A practice pop-up diary entry, for November 2011, about chilled out Thursday evenings and bits of plastic.
“the four building blocks of the Universe are fire, water, gravel and vinyl” – Dave Barry
Music is a huge part of my life, each day runs through a playlist of radio play, I-pod mixes and cd playing. When music is not audible I catch myself humming tunes or remembering long lost lyrics. I have an eclectic taste, and this is reflected in my rather large CD and Vinyl collections. As a former boss once introduced me ‘This is Billy, and he cant walk past a record shop without buying something’…. This is all too true. I also love the energy of live gigs and I am intrigued by strange music events like what my mate, Chris discovered. Sometime in August 2011, he sent me an email detailing a new night at the excellent Tyneside Cinema. In what seemed at the time a crazy idea, they were planning to play Vinyl albums in their entirety. It was called Mr Draytons Record Player. Four albums had been initially selected quickly followed by a further seven. In the end we attended eight playbacks. In the weeks that lead up to the first night of Floyds Dark Side, days were filled with questions. What if this is a clever psychological experiment? Was there going to be a pretentious host or geeky audience who would talk for hours before and after? What happens if we are the only people there?
So in trepidation we arrived at the first night, bolstered by cheese toasty from the café and bottles of Wylam Rocket from the bar. Entering into the plush Digital Lounge, all fears were quickly diminished by a number of normal looking people being there, a comfortable environment and a jovial host. Mr Drayton greats us warmly and we find our space. Ground rules are explained ‘Bar remains open till the playback starts, a quick vote decides there will be no break halfway and that air guitar/drumming is allowed, Mobiles need to be switched off, and we are warned to go to toilet as ‘we don’t want to be sitting on a pee during the playback’. Mr Drayton gives a brief introduction usually starting with what his credentials are for doing these nights, (these included Spice Girls Crisp Packets and a Boy George Make Up book) then some informative trivia regarding the band and album. Every so often additional elements were added, an interview with the Spiders drummer or an actress reading out excepts from Angie Bowies autobiography. Then its time, the bar closes, the lights dim and the focus moves to the powerpoint and the vinyl itself.
A powerpoint of images accompanies the playback, usually relating to what’s playing, ie Images of Pink Floyd, Quadrophenia cover images. Every so often a bizarre image appears, who can forget the Picasso-like Kate Bush drawing, the Led Zep Swedish award or the picture of the shed during Bon Iver. But this is a nice distraction to the main event, the vinyl.
Two turntables sit on the left, one has been playing some related music whilst the on the other, sits that evenings album. As the lights do down, silence descends and all focus moves towards the stylus. As Mr Drayton lowers the arm, anticipation builds until the gentle click of needle on groove, a little crackle, a little hiss and suddenly we are into the warm glowing tones of vinyl being played through a surround sound system.
Initially sitting quietly in a room with 30 other people listening to a piece of music is a little strange. I start self consciously looking at what I am doing, a tapping foot, bobbing head, mouthed lyric. I look around the room at the other listeners for reference, happily I notice everyone else is finding their own space and rhythm. Some have closed eyes, have sat on the floor, or playing out their out beats. But after a short while it becomes so natural and relaxing
Away from the everyday bustle of work, TV, or the general prescribed entertainment culture. A space of 40-60 mins where you don’t talk, look on twitter or answer the phone. A time to concentrate on a single album, find your space and relax. Most of all it is a time of not being in control of the music. Away from force fed playlists, random generated iPod shuffles or the temptation to skip to the next song. Allowing you to focus on each track and the album as a whole.
The experience is different for each album. Pink Floyd ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ – Took time to get used to the format but by side two was in my Floydian bubble. David Bowie ‘Ziggy Stardust’ – Crowd seemed up for it and a real energy and excitement about the place. Bon Iver ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ – Seriously so relaxing and reflective. The Who’s ‘Quadrophenia’ – first double album, a test of concentration and bladder control, Beach Boys ‘Pet Sounds’ (stereo) – relaxed appreciation of well crafted songs, Queen ‘II’ – lots of bizarre looks during Ogre Battle, Kate Bush ‘Hounds Of Love’ – tale of two halves, 1st sing along great pop songs 2nd Fab Barking madness, and finally Led Zeppelin IV – restrained air-guitar rocking. There were three albums, Stone Roses, Abbey Road and Elbow that we couldn’t/didn’t want to get to.
End of a half of vinyl is met with an audible sigh, and baited breath as the ritual is repeated again. At the end a spontaneous round of applause breaks out ‘Congratulations, you have listened to a vinyl record’.
Afterwards we chatted to some fellow music aficionados and sometimes a quiz took place. It was aways fun and a pleasure. Most of all it was a haven of peacefulness and contemplation of a Thursday evening and I can not wait for its return in March 2012
The pop-up itself has a couple of distinct elements . Firstly the record player, is a box design taken from the bible of pop-up making ‘The Elements Of Pop-Up’ and the template can be found in on David A Carters site. This was adapted from a Cube to a more record player shape. The card used is possibly too thin, and there has been a slight warp in the lid but it does work. The vinyl record is about 21mm in diameter with a very small label of Mr Drayton himself. The small Stylus was so fiddly to create.
The sofa and ‘Billy’ character was fairly straightforward. Two simple angle folds make up the sofa giving it depth and a bit of shadow. The Billy character has extended legs to give the impression of sitting and is glued only to the back part of the sofa letting his feet hang. He is scaled according to the size of the album covers (which are about 25mm) which are scatted on floor and sofa.