BOATY WEEKENDER Diary – Day 2. Somewhere in the middle of the Balearic Sea



11am: Things are not excellent. I have a hangover and I’m on a boat and what the fuck is happening? SAVE ME.

We make it to the buffet JUST in time to scrounge 13 kg of bacon and WHY IS THIS OMELETTE TAKING SO LONG? WHY ARE THOSE MUFFINS SHOUTING AT ME? We load up with carbs and grease and crawl outside into the blistering heat.

Frances McKee, Vaselines, Boaty Weekender, photo by Mikala Folb

11:30: In what can only be described as one of the most hipster things to ever witness, The Vaselines’ Frances McKee is teaching yoga on the pool deck to those of us who have NOT eaten 13kg of bacon. She’s an Iyengar instructor back in Glasgow and is currently teaching “3-for-the-price-of-one, bargain basement” and “good if you have gas” poses to an assembled throng. I wave at new friend Mallory from Boston who is Sukhasana’ing in the front (that’s her with the pink bottle) and admire her and everyone else’s ability to be healthy on this thing. I’ve sadly missed the meditation with Gen Kelsang Machig – a Buddish nun and friend of the Belles’ Stuart Murdoch – which is something I will sadly miss for the duration of the trip. Still regret that, me. We wander around the boat instead of watching God Help the Girl, a 2014 film written and directed by Murdoch, which is playing inside the 1000+seater Stardust Theatre. It’s too nice to be inside, yet.

Buzzcocks, Boaty Weekender, photo by Mikala Folb1pm: You know what a hangover needs? A punk band! Right? Even if my headache is arguing with me, it’s a particular thrill to be able to hear some of legendary band Buzzcocks’ songs live again, and despite the fact that we should be seeing them in a dark and sticky club, and not at lunchtime in the middle of the sea in the baking hot sun, we’re ready to go. Steve Diggle takes to the stage and they rip into “What Do I Get?” (woah-oh!) then “Fast Cars” and “Nothing Left.” Classics “Why Can’t I Touch It?”, “Orgasm Addict”, “Harmony In My Head” and “Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’tve)” all show up and those of us who care, care a lot about this. Diggle’s surrounded himself with a new band – Chris Remington on bass, Danny Farrant on drums and Mani Perazzoli on guitar, and they’re giving ‘er.

We’ll always miss Pete Shelley, but there’s a real joy in hearing these songs again live. Which is something we weren’t guaranteed once we heard about Shelley’s death. It’s an important show.

It’s also here where I first meet the chap soon to be known as “shirtless guy” (for he will dance with abandon and glee, shirtless, at every outdoor pool show). Sam Holland is a twenty-something film and theatre-maker from Sheffield, England, and is here with his music-obsessed dad Philo (a journalism professor and BBC Radio 5 Live broadcaster), and his sister Hannah (who is about to join the Peace Corps and head off to Rwanda.) Their party attitude, constant smiles, high energy and passion for music will make them my favourite people of the trip.

L-R: Philo and Hannah Holland, my partner Vince, Sam “Shirtless Guy” Holland looking uncharacteristically serious in back, me, a nameless friend and Brits Andy and Michelle who were on the Weezer Cruise in 2012, too! Photo: Will Byington.

2:30pm: We wander past the Atrium where Kelly Lee Owens – one of the only electronic artists onboard – has got people swaying in a groove.

Django Django, Boaty Weekender, photo by Mikala Folb3:30pm: I’m on board to hang with my friends, so hang with them I shall! It’s time for yet another Django Django show, this time inside the very air-conditioned Stardust Theatre. Seated venues feel odd for a band who makes you wanna dance, so we take up space at the front and wriggle in our chairs. With a clash against Alvvays playing on the pool deck at the same time, the room isn’t full. Singer Vinny Neff will later tell me he found the whole sit-down show weird but keyboardist Tommy Grace says he loves it. I love it, too. The band isn’t used to getting up after a late night and playing an early show again. But…Boaty!

