Saturday, 24 November 2018

Memories of 2018 gigs #10

Support: Lady Bird, Willie J. Healey
Tramshed, Cardiff - 22 November 2018


Dear Isaac and Laurie

I just want to start by being positive. I and MrsRobster have been Slaves fans for a few years now. MrsRobster in particular picked up on you quite early, your debut mini-album 'Sugar Coated Bitter Truth' being the soundtrack to her daily commute for a while. We first saw you almost exactly 3 years ago when you came to Cardiff, whereupon she made the comment that you "seem like nice lads you'd go for a drink with."

We've continued to enjoy your music ever since, even the second album ('Take Control') that a lot of people didn't like very much, and the new one that is a bit short. When we saw you were coming back to Cardiff we didn't think twice, even though it would mean three gigs in a week, which at our age (well, MY age) is quite hard work. A good night was a dead cert. Or so we thought.

The thing is, something's changed. It turned out not to be a good night at all. In fact, for us, it was possibly the least fun we've ever had at any gig we've attended together. It was the most intimidating show we've ever attended with the rudest, most obnoxious and aggressive audience we've ever had the misfortune to be a part of. Now, I'm no wimp. I've been to going to gigs for 30 years and taken in more shows than I could ever hope to remember. I'm guessing in the region of 200-250 over the years? Maybe more. I've been a part of some hefty crowds and some seriously rough mosh pits. Even during the lad and ladette culture of the Britpop years, where pissed-up wankers became part and parcel of the gig experience, I've never felt like walking out due to the menacing nature of an audience. Yet at your show in Cardiff last Thursday night, I so nearly gave up halfway through.

It was rather ominous from the beginning. We arrived shortly after your opening act, Willie J. Healey, had come on, and we immediately felt that this show was different. It didn't feel, well, kind of, normal. It's hard to explain, you know? But there just seemed to be a weird vibe there. It might have been the extremely loud chatter that pervaded the air throughout the entire night, the sort of incessant noise you get from people who have little to no interest in anything that was going on. Yes, you always get chatter during the support bands, but this was different; louder, like you get in a busy pub on a Saturday night. Like people were out for a piss up with their lairy mates. That kind of noise. It continued throughout Lady Bird's set to the point where I really couldn't make out what the guy was singing about. I couldn't hear a single word. My hearing? OK, not like it used to be, but I don't generally have any problems. So I'd like to say something positive about the support acts you're so keen for fans to hear as per your recent so-called "Twitter storm", but alas it would be unfair for me to comment until I actually can hear them for real.

Things took another strange turn in the changeover before you came on. It was during this time we were treated to your sound crew's awesome record collection. S Club 7, the Spice Girls, Whigfield, Robbie Williams - you name it, we endured it. It's Raining Men, Freed From Desire - blimey, it sounded like a drunken hen night and stag do in Ibiza all in one. And it felt like it too, as the effects of the beer and coke (not the type you could buy at the bar) began to take effect. The shirts came off, the fists pumped the air and the plastic glasses started flying - and you hadn't even come onstage yet. MrsRobster and I looked at each other, both wondering if we'd got the date wrong. "This is fucking weird," she said. Sorry, shouted!

Actually, didn't you play in Ibiza this year? Someone told me you did. I think you found a new audience out there and they all turned up to the Tramshed. Interestingly, your choice of intro music - Vengabus by Vengaboys - was the exact same song Shame came onstage to last week in Bristol. Now, there was an excellent, respectful and not intimidating in the slightest crowd. There were more of them, too. And Idles the month before. Like your audiences used to be. No lairish behaviour, no fighting. In fact, in three decades of gig-going I've only ever seen two fights at shows, and one of them was between band members on stage. As you noted yourselves, in the past two years you've had no fights at your gigs. Yet on this single occasion there were two. What you didn't notice (that we did) were the near-misses, the incidents that nearly escalated into violence. But for some good peacekeepers around them, there might well have been even more kicking off.

We stuck it out to the end, but only just. We didn't enjoy your set as we should have. You sounded good, played well and put a good mix of songs in the set. But there was too much shit going on around us and I felt myself getting more and more frustrated and more and more angry. The place was toxic, filled with belligerant, obnoxious wankers intent on throwing their weight around and fuck everybody else, and that gets to me. Sorry, but it does. If I want to be around people like that, I'd go watch Cardiff City, not go to a gig. MrsRobster kept me calm because she's a better person than me. A better person than pretty much everyone at the Tramshed by far, in fact. And you - well, you deserve better than these so-called "fans".

I'm sorry to say this, but while we'll continue to listen to your music, we probably won't be back to see you live. Not for a while, at least. I know it's not your fault, you can't really choose your fans, but if your gigs are going to be infested with morons like we suffered at the Tramshed, then I think we may have to think twice, or even three times, the next time you come around our way. A real shame, because we'd probably still go for that drink with you.

Love, respect and best wishes for the future,


  1. Various isolated wankers in audiences have affected my enjoyment of gigs over the years, but never to this extent thank goodness. A real shame.

  2. Immediately I saw that you'd seen those lovely Slaves boys I was keen to read this and so it's such a travesty that this happened. I'm thinking back to the way events changed for Sham 69, even Crass, and the arseholes that ruined their gigs, but had hoped that was a thing of the past because gig audiences tend to be more varied with older people in the mix too and generally a different vibe from some of the gigs of my youth! I hope this was a one-off, but such a real shame it ruined yours and Mrs Robster's night.

  3. Let’s hope they read this letter.