Let’s get the disclosure out of the way first: I’ve been a big fan of Chris T-T for some years having been a fellow Brighton neighbor back in the day (the mighty Rifa did a good job on the promotion front). We were witness to some blinding performances with and without the full Chris T-T band under the variable Oxfordshire skies during the intimate Truck festival.
But that was some time ago.
This time Chris had wrangled a trip to San Francisco on the back of his SXSW tour. He descended on the ageing-but-stately Hotel Utah – the 1908 venue that pre-dates the prohibition.
We kept our vantage point on the mezzanine level as Chris launched headlong into his set: a collection of old and new material straddling the seemingly irreconcilable worlds of trenchant political campaigning (a highlight being a hyperspeed version of ‘Cull’) and absurdist surrealism. Think giraffes raining down across the English countryside. The worlds collide at some subcutaneous level lying tantalizingly just beyond the comprehension of this author. Maybe by the next time Chris reaches these shores I’ll have figured this out 😉
Halfway through the set, the borrowed upside-down guitar is thrust to the side, and for the M1 Song, Chris switches his demeanor to that of a cherubic schoolboy auditioning for a choir. His voice in great condition after years of recording and touring, recounts a mythical conversation between a man awaiting roadside assistance for his broken down 4×4 and a tree who saw his brethren felled for the construction of the motorway. Emotive stuff that’s not lost on the crowd (even though I’m not sure many are familiar with that central English road-artery as it is ‘just south of Leeds’.
I’m not particularly well-versed in the anti-folk movement to which Chris loosely belongs, but I’m guessing domestic violence from the perspective of the perpetrator is not one of the most common themes. However it is a subject Chris has touched on in the past and revisits on Ankles (from the Capital album). Vivid, gory and affrontist, the song’s protagonist explains to his partner why he had to break her ankles to stop her leaving. My takeaway? If you can at least understand the psyche of one of societies’ folk devils, then you can see the seeds of this dysfunction lies in us all, and the distancing of the ‘us vs. them’ often perpetuated by the mainstream media appears little more than thinly-veiled hyprocricy. Thanks Chris, you’ve reborn the undergrad sociologist that’s laid dormant within me for far too long.
Unfortunately, all too soon Chris has to make way for Seashell Radio (with their impressively-bearded jazz-style drummer), and the rest of the night is lost to whisky, weed and cheap burritos in the Mission.
Obviously being a man of our times, he’s also on Twitter.