Archive for the ‘Reviews from the inside’ Category

Winter Soundwave…
October 2, 2011

‘Goodnight, Springton.  There will be no encore…’
– Spinal Tap – The Simpsons

It would perhaps be to risk committing slander to refer to the organisers of Soundwave Revolution as irresponsible, however, the fact remains that as late as the Monday before the show, statements were still being submitted to the press referring to the replacement Counter Revolution show for Melbourne as taking place at ‘Festival Hall and surrounds.’

Counter Revolution,
Festival Hall, Melbourne, September 30, 2011

I’d been kind of relieved when the originally announced Soundwave Revolution had been cancelled.  Whilst the line up had promised some appealing elements, I was concerned by the casual negligence of the event ads to mention the name of the venue.  When a racetrack in Melton was finally announced, I quickly discovered that Melton appears to have only one motel which was already booked out.  As September dawned, this was downgraded to the Counter Revolution ‘mini-festival’ at Sidney Myer Music Bowl and later to Festival Hall and its alleged surrounds, and was boasting ‘No clashes!’ which should have alerted everyone to the fact that this was no longer a festival at all.

Meanwhile, speculation with friends was rife regarding what these surrounds might be.  There were suggestions of the Carron or Spencer Hotels, and even North Melbourne Station, but I had less optimism.  I suggested that there would be no surrounds included at all.  If the owners of the terrace houses in neighbouring blocks complain to police when noise and activity are confined to within Festival Hall, imagine the outrage if it were to spill into their streets.

Sure enough, as I left the Carron and headed down Rosslyn Street, there was little sign of life other than a guy spray painting promotional stencils onto the street for The Getaway Plan’s new single.

Inside Festival Hall, it was already quite crowded at eleven o’clock.  I was given a cushy job that allowed an unobstructed view of the precedings:  finally making use of my ill-begotten RSA licence and issuing ‘Proof Of Age’ wristbands upon presentation of ID to those who wanted to drink.

The venue seemed to have filled very early for a fourteen hour event – which had apparently caught the cloakroom girls off-guard – but it was still very sparsely populated inside, and peculiarly cold.  The stage had been divided down the middle by a row of Marshalls, so that a band could be performing on one side of the amps whilst the stage was being set up on the other side for the next band.  It meant that there were no breaks between bands which was novel, but also raised some kind of compatibility issue with the lighting set up.  The half-quantity of lights only seemed able to cast the bands in a dim, sporadic glow, so it felt a bit like watching a Nirvana or Prodigy video.  Alesana were the first band anyone seemed interested in watching, and I guess for the people who rushed to the front of the stage the lighting wouldn’t have been such a concern.

My wristbands were a surprisingly sought-after attraction, with the expected allocation being claimed by the end of Alesana’s set.  When the stylish red and white checked design wristbands had run out, somebody quickly replenished my stock with an alternative.  These ones were emblazoned with the advice ‘Drink responsibly’ and a drawing of a Martini.  The combination of elements in the design made me crave a drink, like those television commercials with the Olympian who I went to school with.  Drinking responsibly seemed like a fine idea, but I still had around twelve hours of work ahead of me.

Skull and crossBandsThe efficiency of the stage set up was evident as the vastly superior yet obviously less popular Go Radio started playing Living End-esque riffs immediately as Alesana stepped off stage.  A girl with a Butterfree tattoo stumbled up to me, acting drunker than she really was.  Wordlessly, she presented her wrist to me, and when I asked to see her ID, she laughed maniacally to the point that she fell on the floor, spilling twenty dollar bills everywhere and suddenly becoming more sober.  I collected a few and handed them to her as she stood up, and she laughed some more, and found her licence.  I checked the age and picture and wrapped a wristband on her, and she thanked me with a kiss and stumbled away just as she’d arrived.  Meanwhile, the band’s cover of Adele’s Rolling In The Deep didn’t seem to elicit the response the band had hoped for.

