One Man Party…
May 17, 2012

We went to the front, with our names on the list.
Those who were strangers had turned into friends.
Lauren From Glebe – Muscles

It was one of the strangest and most interesting concert experiences I have ever had.  After the first song, Andrew W.K. announced ‘You know what?  This stage is just another dance floor, right?’

Andrew W.K.,
Pier Live, Frankston, May 2, 2012

It was an eerily quiet night in Funkytown as I walked from the car park to the old 21st Century nightclub.  At the corner, a man wearing a flannelette shirt asked me something I didn’t understand.  Perhaps it was because I’d been out of town so long, but what he was saying didn’t seem to make any sense.

‘What’s a round worth here?’ he asked, leaning deviously close to me.  I noticed that he was clutching the remnants of a pot of beer he’d likely been tossed out of his last drinking hole with.

‘I don’t know what you mean,’ I conceded.

‘A round!’ he cried.  ‘You know?’

I didn’t so I asked if he was talking about beer, because if that were the case, I wouldn’t be much help – I prefer spirits.  Then I realised he could have been saying around and needing help with directions.  I asked him to clarify if this was what he meant.  He cursed, finished the last of the beer and tossed the glass to shatter in the gutter.  It seemed I’d upset him, and as the lights changed, I quickened my pace.

‘Come on!’ he shouted now.  ‘It is Wednesday night!’  I realised he may have been right, but was no closer to understanding his weird dialect, as he returned to a line of questioning regarding the value, or location, of rounds.

It was a much emptier 21st Century than I have ever seen that I was allowed entry to, whilst the man following me had been kept outside by the bouncer.  I’ve never seen 21st Century looking so desolate, but on stage a group called Bad Karma were playing, and literally wearing their hearts on their sleeves.  It was as though the singer’s Sonic Youth t-shirt had seemed through the fabric and into his very being, and if one squinted just a little, Bad Karma could easily be mistaken for some pub rock side project that Thurston Moore has going on.  To keep the pub rock vibe going, Heartless Vendetta followed.  Pub rock isn’t usually my kind of scene, but Heartless Vendetta played it enthusiastically, turning what could have been a generic support slot into something enjoyable.

They were followed up by the advertised support, someone called Aleister X.  I’d never heard of him, but he bounded to the front of the stage to fist-bump me, and give me microphone props for my choice of Ramones t-shirt.  He put on an energetic performance of a kind of electro-freestyling which was mostly poorly received by the crowd.  I, on the other hand, found his initially bizarre-seeming foreboding raps kind of catchy.  Dragging chairs onto the stage as props and shaking his fist in rage, I got the impression this kind of music would work well with an audience more familiar with the tunes, so it was perhaps a pre-emptive strike when Aleister X stuck around to give me a copy of his album later on.

The stage had been cleared after the two support bands.  The chairs Aleister X had carried onto the stage had also been removed, leaving only a microphone and an electronic piano.  Before long, an introductory tune played which sounded like it had been written and performed by Aleister X too.  A look around the venue confirmed that it hadn’t filled up much more during the support bands, and, for better or worse, it looked like Andrew W.K. would be playing to an audience that couldn’t be larger than fifty people.  At the pinnacle of the introduction, Andrew W.K. ran onto the stage, disappointingly accompanied only by a backing track played by a disinterested looking roadie.  I’ll admit, even without a band, I found myself jumping along to opener It’s Time To Party.

By the end of the first song, Andrew W.K. had made the aforementioned invitation onto the stage, and that was all it took to get me up.  The rest of the audience followed suit, and the rest of the show was carried out as a giant sing-a-long, with Andrew pounding away on the piano, passing microphones around the audience whilst he posed for photographs and accepted drinks from fans, which he usually also passed along with the mics.

ImageThe description of the tour, One Man Party, sums up the evening fairly well.  With everyone crowded onto the stage shouting along to a tape, it would have been easy to confuse the scene with the lounge room of someone’s house party, and no more so than when I Love New York City quickly degenerated into a chant of ‘I love Frankston City!‘  Other songs tended to fade into obscurity, lost amongst the on-stage posturing and chanting.

It wasn’t a bad night, but it can’t really be rated amongst other shows.  It was more of an experience, and one that brought a room-full of strangers together and leaving with their arms around each other, talking about how to get in touch to exchange the choice photos from the maelstrom of the stage.  It is something I’m glad I experienced, but now that I’ve been to a One Man Party show, I don’t think I’d ever need to go again.  It had a lot to live up to, after Andrew W.K.’s show last year, which I ranked amongst my favourite gigs of the year, and it didn’t really manage to do that at all.  It only really made me leave hoping Andrew W.K. would be back soon, and remembers to bring his band along too.

Photo by Anwar Rizk. Gallery.

