The French Connection: Euro YeYe Festival Summary
Hey! I'm back from the "Euro YeYe" which was one of the major ‘60s mod events held this summer in Europe, and I'm here to give you the scoop:
Well, the sixties are over and done, man. Believe me, you were better off at home watchin' your videos and listenin' to your records. At least you get your ideal vision intact that way! To tell you the truth, I was a bit deceived this year, havin' passed the event for two years. I was expecting more on the line of what I had experienced then. 'Course there were hundreds and hundreds (thousands?) of young mods all tryin' to revive swingin' London, but Austin Powers achieved that better in his mock films! Most had the look down pat as vintage pop stars could and they all know the obscure side of freakbeat music better than the original mods would 've ever dreamed of knowing but, what most lacked was: SOUL!
And the girls . . . they all paraded with their see-through, maxi-mini skirts and acted as if they were liberated but, do not touch! No Sex! They only came to check out theirs and the others’ dresses, get savvy of the latest records, and see the newest customized scooter like it was some kind of sixties supermarket or Mardi Gras (a recreation as plastic as their PVC), or as if they were all going to church but, in truth nobody had the guts to truly live up to the image! It's too easy kids, and ultimately superficial! But, that's exactly what they were: Children! All diggin' thru grandma's trunk in the cellar, tryin' out her old robes for a laugh and playin' "mum and dad " for the weekend. No risk, no harm done . . .
I heard some original ‘60s freak saying, "Well, whaddya expect 35 plus years later?!" At least WE were genuine when we started rediscovering that stuff 15-20 years ago, and we broke new ground too, re-establishin' and re-definin' Garage-band sub-genres, FreakBeat and transworld local scenes with new and interesting sounds. We discovered new groups in the process, and we lived thru the Punk and post-punk years to boot!” Nowadays the moddy boys have it too easy. They know all about the Monks or Dantalian's Chariot, while ignoring who the hell the Animals or the Beach Boys were. The original message was "back to the garden" not "kindergarden," you moddies! No charisma, no real personnality here! Where's your freedom of mind? This is too safe! Even your drugs are ersatz. Instead of LSD, they all gulp Ecstasy pills to stay up all night, several days in a row, with their paper cups of tap water to keep them from dehydrating! And they were stuck with their stereotypes too: There were packs of locals poking fun at me, girls were fleeing from me, afraid of being ridiculed by their peers if they were ever seen with me when I tried to reach to them, because they couldn't ever realize an Asiatic mod waiting outside of his Chinese restaurant and not doing Kung Fu. Don't they know there was a huge scene in Japan in the sixties, even Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Phillipines and f*ckin' Cambodia!?
The skinheads were particularly heavy. To all of them I'd like to say this: "No, I'm NOT a Japanese mod monkee. I'm a man, I have a ‘dick,’ and I f*ck your women too!" . . . Sad, this is.
Now, let's go back to the materialistic side of the event, namely the facilities, the merchandise, and the bands: The first day, Wednesday night, we arrived knacked by a night of trying to sleep in a bumpy bus for 16 hours. Nevertheless, after being greeted by a local girlfriend, we quickly checked in a hostel, had a shower, changed and rushed (all geared out) to the first welcoming all-nighter. The club opened late with only local faces and some Spanish numbers from Barcelona (a kind of cultural capital of Spain) and other parts of the country. So far we were the only true foreigners! While waiting for the club to open, as it was not on schedule (as always!), we checked the retrospective photo expo on the local mod movement, full of scooter run images and bands on stage playing the local Jam and Weller part.
When we finally were able to enter the club, I noticed Wink & Cheesy (he's truly "cheesy"!) who are famous mod DJs from Germany, but the English faces had not arrived yet. The opening band (of whom I didn't care to take a picture), The Teenagers," were locals who played a decent imitation of Georgie Fame and his Blue Flames with electronic organ, sax, trumpet, and all, in the soul-jazz-mod-crooning style. We went to bed early, saving ourselves for the next day.
Thursday was the true first day of the rally! We got to see UK's New Mastersounds at a free concert in the public "Plaza Mayor" where the James Taylor Quartet and the Big Boss Men had honed their Acid Jazz the previous years. What was cool for a couple songs soon turned boring throughout the whole set . . . squeaky clean hot funky sounds belted out by a British, watered-down imitation of an obese Stax singer, backed by a white music school brass section, a honky guitar, drums and organ, and a black bassist as clean suited as Eddy Murphy (not very much your "bad-ass, boogie get-down, funky-soul brothers," if you ask me. Gimme Baby Huey or the Meters anytime!).
Then it was rush out to the club, where we finally got to meet the real faces just down from London . . . these were a true, swingin' lookin' bunch with the girls all '60s dolly-model lookalikes: Peggy Moffit, Pattie Boyd, Marianne Faithfull, Julie Driscoll etc. You name it! The boys were pop princes, and better lookin' than Austin Powers too, as they all popped out of Rave magazine like Peter Frampton’s "Face of '68" with their gear. Still, look out! You can't approach or talk to the Brits as they are treated like royalty by the locals (it took me two days to finally get the nerve to talk to one of the guys . . . and let's not talk about the birds!). Curiously, one lone Japanese mod tagged along the English gotha, as if he, himself, were out of a Japanese GS band; but, this boy came straight after me thinking I was Japanese too. He was a cool guy but quiet and cast aside . . . a bit blank and not much of a character though.
