Frustrated by old albums not being available on BitTorrent, this week I did it the legal way and bought some records on Ebay. My latest strategy is to pick artists from the early 80’s (the fondest musical period in my life) and go to allmusic.com and see what is considered to be their greatest record (usually the first). There are a lot of one-hit wonder bands whose later work was mediocre, but often their first was the one that got the attention, and for good reason. I’m hoping to discover some of these (cheaply). Recent successes have been Gang of Four, PiL and Magazine, with it working for 90’s bands too (Pavement, Sebadoh). I don’t know why I ended up in the Vinyl section of Ebay, but before I knew it, I just had to have the first L.P’s of Lena Lovich and the Gun Club. Before I knew it, I was pumping in favourite old local bands and finding fan sites from that period. A punk one told me that I guy I used to know had died last year. Another showed pictures of a band THAT WERE MY PHOTOS. I came across a site called Inner City Sound which is a run by a guy with a massive collection of cassettes from gigs between 1977-1984. I just happened to have one on his wishlist (a Wet Taxis live-to-air on 3PBS from the Prince of Wales in 1984), so I shot him an email, and now he’s all over me. But in a nice way. He’s going to convert it to CD and mail it to me back (both the cassette and the CD), plus a copy of any gig in his collection that I want (on CD). I don’t know what to pick. I’m hoping that my 20 year old cassette that I haven’t played for 5 years is still ok and listenable. I wonder about the state of my other cassettes and am thankful for Melbourne’s lack of humidity.
A week ago we did our usual thing – each circled some films in the Melbourne International Film Festival catalogue until we got some overlaps and then booked the tickets online. After discovering the wonderfully Swedish “Kitchen Stories” last year, it really got us in the mood to discover a new gem. So, in the end we’re up for 3 sessions – enough to keep us out of the house, but not enough to be overwhelming. The first, “5×2” was a film described as a “festival favourite”, and concerned itself with 5 chunks in the life of a French couple over a 5 year period. Only the stories were told in reverse order – so their divorce was first, and then the film just got happier and happier! It was very entertaining – lots of nudity; shots of crowded Italian beaches and evenings of dancing. My only qualm was that there was nothing to discuss afterwards except how much of a bastard and a cheat the husband was. Mind you, she did sneak in some action with an American stranger down by the lake on her wedding night! I don’t know how Kim can somehow overlook that one. I managed to get out to a few bands last week too. Ash seems to have documented them far better than I could, but the week has convinced me that never again will I sit through three full sets without an absolute skinful. I thought Ed Keupper was pretty good on Wednesday, though he suffered from some poor sound quality, which they finally got right half way through. As for International Karate at the Ding Dong Lounge – a bunch of guys playing technically proficient music, but where was the emotion? By the time Laura (another instrumental band – hint: never see two of them on the same night. Ever.) was halfway through, I was ready to walk. I guess it had been a long week at work and I was feeling the effects. Having said all this, I’m lined up this weekend for some more band action with Radio Birdman, and I can’t wait.
On Friday night, Ash and I decided it was band-time, so after an afternoon of drinking stout at the wake for Kim’s grandad in Hallam, I got back on the horse – downed some panadols and met Ash for drinks at POSSIBLY THE BEST CHICK PICKUP JOINT IN THE NORTHERN SUBURBS (also known as the Wesley Anne). Maybe I exaggerate – but the male to female ratios were extremely good – not that I’m on the make. But Ash is (or could be). We ended up at the Rob Roy to see a band recommended by a weblogging pen-pal. One of the great things about going to gigs and not being totally trashed is watching antics of others – in this case a young guy chummily accompanying three girls who made a 10 minute show of simulating the flashing of their boobies (including male ones) to each other amidst wild laughter whilst the Bites were playing (who were pretty good really). He was all over them. We nearly burst out laughing when one of the girls said “Tim, that was really an excessively long hug don’t you think?”. Then there was the enigmatic Dutchman who was a direct Jandek lookalike (with hat), and a middle aged guy in a full modern busness suit and spectacles who kept would occasionally shout out to the bands. A proud father of one of the Registered Nurse folk perhaps? I’m becoming spoiled by the smoke-free Northcote Social Club thesedays, because it felt like the smokiest gig of my life. Registered Nurse spent an eternity between songs tuning down their guitars and trying to be rockstars, and they were a bit disappointing really. Finally, the moment we’d been waiting for arrived, the Pink Stainless Tail hit the stage, headed by that same psychotic Mark.E.Smith character from earlier on. It was unbelievable. He was Timothy Leary, John.Cooper Clarke and John Lydon all in one – backed by a competent bunch of guys who played simple plain tunes. We lasted 5 songs and I was just knackered so we bailed. Got home, showered and washed my hair, lay down and prepared for the morning headache (which never did come). Why didn’t I buy their latest CD for that paltry $7?
