Friday, February 4, 2011

Big Day Out 2011 - Melbourne (PART 2)

When last we saw our heroes, Reb & Ev, they were recovering from losing about ten litres of sweat, and having their minds blown by Andrew WK.

Yesiree. I tell you what, we were in need of some recovery time. Especially considering the day managed to reach a top of about 41 degrees. That's no exaggeration, by the way. Apparently over one (NINE?) thousand people were treated for dehydration over the course of the festival. So needless to say, by then I was not only sweaty, but also craving some shade, and fluid. Ev and I searched for a few of his friends, but given that finding people at festivals is more a matter of luck than communication, we didn't have much luck. A few phone calls straight to voicemail was good enough an excuse to bail to the Boiler Room, right in time for Die Antwoord.

I had first been introduced to Die Antwoord by Mitch, while driving from Melbourne to Geelong. To put it simply, my reaction was one of undiluted confusion. He played me "Enter the Ninja", grinning ear-to-ear and studying my face intently. Die Antwoord (which is "the answer" in Afrikaans) is a South African hip hop group, fronted by a tattoo-ridden guy that goes by the moniker of Ninja (real name: Watkin Tudor Jones, so Wikipedia tells me). I won't lie, my reaction - post-confusion - upon hearing "Enter the Ninja" was of great amusement. It was surprising and bizarre to hear rapping in a thick, South African accent. Apart from that, the high-pitched "I AM YOUR BUTTERFLY" chorus was pure hilarity to my puzzled ears.
"Is this a joke??" I asked Mitch, incredulously.
"I don't know!!" was his reply, in between peals of laughter.

Die Antwoord. I don't know what to think about this picture.

It's a few months later, and I have to admit that I do have Die Antwoord's album on my iPod. During those few months I had been informed that no, the music of the Zef outfit isn't a joke. I'd also been told that their set at the Sydney Big Day Out had been one of the highlights of the day. Unfortunately Ev and I found ourselves with a minimal view of the stage, as apparently word had spread of Antwoord's live prowess. With regard to that prowess, I won't dispute that for a moment. The group were dynamic, energetic, a myriad words ending with "ic". At times Ninja's accent was near-incomprehensible but I'll give him credit where credit's due; he knows how to get a crowd going. Despite having decided to rest during the set, I found myself wishing we'd found ourselves a better spot instead of having a brief rest in a patch of shady grass. There's one regret of the day: that I had such a mediocre view and placement during that set. Fists were pumping, feet were jumping, there were yells, and there was an infectious energy in the air despite the at times completely and utterly ludicrous lyrics. Fokken, fun as mate.

The next hour or so was spent eating, drinking, resting, attempting to find shade and succeeding (somewhat). We watched some of the Deftones' set from the shelter of a tree (huddled there with about fifteen other people). To be honest though, I barely paid attention. I was too busy reapplying sunscreen and wolfing down a chicken wrap. I know that to say I "barely paid attention" to the Deftones is tantamount to treason amongst many of my pals, but it's true. My attention waning, I then bailed, to see the Black Keys. I arrived, and found Paul Dempsey. Obviously. Because the Black Keys had pulled out of the Big Day Out. Derp, etc. While certainly nice to listen to (in fact, I saw him play at The Corner in 2009), I soon tired of Mr Dempsey. I suppose that even though I was hot and bothered and sweaty as hell, I was still in the mood for excitement and happenings. So I bailed, and told my brother I'd meet him after Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Ev stayed and watched Birds of Tokyo. I am of the opinion that he made a grievous mistake.

As much as I do enjoy a bit of Birds of Tokyo, there is really, really no describing the great, swelling joy of seeing Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. I was flying solo at that particular set, but I soon found that listening in on the conversation of two brothers that happened to be standing beside me was more than enough amusement. One (the younger of the two) had written his phone number on the inside of his sailor hat, and as he explained to his brother, he planned to frisbee it onstage for singer Jade Castrinos. The younger's incredibly hip attire belied an endearingly daggy sense of humour that soon became apparent after a few minutes of solid eavesdropping. However, my silent chuckles were interrupted by the appearance of A Fucking Dudd. A Monumental Dudd. With a sombrero hanging from his neck, with two beer cans in his fist, with a stumble in his gait and a slur in his speech, he barreled his way through the crowd. Cries and mutters of disdain and anger were left in his wake.

"No!" wailed a girl behind me, "You can't push in there!!"
But still, he proceeded. "JUST LEMME THROUGH, MAN!"

