Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Gig 7 - Brisbane February 19th
The next morning I wake and feel hungover, how could it be given i only drank two beers and ate a ton of food. I head out to the van and grab my stuff ready to take it back to the hire company. Not thinking I grab the passenger side door handle and think to myself 'what's this sticky shit??' then the proceedings of the evening before come flooding back to me, I held my vomit soaked hand to the sky and cursed the shit out of Ian Rogers, I'm pretty sure it was pay back for something I'd done. The side of the fucking van looked like Rogers had eaten 10 crunchies and power chucked the contents right down the side, so brutal.
We all meet up at 2pm for a soundcheck at the venue for the evening, Woodlands Bar. Luke Walsh aka Blank Realm is our sound tech for the night, in the World of soundtechs he is like the finest gem one could ever expect, a keen and diverse ear for all things sonic and not adverse to mixing the hell out of someone giving him only 2-lines, it's a nice change to the usual fuckwits i get recommending to me which of my two inputs I should put into left or right to avoid shit being out of phase. Soundcheck is loud, everyone has a crack and I get pretty excited about opener DOT.AY who's joining the previous nights lineup. The guy has a laptop and 2 gameboys and makes the sweetest gabba/industrial/hardcore/chiptune/breakbeat/8bit beats one can think of, he's pretty rad to chat to and his whole persona reminds me of a young Tim Hecker, I was nearly going to ask him is he wanted to hit the Gold-Coast afterwards.
We all meet back there around 9 and DOT.AY gets away to a cracking start at around 9:30 - the crowd is a little quiet and mainly stays stuck away in the dark corners of the room whilst DOT.AY physically moves like he's playing to a raving crowd of acid freaks, I always respect someone that despite using a laptop as the basis of their sonic mainframe, still knows how to rockout, so much more interesting than button pushing. The crowd lap it up and give him a good applause at the end. Next up is Ian 'Spewie' Rogers aka AMBROSE CHAPEL... to be honest i don't take too much notice of the first few minutes of his set but the ominous sound that starts to shriek out from the PA grabs my attention, I spin around to see him wearing a fucking rain coat, this is common sight when you see Ian play solo, I swear it's his PVC security blanket (I call it his 'doom jacket'), but seriously all jokes aside, when the coats ON and the hood comes over his head, look out, shit is going to get brutal.
Ambrose Chapel rips a perfect set of laptop doom, really I wonder where this is going to go, he tells me of future plans for the Chapel project and I'm looking forward to it. Next up are sonic warlords Die On Planes, great guys who know how to use dynamics and gain structures superbly, their set is tight but short, it was weird and kind felt like it was as little as 10-minutes. The crowd got pretty into it but still seemed reluctant to get into the 'main-frame'. Woodlands has this kind of sonic sweet spot, where the soundwaves enter your body not just through your ears, it's not for the faint hearted, it's pretty much anywhere on the dance floor, the closer to centre the better.
I decide to follow suit and play on the floor, 3/4 of tonight bands have chosen it as their location. Personally for me it's about breaking down barriers between 'performer' and 'audience' which certainly end up getting broken down tonight. I kick off my set and am pretty dam excited about nothing more than stamping on a beaut new custom made pedal I have in my arsenal tonight by electronic guru Tim from Tyms Guitars, this is literally a prototype and I can't believe I'm using it live. As the set progresses I get more and more excited to get to the 'big' sections when i can unleash the new bottom end that has so sadly been missing of late, the Woodlands PA is ripping tonight and Luke is tuning it to within an inch of it's life. Matt Brady pumps the shit out of his new toy, a bubble machine and it's makes for a hairy ride as more and more bubbles pop over me and my gear and keys start getting slippery. There's one track I play all on blacks and with my heavy hand it means my fingers are sliding all over the place, there's a few wayward notes but i get over it and really don't know if anyone even notices. I finish up with epic track URINE MOTE, an easy one (3 chord progression) to play but super fun, the problem is my fold back is a bit out of whack with this one and my timing goes way out, I go with it and just dissolve the whole thing into a wayward wall of noise, I modulate things and let them get really nasty before turing every thing to 11 and cutting the release on the synth back to nothing, it means I can kill everything instantly, kinda like hitting a brick wall at 200kph, but in reverse. The crowd (well the boys up the front) are a little unruly, one decided he wanted to play on after I'd finished but with my synth, it's kind of the equivalent of kissing my fiancee or scratching my car so I inform him sternly that it's not on, he didn't really get the message, it was safe to say all his brains were in his biceps (probably with a lot of protein shakes too) so he was hastily removed from the venue. All in all it was a super fun night and probably my most favourite AXXONN gig in Brisbane, not the biggest but the vibe was sweet. Brisbane 9.2/10
Next Stop Perth followed by Melbourne
Toowoomba is a place that I know little about bar meeting and knowing a lot of people in Brisbane who have left in search of nicer horizons. I will never rag on someones town because one mans shitter is another mans kingdom so they say. But to be honest Toowoomba scares the shit out of me, first I see it as a 10x larger version of the town I grew up in (Devonport, Tasmania the land of thugs), secondly the only people i know from Toowoomba moved away and generally don't hold it in the highest regard, thirdly you don't have to go far before you hear some horror story about something that happened in Toowoomba.