In the venue were already a number of clothes, records stalls, and general ‘60s mod merchandise like badges and airport travel bags with original logos, only it was truly less interesting and more generic than the previous years.
Friday (my night) was the best night as far as partying goes. The club was overcrowded with two dance halls: a large one in front of the stage for the freakbeat and psychedelic crowd, and in the back, one that was more exclusive, and dimly lighted. In fact, it was more of a club in a true sense, for the Jazz, Latin, Northern Soul, R'n'B black sounds of the hard mods and skinhead crowd (often, curiously I liked that part better; although, I liked the music better as the other part seemed too "kiddie-a-go go").
During the nighttime hours, we got to see two bands: the Natural Thing, a Jazz-mod Hammond band with sax who played correctly, but I didn't bother to get their image properly as they were sooooo "wallpaper" Musak; and London Underground, a sort of Italian trio version of Brian Auger's "Oblivion Express" with a touch of Trinity (his older late ‘60s band!). It was good music but nothing interesting to see, and nothing to get excited about. The guys looked like old fading, post-hippies and not very mod. Actually, I'd rather stay at home listening to the stereo while marveling at the original pix.
We were all frankly waiting for the shows to stop so we could start dancing the night away and that we did almost non-stop 'til 8 A.M. Still there was a private party afterwards (as there were, in fact, every night) in secret apartments for the chosen few of whom we weren't a part (we were not British royalty, you see) . . . lord knows what happened within those closed doors!
Saturday was the biggest night, but we began to overdose a little from the three previous nights. We went to a larger venue called the "Oasis," which is a bit outside of town near the beach. Still, it was the best night as far as the bands were concerned: Spain’s Magic Bus, despite being pretty obvious and nearly amateur, were the more fresh-faced of the two bands (even of the whole program for that matter); they’re obvious fans of the Who, with their guitar banger dressed as an hommage to Pete Townshend with the same famous white engineer/mechanic's combination overall you’ve seen him wear at Woodstock. They were jumping all over the place, unplugging themselves a few time in the process, but they played quite well, with the bassist even trading his bass for a sitar during a couple of electric ragas! Cool! At least they were exuberant and quite dynamic . . . a good rock'n'roll quality if you ask me!
Great Britain’s the Impact were the better musicians of the two and the stars of the show but, I personally grew tired of this righteous style of British R&B played scholarly like the Clapton era-Yardbirds, In-crowd, Bo Street Runners . . . the '80s Clique did it better and more originally ten plus years ago, out of the same "New Untouchables" crowd. They had even hung on the back wall an imitation Roy Liesenstein painting of a comic book plane crashing with the letters "Impact." The sole real attraction of their show however was the moment all the British dollybirds climbed on stage to go-go dance to one of their encores (I missed that on camera!). That was outside under the stars and the silvery moon. Inside, the dance floors were hot and sweaty from the groovy sixties killer sounds you couldn't help but dance to; the floor got very wet, sticky, and murky from the beer spills, and the cigarette butts created a dirty black mess! Once more, the Jazz Soul club behind was the better location of the two, even looking like a kitsch Oriental palace interior. I got sick that night and we slept during the day, waking up only at 4 P.M. in time to go watch special sixties cinema screenings at the cultural center, free of charge, every late afternoon. Just once we had the courage to bath at the neighboring beach.
Sunday, was the farewell night: Most of the Spanish locals were gone as they were getting ready for a week's work the next day. Still, the British and all the real foreigners, like us French, some Italians, and even a couple American mod girls (!), were still hanging out. Sunday is often considered the favorite of the all-nighters as it's the last day and everybody seems to be more friendly as we all know we won't see each other again for another year. But people finally got to talk though and I had already befriended a couple of British blokes: guys from the band "Neil's Children," and in the meantime I had bumped into a couple of old timer friends, one of whom was Alfredo, leader of the ex-legendary Spanish ‘60s Psych. band "Los Negativos." This band had two albums in the '80s (the first of which is an absolute original masterpiece being the first neo mod band to play Popsike in Spain!). Alfredo strangely won the best Lambretta scooter cup (a childish competition), and he's 41 now! All the ex-members of the band are pop-art painters and renowned artists in Spain now. Incidentally, did I not tell you that the "Euro YeYe" meeting was organized by ex-members of another top Spanish neo '60s band: Dr. Explosion? Well, tonight's band, Phaze was quite deceiving since we expected better from the organist girl who previously played in major '60s influenced indie bands "Makin' Time" and the Plimsouls, the guitarist, former bassist of the legendary great British neo mod band the Prisoners (who were utterly great the last time I saw them opening for the reformed Remains at the Leon "Purple Weekend" mod meeting!). The girl sang false and was rather pretentious with the crowd and the band played capably, but left no spark and were boring. The Hammond playing was flat.
This year’s "YeYe" really had a lesser programme band-wise. We left home earlier than the usual 8 A.M. as we were tired and grew bored, even though it was our last night to pick up girls. Well, at least I got some pictures to show you. Don’t you wish you'd been there?
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