Scrabble + Amateur Childbirth + The Player Haters @ The Tribal Theatre, Brisbane 28.05.13
I pay seven bucks I can barely afford, as a statement.
Scrabble are worth far more than 80 per cent of a shitty MacDonalds meal just outside Caboolture. Scrabble are worth far more than 35 per cent of a CD of whale song bought from one of the shitty countless chain stores that pass for shops in Brisbane’s CBD. Scrabble are worth far more than… what, half-a-pint of ‘name’ beer bought down the Hi-Fi?
I pay seven bucks for an event I can barely afford and the whole affair is a shambles. I’d like to write, “a glorious shambles” but um. No. A shambles covers it.
Apropos of nothing, but Crass really had their sound sorted out, didn’t they?
Last time I was here a girl offered to piss on me, but I had to leave to catch the last bus home.
Seven bucks? I ain’t complaining. It’s worth seven bucks to reclaim a sense of community, however fleeting. It’s worth seven bucks to witness two lads snapping and growling at each other like dogs in heat, bursting into a squalid drunken frenzy during The Player Haters set. It’s worth seven bucks to be near anything approximating a song from Scrabble, “the finest fucking band from Australia you ain’t ever gonna appreciate cos you got a face where your shit should be” (© Everett True 2013).
Tonight, cos it’s a fine old theatre, the Tribal – if you’re from Brighton, imagine the Duke Of Yorks gone to seed: if you ain’t from Brighton you can fuck right off (© Everett True 2013) – I’m intrigued by stage dynamics. The Player Haters are tightly huddled together, like a rusty coil. One member sat down, the other three crammed into a space reminiscent of my early 80s Peckham bedsit. This, on a stage bigger than my last three houses. Amateur Childbirth (one man and his acoustic) is swallowed up alive. And Scrabble… Scrabble are sprawling, shambolic, the three singing ladies in the middle flanked by two lads either side, the fifth disappeared and watching from the side-wings because the bass amp has packed up… which is unfortunate because he’s half the MAIN Scrabble and this means Bek misses half her cues, not that we give a fuck because we can’t hear Bek anyway thanks to the “sound” man (who apparently is a whizz with the Brisbane Symphonic, but clearly has never encountered actual live vocalists before).
So. The Player Haters (who would be far better named the Plastic Haters cos then I wouldn’t have to go back and change half my words). If you’ve never seen men wearing ski masks screaming down microphones then this could be the band for you. If you’ve never heard GG Allin’s ‘Bite It You Scum’ (played first song in) then this could be the band for you. If you’ve never heard The Runaways’ ‘Cherry Bomb’ mutilated… If you’ve never seen support bands play excruciating three-minute heavy metal guitar solos…
A two-song set would have been just about perfect. They played at least eight.
So Amateur Childbirth. I think I may have typed down these next lyrics wrongly.
“Where are you going, friend of mine/Are you going to all of those places I left behind?”
So Scrabble. The first time you see Aussie Rules you’re like, “Why are there three sides on the pitch?”
Cacophonous, my notes state - before this “raucous ensemble” starts playing. Bek seems to have got the cutest lady in the whole of Brisbane up on stage to sing vocals with her. I appreciate that comment is inappropriate but it does give an insight as to my jumbled thought processes tonight. This jumble of impressions is not lifted when I realise 20 seconds before first song’s end that first song is a cover of a song I have seen performed by at least five other bands. The song is ‘Molly’s Lips’, and inappropriate as Scrabble’s version is (and unrecognisable) it’s my favourite. Um, except for Eugene and Frances’, obv. Here. Here’s one reason why I’m feeling so jumbled.
“Let’s just play with the hiss and crackle,” remarks Bek. “But we do need bass.” Not despairing, she asks a stooge to take out a Penguin Modern Classics book from her bag, one that reduces novels to Twitter speak – which she then reads to us as the lads futilely cluster around the amplifier and the two ladies add backing vocals and a clatter of drums. (There. The male-female dichotomy right there!)
This song is a classic. Oedipus.
Another classic starts. ‘Brisbane’. Some people are getting up to dance and some people are getting up to leave. This is like a drunken uncle’s wedding waltz, and yes what doesn’t kill us will make us weaker. Awesome drumming. Awesome vocals, even if they are but imagined awesome vocals thanks to Mr Symphonic Sound Guy. Awesome wrong guitars and double-bass, and… wait. Don’t I have dibs on rolling around on the floor? I think this is ‘Brisbane’ leastways… hard to tell with the vocals so quiet. The song ends, and the venue hums. I’d write that you had to be there to appreciate it but if you had you probably would have hated it so fuck you and your laser collection of Throbbing Gristle out-takes.
Wait. Is this one my favourite? When I squint at jars these days, one eye makes the tiny lettering blurry and the other can’t see the jar at all. But I know there’s good stuff in there, unless it’s Kraft fucking Cheese Spread, in which case fuck it.
Scrabble are a jar of anchovies.
The last song looms. “Shall we play ‘Nervous By Nature’ or ‘Pig City’,” Bek asks her band. Contradictory responses come back. It sounds like the band is lumbering up to play both songs simultaneously, and realistically they could be.
As Scrabble depart the stage, the DJs (Sandra and Leighton from Primitive Motion) play a Deadnotes song, ‘Fixed Grin’. I think it’s a song from Clock DVA. This one, in fact. This is hilarious. I sing on that fucking song.
It’s a shambles. A glorious shambles. In my brain, I’m slumped down on the stage, my head clasped in my hands.
The photograph above is taken from another show entirely, at The Beetle Bar (pic: Lorraine Parkin).