Hellogoodbye – who I had been looking forward to seeing – also didn’t attract the audience that they perhaps deserved.  Their intriguingly-produced bubble-rock translated very well to the live arena, although the signing tables proved a much greater attraction to the bulk of the patrons, despite the apparently not outrageousness of having to purchase an additional ticket to visit, and another for each band.  My viewing of Hellogoodbye’s impressive set was occasionally interrupted by girls crying after their meeting with The Damned Things at the signing table.  I was surprised to see that they were the first of the singing draw card bands, especially since their set which followed wasn’t anything special, though I guess many of those were probably fans of band members’ main projects like Anthrax, or perhaps more likely, Fall Out Boy.

As per usual, I didn’t really get the hype surrounding Funeral For A Friend.  Even though their opening strains had audience members running from the stands and bars to get to the floor, other than some appealing album covers, I just can’t manage to find much of interest in the band’s sound or live shows, even after seeing them play so many times in the past.  They were followed by Set Your Goals, a band I hadn’t heard before.  I quite enjoyed their dual vocal, Good Charlotte sound.  It was during their set that a whole bunch of people decided they needed wristbands and a queue started to form.  I noticed that lots of the wrists were adorned with cuts of various severity.  I had almost identical conversations with several patrons.

‘You’re asking me for ID?  I’m, like, the oldest person here!’

After a brief and uninteresting debate, they would present their ID, which invariably showed a birth-year of 1992 0r 1993, and be given a wristband.  A couple of people felt like arguing because they had not brought ID, and made various demands which I did not meet, since I didn’t consider them important.  As an all-ages show, they were already inside and welcome to stay.  As far as I was concerned their ability to drink was entirely unimportant.

This Providence arrived and threatened to steal the show.  With a faintly Japanese sound and a flamboyant front man, their live sound would probably best slot in somewhere between My Chemical Romance and Yves Klein Blue, but with soft songs that proved reminiscent of Coheed And Cambria.  Although I hadn’t heard This Providence’s music before, their powerful set has inspired me to ensure that I listen to more of it in future.  Although the audience seemed to enjoy their set, it was clear most of them were just filling the time until Story Of The Year came on.  Never have I seen as many t-shirts that read ‘Blitz Kids Never Die’ as I did during Story Of They Year’s set which was fine, but nothing really revolutionary or otherwise memorable.

A pleasant surprise, though not of particular interest to the majority of the audience, were Face To Face in what I guess is their first Australian tour since their reformation.  Their somehow more serious sounding punk rock, drawing close to ska sounds, were amongst the best musical moments of the whole day, though few in the audience seemed to notice, I guess due to a lack of on-stage gimmicks, and a solid looking guy approached me, bringing his wrist slowly up towards me, and peering at me from beneath the brim if his hat.

‘Have you got some ID to show me?’ I asked him, meeting his gaze sideways.

He continued to glare at me from beneath the hat and slowly shook his head, the edges of his lips turning up in a vicious looking scowl.

‘Then you can’t have a wristband.’

Still wordlessly, he finally looked away, as though trying to barely contain some incredible rage, and finally flipped a drivers licence to me.  His age checked out and I gave him a wristband and he left without a sound.

Yellowcard were next up, and effortlessly drew the largest audience of the day, despite my consideration of the group as little more than a support act.  I guess that’s just because my previous experience of the band has been at such.  From the moment the trademark violin appeared on stage, the screaming was constant, and I have to admit that the band seems to have improved with age.  A rendition of Five Becomes Four was particularly enjoyable, and I caught myself singing along before it was through.  The peculiarly highly billed Young Guns followed, but their performance was largely ignored with the intermittent view of Brendon Urie as movement at the signing table caused the surrounding curtains to part slightly proving too big an attraction to ignore for the many who had missed out on the tickets for Panic! At The Disco’s signing, which was sold out by the time I arrived.  A few people asked me where to buy tickets, but by that point, the promoters in charge of the signing had left.

