A Spoonful of Poison


Spoonful crops up periodically in the history of The Protest Family, from my early solo appearances at its original incarnation in the front bar of the Rhythm Factory (banished to the main room eventually after too many noise complaints), to me, Doug and Lol debuting our non-Orient Barron Knights stuff as Fuck Off White at the Legion*, to Lol trying not to bash his head against the unfeasibly low ceiling in the Trash Bar, and that night in a basement in Stoke Newington when Andy realised that The Protest Family probably wasn’t for him.

What is A Spoonful of Poison you ask? Well if you really don’t know, it is, in Spoon’s own words “a night of joyfully shambolic, chaotically entertaining, multi-discipline open mic anarchy”. And that’s not far from the truth. Spoonful at the Rhythm Factory was the spiritual home of the London Antifolk scene and the place where you’d catch all of the capital’s most interesting performance poets. Kate Nash, Milk Kan and Scroobius Pip all cut their teeth at Spoonful. Without Spoonful we’d never have had Spinmaster Plantpot, nor that glorious night when me and Chris The Lips ended up opening for Babyshambles.

As the years went by there were fewer poets (“Go back to your ghettos and bring me poets!”) as the spoken word slots were filled by stand-up comedians (I invariably preferred the poets) and the realities of running an open mic in London forced a series of venue changes** but the important things remained constant: the great, and sometimes challenging, acts, Spoon’s progressive drunkenness as the evening wore on and the variable timekeeping that meant it’s always ran late, but everyone always made the last bus.

There was, and is, something very special, and hard to define,¬†about A Spoonful of Poison. Not everybody gets it, but for those that do, they realise that there’s no other night out like it, and for proof of that you’ve got to look no further than last night. After something of an extended break, Spoonful’s back. Well for five Saturdays in March and April anyway. And last night’s opener was a cracker featuring a bunch of old-school Spoonful acts: Scrappy Hood, Stu Crane (did Stu have a stage name last night?), Ernesto the Naked Poet and of course, JJ Crash and The Lips….


Spoonful’s back. You should definitely go.


* Yes, that was the night that Lol first set eyes on Ernesto.

** I lost count somewhere along the way, but if we haven’t played at all of them, then it’s nearly all of them.