making real noises

From a train from Bristol to Chichester, as Donald Trump became president elect.

I (Rachael) led a workshop today for some MA students at Chichester University. We talked politick and wrote songs and tried to make real noises. This is a provocation that I wrote very fast and a bit miserably on the train there. 

In 2015 I formed a punk band called the Great White Males for my show Cuncrete. I have always gone to a lot of gigs, and have always wanted to be the lead singer in a band, despite being a bad singer and having no musical knowledge or skill, apart from a brief stint as 3rd flute in the school wind orchestra. I have always enjoyed watching the commitment, or perhaps ‘abandon’ of musicians as opposed to theatre performers. The rawness, the sweatiness, the frankness of music.  I vastly prefer the atmosphere of a gig to that of a theatre show, and had been thinking about what this form might lend us – in the theatre or live art world. What new level of real we might be able to access. No one in the Great White Males can play their instruments, but somehow with these props: a guitar, a bass, a dilapidated drum kit and a microphone; we had the tools to howl out a direct, clumsy, heartfelt noise.

Last night, whilst America went to the polls, Danny and I watched Sleaford Mods play at the o2 Academy in Bristol. It was a rowdy gig, with a mosh pit and people getting kicked out for crowdsurfing, people getting kicked out for ‘getting it out’. I’d say most of the audience were over 30. The Sleaford Mods are often talked about as ‘the most political band since… the clash/the pistols/the specials.’ And obviously that’s not true, but I spent last night trying to work out why people say that. Because there is something …vital feeling about them. Different from (for example) the young Nottingham duo [Cappo] who supported them, who also have ‘political lyrics’. And I think it’s because the Sleaford Mods sound like what they are saying. With ‘Jobseeker’, they somehow make the noise of being at the jobcentre; the particular brand of desperation that goes with that. And Jason Williamson does this sort of orangutang-like dance and it even, somehow, looks right as well. 

This morning on the train here, Donald Trump reached the 270 electoral college votes he needed to become the 45th president of the United States. The woman sitting opposite me – her on her news app, me on mine – exclaimed ‘Oh, fuck’ at the same moment I watched the number tip over. It was such an inadequate noise for the circumstance. I wished someone had started smashing up the train. Wailing. Dancing. And I wondered what would be the right noise. And how we would make that happen.

Rachael Clerke

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