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American Wet Dream Zine Launch @ Village Bookstore

What’s it like to go on tour with a debauched and raucous British punk band in America? Village Bookstore kick off their 2015 programme of exhibitions in their gallery space with a two-sided answer to that question, with the northern zine launch of American Wet Dream. Publushed by Ditto Press, this catalogue of madness is the work of Leeds-based photographers Archer and Jonesy taken while on tour with local noiseniks Eagulls and The Flex  respectively last year. The collaborative nature of the book is a happy accident, with neither intending to approach the subject of shooting a Brit band on tour across the pond in so similar a fashion and so complimentary a way. United in their energy and subject, the filth and fun is captured beautifully.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetThere is rarely anything clean cut about the photographs, every shot feeling like it was captured by chance rather than any forethought, with the energy of a camera hastily grabbed, sort of focused and shot, as if almost three seconds away from missing the moment entirely in every instance. Similarly to Broth Tarn’s exhibition, the images are again timeless. America for all its leaders of the world bragging is a very very backward place, rife with halfway squalor and barely maintained modernity. This feeling gives the bands’ tour a more mythic quality, like their status as legendary is cemented already. They’ve been around since the 80s in spirit if not necessarily even born yet. Their music, energy and attitude is relevant at any point in the last three or four tumultuous decades of music, politics and barely concealed disgruntlement with the way things are. If the world is going to shit around them, goddamn are they gonna have fun.

Tonight is rendered something of a celebration as well as a launch – the first printing of the zine rapidly sold out, with immediate demand for a second run leading to a swift reprint. Whether it is the subjects of the photos or the theme and energy, the project has sure as hell struck a chord with a lot of people.

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The minimal, clean design of Village again showed itself to be a versatile gallery space. It just plays nicely with any style of photography, and especially so with tonight’s images and their dirty visceral nature. Their nature is emphasised through the juxtaposition with their plainer white surrounds where a busier space would detract and distract. The selection of photographs on show in the gallery space is left slim, very much pulling its punches to save its best. They tantalise and intrigue rather than showing the best bits, making purchasing the zine to get the real grit compulsory.

Although of course Eagulls meeting Bill Fucking Murray is one of the dominant prints on display.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 presetWith Tall Boys Beer Market providing the beer, including rather aptly Mikkeller’s “The American Dream”, the event highlighted the independent community of Leeds and their mutual supportiveness and the great strong turnout pushed this notion further. Village recently discussed with us wanting to cultivate a sense of community around their space, and the groups of people flocking in almost always being greeted by someone already in attendance certanly suggests they’ve achieved that already. That Leeds has a vocal and connected punk scene is well documented, but it’s always great to see everyone come together to celebrate the success of two of their own.

The gallery will be on show through March, be sure to check it out, whether you’re interested in the bands, punk rock or just seeing a group of guys acting like dickheads in America.