on-Sea, otherwise known as Brighton, the town made famous by Graham Greene and inedible rock candy.
Why Wes was so attached to his Cherokee that he was willing to put up with a wrong-sided steering wheel and its gas-guzzling ways in the land of $8 a gallon petrol (now down to a mere $6, thanks to the collapse of the pound against the dollar) I never knew, and for the first few months urged him to sell it at a profit to one of London's many gangsta wannabees, but as time went on and El Jeepo transported us very comfortably, safely and warmly to many of our West Country walking destinations, any animus I might have held vanished. And, it has to be said, even with its exorbitant petrol consumption, it was still cheaper than British Rail.
Our trip down to the South Coast was as uneventful as it was pleasant, and we got there just in time to see most of the Blankheads (the band mistakenly spell it Blank Heads, but it's hoped that they will soon see the error of their ways), who are quite a lively little Crimpshrine-esque outfit, made yet more lively by the addition of bassist/sometime singer Pippa, who stands front and center and plays somewhat the same role as Michelle in the Steinways, only more loudly, brazenly, and with an ear-splitting Cockney/Sarf London accent. You'd think, given the surfeit of Crimpshrine-inspired bands (why, there's a whole festival in Florida next week featuring about 180 of them), there'd be nothing special about yet another, but somehow there is, even if I can't put my finger on it exactly. The shirtless drummer looked as though he'd accidentally wandered in from Dazed and Confused (the movie, not the magazine), the other (male) singer delivered a most impassioned Jeff Ott-style growl, and I can't remember much about the other guitarist except that he was good; somehow it added up to something fresh and energizing, and I hope to see them again. The Gainesville Fest 2009 would be a particularly good fit.
The Hotlines, Brighton locals, drew a big crowd and didn't fail to please, though I was kind of meh about them. Excellent musicians, but undistinguished songs. The Zatopeks then hopped onstage and showed once more why there are unquestionably the best band in Europe, and why they're not headlining Milton Keynes Bowl or Wembley Stadium remains a mystery to me. Then it was midnight and time to go back to London. We traipsed up the hill in the wind and rain to where El Jeepo was resting, only to discover that he was in no mood to continue to do anything else. A lot of strange dimmmings and flashings of lights led one to the inescapable conclusion that either the battery was flat or the entire electrical system had taken industrial action.
Fortunately - extremely fortunately - Georgina turned out to be a paid-up member of the AA (that's Automobile Association, not Alcoholics Anonymous, for my American readers) and after a mere 80 minutes on a dark and windy Brighton hillside, a gruff but competent fellow called Steve turned up and put us to rights. Back in London at 3:30 am, I fell into a deep sleep and dreamed about more mechanical breakdowns that left me stranded it various sorts of mountain fastnesses with ravenous polar bears on the prowl, but all's well that ended well, and even El Jeepo stands forgiven; it was a good night out.