Friday, September 12, 2008

Love Den's Fiesta Finale? Part 1

Valley Fiesta kicked off tonight for its weekend of frivolity. And for those who know, it also kicks off my re-invigoration with all things Albion Love Den. To me, there's nothing better than the Den at this time of the year... crystal clear skies, a crispness which allows for being comfortable, and just 2 stops away from some of the best music this country has to offer. Who could ask for more?

So, after a quick slap and dash at home after work, we trotted off to tonight's festivities. Apart from one "must see", the rest of the night was more of a grab-bag of odds n ends when it comes to music. An Ekka showbag, if you will, of what Fiesta had to offer.

A quick storm meant our must see, The John Steel Singers were a half hour late in getting to the stage. But it was perfect timing for SatomiTiger and my fine self, as we dawdled along collecting sushi and pizza sustenance on the way. The Singers were fantastic, and everything they'd been hyped up to be, and more. They had some rather large reputations to full, what after being big upped by none other than Mr Go Betweens Robert Forster. And they did not fail in their mission. Part Supergrassy-cute, part school marching-band beat, the Singers are a mix n match when it comes to styles. Ending most songs with a screeching, Mogwai-esque wall-of-sound replete with trombone and trumpets, you can see why these guys have got the scene excited. The late start, alas, also meant a very short set, with only 6 or so songs gracing us before they were ushered off.

We set off for a bit of wander next, taking in all three stages the Fiesta had on offer this year. The "main stage" of the event seemed to be the one we were at, in the middle of Brunswick Street, on a closed part of the road in front of the old Sun building. Walking back across the road, the rotunda of the Valley Mall, which was usually the Fiesta's focal point, had been turned into a DJ stage, which pretty much meant it was almost empty at all times. Wandering through the alley (Licorice Lane, to be precise) we stumbled up into the Chinatown Mall, whose stage was set as normal and welcomed all-comers with its eclectic mix of entertainment. Even with the sad closure of the pagodas during the week for safety reasons, it didn't dampen the spirits in this neck of the woods. The Tiger even got her first in-the-flesh glimpses of some real-life drag queens performing on stage before we ventured back up to the main part of the action.

With the revised timeslot, next item of the list Abbe May was also pushed back 20 minutes or so. Enough time for her to amass a fairly sizeable audience, which was encouraging. Having not heard much of this lass (and band, which also went by the same name; although they seemed very keen to be known as the band called Abbe May, not just the lead singer called Abbe May with her backing band... ego? Hmm?), I checked with one of my musical touch-stones and fellow West Aus resident Brendan, who assured me via SMS she was the shit and worth checking out. A couple of songs in, however, and it was clear this was not the cup of tea I was looking for. It may just have been a too wide juxtaposition between the JSS preceding her, but Abbe just appeared way too serious and earnest for her own good. The glassy clean high notes, mixed with the reverb-saturated sqauls and wails just seemed way out of place on this stage, on this street and on this windy night. The carnival atmosphere surrounding event and night so far - which was enhanced by the freak storm hitting moments before curtains - butted up a little too ubruptly with this screeching soul, and so we opted to wander just a little. After not being able to find much else to hold out attention span, we wandered back to catch the end of her set, which seemed to have gathered a little bit of pace, but still jarred a little bit too much. Perhaps a different setting will put my right as far as this lady and band were concerned.

The rest of the night was spent sampling the Fiesta's other offerings, including a woeful one song by Operator Please, which was made even worse by the absolutely atrocious mixing which had afflicted every artist so far tonight, and a couple of songs by The Winnie Coopers, a mildly inebriating mix of hip hoppie 2 MCs, one DJ (and a bass and drummer, too) which we will see more of when they support Michael Franti and Spearhead in a couple of weeks.

And so we retire our weary bones and ready them for tomorrow's Fiesta offerings. And bask in the Love Den's warm glowing warming glow.


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