People Watching

Yesterday I went to an all day music festival. Some great Australian bands played, headlined by Suzi Quatro. I only went as a last minute thing, as the original ticket holder couldn’t go and asked if I wanted to take the spare. It wasn’t a bad day, despite the heat, and I had a pretty good time just chillin’ and blissing out.

When there’s a crowd of such magnitude all congregating in one place, the people watching aspect is almost as interesting as the live music. One thing to note, is that the bands that played yesterday were largely from the 80’s and 90’s, so the crowd was predominantly people in their late 30’s and older. The younger ones seemed less interested in the music, and more excited for the prospect of getting dressed up in matching outfits and getting day drunk. But it was the older people there that really caught my attention.

Whenever I attend a music gig I can’t help but notice the usual suspects. Not specific people, but rather the groups of people. There’s always the overly loud, brash middle aged men who draw attention to themselves (not to mention many filthy looks) by being as crass and obnoxious as possible. There’s the older women seemingly desperate to recapture their lost youth, wearing short shorts, and push up bras under sheer tops, hugging each other while they raise their lighters and drunkenly serenade back to the musicians. And then, of course, there’s the couple who can’t help but have a full on domestic right there in public. Yesterday, I was quite literally surrounded by all of those particular groups.

People, as a whole, are quite fascinating. The way they carry themselves, the way they dress (or don’t dress, as was the situation yesterday for many concert attendees), the way they interact. I can’t help but watch. Then again, a lot of the time people are just plain awful, as I discovered when I went to leave and found that someone – or more accurately, a few someones – had pissed all over the side of my car. I mean, there were toilets, and even trees if they got really desperate, but they decided instead to urinate, in a line, right on my car. Out of all the hundreds of cars there, they chose mine. Just my luck.

As interesting as people can be, I’m definitely one to sit on the sidelines and watch, rather than interact. I guess you could say people watching is my favourite spectator sport. Not being a people person means that observation is key, so long as no one tries to talk to me.

Advertisements

Alexisonfire 2017

I’m a bit late on this, but Tuesday before last, I kicked off this year of music with post-hardcore legends – and one of my favourite bands – Alexisonfire. I was first introduced to Alexisonfire by a friend of mine, who had previously given me music from Dallas Green’s side project, City and Colour. It was one of the first tastes of music I got that was a little heavier, and I fell instantly in love. You could say Alexis was the gateway band to heavier music that I developed a taste for afterwards.

The last time I got to see Alexisonfire was in 2012, for their farewell tour. I was new to the gig scene then, having never really gone to many gigs before, and none on my own. So I asked around, and out of sheer desperation ended up going with a guy who I was kind of friends with at the time. To be honest, he was a right wanker, and I only ended up getting to see Alexis perform two songs before I had to catch the train home. It was a disappointment for me, and I thought I would never get another opportunity to see them perform live.

So you can imagine my excitement when they announced a comeback tour mid last year. I bought my tickets straight away, thrilled by the prospect of getting to see them. After months of waiting, the night finally arrived. I got myself a little lost on the way to Festival Hall and ended up missing the supports, which I wasn’t overly fussed about really. I had previously seen The Getaway Plan, and I didn’t know who the others were. So when I arrived, Alexis were already playing. I could hear the crowd chanting We Are The Sound as I walked around the building, and when I walked in the song was in full swing. The atmosphere had me instantly smiling, and as soon as I made my way into the energetic crowd, I could feel my pulse quicken with excitement.

I managed to secure myself a spot on the floor, just to the right of the stage and just outside the masses of moshing people right at the stage front. I got a clear view of the stage and the band, and I didn’t have anyone tall stand in front of me for almost the whole show. It was glorious. They played some of my favourites, including Rough Hands, Dog’s Blood and Crisis, and then The Northern for their encore (along with a couple of others). I was hoping I’d get to hear Emerald Street – which has been my phone ringtone for about five years – or Midnight Regulations, which are my personal favourites from any of their albums. But despite not getting to hear either, the show was so fucking good that I can’t even complain. It was legitimately one of the best shows I’ve ever attended. Hearing George Pettit’s unclean vocals live properly for the first time is something I’ll never forget. And the crowd really helped make the gig for me, shouting out the lyrics in time with George and Dallas, and enjoying the show without being jerks, which is uncommon at live gigs, I often find.

Honestly, I am so glad I finally got the opportunity to see them properly. And if any of you are fans of post-hardcore bands that describe their music as “the sound of two Catholic high-school girls in mid-knife-fight”, then do yourself a favour and check them out. I have provided this helpful video below, for your viewing pleasure. You’re welcome.

