Thursday, 12 September 2013

Return To Big Sound

BIGSOUND Logo

I am not a part of the music industry in any way, shape or form. And while, over the years, I have definitely toyed with the idea of following my music-related dreams, which have included, but are in no way limited to the following - egotistical singer, drug-addled guitarist, disrespected roadie, snooty music journalist, and high paid music producer - in typical "me style"these interests were not pursued. That being said, my passion for everything remotely associated with music, in particular live music, has only grown over the years. One might even say I reside on the extreme side of the music fandom fence. Yes - seeing a band utterly kill and/or destroy live is absolutely one of my very favourite things on this planet. 

There are many reasons why I love live gigs and festivals, but positioned firmly at the very top of that list is the whole "discovery" aspect that goes along with the scene. Very few things get me wetter than randomly stumbling across a band I had no idea existed, only to be blown away to the point where I am, from that moment forward, an obsessed, borderline-psychotic fan.
I often repeat to friends, ad nauseam, the story of how, one muggy afternoon many years ago, at some long forgotten outdoor festival, I came across a tent and stopped for what I had planned to only be a brief gander at the noisy unknowns playing within. On that small stage were three humble Poms putting on a particularly entertaining, energetic show, especially for a band stuck in a lousy mid-afternoon slot in a crap tent positioned at the far corner of the festival grounds.

I was won over immediately, and from that point on,  I told myself to pay very close attention to these guys in the future. The band I saw that day was a pre-lightshow, pre-theatric, pre-crap version of Muse. And while I could give two shits about the Muse of today, the feeling I had upon first seeing these guys what now feels like a lifetime ago is the very feeling I still chase at any gig/festival I am lucky enough to attend…. and therein lies the main and most significant reason for my love of Big Sound, the annual festival/showcase that plays out much like a little brother version of Austin’s  SXSW Festival -  That awesome sense of discovery.



Last year was my very first Big Sound... hey, better late than never, right?

I had heard glowing reports from many of my like-minded, live-music-loving friends and acquaintances over the years, but, as is the norm when it comes to me, I didn’t actually get around to the whole “attending” part for a long-ass time.
Anyway, yada yada yada, eventually September 2012 rolled around, and, after much delay, I finally built up the motivation to make my way right into the belly of the two day musical beast - the belly in this case being the always welcoming, clean and family friendly Fortitude Valley. It turned out to be a fun, lively and inspiring experience. .. but it wasn't perfect.  Two nights at Big Sound, followed by two desperately hung over days at work was a dumb mistake I would not be making again.

This year, I would not be rushing home midway through the last set of the last band of the night, or worse, passing up the after parties in a desperate attempt to make the last train home. Hell no! This year, I would be attending Big Sound as it was meant to be attended goddamn it - with complete disregard for time or day. If I want to be drunk and deranged at Alhambra Lounge at 3 am on a Thursday morning, then so fucking be it!

So, flashing forward a year to Wednesday afternoon, I stumbled out of what was another typically crap-tastic workday, the difference this time being that I was actually looking forward to the weekdays ahead, because this week I would not be dragged down by the usual "hump day blues".... I would not to be overcome with a severe case of the "Thursday dreads".... And I certainly wasn't going to be I paralyzed by the horrific thought of having to survive two more days (hung over) in my air conditioned nightmare of an office. No way, hosay! My working week was over. Done. Dusted. Finito. ...


Over a few pre-Big Sound drinks at home, while looking over this year's program, I made attempts to remember not only who I had seen the Wednesday night of the previous year, but what venues I had seen them in. A quick search through last year's notes gave me the answers to the venues question, but oddly, not the bands I had seen question....
Now, judging from the above, I was on a mission to cover as much ground in as little time as possible. This year, my goal was to stick around a little longer during sets (and in the process likely cover less ground).
So, with that, here’s what night one of the two night live music component of the festival entailed for me, via admittedly hazy recollections and half finished, crudely worded notes from my iphone’s notepad (Bread Lane....WTF?)...



08:00pm
Fabian, Kelly and myself,  probably the most pathetically indecisive group in existence, take around about half an hour to decide where we are going to start.
During this extending "brainstorming" session, I catch sight of a Musician Friend from Melbourne, who I approach and say hi to. Despite the fact that I haven't seen the bastard in a year, he seems more interested in chasing Melbourne tail, so I make my way back to my table to rejoin the group.
After an extended period, we decide it's best to move over and catch Billy Bragg at Baker Lane. Upon getting there, we are (perhaps not surprisingly) met with the line up from hell and a fifteen minute wait to get in.
Thankfully, this time flies by and, upon entering the venue, we move ourselves into a position where we have an awesome view... of Billy's arm, and occasionally the top of his head. It matters not, though, because the songs are loud and clear, and they're amazing. One of the great things about events like Big Sound is that the crowd is actually there to watch the music, and the Billy Bragg crowd in particular, hang off every line, every note. Yes, even those of us who can only see his goddamn arm...
09:20 pm
Post-Bragg, we actually make a decision and decide to head down the road a little to Electric Playground to catch the rest of Dune Rats set.
Dune Rats are a band I have seen multiple times before, so it doesn't really bother me upon getting in that the place is so extremely packed that any chance of seeing anything at all, even after standing on a chair, is an impossible dream. Instead, I grab a beer, stare at the ceiling and listen to what sounds like another great Dune Rats set. Sometimes being a little vertically challenged can be a real fucking bummer...
10:00 pm
Somewhat reluctantly, we decide to head over to Rics to catch Bad//Dreems. I say reluctantly not because of the venue OR the band, but because of how goddamn packed the front bar/stage area can get during Big Sound sets.
Luckily, in a Ben//Kelly//Fabian first, we actually time our arrival perfectly. The front bar is empty, and we are able to grab some awesomely positioned seats, left of stage. Of course, when the band get going, the last thing I want to do is sit. 
Kelly was nice enough to fill me in on the awesomeness of this Adelaide band well before Big Sound, so I was anticipating seeing these guys, and they were, of course, great.
Yes, RICS was again insanely packed to the point that being inappropriately rubbed up against from all angles was damn near unavoidable, and yes I did emerge half an hour later with the sweat of about 50 strangers covering every part of me, but hell, I  would have been disappointed if my first time seeing Bad//Dreems ended any other way.



10:50 pm
We decide to head back to Electric Playground to catch Bleeding Knees Club. This plays out very much the same way as the Dune Rats experience from earlier in the evening (in other words, I see NOTHING).

While taking a slash-break, I have one of many random conversations of the night with a complete stranger about, among other things, our shared artistic aspirations, being at the age we are without having achieved our goals (I don't mention the fact that I'm likely 10 years older and thus, twice as fucking bummed out about my lack of advancement) and last but not least, death. Yes - all very uplifting stuff.
I emerge from the bathroom to witness probably the highlight of the night - frequent Live Gig attendee /  regular guest tambourine player Shamus, crowd surfing from the stage to the bar, with a helping hand from Fabian.
Another Canadian Club later, I'm outta there, on my way to Alhambra for the I Oh You after party.
11:50 pm

In my Canadian Club-induced haze, I appear to have mistakenly turned up waaay too early for the after party. This turns out to be for the best, though,  because Gay Paris are on, and they're the very definition of fun, high energy awesomeness.They put on such an great show, in fact, that I forget for a brief moment that I'm there for the after party at all...

