IT’S THE OPENING NIGHT AT CAFÉ INDIEPENDENT, A LOTTERY FUNDED AND VOLUNTEER MAINTAINED VIBE-SPOT IN AN UNFASHIONABLE NORTHERN TOWN MANAGING TO PUNCH ITS WAY BACK OFF THE ROPES. 2013’S BATTERING BY SKINT – CHANNEL 4’S DIVIDE-AND-RULE BENEFITS DOCUMENTARY – WAS A STINGER, BUT CLEARLY NO KNOCKOUT.
I head down the High Street to Scunthorpe’s newest scene, located in a building the size of a small warehouse, formerly a shop. Between a plethora of clubs and bars, all packed within a few hundred yards of each other, boozy revellers mill. This is mini-Ibiza: tonight a uniformly good-natured escape hatch for the rain-pissed steeltown.
The Indie, though, seems to offer something more than the mere gaud of Friday-night neon. Immediately impressive within, it generates the atmosphere of a medium-sized city venue, with just enough of the ramshackle aesthetic and unchained philosophy about it to draw hipsters, students, left-thinkers and the artistic community.
There seems to be a buzz about the town, this weekend. Tomorrow its football team, operating in the basement division following a near-decade of over-stretched achievement at higher levels, will trounce Portsmouth 5-1 to continue an astonishing resurgence of almost 20 games unbeaten. Tonight, Clint Boon is booked to headline a multi-act bill with a DJ set. The Inspiral Carpets’ man will prove a great start for the new café, but for the promoter – used to servicing crowds with his modestly impressive roster of previous gigs in Scunthorpe’s other venues (Public Service Broadcasting tore the roof off a converted church in 2013) – it’s just business as usual. There is appetite here.
Tonight’s disc spinning, and performances from several bands, will happen on a subterranean level at the back of the venue. Boon arrives – crisp Mod haircut, with record bag slung over one shoulder of a red polo shirt – and the café’s manager chaperones me upstairs to meet him on a veranda. “I like it here,” he tells me, as we explore to find a private spot for our chat. “It’s a real place, you know what I mean? I’ve actually been to Scunny before – and it’s a proper town”.
We sip at tins of warm lager, and Boon is friendly to all of those who accidentally interrupt us during recording of this edition of The Mouthcast. He’s unfailingly generous with his answers as we chat about the imminent CD / vinyl versions of two cassette-only demos (DUNG 4 and COW, first out in the late 1980s) which are to be released as part of Inspiral Carpets’ new deal with Cherry Red. The band is also currently working on fresh material which, Boon tells me, he’s fitting in around his commitments as a radio DJ and father of five. The new album – “fucking phenomenal” and featuring original vocalist Stephen Holt – is scheduled for September.
Tonight, though, it’s not about his band at all. Boon will “see how it feels” when he’s at his decks, and pick out the right records ad hoc to surf the excitable wave in a new and exciting venue. It seems, as his two hundred punters bounce, groove and sweat their way to some kind of ecstasy, like the perfect fit…
Clint Boon portrait by Paul Wolfgang Webster