It was probably quite a paranoid thought. But we used to imagine that there was a ‘Guild Of Incredibly Tall Men’. The Guild’s sole purpose was to mess up our view at gigs. There was a period back in the noughties when we couldn’t go to a concert without the guild turning up. They’d time it to perfection. With minutes to go before a band that we’d been waiting patiently to see, two or three ‘incredibly tall men’ would slightly awkwardly shuffle over to wherever it was that we were standing and plonk themselves slap bang in front. The men couldn’t hear the protest; mostly they’d just make an impenetrable huddle between themselves and act oblivious, sometimes they’d acknowledge the grumbles but say something polite like ‘Well, where the fuck else are we going to stand?’ – joyful space invaders.
More recently, the Guild seem to have disbanded but have been replaced by the Association of Narcissists at gigs. This is the society that don’t actually seem very interested at standing and watching because they can’t bear that many eyes not being on them. So, they flail their hair about so that you can eat a gobful of it. They’ve either doused themselves with so much perfume or forgotten to use deodorant for the past two weeks but the effect is the same – you are left gagging for air. And just when you think you’ve got away from their company, they insist on getting their phone out to badly film themselves at the show utterly blocking your view. I do miss gigs.
The phenomenon of the ‘Space Invader’ isn’t just something that’s prevalent at gigs though. Over the last year, we’ve all been told that keeping our distance from others is a good thing to maintain. So why, when you go to any supermarket in any town is there still a warm welcome from the Society Of Pushers? This is the crowd that take great delight in nonchalantly reaching over your frame to pick up a packet of ham when if they’d just wait for two seconds you’d be long gone from the cold meat aisle.
Dreams of Empire are probably similarly bitter as I am about the ‘Space Invader’. The Brighton dreampop duo (who become a four piece live) named the opening track of their second album, Encapsulation, after it. It’s a track that I’m very much drawn to and not just because I can relate. “A pure indie guitar energy rush for anyone with a fringe (or who used to own one)“, says the accompanying press release – and you can’t argue with that.
There’s a slice of shoegaze and a trim of twee that wrap themselves around the solid indie base on offer in this ‘Space Invader’ cake. Andrew Craig, guitarist and main songwriter in the band, tells me how they plan to follow it up. “The new stuff is going to sound similar to Space Invader which has been really well received.”, he says “Oh and I’ve even written some slightly more positive lyrics for a change – hopefully we’ll have reasons to be cheerful before too long.”
I know I’m odd but I’m cheered enough by the sentiment behind Space Inader. It’s good to know that the Guilds, Associations and Societies don’t solely target me.