Five Years and Eight Hours

Elastica Out of Control

Two Londoners out of South Wales plus a Japanese bassist and a new second guitarist, Feeder have been around as long as Elastica. Think punkier, schlockier Everclear, or Third Eye Blind with stronger tunes and nicer feelings. They spent eight months touring the States in 1998, including a run with Candlebox, and began denting Brit radio with the rough pop of 1999's Yesterday Went Too Soon. Feeder were energizers at Glastonbury, cheerful lads who announced their songs in the confidence that those of us who weren't jumping around shouting the words might wonder what they were called when we hummed them later. They could happen big, even here. Cute 32-year-old lead everything Grant Nicholson is the talent; blond-with-black-roots Taka Hirose banging his yellow axe like Flea gone Dee Dee Ramone is the show. When the set ended, drummer Jon Lee quickly donned a jacket—air temperature was dipping toward 50.

Though it was even colder when Elastica sauntered out a little too much later, bare-shouldered, bare-midriffed Frischmann never betrayed discomfort. Physical discomfort, anyway—her "Allo good to see you again" and occasional "Cheers" seemed no more sincere than her jape about waking up the cows or the faucet-penis that danced out to illustrate "Connection." The show was fine because the musical conception remained consistently arresting, and new keyboardist Mew made a beguiling Flava Flav, her pants slipping down her slim hips as she bumped and pogoed and repaired occasionally to her putative instrument. But the band did seem out of place— whether suffering Glastonbury or courting an audience or fighting catarrh I have no way of knowing. Feeder will never be as interesting a band; allow me to cringe preemptively at the shite Nicholson could write about stardom. But they felt privileged to be on that stage, and everyone within earshot knew it. Feeder hungered for contact (and success) on whatever terms the marketplace set down. Elastica were there for the art, and if the blokes didn't get it, tough titty. In this marketplace, that's become a limited attitude no matter how much courage it takes.

We knew enough to hit the parking lots before dark, but with Elastica off late there was an offer we couldn't resist at the big Pyramid Stage. Since all three of us loved the Pet Shop Boys, we'd peek in for a few songs before trekking back toward London. Neil and Chris and their mystery keyboardist and their fat tap-dancing backup singers went on at 9 sharp. By the time I checked my watch it was 9:36, night was falling, and all of us were perfectly willing to let our forest-green whatever-it-was sedan tell us when it needed us.

If Elastica didn't blend in at Glastonbury, how do you think old West Ender Neil Tennant felt? He was bantering urbanely with TV interviewers about it all week. Yet his show was magnificent, and everyone knew it. Standing behind two mums whose little girl's hair came too close to a candle and a het-looking couple with the man wearing a dress, my party watched as the artiste unfurled a catalog grander than one show can hold—a latter-day Noël Coward exploiting every technology the marketplace had to offer. Well back, we attended the video screens as much as the stage, with special regard for "Suburbia" 's hedgerows and "Young Offender" 's prison footage as well as Tennant's Garthian cowboy hat and even more Garthian bald spot. He wasn't Mr. Warmth, that would have been out of character, but when it came time to close he said thank you Elvis and left every drunk, tourist, crusty, and aging pop dolly on the battered greensward singing "you were always on my mind." It was a new century, and Neil Tennant, once fabulous, was now legendary. I'm sorry to say I can't imagine Justine Frischmann ever joining him.

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