I groaned. He'd decided to stand RIGHT in front of me, also blocking the view of quite a young girl next to me. Her mother (who, all things considered, was quite young also) happened to be beside her. She was incensed. "You'd BETTER NOT STAND THERE." The two brothers muttered to each other, sniggering. I imagined I'd have been doing the same, if any of my friends were there. I was quite tempted to lean over and say, "Your mate." ... which would have been what I'd have said to Linc or Mitch, or Dave. Instead I leaned forward and moved back the guy's hat so I could see his face. He didn't notice. He was fucking, fucked. "Why's everyone so MAAAAD?"
"Oi. Could you at least lose the hat? It's right in my face" I said, loudly. He either didn't notice, or was hoping that if he ignored the muttering around him (that was growing louder) long enough, he'd avoid a confrontation. The elder brother laughed.
"Love a hat to the face!" he said.
"Yeah." I replied. "I love having a hatface." Hatface? Smooth. 

I decided to try again with the Dudd. "BUDDY. How 'bout we swap places? I'm little. I can't see."

I half laughed and half groaned. The brothers wholeheartedly laughed. Luckily, a girl in front of Dudd grabbed my arm and pulled me forward, while glaring at the guy pointedly. Luckily, it was at about that moment that suddenly the band descended on the stage. With my brand new vantage point, I soon forgot the Dudd. Writing this on a Thursday morning when BDO occurred on Sunday, I've unfortunately forgotten what ES&MZ opened their set with, but I do remember jumping up and down and having a boogie, and I certainly recall that everyone around me was doing much the same. Actually, no! I remember! It was "Janglin'". Yes! Which is, you know, certainly a gleefully sing-along, dance, wave-your-arms-around superb choice for an opener. It certainly set the mood for the next forty minutes. The unashamedly happy, joyful music and stage presence of the troupe is really something to behold.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, featuring the Arm of That Fucking Dudd.

Looking back, the day seemed to be defined by electrifying and enthralling frontmen. Andrew WK, Ninja (lol), Alex Ebert of ES&MZ, Nick Cave, James Murphy (more about them later). In this case, Alex Ebert flailed, jumped, raced around the stage, being completely enthralling. His amazing energy meant that the vibe of that particular stage and crowd was really quite amazing. "40 Day Dream" followed "Janglin'", met with cheers and synchronised clapping. I was overjoyed; "40 Day Dream" happens to be my favourite song from their Up From Below album, more so than "Home" (which seems to be everyone's pick). I'm sure I looked a right twat, dancing around and jumping and singing along at the top of my lungs, "BYE BYE! TO THE TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE KIND OF LOVE! *cue jump*". However, the vibe showed itself to be exactly the kind where one could dance around like a twat, then turn to the person next to you and grinning ear to ear sing/shout "SHE GOT SUNSET ON HER BREATH!" while they did the same to you. Superb. At the risk of being a little sappy, I was reminded of a night during a recent trip to Perth, sitting in Mitch's backyard, drinking champagne, singing along to "40 Day Dream" (and "Home" for that matter), serenading each other. It was a lovely moment. And thus, my good mood was made even better. One of those, "Shit son, I'm happy!" moments. I won't lie that I have a sentimental attachment to a few of their songs, and so I'll be the first to say that it was completely and utterly lovely to hear them in the flesh with my own ears and see Alex and company with my own eyes and dance around like a slightly sunburnt twat.

"Up From Below" followed "40 Day Dream" from memory. It started off well, but unfortunately lost momentum during an extended jam/Alex wandering around during the middle. It was a little over-long, certainly lost a lot of excitement. Luckily, the band brought the song home well, and it ended rather a bit better. Which is a relief, given that it's a lovely tune. A couple more songs, then "Home" to close the show. As one can imagine, the crowd went completely bat-shit insane. I'll take this opportunity to vent about something.

Recording on your phone at a gig.

Okay, I'd be a hypocrite to say that I didn't whip out my phone to take a few photos over the course of the day. But. Why on earth would you choose to watch the best part of your favourite song through the screen of your iPhone? Do you enjoy having fuzzy, shitty audio in which you can only hear the yells of the crowd? Really? Well, you're a dudd then. During the climax of "Home", I could see about twenty iPhones, Blackberries and cameras thrust in the air in front of me. In front of me, and I was quite near to the stage. I hate to think how many were behind me. That shit gives me the irrits in a big way. Instead of fumbling around your bag for your camera, then spending the next two minutes video-ing, why not get into the show? When are you going to watch that video again?


Anyway. "Home" was great. Absolutely superb. I suppose all things I could say about it have already been said earlier ... that it was full of energy, that everyone had an amazing sing and dance, that it was amazingly enjoyable. The song ended and the crowd dispersed, and again, I had an ear-to-ear smile.

I bought some food, found Ev in the Boiler Room watching The Bloody Beetroots. Eh, it was okay. We bailed, to Iggy and the Stooges. Caught "I Wanna Be Your Dog". So, that was cool. We then headed back to the Boiler Room to get ourselves a good spot for LCD Soundsystem. Unfortunately, Kid Kenobi and MC Shureshock were still on. I'll say this much, it was pretty awful. Ev and I sat, then stood around, wishing for a fast-forward button. The Boiler Room was filled with "your mates", and your bro's mates. Ugh. But these are the things we do for LCD Soundsystem. "WE'VE GOT ONE MORE SONG FOR YOU!" yelled MC Shureshock. "THANK FUCK!" was the response Ev and I gave.

