It’s not every day I travel 284 miles one way to see a band, over 500 miles in total. This, therefore, makes Scary Mansion a special band. Very special indeed. If I had a sticker maker I would make some stickers that say ‘Scary Mansion: Worth traveling long distances for’ and then go stick it on some Scary Mansion CDs. POW!
So, now begins the long unorganized review of my whole trip, so I will handily use headers so you can skip through parts you have no interest in.
Excluding any backtracking, Google Maps informs me I walked 11 miles yesterday in Paris. My legs can take it, but my rucksack was heavy, which made things seem further. Getting lost was a bit stressful but also fun. There are some things I learnt in France, like how zebra crossings don’t work like they do here. Traffic won’t stop for you. Also, I nearly got hit by oncoming traffic twice, for looking the wrong way. You think I’d learn after the first time, but no, apparently not. Firstly, a learner driver nearly ran me down and looked at me with some angry eyes. Oops. Then a fleet of motor bikes nearly destroyed me. I literally walked for hours and it was quite nice in the sun listening to some nice music. I watched some old men playing bowls, and tried to find the entrance to Père Lachaise, which I decided should be renamed Fly Fortress. It’ like a fortress, and to get to it I went through this side path that had a ridiculous amount of those little flies that swarm together. When I finally found the entrance it was shut.
I went to the venue a bit after doors and started queuing. I realized I was queuing for ticket collection, but I already had a ticket. I left the queue and went in. There was a sign symbolizing ’no cameras’, but nobody searched my bag or stopped me when I was inside. The first band weren’t very interesting but the lights were nice which entertained me. The venue was very lovely and I wish it was a London venue. It’s kind of like the Borderline, but with a decent lighting rig and smoke. It’s small and intimate but big enough to fit quite a few people in there. Not only that, but they played Wildbirds & Peacedrums on the sound system (!!!!). I was sitting and I heard that familiar drone and some beats. I couldn’t hear it properly but then Mariam’s familiar wail came through and I couldn’t help but grin hugely and sing along. I wanted to hi-five someone but, alas, I was alone. There were lots of other people alone too, and lots of people wearing sunglasses indoors (???). I thought the second band was going to be Scary Mansion, but it wasn’t. The first 2 bands played for what seemed like ages, which made me hopeful that Scary Mansion would play a fairly long set.
Being a photographer makes you so aware of the lighting and where you’re standing. Too aware, almost. I had the good spot, front and left and was pretty pleased with all the epic lights and smoke. I got a text from Bobbles in London and it kind of made me wish he was with me so we could gossip about the light and the other photographers’ gear. There were about 4 other photographers. One had Sony, one had Nikon, one had Canon and another had 2 Canon bodies and 2 big zooms. In fact, they all had big zooms. I did just fine with the nifty fifty! It would have been nice to have shot from the balconies or one of the higher tiers, but I wouldn’t have wanted to move around and miss any Scary Mansion. I only shot for the first few songs, afterwards it was nice to just watch and listen. There’s only so many shots you can take from standing in the same place, anyway. Plus the other band members besides Leah were too far away/not in the light, and Vanessa’s mic was in front of her face, so I could only shoot Leah.
Yay, time for Scary Mansion! I was so, so, so excited and it was really strange and amazing to finally see them play. They opened with New Hampshire, which, pleasingly, is one of my favourites. I only went there expecting them to play 5 or 6 songs, so to have them play 11 was hugely satisfying. I decided to be super geeky and write the setlist down on my hand as they went along, otherwise I knew I’d forget. There was a setlist on stage but it was in front of a guy with some nimble fingers, so I thought I may as well jot it down. They did a couple of new ones then Over The Weekend, which is another favourite of mine. Drummer Ben was just a bit amazing. I love when drummers get really into it, and he was really animated and fun to watch. They sounded brilliant as a full band and Vanessa’s vocals complimented Leah’s perfectly. Leah said she was loosing her voice, but I thought her voice sounded wonderful. It was so exciting for me to hear these songs live. It’s always really bizarre when you listen to something so much and then you finally hear it sung. Beautiful. All of the unreleased songs sounded amazing and I am super excited for the next record. Before the show I was wondering whether the in between song chat would be in English or French. Thankfully, it was in English. After one song Leah asked if I was in the audience, and I waved and she said hello. It was sweet. Scum Inside was perfect, and I loved the live version of Dumped My Mind. I kind of wish someone would take it upon themself to film lots of Scary Mansion videos, because they really are a wonderful live band that I think everyone should get to see. They had more songs on the setlist but had to cut it short because of Leah’s voice. They closed with Go To Hell. I felt like I had come on an epic journey to get to that point in time, to hear that song. That song is what sparked my love for Scary Mansion, so it was special and very beautiful.
After Scary Mansion somebody kindly spilled their drink onto my bag, which made it all wet and gross. Luckily my comics are always safely wrapped in my Rough Trade bag, so it was OK. I bought Leah’s book at the merch table. It was €18, which was quite a large chunk of my remaining €24, but I’ve been meaning to buy it for ages and ages so I was happy to get it. I went back in the venue because it seemed like there was going to be another band, but I was a bit confused because only 3 bands were printed on my ticket. I had a long walk back so I thought about leaving, but then the venue played Wildbirds again, so I sat and listened. Then they played Scary Mansion and then Frida (!!!) so I was quite happy to sit on the floor for a while. Then Leah and Vanessa came by so I said hi. They were both so sweet and lovely and it was a pleasure to meet them. I asked them to come to London and they said they are maybe coming to Europe in autumn, so maybe then. They were so good I would travel anywhere in mainland Europe to see them, but I don’t know if funds would allow that. So we talked for a little while then I said bye and decided I better get going on my trek back. It wasn’t actually that bad because I managed to remember most of the way without any confusion or back-tracking (!!!). I have to say, I feel so much safer in London than I do in Paris. Some creepy guy started following me along the river and kept asking me my name and asking where I was going. He followed me for about a minute, which was a minute longer than was necessary. Nobody has ever pested me that much in London, and I go out late night walking all the time here. Anyhow, it took me about an hour and a quarter to get back, I walked pretty fast and it was peaceful. Then I went to sleep and I was out in a flash.
To conclude: Scary Mansion were the 181st band I saw this year and I enjoyed the show hugely, it would definately place in the top 5 sets of the year. I can’t say enough good things about the band and Leah. She’s so talented and lovely and I feel very lucky to have got to see them play. Now I feel sad I have no more Scary Mansion on my calendar-boooooo. Go see Scary Mansion! Listen and look, and I hope you get to love it all as much as I do.