Looking around the packed room, I also briefly forget it's a Wednesday night. Thank Christ I had the good sense to take the rest of the week off ... Thursday will not be pretty, work or no work.

Eventually, Philadelphia Grand Jury kick off the after party with a set that I see a little bit of, when not in line at the bar or struggling through the attractive crowd in a desperate dash for the bathroom. Midway through the set , my body starts telling me it might be time to call it a night. My response - More Canadian Club!

This works... for a while. Around about 2:30 am (I think), or more precisely around about the midway point of Jeremy Neal's great set, I decide to chuck it in for the evening/morning. There is, after all, a whole other night to go. So with that, I head on home for some much needed shut-eye, before doing it all over again on Thursday night.



*** I should probably mention that the original plan was to have a "To be continued..." at this point, with another post focusing on the Thursday night to follow soon after. However, my experiences on Thursday are vague at best, and any report on the events of that evening would likely only be pieced together, with minimal accuracy, from photos and (more) unintelligible notes on my phone, along with the equally foggy recollections from the friends I was out with... so I'll skip that entry all together and simply say it must have been a great end to a great festival.




Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going for a quick lie down....



Thursday, 25 April 2013

Your Local Multiplex: The Ultimate Experience In Gruelling Terror

There is a scene midway through the film God Bless America that, given the events of the past year, is probably inappropriate to admit to finding as hysterically entertaining as I do. But to hell with it, it's only a movie. And if one can't laugh along with a work of fiction simply because it happens to mirror recent real life tragedy, then surely the bad guys have won... or something... Right??

The scene in question involves the films protagonists, Frank (Joel Murray, brother of Bill) and Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr), taking a brief respite from their cross country, reality-television-celebrity-murder-spree, by kicking back to enjoy a film within a seemingly quiet multiplex. What eventuates within those cinema walls - rude, ignorant, inconsiderate asshole patrons being violently dispatched of one by one, is darkly funny, especially to those of us who have ever had to sit smack-bang in the middle of a crowded cinema, only to be forced to endure groups of loud, obnoxious bastards fucking up the experience for the rest of us.


Now this is certainly not to say I'd ever think of disposing of the offending jerks in such a grisly manner - a more realistic and relatable example of where my mind drifts to in these unpleasant moments can be found within the pilot episode of Californication, in which struggling writer Hank Moody (David Duchovny) wrestles a phone from the hands of the obnoxious douche-bag cinema parton sitting in front of him, hurling it across the room before, as a grand finale, wrestling the owner of said phone to the ground, much to the delight of the rest of the audience in attendance.

So why is it that these particular scenes ring true for me?

Probably because I, like many, many others, have had to endure similarly stupid people while innocently trying to enjoy a trip to the Multiplex.

I count myself as a fairly serious movie goer/buff/nerd, with my visits to catch a flick on the big screen being on the upper end of regular. Yet, no matter how many times I've been made to sit next to some disgusting example of humanity at it's lowest, I still naively continue to hand over my hard earned cash in exchange for a cinema ticket, stupidly optimistic that the experience will end up being a positive one. But alas, more often than not, there will likely be all manner of horrors waiting for me beyond those cinema doors.

These have, in the past, included (but are in no way limited to) the following:

  • Loud, Jaba-sized, white trashy types, squeezed tightly into the seat next to mine, updating their Facebook statuses multiple times throughout the course of the film while coughing repeatedly in my direction

  • Snotty teenage scumbags tweeting away their feelings on a film they are barely watching to begin with,

  • Uneducated bogans/junkies casually carrying on conversations, no different to how they would if they were watching the very same flick on their small, shitbox television sets in their very own living rooms / crack dens...

And this is only scratching the extremely depressing surface...

It can all be a bit of a bummer at times, especially given that I personally love nothing more than experiencing a great film by a great director on a massive screen, backed up by an absolutely kick ass sound system, just the way the filmmaker intended. It is somewhat unfortunate then, that as time goes on, it's getting a damn sight harder to build up the enthusiasm to make the trip to the local multiplex, given the increasingly moronic state of the crowds that will more than likely be encountered whilst on my travels.

It's starting to feel as if the days of sitting down with an audience displaying any level of respect for the entire cinema-going experience are quickly disappearing, and that famous message played in cinemas all over the globe advising those in attendance to "please turn off their motherfucking mobile phones" is now as ignored as anti-drug warnings at a summer music festival, or Paul Shore at an Academy Awards Ceremony.

But who or what is to blame for the increase in horrible patrons? I mean, obviously, people have always been dicks, and dicks enjoy movies as much as anyone else. It just seems to me that the dick/non-dick ratio has shifted, with a higher percentage now positioned firmly over on the dick side of the fence.

The most blatantly obvious reason for all this, to my mind at least, appears to be a shortening of attention spans the world over. In this day and age of Twatter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, blahty blah blah, there has been a natural (de) evolution that simply cannot be avoided. Hell, it's pretty much expected now. In fact, when it comes to social media, things have been steadily tumbling downhill, and fast, to the point where now, in 2013, a great deal of the population can no longer so much as take a dump without tweeting about it (or heaven forbid instagramming it).

Given all this, is it really any shock that people can no longer sit still over the course of a two hour long movie without feeling the need to entertain them selves with multiple other distractions? Not really. To many, sitting on their ass, watching a great film on a big screen while shoving bucket loads of horrible buttered popcorn down their throats is no longer enough. I mean, how can they possibly go on for that amount of time without following up on emails, responding to texts, or checking to see how many "friends" liked that grumpy cat picture they posted on their Facebook wall earlier??

Even those who ARE able to show a little self control during a film can still often be both visibly and audibly restless, for reasons other than wanting to know if they've been tagged in any potentially incriminating photos from the previous nights Kegger. A significant segment of the modern movie going public, it seems, have grown so accustomed to watered down, lifeless, CGI-crammed crap straight out of Hollywood, that when something with a little style, substance and originality makes it's way to the big screen, the first and only reaction is immediate dismissal.

Such an example for me was back in 2011, when one fine Sunday afternoon, I made my way toward the nearby moron-magnet of a multiplex to catch Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive, a film I had been looking forward to seeing for quite sometime. Sadly, as the film progressed, I began to notice an increase in awkward shuffling throughout the surrounding crowd. In fact, any scene in the film NOT involving a fast car was met with either sighing, whispering, or flat-out talking.



Thankfully, the sudden bursts of brutal violence scattered throughout the film served the purpose of putting a kibosh on the non-movie related audience activities, albeit briefly... Nothing like the sight of Ryan Gosling crushing in some dude's skull with his boot to shut an audience the fuck up for five minutes.

Days later, I randomly stumbled across a story involving some useless waste of space from Michigan suing the distributors of Drive for what she claimed was a "misleading trailer". The trailer in question, according to this dope, presented the film as a "Fast and the Furious" style action piece, not the stylish cinematic masterpiece it actually turned out to be. My reaction to the story was not surprise, or amusement, or anger. Sadly, it was acceptance. This is where many members of today’s cinema going audiences now reside: Stupid Land.

Another recent, similarly asinine example is a story involving some senseless dumbfuck who thought it only fair to file a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority against Hollywood Studio Paramount Pictures because... wait for it... an explosion that made a split second appearance in the trailer for the film Jack Reacher did not find its way into the final 130 minute cut of the film. A COMPLAINT. FILED. FOR A MISSING EXPLOSION. Yes... This... actually... happened.

