Rollerpalooza (or the pros and cons of gravity, wheels and alcohol)

It was a dark and stormy night. But then again, it is the start of the autumn season, so a slant towards “nippy” is expected. I met Pips and Rucks at Cream in Broomhill and after lying our ways into 1970 (portrayed by the Bingo Hall of Queens’ Social Club), we went into Rollerpalooza II.

Just so you know, I watched Rollerball (the 70s one) before the event. I was ready to use dropkicks, spiked gloves and dance to the tune of Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. Instead, I wore a fez, because I’m a nerd.

So, let’s split the night into the proper categories and see how they fare:

1) Live Bands

Starting the night was Liars Beware and I had to listen to half of the set while on queue to get in. Not bad. Managed to listen to the other half from the front of the stage, a mild desert in those starting moments of Rollerpalooza. I personally like the dynamics, specially on a song like ‘Knives’, where the yells by James Goldthorpe (whose dayjob is in Smokers Die Younger) are countered by the lull, whisper like voice of bassist Kathryn Hollis. Good starter.

Not ashamed to admit that the second act, Hey Sholay, was the band my mates were waiting for the most. Might have to be with me hyping them. They do put one heckuva show, with every member moving anywhere they can and keeping a manic rhythm. Songs like ‘Dreamboat’ and ‘Burning’ are an invitation to dance (or if you’re shy/uncoordinated, headbang). They closed their show with the filled-to-the-brim-with-dramatic-pauses ‘A song for the sparrows (teeth)’.

I half heard Male Bonding while queueing up for my pair of skates. Sadly,that’s all I heard from them as I was trapped on the queue. Pretty sure they are good, as saw them previously in May. Gutted to have missed them, but this is a rollerskate thing too. And needed to get away from the main stage while a DJ played Phil Collins. That isn’t right nor Fairtrade.

Pulled apart by horses I saw on its entirety, and they are a force of rock nature. There were people around me moshing, some of them even with skates on. That’s hardcore. Security struggled to keep the little fence (that seemed to be made of egg cartons at this moment) in place, and the audience got some stage diving/guitar player carrying action. Setlist included the hit single ‘High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive’, ‘The crapsons’ (my fave!) and the survive-in-the-African-Savannah-piece-of-advice ‘I punched a lion in the throat’. Energetic.

Finally, the set ended with No age, who sound pretty good on album, but something got lost in translation in their live show. Mind you, the reverb atmosphere sounded pretty good (all about that bulb amp, I guess), but was a little let down. First half of their set didn’t do the trick, started to get better towards the end. They sure know how to work a crowd, though.

2) Skating (this is where the review becomes a blog, skip if uninterested)

It’s been ages (20 years) since I’ve skated, so I frankly didn’t know what to expect. I also have weak ankles. And I also like to take stupid choices. So trying to enact a few scenes of Rollerball was the mission.

Now, I also had to take care of partners in crime Pips and Rucks, who seem to have a love/hate relationship with gravity once their skates where in place. Still, they were having a lot of fun with the balancing act and I tried my best to keep them going. I am happy to report that, as a skate bodyguard, I’m as shit as a reviewer. Thankfully, a very lovable NHS crew was around and both of them ended with less than discernible battle scars. I’m sure the lawsuit will be settled out of court.

So, after half-killing the staff of Sloucher, I decided to go a few spins to the rink. Some people were pretty talented, some were getting used to it and some were plain arseholes that deserves a piledriver from Nacho Libre. With Terry Wogan doing commentary duties.

I did eventually fall down, thanks to the relentless efforts of a friend of mine who was rocking a pink fedora. And my fez got nicked (for a few hours). Suddenly, skating felt like living in Mexico City: no matter how much you try to move, you’ll go as slow as the continental drift. And once you fall, everyone will be paying attention to you.

3) Atmosphere

Barring the odd musical choice (no, no Phil Collins, anything but!), the DJs between sets had some great choices of music. Skate World is a funky place and this combo of music and skates is something that should be revisited in the future (please?).

There might’ve been a few problems with queues, but it also means it was well attended, and the more, the merrier, right?

Bring on Rollerpalooza III: A horse, my kingdom for a horse.

—Sam

Special thanks to Rob Webb, the Counterfeit Crew (Jenn, Jamie the Mexican Slayer) and supadupa thanks to Pips and Rucks.

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About the author: No, it wasn’t Electric Boogaloo. But one can dream.

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