Monday, 30 March 2015

20.15 Blog #4: Riot Nrrrd Tour!

A 20 min, 15 second blog

Touring is never boring

I went on tour with good friend and superb poet Jenn Hart.  I met Jenn when she came to see Letter To The Man (from the boy) in Eastleigh a few years back, and since then we’ve done a few gigs here and there and she allowed me to interview her for my podcast about punk & poetry.

After a few dates in August 2014, we decided we’d go on tour at some point in 2015.  That was as much as we’d settled on.  I put together a tour with Travels By Telephone (whose new EP is super) last year, so drew upon that experience of emails and dates flying back and forth like duelling wands.

We named it the RIOT NRRRD tour because of our love for Riot Grrrl and nerd culture.

Our first date was Nerd Hutch in Newcastle, a wicked DIY space based in Travelling Man, which aims to promote queer, feminist and nerdy voices.  As a collective, they have a great sense of friendly attitudes.  I met up with Jenn from her mega Megabus ride and we performed pieces in the shop, and set the tone for the intimate, yet relaxed tour.

Leeds was different to this chilled vibe.  Leganski & Chris Singleton’s Verbal Remedies open mic proved Leeds’ strange bubbling diversity and general loudness which proves spoken word can be affecting and energetic.

Then we hit Durham, not really knowing what to expect. I’d been to Empty Shop a fair few times for various indie-pop gigs, and we did Practise Patience back at the end of 2013.  Carlo and Alice were super lovely, and despite only having three poets for the open mic, we had a full room which proves people are more than willing to come and check out poetry and enjoy as an audience.

Harrogate was a welcome pitstop, a lovely pub with whiskeys and warm open mic where new and old faces shared their stories and poems in Tim Ellis’ open setting.

Hull’s Away With Words was interesting as always, the regular open mics with an assortment of political poems. One fellow asserted he wasn’t a chauvinist before reading a poem about ‘Tits that took over the world’ which sad very strangely alongside someone’s experiences of being trans*.  Overall proving Hull is full of vibrant characters, none so much as head honcho Jim Higo.

Then off to Edinburgh to the Forest CafĂ©, chauffeured by Travels By Telephone who delightfully joined us for the Scottish dates.  They fed up, and we headlined their open mic.  It felt a tough crowd, maybe after we’d gigged with so many rewarding audiences, but afterwards we got plenty of good vibes off people and our host Raph Lehmann took us to a cool queer disco.

Glasgow was simply divine, a really nice gig in Tchai Ovi, a little tea house with smashing food.  Audiences came-and-went throughout this matinee show which meant the energy was always moving and we met some new friends, hung out with Hugh & Pippa of Dangle Manatee and had a lovely Saturday.

Finally (after 6 hours drive) we returned to York for my own night, Say Owt Slam which I co-compare with Stu Freestone.  As always, despite the travels, Jenn smashed it and it was another sold out affair of slam-stye spoken word.

What did I learn from tour?

People can be incredibly generous and willing hosts.  The best nights and venues are the ones who treat everyone like a friend, who adhere to a DIY philosophy and make safe and accessible spaces.

I continue to learn about feminism and queer identities and challenge myself and my privilege.  I can never truly capture the voice and experiences of other peoples, but I can give those voices a platform and combat the expectations and conventions we find at poetry and arts events.

What’s next?  Well we’ll be doing a Riot Nrrrd south tour, and maybe fitting in some midlands dates.  I recorded interviews with our promoters and people we met, and hope to make a podcast for next year.

I also hope I can replay some of my friends and put them on in York with that same love they did.

Up The Nerd Punks!