Again, if stories like this serve any purpose at all (besides providing fleeting amusement), it is that they help to make sense of why certain people or (God forbid) groups act the way they do within the cosy confines of the local multiplex. It's for the very same reason shows like The Biggest Loser remain ratings mammoths, why no-talent douchebags like Chris Brown continue to sell millions upon millions of albums, and why planking was once "a thing": a great percentage of the human race are insufferable morons. Nothing new, really. The late, great George Carlin said it best decades ago: "Think of how stupid the average person is, and realise half of them are stupider than that". Disturbing, depressing, true.

The whole "Drive" scenario mentioned above has happened countless times during various cinema outings, though there has certainly been an increase in these experiences over the past couple of years. And while it is annoying, I have now found that attempts can be made to avoid these scenes....

Avoiding bigtime modern multiplexes altogether is a good start.

While smaller cinema chains and boutique art house theatres may be steadily decreasing in numbers, they are still out there, and are a refreshing alternative, especially considering, more often than not, the audiences in attendance are there because they fucking well wanna be, not because they're just "killing time." I mean, it's hard to imagine finding a single tweeting teen sitting in the audience of an art house cinema watching Michael Haneke's Amour, correct?



And at the end of the day, if you pride yourself on being even a semi-serious cinema goer, isn't it best to give the film you're planning on seeing the respect it deserves, by watching it with an audience worthy of it's time?

Where possible, leave the larger commercial multiplexes for the uncaring tweeters, tweekers, texters and talkers, happy to sit and barely watch the latest in a never ending line of crap-tastic crowd pleasers.

If, however, you're only choice is the multiplex, for whatever reason, then you had better hope to high hell that you have someone like Hank Moody in the audience, ready and willing to knock the problem patrons on their fat asses, and hopefully before the start of the Coming Attractions.



Sunday, 24 March 2013

Student Nights Would Be Perfect... If It Weren't For The Students.





My awareness of Three Dollar Spirit Nights (as they were initially known to me), came about during one typically hazy Saturday evening, waiting at the bar, trying to act as straight as humanly possible while struggling to figure out a) what the hell it was I wanted indulge in now that I had grown tired of beer, and b) whether or not I had enough change to pay for whatever drink I would eventually decide on, without the need to AGAIN visit the ATM and add to my increasing collection of receipts and statements from various machine's around The Valley.

As I optimistically fumbled around in my pockets for any gold coins I may have missed, my gaze was momentarily drawn to a sign above me, advertising, in large, brightly-coloured font: $3 DOLLAR SPIRITS - Available Each and Every Thursday Night!

Wow... and to think, here I was, about to hand over close to ten big ones for the very same drinks! If only I were willing to change the particular night I frequented this club, I could drink far more for far less, save a tonne of cash and keep the ATM statements to a bare minimum.

After handing over what I preyed was something close to the correct change to the unimpressed bartender, I made my way back toward the darkness of the dance floor, promising myself I would remember to drop in here the next Thursday I was in the neighbourhood...

... A few weeks later, that opportunity finally presented itself when, after hitting a nearby Sushi Train with a friend and indulging in one too many Sakes, we decided it would be a brilliant idea to keep the night going.

Discussing our various options while staggering through the Valley streets, we soon found ourselves in the very same bar. However, this time, upon handing over the usual twenty dollar note for two drinks and expecting nothing in return, I was shocked to receive ACTUAL CHANGE consisting of not only a ten dollar note but also a couple of gold coins to boot!

In the moments following this (I want to say it was mere seconds but a few minutes is probably more accurate) a light bulb flickered to life ever so briefly in that tipsy-on-the-verge-of-maggoted head of mine, and I realised, to my delight, that I had rocked up on that one magic night a week where normal drink prices do not apply (the same sign advertising this fact was STILL very visible above the bar in front of me).

During the weeks and months that followed, stumbling into this place became less of a random occurrence and more of a semi-planned out, post-sushi ritual. Word slowly spread across to other friends and acquaintances, and eventually the numbers tagging along with us grew substantially.

Around this time, the crowds were moderate in size at best, never getting to the point where there was ever too much of a line up to get another round or take another piss. It was all kind of perfect, really...

...And then February came...

After a typically horrific Thursday at the office, I suggested to a work colleague we hit the bar to down some cheap booze and blow off some steam, happy in the knowledge that it wouldn't be an expensive night out. Plus, heading out with a workmate would be smart, in that I would have someone there responsible enough to pull me in line when I start drunkenly waiving a fifty in the poor bartenders face at 1:30 am, requesting as many drinks as he or she can possibly make with that kind of cashola (for the record - it's sixteen and a bit).

So, along with a further few peepes and peepettes, all equally as fed up with the toll the working week was taking on them, we hit the bar yet again to get reasonably tanked at a reasonable price.

This time, though, as the night wore on, the crowds grew noticeably larger, to the point where it was getting damn near impossible to move around inside without inappropriately rubbing up against a hundred or so other people.

But THAT wasn't even the most obvious change from every Thursday I had attended prior. To my horror, a majority of the faces in the place suddenly looked as though they were all, like, 15 or something!

Pointing out what I thought to be an interesting observation to those around me, my comment was met with rolled eyes and shaking heads. It was then that one of my colleagues came right out and put it all on front street for me: "It's fucking student night, dumbass."

The use of the word "dumbass", it turned out, was well and truly warranted. I mean, sometimes it's disturbing how slow on the uptake I can be with these things....

In my defence, I had not given any of this any thought whatsoever up until that point, due mainly to the fact that, when I originally started these rowdy Thursday night excursions all those months ago, Universities and Colleges were in the midst of closing up shop for the year, hence the moderate, not-so-fresh-faced crowds in attendance at the time.

But alas, I really should have been questioning the reasoning behind "Cheap Thursdays" all along, instead of taking it all at face value...

Thursdays at this particular bar, it appears, were dedicated to those hard-studying, low-income-earning, future leaders of our country who wished to drink affordably, shoot the shit, hook up with the wrong person and eventually find themselves, many hours later, hunched over a toilet bowl, having their hair held back by an understanding friend who is secretly cursing them out for being such a fucking lightweight and ruining the night with their bullshit tolerance levels.

This was all well and good for these young so and so’s who have their whole lives ahead of them, but where does that leave the rest of us who are hopelessly devoted to the idea of cheap booze and great tunes as a way of forgetting about our miserable lives? Does the fact that the new school year has ramped up once again mean we should be vacating the bar of a Thursday to make way for the younger, more hopeful, far less cynical versions of ourselves? Does our obvious lack of student-like qualities even really matter? Should we simply suck it up now that we have reached a certain age and head on down the road a little to the mostly vacant Irish pub with the guy with the acoustic guitar playing mummies and daddies favourite songs of yester year and pay adult prices for our poison(s) of choice?

All interesting questions. Some valid, even. Perhaps more importantly though, one should ask why we are really there, sitting in a bar full of girls who look like Jodie Foster circa "Taxi Driver" and guys who look like Justin Beiber circa, well, now? Are we really that depressingly desperate to drink cheaply? Or are we a bunch of creep-o's who should perhaps seek help?

The answer to all of the above is thankfully "No". Instead, the reason I and many like me are there, time and time again, is more to do with the bar itself, which has, for years, been a reliable regular of sorts, regardless of night or bar prices.

