Just before I get down to the business of this week’s office playlist, can I draw your attention to this news story over at NME? I’m aware that, since the story is ostensibly about Babyshambles, there’s a fair few of you who won’t have bothered following this one, but bear with me; the potential repercussions might be pretty alarming.
Briefly, Babyshambles have been banned from playing a festival in Wiltshire at the end of the month by the local police, on the grounds that they might incite violence amongst the crowd. There are plenty of ironies here that I’m sure Doherty-haters will enjoy, and today brings news that the festival – which appears to have sold negligible tickets – has been cancelled as a result of the Babyshambles ban.
But it’s this quote from Chief Superintendent Julian Kirby, divisional commander of Wiltshire Police, that’s a little scary. “We carried out an analysis of what Pete Doherty and his band does,” he said. “What he does as part of his routine is to gee up the crowd. They speed up and then slow down the music and create a whirlpool effect in the crowd. They [the crowd] all get geed up and then they start fighting.”
Now there are issues cited by the police and the magistrates about a shortage of stewards which may be relevant. But it’s this hybrid of legislative intervention and, well, music criticism that seems so weird. Should we infer from this that, if Babyshambles didn’t play at such a staccato, unpredictable speed, the baying mob would be becalmed and the festival would go ahead? It feels like an indie analogue to the whole repetitive beats farrago back in the ‘90s: a sense that the way music sounds is being policed; that a gig has been cancelled because the specific structure of a song can allegedly create a riot.
It’d be easy here to make some pat comments about the police choosing a fair target on which to exercise an aesthetic clampdown. But while I’m aware that there are more important things to be worried about right now, it does seem a bit of a dangerous precedent. What do you reckon?
While you’re thinking, here’s the playlist. Odd one this week. . .
1 Helena Espvall & Masaki Batoh – Helena Espvall & Masaki Batoh (Drag City)
2 Deerhunter – Microcastle (4AD)
3 Peter Broderick – Home (Bella Union)
4 Fucked Up – The Chemistry Of Common Life (Matador)
6 French Frith Kaiser Thompson – Invisible Means (Fledg’ling)
7 Hush Arbors – Self-Titled (Ecstatic Peace)
8 Raglani – Of Sirens Born (Kranky)
9 John Berberian & The Rock East Ensemble – Middle Eastern Rock (Revola)
10 The Move – Anthology 1966-1972 (Salvo)
11 Religious Knives – The Door (Ecstatic Peace)
13 The Walkmen – You & Me (Fierce Panda)
14 Boduf Songs – How Shadows Chase The Balance (Kranky)