Love Doesn’t Just Stop: When Favourite Bands Call It Quits
Gareth Ware laments the loss of Standard Fare.
Granted upon initial inspection, such a statement is equal parts amusing and downright daft, but plumb a little deeper and there is a degree of validity to it; form any sort of lasting connection with a group or artist and you inevitably end up sharing in their successes and disappointments, and in return you get new music and live shows. As a system it works pretty damn well.
Which makes it all the sadder when they choose to call it a day. Hot off the back of Shrag using a 6Music session to announce their own split, and almost a year to the day since the release of second album 'Out Of Sight, Out Of Town', Standard Fare called it quits late last week. As one of a group of acts that rose to indie-pop prominence in 2010 – alongside the likes of Allo Darlin', Patterns, Tigercats, This Many Boyfriends and Brown Brogues – who all surfaced and/or hit their stride around the exact same time I started writing, and whose various escapades, growth and development I've had the pleasure of both documenting and witnessing over the past couple of years, it was especially sad news.
Usually the use of the phrase “the mass market is missing out” is the sole preserve of those fond of Viva Brother/Pigeon Detectives posturing or gobby image-over-output chancers. Yet when Standard Fare frontwoman Emma Kupa used it during our interview at least year's Indietracks – albeit to describe the guitar-based pop music landscape as a whole rather than her band specifically – it was laced not only with conviction but also a healthy dose of legitimacy to boot. Especially given their acclaim ranging from established broadsheets to the specialist press. Over the course of two rather great records, 'The Noyelle Beat', and the aforementioned 'Out Of Sight, Out Of Town', – along with bandmates Danny How and Andy Beswick – turned topics like cross-continental relationships, train journeys, clandestine romances and reunions into vibrant, technicolour adventures, all the while backed up by an equally expressive and captivating live show. Factor in their offering for last year's 'Where You Are Is Where It's At' singles club – the incendiary 'Girlfriend' especially – and they leave behind some great documents of their nine-year existence.
But as our Features Editor, Simone detailed in her tribute to The Cure, it's the memories that will potentially resonate louder and longer than any mountainous back-catalogue could ever do. Even if, in her case, it culminated in giving a former squeeze the heave-ho for having the temerity to own a banana-yellow Ford Fiesta. There was that time we had to queue all the way up the stairs to see them open for Allo Darlin' at the Deaf Institute – at half past seven. Or their hometown heroes status amongst Sheffield's plentiful music scene being validated by yours truly having to sit atop an unused bar in order to catch the launch party for their second record. Or the time they whipped a crowd into such a frenzy at the Nottingham Pop Alldayer they almost broke the venue (the ceiling beams in the bar downstairs were buckling).
In last year's blog about record shops, I implored people to make the most of these things while they were still around, and the same goes for bands. As one Twitter user ruefully posted in the aftermath of Shrag's split: "I feel sad about Shrag splitting, yet I've not bothered to see them for years. A little ashamed: go see bands you dig, or they'll quit."
While not wholly true in this case – 'life' being the official reason – it still harks back to Derek Robertson's rather great set of new year's resolutions, which bear repeating: “If you like something, if it racks up double digit plays on your Spotify, Last.fm, or wherever, then buy it. Get it direct from the artist’s BandCamp. Tell a friend. Tell all your friends. And when they come through your town, rustle up as many people as you can, go see them live, and buy a pin badge, a tee, or a tote. It’s not much to ask, is it?” We've all been there, especially when gigs are concerned: it's raining, we don't know anyone else who's going, a party play session of Bomberman has catastrophically overrun. But if the last week has taught us anything it's that, at the risk of sounding like Axl Rose singing 'November Rain', nothing lasts forever.
With vows that all members will continue to make music under different guises, we could yet see a slew of top-drawer side projects like the ones that spawned out of Field Music's hiatus, but until then Standard Fare have two last shows to play – Sheffield on 16th February, and London on 2nd March. See you down the front, yeah?