Settings

Interview With Under Neon Loneliness

DETRITUS, ABSENCE AND EMPTINESS @ SCALA

It’s a strange evening in King’s Cross. The cavernous Scala never fills up so good bands like Two Wounded Birds (see their intraview and bag yourself a free MP3 here) and Kurran & the Wolfnotes play accomplished sets to small audiences whilst the air-conditioning blasts clouds of dry ice around a dancefloor wasteland. Gin warms things up temporarily. It makes the ironic 80s-chic red vinyl staircase between the rooms feel more like an ascent to a Reeperbahn brothel – or a descent into hell. The only sign of life to be found here is a headless flower, discarded and abandoned in its plastic wrapper.

The crowd tonight is a mixture of gig goers waiting for the place to get some atmosphere and lairy drunks who appear halfway through each band’s set. I presume the bar is where they spend the rest of their time. Someone places a Louis Vuitton bag near the barrier to the stage without fear of anyone spilling beer on it and the usual gig detritus is limited to a can and a couple of plastic glasses – THAT’s how quiet it is.

Splitting the bill across three rooms for the whole night when the crowd is so small gives a feeling of perpetual drift and emptiness. It’s as if the fun never really starts because everyone feels so distant and exposed. The night is presented by ‘Absent Kelly’ and it feels like the joke is on those of us who turned up – Kelly and her friends remain absent throughout.

If the venue was heaving the night would be a great idea, with exciting stuff to find going on somewhere down the rabbit hole – but atmosphere can’t be generated in a desert, no matter how much dry ice you pump out. DJ sets by Carl Barat and The Maccabees happen for those who persevere late into the night, hoping that things will ‘get started’ sometime soon. We retire in search of a nice cup of tea.

Words/Photos | Amanda Penlington