So as Myself, Die On Planes and Ambrose Chapel slowly chugged up the mountain in our 4cylinder Hyundai people mover laden with a back line that Motörhead would be proud of (I think Die On Planes defence mechanism was make enough noise that they won't even get close enough to do anything), we all voice our individual concerns of what could come of the night, we were all willing to call 'last gig' before we'd even begun. See this was where things got good, a long drive, a car full of gear and blokes, it's my kind of touring, where you can say the first thing that comes into your mind without any judgement.
We arrived at The Spotted Cow (a newish venue doing live music in Toowoomba) to be greeted by a smiling fresh faced 'Tom' (our sound tech for the night) who was rather impressed when none of us needed microphones and all we wanted was the kick drum miced. He seemed rather perplexed by our setup but none the less excited, especially when Ian (Ambrose Chapel) engaged in a lengthy conversation about hardcore, thrash, screamo and every other type of metal you could think of, it would seem the sound guy was quite accustomed to the louder stuff, something that always helps.
The manager of the place 'Phil' greeted us with 6 beers (for the 5 of us) and a smily face. 'What would you like to eat?' possibly my favourite thing to hear from a venue and had me instantly thinking back to awesome times years ago touring in Europe. We were still hours away from playing and the gig had literally been turned around. Nothing could stop us now, especially with a gut full of Toowoomba's finest calamari (out of interest how far is the ocean from Toowoomba?). An hour or so went by and I got hungry again so I went for a walk because I couldn't find 'Phil' to see if I could get some more food, he'd already treated us better than most venues in Australia so I didn't want to push the friendship. I went to the local servo (home brand type) to get a milk shake and meat pie except all their pies were out, but the girl behind the counter recommended the 'made on premises' hamburger, risky but she was adamant I'd be into it. I gave it a shot and before I'd even got to the corner half of it was gone, it had the works and tasted fucking amazing, best hamburger I had eaten in a good few years (box ticked) the night could only get better from here.
Ambrose Chapel kicks off the evening, to be honest I thought the sound guy mixed him a little quiet (none of us got to soundcheck) The crowd dug and Ian I think he felt relieved to blow out some cobwebs having not played for a while. Next up Die On Planes (with their Sunn O))) backline got on the stage (a very small corner of the venue) they sounded awesome, for me it was like John Butler Trio meets Faust and then drops Acid and rolled around in grassy meadows together. The volume was brutal and I watched half the set only about 10metres away and slowly retreated until I was actually standing on the other side of the road (the stage opened onto the road) where I could only just hear myself think, it was every kind of brutal and I didn't want it any other way.
Next up, AXXONN, the setup was casual and straight forward and I was more than happy with the quick line check. One local was continuously calling on me to 'hurry up'. After a while he got shitty that I wasn't playing fast enough and came over to ask exactly what I was going to play for him/them, I simply told him to expect 'break-beats' to which he was excited. I don't recall him being around at all soon after I started :( -- the set came together well and people seemed to be into it, towards the end of the set I had an impromptu collaborator who thought I needed drums, he was going to town on Die On Planes kit, honestly that shit kind of pisses me off, I mean I don't really care if his drumming added something or not, at the end of the day if I wanted a drummer I'd get one, simple as that. As it happened he was a member from improv local band 6majik9 ( http://www.myspace.com/6majik9 ) after the set i got over it and we had a beer together. To cap things off they gave us more free beer and paid us cash straight from the till without invoice.
