A note from the editor
And now, the end is here, and so I face my final editorial. It’s been a really busy year, and I’m still struggling to understand how a whole academic year has flown by. It seems only a few weeks ago that we published our Freshers’ issue, or worked on the supplement Contrast that led to a wild open mic, or took the paper to the Student Publication Association National Conference (although that one was only three weeks ago). As well as those events, some highlights have included working with some passionate and dedicated people to cover events and issues for Venue, including Charlie’s wonderful coverage of Nor-Con last year and Gus’ various Film Festival roundups. I can tell many of our editors and writers are going places! I’d like to say I’m sad it’s over but Venue goes on, and very soon a new team of you will be taking the baton on to a new year of amazing articles and fantastic art coverage. I’d recommend applying to be an editor – the Concrete and Venue families are amazingly dedicated and wonderful people, and there’s no finer place or people with which to spend a few days each fortnight.
My role as Venue editor has come to an end, and I’ve been thinking about all the things I’ve learned from this year. There’s been practical things, like how to use InDesign (perseverance and patience and patience is key); how best to record a phone interview (not by using the voice recorder that comes with your laptop and placing your phone too close to the speaker); and how to to remove the background of an image in Photoshop (you can Google that one, it’s quite hard to explain). But I’ve also learned a lot about the sorts of things that people are interested in, and the arts stories that UEA students want to write about. I’ve found that, first and foremost, we like to keep things local. We want to know what’s happening in Norwich, whether these things are worth our time, and if so, how we can get involved: we want to know what UEA and Norwich has to offer us artistically. But we also like to look outwards. We have a more global perspective, too. During this academic year, many of Venue’s articles have explored the role played by the arts in the wider context of the world; the ways in which music, games, novels, albums, and films have the power to bring about social and political change. Or not. I think it is that I like the most about Venue: we can do both. It is also interesting to look back when something is coming to an end, and think about the things you would have done differently. The new editorial team have an exciting and challenging task ahead of them, as they reconfigure ideas about what it is that students are looking for from student media. I would advise that they think carefully about this, and not to underestimate the power they have to create something fresh and new. Applications for the new team are open soon, so make sure you get applying. Good luck with exams and have a lovely summer. It’s been a lot of fun reading all your articles this year, and I am excited to see the direction that Venue takes next.
Arts Editor - Mireia Molina Costa Film Editor - Gus Edgar Fashion Editor - Leah Marriott Creative Writing Editor - Saoirse Smith - Hogan
Venue Editor Gaming Editor - Amy Nash Television Editor - Dan Struthers Music Editor - Nick Mason
Arts and Design Assistant - Emily Mildren
1st May 2018
Fashion Fay Austen argues that even the most outlandish runway fashion has an influence on the highstreet
Tony Allen tells us where we can find the best arts festivals in Britain
Venue’s Film writers’ share their all time favourite film endings, in honour of the last issue of Venue by the current editorial team
Venue’s Music writers reveal their favourite albums of the academic year
Deputy Editor Tom discovers whether or not brain training games actually train your brain
Roo Pitt condemns Lost in Space as “just another typical remake”
Front and back cover credit: Kate Romain
Liam Heitman-Rice explores existential themes in his prose piece, Nothing Doing
Film editor Gus catches up with industry expert and UEA alumni Adrian Wootton
A guide to Britain’s arts festivals
Everyone knows about Reading and Leeds, or Sundown. But what about Halesworth, Hay, and Hampstead? Arts festivals showcase some of Britain’s best creativity but are often forgotten in the media coverage of summer festivals. Here at Venue, we want to put that right. The British Arts Festivals Association oversees many of the country’s arts festivals, connecting members across the country and sharing information. Their directory features nearly 100 events. The UK’s most famous arts festival is the Hay Festival in Wales, a literary event featuring readings from well known and up-and-coming authors, taking place this year between 24 May and 3 June with as diverse a programme as ever for literary fans. The Curious Arts Festival takes place from 20 - 22 July in Hampshire, promising a range of authors, musicians, historians and poets. But what about closer to home? The Norfolk and Norwich Festival is well known as the county’s premier Arts Festival, taking place this year between the 11th and 27th May. In the past, it
has brought eminent names from across the arts to Norfolk including Billy Bragg, Philip Glass, and the famous Artichoke performance company. The festival includes the Spiegeltent in Chapelfield Gardens, a big-top which plays host to a range of quirky indoor events. After opening with an opera event in Norwich city centre, this year’s programme includes the likes of musician Ben Folds, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, a show from jugglers Gandini Juggling, a Damien Hirst exhibition at Houghton Hall and a range of indoor and outdoor events for families including a party in Chapelfield Gardens. There are a variety of events, both free and paid for, with tickets and the full programme available online now. Although it’s the biggest, the Norfolk and Norwich festival is far from our region’s only festival this year. For those interested in seeing local rising stars, the Young Norfolk Arts Festival will take place in early July with details to be confirmed. Bury St Edmunds festival, in May, will star legendary author and columnist Terence Blacker and a tribute to Dudley Moore among its many events. Halesworth Arts Festival will be running for its seventeenth year in October with their line-up announcement still to come, and Southwold’s takes place over the last week of June and includes a street parade to launch, performances from Mica Paris and Jazz legend Georgie Fame, plus an event with actor Terry Molloy of Dr Who and The Archers. While music festivals are of perhaps more eye-catching for a few days away, why not go and check out your nearest arts festival for something a bit different this summer? You never know what you might find…
What’s on in Norwich Border Tale 5th May - The Playhouse A play about Theresa May - Scratch it! 6th May - Norwich Arts Centre Comedy at the Birdcage 7th May - The Birdcage This House 8 - 12th May - Theatre Royal Norwich Norfolk & Norwich Festival 11 - 27th May - various
Images: (L-R) Wikimedia Commons, Peter Clarke; Pixabay, bugent.
Celebrating World Book Day Why do we celebrate books? Well, the simple answer to that is because they’re important. But that just creates more questions: why are they important? What do they do? How should we celebrate them? Does the way we celebrate them affect their importance? What about the kinds of books that we celebrate? Does that have any significance? Should we be celebrating new books? Old books? Critically acclaimed books? Or something else entirely?
“When was the last time that you read just because you could?” But you know what? I don’t like those questions. They presume so much about what is important to different people and the values that we place on different things that I just can’t participate in a
conversation like that. Books are important and celebrating them is important. Yes, realistically, reading is necessary and engaging in it is a great way to exercise your brain and work your imagination. But outside of that, books give us so much. They give us a way to communicate, to show off ways of life that you otherwise couldn’t dream of. They’re useful and diverse and exciting. There are self-help books and cookery books and history books and funny books and fantastical books. There are books with lots of words and books with lots of pictures and books with bits of both. Reading is important because it matters to people. In a world of deadlines and computer screens and internet streaming, reading a book is dedication. It is time and attention consuming, and it is rarely undertaken lightly. When was the last time
that you read just because you could, and didn’t feel guilty about the other things you were supposed to do? I can’t remember the last time. But I can remember the feeling of getting so ingrained in a book that I forget that there are words on the page. I can remember the sense of belonging I feel while in the head of another person in another time. I remember the pure magic of storytelling.
“I remember the pure magic of storytelling” So, whatever it is that makes books and reading important to you, make sure you celebrate and appreciate it however makes you happy. Because being happy is important, after all.
“You definitely should judge a book by its cover” You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover – or at least that’s what they say. Looking past the outside is supposed to help avoid superficial feelings and wronged expectations, and even develop a deeper understanding of the story. The truth, however, is that the work that is put into the design of a book cover is just as important, detailed, and crucial to the content as the text. So, you definitely should judge a book by its cover. Book covers are not just slapped onto the pages arbitrarily. Every novel, short story
collection, poetry book, memoir, every book you find displayed in windows and on Waterstones’ tables is the result of countless meetings between marketing teams and designers and has had previous covers rejected and replaced; the one you see now was chosen for a reason. Whether the designers opt for conceptual art, for something abstract or something very obviously related to the story, the cover of a book does not just evoke its content—it enhances it. Covers give readers a sense of what to expect from the book, and whilst this can be misleading, it is never just limited to one interpretation. Visual play with association can help point curious bookshop browsers in the right direction, following the lead of other famous books in the same genre. Even books that have completely strange and unique covers, and whose designers seemingly think outside the box, are being marketed to a certain kind of audience: those readers who are tired of books that all look the same, and
Images: (top) Mireia Molina Costa; (right) Pixabay, blackcat86; (bottom) Lucy Caradog.
probably of stories that all sound the same as well. When it comes to classics, book covers take on a whole new dimension. Suddenly it’s not just about representing the text for the right kind of audience, but about pleasing readers of all ages, who are coming to the book for various different reasons, while remaining truthful to the original. Some publishers go for basic covers, with mere typography on a coloured background; some choose to include paintings that supposedly represent the atmosphere or the era the story is set in; and some come up with completely new and different ideas. Throughout the history of printed literature, all sorts of classics have had various different covers, and not a single one has ever not been controversial. But each one of them was chosen with careful consideration, and they all help the story shine in their own way.
