You know where the cool kids hang out on Friday night?  Galleries.

If you haven’t been to the National Portrait Gallery‘s Thurs/Fri night Late Shift, freaking go already.  I mean, Trafalfar Square is like, right there, all lit up with Olympic fervour, and the Gallery’s open late with drinks and live music.  Plus there’s that special Diamond Jubilee exhibition of portraits of the royal family.  So I invited a friend to join me Friday night, thinking how very posh we would be, sipping wine as the gallery fills with Mozart under the approving gaze of Her Magesty.

Um.  This is not what happened.  I don’t even know how to describe this music the band (called Circle of Sound) played.  Someone said ‘jazz’, but it ain’t no jazz I ever heard.  Fusion?  Maybe if I could sort out what was fused with what.  One of the songs was oddly reminiscent of ‘Dead or Alive’ by Bon Jovi.  Do you know what a Sarod is?  According to the Circle of Sound’s flyer, it’s a ‘rare Indian fretless instrument’.  There was a British Bengali guy playing that, which was super cool, and this British Austrian dude on the drums.  Then the Austrian dude started beatboxing.


I want you to picture this.  Looking straight at the audience, he just breaks out in weird sounds – bleeps and ‘pacchews’ and ‘pshp-pshp-pshps’.  An audience with an average age of 45, perched politely on their stools, clearly trying to sort out when and whether to applaud.  The mouth sounds start out randomly, accompanied by some casual drumming, then increase in frequency and intensity, until the fretless strumming and mouth percussion burn a sonic hole in the universe.  And all of us – the Sarod, the beatboxing Austrian, the polite and confused Brits on stools – surrounded by dead MPs glaring at us from wall-to-wall oil paintings in the National Freaking Portrait Gallery.

Awesome.  And how was your weekend?


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