The trip home to Brisbane continued on a downward slope of debautury as Rogers got a bag full of lollies from the server, ate them all and then spewed the contents of his gut along the side of our tour van. 2 members of Die On Planes fell asleep while 3rd member put inanimate objects in their mouths. As the driver I felt somewhat responsible for all of this but at the same time the long mind numbing road back to Brisbane was relieved by all of the above. What scared me most was we had to do it all again the next day..... stay tuned for Brisbane. Toowoomba 8.5/10
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
In Brisbane ahead of shows in Toowoomba (Spotted Cow) Fri 18/2 and Brisbane (Woodland Bar) Sat 19/2.
In the interim I've been working on a documentary, catching up with friends and setting up a video installation at the Judith Wright Centre as part of Optica12
They something I'm quite fond of, there 'transitional' qualities are outstanding. I mean you can whinge and moan about security but it's just a reality we have to get used to, I mean ultimately they're there to keep us safe.
My favourite airport in the whole of Australia actually happens to be in my home town of Devonport, Tasmania and my reasons a not biased, the reason it's my favourite is because it simply hasn't change since my earliest memory as a chile, potentially 25years.
The cafeteria is the same (the prices have changes with their shitty $4 instant coffee), the decor is the same, the seats, the toilets, the pictures and there's not even any security, it rules. But really the single thing that give me a buzz there is my nostalgic sense for all things 80s, the time when I was a kid and the summers were long and endless.
It's always going to be a good coffee when you get this number.
Monday, February 7, 2011
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Feb 5th Devonport Regional Gallery, Devonport
Next Stop was DEVOnport. My home town and the one I grew up in. Salamanca Arts has said as we departed "let us know if Devonport shows us up". Well by the time we arrived they already had with a nicely presented bar, there's only publicity campaign with AXXONN posters spread all around the city and a church to play in, I mean the church alone would have ticked the box over Hobart. It's always weird to play in Devonport but also fun. Weird because I remember going to all sorts of performance events by travelling outsiders but never imagined I would be that traveling outsider. It's always fun because random people turn up that I haven't seen for years and the guys i usually play with take delight in hearing the wondrous stories i have about the place. The gig was pretty epic with the venue being the Devonport Regional Gallery, an old church with beautiful acoustics and a PA system big enough to fill a stadium.
The acts were decidedly more 'heavy' tonight as as it happened my grandmother (70+) had decided to drop by to see what AXXONNs all about. Having sat through soundcheck I was worried for her to say the least. I realised I'm happy to terrify others grandmothers but wasn't so sure about terrifying my own. It's not that they don't know what I do for a career it's just I don't often get the chance to play nearby. It also probably doesn't help that as a representation of what I do my mother gives my grandmother the most 'user friendly' track from the recently AXXONN album, a masterful arpeggiatored piano/drums melody ;)
So the night goes off without a hitch, my grandmother spends most of it with her fingers in her ears and a look of her face likes she having a heart attack. A great and appreciative crowd turn up who are lapping up the array of merchandise on display, something I've noticed more regional areas are keen to do. We discovered Devonport's newest restaurant Bento a sweet Japanese place with great meals and service, something Devonport's been lacking for a while. All in all the shows went well with a couple of curve balls (HOBART) and some great laughs with the local supports Duo, Spheres and Oceans.
Friday, February 4, 2011
Tasmania, it's where I was born and bred, a place I was keen to get away from but now I'm mostly away it the place I enjoy getting back to the most. It's always a tricky on Hobart, it's the beast I'm yet to tame and one I've been trying for a while, it's become blatantly obvious (like a smack in the face) that it needs to be changed up. We had a great line-up, reputable venue and good promo but somehow only managed 10 payers on the door, brutal! Salamanca Arts were a little stressed to say the least. I've come to the conclusion than unless you're receiving regular local or tripleJ airplay one must initiate some epic marketing strategy. One of the local guys on the night was like 'Fascebook, has let me down....' mistake number 1 I say, I wouldn't trust facebook as far as I could kick it.
None the less the drive to Hobart was interesting and the one home was even more with a little interaction with some bored but friendly Police officers from Oatlands station (the middle of fucking no where in Tasmania) who decided my very marginal amount over the speed limit at 1:30am in the morning warranted me being pulled over and cautioned. My tactics for dealing with the Police, get out of the car and meet them half way, be straight and honest and then ask nicely for them to give you a 'caution' and if all else fail blame the NIN Pretty Hate Machine album that you're cranking in the stereo.