Now I'm not going to lie.... it's undoubtedly a perk that, of a Thursday, drinks are not as tough on the wallet as they might ordinarily be, but it's also the atmosphere, music and staff that ultimately keeps us coming back for more.

I'm sure there are many other establishments with equally impressive drink prices on certain nights, but you still couldn't pay me to step inside those gloomy, lifeless shells masquerading as bars. Drink prices mean sweet fuck all if you're forced to endure endless hours of painful, generic Dad-Rock (or Dubstep - fuck Dubstep).

It would be MORE offensive to stop frequenting my bar of choice simply because I have some kind of hang up about being seen as "the dodgy older guy" hanging out with people a decade or so younger.

*** Warning: This is where shit gets REALLY Rant-y ***

Look, I was listening to the music these younglings now drunkenly gyrate to before they were conceived in the back seat of their Old Man’s Holden Commodore. And I will still be here enjoying the same tunes on nights where drinks are way-the-fuck more expensive, unlike the majority of the Thursday crowd, who will instead be spending their weekend evenings sitting in their dorm rooms or share houses, Facebooking or Tumblr-ing or Twattering or whatever it is they all do nowadays. I will STILL be here when they are successful college graduates, off focusing on careers or some such shit. Hell, I will probably EVEN be here when they decide to throw those pesky degrees away, instead choosing to settle down and shoot out some snotty little rug rats while paying off a shared mortgage with an unloving husband or wife.

*** End Rant ***



Sheesh… please believe me when I say it was not my intention to turn this into an all out assault on today's youth - I swear! LOL!

Anyway, it's best I don't continue on down this rant-y path any further. I've had my say, I've stated my case, and continuing on won't do me any favours. Besides, it's been a tough day, I'm feeling kinda thirsty, and the bar is calling. Oh, and look at that, it's Thursday as well... So make way you fresh-faced, bright-eyed little hipsters, there's an old man comin' through....



Sunday, 10 March 2013

It's Not My Place (In the 9 to 5 World)



That damn alarm first thing in the morning is absolutely my worst enemy on this planet. There are never feelings of joy, no birds-are-chirping-it’s-a-beautiful day-in-the-neighbourhood type crap upon hearing that horrible fucking thing come to life in the early a.m. My hatred for it cannot be overstated.

I have made attempts to improve my “morning alarm” experience by setting some truly excellent songs, such as McClusky’s “To Hell with Good Intentions”, to play when the time inevitably arrives for me to emerge from my dream state and re-enter the cold, shitty real world. This does not work. Rather, I have come to hate “To Hell with Good Intentions”, now forever associated with those rude, unwanted wake-ups (the lesson learned here: No song will ever make your morning any better, so it’s probably best to choose one you already despise).

From here, there is usually little improvement to my mood for the next few hours. There's a pretty consistent suck-factor across the board when it comes to what I will be dealing with outside my home on a typical weekday: Whether it be the always crammed buses, street-walking sales people, the countless junkies attempting to bum change for crack (that's right - I am well aware you're not trying to catch the train home, fucko), the endless drones, all looking more like extras from The Walking Dead than actual living, breathing human beings, making their way to one of many drab office buildings spread out across the city, it’s all painful, soul-crushing stuff.



Oh, and speaking of soul-crushing, let’s not forget about that little destination we're all hurridly making our way toward - WORK. Ah yes, work - the glorious, daily time-killer/life-waster that takes place, for many of us, between the hours of 9am to 5pm.

I'm going to be brutally honest here - this whole "work" thing I just made reference to is relevant to me for one reason, and one reason only: It pays the bills (barely). That is where my interest begins and ends. Beyond that, it basically serves the purpose of keeping me from spending my days doing anything I actually enjoy.

And yes, I realise I am not alone here. There are millions in the very same boat.

This daily routine can prove to be quite the annoyance, especially if one is not really designed for the line of work in which they now find themselves. Many, like myself, no doubt stumbled into their respective jobs as a means to an end, a stepping stone, or a temporary source of income until something better and more promising came along. But time has a funny way of disappearing into the ether, and before you know it, you've been sitting at the same desk, working in the same factory, or waiting the same tables, for more years than you care to remember (or admit to).

Worse, getting bogged down working a thankless job can lead to your REAL interests, hobbies and passions eventually fading into obscurity, without you even realising it.

It’s not until many months or even years later, while sitting alone on your couch one night, watching Conan and enjoying a quiet nightcap, that your mind will randomly flash back to a better time, and for a brief, sad moment, you remember that you were once a much more interesting person.

I should know. I have been that late night dreamer, on more than one occasion... It is a strange feeling to suddenly recall and miss something you hadn't realised had even gone away, until that painful moment when it all comes rushing back.

Hopefully, this brief recollection will be enough to kick you back into gear and convince you to again follow those dreams you had at an earlier, brighter point in your life. However, if you’re anything like me, a more forceful kick in the ass might be in order...

One effective motivation is the rather depressing thought that “HOLY SHIT! I'm not 21 anymore. It's been years since high school, and if the Year 12 version of me were ever unlucky enough to somehow see into the future and catch a glimpse of the older me, he would not think twice about taking a dive off the nearest roof and ending it all right then and there."

What also works, as I recently found out, is an honest, no-bullshit, just-the-hard-facts style talking to / lecture courtesy of a concerned (and understandably frustrated) friend. This initially felt like a cold, hard slap to the face, but ultimately proved to be EXACTLY what I needed.

Bottom line, if you're not in a job that is your passion or your dream; one that fills you with an absolute joy for life, then at the very least try spending a few hours outside of said job doing something that is. It will make one helluva difference to your whole outlook.

But, wait... isn't this easier said than done? Word, my brothers and sisters, Word...

Whether your bag is writing, painting, volunteer work, World of Warcraft, bondage nights, etc. etc. etc. (this list could literally go on forever and ever), keeping motivated to continue pursuing that special something you actually enjoy – the reason you feel you were put on this earth - while spending five days a week in an air-conditioned nightmare, can prove quite the challenge.

As an example, let's take a look at a typical work day for yours truly (and the ongoing struggle to maintain that much sought-after work/life balance):

Usually, I will take until around about 11am to reach a point I would consider “fully awake” (again - not a morning person). Later on, around 1pm, (Post-coffee, post-(late) breakfast), when the blood is flowing and the focus has returned, inspiration will finally begin to kick in. Not for anything actually work-related, mind you... I'm referring more so to those post-work activities I actually GIVE A SHIT about. The IMPORTANT stuff.

While it's great and all that the inspiration is there in the first place, it also kinda sucks, given that the working day has only just hit the midway point, and there are many, maaaaannnny more hours left to endure. The timing can be unfortunate, to say the least.

Further to this, holding on to this inspiration until home time takes a fuck-load of mental discipline... and caffeine. If I'm lucky enough to keep it intact until this time, I will then be faced with further enemies at the gate keeping me from my self-appointed goals – the first of which being that goddamn comfortable coach in the living room....

Avoiding the couch ain't easy, and, as you can probably imagine, it's pretty damn tempting to head straight to it after eight straight hours of soul-crushing, mental ass-fuckery. But consider this - What happens after giving in to these "couch temptations"? Well, the television will most likely be switched on, and then, oh, that episode of Seinfeld I absolutely love but haven't seen in, like, forever, will just so happen to be playing...

