Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Love Den's Final Fiesta Finale Part San

So here was Sunday, probably the biggest day of the festival in my book. A plethora of acoustic and blues artists were awaiting my ears for the day, but an over-riding sense of lethargy had set in early. Deciding to skip a couple of the earlier in the day artists, the Tiger and I wandered into the Valley (via our new love Campos Coffee) late in the arvo to be greeted by some lurvely sunshine coupled with a nice breeze.

James Grehan was on the list today, and his dreamy styles did not fail to disappoint. Apart from the ill-placed advertising (I mean, who puts a huge video screen as a stage backdrop?), the set went off without a hitch and James seemed to garner a few new fans. Even his ever-present Dad, studiously recording the entire gig as usual, seemed impressed by the turn out. Knowing James from smaller, intimate gigs, I was keen to see how a potentially rowdy and demanding open air day time performance would be handled. And it was with aplomb. His earnest and sweet delivery, matched by his serious guitar playing and shimmery falsettos, seem to break through even the piped pap music emanating from the bar next door.

An early break in proceedings had us wandering a bit and stuffing our faces at the PhoB Vietnamese local, before heading back into the throng. The Tiger headed over to the Brunswick Street Mall stage, while I camped it out at the Chinatown Mall, finally catching Gentle Ben and His Sensitive Side. A band which is probably as close to Valley royalty you can get, it had an impressive array of pure, raunchy, dirty, sweaty, sexy moves down pat. This is saying something, considering it's basically that intense dude from Sixfthick, Dylan McCormack and that dude with the huge mutton chops who I think lives at Ric's (I thought his name was Barry, but it's Tim or Nick or something. He was referred to as the Mayor of the Valley, which seemed fitting). Interestingly, the Mayor's stand up drumming style turned out to be only one of the strange things of band: with the histrionics of the singer, and the out-right boredom of the guitarist and keyboardist making it all a little bizarre. Still, nice for a rocky change. I've been a little mellow and acoustic by necessity with my musical choices lately, so it's good to get out and see some posturing and posing and rocking out. It's still fun.

With the slight drizzle now steadying into a bit of a run shower, Jackie Marshall took the stage and we set about meeting up with some long-lost friends. The former Tulipan singer still seemed to hit all the right notes, and certainly had the moistening masses in the palm of her hands. Unfortunately, my increasing gaggle was not as musically interested as I, so we ventured up the road a bit for some ales and piped muzak while catching up and chin wagging.

The rain had well and truly settled in now, and the conspicuous lack of activity on the main stage had me suspicious that the wetness had spoiled the fun. A quick check with organisers confirmed this, but also informed us that the headline act had been relocated down to the Chinatown Mall. In waiting for the rearrangement, we took in a bit of Katy Steele, which wasn't on the original list of anticipated artists. Being not a big fan of her main incarnation Little Birdy, I was pretty keen to avoid the pseudo-rock chic chick, but now she was thrust upon on us, I was pleasantly surprised. Clad in a skin-tight outfit splendidly replete with massive red sparkly heels and bleach-blond locks, this lass not only had the looks, but the sass and sound to boot. Armed almost solely with a beautiful white Strat (apart from one or two acoustics, plus a keyboard number), she worked the crowd with amazing dexterity and threw up a few of the gems that no doubt some of the great unwashed were salivating for. In all, a rather entertaining mix of attitude and musicality.

With the last time we saw him an unmitigated disaster (at the putrid Joe's Waterhole in Eumundi), Jeff Lang was almost the entire reason for getting out and about all weekend. Still in his stripped down mode of himself, stomp box and bass player, he powered through some newer versions of his own brand of "disturbed folk". With the rain now pretty steady, the crowd thinned considerably, leaving a core collective either braving the wetness or huddling under what sparse shelter there was. Despite the very short set, Jeff was in fine form, showing off all his guitar virtuoso ability early on, and backing it up with some seriously delightful melodies and deeply powerful story-telling. Add to that and enthralled and entranced crowd lapping up every move, and it proved to be a fitting end to a weekend mixed with discoveries and old friends.

And so that was it for Valley Fiesta 2008. And with a newly-extended 6 month lease coming into affect on the Love Den this week, it may prove to be the very last in which this place serves as the base to one of my most favourite contemporary music festivals in the land.


Girl Clumsy said...

Hey there Ben. Or Jamin. I can't work out what your actual name is!

Was just checking out your blog here and at J-Space - I'm also a double blogger!

I still prefer Blogger in terms of usability - the fact that Google's now in charge of it means it's getting better all the time.

But J-Space does have all those crazy wild Birmo fans. ;)

I think Blogger's trying to get more of the community thing happening, but I doubt that's enough for the Burgers to shift. ;)

Anyway, enjoy "Dubya".

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