It's a Five O'Clock World When The Whistle Blows
Tonight, Matthew, I'm going to be playing some records at the San Fran for their 5 O'Clock Shakedown. The aim there is to play a few tunes to wind into the weekend - 5pm-8-pm, the bar has 20 per cent off its tap beers - and a great selection of beers, the kitchen is open, they have the balcony there, it's all set up. My job is to provide the entertainment, the background, the nostalgia - playing music from across the decades, a selection of my favourites.
I always refer to it as "playing records" rather than DJing - purely because the term DJ feels loaded. I'd argue that in this capacity I'm not there to play what the crowd wants to hear quite as much as I'm there to play what I want them to hear.
There's always a risk there - arrogance obviously, getting it wrong, but last week I played the same slot, 5-8pm (here's the line-up of tunes I provided) and I received the single best compliment - in fact it's likely to be the very best compliment I will ever receive for my, erm, "DJing". Someone came up and told me, as a way of thank-you when leaving, that they had felt like they had some understanding of "what it might be like to sit in Simon Sweetman's lounge". Wait. I know it actually was a compliment - I made sure to get them to clarify. I told them thanks, and that actually it was better here in this context because if it were in my lounge at home they'd have some annoying spiel before each record that they might not be able to block out.
So you see the approach to playing records is a bit like writing this blog - yes, it's a service, a form of entertainment, I provide the work for you - if you want it. But it's my call, on my terms. It is for me as much as for you. And you get to vote with your feet. You stick around if you're into it. You don't if you're not. You can ever give me some grief if you like - favourite DJ requests are always "play something else" and "f*** off!" Favourite blog comments are grammatically 'creative'.
This week I saw the film Boyhood - while I was watching the movie it seemed like the only thing that mattered. Not just that it had my attention for its duration but it seemed like it might be the only movie that mattered, the only one that told the truth. You might see films you end up enjoying more but I really feel like you won't see a better film this year than Boyhood.
It's a film that is so many things - audacious project, a world within itself, maybe the truest movie experience you could ever have - but it's also a lovely slice of nostalgia, or it offers a chance for reflection. It took me back to my upbringing - all at once completely different to the film's story and exactly the same. The film also has a soundtrack (which I reviewed before seeing the movie) which is filled with great musical cues - songs that tick off the years the story travels through, a catalogue of hits from the last decade and one or two nostalgic gems (Wings' Band On The Run for instance).
I'm adding this here because I didn't want to bore you today with just a free ad for the fact that I'm anti-DJing tonight at San Fran.
No, no, I thought I'd bore you instead with some (subjectivity-claiming-to-be-objectivity) film reviewing.
If you're in Wellington you should come up this afternoon/evening and say hi - and sit back while I play Elton John's Island Girl or Wings' Let 'Em In or Whitney Houston's How Will I Know or possibly even something very good. But if you have the chance - and of course if you're nowhere near Wellington then there's not even the slightest touch of conflict here, there's no hint of awkward-choice about it - you really must go and see Boyhood.
I'd recommend that as the thing you do this weekend. It not only feels like the only thing that matters while you're watching it - it sticks with you. It stays around after. It'll change the way you think about how films are made. And I like thinking about that.
Now if you were in my lounge this evening you wouldn't hear any decent music (obviously!) You'd have me going on about that movie over the top of Bruce Springsteen's Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out or The Rolling Stones' Tops or something from Dexys' Don't Stand Me Down (the best score of the week!) Or whatever else...
Here's my review of the movie Boyhood (and here's my review of the soundtrack). See the film. Buy the soundtrack. And have a wonderful weekend.
Might see one or two of you up at the San Fran for a beer in a few hours. If you've seen the film and hated it I'd love to know why. It's always healthy to take on board the wrong opinion too. It's part of why I love hearing from you. And why you tolerate hearing from me no doubt.
It's a five o'clock world when the whistle blows...
You can also check out Off the Tracks for The Vinyl Countdown, reviews and other posts