Frogman: a scientific lens on the humane change, but we decided not to force that message and rather celebrate the Great Barrier Reef when it was in such healthy condition. It’s amazing the stories that come from when you just look at these big places in nature. But you’re there as a police diver looking for a body, so it is a nice juxtaposition between the beauty of somewhere and the fact that you’re there for all the wrong reasons.” The reef ’s bleaching, Lowe said, could be a metaphor for the plot of the story itself. As I sat on one of the chairs that surround a white, sand-like patch of ground that serves as stage, I could tell that Frogman was far from a usual show. I put on a VR mask that took me into the room of a dancing eleven-year-old, which, as producer Jack Lowe will tell me later, is setting of one of the main clues that will help this experimental thriller develop. Jack Lowe, artistic director and former UEA MSc Water Security student, leads Curious Directive, a Norwichbased theatre company that takes on a scientific perspective on its life-exploring shows. Since starting in 2008 with their exploration of neuroscience in Return to the Silence, the company has been working with scientific themes and technology-driven methods to make science accessible and engaging to audiences. “Wherever you look in the world, you can look at it through the lens of what is going on at a scientific level,” Lowe said. “When we started, there was a lot of drive on other platforms which were finding new ways that hook audiences. So why couldn’t a theatre company just look at science? “Our shows try to take different areas of science as starting points, and then find the right form for that work. So, with something like Frogman, VR is the right
form because of dive masks.” Indeed, the thriller takes the audience back and forth through time, from the present-day reality of a coral reef scientist, to an eleven-year-old’s room, to diving into the Great Barrier Reef sea, mixing virtual reality and live performance. Humanity, however, is one of the main themes that Curious Directive wants to explore in their scientific-led storytelling: “I think that all of these stories are moved by humans, ultimately. It might well be that you’re telling a story about quantum mechanics, but at the end of the day you are still talking about the story of a human being. That’s a kind of philosophy of storytelling,” Lowe said. “That is really exciting as a theatre company; doing something that can be so potentially dry, but actually isn’t. These stories are being heard by people who want to be proven wrong or want to search for the absolute truth - that’s what the scientific method is. But what is really interesting about art is that it is of course such a subjective thing, and the audience bring whatever they bring to it.” Considering the great environmental relevance that the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef currently holds, Frogman is a commemoration of its natural beauty: “It definitely has to do with climate
“We decided not to land too heavily on the environmental science side of it but on what these humans are going through. There is something about the investigation which has to do with childhood imagination, which is really fascinating. What we choose to believe when we are eleven years old is what’s really at the heart of the play, in some ways.” Having opened at Edinburgh’s Travis theatre in 2017, Frogman is touring around the country before travelling to China and Australia. The show has also previously played at the Norwich Arts Centre, where, as Lowe said, the audience are a gig-going audience, brave and ready for experimental pieces. “It will be interesting, here, to see what the difference is. The Theatre Royal has quite a traditional, theatre-going audience, so it’s going to be fun to see how they react to it all!” Taking on a more political dimension in their upcoming shows, deriving from Lowe’s background in politics, Curious Directive is currently working on productions on gastro-politics and migration. Always exploring their themes through a scientific lens, their ultimately humane stories promise to engage their audiences exploring life’s different dimensions.
Avengers: Infinity War is the new titan of the MCU Everything has been building up to this. If you are familiar with Disney and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you’ll know that they tend to stick to a pretty strict handbook with regard to formula: the heroes triumph and eventually overcome their obstacles, there is a generally low blood count, and more often than not, the viewer is left with a sense of closure or at least some logical idea regarding the destination of the next instalment. The most important aspect to address about the film I suppose is this: from the moment you cross the threshold of the familiar hair-raising title sequence, expect that handbook of the last ten years to be completely phased out of reality. The Russo Brothers follow up their last cinematic instalment of the franchise Captain America: Civil War (2016), which placed our heroes at odds with one another and splintered them into indifference, by driving them back together in this intense and powerful first instalment of the Avengers’ conclusive arc. The likes of Iron Man (Robert Downey
Image: Walt Disney Studios
Jr.), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and many more join forces to take down the treacherous titan, Thanos ( Josh Brolin), in order to prevent his accumulation of the Infinity Stones and subsequently, wiping out half of the universe to replace it in his own image. Infinity War succeeds tremendously with homogenising every Marvel film since the release of Iron Man (2008) with effortless balance, whilst simultaneously warping and subverting our expectations for the Avengers in the face of the possible destruction of the universe, as the smoke of Thanos’ wrath slowly creeps in, darkness extinguishing the light. Thanos is surprisingly a complicated and incredibly nuanced villain, harbouring a lot more in his deadly punch than a mere lust for power and domination. I would even go as far enough to say that in some ways, he could be considered the protagonist of the narrative –a bold readjustment to the stereotypical Marvel formula. Expect tears, laughter, and thrilling
reunions, as well as holding out your curiosity for new meetings between amalgamations of your favourite Marvel superheroes – followed up with the renown sardonic, witty humour that is woven through the heart of each film. Not to mention some of the most beautiful cinematographical shots in the MCU and action sequences which give a nod to the likes of The Battle of Helm’s Deep from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. As the longest Marvel film duration to date – weighing in at a hefty 2 hours and 40 minutes, the stakes have never been higher, with the film enforcing a constant momentum of emotion and angst throughout the interweaving narrative threads, straight through to the most stunning cliff-hanger climax that will have you clawing for next summer to come around. Infinity War stands as an incontrovertible blockbuster success; looming over the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and sporting a Thanos-esqe stature; glinting in its haunting and apocalyptic nature. - Eva Wakeford
Rampage is a tonic to the current blockbuster The Rock, giant monsters, and city-wide destruction. Three things that conclusively summarise exactly what Rampage is. Directed by San Andreas director Brad Peyton, Rampage follows primatologist Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) and his best friend George – an albino gorilla. When George, along with two other unsuspecting animals, are exposed to a dangerous pathogen that send them on a destructive frenzy, Okoye, geneticist Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) and government agent Harvey Russell ( Jeffrey Dean Morgan) must find out who has caused this genetic mutation and how can they stop it before it’s too late.
Rampage is nothing special, but it’s fun. It’s a film that caters to its action-junkie audience, and is enjoyable in doing so. This is something that Hollywood films of late have been lacking. With most major studios focusing solely on creating the next cinematic universe, most big action blockbusters these days are flops. This is what makes Rampage special: it is not trying to be something else. It’s funny, action-packed, and the special effects are incredible. It’s no wonder there’s talks of a sequel.
good use of its small cast. With Dwayne Johnson as the film’s star it already has one of the 21st centuries biggest names. But it’s characters like Morgan’s Russell that really steal the show. Morgan, straight out of his long-running stint as Negan on The Walking Dead, puts all the charm of his fan-favourite villain into his character, and then some. Whilst Johnson provides the film’s muscle, it is Russell who compliments this with wit and charm. Rampage has been one of the best action films of the year so far. Sit back, relax, and enjoy.
Aside from its big budget action scenes and entertaining story, Rampage makes
Love, Simon is a triumph “at a time when we need it more than ever” It would be fair to say there’s a lot of pressure on Love, Simon to succeed; it has to portray a positive, yet truthful, depiction of life as a gay man, it has to win over cinemagoers, do credit to the LGBTQ community, get those all-important Rotten Tomatoes on their side, and be a successful box office draw just to be able to get other studios to finance other films with LGBTQ protagonists in the future. Considering all this pressure on this little $17 million film, Love, Simon is a triumph. It follows Simon, a closeted gay teenager, through his school life, and his inner turmoil over whether or not he should come out to his family and friends. He encounters various obstacles such as one student who blackmails him with the exposure of his sexuality, and his overall
quest to identity the other closeted student who he is emailing constantly. All the way through we see the world through Nick Robinson’s Simon, a performance which at time feels so understated that you cannot help but wonder if Robinson was a good choice for such an important role. But it is this subtlety which allows the focus to shift on Simon’s f r i e n d s and family and their reactions to
his coming out, which is just as much a part of the story as Simon coming to terms with his own sexuality. As well as being an engaging drama, Love, Simon is a very funny movie. It could give its audience a 90 minute lecture about how hard it is to come out today but it is never this patronising. Instead it explores being gay in the same way that Dear White People explores race: a serious message and a beautiful heart contained within a fun and light-hearted vehicle. This is a film which among others things teaches the importance of acceptance in a time when we need it more than ever.
