Bath Porter Bar

So we fall out of work around seven. Maybe seven thirty. Rapt in entertaining our readers with some interaction malarkey, we’re forced to sit — through sheer devotion — in our sweat-slicked offices, noses dripping, until our work is done. So, logically enough, we fall to the pub.

The Garricks. Local of games journalists in town, and general hang-out of reprobates of a pretentious nature. A bittersweet — thus creating a sweetness for alcohol — mood is present, as an office writer has announced that he’s leaving the magazine. So, in the nostalgic haze, we go to work. We tell stories, as the sun melts from the sky after the hottest day of the year.

Sitting on the streets outside the theatre, beers cooling as grins heat up, we exchange sex stories. About the guy who’s girlfriend shat on the sofa mid-anal-coitus, and after blaming it on the family pooch, the mongrel in question was dragged out back by the farmer dog and made the proud recipient of a double-barreled blast through the cranium. About the guy who, in the virginal excitement of finally being alone, naked and mating, actually made love to the gap between mattress and buttock rather than the more traditional entrance. About the bloke who — circa the gulf war — was so cheerfully ambivalent pleasuring the girl he was with, simply sat back, watched bulletins of the missiles streaking over bagdhad, smoking cigarettes, while the girl in question straddled him and worked on securing her satisfaction.

You know stories. Sex stories. You’ve been there.

After moving briefly inside — the day can’t stay sweltering forever — a gentleman turns up. The most effervescent man in Bath. He orders us to come to Porter, then onto Moles. And, despite the weight that drags down on our eyelid like Sysaphyian pebbles, we agree. It’s the announcement of a leaving, thus requires commemoration of sorts.

The Porter’s the young-person’s pub in Bath of people cool enough to realize that going to a place where other people who dress in ridiculous fashions makes them cool by proxy. We go there often, because we’re equally as shallow. Falling down the steps to the basements, we hear a voice that sounds like Mary mourning an unexpected still-birth and the rhythmic pulse of twenty-first century jazz.

Sipping vodkas or rums, we watch the band. Mooz. Your current corespondent saw them a couple of years back, at precisely the point where Fanzine writer leaped into Corporate whore-dom. He thought them beautiful then. And now, unexpected, they’re even more beautiful.

The initial impression is the guilty realization of the inherent misogyny that permeates most members of the underground band scene — of being presented with a band, who’s all female, and are attempting to make impact through a pure musical statement rather than an alteration of the pop-format. A girl band who, in that Uncut-album-review way, can fucking play. And play interesting material, cutting out new shapes from the ether with the most basic guitar-drums-bass line-up.

Seeing Mooz underlines the patronization that most critics still approach bands-with-girls in. With the possible exception of Akira, the majority of lauded girl-groups still inhabit the ramones-buzzcocks axis of admirable incompetence. Leave the competency to the men, after all.

Scumfucks. We’re all scumfucks.

So, listening to the band, we cast off our situation and lose ourselves in the music (Never mind Mooz present a unique image of a polyglot image of urban Britain. I’m not going to describe their appearance, as it cheapens them and plays exactly into the hands of those — i.e. Every-fucking-one — who has the belief that a truly great band intrinsically features 4 skinny white boys with guitars. Let’s just say that Mooz look natural and brilliant and sexy without even dreaming of trying). And what music.

Being Bristol means they’re always going to have the painful portishe*d needles slid below their fingernails. But they don’t deserve it. With the rough, organic edges, Mooz sound like nothing less than Nina-Simone fronting a proficiency-endowed modern-funk Sleener Kinney, broken edges working against the sound creating a real urban soul.

Because, more than anything else, Mooz creates a sense of place the second they throw out a jazz-seventh chord juxtaposed with a naturalistic ’95 jungle-breakbeat. The noughties disease is a sense of distance from the surroundings, a fumbling for an attachment to the tawdry surroundings, a heart-breaking failure to match up to the micro-celebrity of Big Brother Rejects. Mooz, by purely letting loose their soul in a place such as this, being entirely avatars of ourselves, redefine the space of the underground bar as a space of rediscovery. Suddenly, the residents of the Porter aren’t failures at reaching an approved image, they’re emancipated freedom fighters, redefining street-culture from the ground up. Suddenly, we’re living in an original soundtrack for our blue period.

And they’re so good. While the drummer complains she’s forced to tape down her kit, cutting away at the groinal-pulse of the music, the suffocated breakbeats working against the purely minimalistic sharply-lazy chords creates a space which The Voice is thrown. While she’s a little thin on the high, mournful wailing, when she growls towards a tiger-purr reprise she reaches beneath God’s robs and jerks him off frenetically with every syllable.

I’m struck with the same thought that hit me when I first saw Mooz. An unscrupulous A&R man could sign them in a second and reshape them into a coffee-table pop-phenomenon in a couple of months. The fact that a band with a Vesuvius of potential errupting in their stomachs hasn’t been done yet seems to be a nod towards a desire for autonomy.

As Mooz walk off the stage, we finish our drinks, run out and pile into Moles, where we lose ourselves in gratuitous flirting and even more gratuitous dancing to the excesses of the last thirty years of pop-music. I find myself throwing geometrics at a cleavage to Britteny Spears, bouncing to Come on Eileen and punching my way to a personal Valhalla with “Eye of the Tiger”. And all the time, vodkas slide down my throat as I grind my pelvis against strangers, looking into their eyes, unsure of my name, let alone theirs.

The Beat Goes On.

And then it stops. And we go home. And we find ourselves writing.

For those who think that the burnt-passion of Mooz were a moment of purity in an evening of perversity, you’re wrong. The point is that there’s no reason why we should accept an evening where there isn’t a band like Mooz tearing pieces of themselves and selling them as emotio-kebabs in a dirty cellar in every town on earth.

The fact that there’s something special about being special is the saddest thing about our lives.

We accept mediocrity. We draw lines between the sublime and the ridiculous, failing to grasp the pleasures in both add depth and shading to the other. We buy into the myth of The Artist, and make plans for a pilgrimage to the touring-temple of /real/ poets.

And by limiting our reflection of passion into societal-determined tour-slots, we reduce ourselves to cultural-cows lining a trough at feeding time, only eating our fill when our generous masters offer us a drab of sustenance.

Ultimately, there’s no reason why an experience like Mooz should be integrated into our lives every evening. There’s no reason why a lucky talent should have a fortune of £100 million based on stolen riffs from starving blues artists. There’s no reason why we should worship idiots.

If you’re in a band that’s rubbish, stop being so. Careerism makes cretins of us all. Make your own life matter, and so create a soundtrack that adds resonance to us all. Make us Gods, you fuckwits.

Mooz do, and to that, I toast them.

I’m going to wake up tomorrow morning with a raging hangover.

One day, I’m going to wake up and find that Mooz will rule the world.

It’ll be a good day.