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Adam Horswill: Photographer & gig fanatic

Feb 10, 2024 | Features, Music

Decibels & unity captured on film

Scarecrow at The Crown Bristol

With living rurally, and moving so often, there isn’t a hometown to be written about, but there are friends, the record shop staff, promoters, the records and gigs, that have been more important to me than having a sense of place. There are some pictures taken along the way here as well.

Fugazi by Adam Cohen and the MBV’s Loveless by Angus Cameron albums artwork: This Fugazi record came to me by way of a job lot purchase of American hardcore and metal records. I had no idea what I was buying, and still rate it as one of the best things I have, and I love the artwork on it as much as the music. Raw as it comes and far too close for safety. The MBV art comes from a completely opposite direction artistically and is equally perfect. These two very different approaches to cover art made me want to take my camera to gigs. The Fugazi cover is just nuts, who wouldn’t want to be at a gig like that? Neither will it ever be bettered.

Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 Lovelyville: My soon to be good friend Sean asked me what the Rolling Stone Record Guide I was reading had to say about Thinking Fellers Union Local 282. A quick check and I found it said nothing. One listen to their genius output and the Guide I’d been carrying around went straight in the bin, and I went all in for all things that were musically DIY. TFUL282 were lofi and determinedly uncommercial, charming, rambling at times, they could be melodic or noisy and sometimes both at the same time. I love them.

Bad Breeding in Bristol

Tortoise and Movietone gig at the Thekla 1994: After picking up a copy of Tortoise’s Why We Fight 7” on recommendation at Badlands records I had to see them. Tortoise astounded at this gig (as expected) and became critical darlings over the next couple of years as well. This was my first DIY gig and first one I took a camera to. Even with the wrong camera, wrong film, and wrong lens, and with no idea what I was doing, I was hooked and have rarely gone to a gig without a camera since. Going to gigs alone especially when you struggle socially can be daunting and feel pretty uncomfortable, having a camera gave me something to hide behind and eased my self consciousness (and it still does). Movietone supported, my first live experience of the Bristol DIY scene after digging Flying Saucer Attack’s Distance compilation.

Movietone at Camden Lock

Revolver Records Bristol: Much has been written and said about this dark damp record shop on the Triangle above Park Street. They had all the choice stuff for sure and the staff knew their shit. A reputation for their attitude has developed, although I always found them super friendly and helpful… except the time Roger sold me a box set by Kramer, I asked him to play some and he told me quite in no uncertain terms, ‘no, I’ve already told you how good it is’. Anyway I bought it and thought it was absolute shite. Roger had put me on to some nice hip hop in the early 80’s when he ran the Driftin’ shop in Cheltenham so could be absolutely forgiven for the occasional duffer.

Grohs at The Windmill, Brixton

The staff included Richard Flying Saucer Attack, Matt 3rd Eye Foundation and ‘Planet Man’ (that’s all I knew him as) he had his own Planet Records Label and put out really nice stuff by Ganger, Crescent, Movietone and FSA among others. Occasionally I’d go in and ask them to sell me a CD of their choice, King Tubby’s Prophesy of Dub and Astrud Gilberto’s Compact Jazz are a couple I can remember leaving with, mint.

Circle None at The Crown, Bristol

These bands played upstairs at the Louisiana regularly and I went as often as I could, they always ruled and always had amazing support, Pram, Hood, Foehn, Ganger being some of the most memorable, although I’ve lost nearly all the photos I took over the years.

Yeah You at Shift

Mainliner / Musica Transonic / Toho Sara / Ohkami No Jikan gigs 1996: They came to the UK from Japan with no established fanbase and played 3 or 4 gigs to the few people who had read about it in The Wire. They presented themselves as four different bands which was wild as they were only the four of them, they simply came on stage and made a different variety of racket under each name. I went to two of the gigs, at the first there were 18 people and I think even fewer the second time. Nanjo was the de facto leader of these groups and had a million different projects on the go. From being central to a whole scene he completely disappeared in the early 00s, we need him back.

Penance Stare at The Moon, Cardiff

Cosmic Carnage / Lesson #1, Shitty Futures and Shift Cardiff: After 15 years off gigs I went along to one of the CC / Lesson#1 all-dayers in 2018 at The Moon in Cardiff’s Womanby Street. I went to nearly all of them after and they are the reason I started going to gigs again, they were so perfect. Rich Cosmic Carnage was super welcoming and encouraged me to take photos. For me it was the perfect combination of DIY gig promotion aesthetic and a venue that had been rescued working together to put on ‘mind bending gigs’.

Champagne at The Lion, Bristol

As with Cosmic Carnage, Shitty Futures and Shift generally put on bands and artists that I’ve never heard of. If I’m free there is no question that I’ll go, they always deliver and are super inclusive and welcome. Gigs put on by people who put their heart into it can’t be beaten!

Adam Horswill a.k.a Vogonlaundromat

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