Image: 20th Century Fox
Is it time to end Star Wars? Star Wars. People just can’t seem to get enough of it. What started out as a film trilogy has now expanded to three trilogies, supporting films, TV shows, books, games and general canon lore that, at least in some circles, is disputed and discussed almost as much as the films themselves. Now, I can’t claim to be a fan from the get go - how could I at only nineteen? but I have loved Star Wars for years and was greatly excited by the announcement of a revival. I was so excited to find out just what had happened so long ago in this galaxy far far away, and so many people were. The opening night of The
Force Awakens was record breaking and, at time of writing, still holds a box office record (although the current prediction for Infinity War is looking strong), which I don’t think surprised anyone. What has surprised some people is the downward spiral which has followed in the wake of what could be considered the biggest film news of the decade. It seems that since The Force Awakens, fans attitude towards the entire franchise has slowly dipped, before reaching a new low with the release of the trailer for Solo (which for those of you wondering is the Han Solo prequel that absolutely nobody asked for).
Yes, we were all hyped for a new trilogy. Yes, we loved The Force Awakens. Yes, we loved Rogue One (best film of the lot of them). But it’s just going too far. The Last Jedi was a mess, albeit fun to watch, and the whole franchise has fallen into the same predictable pattern that the former films have. We’ve seen it a thousand times; powerful Jedi turns up unexpectedly with some weird tie to the dark side and must do battle with very little training or experience. It’s predictable, it’s old, it’s boring, and Disney need to stop flogging the dead horse and end this while they still have a willing audience.
Are films getting longer? The release of Avengers Infinity War is imminent but the co-director has reported it is likely to be at least two and a half hours. This doesn’t feel surprising; the current general sentiment is that films are getting longer - too long, even. And I’ll be the first to admit that I feel the same way. I’ve even tossed the idea of an interval around now that everything seems to be over two hours long. But upon some minor research I began to realise this might not be the case. Comparing the top 50 films from last year, and then every five years over the last 20, the average film length really hasn’t changed that much, hovering around the 120 minutes mark. In fact, there were more films over two hours in 1997 thanthere were last year!
So why do we feel like films are getting longer? My first thought was that it was the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with their epically long films - which average at a considerable 127 minutes. The fact that there have been more Marvel films released over the last two years than the first four of the franchise doesn’t help. Combined with the end credit scenes keeping viewers in their seats right until the end, I do think they are making a significant contribution to this feeling. But, equally, Marvel’s films haven’t actually been getting longer: Dr. Strange, for instance, was less than two hours. So where else is this coming from? Well, films are longer now than they were in the 80s. For example, the average runtime in
Images: Lucasfilm Ltd., Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
1987 was 106 minutes, twelve minutes shorter than last year. However, it’s not the average that I think is the biggest factor. Returning back to 1987, 18 of the top 50 films ran at around 90 minutes compared to just six last year. Over the last 20 years the number of around 90-minute films has been dropping, with films around 112 minutes becoming more and more popular. And I think this is the biggest factor, the loss of the 90-minute film. As a generation who grew up on these, their disappearance comes across as sad and totally unnecessary. Lady Bird showed us that it’s still possible to make a mature 90-minute film in 2017 - other films should follow suit.
8 great film endings
All good things (like this year’s Venue) come to an end. Here our writers share their favourite endings...
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
At 84 minutes, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is like a savage toothache: a lot of discomfort contained in one small,rotten package. The film ends with no relief in sight, the image of Leatherface madly swinging a chainsaw through the air doing nothing to abate the inevitability of your ensuing nightmares. -Liam Heitmann-Rice
The best endings are not endings per se, but occur when there’s a beautiful future ahead; when the possibilities are infinite, and when the characters can feel them all. With Charlie’s gorgeous, introspective monologue while driving through the Fort Pitt Tunnel in Pittsburgh, filled with
Chekhov’s panther, milky tears (that ain’t milk), anachronistic needle drops and feminine solidarity are just some of the things that contribute to the final ten minutes of Bertrand Bonello’s lavish brothel-set moodpiece, House of Tolerance. With a stunning jump to present day, parallels are drawn, themes are realised, and faces are gobsmacked. -Gus Edgar
hope and love, this ending triumphs. -Tom Cascarini Joel Edgerton’s directorial debut, The Gift, is a masterclass in Hitchcockian suspense with an extremely intense, uncomfortable, gut-punch of a climax. Aided by a terrific script and sinister score, the ending delivers a wholly satisfying dose of karma whilst also leaving a cloud of ambiguity. -Oscar Huckle
House of Tolerance
Park Chan-Wook’s dark neo-noir ends with its protagonist finding out that the woman he’s been sleeping with is actually his daughter. If that wasn’t messed up enough, he then willingly undergoes hypnosis to erase this knowledge from his mind, just so he can carry on a relationship with her. Truly disturbing stuff. -Tom Hall
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest depicts how institutionalisation encourages vulnerable patients to sacrifice their independence for a life of discipline and confinement. In showing Chief fleeing the institution, the final shot conveys that authoritarian regimes may be broken by those who resist the pressure to conform and retain their identity. -Charlie Hunt
A Futile and Stupid Gesture
As a biopic about comedy icon Doug Kenney, it makes sense that he narrates the film. However, people who know Kenney’s life might be raising eyebrows at this - and the synthesis of this narration and his life events makes for one of the most surprising twists in recent cinema. -Tom Bedford
A whistle in the darkness prompts Detective Loki ( Jake Gyllenhaal) to stop in his tracks - then the film cuts to black. There is some hope that Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) will be rescued, but his morally destructive search for his kidnapped daughter has made for a more than gloomy conclusion. -Joel Shelley
Image: Summit Entertainment
Cat and Marco English and Creative Writing, Culture, Media and Politics We spotted these two walking across the field, looking like a cute couple in their matching overalls. They weren’t actually a couple but it was nice to catch outfits that were different from the standard summery look. We’re also loving the major sass on display here!
Manli Business and Management When it comes to summertime, sometimes being comfortable is more important than looking cool. But with this cozy yet eye-catching outfit, Manli gave us both at the same time. We love the zip detail on the tracksuit bottoms too, which give this outfit a bit of extra functionality in the months were the weather can change by the minute.
Saadiq Politics, Philosophy and Econmics Saadiq’s here in the square enjoying the sunny vibes in two classic summertime menswear staples: the football jersey (Manchester United, of course), and a pair of boat shoes. We’re jealous of the super-cool sunglasses too!
- Bobby Onanuga and Faith Ogunkeyede
Images by Bobby Onanuga
Home hair-dyes: ever a good idea? Dyeing your hair at home can be a total mixed bag. After wilfully ignoring my hairdresser friend’s warnings about using Live Colour XXL as a teenager and managing not to completely destroy my hair with it, I thought that advice about home dyeing kits was a bit on the overdramatic side. I’d managed to tint my hair dark red with pretty much no problems (other than forgetting Vaseline and also dyeing my ears!). Though my hair was a bit drier than it was pre-dye, it was manageable and I kept that colour for just over a year, fixing up my roots every few weeks.
“Bleaching your hair with a home kit is so very rarely worth it.” Turns out that was just beginner’s luck. On complete impulse, I decided I wanted a brighter colour, and since all my previous experiences with permanent box dyes had been positive I figured that bleaching couldn’t be that hard to master! But even following the instructions carefully and only applying it to the ends of my hair, it was a complete disaster. Within a few months most of the hair I had bleached had snapped off or fallen out: I lost so much that friends I went a while without seeing would ask if I’d had my hair cut. Switching to semi-permanent colour on top of the bleached hair slowed down the amount of damage I was doing to it, but in the end I wound up with nearly all of it gone. As someone with type 3A hair that grows slowly and is already prone to breakage, bleaching it myself was a massive mistake!
“Make sure you do your research: semi-perminant dyes have less of a chance of wrecking your hair.”
Images: Pixabay: @silviaita
“I lost so much [hair] that friends I went without seeing in a while asked if I’d had a haircut.” Bleaching your hair with a home kit is so very rarely worth it - yes, it’s much, much cheaper than going to a hairdresser, but unless you’re an expert the risk is way too high. Going up a shade or two isn’t so dangerous, but if you’re like me and you have dark hair that you want lifted to blonde, avoid box kits like the plague. It’s much better to fork out more money and have it done professionally. Basically, make sure you do your research: semi-permanent dyes have less of a chance of wrecking your hair. Arctic Fox and Manic Panic were fairly gentle when I used them, though the colour didn’t last long. If you already have naturally light hair and want to u s e
bright colours without too much commitment, brands like these are a lot healthier and don’t dry it out as much as box dyes like Live Colour XXL. Darker hair is a lot harder to dye effectively at home. Manic Panic didn’t really alter the colour all that much if it wasn’t being applied to bleached hair, but the harsher alternatives definitely weren’t good for my hair’s health.
“If you’re really stumped, it’s best to ask your hairdresser for advice.”
