Let's twist again (Klub Kakofanney Lockdown Letter)

Let's twist again

When you were at school, did you ever make one of those twisted strips of paper called a Möbius band which forms a three-dimensional object with only one surface and one edge?

Well here is an entirely different sort of Möbius for you, Oxford's very own Möbius band which made its Klub Kakofoanney debut in the summer of 2019. I hope you will enjoy this video of some highlights from that gig, where Möbius gave us their wonderful mixture of rock guitars and drums, an added dimension of violin, and vocals with unexpected twists and turns.

Möbius consists of Ben on violin, John on guitar, Ryan on bass and sunglasses, Paul on guitar and vocals, and hidden away at the back is Charlie on drums.

High school never ends

Don't worry, this isn't going to turn into a lesson on maths and geometry, but thinking about those lessons at school reminded me of a favourite band of mine from Texas, those masters of stage showmanship, Bowling For Soup. Why? Because one of their songs is called "High School Never Ends". It is about the angst of schooldays and is laden with quirky cultural references. This video of the song dates back to one of their visits to the UK and their gig at the Oxford O2 in October 2011. It is a "moshcam" video compiled by the O2 from audience-submitted clips, which was quite a revolutionary idea a decade ago.

Any other Bowling For Soup fans in the house? Maybe you were in the audience on that night too. Maybe you've just spotted yourself in the crowd.

Back to the classroom

My memory of music lessons at school is a teacher who thought pop music was the work of the devil and instead made us listen to depressingly miserable and unbearably long classical pieces by Mahler, Brahms, and Dvorak and then write an essay about them. Fortunately, many teachers are more enlightened these days, such as Gregg Breinberg, the music teacher at PS22 in Staten Island, New York. There is no romantic backstory behind the name PS22. The local authority could not be bothered to give names to the schools so it simply stands or Public School number 22.

Breinberg, with his very limited resources, enthused his students by teaching them to sing pop songs, and started videoing them and putting them on YouTube. One of the people who had been watching PS22 and talking about them on Twitter was superstar Kylie Minogue. One day back in 2010 she boarded a plane in London and flew over to New York so she could join in one of their sessions. There was no fanfare, no entourage, no professional film crew and reporters in tow, no airs and graces,... just Kylie, a microphone, and a fantastic memory for the kids. Fortunately, someone filmed bits of it for posterity.

PS22 has since become famous, with TV appearances and other pop stars and celebrities jumping on the bandwagon to do a Kylie, and all of that well-deserved success grew out of the enthusiasm of one music teacher. Great teachers are worth their weight in chocolate.

Who feeds the hamster?

Over in Japan, there is a band called Ikimonogakari (ee-kee-mo-no-ga-ka-ree) who come from Ebina, a city which is slightly smaller than Oxford. The band members originally met in primary school, and they take their band name from the thing that brought them together as friends. Apparently Ikimonogakari translates as "the class monitors in charge of watering the plants and feeding the hamster", although guitarist Yamashita later confessed his unfulfilled ambition was to have been the blackboard monitor. The band has had several number one hits in Japan and they produced this video ten years ago to promote the Japan's National Schools Music Contest. The song is called "Joy", its got loads of kids in it, and it sure is joyful.

Yes, yet more strange Japanese dance moves for you to practice around the living room. If your neighbour spots your antics through the window, tell them its educational.

9th October 2020
The Lockdown Letters
Klub Kakofanney