Meanwhile another of the event organisers was appalled when I refused to give a wristband to a pair of guys allegedly involved in the show in some way.  After a brief argument he told me to fuck off, before himself leaving, allowing me free time to watch a set which proved to be overly expletive-laden by All Time Low.  I was certain that at one point the band referred to the audience as ‘Sydney,’ and after the song, Alex Gaskarth, his band-mates laughing behind him, apologised for calling the crowd ‘Brisbane.’  I wondered if this was some kind of joke.  When they were playing, the group sounded okay – particularly a song towards the end that opened with drum machine that caught me off guard, like when I’m Your Daddy comes on during the first listen to Weezer’s Raditude, and you wonder if the sound is a joke or parody, but then it gets bumped up a notch on Can’t Stop Partying and everyone knew it was serious, but I liked it – but they just spent too much time on banter and innuendo.  Late in the set the band seemed to be joking amongst themselves when they proclaimed ‘Craig from D.R.U.G.S. is backstage fellashying himself.’  Presumably he meant ‘fellating.’

Whatever he meant, it didn’t seem to be true, because D.R.U.G.S. themselves appeared impatiently waiting on the opposite side of the stage for All Time Low to finish what turned out to be the only set to run overtime in an otherwise impeccably maintained schedule.  D.R.U.G.S. brought a darker and more layered sound to the day, which was a nice change, and it was good to see keyboards on stage, and more were being set up on the opposite side in preparation for Panic! At The Disco.  When Panic! finally emerged after D.R.U.G.S., it was perhaps to a smaller than expected audience.  It seemed that around half of the audience of the peak of the day had already filtered out after Yellowcard finished, but they missed a fine set from Panic!, who played hit after hit and sounded pitch-perfect, deviating from the formula only for a Darkness cover.

My suspicions turned out to be wrong.  I’d thought that after the initially appealing Soundwave Revolution line up, the Counter Revolution bill read like a series of side-stages.  Even though the show could hardly be called a festival, it was still a good day of music, and ran surprisingly smoothly.  Were it not for the public scandal that came before, Counter Revolution could have existed as a stand-alone rock show.  As it is, I think it provided what it set out to, and can be proud of that.

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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.

The Pixies – featuring surround sound and alternate angles…
April 2, 2010

Despite short notice, on my behalf, everything had fallen into place exactly as I had hoped.  I’d agreed to, and been invited to, work for the first three nights of the Pixies’ Melbourne performances, leaving myself free to attend as a spectator on night four, for which tickets were still widely available.

The Pixies,
Festival Hall, March 20, 2010

Most of the audience missed support act The Art – who sounded at times like Magic Dirt and at times like Hole – and arrived moments before the house lights dimmed.  I’d been posted in the unlicensed seated section, which meant that I had fielded the usual questions about where one could buy a drink and why one couldn’t go to the floor until this point, but luckily the night had seen the return of Travisty, a former Festy regular who did not explain his prolonged absence when I asked, and was working as my supervisor for the evening.  I approved of this, particularly when a pair of new ushers who had been directed to seat patrons in the area asked Travisty what they were supposed to do.

‘You must be new,’ Travisty answered, shooting me a knowing smile as I made my way to look at the merchandise stand before the doors opened.  ‘We don’t do anything.’

A bunch of patrons were standing around when an elaborate video introduction started, and I asked them to take their seats.  Most of them obliged, but one woman demanded to know why she should return to her seat.  Before I could answer, she pointed out the absurdity of being asked to sit at a rock concert, and asked how she could dance.  Again, she cut me off before I could answer, and called me sick.

‘Are you getting off on this?  Is that it?’ she damanded, spitting frantically. ‘You get off on the authority of telling people what to do?’

‘No,’ I assured her.  ‘But you are in my spot. I want you to move before they come onto the stage, and certainly before they start Debaser.’

With that she returned to her seat, and I settled in to watch the show.  The video was actually out-of-order shots from Un Chien Andalou, the film by Salvadore Dali, and I realised for the first time the possibility of a connection between it and the Pixies’ song Debaser – despite the film’s title appearing in the song several times.

Finally, the video, accompanied by a sweeping superimposed symphony, ended and the band came onto the stage, even fatter and older than they were in the first place, and broke into a brief set of hectic songs I didn’t know.  Then, to tremendous applause, the title ‘Doolittle’ flickered onto the screen behind the band, and they broke into Debaser.  When the Doolittle tour had been announced last year, with promise of the album being performed in full from beginning to end, I wondered whether some of the usual excitement associated with seeing a band live might be missing.  After all, we would all know which song would be up next!  But I quickly found that this didn’t matter, and eagerly anticipated the bubbly opening of Here Comes Your Man all through I Bleed.  I usually restrain myself to a point when attending shows in a professional (and non-journalistic) capacity, but tonight decided to let my appreciation of the music come to the surface, and shout along the lyrics as much as I felt like, bouncing along all the while.