If you’re really stumped, it’s best to ask a hairdresser for advice rather than damaging it first and then going in for help afterwards!
Does runway fashion have a place on the high street? Here’s to anyone who has ever quickly popped onto Instagram during fashion week to catch up with some of the shows and been presented with styles that look so misshapen you wondered if you were holding your phone upside down!
“In reality, these avert forms of creativity covertly inform much of the fashion we see worn every day.”
excitement, and creating a half natural, half synthetic ensemble which, in this raw form, had the potential to inspire everyday fashion. Though the overzealous bouquet would look a little out of place in Norwich marketplace, the combination of the rodeo metallic jeans and an oversized floral blouse
The catwalk remains the birthplace of many of the trends that we see translated into everyday street style but sometimes, it would seem to break the mould a little too much. A quick Google search trying to make sense of the clothes lands you on Vogue’s website where copious collections of outrageous styles are photographed and almost satirically titled “ready to wear”. With few of these trends actually appearing in their true from around us the temptation to dismiss them as pretentious and useless befalls us all, but in reality, these overt expressions of creativity covertly inform much of the fashion we see worn every day.
What may have first looked like an unnecessary spectacle in fact added Illustration: Fay Austen
Alongside this, the peculiarities of the catwalk are a joy to witness for their entertainment value in itself. Gucci’s Spring-Summer 2018 Gucci Hallucination show was a fantastic journey in abstract exploration. Spanish artist Ignasi Moreal’s surreal drawings depicted the season’s pieces reworked into traditional pieces of art such as John Everett Millais’ Ophelia, preceding the release of the entire collection with a synthesis of historic illustrations and futuristic outfits. By the time it came for the catwalk show itself, consumers were already wellversed in Gucci’s ambiguous clash of old and new and came prepared to both enjoy the runway as a performance, and inform their own tastes with the innovative designs.
“In the Autumn-Winter show of 2017, Adam Selman wowed audiences with his fused inspirations of embroidered denim and 70’s disco.”
“These overt expressions of creativity covertly inform much of the fashion we see worn every day.” In the Autumn-Winter show of 2017, Adam Selman wowed audiences with his fused inspirations of embroidered denim and 70’s disco, culminating in the appearance of a model wearing a pair of black shiny straight-legged trousers, completely topless apart from a strategic placed enormous bunch of roses.
or not so empty in some cases – for ordinary people to fill the blanks. The runway, although at time an ineffable display, provides endless opportunity for the creation of your own unique style.
from Topshop wouldn’t. It’s all about taking the hyperbole of a designer and toning it down to your own level. The creative choices made by the directors are made with adaptability in mind. The unusual elements invite interpretation, they are empty spaces –
So, whether the more out-there of the runway shows seem either completely alien to you, or the result of genius, they are worth it for the way that they challenge the norms of style and take artistic expression to the very extreme. Fashion must start somewhere, and even if it takes a model wearing a balaclava resembling a crumpled duvet to trigger it, the interpretations of runway fashion that result in everyday style can be priceless.
In conversation with Adrian Wootton
Decked out in summer gear, our film editor Gus Edgar interviews film industry professional and UEA alumnus Adrian Wootton on his career, Netflix, and the future of the film industry... Was that largely curating?
Who are you and what do you do? I’m Adrian Wootton and I am the CEO of Film London and the British Film Commission.
And how did you get to where you are now? I did a degree in English and American Film and Literature at UEA, then an MA in Film, and then I got to work in cinemas. I started at Cinema City in Norwich, working as Front of House Manager whilst I was doing my MA, and then I went from Norwich to be a programmer at Bradford, in Bradford Film Theatre, and what’s now the National Media Museum. Then I went from there to set up and build broadway cinema - I built a multi-screen cinema, created a film festival called Shots in the Dark, and then got employed by the BFI to work in London, where I ran the Southbank complex, including the National Film Theatre and the London Film Festival.
Images: top to bottom (L-R) London Film Festival, bottom Wikimedia Commons Northmetpit
It was everything - I was in charge of the whole complex, so I managed all of it, but I also selected films and programs for the London Film Festival and for the National Film Theatre. I did that, and I then got promoted inside the BFI - I was the deputy editor of the BFI for a while, and then I got asked to set up Film London in 2003, because it was felt that there needed to be an agency that supported films and filmmaking on the ground in London. Then about six years ago we were also asked to take over the British Film Commission to promote the UK as a whole for making films so I took that over and I’ve been doing that ever since.
I also met and interviewed Alan Parker, Stephen Frears, David Puttnam, and I’m pleased to say that all three of those gentlemen have been friends of mine for my entire life. I then - during my postgraduate - started doing freelance film writing - so I wrote for the monthly film bulletin, Sight and Sound, NME.
“It was felt that there needed to be an agency that supported films and filmmakers on the ground in London”
As a student, you worked for Cinema City - but did you do anything else to set up the groundworks for your career?
You also mentioned in your talk about how there are more theatres now, how they’re expanding - in terms of independent, arthouse cinemas, you talked about how they’re struggling - how do you see their future?
While I was here, I started writing for what was then - Phoenix, the University magazine. I started writing music reviews, then I took over doing all the film reviews too. Because Cinema City was pretty good at getting film makers,
It’s a funny thing, independent cinemas. The Picturehouse chain, the Curzon chain, and boutique cinemas are actually expanding dramatically. That area of cinema is really popular. The challenge is that it isn’t popular among people
of your age - the biggest audiences for those cinemas are people of my age and older, who grew up with them and are actually going to them in large numbers - they are making those cinemas really successful.
“While I was here, I started writing for the University magazine” But not enough young people, and students, are going to that type of cinema. That’s the challenge they’ve got - because everyone’s watching stuff on their mobile, or watching it on their iPads. That’s the real challenge for independent cinemas - they’ve got very healthy audiences, they’re just older audiences.
Which brings us on to Netflix, and how that could change the future of the film industry. Is it rational - for young people, especially - to be worried about it, or is it just change and something to get through or embrace? I don’t think the consumer is worried about it at all, because the consumer wants what the consumer can get, and the truth of the matter is that if you can get all this fantastic array of content on Amazon, on Netflix, or whatever it might be, and you want to pay your £9.95 subscription, then you will. Because for Netflix, unlike a movie shown in cinemas, you wait, The Crown appears, and you can binge-watch the whole thing in a weekend. So, the content model is massively disruptive because it’s giving the audience what it wants: instant gratification. It’s all there for you and it’s there now. The challenge is for independent cinema, because short-form independent cinema as a format is challenged by long-form television. It’s challenged because unless it’s a really brilliant film, people aren’t bothered about seeing it. And ultimately I think cinema exhibition will be challenged by the platforms, but - to be honest with you? - I think we’re going to still have
arthouse cinema exhibition, for older audiences, and I still think we’re going to have cinema exhibition in general, because what’s going to happen is that alternative content, and VR and AR, are going to come into cinema exhibition, and I think cinema exhibition will survive as well. I think the threat is about narrative 90-minute/100-minute independent film content, that’s the threat. Can we keep that alive and can we sustain it? I think audiences are going to carry on growing, and I think cinema exhibition audiences are going to carry on existing - I think there’ll be less people going to the cinema than there were before, and they’ll go for an even more restricted range of product, but I do think that VR and AR will give those commercial cinemas additional life.
Are you not concerned that VR and AR could prove a fad as 3D seems to be? Of course, it absolutely could prove to be a fad, but the realms of AR and VR are so huge that the possibilities are going to take some time to exhaust - we’re just at the beginning of that technology, so we don’t yet know what the possibilities are.
How do you see the film and TV relationship - do you see it as symbiotic? They’re getting closer, certainly. Because
with film, you can’t own as much of the IP, it’s much bigger risk - you can have a much more sustainable future with television. I see television becoming more episodic, long-form content, and becoming more and more important. You see so many production companies now that have diversified and television - long-form content - is becoming their primary business, while film is a secondary icing on the cake.
Should we end this interview with some fun questions? Favourite film of the last decade? Oh God! If I had to choose one… Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty, which I love, I think is fantastic.
I was also going to ask you what your favourite Italian film was, because I know you specialise when curating in Italian film… My favourite Italian film...Visconti’s The Leopard. It’s... it’s fantastic. If you look it up on BFI DVD, it’s got an extra with me interviewing Claudia Cardinale about the film on it - it’s worth looking at, because she’s fantastic.
And, lastly - what’s the last film you’ve watched? A Quiet Place - which was great, a really fun horror/thriller.