Whyte Horses, Boaty Weekender, photo by Mikala Folb



4:30: We catch the tail end of Manchester’s French-twisted, psych-dream-pop outfit Whyte Horses. Theirs is the sound of…hmmm…. a rich soundtrack to an oversaturated art-film scene about a summer picnic maybe? EVERYONE is talking about them on the boat from Day 1, and I can see why: dual female vocalists (Nat McCool and Lucy Styles), swishy costumes, lava-lamp backdrops, harmonies and that airy kind of Nouvelle Vague pop that feels perfect on a boat. I’m bummed to have missed their cover of Plastic Bertrand’s “Ça Plaine Pour Moi” and apparently one of their sets moves another music journo on board to tears. Not for me, but I see why folks dig ’em.

HINDS and friends, Boaty Weekender, photo by Mikala Folb

5:00pm: We’re tanning on the top deck next to the stage and Madrid-based band HINDS. HINDS have also been tanning, and drinking, with friends and are rather “refreshed” by the time it gets to Belle and Sebastian’s Q&A as hosted by comedian Alex Belle and Sebastian Q&A, Boaty Weekender, photo by Mikala FolbEdelman. The Qs are innocent enough (inspiration about lyrics, album design, worst gigs ever – we all laugh at the story Stuart tells of coming off stage at Trafalgar Square in London to hand a guy his guitar – only to have him run off with it), then get deeper to probe about religion and other deep and meaningfuls.

When Edelman opens the floor for last-minute questions, HINDS see their opening and Carlotta (C.C) runs down to ask a most pressing and awkward question: “Why aren’t HINDS playing the main stage?” Everyone laughs, and Stuart graciously tries to make it seem like it might be a possibility. Shortly after, he even gives them an option to cut down the Q&A time so they can “you know, maybe do something a capella,” so C.C. and Ana run down… then ask if anyone knows “Spanish Bombs” by The Clash. Not sure B&S are quite the “Spanish Bombs” type, there’s more nervous laughter and the whole thing falls to shit.

6pm: It’s Nautical Theme night! We manage a captain and sailor’s cap but we see Ariel and a young Sebastian, many captains, a shark, Sailor Moon, Popeye and about 1500 people wearing blue and white striped clothing.

7:15: Shortly before the long-awaited beautiful return of Camera Obscura, I run into Steve Diggle and the Buzzcocks who are now feet firmly into celebration mode. They’re just as “refreshed” (if not more so), than HINDS, and a shirtless Diggle drapes his arm around me as I tell him how much I dug the show and appreciate that the band decided to continue.

“You know,” Diggle says, well and truly chuffed, “Pete said to me a few times that he was going to maybe stop, but that he wanted me to carry on the name. It’s important, I think, to keep his songs alive and my songs, too. It’s really special. Plus, we needed to give some of these ‘tra-la-la-la’ bands a run. Naw, just joking, I mean, I said that to a guy, about how all the bands on here are so light, and we were bringing the rock and roll, you know? But actually, I quite like the voice of that lady, Tracy something!”

Camera Obscura, Boaty Weekender, photo by Mikala Folb“Tracyanne! She’s just about to play, Steve, you should watch her!”

“Ah wicked! The bands are actually lovely on here, I was just messing. I’ll watch her.” Steve Diggle goes back to partying with the Buzzcocks. He will never not stop partying with the Buzzcocks. Smoking in the non-smoking section, The Buzzcocks are definitely bringing the rock n’ roll to the Boaty.

But the return of Camera Obscura – whose 2001 debut was produced by Belles’ Stuart Murdoch –  meanwhile, is a very special and whole other beast. Tracyanne’s other band, Tracyanne & Danny (managed by Teenage Fanclub’s Francis MacDonald, so you get the feel for just how incestuous this boat really is) also have sets on board. But it’s something unique to see the band reunited and back on stage, just one gig into their reunion. “My Maudlin Career” starts the set, “Let’s Get Out of this Country”, “The Sweetest Thing”, “Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken” and “French Navy” (I mean, you sort of HAVE to), and “Desire Lines” all stand out. They’ve brought Donna Maciocia to help out with keyboards and vocals, but it’s all sounding pristine. Everyone swoons a little.

