Disappointingly, my first gig experience upon my return to Perth was a charity event at PICA Bar this weekend. It was so average that it hurt, and I felt weird.
Soundtrack to this week’s column can be found here: please listen as you read.
I did not attend this venue for the music. Naw, it just happened to be on while my friends and I were there to drink, saluting the new marriage of one couple and the interstate departure of another. We sat outside, in what I believe is quite a new addition to PICA Bar’s outside seating area- out the back, all pretty and chilled, getting dripped on by the air conditioning units. The music being played outside was fine, just fine, but every time I went inside to use the bathrooms, I was confronted by a barrage of women in tacky cocktail dresses and young men with waistcoats and meticulously messy hair. Not a good sign.
The romantic in me wanted my re-introduction to live music in Perth to be a Craig McElhinney set. That would have been nice. I don’t even know when he’s playing next but that’s what I wanted. I was envisioning a pale man peering out from beneath his baseball cap all squinty eyed, twiddling his finger dexterously over buttons and knobs and keys and things, the room dark and smoky, my body undulating in time with the beats and tripping balls to atmospheric soundsssss etc… instead, it was a bunch of half-assed softheavyrock dudes belting out some mediocre shit that sounds like a bunch of other mediocre shit that was played on alternative radio 5-10 years ago.
And I’m pretty sure all the cocktail dresses were donned in an attempt to pick up these mediocre bandboys. The way they flocked after the gig, oh boy. Such smug on faces. Wow.
These people, it can’t be music that they love? What is it that they love? Surely not the charity they were fundraising for? Is it just the fun thing that they were enjoying? And why was that fun? I felt like my ears were being clumsily, awkwardly fingered by this band (I have no idea what their name was), and by this- after many years of seeking out musical acts skilled in the art of making love to the ear- I felt blighted. Underwhelmed. I forgot that this level of shit exists. But I suppose if you’ve never had an audio-karma-sutra experience, then I suppose a premature sound ejaculation is going to be the peak of your expectation.
I think the worst thing about it was the bravado. There was no authenticity, just a show of kind-of pride in the ability to do things a thousand other people can do. No invention, no originality, no interest beyond how many people they can get to look at them adoringly. Fucking ergh, this is not real. How do these people sleep at night? With dreams of shiny guitar collections and drives to the beach? Of mild stresses about hair cuts and clothes shopping and some babe they work/study/socialise with? Such complacency. Such average.
Oh, but chill out man, it’s a release; it’s just a good way to release and have fun and like, have a good time, you know? NO. YOU’RE BREAKING EVERYTHING. Such illusions, such uneducated grandeur, such boring, shitty, average perspective. I hope they never breed.
One more thing. Everyone in that fucking place, everyone, looked like a caricature of themselves. From the uninterested girl in a kaftan looking at her phone while sitting at the bar, to the overweight, long haired old dude who was doing the sounds, to the token slightly older, slightly overweight woman in tight black pants and t-shirt with dark rimmed glasses looking concerned from behind the sound guy; they all fit some sort of bill for this situation. Like it was a Robert Crumb illustration in real life.
I felt weird. What was I in this? Certainly not a caricature? At the time I didn’t think so. But looking back, maybe I was. I’d expressed about three times that day that no one had been able to make a decent short macchiato for me since I’d arrived. I was wearing all black. An undercut. A nose ring. Occasionally taking short breaks from socialisation to furiously write in my cheapo notebook about why I felt weird. I suppose there’s something pretty average in that too. Unoriginal. Sigh.
I’m fine though, seriously; just can’t wait to see some good music. And maybe write some of my own.