The Blurst of Times 2014 @ The Zoo + Brightside, Brisbane 18.10.14
We accept you. We accept you. One of us.
Weird how evenings turn out. I didn’t know there was a festival happening today, let alone a festival featuring much of the “independent” Australian music I like (Per Purpose, ScotDrakula, Babaganouj – all of whom I didn’t see because it’s a Saturday). This part is where I type in the background series of coincidences that led to my attendance, until I realise it’s too dull to recount. I attend because 18 months back, I heard a song I fucking loved – and have been meaning to see the Sydney band who’d recorded it since.
Bloods (above) play ‘No Fun’ first song in. I don’t leave. They play ‘Into My Arms’ (the other song of theirs I know) second song in. I still don’t leave. They remind me of the solid beating rock’n’roll heart of Sleater-Kinney and Joan Jett and Blue Angel. Their smiles are wide, welcoming. The girls down the front are pogoing. I am rooted, captivated. I feel that for a while I’m back in Seattle ’98 and everyone is in awe of me cos I’m so damn irascible. Or is that desirable? They play a brace of songs from “the album out yesterday” – ‘Want It’, ‘Josephine’ – and I’m reminded once again of my love for ESG and taut strange rhythms. I like the lack of a cymbal. (I imagine the lack of cymbal but I still like it.) Their smiles are wider, more welcoming. I think of Kim Warnick, Kathleen Wilson, Carrie Brownstein. My home girls. They make me wonder yet again whether I’m simply lurking in the wrong shadows. They make me happy. I resolve to stay.
I flit inside Brightside and there’s a screamo punk band playing, Melbourne’s High Tension. Man alive they’re intense and all bulging muscles, big forceps. Huggy Bear fans too, if I recall correctly… but not my scene. I don’t dislike ’em. No way. But. Too fucking young. Too male (yes, they do have a female singer). My biceps stopped bulging the day I left my mother’s womb. Fool! I forget they did this.
Halfway out the venue, up the road to the Zoo, I’m accosted by a friend of The Creases who hugs me and tells me he fucking loves me cos I’m living the dream. That’s the title of my first novel, Living The Dream.
Really fucking weirdly, that one High Tension song I like? It goes,”Living the loife/Living the dream/Oh yeahhhhhh”.
Don’t forget the Oh yeahhhhh.
Whatev’s. Brisbane’s Blank Realm (below) are due on shortly at The Zoo, and it seems churlish – if not downright self-hating – not so see Blank Realm ply their electronic magic and off-kilter guitar spell-craft when presented with such a golden opportunity. I’ll go home after a couple of their numbers. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do.
On the way, I bump into the Bloods singer. She tells me there ain’t no fucken way I ain’t gonna love noisy Canberra punks TV Colours. She smiles, dares me to prove her wrong.
They remind me of a documentary I saw recently about late 80s dissent in Washington DC, and Dischord-style bands. Bangs damn, but the music was terrible. As opposed to Blank Realm who… fuck. Fuck damn. Fuck damn the fuck damn young. I’m going to resort to cliché once more. No. Don’t stop me. I’m a music critic, remember? Cliché is one of my stock tools of the trade. Blank Realm are absolutely ON FIRE. (As opposed to the last five times I’ve seen Blank Realm when they’ve been absolutely… ON FIRE.) Tonight, I focus on Sarah’s keytar. It allows her to jump up and down even more: strike the pose. Cascading melodies which simultaneously disorientate and delight. Tonight, I focus on the fucking bass. Bangs crap, what a bass. It’s Tina Weymouth good. Tonight, I focus on the expression on Daniel’s face as he sings, drums, creates invisible magic with his fingertips. Such a casual genius. The guitar meanwhile… whoa. Wait. Whoa. Wait. Whoa. Wait.
Tonight, we pull the strangled stars down from on high and dance gleefully among the ruins.
I’m back across at Brightside, and just totally blissed out stoned-free at the cacophony of noise and love and saxophone and discordant harmony and LOUD guitar and bawling and brawling and the seismic undercarriage of Melbourne ne’er-do-wells The UV Race (above, and the crowd shot at the top) who squall like my beloved Clock DVA and The Box from the early 80s, and shimmy like my old band-mate Noah Taylor cutting off Jamie Lannister’s hand in Game Of Thrones, and make me feel so goddamn deliriously out-of-control happy it makes me wonder whether I really could be bi-polar. As hasn’t been suggested. The singer has a midriff that makes me feel uncomfortable, and the guitar and voices and keyboards and all are gloriously simultaneously together AND competitive but it’s the saxophone I have eyes alone for, such an incoming storm.
Once again, I am driven to believe I lurk in the wrong corners. And have been for years.
I figure I have to stick around after that. Seems churlish not to. A few more people tell me how much they love the Person They Believe Me To Be. I wish I could share in their belief. Joe Alexander has flown in from down South. Matt Kennedy is swaying.
So many people. So few friends.
Local lads The Creases (above) don’t make me unhappy. That’s good. They’ve thrown a party and while I know I’m invited I know that no fucking way do I – nor any of my collection of baby dinosaurs – fit in. It’s love, peace. It makes me think that perhaps I’m at the ICA 1989 watching The Stone Roes, except this singer clearly loves Lou Reed. There’s a happy bearded gent on stage, possible even older than me. There’s the girls from Babaganouj, making like the 60s. There’s a fucking HORRIBLE drum sound – man, way too much prissy cymbal-age – and a guitar sound I want to strangle (it hovers and ventilates and circles like a hippy parachute descending on your head) but… I don’t know. A small part of me still wishes I was buddy-buddy with Damon Albarn and James Dean Bradfield: Bez making me an honorary Happy Monday because “I’m the most fucked-up person he’s ever seen”. And part of me really doesn’t. I struggle to recognise the single I was unable to resist. Maybe they don’t play it?
The Creases and their like abide. (Shrugs.) You know? It’s still a great single.
And I love all the folk up on stage with them: a local gig like a drawn-out wedding with all your aunts and uncles drunk and embarrassing you, if you so let them.
So I stick around. I miss Brisbane’s Velociraptor, but I have one eye on the main prize. Melbourne’s Dick Diver. It seems churlish not to check out Dunedin’s Die! Die! Die! (above), especially as they’re playing right next door and I’ve so loved their recorded output in the past.
Whoa fuck. And there was I thinking they were all about the guitars. WRONG WRONG WRONG! Dude hits the drums harder than Dave Grohl, faster than mercy. They start 100 per cent involved, full-throttle, singer launching himself into the audience and step it up thereon. Whoa fuck. That fucking drummer. I stick around. My ears blister and congeal and then blister again. Was music always this good? Really? I don’t believe it.
The main prize is so close now. It seems churlish to leave now.
So I do.