Karnivool, 2016

If there is one irrefutable fact about Karnivool, it’s that they always put on one hell of a good show. The Australian rock band took to the stage at Melbourne’s Croxton Bandroom last night, playing to a packed house.

image

My friend send me a message Wednesday night. She had two spare tickets to see the show, and needed to get rid of them. My live gigs lined up for this year are pretty limited, and I always enjoy getting to rock out to Karnivool, so I decided to go. I wasn’t disappointed.

The main act was preceded by Fait, an instrumental four piece band led by Elise Higgins. I had never heard of them before, but listening to them play, I’m glad I got to experience it. Without vocals to take the main focus, it was easy to fully immerse myself in the music. It’s the kind of music you can have playing in the background, and as my friend put it last night ‘I want this to be the soundtrack to my life’. In between their incredible set and the equally mind blowing main act, I was pleased to discover that whoever was in control of the intermission tunes was a fan of Cog. I, along with an energetic crowd, rocked out happily until the light went down and the headliners took the stage.

As ever, Karnivool was ace. Last night was the third (or fourth?) time I’ve seen them, and they strayed a little away from the Themata based set I’ve seen them play before. They played some new songs, and some classic favourites that really got the crowd jumping. My friend and I were reasonably close to the stage, and seeing Ian Kenny live is always an experience to remember. There is no way, watching him perform, that you could doubt his love of music, or of playing to a crowd. As I’ve come to expect of Karnivool fans, during Roquefort and Themata, the crowd became hugely energetic and went from casually rocking out to flooding the front floor and jumping about so enthusiastically I’m surprised no one got hurt. They played New Day for their encore and I don’t think there was a single person not singing.

I always forget how much I love the band until I see them live. And I can honestly say that Karnivool shows are up there with the best gigs I’ve seen. If you get a chance, go see them live. It’s an awesome experience.

City and Colour, 2016

image

Last night I kicked off my year of live music, and I went to see City and Colour. I cannot even begin to describe to you what a phenomenal experience it was. After a long, stressful week, I rushed home after work yesterday, had to forgo a shower due to time constraints, packed hurriedly for my impending trip to Sydney for work (more about that another time) and drove with my mum into the city.

We arrived in time to miss the line-up at the gates and see six or so songs from the support act. The tickets were seated, and I booked them months ago, so we were six rows from the stage, in prime viewing position. The main act was pre-empted by a performance from an Australian band called Little May with whom I was solidly impressed – so much so that I later purchased their album at the merch stand. They had a fantastic sound that was the perfect accompaniment to City and Colour’s smooth tunes.

When City and Colour came on to play, the atmosphere just changed. Of course when the stage darkened, the crowd started their excited cheers and clapping, but the minute Dallas Green started playing the opening chords of Woman (from the most recent album, If I Should Go Before You), a hush kind of settled over the venue. To say that the first song set the stage (so to speak) for a mind blowing performance would be an understatement.

The thing I’ve always loved about City and Colour is the way the song lyrics resonate with me. And hearing Dallas sing them live was such a moving experience. When he sang ‘I’ve always been dark with light somewhere in the distance’ (a favourite lyric from one of my favourite songs) he could have been singing it just to me. And the lyric, ‘I sought after, after reasons to stay, I was lost’ struck a chord with me last night because it sums up a lot of what is going on in my life right now. To sit there and hear all my favourite songs played live was mind blowing, and gave a new meaning to a lot of them. Music is just different live, and not just for the obvious reasons. You can’t beat the atmosphere and the buzz that comes from seeing one of your favourite artists/bands perform live, and singing along with them.

I honestly cannot urge you enough to go and see them if you ever get the chance. Dallas Green is such a charismatic performer, it’s difficult to keep your eyes from him. And his band played effortlessly, seamlessly, awesomely. 10/10, absolutely amazing.

Greatest Hits of 2015

It’s nearing the end of the year. This can either be a good thing, or a bad thing depending on how your year has been. For me, well…that’s another blog. In the meantime though, it’s time for the greatest hits of 2015!

MUSIC
It was a pretty decent year in music for me. I saw a whole list of bands, including Foo Fighters, Rise Against, Fleetwood Mac and, of course, Anathema. My best friend introduced me to a few new bands (Acid Bath, Moonspell and A Forest of Stars, to name a few) I discovered a few myself, and there were some new tunes from some old favourites, most notably the albums from Circa Survive (Violent Waves), Dead Letter Circus (Aethesis) and City and Colour (If I Should Go Before You). But for me, my favourite album of the year was someone I’d never heard of before. It is Hozier’s self titled album that I find myself returning to again and again. I impulse bought the album after I heard the song Someone New on a music channel on television, and haven’t regretting it for a minute. There’s something about his lyrics that just resonated with me, and he has a voice that I find ceaselessly listenable. Plus, Irish. That will almost always win you points.