We’d been promised two encores in the briefing prior to the show, one featuring two songs and the audience covered in smoke for the song ‘White.’  Heads had turned towards me when I cheered at the mention of what I knew to be Into The White.  After this, the band were to play between two and six songs, depending on how they felt.

I was especially pleased with the second encore, which took place with the house lights switched back on, to the confusion of a couple of patrons and security staff.  It was actually seven songs, if I counted right, opening with Bone Machine and U-Mass., with Nimrod’s Son and an extended version of Vamos in which the guitar was passed into the audience bleeding into Where Is My Mind?  They closed with Gigantic, and once the audience was satisfied that there were no additional encores to come, I was left with the task of getting CD recordings of the entire concert, made that evening, to the patrons who had ordered it from the merchandise stand earlier.  It is an idea I have thought was long overdue for some time, and I am glad to have witnessed it first at a concert at which I was working, since I now know that it is preferable to purchase the CD online, at a cheaper rate and without the queue.

I was so impressed with the performance that I was inspired to invest in a tour t-shirt.  I decided to wait to see if anyone was selling bootleg shirts on the corner, and was pleased when a man with very few teeth was offering shirts of similar quality to those with which I am familiar.  I asked if he would be there each night, and he said that he hoped to be, but that ‘venue security’ had come down on him pretty hard, making subsequent visits semi-doubtful.  He was asking $10, but accepted $7.

The Pixies,
Festival Hall, March 21, 2010

A colleague from my day job was the surprise guest this evening, arriving at my door during the support act with his hand outstretched.  I shook it as he explained himself.

‘I saw you working here last night,’ he said brightly.  ‘So I figured if I came back tonight, you’d be able to help me out.’

‘Help you out how?’ I replied.  I was going to make him spell it out.

‘Oh…’ he stammered, unprepared for this turn of events.  ‘Well, you know, we had tickets last night, but tonight we don’t so I thought if I spoke to you, you’d be able to help me out, you know?’

‘No,’ I said, flatly.  ‘I don’t know.  You’ll have to make it more clear.’

‘Well, I thought you could let me in here… It’s just me and my girlfriend, so… no big deal, right?’

Since the girlfriend was nowhere to be seen, and he said he was going to be meeting her at the station and coming back, I told him that I might be able to ‘help him out’ if he could find me once the band had started.  Of course, by that time, my door had closed and I was safely locked inside.

Tonight’s view was from the rear of the floor, and it became quickly apparent that we would be in for the same string of jokes between songs as the night before, all from the mouth of Kim Deal.

‘Some of these songs are so obscure, we had to learn them ourselves.’

‘So we’re playing our whole album… That means we should only be here for another 17 minutes, right?’

‘Now you’d need to turn the record over to side two.’

The show ran as per the previous night, with the Doolittle album played with little deviation from how it sounds on record.  This night’s encore, however, featured personal favourites Caribou and Velouria, the song which inspired me to learn the theremin (although it was presented without theremin this evening, even I had hoped that one might be hidden beneath the vast blackness of the wide cloth covering the band’s equipment on stage that I’d looked at on my way across the floor prior to the doors opening.)

On my way home, a different pair of t-shirt vendors were positioned further away from the venue than they had been on Saturday.

The Pixies,
Festival Hall, March 22, 2010

The dinner-and-a-show crowd were once more already enjoying their parma-and-pint specials at nearby pubs as I made my way to Festy for the last of the Pixies shows that I’d be attending on a professional basis.  I’d been pleased on the first night when it was announced in the pre-show briefing to staff that someone would be distributing fliers offering half-price tickets to the fourth show, since that was the one I’d intended to go to.  I’d snapped up one of the tickets, which stipulated that the cheaper tickets were only available to ticket holders from previous nights.  It was with this in mind that I’d scoured the floor for discarded tickets in case I needed them.  As it turned out, anyone was entitled to these tickets, so there was no need for me to go looking for left over tickets on Monday night.