Yep, that's what WILL happen. Guaranteed. At this point I may as well call it a night.

On the days that I'm strong enough to pass the "couch test",I've still got to deal with other obstacles that probably can’t be avoided – like organising dinner, washing those dishes that are now stacked all the way to the ceiling, and doing something about that big pile of clothes that has been slowly growing into something resembling Everest....

In my opinion, if the creative juices (or whatever juices relate to your out-of-office interests) are flowing, it is worth skipping these chores as often as you can. Sure, it might end up looking as though you live in a trailer park or crack den, but it’ll be worth it in the end.

If you do feel the need to balance adult responsibilities with your creative output, then good for you! And good luck with the sleep deprivation... Because if you're anything like me, after all these mundane chores are out of the way, you'll finally get to starting on that thing you love, and, just as you’re on some kind of a roll, the unwanted realisation will hit that it’s now about 5 hours until you have to get up and do the whole "work" thing all
over again.



This is the part I struggle with the most. It is frustrating as hell that, after a day full of annoyances and distractions, I'm now finally entering into the “zone”, only to have to begrudgingly accept that, if I wish to stand any chance of getting up the following morning without feeling a deep seated urge to murder absolutely everyone I come into contact with, then calling it a night is the only option.

Hell, EVEN THEN, despite best intentions, I will often find, upon hitting the hay, that cutting myself off just as I was on a creative roll is damn near impossible, and those brilliant thoughts and ideas I failed to put to paper will continue to float around in my still very active noggin for the next few hours.

Finally, around 3:30 am, I will give up on any chance of having a good night’s sleep.

As the week progresses, I will find myself growing more and more tired, depressed and zombie-like with each passing day. This pattern will continue on for a majority of the week until, around Thursday, my good intentions will finally fail me, and that couch I have been eying off every evening upon entering the front door will not only seem irresistible, it will be a necessity.

So, what are the solutions if YOU find yourself in a similar predicament?

Solutions? Haha! Sorry, I’m not here to offer solutions. Solutions don’t come into it. What I do have, however, are choices. Not ideal choices, but choices none the
less. These are as follows:

1) Quit your job, live like a true artist (poor and starving) and commit full time to your life’s dream, your ultimate goal.

Or...

2) Stick with your job and learn to live with a complete lack of sleep, happy in the knowledge that you are not wasting the moments that TRULY count, the
hours outside of 9am - 5pm.

For me, it will need to remain option 2, at least for the time being, because livin’ ain’t cheap, and fuck it, sleep in overrated anyhow.

Besides, no matter how sleep deprived you are, or how much of a struggle it can all prove to be at times, it's a hell of a lot better than the alternative - finding yourself sitting alone on your couch late one night, well rested but desperately unhappy, reminiscing of a time long since passed, a time when you actually gave a damn.

Friday, 1 March 2013

So, The Replacements Are Releasing a New EP...




I was late to The Replacements. Very late. 18 years after the fact, to be exact.

Sure, I was aware of their existence due to, among other things, occasional viewings of the black and white "Bastards of Young" video on late night television, or the fairly regular mentions and shout-outs from various artists I admired regarding the band’s massive influence. There were also countless articles and stories on this debauched group of young, drunken scallywags. For whatever reason, though, they did not actually have my full attention until the day I received an unlikely wakeup call courtesy of a guy by the name of Greg Mottola.

In 2009, two years after directing Superbad (a film that single handily reinvigorated my love of the teen comedy genre), Mottola unleashed his next cinematic gem onto the movie-going public, a little film called Adventureland.

Adventureland was more personal a film than Superbad. You could see Mottola knew these characters: the employees of the theme park, in which a majority of the film takes place were, no doubt at one time, HIS co-workers, the experiences were HIS experiences, and the music these character's listened to was the music HE listened to.

Ah, yes. The music.




Look, I'm just gonna come out and say it - Adventureland has, without a doubt, one of the best goddamn soundtracks I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. Not only did I fall immediately for the characters and the movie in which they were contained, I was also hopelessly in love with the great collection of tunes featured, courtesy of (among others) Husker Du, Lou Reed, and of course, The Replacements, whose unbeatable "Bastards of Young" opens the film.

I recognised the song immediately, though at that point my familiarity with it may have had more to do with seeing Against Me! performing a killer version on their Live At The Key Club DVD, than with seeing the original black and white clip in my youth.

A little further into the film, Jessie Eisenberg's character James compliments Kristen Stewart's "Em" on her record collection ("Replacements, cool”). That brief throwaway line stuck in my mind, as did a scene toward the end of the film featuring Eisenberg staring out the rainy windows of a bus destined for New York, while another Replacements tune, "Unsatisfied", plays over the visuals.

Later that afternoon, post-movie, I was determined to hunt down this very awesome soundtrack. My long, persistent search through the city's many music stores did not prove successful. However, during my last stop (at Rocking Horse Records), while heading towards the exit, defeated, I glanced to my left, along the wall of “On Sale” CD's, and wandered over for a quick look, not expecting to find anything I either a) liked or b) didn’t already own. To my surprise, there was a name that caught my attention: The Replacements. The CD was their greatest hits collection, Don't You Know Who I Think I Was? (which could not have been a better entry point to the band). And for under 10 bucks! Jackpot!

A couple of hours later, I hit play while reading though the CD booklet, which contained not only a brief history of the band, (including their early days as Dogbreath), but also insightful details on each of the albums, stories of the notorious drinking, and references to shows (both good and bad), all of which painted a vivid picture of a band truly like no other.

The remarkable thing for me about this collection of amazing tunes was that there didn't appear to be any significant drop off in quality as I made my way through the chronologically sequenced tracks (unlike many, many other career-spanning greatest hits compilations). To my ears, from the first song to the last, it was perfection. All of it. There were certainly changes, sound-wise, but it was all good, positive progression. The set was even topped off with two new tracks, specifically recorded for inclusion on the set, both of which remarkably kept the quality levels as high as what had come before. One listen in, I was dedicated, devoted, and obsessed. I needed every single thing this great band had ever put to tape, and I needed it yesterday!

While it was somewhat maddening to me that I had taken so long to catch on to the complete and utter awesomeness that is The Replacements (or The ‘Mats, as they are known to their die hard fans)  I guess it just wasn’t meant to happen any earlier. I was meant to find them at the point in my life that I did. And given the reissues that were released around the same time, it wasn’t exactly the worst timing in the world.

The first albums I got my hands on (based purely on availability) were Tim (the highly-praised, Tommy Ramone-produced 4th LP) and Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash (their mighty debut). I listened in that order, effectively starting Mid-career, before heading right back to the beginning.

Next was Let It Be (the 3rd LP and quite possibly the BEST.ALBUM.EVER.), followed by Stink (EP), then Pleased to Meet Me. And on and on it went until finally, the collection was complete.



Midway through my Replacements listen-athon, I knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, I had a favourite band. This was a MASSIVE deal, especially when you consider that prior to this point I was always hesitant to label ANY band as 'my favorite'.

With The 'Mats, though, there was a magical combination of music, attitude and personality that, for me, was like no other: A completely unpredictable quartet who were, on any given night, too drunk to play a note, or, alternatively, sober enough to pull off a completely life-changing show (which, again, I have only ever had the privilege of hearing or reading about).

