About Time 2(main)

About Time 2, and for me, it was; about time such a warm showing of the scene’s pioneers, supporters, talent, well-wishers, best and worst dressed combined to create an indelible event in what could have easily been another building site in South London. About Time’s organisers ambitiously amassed seventeen bands for their dream-team roster, the nine and a half hours of music they provided requiring a mere £15 from punters, which is, by all accounts, ridiculous. As if embarrassed about asking for a fee at the gate, entrants were also handed a free compilation CD, which was a very nice touch indeed I thought.

The good nature continued, as those pinched blue by our quad-dip recession were also spoiled for choice at the vegan food stall, whose chocolate brownies flew off the rack at 50p a pop, and whose contribution to proceedings went a huge way to raising £700 for DIY space for London. A hearty fucking round of applause deserved there.

Stalls from some truly admirable indies also flecked the Bussey Building’s floors, selling their wares again at a price point which would suggest the concept of profit-margins and bottom lines are, indeed, an unnecessary fallacy. I was able to buy a seven track EP from Canadian post-hardcore vagrants Animal Faces, on vinyl, for £3 – the only place in the country I could do so. The discourse with those who ran the label, of course, was wholesome and free.

And all of this before we even get to the music, which was split tactfully across two stages (the one up the stairs, and the one more up the stairs) in a manner so as to maximise enjoyment and exposure. Naturally, running times were hampered by the harsh reality of longer–than-expected change-overs (and later in the day, amateur dramatics) atop technical wobbles, but you’d be hard-pressed to miss anyone you wanted to catch live, and, furthermore, through a soundsystem which came more than good when having to accommodate the harder end of the hardcore spectrum.

I think a true testament to the success of AT#2 would be the myriad accounts of individual’s experiences, all of which are no doubt positive (apart from the berk who was moaning that he was owed an extra 10 minutes from headliners Joan of Arc, in the process demanding a refund from a charity). Ask someone who went what they thought. Go on. If no one else is to hand, my own journey went a little like this;

Cosmic Thoughts did enough to keep me guessing, namely how a relatively new band could perform with such street-smarts, although earlier projects (Man Hands, November Coming Fire) would have kept me informed. Sharing the stage/corner of the room (as well as a split EP with Human Hands) immediately after were Aberdeen’s (apparently the mandatory prefix) Carson Wells who, yes, fucking nailed it. Brutal, beautiful, brash, bold, boss. Another high-water mark formed in the shapely swell of Blood Sport, who at times shimmered like Foals, and at others like Battles, lazy as those comparisons are. Their half-hour set was cut short to around four songs, surprising as they preceded the afternoon break, but I don’t feel aggrieved at being left wanting more.

After a whistle-stop tour of Peckham’s backstreets for a smoke, it was once more into the fray for We Came Out Like Tigers, who, I’m glad to report, did. For me they were a certain highlight; Simon Barr laying his microphone to waste between duties as violin reinforcement, calling for action over apathy; a notion which hopefully resonated long after the set was done. Splendid. So too were Plaids, but that was never really in doubt.

Come 7pm, I was awash with the knowledge that after a wealth of some truly awe-inspiring live music, the biggest hitters where yet to come. What a feeling. The first of the ‘headliners’ – Raein – came, saw, and conquered in inimitable fashion. There’s nothing for me to say here that you don’t already know, so I won’t, but it was everything I hoped for and more. Later, as the noise complaints from upstairs germinated to the minds of those down, Joanna Gruesome struggled with failing patch leads and itchy-footed affront, before their abridged set could begin. Shame, because once they got going they were charming, but, if bruised by this evening, they’ll live to fight another day.

Joan of Arc then tied up proceedings, with Tim Kinsella igniting feverish guitar envy as well he might. It was great to get the chance to see them in the UK, and making the most of this fact, I had a fucking blast. The feeling was mutual, perhaps innate.

About Time was an unmitigated success last weekend, if not for its ruthless efficiency, then at least for being able to pull off that 3am pot-addled ambition of putting on a day of your favourite bands without anything catching fire. But that’s enough of my subjectivity tarnishing an occasion all about community. I posed a few questions to one of the organisers, chiefly Matt of Cardiff’s Barely Regal Records (see what they did there?), about how he went about making his dream a reality.

Sir, tell me what it was like to organise such an event.

On the whole I’d say it was a brilliant experience, and something we were all really glad to be involved in. Don’t get me wrong, it was definitely stressful – particularly in the last month or so when me and Tommy basically spent every waking moment outside of our dayjobs working on About Time stuff, and I think we were aware that no matter how much preparation we did there was always going to be stuff that came up on the day that was out of our control and we were going to have to deal with. It was totally worth it though – it was amazing to see so many people get behind the festival, including the bands, people who bought tickets and everyone that helped us out running the event on the day. The amount of support we received before, during and after the event was ridiculous, more than we could have ever hoped/imagined, and every single band was incredible. For me it was a reflection of the incredible DIY scene we have in the UK at the moment.

What lessons did you learn from this event which can be carried forward with you?

I think the main thing is we would (nay, will!) start organising it even earlier. We started organising About Time #2 back in June when we booked Joan of Arc, and we still could’ve done with even more time. I mean, I think however long we have we’re always going to be working right up to the wire, but I think planning it further ahead will allow us to do a lot more and make the next one even better.

We obviously want to take on any comments and criticisms people had from this year’s event, so I think part of what we’ll change for the next one will come from that.

Are you already plotting a third installment?

Of course! We got so used to spending all of our time working on About Time #2 that I’d be at a loss for what to do with myself if there wasn’t a third one in the works, haha. Still in the very, VERY early stages, but we’re already starting to think about where we want to do it, when we want to do it, who we want on the line-up, and how we can make it better than the last one.

What were your highlights?

Honestly, every single band was incredible, I couldn’t possibly choose one or just a few. One of my favourite things about the bands we had on the line-up is that even though I’ve seen most of them play a tonne of times they still blow me away at every single show. A lot of them played new material which is going to be coming out in the next year or so, which is really exciting too.