This night I had my clearest view, from the balcony, which is usually the domain of the media.  Since very few passes seem to have been issued to members of the press for any of the shows, however, this space was mostly occupied by non-descript people with passes for an after show event with the band which never eventuated, which the patrons felt should work as an All Access pass.  It was explained to them that this wasn’t the case, as was the venue’s ‘No Smoking’ and ‘No Pass Out’ policies.  Tounges were clicked, and the majority of the pass holders left denouncing the venue for its inhospitability before the encore, the highlight of which was Broken Face.

Whilst rounding up stragglers at the end of the night, a man sitting in the front row confessed that he couldn’t leave.  I asked if he was waiting to buy the night’s CD, and he quietly said that he wasn’t.  I asked him if he was waiting for anything at all, and, if not, if he would leave.  Finally he admitted that he believed he was too drunk to walk.  This was proven to be somewhat inaccurate, since he was, with the aid of security staff, able to wobble bow-leggedly, downstairs and out the door.

As I was leaving, I noticed a plethora of people hanging around where one might expect to usually find the dodgy t-shirt merchants.  All of them were filming something with their camera phones.  It turned that the cause of all the excitement was a pair of the security contractors confiscating the now familiar bag of t-shirts from the vendors of previous nights.  So it was lucky I bought mine on night one. 

The Pixies,
Festival Hall, March 23, 2010

I’d planned on going to the show with a ticket this night, but instead I went to the premiere of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s new film Micmacs.  I figured I’d already seen the show from three different angles, and was satisfied with that.  I’d heard Where Is My Mind? played for the fifth time at this venue (the first two performances being by James Blunt and Placebo) and Wave Of Mutilation six times (because the Pixies played it twice each show – once in place during the Doolittle segment of their show, and next a nice, chilled out version to open their first encore.)

Whilst Micmacs was good, it is no Amelie, and certainly no City Of Lost Children.

At war with androgynous La Roux fans…
March 20, 2010

La Roux,
Festival Hall, March 19, 2010

It was just as La Roux were taking to the stage that I heard something over my radio about malfunctioning toilets.  The band opened with In For The Kill, which I presumed meant that they would be ending their set with Bulletproof.  The touring band played a good show, but for a band so new, they would likely have been better suited to a festival show than their own solo set.  Still, I was more impressed with the majority of the audience with Bertie Blackman’s support slot which was, in my opinion, as impressive as the headliner, and opener Tom and Jean, who I had never heard of.

The peculiarly unlicensed floor was seen by many as making my warnings upon entry that there would be no pass outs issued redundant.  I was told by patrons to be lenient, but I reminded them that I had, prior to their entry, not only warned them of the venue’s policy, but recommended a fine nearby establishment for pre-show drinks. 

When I was told to stand guard to the entrance to the toilets at the very beginning of La Roux’s set last night, I was pleased.  Not only did it place me in prime position for watching the show, but it also sounded like easy money.  The section supervisor’s reasons for her instructions amused me.

‘The toilets have exploded!’ she cried over the electronic beat.

It didn’t take long for the problem to be at least partially solved, and I was notified over my radio that the ladies’ bathroom was now operating, and that only women could be admitted downstairs into the bathrooms.  This was, theoretically, better, however raised a problem all of its own, and one exclusive to this particular concert:

How do we deal with the patrons when it is unclear if they are a boy or a girl?

As predicted, the set finished with Bulletproof, precisely one hour after it started.  Whilst the fact that the band only have one album to work from meant the set was always going to be short, it also meant that almost everyone knew all the words to sing along to every song.  It was a good pop show, but it was the first of the Pixies’ shows tonight that I am really looking forward to, even if Frank Black says they are only in it for the money.  When it comes down to it, so am I, otherwise I would be there with a ticket, not watching from behind the stage.