Mogwai, Boaty Weekender, photo by Mikala Folb8:50pm: AHHH MOGWAI! I’ve been going to see these guys for something like 20+ years, and I’m so excited to get a chance to see them a couple of times in a couple of days. We settle in at the Stardust Theatre, grateful to be inside where it’s cool. We’ve caught them as they head into “Auto Rock” and I think “Remurdered”, while the monstrous “Mogwai Fear Satan” closes the whole thing. The lights and smoke and building blocks of sound make the hairs stand up on my arm. They are a gift to the universe, Mogwai are.

Yo La Tengo with Teenage Fanclub, Boaty Weekender, photo by Mikala Folb10pm: Back to the Pool Deck! Yo La Tengo kick off their first set of the Cruise with a super-fun cover of “Sea Cruise.” Ooo-wee, baby, oo-wee! I thought I was excited just for YLT, but what’s this? Norman Blake, Raymond McGinley and Euros Childs of Teenage Fanclub are on stage? WHAAAAAT? If ever there was an epic collab, it’s for this – “I Heard You Looking” sounds incredible as Norman shreds and YLT’s Ira Kaplan raises a ruckus by pushing his guitar into his amp. It’s glorious. Norman stays on for “Stockholm Syndrome” and we all grin like lunatics.

Teenage Fanclub, Boaty Weekender, photo by Mikala Folb10:40: But we can’t stay long at YLT, sadly (no matter, we’ll see them again soon!), because it’s time for Teenage Fanclub’s second and last show. Since most of the band – bassist Dave MacGowan also plays in B&S so will be staying on, along with keyboardist Euros Childs – are disembarking in Sardinia the next day, so this gig is IT. We head into the Stardust Theatre to settle in first row for TF. “It’s All In My Mind” leads, new song “Everything is Falling Apart” is groovy, “Alcoholiday” and “I Can’t Find My Way Home” follow, before an even more brand new song (tenatively titled “Put My Faith In You”) makes the cut. It’s a lovely Norman track, about losing his religion, and finding it elsewhere in the people he loves. Backstage after, Norman will tell me that it’s the first time they’ve ever played that, and he was happy to see it got a good response. This’ll likely go on the new album, he says, “tick!”. (The band will soon be heading to the studio to grind out some more tracks, release date unknown, for those asking.)

BSR with Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub, Boaty Weekender, photo by Mikala FolbIt’s a special gig, my friends up there, doing their thing under the theatre lights. Especially when the polite crowd is about to lose its shit for “The Concept”. They finally stand up and fill in the front of the stage, jumping up and down with joy. Nobody told Norman that it was a nautical-themed night, he laughs about it later, so it’s almost like Teenage Fanclub thinks they’re playing a fetish night. It’s a wonderful and warm set, and the final three songs, “What You Do To Me”, “Broken” and “Everything Flows” feel like a celebration. After the show, the band kick back, sign posters and we catch up. I berate them for not seeing them out and about more. “We were in our rooms learning the Yo La Tengo songs,” Norman says apologetically. We hug goodbye and I’m sad for all the folks who mistakenly think there’ll be a third TF show that they can finally catch…when in fact they’re off the boat the next morning.

Midnight: I generally distrust karaoke at the best of times, so bypass that option, but I’m told (thanks Iain!) that it involved a “shouty version of Footloose.” We off and wander and somehow miss Glasgow’s Wet Look. Arse. I blame the booze and an inability to know what time or day it is. But I’m spent so it’s actually time to fall into bed. We’ve got a stupid early tour the next morning, else we’d be partying.\m/


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