Zig Zag Club Squat Festival – Westbourne Park, London, W11 – 18/12/82

Crass (Soundcheck) / Faction / Omega Tribe

Omega Tribe / Sleeping Dogs / Lack Of Knowledge

The Apostles

Youth In Asia / Null And Void

Amebix / Soldiers Of Fortune / The Mob

Polemic Attack / Poison Girls / end of Conflict (sorry) / Flux Of Pink Indians / Annie Anxiety

Crass / D.I.R.T

These recordings were done in the crowd, some sets were cut up a bit, at the time, to save space on the original three tapes taken. The sound quality is not the best, added to this the tapes are 25 years old. On the Null And Void set some hapless punker even put his jacket onto the recorder which knackers the recording somewhat. Depending on where the recorder was put during the day, the quality varies by degrees. D.I.R.T disbanded after this gig, in fact half way through the set Martin Wilson of Flux Of Pink Indians had to sit in for Fox the then drummer of D.I.R.T who had stormed off the stage…There is a decent complete Mob set uploaded earlier on this site somewhere. I will also put on a decent Crass set at some time, although saying that the Crass and Poison Girls sets are of a relatively decent quality. These recordings were uploaded only to get a historical feel of the day, not as crystal clear recording stock…

Text below rewritten from Sounds weekly music paper;

THIS IS SQUAT WE WANT!

Crass beat the system and play for free at London’s Zig Zag Club.

Word was out early last week Crass (accompanied by several experienced squatting organisations) were occupying the Rainbow Theatre at Finsbury Park, and an all-day event was being planned for Saturday the 18th December. Short, but sweet . . .

Wednesday morning things had changed; Crass had been evicted and were searching frantically for an alternative venue. A hotline was set up and three days later, on the morning itself, the ansa-phone message was bold, clear and full of optimism: they were now squatting in the disused Zig-Zag club in London’s Westbourne Park, and from midday until late it was round to Crass’s new place, for the party of our lives . . .

‘Squatting this venue is not a last ditch stand to get a gig, the music business would love us all to be down at the Venue paying their bar prices: On the contrary, we hope that today’s gathering will provide inspiration and impetus to people everywhere to take similar opportunities and open up and take back the property that belongs to us all …

‘We hope that today we will be able to demonstrate that together we can begin to reclaim that which is ours . . . Freedom, free food, free shelter, free information, free music, free ideas . . . Freedom to do whatever doesn’t infringe on the freedom of others.’

By 2.00pm things were beginning to happen: a large group of people had already arrived and the free vegetable soup was on the boil and being distributed to hungry, happy young ragamuffins. Meanwhile down the Portobello Road, word was spreading like wildfire.

With no admission charge, no age restrictions and no dress regulations, the partygoers arrived in their hundreds; bags of chips, biscuits and all manner of booze piled up high in their hugging arms and rotting rucksacks.

As the first of many bands came on and the party really started to swing, police were waiting around outside, no doubt wondering just what the hell they ought to be doing about it all. Someone went in and gave them a leaflet, which they did seem to be genuinely interested in.

‘. . . We have not employed security today, and we believe that no security will be necessary … It is up to us together to make it work. Treat others as you would expect to be treated and leave the place as it was when you arrived. We can only claim the right to use places if we are prepared to take responsibility to see that they are well looked after. We are here to be creative; we can leave destruction to the authorities.

Everywhere the emphasis was on responsibility: posters cropped up all over the place encouraging the crowd to pick up litter, refrain from vandalism, and generally be sensible. It all seemed to impress the police who, putting an end to rumours of an imminent (unlawful) eviction / break-in, wandered off back to their station, leaving just a couple of friendly coppers behind to keep a (very) discreet eye on things.

… As the day turned into night, more bands took to the stage, some of them terrible and some excellent. People staggered around sharing food with complete strangers and getting drunk on free beer . . . When the Mob came on, the event became The Event.

Everybody stood up for the Mob, and ‘No Doves Fly Here’ was the moment to treasure — the highlight of the day; They were wonderful.

By now the ‘house’ was packed, though not uncomfortably so. A rain of shredded Zig-Zag club tickets fell from the sky and the Poison Girls were doing whatever it is they do, which seems to be quite an acquired taste; although through the jubilant alcoholic haze ‘Persons Unknown’ just sounded so good, especially whilst persons unconscious lay slumped in exhausted heaps around the floor . . .

‘Anarchy In The UK’ exploded from the midst of Conflict’s opening tape, and my God, never before had it sounded so magnificently right.

The drunken hordes floated to the front and had a bloody great time, but this killjoy just couldn’t see the appeal apart from the brilliant intro to ‘Meat Means Murder’, and even the subtleties of that soon disappeared beneath the bewildering Conflict wall of noise.

So off they went while Flux of Pink Indians walked on and plugged in. An unusually murky sound tarnished their short set but, even so, the urgency and dynamic flexibility they’ve always possessed didn’t go amiss.

And so with the last of a genuinely harrowing succession of anti-nuclear films already screened, and with those mighty rows of peace / love / freedom banners hanging victoriously, proudly over the stage, it was soon time for Crass.

A woman’s voice boomed from the speakers denouncing the sacrifice of young soldiers to war and then, like the legends they most definitely are. Crass were bathed in a flash of dazzling white light while they exploded straight into a dizzy ‘How Does It Feel…’ For the crowd this was it, this was pure heaven.