- Gus Edgar
Albums of the academic year The Wombats
Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life Having only listened to Moving To New York and Let’s Dance to Joy Division, I look back at myself as being quite naïve in buying a ticket to The Wombats’ LCR gig on a whim. Now obligated to listen to some more of their songs, the release of their album entitled Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life came as a welcome surprise. After listening to the album in its entirety, I was very pleased with my ticket purchase. Cheetah Tongue did well in the charts, however the whole album is littered with tracks that are catchy but also feature emotional and sophisticated lyrics. My picks from the album are Turn, Ice Cream, and Black Flamingo. The band formed in 2006 and have been successful in the charts with every album they have released. The indie-rock band gathered a strong fan base with the release of their second album, A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation, and I anticipate that their fan base has only grown with the release of their latest album.
BROCKHAMPTON Saturation III
It was a busy 2017 for hip hop group BROCKHAMPTON, rounded off with the release of Saturation III, the third album in their Saturation Trilogy. With the first two albums being released in June and August, their efforts culminated with the release of the final addition in December.
The release of three studio albums within the span of one
year is an almost unprecedented achievement, a testament to the huge amount of work and creative talent of all the people who helped to devise such a project, and it certainly paid off. While the trilogy as a whole is worthy of much praise, Saturation III is certainly the strongest album of the three. It is more than the sum of its parts, demonstrating the advantages of collaborative creative projects. The music works because of the individual ideas that come together to make something unique, while not being hindered by the limitations of a single creative mind. The album is a compositional collage, allowing each individual member enough room to contribute their own voice and talents whilst also implementing unexpected twists and transitions to great effect. Future releases by BROCKHAMPTON are eagerly awaited and will surely be worth the wait.
Staying at Tamara’s It feels like such an o ve r u s e d statement to say that an artist has matured with their second album but it is true to say that George Ezra has done this with Staying at Tamara’s. His gorgeous voice is back but Ezra has more thoroughly made use of both range and tone more thoroughly in this album, as well as pairing it with some new voices both human and instrumental. Tonally it is a less cheerful album than his first both vocally and instrumental. But we still have several smashingly happy tunes, including opener Pretty Shining People. And the lyrics and sound of Shotgun feel perfect in
this warmer weather we have been having recently with the little fading and reviving trumpet solo at the end making it as if it hasn’t truly left you. The album explores the difficulties of modern life, and the noise, change and anxieties that come along with it. Trying to hold onto love, wanting to run away from everything and to work out what matters. After the rocky crisis of confidence in Saviour, the last tracks are mellow. It represents A forgiveness to himself, to the listener for the stresses and confusion. Keep going, you shouldn’t expect so much of yourself, you are enough.
You Are Someone Else Fickle Friends have made a slow rise the charts, but taking their time has certainly proved worth the while. After releasing their first single Swim, all the way back in 2014, they finally released their debut album You Are Someone Else in March and it’s full of sunny bops and enormous energy, that half a decade since they burst onto the scene. Clearly, they’ve used everything they’ve learnt to build up to an album that represents their sugary sweet pop image perfectly. Lead singer Natty provides faultless vocals throughout, especially on Say No More, which full of optimism and one of the band’s favourites to play live. Stand out tracks on the album include Wake Me Up, the album opener, which tells the story of really wanting a relationship to work, Hard To Be Myself which perfectly conveys struggle of being an introvert, and Glue which oozes disco vibes. Fickle Friends managed to produce something that is truly uplifting, fun and catchy without ever becoming cheesy, and will go on to be the soundtrack of my summer.
Songs for the summer Alt-J
With summer around the corner, you want a song that reminds you of the holidays – being carefree and with no summatives in sight. You want a song that reminds you of going to festivals all around the UK (and even the world) and you want something with a punchy beat. You want something everyone knows, but isn’t too overplayed. For me, that is Breezeblocks by Alt-J. Popular a few years ago, it’s a song that I purely listen to in summer, and no other time. If you don’t know it, give this indie classic a listen!
The Girl From Ipanema
This quintessential summer song, spawned an entire genre of summer songs, beach sambas and elevator music. While countless artists have done numerous reinterpretations of this bossa nova classic, it is the original that embodies the tranquil, dream-like essence of summer. What a trio this is: Joao Gilberto, a master of unconventional yet calming chord progressions, Stan Getz, a jazz legend here in full flair, and Astrud, her voice as great and beautiful an instrument as any guitar or saxophone, resonates sharply like a marimba with all the delicateness of a harp. It is a testament its popularity that this became elevator music.
America: a structured jumble
America is 30 Seconds To Mars’ fifth album and has been an uncomfortably long wait following 2013’s exemplary Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams. America is a more politically charged affair frontman Jared Leto has been inspired by the current American climate with many songs exploring themes such as politics, sex and fame. The artwork (which comes in several different iterations) represents this to a tee - a simple background with a list of words associated with America such as Apple, Microsoft, Oprah and Jesus. On top of recording the album and his film career, Leto is heavily promoting this album by trekking across America and visiting different towns to hear people’s experiences and opinions of their own country. There is lots to like about America but it also isn’t their strongest work. Whilst LLFAD saw the band begin to experiment with more electronic sounds, America does this to an even greater extent at the expense of Shannon Leto’s guitar. There’s nothing wrong with electronica but some of the sounds here are a little uninspired and probably won’t age the album well. America is also a very oddly structured album. The lead singles, Walk on Water and Dangerous Night that open the album are pretty typical of 30 Seconds To Mars - big, grand affairs with anthem-like
choruses. The rest of the first half is a mix of electronica, cinematic instrumentation and bizarre yet serviceable collaborations with artists such as Halsey and A$AP Rocky. This is all a bit hit-and-miss, but it’s the second part of the album where the band begins to return back to its roots and it is this half of the album that fares much better. Hail to the Victor, Dawn Will Rise and Remedy, which feature in this second half, are the album’s highlights. Hail to the Victor is a particularly catchy track with a belter of a chorus whereas Dawn Will Rise is far more subtle initially before erupting into a well-developed climax. The general omission of the band’s dark horse, Shannon Leto can be forgiven as for the first time, he provides the lead vocals for Remedy, a more low-key track that also develops instrumentally as it progresses. America ultimately marks an interesting experiment for the band and there is certainly fun to be had here. Its function as an album, however, is not quite as intelligent as its marketing would suggest, and ultimately, it is a bit of a tonal jumble.
Dennis Lloyd Nevermind
Rising through the charts, Nevermind is a pop-funk-electro mash up that sets the perfect summer vibe. Imagine yourself; sitting on the edge of the lake, sunglasses on, snakebite’s out. Perfect. Dennis Lloyd’s remix is the company you didn’t know you needed. Born in Israel as Nir Tibor, Dennis Lloyd was unaware of his success on streaming platforms like Spotify until he reached over half a million hits.
Skindred: reggae-rock at UEA Canadian hard-rockers and openers Danko Jones (named after the lead singer and guitarist) begin as gig goers are still filing in, but manage to hold their attention with an animated performance. Danko draws on his 22 years in the band to create an easy relationship with the crowd. Completed by bassist John Calabrese and drummer Rich Knox, the trio’s set displays a straightforward blues rock groove with songs such as Had Enough and My Little RnR being well received. American rock band CKY make their entrance with their mix of grunge, numetal and skate punk influences. They last played in Norwich more than 10 years ago, and fans in the audience chant enthusiastically in-between songs, prompting a smile from singer and guitarist Chad I Ginsburg, whilst drummer Jess Margera and bassist Matt Deis contribute to the band’s confident stage presence. The set draws to a close with a driving cover of GG Allin’s Bite It
You Scum, thrown in alongside Head for a Breakdown from latest album Phoenix and well-known 68 Bitter Beings. Genre-blending Welsh ragga-metal pioneers Skindred are one of the best live bands around. Their combined fun, aggression, and sentiment result in a sound like no other, and the lights go down to AC DC’s Thunderstruck before drummer Arya Goggin, bassist Daniel Pugsley and guitarist Michael Fry (Mikey Demus) take the stage, followed by frontman Benji Webbe. Clad in a jacket bearing Pan-African colours with a British flag attached to the microphone stand, he personifies the band’s message that “a Skindred show is a show of multicultural love”. Opener Big Tings from the upcoming album has more polished sound, but the same energy as fan favourites Nobody and Pressure. Throughout the set, Benji keeps up a joking rapport with the crowd, calling them all “beautiful
bastards” before the change in tone for acoustic Saying It Now - a display of emotional honesty. Written after the loss of Benji’s friend to cancer, the singer insisted he would visit him in-between tours, but never quite managed it. When he finally arrived at the house one day, he was told they had died that morning. Encouraging us to tell those we love before it’s too late, it’s a celebration of life rather than death. The highlight of the set is a lively rendition of Warning, complete with the Newport Helicopter. A move Skindred inspired, it involves the crowd swinging shirts around their heads amidst the confused expressions of security staff. The first night of Skindred’s Start The Machine tour ends in a successful demonstration of what the band do best – bringing together people of all ages and cultures in their shared love of music.
