Mainstream Freak…
October 8, 2012

‘Oh, God,’ sighed Pinky Beecroft, releasing my hand that he’d been shaking.  ‘Are you a journalist?’

His debut spoken-word show had ended only moments ago, and I’d clearly interrupted the determined bee-line he was making through the Northcote Town Hall’s bar to debrief with friends, but it seemed very important to introduce him to my friend Kip.  She is probably Machine Gun Fellatio’s biggest fan, so I’d pounced on the band’s singer the moment he drew near.

When I replied to his question with ‘Kind of…’ Pinky repeated ‘Oh, God!‘ this time with more enthusiasm.  ‘You’re not a blogger, are you?’

With his unashamed disdain for my implied career, Pinky gained several admiration points.  Despite the theatrical outburst, he humoured us in his down-time following the show as Kip reverted to teenage-fandom and could find little more than a giggle to respond to Pinky’s observations.  We chatted a while over the house cider, and it seemed wholly appropriate that we had to raise our voices to be heard over the moans coming from within the nearby erotic finger-puppet theatre.

Pinky Beecroft’s Mainstream Freak,
North Melbourne Town Hall, October 6, 2012

I used to be really down on the whole spoken-word tour thing that rock stars started doing.  I guess – after reading so many of Henry Rollins’ political opinion pieces – I kind of assumed they would all take a similar view.  Or maybe it is just a sign that I’m getting older.  Either way, I’ve started to enjoy hearing tales of touring from admired musicians.  Pinky started his show in the intimate space in the town hall by admitting his own feelings towards such shows.  He acknowledged the new walking stick that he’d taken to the stage with and brushed over the fact that he’s suffered an illness that has kept him from the concert circuit where he might be expected to be found.  Nevertheless, he felt like being on stage, one way or another.

‘I don’t really know what the hell I’m doing here,’ he laughed, and we all joined him.  As though to combat this uncertainty, Pinky unveiled a school-fete-tacky Wheel Of Fortune, with prizes replaced with various titles, including some Machine Gun Fellatio song names.  A more than whiling lovely assistant was plucked from the audience, and gave the wheel a spin, returning between impromptu segments as Pinky fluctuated between touring anecdotes – including a highlight about an out of place limo hired for a Rockhampton show – readings of different written pieces, and a few songs (one of which was shamelessly rigged by the aforementioned assistant, to no one’s dissatisfaction.)

After the last (less than random) spin, and a song to close the evening, we were left satisfied with the topics that had been spun up and the tales and tunes that resulted, but equally as tempted to return for another night with Pinky by the ones that had not come up: Would the ‘Horny Blonde Forty’ topic have resulted in a song, or maybe the twisted story of the tune’s background?

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Secret Bogan Juice…
September 10, 2011

Which leads me to my next point.  As much as I love Triple J, and can find no other radio station that plays my favourite music, it is an unfortunate fact that it is also popular with a bogan element within the population.  Whilst this in itself has never been particularly concerning to me – Rosie Beaton has a gift for humouring the drunken masses for just long enough to get a song request out of them before they become too tiresome – it has become apparent that catering to this particular portion of the listenership has become a driving force in the music selection, and has led to a situation of high repetition.

Steph from Monash shows off her tattoo
A lot of people were critical of the results of Triple J’s recent listener poll of ‘The Hottest 100 Australian Albums of All Time,’ and some even more so after Richard Kingsmill released the top 101 – 200 album losers list.  Some felt that there were glaring omissions from the results, particularly when compared with the critics’ predictions, but this was always going to be the case in an opinion poll of a particular sect of the population.  A poll of the general population would probably have yielded some of the critically expected albums.  Whilst it doesn’t make it into my personal top ten, I think that Savage Garden’s self-titled debut should rank highly on such a list, if not at number one.  It has variety and creativity (to the point where some songs were modified to be more conducive for commercial radio play) and was undeniably popular and successful.  I can certainly not think of another Australian album to have generated as many successful singles as this one, and struggle to think of too many from anywhere else to have generated many more.

Of course, I wouldn’t expect it to make it into a Triple J poll.  It is usually fairly easy to pick the songs that will be popular with the station’s request line and ‘Hottest 100’ polls.  When placing my bets, I usually just go with the latest song to feature a chorus that encourages the shouting of swear words (although I did lose this year when Cee Lo’s Fuck You! came in lower than I’d expected.)

A request show should ideally ensure variety, and Triple J’s implementation of theme nights does, to an extent, help encourage this, but it is inevitable that pub rock fans will call in every night asking to hear the latest dance song to find cross-over appeal.  The same song will be played due to popular demand ad-nauseum, and such has been the case since Pnau tapped into a market that hadn’t heard dance music since Sonic Animation released the allegedly funny Theophilus Thistler.  I even heard someone call the SuperRequest show last week asking to hear ‘the song that goes like this,’ before mumbling a tune into the phone, ala Machine Gun Fellatio’s Isaac Or Fuzz.  Remarkably, Rosie and her producer translated the call into Joe Goddard and Valentina’s Gabriel to the caller’s satisfaction, and mine, kind of.

So, what exactly is my complaint here?  Unlike others, I have no qualms with Hottest 100 results or Australian content levels.  My complaint is with the level of repetition that seems to have evolved into the station’s playlist over the past decade, which looks eager to appease the aforementioned (and probably not minimal) section of the listener base.  I like variety, and for a while I haven’t been getting it, but don’t know where else to turn.  Or maybe I’m just afraid of admitting that I might fit into the bogan category too.