BOOKS
I’ve kept a record of every book I’ve read since 2011 and this was by far the worst year I have had since I started. I put it down to a couple of things. First of all, I’ve been busy. I know that sounds like a cop out, but I work during the week, sew on the weekends, and life just has a habit of getting in the way. And I’ll be honest, of the 21 books I’ve read, I actually hated most of them. I loved Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking, and All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven really struck a chord with me. If I Stay makes the list as well, and despite not particularly liking the characters all that much, The Girl on the Train was intriguing and entertaining. But everything else I read was either really bad or not that worthy of note. So hopefully, next year the books will pick up their game. I have a few lined up to be read (like…thirty), so I’m expecting good things from the likes of Chuck Palahniuk, Emma Donoghue and Ben Aaronovich. Hopefully they won’t let me down.

FILM
I watched a lot of films this year, but I’ll narrow it down to the ones that were actually released in 2015, or we’ll be here forever. One on the major stand outs for me was Chappie. Neill Blomkamp once again brought his imagination and genius to the party and effortlessly blew most out of the water. The title character was a curious mix of lovable, formidable and childlike. And in what can only be called a solid supporting performance, Hugh Jackman proved that it actually is possible to hate him. (I mean his character by the way; he was thoroughly loathsome). Dark Places get a mention in this list too, because anything Gillian Flynn related will always get a mention in any list of my favourite things. Charlize Theron played her role to perfection, and if you haven’t seen it, I recommend giving it a look. The comic book nerd in me loved Avengers: Age of Ultron because well…who doesn’t love a bit of action adventure comic adaptations? And for Mae Whitman alone, and her monster voice in the film I’ll round out this list with The Duff. There are no horror films in there, and the last one is certainly not my usual taste but you gotta have a bit of diversity!

So there it is. Off the top of my head at least, these are my top picks for entertainment for the year. I’d love to hear your favourites!

Anathema, 2015

Last night, most people were out and about, kicking on with Halloween celebrations. I myself was invited to two different parties. But I didn’t go to either of them, and for me Halloween was a definite afterthought. On any other year, I’d have been out partying with the rest of them. But this year was different. This year, I spent Halloween with the members of Anathema.

For those of you who don’t know (and I assume most of you won’t) Anathema is a death/doom metal turned progressive rock band that my best friend introduced me to a year or two ago. They have since become one of my favourite bands and so when they announced an acoustic tour earlier this year, I jumped straight on and secured myself a ticket. The night kicked off with a VIP meet and greet with vocalist and guitarist, Vincent Cavanagh and female vocalist, Lee Douglas. They were lovely and accommodating and signed a bunch of stuff. Once that was out of the way, we were allowed in to the stage.

The support act was a guy called Mark, who sang and played guitar with a female singer and a beautiful redhead cellist. I confess, I spent almost the entire set watching her, a) because she was right in front of me, b) because the cello is a hauntingly beautiful instrument and she played it flawlessly and c) because she was delicate and dainty and absolutely fucking stunning. I wanted to marry her a little bit, I’m not going to lie.

When they left and the curtain closed to allow Anathema to set up, I hung out at the stage with a few people I’d met that night. We’d kind of formed a little group I guess, strangers joined by the love of a band. A Russian girl, a German woman, an English woman and myself. Sounds like the punchline of a bad joke, huh? But socially awkward little Amy managed to not make too much of a fool of herself.

And then it was time. I cannot describe to you the emotions that were running through me. Being an acoustic gig, it was just Vincent, Lee, and Daniel Cavanagh (guitarist, keyboardist, vocalist) but it was absolutely sensational. The acoustic nature of the performance made it more intimate, I thought, and I was able to properly immerse myself in the spectacular performance. Lee’s vocals were simultaneously haunting and powerfully evocative. Daniel informed us at one point that she had won best female singer in the UK three years in a row, and seeing her on stage, it was easy to see why. She effortlessly projected volume and hit notes that gave me goosebumps. It was a thing of beauty.

Vincent similarly gave a powerful vocal performance. He has that same ability to give me goosebumps, and the emotion in his voice was even more awesome to hear live. And I was endlessly fascinated by his guitar playing. The beauty of the acoustic set was that I was able to properly hear all the instrumental genius, as well as the vocals, and it was an aurally stunning performance.

