Friday, July 30, 2010

What I Got, You Gotta Get It.

It’s funny what sticks in your head while watching a band sometimes. Most of the time, if the music’s right, you’re floating a little bit off the floor as the waves of emotion sweep you up and along. Other times, it’s more earthly and realistic - like the dull ache in your lower back, or wanting to drill a hole in the back of the head of the six-foot-tall knuckle dragger in front of you.

On occasion, however, the band itself provides a shake-of-the-head, what-were-they-thinking type moments which you just know is fast-tracked on to the cringe file in a few years time. Tonight while enjoying’s live coverage of The Temper Trap from Splendour In The Grass, I was struck by bassist Jonathon Aherne’s awkward playing style. At first it was entertaining and quite a thrill, but it soon became irritating as his arms-akimbo schtick and hail-flailing antics proved themselves to be nothing more than window dressing. Blech, check it out.

I got to thinking about how a band’s presence leads a lot to how they’re interpreted. Augie March, for example, are a band who compliments their intricate style with their gentlemanly couture, and it wouldn’t be Metallica without some form of hair-fling (that said, their current collective receding hairline has got to detrimental to a good head-bang). It got me wondering which musician’s behavious lends most to helping to solidify what’s going on with the music. Keeping with the bass player theme, and I think you’d be hard pressed to go past RHCP’s Flea in terms of someone who not only plays what he feels, but let’s that be abundantly known through his expressive movement.

So whatdya reckon? Whose on-stage antics bug the shit out of you? And whose gets your juices flowing the most?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Our beautiful matriarch

The word matriarch is such a fitting misnomer for me when talking about my family. The Greek word speaks of a fiery, silver-haired maven who commands all those before her into quivering servitude. It suggests a matron used to getting her own way and making that fact known to all around.

For the Surridge family, our matriarch was the polar opposite of the poetic imagery, but her impact was just as forceful. Audrey (aka Mum, Grandma and Great-Grandma), while silver-haired and occasionally imposing with her unshakable simple, homely faith and open-hearted kindness, was a beacon of gentle calm. In the face of some very considerable adversity, Mum (as I confusingly came to call her early in life) fought hard to maintain a stable shelter. For most in my family who didn’t venture far from the nest, this may have been overlooked and possibly taken for granted, but for those of us who’ve been imbued with the perpetual itchy-feet, the vision of that modest, gorgeous home on the main highway in Albury was a beautiful touch-stone and battery recharger.

Matriarch the word, however, does fit when considering what it was that Audrey was able to achieve in her life. A simple farm girl, she nabbed the handsomely chiseled town-boy and set about making a family and a home. Through some of the world’s greatest societal upheavals, Audrey and Roy brought five head-strong, very determined children into the world. With fierce determination, they fought through the catastrophic murder-suicide of my Uncle and picked up the pieces of their family left behind to provide a temporary home for their three boys. She sailed through the continual upsets and disappointments from challenging family members and continued to welcome all with open arms. And with steely determination, she fought through the loss of her life partner and maintained a proud home through thick and thin.

Our matriarch passed away tonight and it’s left quite a hole. As far as I know, it’s last of the grandparent generation for my family and it’s shifted everyone up a notch in the family tree. For me, Mum’s passing has brought back how important the family unit can be, regardless of its foibles. And it’s given me a great appreciation for what Audrey was able to provide - it sounds simple, but it’s infinitely far from it.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Rhythm of life

Was it a rut? Some people thought my living at the Love Den was a sure sign of ruttage, as I set about doing as little as possible and just staying put for as long as I could. And I guess it was a self-imposed rut in that sense, but with a clearly defined theory: I needed to know what it felt like to sit in a comfy chair and watch the world turn for a bit.

You see, as the step-child of a soldier and the son of a rather gypsy-ish woman, my only memories in childhood revolved around the rigmarole of finding new friends, fitting into schools, working out the pecking order... and getting the shit kicked out of me from time to time for not getting that pecking order right. Basically all the joys of being, as the term goes, an Army brat. Even after being removed from that lifestyle, the itchy-footed wanderings still regularly overtook the family, until my early twenties when I realised I’d lived in almost as many houses as years I’d lived. Soon after that realisation, I had a full-body urge just to sit the fuck down somewhere nice and catch my breath for a bit. Albion Love Den was the place, and took more than a decade for me to feel it necessary to move on.

The moving around may not have been all beer and skittles and happy roaming families, but it also wasn’t a depressing tale of being the constant awkward new kid and getting lost on the way to the shops, either. One of the benefits, in hindsight, was the ability to re-invent yourself without the burden of a collective memory - the other was the almost immediate injection to the rhythm of your day-to-day life.

Living in the one spot, I found, my natural daily routine tended to seek the path of less resistance. Like muscles against a force, or birds on the wing, my travels were more about efficiency and finding the easiest, simplest way to get shit done. It became more about maximising the time doing the things I loved and less about exploration and seeking new things. Not that I was fully embracing the suburban hermit dream, but I did find the work-gym-home triangle, with the occasional Valley gig a bit of a yawn-fest towards the end. And as a result, the cycle naturally slowed until a near-crippling boredom of Brisbane started to set in.

A change of scenery, however, naturally injected a wad of extra digits to my energy levels. Everything is new and exciting and wonderful and enchanting and full of life. The new surroundings thrust subtle nuances at my senses which excite and turn me on, and I can think of nothing more enjoyable than cruising around her artery-like streets for hours on end: achieving nothing, but soaking it all in and trying to gauge the mood of it all to eck out my own niche amongst it.

Even the mundane tasks of day to day life have gotten a nitrous-oxide injection, with Melbourne noticeably a quicker and more urgent city than Brisbane. Getting to work in Bris used to be a leisurely hour or so on public transport: train, then a short wait in the city, then a bus chugging through the inner-eastern suburbs. In hindsight, it seems positively sluggish compared to my daily commute these days: within an hour of waking, I’m saddled up on the white mountain bike and am hurtling myself through the misty, dark streets of North Melbourne, heading for the train station. I dodge trams and weave in and out of the traffic and delivery vans, before a 20-minute public transport commute to the northern suburbs. The trains themselves are jet-powered compared to QR’s silver bullets, with shorter dwell times at stations and absolutely no mercy should you be running even 5 seconds late.

The weekly shopping trip to Toombul Coles has been replaced by regular visits to the Queen Vic Market, just around the corner. It’s cheaper and much better quality, with the atmosphere enlivened by the vendor’s cries of “$2 bag, $2 bag” and the jostling with Italian grandmas to get the juiciest, plumpest mandarins. The gym trips, now down to just two visits a week thanks to the daily cycle commute, see me strapped to the iPod and lightly jogging or quick-stepping from home down to Melbourne Central. There’s something purely indulgent about calling the inner-city gym as my local, even if it’s just temporary until we find a place of our own.

It’s true, I’m completely keyed up with this new phase of life and I’m so energised by the power of this place. Sure, things are a little tough at the moment (money-wise, house-wise, etc), but the energy and tempo of Melbourne is doing things to me which I’m really excited about. Yes, I’m smitten by this sexy bitch of a city.