To Tufnell Park for a first-round heat in the Zimbalam Surface Unsigned Festival '10. I know that sounds like a random string of words generated by a computer virus, but it's essentially another of these "battle of the bands" competitions. In what sense it is a "festival", I don't know, but it is well organised on a nationwide scale, with the finals at the IndigO2 at the O2 in London. We won't make it that far, of course, because the whole thing is based around votes, and the votes primarily come from the fans that you bus in to support you—all of whom are buying tickets, so you can see how the business model works. The reason they have so many rounds is that your "fanbase" must turn up repeatedly to vote you along, coughing up for tickets each time.
So, yes, it is cynically exploiting the dewy hopes and dreams of the Great Unsigned, but one becomes rather inured to this after a while. We probably shouldn't have entered, not least because you have to pay a deposit which we promptly lost because we didn't sell enough tickets in advance. (In fact we brought precisely two people, one of whom—my wife—forgot to vote for us.)
However, we still managed to make it through to the next round. The system was that seven bands play on the night and the highest-scoring four go through to the next round. But on this occasion three of the bands pulled out at the last moment, so we all went through anyway, making for a very gentlemanly atmosphere at the sparsely occupied venue.
Gruesomely enough, the promoter mentioned that the cancellations were due in part to "death and road accidents". I'm assuming that it was just one death, in connection with a road accident, rather than a whole week of Final Destination-esque carnage.
Bizarrely, we have been here before. The Furbelows have previously been offered a gig at short notice because the bass player of the band originally booked had been killed in a car crash. I hope some awful pattern is not developing here. Eventually people will refuse to appear on a bill with us, such is the notoriety of our Spinal-Tap-drummer style curse.
If we were a death metal band I suppose it would be ideal. I wonder if you can sell a curse on to someone who might appreciate it more...