The politician looked uncomfortable as the news anchor asked him yet again why the police and government response to the past three nights of rioting had been so inadequate. Even though I thought Michael Gove was a bit of a tw*t, I felt sorry for him. What he was trying not to say is that nobody took the riots particularly seriously for a night or two because, well, rioting is what we do. Not as frequently as the French and not as violently as the Greeks, but often enough for it not to be a big deal. I was four when the riots broke out in Brixton, nine the last time Tottenham was ablaze, 13 years old during the Poll Tax riots and 15 when they were setting cars on fire in Moulscoomb. And so on.
I’d seen protests turn violent enough times, too. I took part in regular protests to effect a change in the law to end an unnecessarily cruel practice in the meat trade. We’d turn up with our placards, chant a few slogans, and the whole thing was so peaceful that the police would wander over and join us for a cup of tea afterwards. They were your real local-neighbourhood-bobby, Dixon-of-Dock-Green types. Then the whole thing got taken over by little bastards who just wanted a scrap: from Midsomer Murders to Mad Max in just a day. Brats in balaclavas smashing the windows of moving lorries. I recognised one of the kids throwing bricks – he was in my class. He didn’t give the tiniest s*** about animals – hell, he went foxhunting at weekends. To deal with these spoilt thugs, the feared Metropolitan Police were brought in from London – their reputation was such that even our local bobbies were scared of them.
So if we’re now in the situation where The Met are running scared from the rioters, things must be really bad. Gove, the squirming politician, thought the whole thing was being set up by gangs of organised criminals. It makes sense – they’re way too organised and much too tactical. Since riots break out every time the populace is short of a quid or two, it was pretty easy to predict a riot this year. If you wanted to take advantage of that, you’d just need to fan the flames in the direction you wanted them to burn. So we have it: flash-mobs of looters and arsonists breaking into shopping malls and stripping them bare.
It’s heartbreaking to see all those houses and shops – many of them uninsured – burnt to the ground. Playstation users are panicking that the Sony warehouse has been torched, and music lovers are distressed about indie distributor PIAS, which shares the warehouse.
PIAS issued the following statement:
“There was a fire last night at the SonyDADC warehouse which services the physical distribution for PIAS in the UK and Ireland. PIAS is working closely with SonyDADC who are implementing their emergency plans. PIAS’s UK offices in London and all other areas of our business are unaffected. More information will be communicated shortly to all our labels and partners.”
These are the labels distributed by PIAS:
1234, 2020 Vision, Accidental, Ad Altiora, Adventures Close to home, Alberts, All City, Alt Delete, Ambush Reality, Angular, Ark, ATC, Atic, Atlantic Jaxx, Azuli, B Unique, Backyard, Bad Sneakers, Bandstock, Banquet, Beggars, Big Chill, Big Dada, Big Life / Nul / Sindy Stroker, Boombox, Border Community, Boysnoize, Brille, Bronzerat, Brownswood, Buzzin Fly, Can You Feel It, Catskills, ChannelFly, Chemikal Underground, City Rockers, Counter, D Cypher, Dance To The Radio, Deceptive, Def Jux, Dirtee Stank, Divine Comedy, Domino, Drag City, Drive Thru, Drowned in Sound, Duophonic, Eat Sleep / Sorepoint, Electric Toaster, Emfire, F. Comm, Fabric, Faith And Hope, Fantastic Plastic, Fargo, FatCat, Feraltone, Finders Keepers / Twisted Nerve, Fingerlickin’, Flock, Free Range, From The Basement, Full Time Hobby, Goldsoul, Gronland, Groove Attack, Halftime, Hassle, Heron, Hum&Haw, Independiente, Info UK, Join Us, Kartel, Kensaltown, Kitsune, Kompakt, Laughing Stock, Leftroom, Lex, Lo Max, Loose, Love Box, Lowlife, Lucky Number, Marquis Cha Cha, Memphis Industry, Merok, Metroline, Mute, Naïve, Nation, Navigator, New World, Ninja Tune, Nuclear Blast, One Little Indian, Output / People in the Sky / Process, Pale Blue, Palm, Peacefrog, PIAS Recordings, PIP 555 Productions, Play To Work, Powerhouse (T2), Propaganda / Ho Hum, Raw Canvas, Red Grape, Red Telephone Box, Rekids, Renaissance, Respect Productions (PES digital), Reveal Records, RMG, Rock Action, Roots, Rough Trade, Rough Trade Comps, Rubyworks, Ruffa Lane, Search And Destroy, Secret Sundaze, Secretly Canadian / Jagjaguwar / Dead Oceans, Sell Yourself, Setanta, Shatterproof, Sideone Dummy, Slam Dunk, Smalltown, Soma, Something In Construction, Sonar Kollectiv, Soul Jazz, Southern Fried, Stranded Soldier, Subliminal, Sunday Best, TARGO, Taste, Ten Worlds, Thrill Jockey, Total Fitness, Touch And Go, Track And Field, TriTone, Trouble, Try Harder, Turk, Turnstile, Twenty 20, Underworld, Union Square, Urban Torque, Vagrant, Vice, Victory, Wagram, Wall Of Sound, Warp, Wi45, Wonky Atlas, Word And Sound, Xtra Mile , You Are Here.
The NME website made the depressing prediction that “labels will go under”, describing tiny bedroom startups with limited cashflow that simply cannot afford to lose all their stock. In one of the most upsetting examples, a solo artist had raised funds direct from fans via Pledgemusic to record an album, only for the entire stock to be destroyed. The album release has been postponed indefinitely.
Drowned In Sound suggests the following:
We don’t want to preach or turn events such as this into a cynical sounding ‘buy some records’ campaign (not least because stock from the DiS label was destroyed) but we would imagine some of you would like to show your support for labels that have released records which have changed your life. There are a range of things you can do, from simply tweeting some positive message tagged #labellove to picking up a record you’ve been meaning to buy or going to the labels site and buying a totebag or whatever.
Tonight, 16,000 police will try to stop further senseless destruction – though just a few minutes ago, a mob was trying to smash its way into a mall in Manchester, with one shop already on fire. I’m not sure how much luck they’ll have, but the public is already sick of the looters, with counter-protests of broom-wielding clean-up crews already swinging into action.
Among those who’ve been out with their heavy-duty gloves and bin bags are Kaiser Chiefs. Frontman Ricky Wilson tweeted, “Camden Chalk Farm. Me and Simon will there in a bit with our brooms. Get to one near you today if you’re about.”