I’ve spent this weekend at Supersonic, an annual noise, avant guard, doom metal etc festival held at the Custard Factory in Digbeth, Birmingham.

It’s usually held in the Summer but for this year it took place in October, the downside being instead of balmy summer evenings we had cold damp weather but that didn’t put a dampener on some great sets.

First of all I’ll get the gripes of my chest.

  • Queues for etickets – when we turned up on the first night the queues were snaking around the block, which meant we had no chance of catching the first acts Gumtakestooth (who sounded really intriguing) and Necrodeathmort. The queue for prepaid ticks was four times the length for the “pay at the door” queue which seemed to defeat the object of planning ahead. We retired to the local pub until the queues became less daunting and managed to catch the tail end of Demons and Sick Llama set. It was an atmospheric, menacingly restrained drone but a combination of too much booze and a busy day at work meant we didn’t have the stamina to stay for Napalm Deaths set. There’s no doubt they are an incredibly influential band and I really admire Mick Harris’s sonic adventures but as a teen listening to John Peel I found their brief bursts of grunting and machine gun drumming a little impenetrable. I checked out their myspace page and their latest stuff is far more accesible but they still come across as humourless wankers peddling adolescent nihilism. (This view is coloured by Stewart Maconies’s account of touring with them in Cider with Roadies. Apparently they were so obnoxious he ritually defaced all their LPs on his return home.)
  • Toilets – what a horror show, special mentions must go to the overflowing urinals and piss puddled floor of the bogs next to the theatre space. The crappers ┬áin the opposite building were claustrophobic enough without having an attendant plying cologne and lollipops by the sink. Thank god I don’t have shy bladder syndrome.
  • The old library – in the past this had housed the record stores but this year it boasted an indoor stage. Unfortunately it proved to be extremely crowded, especially when KK Null and Lash Frenzy did their sets. They kept the fire exit shut so there was only one small exit for entrance and exiting which I’m pretty sure contravened HFS regulations

On the plus side – there’s some great music to be discovered and the catering was good (the Japenese chicken curry went down well with me). Also the record stores had a fantastic range of music and I burnt a hole in my wallet filling in the gaps of my Noise collection.