Condition(s) of Entry…
February 26, 2010

Of course, we all know that Brian Molko has his quirks, like everyone else. I have always admired his eloquence and obvious intelligence, not to mention his stage presence and musicianship.  However, since the last time I worked at a Placebo gig,  Brian seems to have become disappointingly fond of making diva-style demands…

Placebo,
Festival Hall, February 22, 2010

Prior to the show, staff working on doors were given a briefing, describing ‘things that the singer doesn’t like, and some he is afraid of.’  We were told that the show would be halted if any of the items posted on the sign given to me to post on the door were spotted in the audiece by Brian:

The ‘plastic dolls’ in question were defined as inflatable dolls, allegedly common at Placebo shows.  We were also warned that ‘lots of people will come dressed as animals,’ which I doubted. It proved to be untrue, and I wondered where this information is sourced.  KMW, for all their criticisms, probably wouldn’t be behind such tales, and I wondered if Management just enjoys the gasps of exasperation from a select few members of easily impressionable staff. Either way, to my disappointment, and not surprisingly, nobody arrived dressed in an animal costume, though one guy had an enviable skull necklace. Few patrons also had much to say about the strict conditions of entry. One girl complained that her camera cost ‘over one thousand dollars,’ and therefore could not be expected to be placed in a cloak room. She scoffed at me and stormed off when she produced the compact digital camera and I mentioned that the same model is readily available for well under three hundred dollars any number of retail outlets. The other objection of note was a girl who, when told of the conditions, said simply ‘Oh, that’s okay,’ and tossed her own digital camera into the bin. My security guard, Chi, snapped it up quickly. She was also somewhat confused by a disposable camera that someone tossed away. Apparently, she had never seen a camera that uses film before, which I found a little hard to buy.

The band sounded good, and played a great set for singing along to. It was perhaps not as exciting as the last show, since it didn’t have the weird psuedo-encore with electronica, but I guess that kind of gimmick loses something when it happens again and again.  The majority of songs were also from recent albums, though most fans know not to expect Pure Morning any more, but most of the favourites were there, and Placebo were successful in their effort to make me want to buy Battle For The Sun.

Lily Allen and the Karaoke Machine…
January 30, 2010

Lily Allen,
Festival Hall, January 28, 2010

After her jaunt at this year’s Big Day Out, Lily Allen dropped by Festival Hall, sans the Australian flag she wore along with the usual suspects at the Showgrounds days earlier.

She was joined by a throng of middle-aged women, already teetering on the cusp of intoxication when they arrived via a fleet of double-decker buses, no doubt a ride coming at unreasonable expense and arranged by some entrepreneurial individual.  This is probably the same individual that gave these women the Lily Allen ‘V.I.P.’ lanyards which they wore around their necks, and led them to believe that these entitled bearers to some kind of special privilege.  Most were glad just to get inside, but a few argued that they had paid extra money for these passes, and seemed confused when I said that the ‘extra money’ they had paid had not gone to official channels.  Nevertheless, they were dispersed into the stadium easily, and most only returned to express their confusion when Miami Horror took to the stage, having never heard of the phenomena of a support band, and later to state how discriminatory the venue’s ‘No Smoking’ policy is.

I’m not a huge Lily Allen fan, but I thought her album of last year, It’s Not Me, It’s You was a pop gem. I’d expected an entertaining show, but the performance Lily gave went beyond my expectations. True, it was a short set, but she played all the hits, and a few unexpected covers. She looked diminutive on stage, even while bringing back the Baby Spice-style platform sports shoes, and her two costume changes were brief and didn’t interrupt the show too much. A weird, rap interlude during Smile by someone Lily introduced as her best friend, on the other hand, just seemed to confuse everyone.

From my vantage point to the rear of the stage, I’d noticed a small screen at the foot of the stage, and at first didn’t pay too much attention to it.  As the show progressed, I noticed that this screen was busy with text, and when I stepped closer, noticed that it was displaying the lyrics to all of the songs, scrolling on the screen, karaoke-style.  I smiled to myself, surprised, but not disappointed.  It was something I hadn’t seen before, and it was clearly present just in case of a lyrical emergency.  I didn’t notice Lily look at the screen during the course of the performance.  I did, however, make the mistake of pointing it out to another staff member, who instantly dismissed Lily Allen as ‘pathetic.’

‘But,’ he pointed out, when Lily broke into a cover of Britney’s Womanizer.  ‘At least she really sings.’