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Room Without A View…
July 5, 2010

The Butterfly Effect,
Pier Live, July 3, 2010

Since the Butterfly Effect have always been, in my experience, an excellent live band, there is little reason to discuss too many details of their performance on Saturday night.  The band played a pitch-perfect set for their headlining show consisting of an appropriately more varied set than the last time I saw them playing, at last year’s Big Day Out on the back of the Final Conversation Of Kings album.  They opened with their very first single Crave, and later finished the first part of the set with b-side A.D. More melodic songs like Final Conversation broke up the set nicely.

Much more worthy or analysis is the venue.  Since the closure of Peninsula Lounge in the beginning of 2009 there have been slim pickings for bands looking for a venue to play in the greater Frankston area, however if the frequently updated banner outside Pier Live in Frankston’s heart is anything to go by, it seems to be the place to watch, having played host to a number of local favourites including Parkway Drive and 28 Days, and even Donna A’s birthday gig.

So far I haven’t been able to make it to any of these shows, meaning that the Butterfly Effect gig would be my first visit to the venue since filing in for the infamous underage nights during high school in the club’s former guise as 21st Century.  I was excited on the picturesque drive in to see spotlights circling enticingly Bat Signal-like in the sky above the club.  Once I’d found a parking space and walked closer, though, it became evident that the beams were emanating from Pier’s inexplicably popular neighbour, Davey’s, where the winding queue was so monumental that local take-away vendors were taking food and drink orders from the assembled throng.

Luckily the line for Pier was non-existant, the ‘Sold Out’ sign having been hung before my arrival.  My ID was scanned on entry to remind me of my surroundings, and I climbed the stairs to find the club’s interior largely unchanged with the club’s rebranding.  Although presently inactive, I was pleased to see 21st Century’s signature elevated revolving dance floor still in tact.  A pleasing addition was a temporary second bar – where the DJ booth had formerly stood – offering bottled beverages, happily cutting down on the significant wait at the main bar.  I was less impressed with the drink prices, though.

The adoption of two adjacent stages, like sometimes seen at the Corner, seemed like a great way to make the night progress smoothly while the enjoyable first support band, New Skinn, played.  The feature became redundant, however, when touring support, the popular but disappointing Calling All Cars played on the main stage anyway, leaving a lengthy change over time during which the audience were left to listen to the first few tracks of Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American on repeat.

I was lucky enough (and perhaps experienced enough) to be able to glide with a minimum of fuss from the main bar (where service had been unforgivably slow) through the thick sea of bodies to the front of the stage without spilling a drop of my trademark pair of spirit mixers and a sealed back-up bottle of water.  A look over my shoulder confirmed that others would not be so lucky.  While a venue like this caters to a large and varied crowd – the dance floor beneath the stage is at least as big as the Corner’s and the elevated areas are perfect for the more timid to get an unobstructed view – the ‘L’-shaped layout of the space is problematic.  On a night like this when a big name has sold to capacity, there are bound to be people struggling to see around corners or past the bar.

It seems that this is an aspect of the night which wore thin with some. A couple of moments before the encore, I heard intermittent, high-pitched shouting moving slowly towards me.

‘Can I go past?’ the voice demanded.  ‘Excuse me!’

I felt the effects of shoved bodies as waves of movement reached my back.

‘Excuse me!’ the same voice repeated, closer now.  ‘I need to get to the front.’

Then the voice was right next to me.

‘I need to get to the front.  It’s my birthday.  Hey!  Hey! Hey, you!  Do you hear me?  Hey!’

I slowly turned to face a slight blonde girl wearing a leopard print top entirely unsuited to the winter weather.

‘Did you hear me?’ she shouted.  ‘It’s my birthday.’

She cursed loudly when I said, without feeling, that it was nice that it was her birthday and turned back to the stage in anticipation of an energetic encore.

I suddenly felt pointy elbows jammed into my spine.  I assumed the well-practiced, braced defence against such an onslaught, and adjusted my stance slightly to the point that I knew would mean the elbows caused not the intended pain and nuisance, but a soothing remedy for the back pain I have experienced since Soundwave 2009.  It wasn’t long before my assailant gave in and started explaining to the guy next to me the importance of her being at the very front of the stage.  It was during this discussion that the band emerged from behind the black curtain.  In the ensuing applause, I saw a bony arm swing, and the other guy ducked away from the punch.  It was followed by a stream of the girl slapping at the guy’s face as he back-pedaled as much as he could in the thick crowd.  She seemed infuriated at the fact that her initial attack had missed, and even more so when a contract security staff started dragging her away through, ironically, the space in front of the stage where she had wanted to be.

As an electronic introduction to what would prove to be an extended rendition of Worlds On Fire was triggered by one of guitarist Kurt Goedhart’s effects pedals, the girl kicked and screamed as she was dragged away.

‘This is unfair! He assaulted me, and you kick me out! It’s my fucking birthday!’