.....Dunedin warmth, Dunedin Hands. Oh the passionate realm of music and art, it attracts them all, the control freaks, the mommys boys, the daddys girls, the special kids, the damaged, the abused, the destroyed, the weak, the troubled, the cursed, the rich, the poor, the sick, the god-fearing, the god hating, the open, the closed, the ambitious, the driven, the insane, the mysogynists, the homeless, the home-schooled, the priveledged, the defiled, the down-trodden, the brilliant, the deviant, the defiant, the maladjusted, the introverted, the extroverted, the forlorn, the quietist, the political, the apolitical. There seems to be different approaches to performance and performance situations - some are there to assert their domain and claim the next decade as theirs, some treat the structural aspects of a multi-act performance as a forum for that insidious kiwi pathology - passsive-agressive behaviour. Last night there was a perfomance at None Basement, or 'Fight club' as I now call it. Having played the venue under its various guises off and on since 1997 it is a place of solace and sentiment for me, somewhere to 'be myself', to 'let down my guard' , a place with a strong anarcho-liberal philosophy to it - a place of un-restricted creativity, and mutual support and encouragement. Last nights show was an eclectic amalgam of musical schools - a jazz/folk/psych act, an anarchic dada outfit, some noise rock, a laptopper, some electro, and myself, attemting a sort of 'live beats' thing with a laptop and the sterling gentlement i've been freestyling with over the last few months . Long before the show was to begin I tried to ascertain what the line up would be, when i should play and for how long etc. As is normal with many gigs of an anarchistic nature a kind of 'it'll sort itself out' attitude is assumed, one attempts to spontaneously assess when it is appropriate to perform, one assumes there isnt a hierarchy to the lineup, its an egalitarian event, fuelled by the music itself, the audiences response, the flow of the piss, the blood on the floor. Trying my utmost to be all things to all people as usual, (I tend to be what you think i am)I cranked up my set as the jazz outfit were seemingly winding down. There were two 'zones', on each side of the basement, creating a kind of genre specific schism, perhaps reducing the severity of the interjection. But no. The two zones were as one stage. Would I get up on stage with a group when they hadnt finished? No. But this was...something altogether different. A real headfuck. Cutting my sound ejaculation (self coaxed of course) I was informed, in the form of the lead vocalists beautiful voice, that they were to play 'one more', a song of about 20 minutes. They finished eventually, their fans yelling encore, my supporters giving me the nod. Before i was to play two members of the jazz outfit confronted me, looking inconceivably put out and angry, like i had just ruined their careers. Deeming the gravity of what i had done by misjudging my liberties was not as heavy as the vibe exuding from these gentlemen I dismissed them, rather abruptly, putting on an air of haughty arrogant self assurance not normally my style (how dare I! I should have cowered and blithered in apology). Picking up a phone call and walking away must've added to the general wankerish feel - I must have looked like a real cunt trying to defend myself. The two guys spent my set seething - their hatred for me festered. Rallying their troops they heckled and defamed my name on a chalk board, this matt middleton guy - what an ego he has! He thinks he is the hot shit! He thinks he is great! He like listens to his own music! That is self congratulatory! How dare he! And so i finished up the set - which went well, and after packing my equipment the angry gentlemen, their honour in tatters after my insidious comments and the sound rape i let loose as they played, it had broken their concentration, I had defiled the purity of their set, I had usurped their one and only shot at fame it seemed. I was then informed that the gentleman would very much 'like to punch me in the face'. My short stature must've really been empowering for them at this point. The standover continued, the taller (hes tall as!) stood over me, like Thurston Moore wearing Burroughs style spectacles, his face buckled and spattering out psychotic old-jazz-soldier rules and taboos and tapus and biblical threats. I then tried a formal apology - apologizing firstly for making a sound when they were playing, and then for my dismissive arrogant display previous to my performance. The response was 'I don't want to hear you say sorry'. So then question I had to ask myself was what did he want? Did he want me to get on my knees and pleasure his member? Was I in for a masonic hazing? (well YES it turns out - even their songstress got one in). Did he want me to pay him off?? At this point my integrity as a human came into sharp contrast in my mind. Was I to be walked over, was I to roll over like a dog when kicked, leaving a pleasing ruddy glow on their cheeks, or would I do something a little more ..acute to highlight the unreasonable nature of their fury. Oh yes there had been breakdowns in communication right from the get-go. Did I have a plan to make an enemy that night? No. Was I told for how long and when I should exactly play? Not really. Did I think a couple of blasts of noise from me would cause such a crushing blow to these guys egos resulting in their need for my head on a plate? No. Maybe no-one really wanted me to play that particular gig in the first place - and in typical passive fashion no-one said 'i don't want crude to play'---like hey I would have gladly not played - of course no-one told me.
I walk back, assume this pseudo martial arts stance and suggest that they 'beat me up'..
(a fight ensued, one of those squirming, wriggling, locked-down scrums, some hair pulling, clothes tearing and biting (on my part) and a few punches.)
Oh music music music - the JOY of it all. Lots of desperately poor people (like m )running round with not enough food in their bellies and too much booze in their blood.
To conclude, I love the people at None. They have been some of the most consistent and encouraging people i have known - reasonable people - non-judgemental, highly creative and progressive, real people. I don't have a beef with None. I try my best to be reasonable with my music and performances. If I have built a reputation over the years as being a 'wanker' or that 'i think i'm better than you', thats a real shame. Lots of young people come down to Dunedin and have their mind made up about who and what I am. Have i become this sort of dinosaur that must be put out of its misery to let the young blood through? Am I a thorn in your side?
At the end of the day we wake up and its all turned to memory, another heated exchange in the fight club, just another outburst by that matt middleton cunt, and we get on with our lives. But this incident was particularly depressing, its the sort of soul-destroying thing that puts you off ever bothering with it again, and it makes you wonder if all the twenty-something musicians or artists of today share this bizarre, sinister,dry ambitious streak and a corresponding sense of immediate entitlement to absolute respect.