My band's first gig of the year was last Saturday at the Hi-Fi Bar in the city. It was very exciting. The band is called The Boris Pink and when we play, everyone likes us. I'm the keyboard player. The band leader arranged for us all to meet in a particular back-alley in the city behind the Hi-Fi bar, so that we could load the equipment into the back entrance. I was a little early. So I spent some time just hanging out in the back-alley, sitting on my amp, reading a book and admiring the rubbish bins and the not-meant-to-be-seen architecture. By and by, I realised I was in the wrong alley and I went off to look for the right one.
Sure enough, in the next alley, I found Boris and the others coming out of the Hi-Fi Bar back-door which was an unmarked inconspicuous metal door like all the others. I guess the Hi-Fi people don't want to make it too obvious where the back entrance is, because that's where the famous musicians come out and they don't want fans mobbing them. A lot of international music stars have played at the Hi-Fi bar. So, to be allowed in there when it's not officially open is a great privilege – most musicians don't get to play there. We were arriving at about seven o'clock because we were having our sound-check. We were the first band of four to be playing that night.
The room is not that big. In fact, when Boris stood on the stage and looked out at the empty auditorium, he said "This room is not as big as I remember."
The sound technician replied that a lot of musicians come here thinking they've "made it", and they're disappointed when the room is not as big as they thought. But I wasn't disappointed. I was just thrilled to be able to take photos in the toilet. ('Cause, y'know, normally that would be wrong).
In the Hi-Fi Bar toilet
We did the sound check and I remained at the bar for the next couple of hours. I wasn't nervous, because I'm such a seasoned professional. I remember my first gig, four years ago, with my old covers band – I was nervous then. I had butterflies in the stomach. But this time, I was confident that everything would go just fine because we'd practised all our songs so well. And the sound-system at this venue was second to none.
At nine o'clock, we went on-stage and played our set. Not many people were in the audience – I couldn't be sure how many people there were because I couldn't see them. But it was cool. We played well and didn't screw up. It wasn't perfect, of course – I remember in the song "Universe" I went into the chorus chords too early and had to stop for a moment and recover myself. But maybe no one noticed. And for the rest of the time, I was a lively musician who nodded and danced with the beat.
After we were finished, several people came up to me and said "Well Done" and "That Was Great". Boris was very pleased with how it went. Then we stuck around for at least two of the other three bands. They were all rock bands. Meanwhile we had to pack up our stuff and transport it out to the cars in the back-alley. It was a warm night. Boris agreed to take all of my equipment home in his car, so that I wouldn't have to take it on public transport at night. So me, and him, and two of his friends went outside and stood in the back-alley while the third band played. They talked and talked and they pointed up at the buildings in decay and said that this was like a scene out of nineteenth-century London. It was that period of hanging out in the alley, and listening to them talking, that will stick in my mind about tonight even more than the performance itself.
I went to see a movie on Monday, it was called Cowboy Bebop and it was all about this guy who's a bounty hunter and he lives with a number of other bounty hunters in a big futuristic city environment. And they're trying to stop this bad guy who's planning to kill everyone with biological weapons. There's a lot of action and excitement. People in the audience would be thinking, "this cartoon is so well drawn." I really liked the bit where all the butterflies fly around – that was pretty. I was in the front row. Maybe I should've been in the back row, 'cause then I wouldn't have had to move my eyeballs so rapidly to read the subtitles. And for some reason, halfway through I pretended I was giving an audio description of the film to a blind person, and I continued doing that for the rest of the film (but not out loud, just in my head).
On Wednesday night, I was faced with a dilemma – should I go out to karaoke at the Laundry as usual, or should I go out to see Looweeze de'Ath the famous folk-singer from Perth who only visits Melbourne once in a blue moon? She was playing at the Cornish Arms in Brunswick. I decided to go to Looweeze first, and the karaoke later.
See, the thing about Looweeze de'Ath is, she's a very nice girl.
And when she plays her guitar on stage, and sings, you can't help liking her. Sometimes she sings comedy songs about famous movie-stars and soap-operas, other times she sings serious songs about "issues" and about her own feelings. There's one song she does which she claims is in an "R&B" style, and when she sang the intro she interrupted it for a few seconds to say "See? It's R&B style!" and then she played a few more chords and then she said "I'm gonna de-construct the song as I play it." That was a joke. She has this habit of interrupting songs to make a joke. And that's cool. And her voice is just like Tori Amos's voice.
I had a glass of wine as I listened to her. There was another singer to follow, but I couldn't stick around because I wanted to go to the karaoke. So I left. It took quite a while to get to the karaoke because I had to catch two trams. So when I walked in, it was after eleven o'clock. The place was jumpin'. I ordered another glass of wine and wrote my name down on the list of people to sing. It would have been very nice to sing on this night, when the crowd was so numerous and I was slightly tipsy – I wanted to sing a song by Weezer. But it was not to be.
I waited, and waited, and listened to the other karaoke singers, and danced a little. But the MC didn't read out my name. There were too many previous names to get through. I looked at my watch and saw that if I didn't leave soon, I'd miss the late late tram, which departs from Flinders Street about quarter-past one a.m. So I left, and started walking city-wards. By and by it started to rain, and I got wet. But with a few drinks in me, and frantic music going through my head, the weather didn't get me down.
Flash animation – move your mouse over it
There's a song by Jodi Phillis that I really identify with – it's called "Waiting, Wanting, Holding" and the chorus goes like this:
"Can't get enough of wanting what I don't have." When I heard it, at first, I thought to myself "I'm glad I'm not like that. I don't want the things I don't have. Like, a big house, a car, a girlfriend – I don't waste any time pining with desire over what I don't have." But then I listened to the verse, which goes like this: "I'm sick and tired of waiting for the day when I will be totally free, 'cos I am... I've had enough of wanting what everyone else has, I know it's not for me 'cos I have all I need." And then I realised, I am like that. Deep down I know that my life is better than most everyone else's life, and yet I can't appreciate it. My life right now has no fear, no stress, no pain, and it's full of positive creative things like music and electronic imaging so there's no boredom – but because my happiness is so complete, it's become totally value-less – there's nothing left to strive for – the value is in the journey, not in the destination. And I'm constantly wishing and fantasizing for things I can't have, like powers of invisibility and time-travel. And sometimes I find myself wishing for things that I shouldn't want, like to have my pension cut off, or to be a thirteen-year-old orphan, or to see planes flying into skyscrapers in Melbourne – anything to change my situation in some way. There was a brief period last year when I was not in a band, and I found myself thinking, "I gotta find myself a band to join! Quickly!" But often in recent months I've wished that I weren't in a band, 'cause it's such hard work to carry the equipment to practices and such. You see, the grass is always greener on the other side, and I'll always want what I don't have.
Historical photo of the week:
Stephen Clark, one year old
That show Joe Millionaire ended tonight – it's a reality show about this guy named Evan who is made up to look like a millionaire and he has about a dozen women competing for his affection 'cause they all think he's a millionaire, but he's really a poor construction-worker and they don't find out the truth about him until the end. So the question everyone's asking is, "Are they gold-diggers? Do they only care about the money?" At the end, Evan makes his final choice. He chooses the woman he likes best and confesses to her that he's not a millionaire. She doesn't get upset or anything and she says she'll still go out with him. And then, in a final "twist" that no one expects, the happy couple are awarded a million dollars prize-money – which apparently they wouldn't have gotten if the woman had rejected him. This series was pretty good. Actually it was a bit tacky, with its pretensions to romanticness, tapping into people's fantasies of fairytale love, and it doesn't seem "real". But it's good that it has an anti-greed message.