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 Everett True

Evan Dando & Juliana Hatfield + Bambino Koresh @ The Zoo, Brisbane 16.12.12

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Evan Dando + Juliana Hatfield live

It’s incredible how differently this review could have read.

Version 1
I show up at the Zoo, Sunday evening. The doorman says, “Sorry Everett, you’re not on the list”. I shrug, and leave. I’ve had a bad night’s sleep, and I am sure as fuck not going to pay 50 bucks.

Version 2
I show up at the Zoo, Sunday evening. The doorman says, “Sorry Everett, you’re not on the list”. I shrug, and he adds, “You can come in anyway”.

I enter the  Zoo. It’s 7.45pm, over-heated and the place is more deserted than when The Legend! (Thin Kids) supported The Cribs two years ago. That’s some deserted. I don’t know anyone. Friendless and deserted. A beautiful red-headed woman nods to me, and I stare blankly ahead. I don’t know anyone. Bambino Koresh – a three-piece pop band from Sydney, and for those of us familiar with our Sydney three-piece pop bands, a very special band indeed – take to the stage to a scattering of enthusiastic applause, Tom Morgan looming large over the proceedings, Leticia Nischang in a constant battle to keep her hair out of her eyes. (Do you see now, pop music writing students, why you shouldn’t approach writing as if it’s a journal: it needs to bounce and flow, bounce and flow.)

The first half-hour is some kind of magical: all those hidden 70s country rock bands, half of whom I never knew the names of anyway, brought to ragged life with sweet, sweet harmonies and this-side-of-caustic guitar solos. Elegant and on fire and good-natured and versed in the same Neil Young songbook so many of us have dipped into over the years. More than that, though. Two-minute and three-minute and eight-minute pop anthems. Bambino Koresh are champions in the art of making it look so damn easy… when it clearly can’t be, because almost always when folk try to make the rock that sounds like this rock it sounds hoary, mangled. This sounds anything but.

  • ‘Freesoul’ lilts and bubbles
  • ‘Sleeping In Pain’ is shot through with cool melancholy
  • ‘Just Accept It’  holds the same joyful secrets as Emmylou

Then I grab a cup of water from the cooler on the bar, and by the time I arrive back the magic has dissipated, and I’m struggling to catch the gossamer straws. And yes, I do wonder whether this is just simple… complicated… nostalgia for a time I went drinking in a Sydney bar at 3am. it was 1996, and birds were calling my name in deep redolent harmony.

The drums need special mention. <-<-<-<-

There seems little point in sticking around afterwards, especially when stage security shrugs off my suggestion I can say hi to the musicians, one a Facebook friend (is that shorthand for fair-weather friend, I idly wonder). How could Evan and Juliana not trample over my memories? I don’t need to wallow in 1992, not after that. I’ve had a bad night’s sleep anyway. Friendless and deserted, I leave.

Version 3
In this version, I don’t even get out of The Gap, succumbing to tiredness and figuring that I’m way too old to be renewing old acquaintances or making new ones. Instead, I stay in and watch Isaac (age 7) watching Harry Potter on film for the first time. (He’s already read almost six of the books.)

Version 4
I show up at the Zoo, Sunday evening. The doorman says, “Sorry Everett, you’re not on the list”. I shrug, and he adds, “You can come in anyway”.

I enter the  Zoo. It’s 7.45pm, over-heated and the place is more deserted than when The Legend! (Thin Kids) supported The Cribs two years ago. That’s some deserted. I don’t know anyone. Friendless and deserted. A beautiful red-headed woman nods to me, and I stare blankly ahead. I don’t know anyone. Bambino Koresh – a three-piece pop band from Sydney, and for those of us familiar with our Sydney three-piece pop bands, a very special band indeed – take to the stage to a scattering of enthusiastic applause, Tom Morgan looming large over the proceedings, Leticia Nischang in a constant battle to keep her hair out of her eyes. (Do you see now, pop music writing students, why you shouldn’t approach writing as if it’s a journal: it needs to bounce and flow, bounce and flow.)

The first half-hour is some kind of magical: all those hidden 70s country rock bands, half of whom I never knew the names of anyway, brought to ragged life with sweet, sweet harmonies and this-side-of-caustic guitar solos. Elegant and on fire and good-natured and versed in the same Neil Young songbook so many of us have dipped into over the years. More than that, though. Two-minute and three-minute and eight-minute pop anthems. Bambino Koresh are champions in the art of making it look so damn easy… when it clearly can’t be, because almost always when folk try to make the rock that sounds like this rock it sounds hoary, mangled. This sounds anything but.

  • ‘Freesoul’ lilts and bubbles
  • ‘Sleeping In Pain’ is shot through with cool melancholy
  • ‘Just Accept It’  holds the same joyful secrets as Emmylou

Then I grab a cup of water from the cooler on the bar, and by the time I arrive back the magic has dissipated, and I’m struggling to catch the gossamer straws. And yes, I do wonder whether this is just simple… complicated… nostalgia for a time I went drinking in a Sydney bar at 3am. it was 1996, and birds were calling my name in deep redolent harmony.