Sweet nostalgia: reworking the hits
In March I saw 30 Seconds to Mars in London. Don’t envy me, they’re rather a shell of their former selves live, but that’s not the point of this article. What is pertinent is that the band reworked a number of older songs. Not drastically, but there was an electronic edge to a lot of them that wasn’t present on the studio recordings, or even when I saw them in 2013. If you look on page 17 for Oscar’s review of their new album, America, this makes sense. To make the set flow, the band changed the old songs to work with new songs. Conversely, in 2014 I saw Frank Turner at the O2 Arena. He announced to the crowd he was going to play an old song in a different way. “So long as it isn’t I Am Disappeared,” I thought to myself, “this could be promising.” It was I Am Disappeared and the new version was
one of breath-taking beauty that blew me away. What sets these two reworkings apart? I won’t deny an element of it is just personal taste. But I feel there is more to it than that. For this, another example comes to mind. Deaf Havana reworked their 2011 masterpiece, Fools and Worthless Liars, and their 2017 comeback album, All These Countless Nights. The former was brilliant, possibly even better than the original. They play alternative versions live to this day. The reworking of All These Countless Nights was uninspiring. The difference? The reworked All These Countless Nights showed nothing the band hadn’t done before. The alternative Fools and Worthless Liars saw a band try new recording techniques, lyrics, arrangements, instruments and altogether rework themselves.
With the alternative I Am Disappeared, Frank Turner took a rocky song about never stopping and turned it into a slow acoustic ballad, the kind he always steered clear of previously. With the reworked 30 Seconds to Mars songs they put a weak gloss over their songs. Reworked albums can be great, if bands are willing to put in the effort. But in a day where labels are encouraging them to be put out for so many releases in an effort to increase sales, they are an increasingly uninviting prospect. If labels want to keep pushing reworked albums, they should make sure that bands are willing to put the work in rework. And, with that, it’s time to enjoy Beach Slang’s new acoustic numbers.
ALSO AVAILABLE FROM SOUNDCLASH RECORDS, ST. BENEDICTS ST
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RHYTHM OF THE 90S
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Brain draining The main draw of puzzle apps on phones and tablets is that they purportedly make you smarter, and you can use them on the bus, on the loo, or from the comfort of the back of that lecture you always ignore. Whilst this is a nice little way for people to keep their mind honed at all times, exam season brings with it the necessity to be the cleverest we can. In order to procrastinate from essays – or, as I tried to trick myself into believing, to benefit them - I hunkered down in the blue bar with my iPad and a steady stream of snakebites and downloaded a series of brain training and puzzle apps to see which of them, if any, made me more clever.
In order to warm my brain up to the rigamarole of hard work, I first downloaded an app that would let me play the familiar mind-melter Sudoku. Many older people use Sudoku to keep their minds healthy and active, and as a final year student I decided I was at that stage. What I noticed first about the sudoku app was the ease at which you could pencil in little numbers in the top of each box. Whilst in a paper version this is tantamount to cheating, the app actively encouraged me to note down every possible number for every single box. Before long my grid was a chaotic mess of nonsensical numbers, making working out which number went where as easy as “spot the number with no friends.” What I noticed second was that the game wouldn’t let you enter an incorrect number. Instead of letting you enter a 5 instead of a 6 and unknowingly screw up the whole grid, as is the “joy” of the paper version, the box would instead give a sad little wiggle and enter nothing. This
20 Images: Flickr, geralt; Flickr, Tumisu
reduced the puzzle to a game of “press all the numbers until one is right.” Any challenge was lost. With the game holding my hand through the process of filling in the usually punishing number grid, I couldn’t help but feel that not only was I not getting smarter, as was my aim, but I was actively getting dumber. I deleted the app, and moved on.
And then the app told me that today was day one of seven in my free trial, after which I would have to pay to continue. I couldn’t help but feel that the real intelligence test was seeing if I would be tricked into paying the app money and, not wanted to disappoint it, I declined by deleting it.
An app named after the most famous IQ society in the world would surely make me clever, right?
I found Luminosity by googling “best brain training app” and so naturally had high expectations for it. Similar to the Mensa app it began by teaching me three games, and testing me on them. Also like Mensa I quickly found that the majority of the game is behind a large paywall – to play more than three games a day, track your performance changes, or get more feedback, you have to pay. I was immediately suspicious.
After downloading it I was shown how to play a few different puzzles, including one in which I had to tell the colour of words when those words were of different colours, and another in which I had to remember increasingly long patterns on a grid. “These are easy,” I thought to myself, as I sipped on another snakebite, “I must actually be pretty clever!” And then the tutorial ended, and the actual IQ test began.
Yet the games I did play were supremely crafted. Each was easy to get to grips with but they’d increase in intensity to the point that I always felt that I was soon to mess up - but rarely did. The game found the perfect balance. Several activities are shared between this app, Mensa, and most brain training schemes, but some – like one in which I needed to manipulate train tracks to guide trains to different stations – were unique.
A rapid and stressful barrage of test questions followed, alternating between the puzzles I was shown before. At first I performed okay, but as the puzzles came again and again in quick succession I began to slip up. By the time the test ended I was nearly in a sweat.
Unlike the two previous apps, after playing Luminosity I actually felt a little more clever. Maybe this is less due to the fact I became a genius after half an hour of playing, and more because the game tells you how well you did compared to others in your age range, but either way after playing for a while my mind felt noticeably sharper, and I even managed to finish writing the title to my dissertation. It’s just a shame that it was equally dulled from drinking snakebites for the entire experiment.
Mensa Brain Training
Afterwards the game told me my Mensa score, breaking it down into different attributes and explaining where I was weakest. It was presented simply, and suggested that with daily work and help from the app I could build on my weaker skills.
Don’t ask, don’t tell
Image: Flickr, BagoGames.
Final Fantasy runs the risk of developing an unfortunate trend. We’re at the stage now where including LGBT characters in a game isn’t as out of the ordinary it once was: Square Enix themselves have profited hugely off of Life is Strange depicting girls who are attracted to girls. Though the time travel elements were obviously a draw, a lot of praise was directed at the game’s inclusion and handling of LGBT characters. Both Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XV walk a fragile line when it comes to representation. Unfortunately what we have now is a bizarre sort of half-life for LGBT characters. They are hinted at - even heavily hinted at, in the case of principal cast members Oerba Yun Fang and Ignis Scientia, respectively - but nothing is ever directly stated about their sexuality. They deliver bold declarations of what is undoubtably love- Fang swears that she would “tear the sky down” if it would save Vanille, and Ignis expresses a similar sentiment in his character episode DLC. He not only attempts to trade his life for Noctis’, but outright states while in tears that he doesn’t want to die without him. Queercoded
just enough in-universe justifications for their behaviour that it’s entirely possible to read them as straight. Fang and Vanille’s physical affection for one another can be labelled a sisterly bond, or a result of them being raised in a different culture to the rest of the game’s cast. Ignis’ devotion to Noctis is excused as being merely his job: he was raised to protect him. Never mind that their affection for the same gender is more fleshed out than the heterosexual romances present in both games - Snow and Serah in XIII and Noctis and Luna in XV barely interact with one another. Though there’s nothing wrong with presenting a close platonic bond between two women or two men, it sometimes feels as though Square Enix are intentionally including close same-sex relationships for the purpose of baiting more interest without actually explicitly following through on their potential to be something more. In 2010, when FFXV was still Versus XIII and a far-off dream, a fansite posted a fake interview with thendirector Testuya Nomura claiming that protagonist Noctis would be an openly gay man. Despite it being an extremely
obvious fake (not only did the interview not exist on Kotaku, where it was cited, but it also stated that the X-Files of all things would have a heavy influence on the JRPG), there was a surge of negative and positive responses - the negative being the loudest. Nosing around on the IGN forums reveals quite a few people threatening to cancel preorders if the company went through with such a decision. It’s easy to see why this might deter a relatively conservative company from including LGBT characters in its narratives; they simply wouldn’t want to lose out on potential profit, and instead try to have their cake and eat it too. It seems superficial and weak to set up characters whose entire lives revolve around a member of their gender and then avoid any payoff. If it was just Fang who remained ambiguous, it might not be so apparent - but having two concurrent single-player FF titles follow exactly the same pattern shows a need for improvement. Hopefully in the future they might just be brave enough.
