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Party & Bullshit

February 10, 2009

We started drinking at around eleven, with good intentions to leave an hour later after a few beers and catch Beaches and maybe Kes Band. But typically no one took any initiative and we were still drinking at two, the girls cracking into the Pink, putting pegs in their hair, cavorting with randoms on the tram we eventually got into the city and some old men on the sidewalk also. We stumbled through the Chinese New Year Festival that was happening a few blocks over and into Laneway to hear Spiral Stairs playing “Two States”. Instead of heading into the crowd to witness the closest thing I will probably ever get to seeing Pavement live, it was more important to go get beers from the bar. It is always amazing how much money we will pay to go see a whole heap of bands then end up spending most of the day wasting time by going to the bar, waiting in line then standing around talking and drinking the overpriced beers that we normally wouldn’t sniff at, not listening to the music and/or standing so far away so as to be redundant. When we are probably already drunk enough anyway. We did that for a while then headed across Swanston for No Age. It seemed like most of the crowd were just hype curious, with only a few getting into what was a killer, thick set. It felt like quite some time since I had listened to Nouns but this set reminded me of how good it is. The tracks I assume were off Weirdo Rippers were also killing me. Felt a bit weird getting really excited at like four in the afternoon while everyone around me had their arms crossed or where too busy talking and drinking beers to listen. Oh well.

no-age

We then wandered around for a while without much to do but drink more beer, watch all the mel-bohos walk around in their Wayfarers and straw fedoras and bump into more sober acquaintances and ear-bash them. A few of us decided to lineup to get over to the Red Bull/Lounge area to see My Disco then Four Tet then El Guincho. The Temper Trap were playing behind us and they were quite good. Half an hour passed, we had barely moved and everyone decided to give up and head over to the Little Lonsdale stage to watch the Drones and wait for Architecture In Helsinki and Girl Talk. Danielle and I decided to try an alternative route and wandered down to Little Bourke, eventually finding the back stage entrance for the Red Bull Stage. We chatted to the security guard there but got nowhere so just stood peering over the fence as Four Tet opened with “Ringer”. The sound was not too bad I guess but the situation was not exactly ideal.

I spotted the dude from El Guincho sitting on the concrete by himself and in my drunken state yelled, “Hey El Guincho. You are the fucking man.” He smiled and waved and said something then went back to sitting on the concrete by himself. Meanwhile a steady parade of people with artist or whatever passes came and went, including some fat ranga in a Dead Meadow shirt of all things, talking to whoever would listen about how he had scammed his artist pass. Despite the fact that I came to be at Laneway for free and through slightly devious means that I will not disclose here, I found myself drunkenly vowing to wreak some sort of obtuse revenge, that I would be back next year having fulfilled some sort of wanky scene blogger destiny, waving around a press pass and an obnoxious SLR, swanning about from backstage gate to backstage gate.

El Guincho hanging out in the gutter

El Guincho wandered off, Four Tet was working through some ambience and we got sick of hanging on the back fence so we decided to head back to the Little Lonsdale stage for Architecture In Helsinki and Girl Talk. The line to get in was now as bad as the one for the Red Bull/Lounge area. It seemed that the only area no-one was interested in was the main, Lonsdale Street etcetera area. I put this down to the fact that I have never, in all my days, met a Hold Steady fan, or even anyone mention their name, while everyone in the whole world likes Girl Talk. Just because they are a rock band doesn’t automatically make them more popular and just because Pitchfork covers their every move doesn’t mean people are interested. But I digress. We decided to try another entrance that we had used earlier in the day, from inside the QV building. But it was closed and the four security guards blocking the way were having an argument with some guy demanding entry. Danielle did an easy squeeze through the security guards as some people exited and so I tried a similar tactic. Security seemed like they were only trying to appear to do their job and being pretty lax with the actual execution. I slowly edged my way around one as the argument raged on until all of a sudden I was just on the other side of the guards and walking down the stairs without any trouble. I wished I had tried a similar manoeuvre to get into the Red Bull stage.

We then found ourselves in some ridiculous press of way too many people for the area, people swaying around in unison, in familiar mosh fashion but with the added fun of trying to not trip over the gutter and avoiding parking meters and street signs. The Drones were playing and I’m pretty sure they were good but I was mostly waiting for them to stop so some people would move away. Eventually we found our crew again but I was starting to sober up, still pissed at missing Four Tet and El Guincho and not yet acknowledging our good fortune in scamming our way back into Little Lonsdale Street.

Then Architecture In Helsinki came on and, as was much the case at Meredith, they pretty much saved the festival. I don’t care which album is supposed to be better, I just want to hear the hits. And if you want to do them thicker and more synthy all the better. Bright pop hooks, yacht-rock vibes, big electronic beats and bass, shambolics and casual ugliness had me forgetting my complaints. Triple J quirk and ska/jazz/funk band signifiers probably appeal to a good portion of the crowd as well and despite the stress and the cramp everyone was soon singing along and throwing their hands in the air. Festival Organisers: Please appoint AIH as “requisite Australian band that everyone thinks are good live who always get a mid-afternoon slot”. The Living End are now officially handed over to Triple M.

So they finished and we waited for a while, some guy got on stage and gave us a bit of a pep talk/health and safety lecture. There was not much chance of moving if you needed to leave, the bar wasn’t open anyway, whether you wanted beer or needed water, and if you needed to piss you had to leave the area and would not be able to get in/piss in a bottle or against the fence so I fail to see why we were the ones being lectured. Slowly the crowd thinned a bit as people left; no one else was being allowed in.

Security working hard

Meanwhile, I was looking forward to Girl Talk, although my feelings on the guy were mixed at this point. Night Ripper was pitch perfect and brilliantly tapped into that pink and purple infused era of pop and trap rap of 2004-2006 and combined it with a few undeniable classics, a bit of eighties cheese and forgotten 90’s alt hits. Feed The Animals came out in a pathetic year for pop and with the zeitgeist mostly ignoring trap rap altogether then decided to combine it with dad-rock, mum-pop and novelty hits. Not to say it is bad or unenjoyable or not technically amazing, it just doesn’t compare to Night Ripper. I also preferred it when he was a geeky, dumpy white dude getting embarrassingly carried away with his laptop, not some alt-celeb with an obnoxious beard and long hair and bandana. And, of course, it is getting to that point where the snobbier of us are looking to jump ship, too popular, too accessible, getting play on Nova of all things etcetera.

But he came on, minus the beard and hair and bandana and started with the C.R.E.A.M vox over the first bit on Night Ripper, giving it the recontext it deserved and making me forget how it was pretty much wasted on that Argent song and also all those Dexy’s Midnight Runners/Police/Tag team drops on Feed The Animals. The sound was huge and he ploughed through a whole heap of hyped up, nicely reconfigured, good bits from both albums as well as a few new ones. The “Paper Planes”, “Windowlicker” and “Single Ladies” drops where all pretty amazing. As his set started to lag with the constant barrage of hooks losing their impact some guy climbed up on the ledge of the QV building and started dancing around. People cheered and yelled and soon a few more people joined him and they danced around some more. Greg had to stop playing and tell them to get down, then off he went again in the same fashion but with attention spans revitalised after the distraction. So yeah, a solid hour of hits, impossible not to enjoy and a more promising representation of his skills/taste as well.

After it finished we made our way back to Northern Inner-City Suburbs then parted ways, Danielle going to bed while I stayed up eating hokkein noodles and a Monaco Bar, already hungover, watching Australia go down to New Zealand in the cricket on the very last ball then Roger Federer bawl his eyes out after losing the Open final.

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