The Big Moon at Village Underground: “Everyone’s Birthday at Once.”

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Juliette Jackson is one of the UK’s most exciting songwriters of the moment. For this reason, seeing her up on stage with her sisters in arms, Celia Archer, Soph Nathan and Fern Ford a.k.a The Big Moon, is a thrill.

Also, irresistibly, she’s wearing a plastic tiara.

It’s 9.45pm and Shoreditch’s Village Underground is teeming. It’s the final date at the end of a roaringly successful tour for The Big Moon’s recently released LP Love in the 4th Dimension, a tour that has “maybe been the best of our life.”

“I’m so over-excited,” Juliette greets us as the band bounce – almost literally – on stage.
Celia (bass and vocals) accounts for their effervescence; palpable even for a band known for its elated performances: “we’ve been fizzing all day; it feels like everyone’s birthday at the same time!”

Well that accounts for the tiara.

The crowd – many of them slurping from Coke cans – churn with a similar giddiness as though each one had been issued a personal invite and a slice of birthday cake.

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This feeling of intimacy permeates the entire show: a great feat considering the vaulted ceilings and bare brick walls. Though I’m near the back, I feel close to the band, as though if I reached out, I’d be able to touch the riffs as they zig-zag through the air and smooth my hands along the “oohs” and “aahhs” (of which there are plenty).
This is, in part, due to the irresistible sing-ability of The Big Moon’s small but mighty perfect repertoire. Silent Movie Susie kicks off the festivities, a perfect match to the purple vinyl I’ve been spinning in my room since the 7th April. From here, The Big Moon go from strength to strength. ‘New Year’s Eve’ melts effortlessly into ‘The Road’, which precedes ‘Cupid’ (“one of our favourites” says Juliette).
They skitter and sigh through go-to cover ‘Beautiful Stranger’ by Madonna, giving it that irresistible nineties riot grrrl kick with sweet verses that give way to a crashing chorus. Through it all, a smartly-co-ordinated light show gives the giant glow-in-the-dark moon backdrop a little something extra. At times, white lights shine directly onto the girls’ backs, giving their silhouettes a dark side of the moon effect. At others, purple dominates, echoing the plastic of their special edition vinyl release.
The Big Moon reach their zenith at the close of the show with ‘Formidable’, ‘Bonfire’ and ‘Sucker’. Someone standing behind me on the metal stairs whispers, almost tearfully, that the former is “such a girls’ anthem.” And indeed, the sound of a hundred girls echoing Jules’ “Hi, I’m not invisible” is enough to make me agree.
Special for its atmosphere, special for the connection between crowd and band, but special, most of all, for those perfectly-written, hedonistically-played songs, The Big Moon’s night at Village Underground feels like everyone’s birthday alright. But especially theirs.

This article originally appeared on Smashed Vinyl. 


Touch What You Make: How I Practice Mindfulness

Touch what you make.

It’s one of poet Robert Montgomery‘s many pieces of advice. We, the digitally-enslaved, the people that that opening Trainspotting monologue rails against, are corrupted by our hunger for immediacy and convenience. Black Mirror has shown us ourselves and we balk, but continue.

We live our lives in the screens in our pockets, the screens in the corners of our living rooms and the screens on our desktops. We write words with thumbs and fingertips, order food alone to be eaten alone, delivered by silent men on bicycles. We’re drowning in convenience; a collective drowning that’s too much for our rudimentary gills.

Unless upping sticks and leaving for a commune in the woods appeals, this is it, this murky world with added walls.

But there are escape paths; small reeds to poke above the water and breathe the real air. Things to bring you back to yourself and disconnect you from the stress of modern living. It’s called mindfulness, and these are the ways I practice it.

  1. Take Polaroids. Feel the curious pressure of having to get it right first time and the anticipation as the photograph, already tea-stained nostalgic, blooms into being in the darkroom that is your armpit.
  2. Buy vinyl. Experience your favourite album on needle-tip and support new music by taking an undiscovered artist home to hear for the first time on your turntable. Close your eyes and listen to the whole thing from start to finish.
  3. Look up. At the sky and the mountains. Find a new perspective on the street on which you know the pavement so intimately. See how architecture becomes more beautiful, more whole, more patch-worked, as it stretches above the Ground Floor.
  4. Notice other people. People, each with lives at least as complex as yours, are everywhere. Wonder in the anonymity of their stories by observing their shells.
  5. Do yoga. And as you do yoga, honour its most central principle by disappearing into your breath like slipping into a cool pool on a summer’s day.
  6. Ditch your umbrella. Feel the rain on your skin and turn your face up to the sky to see the beauty of water coming from that angle.
  7. Use pen and paper. See how the words flow more fluidly when they trickle straight down your arm and into the pen rather than hammered onto a keyboard.
  8. Flirt IRL. Approach someone you fancy in a bar and tell them you like their shirt. Remember the thrill and the fear of forging a connection with a stranger, without the crutch of an app.
  9. Go for a run without your headphones. Hear things usually obscured by the beat in your ears. There’s a whole world around you and it’s got wings, legs, flowering buds and a breeze.

  10. Touch what you make. Feel the dust of pizza flour on your fingertips and the fresh-baked cake on your nostrils. Feel the bass drum in your rib cage and the lover under your lips and the whisper of a turned page in a book. It will all be gone, one day. The bad, too.

What I’m trying to tell you, but in poem form.