A Gig At Banquet Records
From when I was around 12 to 16, I used to go to Kingston quite often because my dad’s girlfriend at the time lived there. Once their relationship ended, however, I didn’t go there anymore, and up until this trip, I hadn’t been there in years. As It Is, one of my favourite bands, announced that they were playing an acoustic show there, and because my sister and I were dying to go, our dad was kind enough to buy tickets for us, leaving us to wait for the day to arrive.
I live in Harrow, which is about a 50 minute drive away without traffic from Kingston. We’d only ever travelled to Kingston by car or train before, but my sister discovered a bus route that took about an hour and a half to get there using only two buses, so we decided to try that out of interest – and it was cheaper than taking the train, too! It was extremely interesting seeing different parts of London through a window, instead of seeing the inside of train station like I usually do – I eagerly looked around at it all, barely paying attention to the book I’d brought. I’ve lived in London my whole life, but there’s still something enthralling about seeing a new place, even if it’s just a parade of shops and parks you’ve never seen.
We got to the venue, Banquet Records, a couple of hours early – we’re both tiny, and standing behind people at gigs is a pain, so to make sure we get to the front of the crowd, getting there early is a must. The queue couldn’t have consisted of more than fifteen people at this point, and we happily sat in the sun, talking, joking and listening to music, with me occasionally dipping back into my book until I gave up on it, deciding to simply enjoy the company of my sister.
Our spot in the queue happened to be right outside a kebab shop, and while we had debated buying some fancy food from the colourful market down the road, we smelled the burgers and chips and voilá, we were goners. To keep our place in the queue, we went into the shop one at a time for our lunch – I had a burger, while Nats had a kebab wrap and a carton of Ribena. Standing – or sitting, as we did – in the queue was a mostly calm experience, except for the moment when the band suddenly came around the corner and walked past us with their speakers, guitars and microphones, ready to set up for the show. This caused quite a stir, and before I knew what I was doing, I had called out, “Hey guys! How’s it going?”
My brazenness was rewarded, though, because the band looked my way:
“Good thanks!” “Yeah, good!”
I even got a smile and a “Very good, thanks, how’re you?” back from Patty Walters, frontman and crowd favourite.
For the last few hours of standing in line, we talked to the people next to us in the queue, as we inevitably do at gigs. Once the doors opened, murmurs of excitement replaced the casual conversations, and we all waited patiently to be let in, our names being checked off a list by the woman manning the door. The band was already there setting up their equipment, and even though this was our fourth time seeing them perform live, there was something special about being only a few feet away from them and being able to talk to and make eye contact with them. The hundred or so people in the venue all huddled together in the tiny room of the record shop, and then Patty, Ben and Andy took to the stage. Their set was phenomenal, and may have been their most magical show I’ve attended so far – there’s something special about someone performing their songs acoustically: there is this rawness and vulnerability that’s so easy to get lost in.
They played for about an hour or so, but it wasn’t time to go home just yet. Another perk of tiny gigs is the opportunity to meet the band, and they didn’t disappoint. We all queued up outside once again and were let back into the shop in small groups: the band was sat behind a desk, and we had the chance to talk to each member and get them to sign our CDs. I even got a hug from Patty, which transformed me into a shy giggling kid even though this was my second time meeting him. They’re such genuine, down-to-earth guys, and I’m so proud of them and how far they’ve come since the beginning of their career.
We left the gig on a high, spending the duration of our ride back dissecting each detail of the experience, from “I can’t believe he smiled at me!” to “Did you see that cute girl standing a few rows behind us?” We got a little lost while switching buses, but we made it home, falling asleep with smiles on our faces. It was especially wonderful knowing that it wouldn’t be our last time seeing them live – we’ve already got tickets booked to see them again in May!