Luckily for late-starters like myself, this stuff is well documented, whether it be from Michael Azerrad's This Band Could Be Your Life, Jim Walsh’s All Over But The Shouting, or Gorman Bechard's great documentary Color Me Obsessed, which, like the band itself, stands out from the crowd due to being defiantly different (in this particular case, containing no band member interviews or music, just first-hand accounts from fans, critics and admirers).




In the time since first finding myself becoming a Replacements obsessive, rumours have surfaced here and there regarding potential reunions (including a possible Coachella performance in 2011 that, of course, never eventuated). However, the band have always played coy regarding, or flat out denied, such claims. Members have either been too focused on Solo Material (Paul & Tommy) busy playing in a lesser band (Tommy again) or have moved on from the music industry completely (Chris – now an amazing artist). Then there’s Bob, who sadly shuffled off this mortal coil back in '95.

Flashing forward to 2012, and through not very ideal circumstances, rumours became reality, and, almost out of the blue, a reunion of sorts finally came to be...

The not very ideal circumstances mentioned above are as follows: Slim Dunlap (The Replacements post-Bob guitarist) suffered a debilitating stroke last year and, with ongoing treatment meaning sky-high medical expenses, it was decided that, in order to raise the money needed to cover these costs, the guys would reform (at least in the studio) to record an EP of covers, with all proceeds to go toward helping out their former band mate. Thus, the Songs For Slim project was born...




That brings us to right now, the eve of the EP's release. Holla! I can only imagine what the wait has been like for those who were with them from the beginning...

If you require any proof at all that a covers EP from The 'Mats makes for an exciting proposition – feel free to check out any number of cover versions from the back catalogue and listen first-hand to what it sounds like when a band completely fucking owns a song  originally written by another group (Kiss’s "Black Diamond" and The Only One's "Another Girl, Another Planet" among them) .

I am as excited, hell, more excited , to hear this EP than any other full length release this year. And there are A LOT of great albums coming out in 2013, trust me.

Anyway, you'll need to be excusing me now, as I’ve got some new Replacements to prepare myself for, and, come Monday, listen to. I suggest you do the same. You can thank me later.

www.songsforslim.com
Tommy Stinson (twitter): @tommy_stinson
www.chrismarspublishing.com
www.paulwesterberg.com



Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Albums Still Matter, Dammit!



I still buy albums.

Thats right, you heard me! I am still a member of the ever decreasing group of law-abiding music purchasing peeps who will gladly part ways with hard-earned cash in order to obtain an album of their choosing.

Now, let's get one thing straight - I'm not trying to talk myself up here. I simply feel the need to clarify this fact before diving directly into why I love the album format as much as I do. It would mean far less for me to sit here and profess my undying dedication to long players while simultaneously downloading the new Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds album from Pirate Bay, would it not?

And If I'm being completely honest, then I should come out and admit that the choice to not download really has S.F.A to do with the illegiality of it all. At the end of the day, it basically just comes down to my personal preference for owning the whole, complete package. A CD or Record full of great tunes still feels incomplete to me without the case, the booklet, artwork, linear notes, production credits, lyrics, etc etc etc. I'm a hopeless geek for the stuff.

Exceptions do, however, need to be made from time to time, with the main and most obvious scenario being those all too regular occurrences where seemingly no store in this crummy city has the good sense to stock the album I'm after. When these circumstances do arise, my impatience will often get the better of me, and i tunes will be my next port of call.

So, why am I still such a spaz for the album format in the year 2013? Because I respect any band or artist who can, with the right selection of songs and sequencing, create a piece of work that flows, thrills, confronts, entertains, astounds, stuns and, in some cases, changes the listener. An album can take you on amazing journey; through a diverse array of moods, sounds and feelings. Taking this into consideration, the gross argument that albums are a dated, dying format is one I'm more than willing to fight against.

My total and utter devotion to music began early(ish), even though, initially, a lot of the stuff I heard coming through the tiny, crackling speakers of my brother's double cassette player was... well, bad. In addition to the endless crappy compilation tapes, I was also subjected to far more Bon Jovi than any mere mortal should EVER have to endure.

It wasn't all dire, though, as admittedly there was also quite a bit of Springsteen floating around in the mix as well. I guess sometimes, you've just gotta take the good New Jersey artists with the really, really bad....

Luckily, once I hit double digits, as if right on cue, the musical landscape began to transform, and the long-overdue death of over-blown ego-fueled hair metal cleared the way for a newer, alternative wave of music that turned the industry on it's big, fat, ugly head. With this welcome change, I was finally able to begin experiencing a different world; a world beyond the "Young Guns 2" soundtrack.

My own musical leanings came into sharp focus soon after, when a friend, whose tastes were apparently developing at a slightly more accelerated rate than my own, lent me an album that had been released the previous year by a band with one of the oddest fucking names I had ever heard -  Smashing Pumpkins.

The back cover of what I soon learnt was their second album,Siamese Dream, also revealed a wealth of oddly titled songs: "Geek USA", "Mayonnaise" and "Silverfuck" among them.



Placing the disk in the tray and turning the volume up to a level that I prayed would be acceptable to my "spawn of satan" younger brother living in the room next to mine, I waited, mildly curious to find out for myself exactly why my friend thought so highly of these "Pumpkins".

First came the drums...

Next, a breif, almost misleadingly gentle guitar part...

And then.... loud, glorious, distortion!

And that was that. Barely a minute into "Cherub Rock", and I was changed for good. For the next 62 minutes and 17 seconds, I experienced what could only be described as a musical awakening. The flood gates opened, and suddenly a moderate enjoyment / passing interest in music transformed into total obsession.

Given the timing of this "awakening" (early - mid-nineties), the avenues for discovering bands and seeking out their discographies for myself were way-the-fuck limited in comparison to this glorious day and age in which we all now live.

These avenues were either:

a) recommendations from friends (well, at least those who had removed themselves from the shadows of their taste-deficient siblings).

b) hearing a song on one of the two decent radio stations in existence at that time, or

c) catching a film clip on "Rage" (once I saw Weezer playing at Arnold's Drive-in Chicken Stand under the amazing direction of Spike Jonze, they had a fan in me for life).

Back in my day (yes, I sadly think I have now reached the age where I can genuinely say that straight-faced), whenever a new album by a great band was unleashed onto the world, it was something of an event. Perhaps it was because one had to try harder, travel longer, and put in way more goddamn effort when seeking out this music. There was a helluva lot more involved than simply clicking a button on a mouse or touching the screen of your goddamn i phone 5. You actually had to leave your house! You had to pre-order shit! You had to drive, sometimes to another goddamn city, because the shitty local stores in your town for some reason failed to EVER have the album you desired on the shelves come release day.

The situation was so horrendous for a while there that I reached a point where I would suggest to a girlfriend at the time that we take semi-regular trips out of town and have some  random "romantic days out in the city". Except they weren't really random at all.... It was no coincidence that these city trips ALWAYS fell on days when new albums by Queens of the Stone Age or Mike Patton or any other number of artists were due to hit the shelves.... (She never did cotton on to the fact that these "random" trips always fell on a Monday, which at that point was the traditional record release day in Australia).



Now, it's a different world. Everything is immediate. There are no delays. No waiting. And there is one less reason to lie to loved ones...

