Tag Archives: melbourne

Australia week one

Adelaide to Perth. All electronic devices should now be switched off. Keep your tray tables in their upright and locked position. Push the metal ends together until they click. There’s a light and a whistle for attracting attention.

On the surface, being a flight attendant may seem like a glamorous job: you get paid to fly all over the world. If you dig a little deeper, it seems a lot more boring: you fly around the world and stand up in front of a few hundred people and say exactly the same thing you said yesterday to a few hundred different people. Read that last sentence back: it also serves as a pretty accurate description of what it’s like to be on tour in a band. We have a lot in common with the flyboys, but we have slightly cooler jargon. Gig. Soundcheck. Backstage. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

Ollie is one row back and across the aisle from me, describing to Steph (the merch girl (or “merchant” if you prefer) on this tour, not to be confused with Stéph, the lighting guy on this tour) the various schools of thought on causality in relation to time travel. That is, whether doing stuff in the past should effect the future. Ollie assures us time travel is possible, though he always seems to skirt around the issues of what machinery is required to do it, and where one can get this machinery. Nevertheless, he gets nerd kudos for being able to explain it all without relating anything to events in Back to the Future or Back to the Future II. Also, his right arm is currently in a cast. It’s a futuristic gunmetal-grey cast. Last night I said it made him look like a professional ten-pin bowler, but now, in light of all his time travel discussion, he looks a lot more like a piano-playing android from the future. This may sound a bit far-fetched, but it has a lot more in common with the truth than my professional ten-pin bowler theory.

By now you might be wondering why Ollie’s arm is in a cast. If so, you obviously haven’t yet heard what happened on the day of the Canberra gig. If so, you obviously haven’t read about it on Twitter. Congratulations: you’re a credit to your species. In short…

Actually, bugger that. Twitter, with its 150-byte limit, is clearly the forum for “in short” accounts of things that took hours or days to unfold. This is not Twitter, so I’m going to give this story the elbow room it deserves. Let’s take it from the top.

Day one. And two. The Palace Theatre, Melbourne. The sign out the front says “Established 1912″. This is confusing for anybody who knows that
a) the place was called the Metro for a long, long, long time, and
b) there was another venue in St Kilda called The Palace until very, very, very recently.
If you can ignore both of these, you’ll feel the nostalgia settling on your shoulders as you walk in the front door of the building. Honestly though, this place is very far removed from the Metro. If you don’t like the idea of going to see your favourite band at the Metro, you really should give the Palace a chance. They’ve stripped out all the shiny Metro 90s nightclub decor, removed that bar downstairs that takes up the whole dancefloor, and best of all, that weird second balcony with the glass in front of it no longer has glass in front of it. It’s beautiful in there. With three balconies dripping with old-world charm, it’s a cavernous-yet-inviting room with a enormous PA.

Day three: fly to Canberra, drive for two-and-a-half hours to Jindabyne, check in to the accommodation that sleeps five-to-a-room. It’s freezing outside but you haven’t seen an ounce of snow. If you’re already thinking, “That sounds shithouse so far, I hope the gig was fun,” well you’ll be glad to hear that it was. The whole experience felt like being on school camp, but none of my school camps involved playing a gig to 1000 people, or smuggling the bottle of Jameson back to the room for a pre-gig Election Party. Come to think of it, school camp also never had a rider.

Day four: the Canberra gig. It turns out Ollie got up early and went snowboarding. Yes, there was snow up there somewhere, but clearly you had to know where to find it. Nobody thought snowboarding on the day of a show was a bad idea, except Harry, who urged Ollie to be careful. But you can only urge so much. It’s easy to say, “Be careful man, we’ve got a gig tonight,” but most people feel like they’re crossing a line if they say, “We’ve got a gig, don’t go snowboarding, this is going to end in tears.” Sure enough, we got a phone call somewhere between Jindabyne and Canberra. We could only hear Harry’s side of the conversation, but it didn’t sound good.
“Guys, Ollie fractured his right wrist. He’s still in the hospital.”
A few of us jumped to conclusions about cancelling that night’s gig and even some of the following week’s gigs, training up stunt keyboard players, or writing a less keyboard-intensive setlist. I wasn’t worried though: Ollie can do a lot of things with a keyboard. I always thought he could still play the whole set with one hand tied behind his back, and tonight we would get to find out for sure. Harry soon spoke to Ollie on the phone when he got out of the hospital, and he sounded similarly optimistic:
“Ollie said he’s really excited about the gig, and that he’s been thinking about this scenario for YEARS.”
Sure enough, at soundcheck we were pleasantly surprised. With a microphone stand holding up the cast to top-keyboard level and four fingers poking out of the cast, Ollie seemed to be able to do a pretty convincing job. The gig that night upgraded his status to “not just convincing, but playing stuff nobody’s ever heard before”. Also, it looked pretty bad-ass to walk on stage with an arm in a cast and then shred the hell out of two keyboards. Ollie proved true the old adage that “whatever doesn’t kill you can only make you play faster”.