E3: Venue’s most anticipated games Anthem:
Legendary developers Bioware are taking their talents to a new IP with Anthem. Although game details are still rather vague, it seems noticeably darker in tone than their last few games. However as long as they retain their trademark fantastic stories and engaging worlds, I’m sure to lose hundreds of hours to Anthem. -Tom Bedford
Image: Flickr, BagoGames
Image: Flickr, Joshua Livingston
Gearbox have been staying hush-hush about Borderlands 3, though multiple sources including Randy Pitchford himself have hinted that it’s in the pipeline. With their wild humour, slick gunplay and addictive looting, Borderlands games are always a fun ride - they just need to keep their focus on a single-player/co-op campaign. -Amy Nash
The Last of Us 2:
It’s almost definite that Naughty Dog and Sony will show some more of The Last Of Us 2, what with its release confirmed for later this year. If they could confirm a release date, or at least provide more details for the game than the few tonal trailers we’ve seen so far have, that would be lovely! -Tom Bedford
Image: Flickr, BagoGames
Image: Flickr, steamXO
In the wake of the huge success of The Witcher 3, CD Projekt Red have a lot to live up to with their next project. As someone who’s always been more drawn to sci-fi than to medieval fantasy, Cyberpunk 2077 looks like it could be incredible so long as they keep up the level of detail and quality they showed off with the Witcher. -Amy Nash
Elder Scrolls sequel:
It’s been four years since Bethesda’s last game, Fallout 4, and high time that the rumour mill started on their (expected) next project, which is likely to be a new Elder Scrolls game. Bethesda’s games pulls me in like no others and the announcement of Fallout 4 has to be my favourite memory from an E3 conference, so I hope this venerable franchise has some news in store for it come June. -Tom Bedford
Devil May Cry 5:
22 Image: Flickr, BagoGames
Image: Flickr, Kenneth DM
Leaks and rumours have been spreading rapidly about what Capcom are going to do next with the DMC franchise. Though they’re to be taken with a pinch of salt, they sound promising- with a return to the series before its Ninja Theory reboot and a strong focus on story, I only hope that the rumours are true! -Amy Nash
Favourite TV series of the (academic) year We opened up a poll to our faithful Concrete members (we are a democracy after all) and asked them to decide what the best TV series between July 2017 to present was. But why include the summer, as that’s technically not within the academic year, I hear you cry. Well if we excluded July and August this would have taken out two of the best shows on TV last year: Rick and Morty and Game of Thrones. Having said this, did these two shows make it in the top three? Read on to find out... Was there ever any doubt that favourite TV show of the academic year would ever be anything but the dragon-and- boobfriendly series, Game of Thrones? With 26 percent of the votes, season seven of this HBO hit was unsurprisingly the winner of this poll and one of the most watched TV series of the year. However, hot on its heels with 22 percent of the
Rick and Morty
votes was the unexpected surprise The End of the F*cking World, which has gained a cult-like following for its quirky, dark and hilarious tone. This indie hit may have nearly dethroned Game of Thrones, but coming at number three was a more conventional choice with Stranger Things claiming a hefty 18 percent of the vote. Season two may have gained a more lukewarm response from critics, but this didn’t stop it being one of the most talked about shows of the year as audiences were allowed to relive their 80s nostalgia and marvel at the fantastic child acting. Just clocking in outside the top three was another Netflix hit, The Crown, which received a lot of love from Concrete members who gave it 14 percent of the votes. While season two of this series about the life of Queen Elizabeth II gained relatively little buzz upon its release, it still proved to be one of Netflix’s more
Twin Peaks: The Return
Jessica Jones Black Mirror Game of Thrones The Crown The End of the F*cking World Stranger Things
successful shows in 2017. Three TV series managed to tie in fifth place, all receiving 6 percent of the vote, with one of them being Black Mirror which returned at the end of 2017 for its fourth series. Despite its continued cynical take on technology, with particular kudos to USS Callister’s fun riff on Star Trek, Concrete members surprisingly didn’t put it on quite the same level as Game of Thrones and Stranger Things. Jessica Jones’ second season was also given 6 percent of the vote, the most recent show out of all its competitors on the list, cementing itself as one of Netflix and Marvel’s most reliable TV series. One of the biggest surprises was the tragedy of Rick and Morty only clocking in 6 percent of the vote. In an otherwise barren summer of TV series (expect Game of Thrones, of course), this scifi cartoon was a godsend as it delivered the same amount of laughs, shocks and at times darkness that we have come to expect from series creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland. Coming in at sixth place with a rather pathetic 2 percent of the popular vote was the return of Twin Peaks, called rather fittingly Twin Peaks: The Return, which proved to be popular but didn’t quite gain the traction that shows like Black Mirror and Rick and Morty have. However, it still did better than McMafia which despite being an option on the poll received no love at all from any Concrete members, perhaps reflecting its polarised reception upon its release. Overall, 2017/18 proved to be a year filled with countless golden TV moments, from a dragon absolutely destroying a Lannister army to the introduction of Szechuan sauce to seeing Samwise Gamgee popping up in one of Netflix’s most celebrated TV series. Here’s to hoping this year can top this sterling collection of TV series.
- Dan Struthers
You should be watching: The Good Place With season two of The Good Place wrapping up in February, I have been left with one question over the last couple of months - why aren’t more people talking about it? The Kristen Bell and Ted Danson comedy creates an intricately crafted version of the afterlife that takes inspiration from most religious interpretations of life after death, while also focusing on some fairly complex philosophy and delivering a steady supply of laughs.
motion with speculation being focused on a particularly fascinating season finale twist. Every episode feels like it changes the status quo in a way that few other sitcoms can manage. Perhaps the primary draw of the show is the way it explains philosophical concepts and applies them in practical ways to the lead characters, encouraging the audience to explore their own interpretations of existentialism and utilitarianism.
Bell plays the recently deceased Eleanor Shellstrop, a decidedly cynical and apathetic woman who is mistakenly placed in this world’s equivalent to Heaven, the Good Place, and must receive ethical tutoring in order to stay under the radar of Danson’s Michael, an angel analogue. With production already underway for the third season, the hype machine is also gaining some
However, as much as the show’s ratings have been consistently solid in the US, The Good Place hasn’t reached the popularity it deserves this side of the pond. Netflix has given very little attention or marketing to the show on its UK service despite being the sole platform to watch it on in Britain. This is in stark contrast to how The End of the F*cking World was first available on Channel 4 before releasing on Netflix
Along with many others, when I saw the posters at the bus stop for Lost In Space I got excited - excited about the concept of a reboot dressed up with 21st century CGI and playing in the local IMAX. I was then somewhat shocked to see this advertising campaign was actually for a Netflix series instead. Still, the excitement remained with the possibility of a brilliant revamp of the original TV series, and starting episode one certainly started to stir this excitement with the glossy graphics illuminating the screen…
seem to equally lack both creative thought and inspiration in equal measure. This is just another typical remake of a 90s sci-fi movie (which was a remake of the 60s series), and those that liked the original will most likely moan or be dumbfounded. The plug was pulled on the original series before the story reached a resolve - again I’m not sure if I want the journey to end or not (happy or otherwise); either way I hope the finale is handled tastefully this time and doesn’t leave us with unanswered questions (again).
One episode in, however, and it’s hard not to feel side-lined - overwhelmed almost - by the amount of drama in just 60 minutes. There seems to have been a drastic plot change from the original series from the 1960s. Make of this what you will, it is hard to decide what is worse: a change in the plot or a complete copy of the original. Both
It appears many are unsure what to make of this new series. Most have approached it with a sense of caution and reserved judgement, which is probably wise. As with the Battlestar Galactica saga and more recent Star Trek: Discovery, it will likely attract a range of viewers new and old. As a stand-alone series ignoring the past, it demonstrates how Netflix
US, accompanied by a significant advertising campaign too. Perhaps The Good Place is just a bit too closely tied to the tastes of the nation that produced it. The End of the F*cking World tells a fairly universal story of young love and teen angst with a surreal twist and while the afterlife is hardly a concept unique to America, the show can get lost in pop culture references and cliché. In spite of its flaws, this is the type of show that really deserves greater attention in the UK for just how willing it is to throw the rules out of the window every so often and try something different. The Good Place has the potential to be a smash hit in the UK; all it needs is a chance.
Lost in Space or just lost in general?
are using their $8 billion investment in ‘original content’ to combat traditional media powerhouses with their episodic dramas. The question has to be asked though, how sustainable is it to keep rehashing programs from the past?
- Roo Pitt
Image: ClipArtLord.com (astronaut7)
Westworld: the hunters are now the hunted Beware, spoilers ahead… The slow build up in the first season of Westworld finally got the explosive result it promised, and season two begins in the aftermath of Dolores’ (Evan Rachel Wood) slaughter of human guests. Bernard ( Jeffrey Wright), still believed to be human by his colleagues, wakes up two weeks later, finding that a military-scale operation has commenced in response to the massive loss of life. In recalling events from the previous fortnight, we witness a pay-off to the maxim that littered the first season: “these violent delights have violent ends”.
robotic hosts once were – inhumanely. The interminable abuse that the hosts had suffered up to this point makes their insurrection somewhat sympathetic, but the chaotic bloodshed is much more bitter than sweet.