Don't get me wrong; overall this is a positive thing... BUT...  with all that being said, there is now a certain appreciation which has been lost when to comes to albums, due to the immediacy with which one may now obtain them. And there is no doubt in my mind that this lesser appreciation has resulted in what some are labeling "the death of the album" or the "irrelevance of the album format"

Sheesh, you only have to turn on the radio to see what really matters to the general public nowadays.

Compare, if you will, the popularity of the two main annual Triple J listener polls - the Hottest 100 and the Top 10 Albums of the Year. Every bastard and his dog votes for and tunes in to the Hottest 100. It has become a nation-wide tradition. In comparison, how many vote for and tune in to the Top Ten Album Poll any given year? I don't know. But it's a shit tonne less.. that, I can assure you.

Heck, in this day of i tunes downloads and short attention spans, I should  be happy polls like the Top 10 Albums still exist at all, regardless of popularity.

To push the knife in just that little bit further, even artists are now jumping on the "death of the album" bandwagon! The past couple of years alone have seen both Ian Astbury and Billy Corgan come out and proclaim the format dead..... Watch it Billy, you're one of the reasons I have this ongoing passion in the first place!

Fuck all this noise, though. Fuck popularity. Fuck trends. Fuck (some) artists! Albums are something I will continue to defend and fight for forever and ever and ever! We all should! It's important, now more than ever!

A great album can stick with you for life: Anytime I hear Siamese Dream, I am taken back to the cold autumn day in which I first heard it. Listening to Foo Fighter's The Colour and The Shape, I'm instantly transported back to the Saturday afternoon I made the purchase, and to later that night, where, in my parents absence,  I had a killer make out session in the family lounge room with my high school girlfriend, from the first track "Doll" all the way through to "New Way Home". And when the mood strikes for yet another listen to Faith No More's King For a Day, Fool for a Lifetime, I am straight back drinking cheap spirits at a friends place, while his mother is away at Bingo.

Albums, important ones, both new and old, can continue to resonate. Albums can conjure up feelings (both good and bad). Albums can transport you to important, pivotal moments from your past. Albums can define the present. Albums can push and motivate you to move forward. Albums can inspire you to face the future.

Albums still matter, dammit. Albums will always matter.


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

A Laneway Experience



I am a live music obsessive.

For me, there is almost no greater feeling on this planet than experiencing a live set by a group of artists who well and truly have their shit together musically.

During these moments, life can seem infinitely more exciting, more hopeful, more...hell, just WAY THE FUCK BETTER! Especially when the band in question are playing their own headlining gig, as opposed to appearing as part of a festival line up.

Here’s why:

A bands own show = a full set and an attending audience of people who genuinely want to be there.

A festival show = a continual struggle to make your way from stage to stage, through shitty crowds full of shitty people, only to, upon finally arriving at your destination, be stuck standing behind some tall douche and his equally douchie friend who are obviously ONLY there to see the ancient dinosaurs that are headlining, oblivious to any other band on the line up, including the one they’re presently blocking your line of sight to.

You can also bet your life savings that douche and douchier will, upon discovering they have no interest in the band you are so desperately trying to watch, not move out of the way, choosing instead to stay put and engage in moronic conversation at such high volume that you can pretty much forget about even HEARING the band….

Anyway, to cut a long rant short, I’ll simply say that festivals can, at times, suck a massive one.

BUT! They are not all bad. There ARE exceptions, and over the last few years, one such exception has been St Jerome’s Laneway Festival.

Now, allow me to get the minor quibbles out of the way first: Laneway is still, at the end of the day, a summer music festival. So yes, it will still attract the odd douche. And yes, the sets will not be as long for a band as they would be if they were playing their own gig. And yes, you may also need to take a loan out in order to afford to drink at the bar.

But all of this is kind of irrelevant. Why? Because it is a music festival for TRUE music fans; for those of us who don't buy into the bullshit idea that "new music sucks" or "decent music is sooooo hard to find these days", or even the tried and true "they just don't make 'em like they used to."

BULLSHIT!

Anyone who has ever dared venture even remotely outside of the comfortable confines of commercial radio blandness knows all too well that music is just as good, if not better, than it has EVER been. And there's a shit load more of it now as well. This point cannot be argued, it's simply FACT. Take it or fuckin' leave it.

For those of us who are aware of this very simple and obvious truth, there is no better festival in this country at this particular moment in time than Laneway, a festival that has, for almost a decade now, endeavored to bring exciting, talented, fresh, amazing artists to these shores for our listening and viewing pleasure.

Given this massive endorsement, it almost shames me to admit that last year’s Brisbane leg of the Festival was actually my very first Laneway experience, where, despite less than ideal weather conditions and occasional technical issues, I was won over completely. The bands, the crowd, the whole fucking vibe left every other festival in the dust. It was pure fun, with minimal annoyance. What every festival SHOULD be, but most sadly AREN'T.

So, it goes without saying that a return trip was most definitely on the cards this year. And when the day eventually arrived, it did NOT disappoint.

What follows is not exactly a review per se, but more a *fairly* accurate account of my second Laneway experience, written in the moment, as it was happening……

….Okay, not really. I’ve just chosen to present it that way. Clever, eh?

Anyways, here it is: Laneway 2013, from the somewhat hazy perspective of yours truly:



8:52 am

I wake up, feeling positive, happy and alive (very out of character), for two very obvious reasons: 1) I will NOT be going to work today (HELL.YES.), and 2) It's Laneway day!



13:30 pm

En route to the Alexandria Street entrance, I am presented with a “courtesy condom” by a nice young lady (surely a great sign, right?), before heading over to the nearby ticket booth to make my purchase (nothing like leaving it to the last minute).

Upon receiving my wristband, my friend Kelly and I make our way over toward the front gates to find a spot to sit, while we wait for Sarah, another friend joining us, who has just informed us of her late arrival due to a slight wardrobe malfunction (nothing on a Janet Jackson-level of seriousness, but something that still needs to be dealt with, regardless).

Within minutes, we are approached by an affable young dude with more than a passing resemblance to Carrot Top. Through glazed eyes, this friendly stranger solemnly informs us that he has just been evicted from the site, mumbling something about "getting too close to the gates."

While the real reasons for his being shown the door can neither be confirmed nor denied, what I will say is that whatever his drug of choice is this fine Friday afternoon, it seems to be at the very least keeping him in a pleasant enough state of mind (he also turns out to fairly accurately represent a large percentage of the crowd I encounter today: fucked up, yet friendly).



13:50 pm

Our wardrobe-malfunctioning comrade finally arrives, and we move over to take our positions in the now quite lengthy wristband and hard-ticket lines.

As I stand waiting, my mind briefly wanders to all the amazing bands I will soon be seeing (many of whom are responsible for some of my very favourite albums of last year)...

... My daydreaming is suddenly interrupted by an annoyingly stupid conversation in front of me, in which a girl is attempting to talk her male companion out of hooking up with a mutual friend due to the fact that "She's, like, so old. She's like, 30, or something."

Ignore it, Ben. Just... ignore it.

Thankfully, before I am made to listen to her idiotic opinion of the new Strokes single, I am ushered through the gate, where I immediately direct my attention to the stage up ahead, noticing that The Men are already well into their set.

The Men are one of many "must see" bands for me today, so I decide, at least for now, to hold off on visiting the bar, and instead head over to Kelly and Sarah (who are waiting nearby), before together, we make our way over toward the "Eat Your Own Ears" stage.

Upon reaching our destination, the girls decide to do the smart thing and find a shady position close to the stage.

