11 hours after leaving for London the day before, I crashed at 5am underneath the rising sun with a faint ringing in my ears.
Backtrack a bit and it’s coming up to something-past-six in Wycombe station. I’ve never met a band before. I have no idea what goes on behind stage. I don’t know what to expect.
A couple of hours later, however, and I’m settling in to the restricted area with the big ‘no entry’ sign on the door. Beer is flowing in seemingly endless measures, conversation is becoming more confident and more fluent, and the nerves are beginning to wear off.
After reviewing their upcoming eponymous album, I was invited to see The Tea Street Band live in Shoreditch playing alongside Sisteray, The Mono Polys and Jake Evans – all of whom were, honestly, great. Conversation moved from Gigslutz to cocaine, the evolution of music to Viagra, but amidst the casual boyishness of it all, there were a few serious undertones.
The principle of the band was discussed quite openly – the difficulties, long-journeys and differences in comparison to a nine-til-five, but overall the general summary appeared to be that being in a band with close-friends travelling all over the world made it feel worthwhile.
After getting over the initial “no way!” daze of being starstruck as Brian Nash of Frankie Goes to Hollywood joined us, I did what any rational human being in my situation would do and took as many appalling selfies as my phone would let me before venturing outside to join the masses. The crowd was buzzing throughout – people sat, people stood, people danced, people drank, people were old, people were young and in a momentary blur of total nihilism, none of that mattered. It was a collective ‘crowd’ grouped by a common interest of good music as opposed to an assortment of totally incompatible individuals.
As Tom took charge of an imaginary dance-floor, vaguely resembling my mother dancing at a wedding, I watched on in that unfortunate I-want-to-dance-but-I-don’t-know-how state of slight self-awareness, entertained by the music but perhaps more so by the vibe it was sending out. As mentioned in the album review, The Tea Street Band’s music is massively feel-good, and that haze of hedonistic optimistic existentialism completely took over its audience.
We had missed the last train back to Wycombe and undoubtedly would have to roam the streets until we either died, got fed up and called a taxi or until the trains started running again, but it didn’t matter. The Queen of Hoxton that night was a bubble in which people were free to fall onto the stage, throw bras until they weren’t thrown back and make small-talk with actual bands composed of actual people.
Backstage, conversation was wandering again, people came and people went, and as the fourth crate of beer was opened, music came up. Speaking to the bassist of The Tea Street Band, we discussed the progression into rock ’n’ roll and the parallel that could be drawn between art and technology – as art had once moved forward in the past, technology had strived to keep up. By the Nineties, however, we could agree that technology was instead leading art, and by the Noughties a polarisation between technology-led and art-led music had emerged. The concept of Tea Street, he concluded, was that technology was being reunited with raw talent – the songwriting and the soul – and that would always prevail eventually.
The whole night was a genuinely eye-opening experience. Talks of objectively proper proggy music with DJ She Bangs the Drums, bottle-opening party-tricks with The Mono Polys and aimless staggers around Camden at three-thirty-two in the morning with a stamp on my hand, a pick in my pocket and unexplainable, uncorrupted grins on our faces, the event was one not to be missed and without a doubt one of the best I’ve been to.