Sunday, March 30, 2008

Australia Part Seven: Who's really counting?

Back to Melbourne for our final Aussie show. Checked into hotel and then almost immediately went to the Tote to check out the UV Rays, one of our promoter Daniel's many bands. The UV Rays are his garage band (as oppose to his Deep Wound-style hardcore band) and were quite enjoyable, the highlight being a song called "I Wanna Be Your Lego Man" with lyrics that wisely don't stray too far away from the title.

There was free BBQ in the courtyard of the Tote and I think we all munched on some of that…shit was good. But we then quickly had to head over to the Evelyn to soundcheck for our show. I would have the same kit I used at the East Brunswick (satin flame toms, wine red kick drum) and Pat would use a 1960's blue sparkle Pearl kit.

We'd toyed with the idea of doing a bunch of songs we had yet to pull out in Australia, wrote down a rudimentary list and even tried to tackle a few at soundcheck. First was "Born in a Haunted Barn" and it sounded like an abortion in a possessed garden shed. Next was "Indivisible" where I wished I was invisible. Then on to "Little Miss Chocolate Syrup" which was more like a steaming pile of shit. I plead for us to do a tune we actually knew and "Earthquake Heart" sounded great. So we figured we wouldn't do ALL weirdo rare songs, but sprinkle them throughout the set as we saw fit.

After check I walked down the street to Mario's where I had dinner with some record-collecting friends. For some reason there was a big to-do about me asking for something with Alfredo sauce and what I got was actually more along the lines of a pesto based thing. It was edible nonetheless.

Then quickly back over to the Tote to catch Jay Reatard's set, already in progress. His jam is sweet, he's the real deal and I can understand why people are freaking out over it. I missed the first song or two, but still thought he was on.

I'd felt a little scummy before when I realized I hadn't taken a shower since the morning after our previous Melbourne show. I don't think I'd even changed clothes at that point either. But I was delighted to see that Jay and his merry band of miscreants were in the exact same position, all wearing the same clothes I'd last seen them in. Kinda made me love them even more.

From there we scooted back to the Evelyn where I missed the opening band. Talked to a circus performer (nails in the nasal cavity) who delighted in telling me about the joys of learning such a trick, especially the membrane that needs to be punctured, or as they so eloquently put it, "breaking the nose hymen." Yeesh.

Jay's set at the Evelyn was the most perfect I have ever seen him. The crowd was boisterous and reacting in all the right ways. I somehow got dragged into the scrum of pushing and shoving and yelling in front of the stage and even in my old age I had a blast doing so. I ended up with a shoe (not mine) in my hand and threw it onstage as it just seemed like the right thing to do. It hung precariously on the bass drum for the duration of the set. By the time he coasted into "I Know a Place" I was enveloped in pure bliss. When Jay nasally intones "We both get what we asked for" it's the world to me. I know nothing else and instead surrender myself to his precision and poignancy.

The songs didn't feel right. Pat had a monitor right next to him that apparently wasn't set as it was during check. We made the best of it and still enjoyed ourselves, even taking some requests at one point. As we ended, Troy unknowingly grabbed a beer Pat had been saving for the end of the set (don't get him started about beer always mysteriously being gone after we're done playing) and Pat just seemed infinitely frustrated.

So when we finished our encore (or was it second encore) Pat up and pushes his kit over. It seemed uncharacteristic, but I could at least tell where he was coming from. But he didn't stop and then grabbed the rack tom with both hands and wound up with a mountain of force before merely releasing it as opposed to slamming it down. The whole time I thought to myself "What in the fuck is he doing?"

So we all walked offstage and Jay relishes in telling us "Best Dirtbombs show yet" while Bruce Milne pops backstage to ask "Was Pat mad about something?"

Later in the week Pat would feel the repercussions of his actions as the owner of the drum kit became mighty pissed and rightfully so. I guess some of the shells had cracks in them and being a Pearl kit from the 60's it becomes somewhat difficult to just repair. Pat was sweating it but at this point I think a fair agreement has been reached as far as reparations.

We hung around the club for ages and I had lots of time to talk to Jay about good ole bullshit, about trying to tour together, shows we'd already played together (we did gigs with the Lost Sounds as far back as 2001) and just general rock and roll spectacular vernacular. Jay's a good man and we hugged goodbye as we headed back to our hotel and he set out for some more devilish delights I'm sure.

Early morning lobby call and Jay actually rides to the airport with us, all our gear and luggage, shoehorned into this minivan without an inch to spare. In hindsight, it's still kinda funny. And Jay had some amazing one-liners on the drive too…"I should get to South By Southwest just in time for Urban Outfitters to be marketing my nutsack" as well as, in regards to his online detractors "they can fucking blog on my log."

Check in was fine and goodbye to Daniel and Johanna was bittersweet. Was glad we met them and had such a great time, both socially and just as a touring band, but was sad to leave them so soon. This is the bummer part of touring…constantly having to say goodbye.

Once through security check point I heard familiar sounds emanating from the Billabong surf shop. The wispy rumble of the Count Five's "Psychotic Reaction" was pumping out their speakers so I walked inside, situated myself underneath one and wore a shit-eating grin while I thought deep about Lester Bangs.

As we were boarding our flight Jay and Co. entered the terminal and we blew them kisses goodbye.

Land in Auckland, picked up from the airport by the ever lovable John Baker and proceed straight to the club. I'd only been emailed a tour itinerary the day before and even then wasn't able to open it on my computer. I wasn't even sure if we were supposed to play that day.

But we were and we did. It was on a stage erected in the outdoor area of the King's Arms and featured the Bellrays and the Datsuns. The existence of an immovable drum riser proved fairly daunting while surveying how to plot the Dirtbombs stage set-up (possibly because I'd just hopped off a plane) and we decided to tighten it up and all play in front of the riser.

The Bellrays were first and apparently it was their first show with their new bass player. I couldn't tell as he seemed on the ball. My particular jam was "Pinball City" and it made me realize we'd both done songs for singles included in Multiball magazine. Nice.

We set up with copious amounts of help from the Datsuns' loving stage crew and proceeded to bang out our pared down set without giving it much thought. I wouldn't say we were on autopilot, more like we knew we had a shorter set time than we'd become used to and ably eliminated any dead weight. All killer, no filler. It seemed to go over well.

The Datsuns were bombastic in the face of worrying about the show being shut down for noise violations. I was glad when I liked their new songs like "Your Bones" as new songs for a band you've liked for some time can sometimes prove problematic. Nevertheless, the old favorites slayed as they always have. I just checked the tracklist of their debut album and can confidently say that record is 70% hits. Not 70% good songs, no, 70% bona-fide rock and roll hits. I'm still struggling to find an album from the modern era with a better batting average.

After the show we ate late night kebabs as I'd finally overcome the fear instilled in me in Perth. Slept a languorous sleep and relished in what would be our second and final day off on this OZ/NZ tour.

1 comment:

Laurie said...

It may have just been incidental to the situation (or intentional), but I find:
'a drummer feeling 'repercussions' really punny.

Another interesting read.