Me being me, I opt against this, preferring a slightly closer option, which not only means a prime position directly in front of the stage, but also a prime position right UNDER the blazing hot fucking sun.



14:40 pm

Brooklyn-ites The Men finish up their great set and exit the stage, leaving me not only fulfilled and happy, but also hopelessly drenched in sweat, not to mention a little sun struck.

There is only one cure for this....



14:45 pm

I wait patiently at the bar, standing in a line which does not seem to be moving in the slightest. Kelly walks past, takes one look and informs me she will try elsewhere.

Pffft, good luck Kelly. I’ll be well into my second beer before you get anywhere near another bar… silly…



15:00 pm

I finally have my goddamn fucking beer so head back outside to find Kelly & Sarah sitting at a nearby table in the shade, directly in front of a bar with NO LINES. FUCK.



15:10 pm

K & S get up to begin heading back in the direction of the "Eat Your Own Ears" stage to check out Snakadaktal. I have no idea who the fuck Snakadaktal are but I kinda dig the name so decide to follow.

While watching the band, who end up being fun (my enjoyment heightened somewhat this time by sticking to the shade), the girl in front of me begins shuffling around in her bag for what I already know will be a massive joint. After a short while, she recovers it, wasting absolutely no time lighting that sucker up, before passing it along to the people directly to her left.

As per usual, the joint does not make it over to me.



15:45 pm

Even without the spliff, by the end of Snakadaktal's set I find myself with a serious case of the munchies. I make my way over to grab a bite to eat, where I stupidly decide on Spicy Spanish Meatballs, because, you know, I wasn't quite hot enough.

Much sweating ensues...



16:00 pm

K & S head over to "The Car Park Stage" to check out Of Monsters and Men. I opt for El-P and, since there's like 10 minutes until he hits the stage, I duck on over to the porta loos for a quick tinkle.



16:20 pm

I make my way toward the "EYOE" stage to find EL-P already 2 or 3 songs into his set. It matters not though, because what I do catch is so great that it completely takes my mind off of my sun-induced light-headedness...

… But I still need more beer, so make my way back to the bar, with the dumb idea floating around my head that drinking more mid-strength cans at a faster pace will ensure a better, stronger buzz. (It ends up ensuring only one thing - an empty wallet).



17:05 pm

I meet up with Kelly, who has now positioned herself in an awesome spot up front of the “EYOE” stage.

Patiently, we watch Dylan and Co. from Cloud Nothings tune their instruments, anticipating what will probably be a good, perhaps even great, set...



17:23 pm

I'm fairly certain my face has been completely blown off. I was not prepared for this.

Cloud fucking Nothings incinerate the entire fucking crowd, before putting them back together piece by piece. They then proceed to place every single last one of us into some kind of strange, hypnotic state.

Everything is completely and utterly Cray Cray. The crowd now resemble a group of escaped criminals from Arkham Asylum.

Some random guy in the crowd, appearing to be on better drugs than I have ever had in my entire life, places his large, Urkel-like glasses on my face, before patting me on the back and taking off into the massive, bat-shit insane mosh, never to be seen or heard from again.

Somehow, during this crushing, psychotic set, I manage to look over toward the side of the stage to see the unmistakable Silhouette of Brian from Japandroids, waiting patiently in the wings, smoking a cigarette, and am reminded that this day ain't anywhere close to being over yet…

…40 minutes, and 8 songs later, Cloud Nothings exit the stage and leave every single soul in the crowd permanently fucked up in the best possible way.



17:55 pm

Regaining my composure, I take off for more beer, while also trying to ignore some fairly hefty cigarette cravings.

The guy in front of me at the bar looks disturbingly familiar, but where from? He kinda looks like… wait, I think it is…. But, how? It’s…it’s Steve from Eastbound and Down. Except with long hair and a beard. I mean, I’m almost certain it is. But why is he in Brisbane? And why…um…. Ahhh I think standing in that sun earlier fucked me up more than initially thought.



19:05 pm

I successfully regain my Cloud Nothings position near the front of the stage.

Kelly rejoins me and we wait for the band that, without a doubt, I have been looking forward to seeing the most today: Japandroids (who it turns out are playing their first Australian show like, ever!).

These excellent motherfuckers are responsible for what is, to my mind at least, far and away the best Album of last year (seriously, listening to Japandroids will improve your shitty fucking life. FACT!).



19:30 pm

It has only been minutes since Japandroids hit the stage, but I can now confirm that SEEING these guys live will ALSO improve your shitty fucking life! FACT!



19:40pm

With respect to The Black Keys, Sleigh Bells and any other 2 piece band currently touring this fucking planet, Japandroids are quite simply the best.

I have no idea how 2 guys can make such glorious noise, but they can. And for that, I am eternally grateful. I have always had a soft spot for all things Canadian, and Japandroids are a prime fucking example of WHY! (C'mon, just face it: Canadians are, at the end of the day, just a little bit better than the rest of us.)

While 99.999% of my focus is on the stage at all times, I also try and remember to keep a close eye on my new friend standing next to me, who moments earlier fell into the nearby bushes, only to struggle to his feet, trying desperately to keep his balance. He now looks as though he’s attempting to the best of his abilities to keep from barfing.

Aim over that way, buddy. Over that way…

..Luckily, the vomit never arrives and as Brian and David bid us a fine farewell, I am grateful and amazed to have just witnessed another brilliant show, with the added bonus being that I avoided being spewed on.



20:30 pm

After another quick trip to the bar, Sarah rejoins Kelly and myself for our final band of the evening - Divine Fits.



20:50 pm

This band that stands before me, Divine Fits, a band containing members from Spoon, Wolf Parade, AND New Bomb Turks, are blowing my fucking mind!

What is most amazing is that they have only been playing together as a band for the better part of a year, yet have the connection and familiarity of a band that has played together for decades.

Let's get this straight: this band are not some whack “supergroup”, not some uninspired "side project". These guys are the real fucking deal!

They are so good, in fact, that even the completely and utterly messed-up prick behind me (why do I attract these people, why?), who has been standing uncomfortably close for the last 10 or so minutes, and who I'm starting to think is preparing to either a) piss down the back of my leg at any moment, or b) attempt to anally violate me, cannot draw my attention from the stage. And that is saying something, because I’m fucking scared to death of this fucker right now.

Anyway, a close to perfect cover of Rowland S. Howard's brilliant "Shivers" helps me forget my troubles. It’s a rare band that can pull this song off without making me run for the nearest bucket (I’m looking at you, Screaming Jets *shudder*) , but Divine Fits are that rare band. Again, no surprise given the musicianship on display..

After nearly an hour, Britt and Dan and Sam and Alex disappear into the night, and I turn away from the stage, slowly making my way toward the exit, still on a massive high I never, ever want to come down from.



02:00 am

After enduring a club full of Neanderthals in order to catch DJ sets from Japandroids and Yeasayer, (still totally worth it despite the clientèle in attendance) Kelly and I make our way from the confines of the After party and into the early morning air, my lame fucking body finally telling me it’s time to call it a night.

And with that, I do...

All that's left now are the rapidly fading memories of another amazing Laneway that will not be repeated in the exact same fashion EVER again, though hopefully a year from now these familiar feelings will resurface, as I stand front of stage, anxiously awaiting the first of many great bands to emerge and play some of the best goddamn fucking music released in 2013.