A couple of weeks ago, I finally saw the awesome Jaya the Cat live and incredibly one of my favourite bands were playing at my beloved local The Hairy Dog. When I bought the tickets I also noticed that Unknown Era who I have wanted to see for a while were supporting them along with Captain Accident and I could not wait. Neither band disappointed but I hate to admit we skipped out on the second band to get something to eat after a few too many whiskeys. I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the hip-hop hippy Motormouf who hosted the event his quick lyrics and beat boxing kept us entertained in the usual dull moments of set up between bands.
This year I am headed into my third year of university which means right now I am reading for my dissertation in which I will be discussing the power of protest music and collective joy and this gig was a perfect reminder of why I have chosen this topic. When people ask me what genre of music I enjoy I always struggle to answer because the answer is anything political which I know is not a genre but it’s certainly true. I like music that has something to say when I was younger it informed me and spurred me on to research the things bands were discussing eventually leading me to studying politics nowadays it keeps me motivated when all appears lost.
Unknown Era are a band from Nottingham which is about 20 minutes away from my home town this bunch of misfits play an upbeat mix of Ska, Soul, Funk and Reggae. Unlike many artists who embrace commercial escapism these guys do what I love and address the shitty realities faced by so many of us. The band sings about things we can all relate to such as losing money on a night out and songs about their community. They also focus on political issues in tracks discussing the inhumane treatment of people in Job Centres and the importance of rising up together to protest the injustices of the world. Even though half the band were missing the 5 members left standing brought an incredible energy and were immediately loved by the crowd.
The main event Jaya the Cat are a band from Amsterdam formed in 1998 and are rumoured to be named after a cat that joined the original line-up in their van when they were travelling to gigs which as a cat person myself immediately makes me love them. They are a reggae, ska, punk rock band that bring all the energetic beats and political lyrics you would expect from those genres. It’s been awhile since I’ve been to a gig where the band were drinking whiskey from the bottle throughout and it felt nostalgic to see a band getting as fucked up as the crowd.
Obviously, their whole performance was awesome and I felt lucky that all of my favourites were played but it was obvious that we were all waiting for one song in particular ‘Here Come the Drums’ is without a doubt their standout track and the iconic ‘nah nah nah’ could be heard from the crowd the moment the band set foot on stage. The track discusses inequality and the necessity to attack a system that makes it seemingly impossible for us to succeed. Of course, this was their encore track played after an hour and a half set and although officially it is a 3-minute song they stretched it for at least 10 which I and the rest of the crowd loved every second of.
Gigs like these offer me the optimism and passion to see a better world surrounded by people who for whatever reason all cheer when Unknown Era call Boris Johnson and Theresa May wankers and all feel a link with a song that overtly discusses poverty and inequality and dance like crazy when its performed. The audience and performers for me encapsulated the politics of hope and the joy of resistance. For a few hours on a Thursday night everyone was able to forget their troubles and dance we created a space where equality, music, joy and of course whiskey were the most important things and that to me is the best kind of gig.