Saturday, May 9, 2009

Journeys with a concert in between

I went and saw Okkervil River the other night. At a venue (a pub) I used to live near but never went to. As soon as I walk into the train station I hear "S'cuse me sista, do you have any spare change?" and I'm thinking 'Great, here we go' to her I say "Not yet." she watches me push the buttons & put my money in the machine hovering about 10cm behind me. The machine coffers up my ticket & change I give her the change (about a $1.60). Mostly because I'm going to a concert & don't really want change falling out of my pockets. I usually take very little with me when going to concerts, no bag, just ticket/keys/phone/ID/ear plugs & enough cash to get merch if it's any good, to get to & from the venue. Actually that reads like a lot but compared to the back packs/massive handbags that are in fashion & people take to concerts with them, I travel light. Anyway I make my way down to the platform to wait for the train, the woman who has my change does the same. She continues to walk around and ask everyone there if they have any to give her. Gets pissed off when people say they're sorry they don't have any. "Don't be sorry! Just say no." She comes back to me and asks again "Hey sista, any change?" This time I say "Mate, you've already got all the change I had", "I'M NOT YOUR MATE!!" she angrily tells me. "Yeah well, I'm not your sister." I mumble as she storms away.

So I used to live near the venue, easy right?, I should remember how to get there. Wrong, coming out of the train station the decision was to go straight or to the right. The right looked like it was going the wrong way, I had a vague recollection of walking that way, but decided I'd go straight. As I walked along, looking around thinking to myself that nothing looked familiar. I come across a park that I definitely don't remember, I know bascially which way I need go, so I cut through it and eventually end up on the main road. About a block from where I need to be, not too bad, okay so it's one of the massive blocks that there are around here. But thankfully I could see where I needed to be because there was pretty much no one around to ask. No one sober, it's one of those suburbs that has very little pedestrian traffic especially at night.

Finding my way inside the venue and the first thing that hits me it just how small it is. Seriously the tiniest place I've ever seen a show. The stage is about 2.5m deep & 5-6m wide. It has a capacity of 450 people - not sure if it was sold out. The support act had been playing for about 10 minutes by the time I got there, I made my way to the front. Standing about 2-3m away, I could just about see every bead of sweat on the bands faces.

The Seabellies

Are quite new to me, they put on a good show even with a few technical/sound difficulties. The singers accoustic guitar & I think some of the mics or keyboard sounds weren't quite right. I can't give you a set list for the band but I did enjoy them very much, I do like a good horn & several of their songs had some sax & horn parts. Also a xylophone, not much of that in rock music is there?

As soon as they finished playing & the next band was setting up, everyone who was hanging back suddenly moved foward & I guess the people who were in the pub section started moving into the venue part of the pub. Suddenly I'm surrounded by hipsters (okay I didn't really notice how many were there until the show was over and I was crushed by them trying to get out), women with handbags almost bigger than they are & people who do not SHUT UP for the entire show! I seriously don't understand people who go to concerts & spend the whole time talking to their mates. It's not like they're talking about anything to do with the music it's usually the same boring stuff you overhear everywhere else. Chicks talking about their latest trip to the hairdresser, blokes talking about how much beer they consumed at Johnno's place the other day. I must have some sign above my head or aura that these people gravitate towards, because I usually end up surrounded by them at gigs. No matter how many times I move to get away from them, it never lasts very long. It's particularly annoying when the music is softer and therefore hard to drown them out. Many of Okkervil River's songs fall into that category so I was quite annoyed at having to block out the talkers.

I'll admit that I'm not all over the Okkervil River catalogue as I am some other bands. But I don't think that's a huge problem, they played many songs I knew and some that I didn't. I was surprised that most of the band (a keyboard player/guitarist/drummer) set up their own instruments. Only using roadies to check the mics & 3 other instruments. They played for about an hour & did a 3 song encore. The drummer (Travis) smiles manically throughout the show with a little leaning over the drums and singing along for good measure. The singer & bass player have fantastic voices which really translate well live. The line up is slightly different as they have a female guitar/slide guitar/banjo player (Lauren, I think) who has a serene graceful prescence on stage while Will jumped around in the tiny available space. Really good energy, getting everyone to clap/sing along to certain songs. My favourites being Our Life Is Not a Movie or Maybe, Red (with just Will playing guitar), John Allyn Smith Sails & For Real.

I wish I'd taken my camera.

On to the journey home, once out of the venue, noting the time I figured I had a chance to get at least the 2nd to last if not last train of the night. Made my familiar way back to the station, which took longer than I remember. Get onto the platform, look up the times & see that the train is in about 20 minutes. Sit down, about 5 minutes later an announcement comes over the speakers that there is trackwork that night. Between the train stations I need to get to, typically, so I have to go out & wait for a bus to the city, then get on another bus back to my closet train station, then walk 15 minutes to get home. Fantastic! As I'm walking out I tell 2 guys about the whole trackwork/bus situation, which they eventually confirm for themselves & join me hanging around the bus stop. Looking at the bus timetable which doesn't match the train one at all and is pretty incomprehensible I sit on a bench and wait. The suburb I'm in doesn't have much traffic, which is probably good if you live there, but if you're car-less and trying to get out of it, it sucks. I watch 5 cabs go past, all taken, a few other cars not much else. Probably about a minute before the rail bus turns up I flag an empty cab to take me home. The fare was only $9, don't think the cabbie was too impressed with such a small fare but I sure was glad to be home.

In short The Seabellies & Okkervil River are definitely worth seeing live if you can or at least get their CDs. Public transport isn't all it's cracked up to be & STOP TALKING DURING SHOWS or I'll have to get angry at you :D

Oh yeah I think I'm in love with Okkervil River's drummer & have a serious lady-crush on the woman in The Seabellies

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