Last weekend R took a rare day off, and we headed to Cardiff to see Ezra Furman play at the Tramshed. It turned out to be a doubly creative weekend, with both Ezra and a fantastic contemporary craft fair in the City Hall to inspire me.
I’ve only listened to Furman’s most recent album, Perpetual Motion People, but I really love it. I also saw a bit of his performance at the 6 Music Festival which was absolutely brilliant, and my friend saw him play in Missouri and said he was amazing. As a bonus, we’ve never been to the Tramshed & I do love trying out new venues.
Girl Ray opened. I think they have a lot of potential, but for me they lacked a little bit of dynamism (is that a word?); the songs were good, but it never felt like they led anywhere. They did have the coolest band shirt, though, and I liked them enough that I’ll be listening out for them in the future.
There’s a lot to love about Ezra Furman. He’s from Chicago and writes rock songs with lyrical depth. More importantly, he is unapologetically himself. Buried somewhere deep in me, below the cozy domestic interests and nature-loving hippie, is a bit of a punk. I wish I had the guts to be rebellious sometimes. I may not, but I do still kind of admire rebels and people who aren’t afraid to tell people to go to hell (one of his lyrics). I can’t even bring myself to swear, so there’s no chance of me becoming one of those people, but it is very satisfying to see people like Ezra Furman expressing my feelings. I think in this case it’s because he clearly does have social progress at the heart of his songwriting, and the issues he writes about matter to me. There are few things as poignant to me as songs about resisting the urge to commit suicide because you feel like an outsider or a failure (hear “Ordinary Life“).
I have to admit that I am not very well-educated on the queer/transgender part of LGBTQ (book recommendations welcome!), but I do believe that everyone deserves to be themselves without fear. Ezra identifies as queer, and I loved that he dedicated one of his songs to the queers in the audience and said he felt better knowing they were there. It’s still rare to have groups welcomed so explicitly. And he’s just a brilliant performer! I think he threw every bit of energy into the performance, and it really made the performance special. I was persuaded to buy a few of his other albums. I particularly like The Year of No Returning. I walked away feeling really inspired, like I could do anything. Can it get any better than that?
The Tramshed was a great venue, too. We’ll definitely try to go back.
So Ezra Furman was pretty inspiring on his own, but even more inspiration came in the form of Made by Hand Cardiff. It was a wonderful coincidence that it happened on the same weekend. I’d thought about going last year, but didn’t make it in the end. It was excellent, though, and I’m definitely going back. I am pretty hesitant to spend money, but I spent £75! Most of it was presents, though, and I feel pretty good about it because they were all independent artists. It must be a really hard way to make a living, so I’m glad I can do a tiny bit to support them.
I also had several people ask me if I was a maker, which was simultaneously flattering and embarrassing. I think there’s a blog post in that alone, but for now I thought I’d share some pictures and links to my favorites.