After spending most of my weekend doing paint touch-ups in the spare room and listening to ITunes, a lot of songs and lyrics are buzzing through me today. So many of the remembered bits are silly or irreverent. It’s amazing what people can get away with saying behind the disguise of music. Here are a couple: “We’re the Unicorns. We’re more than horses.” “Nice and sleazy, nice and sleazy, does it all the time” “She’s got 36-24-36 hips — that was the size of her tits” “Your bone’s got a little machine – you’re the bone machine.”
Once in a while I find myself inside those discount CD shops that sell music for about half the normal price. They’re just the place to pick up old CD’s of mainstream bands you liked years ago, but never quite bought. There are some bands that I’ve been obsessed with for years (i.e The Fall, Pere Ubu, Mountain Goats) who are relatively unpopular, and whose leading letters I always check in the hope of a miracle. So, I’m in the place near Hosies on Elizabeth St. on Thursday for a 2 minute look, when I unearth 4 Fall CD’s for $15 each and a Pere Ubu for $10. Whoah. I’ve never seen a single one of their CD’s for less than $28 before. Then Ash turns to me and says “you always seem to find one or two in this place lately” and it occurs to me that I’m in that magical period of my life where bands I like are too old to be cool and so find themselves in bargain bins now. So I swooped. Speaking of bands, I thought I would list my current playlist. * Pavement – Crooked Rain * The Stranglers – Rattus Norvegicus and Black and White * The Unicorns – Who will cut our hair when we’re gone? * The Fall – The Real New Fall LP * Phillip Glass – The Hours soundtrack (awesome) * Dirty Three – Dirty Three (always a favourite) * The Microphones – The Glow part 2 * Low – The Great Destroyer (but I’m not enjoying it much).
Well, I’ve done it – spent 10 on a ticket Wednesday night to see Explosions in the Sky and The Microphones (and others) at the smallest, seediest looking bar (shed) I could imagine – in what looks to be a highly dodgy Mexican neighbourhood. I walked about 15k on Sunday to see this place in daylight and I’m glad I did – I would never have found it at night. Looking like a cross between a derelect petrol station and an abandoned rural post-office, FatCats certainly looks like it will implant some memories on my psyche pretty soon. It’s impossible to believe that CatPower played here a week ago – the place is smaller than my house at Bagshot. Can’t wait (though already cringing at certain sinus headache).
I’m feeling old right now because my ears are ringing (despite the old fogie earplugs I bought) and my clothes smell of smoke. There’s no way I’m taking my place in the marital bed without a shower and a couple of swigs of H2O. Mclusky were 1000 times better than the support bands but I still give them a 7. And a 9 for attitude. They played it pretty safe – not a single song that wasn’t on their first 3 albums, – the skeletal bass player wore a neck brace but proceeded to Angus Young his way through the gig. The crowd (including a surprising amount of rock chicks) was overwhelmingly appreciative. Ash and I were happily trapped up against the mixing desk downing Coopers and MB’s and smoking Styvos when we could. If I could pass on feedback to the venue I would tell them to let 1/3rd less people in next time, and to turn down the volume by the same amount. Old. Old. Old. 🙂
Tonight Ash and I braved the frigid air in Gertrude street for the sticky carpet of the Rob Roy Hotel. I had the illusion that the modern-day band punter was a water drinking, non-smoking shoe gazer, but boy was I wrong. Ash shelled out for a pack of Viscount 20’s late during the set of “Mum Smokes” after he realised that he’d have a shocking passive smoking headache in the morning regardless. I was happy to oblige and tried working my way through the back catalog of Coopers dark ales and found them a surprisingly easy touch. We were were both delighted in both the quantity and quality of the local ladies. Who said only blokes go to gigs in Winter? Even better value than last night at 8 dollars and the packets of Nobby’s cashews probably topped the Tokay. We left half way through Love of Diagrams when we realised that our ears were slowly melting.