Archive for August, 2011

I Predict A Riot…
August 22, 2011

Whilst constant renovations have left its exterior a shadow of its former self, the Metro is looking better than ever inside.  Ample viewing from all angles remain, and bars conveniently located right on the main floor ensure fans retain both hyration and prime viewing position, and I’m sure the bar-takings don’t suffer either.  Every child player wins a prize!

Kaiser Chiefs,
Metro Theatre, Melbourne, August 5, 2011

Tonight’s support acts have become well known in their own right.  Stonefield are the obvious choice for the ‘Best Up-And-Comer’ award, and have been widely reported in the music press as leading the charge for awards of the type.  Most stories highlight their youth, beauty, femininity and on-stage uniforms.  I also enjoyed their music.  Yes, it could be described as derivitive, but I’ve never had a problem with artists wearing their influences on their sleeves.  It would have been nice to have heard Stonefield play an up-beat Jimi Hendrix cover, but maybe they thought that it would have been too obvious, and played Whole Lotta Love instead, which seemed to please the surprisingly visible pub-rock sector of the audience.

Next up was Papa Vs Pretty, which was nice because I have been wanting to hear more from this band.  I hope they have a long and illustrious career, because I enjoy their songs.  Again, the band’s influences are apparent, but I love the fact that they jump from one style to another so suddenly.  One moment I am detecting shades of Augie March, then it’s a Queen-esque guitar solo, before switching to Radiohead mode for a while.  It’s a bit like a mix-tape I’d make, but with the novelty of being originals.  Even though they seem quite stylistically distinct from the headliner, they seemed like a good choice for support.

Kaiser Chiefs are an interesting band, but I am never sure whether or not I will like them live.  I resigned from my longest standing job a few years ago in order to watch the band, only to find that a string of miscommunication lead me to miss out anyway.  I think my concern lies with the fact that they are a boring-looking bunch of guys.  Typically pictured clad in shades of brown, their appearance doesn’t exactly scream ‘rockstar,’ and it is rare to hear stories of back-stage antics or outrageous rider demands from them.  Nevertheless, Employment and Off With Their Heads are two of my favourite albums, so I was pleased when the band launched straight into Everyday I Love You Less And Less and barely stopped for a breath from that point on.  My fears of boredom had been allayed by Ricky Wilson’s literally bouncy entrance and constant energy.  Without an instrument to pose with, he swung the microphone stand precariously around the stage, and performed all kinds of mime acts.

The audience right beneath the stage around me had been pretty tame and pleasant to begin with, aside from a few girls who had been chanting the same line of The Angry Mob since they’d arrived hours ago, but that all changed when the chorus to Never Miss A Beat started, and all of a sudden some giants appeared from nowhere and attempted to push everyone at the front of the stage out of their way.  Fists were pounding everwhere, and then the chorus was over and they died down, till the next chorus.  After the song, I heard one of the girls screaming at the giants ‘What are you even doing here if you don’t like the band!?’  The giant guys returned briefly later on, attempting to push their way to the front of the audience and claiming to be friends of the band and desperate to say hello.  When they made little progress, they went away, only to re-appear for the chorus of Ruby.  Behind me I could hear more jeering and saw unexpected slam dancing.  Maybe I was naïve, but I hadn’t expected the Kaiser Chiefs’ brand of sing-along pop to attract this bogan element.

After a false finish midway through I Predict A Riot, Ricky returned from the stage to crowd surf around the perimeter of the venue.  Whilst it tended to make the song drag on for a little too long, it was forgivable given the quality of the set and allowed for suitable build up to a big closing of the song, before a quick break between the main set and an encore that ended with a satisfyingly extended Oh My God that thankfully reunited the audience into a fluidly moving, perfectly timed, bouncing wave, perfect to close the show.

Having come directly from a work function, I’d used the cloak room, oddly, and thought that some of the hostility voice towards the attendents was a little unfounded, particularly considering – like everywhere else at the Metro – the queue snaked right by another bar, so I enjoyed a Southern Comfort cocktail whilst I waited the not too long time to retrieve my coat and school bag.

Punks In The Back…
August 8, 2011

A dedicated few had been braving the Melbourne Winter when I opened the Festy doors.  The first in the queue was a guy with an Afro clutching an Ol’ Dirty Bastard solo L.P.

‘You know,’ I mentioned to the man as I checked his ticket.  ‘I don’t think he’s going to sign that for you tonight.’

‘He might!’ the guy chimed optimistically, holding the record lovingly.  I wondered how dedicated some of these early arrivals really were

Wu-Tang Clan,
Festival Hall, Melbourne, August 6, 2011

Perhaps I am biased by both my years of concert-going experience, and also the judicious consideration I make into ticket purchase, but I don’t get why some people go to shows.  What kind of person, for example, goes to a concert not only without any form of I.D. (which is surprisingly widespread,) but also without a wallet or any means of financial transaction at all?  Who arrives, sans-ticket, expecting staff to recognise the attributes of a ticket holder simply by their mere presence?  Apparently the answer to these, and many other questions, is ‘a large contingent of Wu-Tang fans,’ and it seems like a larger contingent for this band than most others.

