Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Love Den Fiesta Finale! Part 2

Day 2 brought with it an unseasonal heat, and very little wind, so I was blessing the Gods for not getting a stellar day time line up happening. It gave the Tiger and I an excuse to do some hard-core Love Den sitting and chilling, something we'd missed lately due to some other commitments. We tried reading, we tried watching some movies, we even tried cleaning, but when it all came down to it, today was just a day for lazing, and so that was what was achieved, saving our energies for the night assault.

As the sun dipped below the Enoggera hills, we both exited the Den for our respective night-time social gatherings. Sat-Tiger was off to shabu shabu with a group of ex-JETs, planning to drag some of their full carcasses Valley-side for some Fiesta-ing before night's end. Me? Well, it was pretty obvious I was going to be sharing my time between 3 musical stages and possibly a greasy pizza shop or two, for the rest of the eve.

Tonight kicked off with The Boat People, Brisbane's own banal smug-pop heroes. Despite their obvious formula-driven musical theories, they seem to be bounding along in leaps and, well... bounds. But, something tells me this group of 30-something smirkers have reached their zenith. Don't get me wrong, I happen to like their style, but I know deep down that their particular brand of pop sensibility is driven by a deeper sense of bitterness; which has a natural shelf life. Personally, I think that shelf life expired some time ago. But all power to them as they attempt to milk something out of their careers. Interesting to note that the sound issues which plagued bands on this stage yesterday were continuing, with absolutely little interest from the stage or sound crew. To me, there's something very wrong with a staging company when a band, which is essentially driven by a keyboard player, has the keyboard missing from the mix for a couple of songs. The poor muso had to not only continue playing and singing, but also diagnose and fix his own sound issue (a crappy lead), with not even a wink or yank from any of the stage crew. Absolutely pathetic, if you ask me, and totally not fitting the professionalism demanded for an outfit to take on such a large, open-air event.

A small wander lead me over to the Chinatown Mall stage for the seminal Brisbane band Ups & Downs, reuniting for the second time after the Pig City festival gig last year. Having missed the gig (possibly a political issue... I have a personal angst with someone involved in that project. Mainly, though, it was due to me going overseas a few weeks afterwards), I was hungry for news of a couple of the bands who reunited for the gig. One which came out of the woodwork in the reviews was this band, with most reviewers heaping overblown adjectival praise on these pop heroes. Having been aware of their future incarnation Big Heavy Stuff, and their influence on the Brisbane and Australian music scene of the mid to late 90s, I was more than keen to check them out. The mall stage area was filling nicely, and by a decent collection of grey-haired gents (making me feel at home), before the 4-piece took to the stage. The jangly guitar, heavy beat and nasal vocals immediately evoked The Church and REM, before their own brand of the sound crept through. Working hard to put my finger on it, I catch up with a mate during the set and we agree that the sound is altogether familiar, thanks to our personal generational grounding in the 90s pop/rock era of Brisbane and wider Australia, but it was also an important piece of the "historical jigsaw" which lead to that sound. In short, they left me wanting lots more, and reminiscing for a sound and possibly a scene which had left Brisbane some time ago.

With 20 minutes between sets, a wander was in order. This led me to the toilet block, and an interesting re-enforcing of my earlier fears of being seen as old. Exiting the toilet, I was confronted by 2 teenage girls, obviously who were waiting for their friend to return. To amuse themselves, I think they were pointing out boys to each other and gauging each other's reactions. Unbeknownst to me, one had pointed me out to other, who seriously did not approve. As I round the corner, I heard girl 1 anxiously blurt to girl 2: "Ewww, he's like 100 years old! As if!"... Ahhh... I didn't mind, but maybe that was just a sign of my maturity? Anyway, enough about my geriatric complex - back to the music.

Squeezing next to the sound desk, it was clear that Bluejuice were a lot of people's pick for the night, with the crush starting to form around the critical areas. I'm not sure why this was happening, though, because to put it plainly: they sucked. I mean, really really really sucked. With a line up of 2 "singers" or maybe "MCs", bass, synth and drums, I'm not really sure what they were trying to do, musically. It was a hotch-potch of styles which, if done correctly, could have been a really decent recipe for musical genius. Done half-assed, with a solid dash of self-hype, record-company hype and iTunes support, a generous serving of "fuck-you" Sydney cool attitude, and you've got the outcome of some great commercial success. As the cliche tends to prove, though, commercial success does not necessarily bring musical greatness. The 2 can be mutually exclusive. So, apart from the style and attitude, what do I find distasteful about this? Am I being critical just because the audience is made up of dirty meatheads who wouldn't know music if it sprang out of their morning hair-goop regime? Possibly. But I give myself more credit than that. I like music, I like it when 2 vocalists or MCs can interplay with each other and the music to bring about some sort of uplifting feeling thanks to their harmonies. What I don't like is a band made up of that intention, but all it manages is 2 boys yelling into microphones trying to out-sing each other, and both failing miserably at maintaining notes, pitch or timbre. Then compensate for that by jumping around lots. And the kids lap it up...

Heading back to sanity, I once again risk life and limb by crossing Ann Street and heading back to the Chinatown Mall. A couple of necessary line-up changes meant little to the end result for The Gin Club, the baby of Salty-dog Ben Salter. The eclectic alt-country collective revolves around the stewardship of both Salty and Georgina, as well as other core members. Tonight they seemed a little flatter than normal, although this may have been related to the 30-song recording schedule they had just completed, as well as the late addition of 2 members to fill out the sound. Never-the-less, they did pull through towards the end with Wyld Bitch providing an endearing send off for tonight's festivities.

On the way home, I head back up to the main stage to check out the much-discussed Urthboy. Having only been educated about this MC earlier today by my Japan hip-hop expert, I was pretty keen to check him/them out, if only to provide a reference point for a lot of Australia's recent hip-hop scene. As a main member of seminal hip hoppers The Herd, and also a record company exec with one of the land's most influential hip hop companies, Urthboy was someone clearly not to be messed with. And entering the stage with his co-MC (a female at that, which provided a nice harmonic counter-balance) and DJ all dressed as fairytale characters, it was hard to take them seriously. They led through a furious couple of first songs which left no-one uncertain as to who they were or what they did, and to my untrained hip hopian ears, they certainly were the real deal.

And so Day 2 proved Fiesta drew to a close and these bones and ears turn to rest, before the Sunday acoustic and blues vibe of Fiesta. Bring it!


Natalia the Russian Spy said...

Ah so this is what you're all about blue box. Nice to meet your mole.

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C'mon! 'Ave a go ya mugs.