Daniel was directly in front of me for most of the show, and like I had with his brother, I found myself watching his hands on the guitar. Entirely self taught (as he later told me) his ability to play multiple instruments blew me away. There are simply no words to describe what an affecting performance they all gave last night, and my only regret is that my best friend wasn’t there with me to share in the wonder and beauty of it. They were all very engaging too, and between the banter tossed back and forth on stage, and the little jokes and comments at the crowd, it really felt like we were a part of something wonderful. It was…incredible.

When the show was over, we got a chance to speak to Daniel, as he hadn’t been at the earlier session. We talked about how he’d taught himself to play instruments as a kid, how he always knew music is what he was going to do. When I left, he kissed my cheek, gave me a hug and wished me happy birthday. I could not think of a greater way to ring in turning twenty three, than to watch and meet one of the most amazing bands I’ve ever had the pleasure of loving.

image

image

image

The Universally Acknowledged (Albeit Unwritten) Gig Code

image
Source: http://www.scenewave.com

I saw my first (real) live concert when I was eighteen. A bit of a latecomer to the wonderful world of music shows, I was nevertheless bitten by the bug. I had to have more, experience more; in short, I was hooked. There’s something about the live music scene that is just heart poundingly exhilarating. The volume, the way the bass thumps through your chest, the atmosphere; it all makes for an awesome experience. You could almost say there’s nothing about live music that is bad. Almost. See, the problem with concerts is the people that attend them. At every gig I’ve ever been to, I’ve either been injured (like the memorable time I got intentionally elbowed in the face during a Pierce the Veil gig), groped (like the Kingswood concert a few weeks ago), or stuck behind an impossibly tall douche (every gig ever). It’s like some people just go out of their way to be total dickheads and in doing so, totally disregard the holiest of holies, the Gig Code.

The Gig Code is an unwritten, unspoken, but universally acknowledged set of rules for attending concerts. The rules are simple and designed to ensure that everyone has a good time. They are as follows.
1. Don’t be a jerk.
2. Be polite.
3. Ignore your phone, unless you’re checking in with friends or taking photos.
4. Enjoy the music.
5. Don’t be a fucking jerk.

Despite this, there are always those few people who want to ruin it for everyone else. And that’s when things gets ugly. Under the first rule, its against the code to intentionally hurt someone else. In a thumping, jumping crowd, you expect to get jostled about a bit. That’s normal, and part of the experience. What isn’t normal is to get punched in the back of the head, shoved to the ground, spat on, elbowed in the face and/or have a drink poured on you. All of these things have happened to me at various gigs I’ve attended over the years. All without provocation and all because people didn’t follow the Gig Code. There’s no call for that kind of thing, and drunkenness is not an excuse either. If everyone agrees not to be a douche, live music would be infinitely mote enjoyable.

Then there’s the second rule. If you’re seven thousand feet tall, don’t intentionally stand in front of us short people. Your height gives you an automatic advantage over the rest of us, you don’t then get to muscle your way to the front. I’m not saying tall people don’t deserve to see but have some respect for the shorties. In addition to this, if you DO want to make your way through a crowd, be as polite as you can. Don’t just shove through and knock people over because you’re an inconsiderate plebian. And for the love of all that is good and holy, don’t be a creepy pervert and hit on every girl in the place. We are there for the music, not for your clumsy attempts at flirtation. Go away.

Then the third and fourth rules. My best friend told me that he went to a gig the other night and couldn’t help noticing the guy near him who spent 90% of the time staring at his phone. That made me mad enough but then he proceeded to tell me about the two guys in front of him who played on their phones for three songs and left. They left?! Why pay money for a ticket and travel to a venue to not even pay attention?! Phones are a great tool at gigs to take photos and film your favourite song, and send the odd text to a friend who will appreciate how much fun you’re having. But so often I see people just standing there, staring at their phone screen or just complaining that they don’t want to be there. So let me get this straight; you have awesome musicians rocking out for you on stage and you don’t even have the decency to watch and enjoy? You might as well just go the fuck home.

I guess, being such a fan of live music myself, I don’t understand how you could in good conscience break the rules of the Gig Code. It’s supposed to be about people who may have nothing else in common, coming together in mutual appreciation of a certain band and music in general. I’ve said this before because it’s true. You go to a venue to rock out, listen to some great tunes and have a good time. But those dicks who break the rules just kill the buzz and ruin things for everyone else. That ain’t what it’s all about, man. If you’re not there for the music, then don’t bother showing up. We don’t want your douchebaggery clogging up the place. Frankly, I think they should put signs up in every live music venue with the Gig Code on it. You break the rules, you’re out. That simple.