Finally, LCD Soundsystem took the stage, James Murphy in a white suit. Ev and I had been waiting about twenty minutes or so, but it felt like nearly an hour, such was the mediocrity of what we had to endure. The wait and the pain was worth it though, that much became clear. My usually subdued and quiet brother jumped, threw his hands in the air, yelled. James Murphy and company opened with "Dance Yrself Clean". Fuck yeah. Fuck yeah, indeed. I mostly forgot about the douchebags in the audience, and had myself one hell of a boogie. I completely forgot that I was missing Rammstein and Tool, didn't care in the slightest. "Drunk Girls" followed "Dance Yrself Clean". Although it's far from my favourite LCD Soundsystem song, live it was a hell of a lot of fun. However, "I Can Change" was next. So, that happened. And it pleased me, greatly. Dancing-twat Reb reared her head again, and it was superb. Even Ev was dancing, a little daggily, but the fact that he was so damn into it made the entire experience that much better. He doesn't dance often, in my experience. A little bit of banter. James Murphy, polite and lovely. "Daft Punk is Playing at My House" was next, and was also superb fun. I feel like I'm endlessly repeating myself. "HERP! IT WAS FUN!".

Well, it was. LCD Soundsystem was fucking awesome. That's all this paragraph should really say. In big huge letters. Part of me was thinking I should bail and find myself a good spot for Grinderman, but then the opening strains of "All My Friends" began. Pfft, fuck it. I'll stay a bit longer. So I did. And it was Awesome. "All My Friends" happens to be one of my favourite LCD songs. "Someone Great" happens to be my favourite of all time, so if they'd played that it's safe to say that I probably would have lost my shit, utterly and completely. Shit son, isn't "All My Friends" an amazing song? It is. It really is. I lost my shit a little bit. Then, knowing how long it would take me to wind my way out of the crowd, I decided to bail. With a heavy heart, I began the journey out of the Boiler Room. Ev told me later that they'd played "Tribulations" next, and all I could say was, "FUCK!". It happens to be Ev's favourite song by the group, and he subsequently pretty much went crazy. Damn. Apparently they closed with "Yeah", yet another reason to kick myself. Kick myself, although not very hard. For bailing from LCD Soundsystem would only ever happen for a very good reason. That reason happened to be Grinderman.

Yeah, it's a shitty phone photo. Hypocrite, but I couldn't resist.
I'd never seen Nick Cave perform live up until Sunday. Judging by what countless friends and acquaintances have told me (or yelled, with wild gesticulations to boot) however, seeing Nick Cave in the flesh is something that one has to do at one point before one dies. I am happy to say, that at last now I have. Not only that, but I've witnessed my own eyes what all the fuss is about. 

Quickly, just before I begin my fapping, I just have to mention that That Guy from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros reared his ugly, sombrero'd head once more. He plonked himself right in front of a short yet burly guy who was next to me. He was immediately enraged.

Dudd looked over his shoulder, and saw the angered man. 
"Aww... but there's no room up there!"
Dudd ignored him, choosing to suddenly become very interested in his can of beer. 

I tapped the angry man on the shoulder.
"He did the same thing at Edward Sharpe. He's a dudd."

The dudd moved, and I laughed. Then angry man offered to let me go in front of him.

Okay. I realise this particular blag post is getting overly long, with rather a large amount of gushing and fapping, so I'll try and keep this particular section concise. I mean, there's only so many ways that I can describe how AMAZING Grinderman were, and how AMAZING AND SEXY Nick Cave is, and how AMAZING a way it was to end a pretty goddamn fun day.

So I'll try and keep it brief:
  • Nick Cave is the sexiest creature I have ever laid my eyes on.
  • Warren Ellis is amazing. Jumping, hitting a high-hat with a couple of maracas, yelling, jumping. Amazing.
  • Mr Cave at one point yelled, "THE COMBINED AGE ON THIS STAGE IS 200 YEARS OLD!". Personally, I think that's awesome. Four guys in their fifties rocking out harder than the vast majority of acts I'd seen/heard that day. Winner.
  • Fuck, they were good.
  • Musically, fucking great. Tight, exciting, awesome.
  • I'm running out of adjectives.
  • FUCK. They were good.

I left the green stage, breathless, staggering around, stunned, after the sheer mindfuckingly amazing set. Nick Cave, you are amazing. In your sharp suit, then shirt unbuttoned to the navel, with your kicks and leaps and strutting and voice. Swoon, etc.

So. What followed was a search for Ev, a run-in with a pal, then some staggering out of Flemington with some severe chafage going on. Sorry for over-sharing, but it was fucking brutal. Brutal. Complete with bag-tan, dress-tan, watch-tan and boot-tan, my BDO was done. Dusted. Not as dusty as 2008, but still dusted. 
Awesome day. 

This has been long enough. I'll stop. 

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