Sure, with some notable exceptions, ‘Big A Little A’ being one of them, it was mainly a monotonous racket but. Christ, Crass were impressive, and so utterly spellbinding, even when making the most horrendous of dins. Style, charisma and sheer impact: believe me. Crass had it all, in bundles.

‘Do They Owe Us A Living’ sent the hordes into a final frenzied boil, and then it was all over. The phenomenon had become even more phenomenal, and the dream, the dream only Crass and their companions had held any faith in, had come completely, magnificently true…

Nobody was hurt, no-one suffered, nobody ruled and no-one was governed. For 24 hours Crass had achieved their much-ridiculed vision of a peaceful, creative Anarchy in the most fantastically triumphant, clean, efficient way anyone could have ever imagined possible.

This was truly a Christmas on Earth.

It won’t be forgotten.

Winston Smith Sounds January 1st 1983

After this review appeared in Sounds a disgruntled punk zine writer wrote in to Sounds the following week with a just observation…

“After reading Winston Smith’s article on Crass playing the Zig Zag club I felt I had to write cos if Winston is anything to go by only four bands played: The Mob, Poison Girls, Conflict and Crass, when in fact loads of other bands put in good performances — Omega Tribe, Youth In Asia. Apostles, Null And Void, Polemic and Amebix.

What was wrong with these? I presume he didn’t like them cos he didn’t mention them once in his article or isn’t it hip to write about smaller bands?

Also while I’ve still got my pen out I might as well tell you that the punk debate was shit. What the fucking hell were people like Beki Bondage and Mensi doing there? They’ve got nothing in common with punk, except their stereotyped image, unless you call playing the Lyceum etc for £3 ‘punk’?”

Nuzz (Verbal Abuse Fanzine)

Decent Crass Zig Zag performance HERE

Decent Mob Zig Zag performance HERE

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Penguin

1985 - 1988 All The Madmen Records and Distribution 1988 - 1991 King Penguin Distribution 1989 - ???? Southern Studios / Southern Record Distribution

17 thoughts on “Zig Zag Club Squat Festival – Westbourne Park, London, W11 – 18/12/82”

  1. Excellent… just wish I could actually remember much about the day itself. I have managed to blur together the squat gig with the opening of the Zig Zag Club. Can anyone with more efficient brain cells help?

    When did the Zig Zag Club open? How long did it last? I think it was only going for a few months – a financial disaster? Was this before Mick Mercer became editor of the mag? I think it was.

    And then the squat gig – wasn’t there a ploy suggesting it was going to be at the old Rainbow in Finsbury Park? There was coverage in Sounds – “This is squat we want” , some stuff in the Photos section here.

    But a bit of folk history and remembering would flesh out the bare bones of the music. How “important” was the gig? It gets three pages in “The Story of Crass” 220-223, which is a good starting point.

  2. Wow, I was actually at this gig but it’s so long ago it’s hard to remember much. Wasn’t there so many bands that wanted to play that the names were drawn from a hat or something ?. Looking forward to hearing this…..

  3. Nice stuff – another blog tried to post the complete gig before – Running A Riot / Mr Magoo something or other (sorry forgot the URL). I am going to compare the sound on the two…I am still amazed that Amebix played, seems so early for them retrospectively…(ok, I am rambling here)

  4. cheers for the omega tribe ,conflict ,annie anxiety , recordings mate i only need d+v n its near complete im sure ive een conflicts full set around in my past as well as d+v !!!!!!!!!!!, my blog running riot in 2007 featured as mentioned above an attempt at posting the whole gig only lacked conflicts,d+v,omega tribe,annie anxiety sets, anyone can visit my blog via the link above anyway thanx for the recordings mate

  5. Does anyone know anything about Soldiers of Fortune, or what became of them? I thought that one single (‘Stars’/’Autonomia’) was great.

  6. Used to have the Soldiers Of Fortune single, thought they were a fine band. The only info I have on them is that they may or may not have come from Berlin. Penguin If you’ve got the single, look at this as a request.

  7. i was there, firstly myself and crass went to the rainbow but the s.p.g came and took the doors, yes i said they took the doors so we couldn’t secure it. then we squatted the zigzag as a second option and all the beer was still in the barrels and to celebrate i busted the seal of one of the barrels and we had a beer fountain, we spent the night there then we tidied up and the rest is history a truly great day. we where at the london peace camp at jubilee gardens and the n.f attacked the next day hospitalized a guy. then the arsehole who did it converted into a peace lover. it was a weird crassmass great memories i have not thought about this for years well done.

  8. Soldiers of Fortune were indeed based in Berlin. I have the Autonomia single here in front of me but I am having problems with the turntable so cant rip it at the moment.

  9. I used to have in my possession the entire recordings collected over five cassettes back in say ’90 or thereabouts, compiled and released by Steve BBP. To have attended would have been a dream come true with a near who’s who of the then movers and shakers of the anarcho community.

  10. Mr M

    I’ve got the D&V bootleg from that gig if you want it. I’ve got about 9 other bands from that day but the rest are all available on this site it seems

    Mick Slaughter

  11. Nuzz Says:

    December 2nd, 2007 at 9:14 am
    Used to have the Soldiers Of Fortune single, thought they were a fine band. The only info I have on them is that they may or may not have come from Berlin. Penguin If you’ve got the single, look at this as a request.

    Nuzz I will have this single on my blog sometime this week. My good wife Di will scan the sleeve for me at work tomorrow.

  12. Hi. I know that this topic is well old, but do any of you know a girl who called herself Alien (Sue) who followed Crass?
    Also I went to the gig in ’83 (?) at the squatted cinema in Islington.

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