The drums need special mention. <-<-<-<-

Stage security shrugs off my suggestion I can say hi to the musicians, but a few minutes later Leticia comes out, looking for me. So I stick around. Say hi to the musicians. Evan mumbles something about 1997 and 1994 to me. I mumble something back about being fucked up for several years. He nods. I give out Christmas CDs. Juliana looks as warily at me as she has every right to do, considering how I was towards her last time we met, the night I got banned from the Crocodile Cafe in Seattle. Ten minutes later, they’re on stage.

Evan and Juliana sound everything but almost nothing like this:

The mood is subdued, reflective, acoustic: welcoming the acknowledgment of the passage of time but still yearning for that undercurrent, that lightness of being being in your twenties brings. The Zoo is packed now, mostly with females focusing their mobiles on Evan, remembering the songs as they once were, not as the hints of their former selves as they’re being presented now. Two guitars, nothing else, and the mood is how you’d hope Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris once managed to capture it – Juliana and Evan are clearly very familiar with, and comfortable with, each other’s work. They alternate leads, except when they don’t. Everything drags slightly. That’s fine. We’re older now. Some songs it works just great. Others it doesn’t.

For example:

  • ‘All My Life’ – the opener, Evan on lead. Plaintive, welcome. Pleasure to hear his voice again. Subtle. Gentle. Understated. WORKS
  • ‘Butterflies’ – Juliana’s opener. Plaintive, welcome. Pleasure to hear her voice again. Subtle. Gentle. Understated. WORKS
  • ‘Bit Part’ – the mood is too subdued for this to work so stripped back. You just try and imagine the band and attempt to fill in the gaps yourself. DOESN’T WORK
  • ‘Down About It’ – absolutely works. Such a melancholy beauty of a song WORKS

Several of the songs that Juliana sings seem to mention how she’s always had trouble sleeping. She’s always had this slightly unnerving quality to her lyrics, to state bald truths in a throwaway manner that you’d rather not confront. Anorexia. Insomnia. Disorder.

  • ‘Candy Wrappers’ – Juliana lead vocals. WORKS
  • ‘It’s A Shame About Ray’ – no no no NO! really DOESN’T WORK
  • ‘Baby Gets High – Bangs alive, I had forgotten Juliana covered this song from my mid-90s NYC sweethearts Madder Rose. (Remind me to write the book one of these days.) It is so, so magical to hear it unexpectedly in the humid Brisbane night air. And I love the way Evan and Juliana make a virtue of the simplicity of the arrangement and repeat lines over and over again

Of course, none of this is as clear-cut as I’m making it sound with such reductive language. There are moments and non-moments in each song, even though Evan’s voice sounds different to how I recall it…

  • ‘Somebody Is Waiting For Me’
  • ‘Supposed To Be A Funeral’ – a Gram Parsons cover, and one that doesn’t gel with me
  • ‘Evan’
  • ‘Ride With Me’
  • ‘It’s About Time’

Back in the mid-90s I’d become frustrated at the way Evan would ‘grunge’ his beautiful voice and songs up, overplay the rock quotient and act for all the world like a former drummer on stage. I’d yearn for him to perform solo, like I knew he could. Juliana, I never quite understood post-Blake Babies (who were marvellous). Now they’re both up there unadorned, I find myself missing the Lemonheads, badly.

There seems little point in sticking around. I appreciate being reminded of my past, but don’t need to stay there. I don’t mind if other people want to, that’s cool. (And of course it’s not really the past, but today, tonight). I’ve had a bad night’s sleep anyway. Friendless but momentarily OK, I leave.

Version 5
In this version, I stay for the whole set, enraptured.

6 Responses to Evan Dando & Juliana Hatfield + Bambino Koresh @ The Zoo, Brisbane 16.12.12

  1. Chad McBacon December 17, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    Douche. This review was more about you than about Juliana and Evan. It tells us nothing.

  2. Ben December 17, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    ! I would review this review differently from the review reviewer above. I was there and don’t think anything important has been missed, in fact I just learnt a few things. This gig nailed Sunday night. I was also struck by their apparent genuine interest in each other’s songs, especially Evan in Juliana’s. re the support band: more three pieces with two note guitar solos, please.

  3. Rob Egan December 18, 2012 at 4:56 am

    “Douche. This review was more about you than about Juliana and Evan. It tells us nothing.”

    But isn’t that the whole fucking point? That’s why I have enjoyed Everett’s reviews and writing for the last 25 years. Whether you agree or not with his views (and I often don’t) he at least tries to tell a story; to come at a simple review from a different angle; to enthuse the reader and to piss them off as appropriate. And often at the same time.

  4. emma December 18, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    I find it very distracting to be standing behind people at concerts who insist on taking terrible photos with their smart phones.
    Great read, love that you have the courage to share your experience and opinion. Don’t ever stop!

  5. Joseph Kyle December 19, 2012 at 10:47 am

    McBacon just wants a bit part in Everett’s review!

  6. Charles January 17, 2013 at 12:52 am

    A few people missed Chads joke

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