Frankly! It was a weird day, 04.09.10
I made my way into Frankly! It’s a Pop Festival a touch late and having missed Lawrence English, Guy Blackman and Fabulous Diamonds… oh, and apparently the memo to dress like an indie hipster and strongly impose all hipster qualities, namely that of not talking to anyone outside your direct friendship group, sitting on the floor during gigs and a strict, no dancing and no fun policy.
The subtle new wave tones of Surf City were droning through the Powerhouse as I entered, immediately struck down by the impeccably well-dressed yet elegantly deshevelled 50-person deep crowd. At one point I even saw a Woody Allen badge. While I missed the first few songs of their set, I was lucky enough to catch to their track, “Dickshaker’s Union.” I turned to my friend, who sported a septum piercing and told her that I liked this song and she then asked back, “So… you like this band?” No one was getting into it, not even Surf City themselves. Probably because everyone was seated silently in groups of two or three. The New Zealanders played a couple of tracks from their upcoming release: one of the band-members wasn’t too sure of the release date or if it was out yet: and the sound was no different to that of their first release.
There was a break between sets while Crayon Fields prepared for their strangely indulgent set, and I set off to buy a drink to maybe ease my nerves and get into the spirit of things. I joined the revolution and sat down, and anyone would think that the Melbourne band were pathologically uncool. This was later proven after a bane attempt at witty banter. “Something something… killer whales…do good seven part harmonies.” The highlight of the set was the title track of current release, All The Pleasures Of The World, which takes several pages out of The Whitest Boy Alive’s book. The upbeat melody teamed with my cider gave me a sense of optimism that the mood of the day might just pick up.
After an inexcusably long soundcheck, the hipsters and I had to endure the vain lyrical stylings of High Places. Don’t be fooled, Mary Pearson may look like a babe and dress impeccably well. But her lyrics lack substance and her melodies are woeful. It’s a real shame, because there were a few instances when the two-piece would produce a beat that lured the plaid shirts in. Five or six of them even started dancing. Well, moving back and forward slightly. But things never really took off. No one knew when to clap. That didn’t bother me because I didn’t particularly want to. In between songs was the eerie and unfamiliar sound of a silent Powerhouse. I was ecstatic by the time they walked off stage.
Next up was headliner, Xiu Xiu. It was emotionally driven and intense, to say the least. And from my position in the upper wings, the hipsters were sticking to their party rules. I saw one or two groups thrashing about to Jamie Stewart’s immense guitar strumming. But for the most of it, we all were standing still. I was disappointed that the track “I Love Valley Oh!” was excluded from the set list, and left confused and bewildered as to where the last five hours of my life had gone. I think it was lost spent as a hipster. You know, just sitting on the floor at a gig, not dancing and ignoring everyone else around me. Frankly!, it was an odd day.