What Is So Great About Gatsby? Part One.

Currently I reside on page 105 of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’. You may get to page 106 and ask yourself “Have I been wasting my time?” The answer is YES, yes you HAVE. Douchebag.

I have read over one hundred pages of nothing, it feels. I am aware there’s this character Gatsby, who’s a bit of a cad and and rich tosser, and a main narrator who is quite obviously so bloody boring the story had to be about someone else. He appears to have no personality. I am of the opinion that Fitzgerald has made a classic mistake – focussing on the wrong character. There are some interesting people to read about – or at least more interesting compared to the main two – but we get minimal information about them. Fail, Fitzgerald, serious, serious fail.

Going back to our narrator with no personality, what’s his game? He has no strong feelings about anything. Ever. He mentions a relationship, in about two lines, that he had over the summer, but he cuts this off because the bird’s brother started to get angry. That’s some serious love dude. There is no hate about anything in particular, not really even a “this was good” at the end of each day. BORING.

But maybe I’m not giving Scott boy enough credit. Oh no wait, yes I am.

Maybe he was trying to achieve a reflection of the 1920s? How it was all money a-go-go, parties and frivolity, but all surface and no feeling? The trouble is, he is actually a good writer. I have enjoyed – or at least been able to read – the first part of the book easily. Is this a very shrewd writer who draws you in with his way with words but doesn’t have any effect on your life? Reading ‘The Great Gastby’ is kind of like watching a Richard Curtis film, or listening to an Eno album – perfectly enjoyable the first time, but no real meaning.  Maybe the last eighty pages will improve. Or at least have an exciting incident in there…

Introducing… Kill It Kid

New kids in town Kill It Kid are currently storming the music scene. Fresh from recording in Seattle earlier this year, they launched their first album (of the same name) at Back To Mine on a chilly Wednesday evening in October. Having been named ‘iTunes Single Of The Week’ that same seven days, it was unsurprising that the club was packed and the fans many. Despite their young age and recent graduation, Kill It Kid show nothing but raw talent in their song writing and performance. Guitar is taken by Chris Turpin, a small and unassuming chap compared to how his voice sounds – it literally tears right through the soul of you, in a way you would not think possible from his appearance. Categorising themselves as “Americana, Indie, Blues”, the band combine a number of instrument that could be deemed unusual to be found in a rock band – Stephanie Ward on piano adds to the main vocals, while Richard Jones comes in with violin, giving the band a country lilt that is so unheard of in a popular band. Despite their unconventional combinations, the band come together to form emotion-riding tunes and penetrating numbers that can only be a good thing. Check them out now before fame (and Radio One) get to them.

Grizzly Bear – Anson Rooms, Bristol, Nov ’09

Now the Anson Rooms isn’t exactly the ideal location. Miles away from Temple Meads station, out of the main hub of Bristol, and with the venue itself representing something of a village hall, one could imagine the evening being a total loss from the beginning. But try this for size – the dulcet tones and tunes of Grizzly Bear, supported by St Vincent, who makes way more sound than you would think possible, eargerly onlooked by a crowd spanning all the demographics, with a lighting rig to match and overtake anything Fever Ray could come up with. Not too bad when you mix all the ingredients together.

Having only really started my in-depth gig research a week or so before the event (some how time just disappears…), I felt a little unprepared for what might meet me through the many, many doors of Bristol’s student union. However, with a pre-pint gig in the lovely Big Chill bar, two intrepid explores braved the rain and lack of directions and found the Anson Rooms. Unfortunately the competence of the bar staff here was somewhat lessened compared to Big Chill, but it is a derivative of a (slightly arrogant) place of higher education. One must pick ones battles. TIP – do not leave your ID in the cloak room as you may need it. I did. And was told I was “a lot older” than the barman thought when I’d retrived it. Charming.

St Vincent I was dubious about. I’d explored her myspace music, but that was about it. Truth be told, she seemed a little pretentious. A little Joanna Newsom, maybe. Only a lot less annoying. This evening, though, she was excellent. Far be it from me to judge her plugging an iPod into the equipment at the beginning, because this made the experience so much better than one person playing one intrument for thirty minutes. Not that that’s always bad, just quite commonplace. This girl was like a modern-day Mike Oldfield. And she was confident, and spoke to the crowd. She had good numbers, she strayed from the generic and, although she may have been faking it – who knows -, felt like it was an honour to be there, not like everyone in the crowd should already know her name. In short, she was an excellent support. It wasn’t a case of “Come on, try and impress me support band I don’t know much about!” Very, very unusual.

Grizzly Bear. Are these people almost as nice and as bashful as Guillemots, Belle and Sebastian AND Fleet Foxes all together? Yes. Just as talented? Of course. Why has it taken so long for people to sit up and listen? God knows. But they do now, and they should. We were treated to the delights of ‘Two Weeks’, ‘Colorado’ and, because Mr Daniel Rossen had a “twinkle in his eye”, ‘Deep Blue Sea’. Bass player Christ Taylor amazed us by getting out more and more instruments that he could play – and not just play, but play well – , and they, too, like St Vincent, adopted the “thanks for having us, it’s been lovely” stance that makes you want to see them again. It’s always much easier to pay for something when people are nice about it.

A very pleasant evening, minus the run for the train at the end!