Welcome to ‘Songs About Music’ Week. We’re starting with a home town (-ish) hero. Beans on Toast is a couple more than a couple of years younger than me and comes from a few miles over from where I grew up.
Jay McAllister and I have never met (that’s Beans OT’s real name) but we hung out in the same club nights, watched the same indie bands when they came to town and supported the same pubs, bars and basements in Essex where music was the main event.
I know this because of BOT’s lyrics. Specifically the lyrics to Old Grunge which namechecks some of those venues, describes the scenes of the scene pretty accurately and goes on to cover the attitude of The Army And Navy, The Pink Toothbrush, The Roundacre and The Palace Hotel in exactly the way I recall.
There are parts of Essex that are still populated by Cro-Magnon Man now in this day and age. 20-25 years ago Goths, Grungers, Moshers and Greebos took their personal safety into their own hands if they were to walk down to any of these venues in numbers small enough to be picked on by Townies (in short read Hooligans without portfolio) who didn’t like the way you were dressed. Or those who didn’t understand why you were trying to be different. Or those who just didn’t recognise you from their estate.
The worst crime you could commit in their eyes was being any kind of different (therefore, being gay, somehow it always boiled down to that) which meant a beating would surely follow.
This meant something once safely ensconced inside the venue too. Once in the sanctuary of The Pink Toothbrush or The Esplanade you were among like minded people. A gathering of tribes from the fringes. Britpop, Hip Hop, Punk and New Romantic were equally valid as Metal, Twee, Shoegaze and Ska.
You may (or may not) have noticed the absence of Reggae in these comments. I’ll leave that to Jay…