My theory as to why the proportion of disgruntled idiots in attendance was higher for this show than at any other comes down to, predictably, demographics:  Most of the audience have possibly only experienced live music in the format of New Years Eve at the R ‘n’ B club, and expected that every other live show anywhere would be run similarly.  So since the tickets clearly stated that doors opened at seven PM, many patrons read this as ‘No one goes out at seven o’clock.’  This suspicion was later confirmed when a patron who had asked me early in the night for set times returned in the show’s final minutes and expressed to me his dissatisfaction with the advice I’d earlier given him.

‘What d’ya mean “It’s almost finished?!”‘ he gasped.  ‘You told me before that they were only starting at 9.30!’

I agreed, since I had indeed relayed this information, and, whilst I acknowledged that I could not confirm the precise time when the band had taken to the stage, I explained that I believed it to have been roughly as per the previously discussed schedule.

‘But you didn’t tell me the Wu-Tang Clan themselves would be coming on then!  I mean, you did, but usually there’d be a DJ or someone would fuck around for a few hours then they come on at 11.30 or twelve right?  So they’ve been on all this time?  Fuck that!  How do I get a refund?’

I told him that he couldn’t get a refund from me, and would have to speak to the point of purchase or administration, but apparently this was an overly complicated and unreasonable, and after a little argument, the guy reluctantly entered and the stage emptied of everyone except for Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s son – Young Dirty Bastard – who stayed at the corner of the stage inviting girls up to shimmy around awkwardly with him, even after the music had ended and his microphone unceremoniously switched off.

From InTheMix.com.au

The closing moments weren’t the only awkward scenes that were playing out inside Festy.  The opening assortment of DJs in the lead up to Wu-Tang Clan’s set seemed to play until the very moment the band started, with the audience apparently unaware that the main act was starting as Clan members trickled onto the stage one-by-one and without much ceremony, and seemingly just to hang out at first.  Add to this the fact that the sound quality seemed appalling (at least from my vantage point behind the stage, where the vocals were all but drowned out by heavy bass thuds) and the result was an obviously and clearly divided audience:

  • Clan in the front, let your feet stomp: Directly in front of the stage, a sect of men who at first glance seemed like die-hard fans, but upon closer inspection were whooping at the mention of various random words on stage.  They broke into the Big Ups dance variously throughout the evening, and not always in time with the music.
  • Niggers on the left, brag shit to death: Surrounding this group were overdressed girls, swaying disinterestedly and coupled with mostly tall guys wearing leather jackets over hoodies who glared at, pushed, or threatened anyone who glanced at or, worse, came into brief accidental contact with their accompanying lady.
  • Hoods on the right, wild for the night: The seats seemed to tonight be divided between the underage – true fans, excited by every utterance from the stage and dancing in the aisles in their oversized WuWear – and those who insisted that they had been sold the wrong tickets demanding immediate access to a licensed bar and general admission.
  • Punks in the back, come on and attract: The balcony seats had been sold in advance for a higher rate and billed as V.I.P tickets.  Usually these seats are reserved for the give-away tickets for members of the media and competition winners.  This area was only briefly filled to capacity as the patrons there completed writing their signature in black marker on the walls and started leaping over the balcony edge into the audience below.

Not included in this list are the wealth of patrons who spent a significant stretch of the evening outside the venue in the rain.  Their reasons for this were many.  Some found their entrance to the venue delayed by the increased security provisions.  Every patron was made to pass through a hand-held (and time-consuming) metal detector which failed to find too much of interest, and broke down repeatedly throughout the night, leaving the security contractors in some cases standing dumbfounded and refusing admission to anyone yet to pass the metal probe.  Items that staff denied admission to were the usual and expected large cameras and umbrellas, and were tonight also asking patrons to leave their permanent markers outside too.  I was surprised at how many people had brought textas with them, and also a little surprised with the highlight of security’s work:  a man was ordered to place his walking stick in the cloak room with the explanation that it could be used as a weapon.

Also remaining outside were the passengers in the assortment of unusual vehicles who came past my door.  First there was the Porsche that arrived claiming to be carrying the clan’s Spiritual Advisor, who may have identified himself as Thomas.  Next came a black Hummer limousine, which couldn’t find anywhere to park and pulled briefly over to let out a succession of models wearing hot-pants and brief black t-shirts who stood shivering outside my door, and asked to come in to distribute postcards for some event.  I don’t know what happened to them, but they didn’t come in, nor did they spend too long freezing in the cold.

Others opted to voluntarily remain outdoors when advised that the venue abided by the Victorian government’s anti-smoking regulations and that they would not be able to smoke inside.  They loitered around outside with those without tickets who circled the venue asking to come in with a variety of reasons, and rushed inside only when prompted by one of the few recognisable songs of the evening, C.R.E.A.M.