Oh. That seems like a good length for this post, but I’m still six gigs behind. I’d better save them for later.

Next: Perth. But I’ll also say what happened in Brisbane, Byron, Coolangatta, Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide.

On the Attack Week Six

We went to the ARIA Awards. I’ve always been one of those people who isn’t content to just observe something – I usually want to know how it works. In case you’re curious, this is how the red carpet works:

  • Everybody assembles at the hotel around the corner.
  • Artists are then arranged into precisely timed limousines that arrive like big white pieces of clockwork at the red carpet.
  • The media, apparently, knows who is arriving, and when.

Pretty clever really. That’s why it always looks so organised, with a constant stream of people coming down the carpet. The next bit was a little more confusing. You walk down the carpet, ready to be taken aside for an interview, but not wanting to look like you’re standing there waiting for one. Anyway, that’s what it felt like for us first-timers. The rest of the night was very loud, but eventually not particularly interesting. When you watch the ARIAs on TV, you have the luxury of looking away, changing the channel, or even turning off the TV. On the night, it’s right in your face for damn near six hours. It really was a bad month for me to stop drinking, as this proves to be one of the few ways to make the night interesting. Check out the drunken congratulatory outbursts from Will in the background each time John Butler won something. All was not lost though. That cover of “Evie (part i)” was damn fine.

In order to follow suit after the last few diary entries, I will recount something cool that happened last time we played in Canberra:

  • In the last chorus of The Chariot, Harry and I jumped down into the gap between the stage and the crowd barrier, and paced back and forth a few times, dealing out a deck each of high fives.

We did it again, only this time I narrowly missed Harry’s head with the end of my bass. I didn’t realise how narrowly at the time. But we had a great show, albeit a hot and steamy one. Julie O’Hara was back in action, and so Skaddabox were back in full swing. After a journey of many hold-ups, we finally made it to Albury. Word up to the Albury Anti-Drug Squad, and that hobbit guy they pulled up in front of us. Hope you got back to Nimbin okay. Still bewildered as to how most of us could still be sick after two weeks, we played a La Porchetta-fueled show in Albury before the long trek back to…

MELBOURNE! Oh yes. Melbourne. Driving in through the northern suburbs, it struck us what a beautiful day it in fact was. This goes down in history as the only day we have driven into nice weather in Melbourne. We played two shows at the Forum, and they were absolute balltearers, and a great two to go out on. The first night saw Gil Askey take to the stage in the way that only he can. For those who don’t know him, Gil Askey moved to Australia, Carrum Downs in fact, after a long career working with Motown and Diana Ross and pretty much everyone else, in an effort to “get away from music and go fishin’.” Twenty years later and he’s still sounding his funky horn eight nights a weeks and influencing people of all ages to get into music – ourselves included. Casually waving down the middle section of “The Chariot”, he advised the crowd, “We’ll come back to that later,” and broke into “What a Wonderful World”. On the second night Hoss, our tour manager, took to the stage for an unrehearsed “Whole Lotta Love”. It was unrehearsed to the extent that we had NEVER heard him play guitar before. But rock the hell out he did.

And so we reach the end. I really wanted to book a fat lady to sing at our afterparty, but I assumed nobody would want to be booked on the provisor that they are in fact the “fat lady” singing to mark the official end of something. As the curtain goes down on another Australian tour, we know in our hearts we will be back some time soon. The Tarago shall fly again, and we shall trudge once more over the breach, O my brothers, and embark on another trek about this wide brown land of ours. There is much work to be done in the meantime. Stay tuned.