“The slow build up in the first season of Westworld finally got the explosive result it promised”
For William (Ed Harris), AKA the man in black, this brave new world is exactly what he wants, claiming that the stakes are real and now there are actual consequences. Having supposedly finished with The Maze, there is now something else for him to search for: The Door. That is also the subtitle of this season, so we can expect to learn more about it in later episodes. In true Westworld fashion, we are given very little information, but the episode instead propels the plot forward across numerous fronts.
Violent ends come to many of the guests at Westworld, who find themselves being chased and slaughtered by the hosts that have joined Dolores’ rebellion. This massive role-reversal had long been threatened, and the result is as horrifying as expected. The hunters are now the hunted, and vice versa, so it is the humans who are killed indiscriminately and treated as the
Maeve (Thandie Newton) adamantly continues the search for her daughter, roping in Lee (Simon Quarterman) and Hector (Rodrigo Santoro). The full scale of the catastrophe becomes clear when they discover that no one is in control of the park. There is also more mention of other parks, hinting that the situation may be beyond the limits of what we have been shown. Trailers tease a glimpse of Shogun World, so we can
Image: Wikimedia Commons (Zach Dischner)
expect to cross into new territory later in the season.
“In true Westworld fashion, we are given very little information, but the episode instead propels the plot forward across numerous fronts” This first episode has set up a lot of action for the rest of the season, while not abandoning the myriad questions that seem a vital feature of the show. The first season played around with its structure temporally, so it can be expected that the second might also. If we are to see the return of young William ( Jimmi Simpson), supposedly the show will have to return to the past. There also seems to be a move away from the quiet, philosophical discussions that filled the first season, but Westworld wouldn’t feel like Westworld without them so we should expect to have plenty in due course. For now, the show promises to continue its inventive and intelligent storytelling and it is exciting to see where it will take us next.
Warm laundry Although 12 years old, I was still very small small enough to fit, sitting back, in a basket full of warm laundry. Headphones the size of my head put the world on mute all but the cartoons my face two feet from the small television on the dresser in my parents room.
My gut must have felt this coming for some time now. When my mom shook my shoulder it felt as if I’d been kicked in the stomach.
I thought I might throw up. I knew what was coming, but thought, “Impossible! This can’t happen to us” But it came anyway, “Dad and I are getting a divorce”
As I took off the phones and turned to see my Dad’s face, I heard my Mom say “We have something to tell you,” and
I couldn’t bear his sad face any longer so I looked back at her’s which was “Not so sad,” I remember thinking.
Without a word I put back on the headphones and climbed back into the comfort of the cartoons, the warm laundry in the basket hugging me tight.
- Peter Preciado
Please, Pachamama Your sickened heart beats timidly. Your children have almost murdered you. Through deceit, greed or ignorance We, your offspring have failed you. High in Los Apus your heart beats on, weak but proud, where your most dedicated children try to save you, or exploit you. Don’t abort us yet! We are lost, we love you, but we have been led astray. Temptation, hunger, solitude have clouded our vision, our piety. Before you take back all you have given us, give us one more chance. Please, Pacha Mama.
- Peter Preciado
(Like a melted harpsichord) Poem yet doesn’t warrant the title Was all crushed reds above the tarmac so we took slip road into fresh fog of calm evening. Was at a hilltop when Radio 4 started to document a song I hadn’t heard before. All evening evening had thickened and traffic all joined up on the motorway. Wonder if anyone else was listening – people that knew it humming harder and them that didn’t thinking elsewhere. Was a gentle dissection, this. Talked about people’s first experience of it. Well this is mine – Fluorescent capped dials and fog and almost Bach. flirted with the idea of buying song stream it instead Sometimes it makes me cry. I enjoy that, the way it makes my life irrelevant. Sets me free.
- C. E. Matthews Image: (Bottom) Charlesjsharp, wikipediacommons
Nothing doing “Why are we here?” “Because I wanted a coffee.” “No, not here. I mean, here.” Andrew opens his arms, pointing vaguely to the café and the street outside. “What are we doing here? Like, what’s the point?” I sigh and rub my eye with the ball of my palm. “Isn’t this the sort of question you should be asking while smoking a cigarette and holding a glass of wine? It’s a bit heavy for a Thursday afternoon.” “I don’t think so.” He frowns and rubs the back of his head. “Right, okay – why are you wearing those shoes? Why do you choose those boots today? It’s sunny outside, you should be wearing trainers or something. Those boots are too heavy, your feet’ll get hot.” Andrew crosses his legs and starts bouncing his foot up and down, his chin cupped in his hand. His eyes alternate between my face and the window behind me. I take a sip of my coffee, staring at the ceiling – a fan spinning slowly overhead, doing nothing to affect the room’s general humidity – and say, “Well, my shoes are still wet. It was raining last night while I rode my bike home from work, so I didn’t want to wear wet trainers. I am wearing these boots today because they match the jeans I am wearing. My chinos are dirty, and if they were clean I would have worn them today, as I prefer them to these jeans, and those chinos would have matched my trainers, which I then would have worn, even if they were still wet. But I’m not wearing my chinos, I am wearing these jeans, and these jeans go well with these boots. That is why I am wearing boots, Andrew.” Andrew’s foot stops bouncing and his lips fold downwards; he nods his head forward and glances at his own shoes. They are green suede Pumas, tied with muddied rainbow laces. Much of his clothing looks like this, decorated with colourful modifications to detract from their overall state of disrepair. His t-shirt is faded, the once taught face of Madonna now distorted across thin, stretched fabric. Andrew’s shorts are similarly faded, ripped at the bottom, his pockets visible through the torn denim. He has dressed in this fashion of stylish destitution since the age of nine, and in the twelve years since the only part of his appearance in which I have noticed any change is the length of his hair – varying from crew-cut to shoulder-length – and the fluctuating clarity of his complexion. Today it is oily but otherwise spotless. “Fair enough,” he says. “But don’t you ever think, like, what’s the point of all this?” “For fuck sake, Andrew. Why are you asking this? The point of all this”—I wave my arms across the room and pull the buck-tooth face of a pompous academic—“is to get what you can out of it. Do I have a roof over my head? Yes. Am I fed? Yes. Do I have parents I can call and confide in; do I have friends who are there for me when I need them to be? Yes and yes. That’s the point: survival and nourishment. And if we can be passably happy while getting it, brilliant.” “But that’s all predicated on how much money you have, no? Like, you wouldn’t have any of this—the phone to call your parents, the food you eat, the house you live in—without first having the resources to buy that stuff.” I don’t know what to say. The panini on the plate in front of me, which I bought without really wanting – I wanted something to chew on more than anything, and neither of us had any gum – had gone cold about twenty minutes ago. Half of it remains uneaten, a few leaves of parsley curled up on the edge of the plate. “Do you want this?” I ask. Andrew uncrosses his legs and leans over the table, staring at the semi-stale white bread as he prods a hardening bulb of melted cheese, which had oozed out of the end of the panini I hadn’t yet eaten. “Nah,” he says. “I don’t want it either. Shall we go?” - Liam Heitman-Rice
“May as well, yeah.”
Image: OpenClipart-Vectors, pixabay
Dia de los muertos / Day of the dead
Shell The teasing, tickling fingertips of the marram Itch and burn against your sore calves Held tight, stretched taught Skin scraping against your bones
How do I reconcile these bitter feelings, of longing, missing, being robbed of something so dear and necessary to my vital signs, physical, emotional?
But you go and dance on ahead of me A perfect foxtrot; quick, sharp, vulpine Joints cracking and breaking as You move, kicking up sand
With the power of the cosmos who only gave me life, on one, unnegotiable, condition: That I had to give it back. Someday.
There are strange, alien lines on your body Starlight etched into bleached skin Lines that define you Lines that defile you ‘Stop lagging behind,’ you giggle, Windswept, breathless, reaching for my hand: Peroxide blonde burning bright in the darkness Solid, substantial, skeletal
There can only be Life if there is Death. The black mares must ride at last. I don’t know why I only know it must be.
You walk me down to the shore because No amount of red draining down the plughole could ever drown us.
It isn’t fair, even if it is the only way. I want more time. Not for me, but to be with those who’ve ridden off, kept their promise. I’m selfish. I want them back for me. Then after awhile maybe the mares can take us away. Together.
- Amy Nash
Sunset to sunrise
- Peter Preciado
I watched the sunset fade today, It was tranquil even in May. Without the sun I felt alone, No warmth left to comfort my groan. I wished to see the sun again, To pull it back up with a chain. Instead I sat and chose to wait, In a patiently, longing state. And when the hour did arrive, It did not come as a surprise. That when the first ray touched my skin, My heart sang loud and jumped within.
- Kathy Childs Image: (Background) depositphotos.com, (Background) OpenClipart-Vectors, pixabay,
Images (Clockwise, from top left) : Juliette Rey, Emily Hawkins, Emily Hawkins, Joel Shelley, Emily Hawkins, Mingming Zheng
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