Other than that song, I didn’t hear too much familiar music from inside.  I think I might have caught bits and pieces of some songs from Enter The Wu-Tang, but couldn’t identify any of the other sounds.  After the weird ending, where the band kind of just left the stage without encore, leaving Young Dirty flirting with the audience, some of the exiting crowd seemed overjoyed, despite the absence of RZA and Method Man (who was apparently missing without a trace) while others complained about the lack of merchandise and the show in general.

Since I was staying to help prepare for the magic show the day after, I happened to have a brief encounter with members of the band, much to the horror of other staff.  I shared a few words with Young Dirty, who told me that I should speak to the rest of the band, who were still around signing autographs for fans.  Easily identifiable was Ghostface Killah, who shook my hand and asked me about my night, and told me I should speak to the rest of the band, and get a souvenir of some kind from Raekwon.  When I looked at the other members with uncertainty he asked what was wrong, and I had to admit that I didn’t know who was who.  Before he responded, I clarified my last statement – I said that on their album cover, they were wearing white masks, and that they looked different to in their video game.  He seemed to be amused by that response.


In conclusion, I am glad to have worked at this show, because I think if I had bought the tickets, I might have been disappointed.  Nevertheless, it was a rare treat to talk to the band, and a little odd, considering I am more used to them as deadly animated fighters than a bunch of friendly guys.

He’s not Jesus, but he has the same initials…
August 2, 2011

‘I’m so excited!’ a woman standing next to me beneath the front of the darkened stage felt compelled to explain to me.  ‘I haven’t been here in years!  I hate this place so much!  Last time I was here, I was watching My Chemical Romance, and I was pregnant, and my baby stopped moving!’

I’d been ignoring her, but this last comment peaked my interest.  ‘Really?’ I asked.

‘Yeah,’ she boasted, apparently proudly.  ‘But it was okay, and my baby is okay, but I called Festival Hall and the papers and told them I’d had a miscarriage. But the dickheads wouldn’t even give me any money!’

‘Really?’ I wondered aloud.  ‘So that was you?’

The girl shrieked excitedly that it was, but she didn’t seem to recognise me from the incident.  It seemed she believed that the hoax had somehow made her a kind of celebrity, and she kept repeating to me that she had faked the whole thing, yet still felt disgusted at the venue management for not paying her any kind of settlement money.  I told her that she had confirmed what I’d suspected at the time, and she asked what I meant.

‘You don’t remember me, do you?’ I asked.

She told me that she didn’t, and I explained that I remembered her clearly from that evening, and had enjoyed the show.  She told me that she had enjoyed it too, and only felt bitter because she hadn’t been able to make a profit.  I repeated my sentiment from the time, that I wondered what such a visibly pregnant woman was doing in the front of a mosh pit, and she seemed to become even more annoyed.

‘That isn’t the point!’ she shouted, grabbing someone who may have been a friend by the arm.  ‘The point is the music was too loud!’

She continued talking, I think, for a while, but I discontinued the listening I had been half-heartedly doing as a black curtain was raised above the stage where Belles Will Ring had just finished performing.  I didn’t really enjoy Belles Will Ring’s performance, however they can hardly be blamed for that, since I always confuse them with Broken Bells, who I prefer.  I had clearly not considered that it was probably unlikely that Broken Bells would be supporting Pulp.

Pulp,
Festival Hall, Melbourne, July 29, 2011

A low hum rose as the lights fell, and green letters were projected in a laser print onto the curtain.  It was the kind of theatrics I usually don’t go for, especially not when it went for as long as it did, but the fact that the lasers seemed to be speaking in the voice of Jarvis Cocker himself (whether that is truly the case or not) made the effect somewhat interesting.  But it started to get really exciting by the time the hum had grown to a steady guitar fuzz and the letters prompted Do you remember the first time? Well? Do you?

Suitably kitsch neon letters were illuminated one by one behind the curtain, which fell the second they completed spelling ‘Pulp,’ and gave us our first view of the band, and only meters away, Jarvis looking as excitedly awkawrd as he ever did.  As he strutted around the stage, I wondered if it is possible to practice awkwardness to the point of perfection, and concluded as things slowed down for Pencil Skirt that it is.

Pulp at Festival HallI was already impressed by Jarvis’s vintage heels when he requested a more modest pair of shoes be brought from somewhere off-stage, since it was irresponsible to be wearing such high heels ‘at my age.’  If the change of footwear allowed him to slink across the length of the stage during I Spy, then it was well worth while.  This Is Hardcore was, as anticipated, the set’s highlight, but was made only more exciting by Jarvis acting the lyrics out on stage, and all over amps and microphone stands, leaving few with any doubt about the lyrics’ meaning.

Pulp's Jarvis at Festival HallThe sound mix was also impressive – somehow the usual Festival Hall trait of the drum beats being mixed louder than anything else and drowning out the singer was surprisingly absent.

Jarvis, with Festival Hall's roof, and doors 3, 4 and 5Of course, with so extensive a back-catalogue there were songs that were left out, but the set included so many favourites that it wasn’t till playing an album in the car on the way home that anyone realised.  And isn’t that how a good gig should be?