The Chronicles of Tahlia: The Return to Perth

Reader’s of last week’s Steady Eye column will know that I’m currently having a little holiday in Perth, and that I’m finding it quite nice to be back. In the 12 days I’ve been back here, I’ve had my ups and downs; catching up with friends, reconnecting with my youngest brother, having weird interactions with my recent ex, seeing the lifestyles of my extended family- and seeing a little bit of live music. This weekened just gone, I saw Pond on the Friday night at Norfolk Basesment, and Mink Mussel Creek and The Bakery, from which my mind went to all kinds of complex emotional places. I’ve written about my relationship with these boys before: , which is worth having a quick glance at to put this week’s ranting into some perspective.

When I arrived at the Norfolk Basement, around 15 minutes after the doors were supposed to open, the doors were still closed a HUGE line of people was snaking down the street. Deciding to opt out of standing in that line for god knows how long, I instead followed the calls of my sore back and sat myself down on the park bench across the street. I smoke some cigarettes, read my book, then saw Nick Allbrook, front man of Pond, emerge onto the street so ran over to him. The look on his face was extremely satisfying- a mix of surprise, confusion and elation, and he yelled out “WHHAAAAAAA? TAHLIA!!” and we embraced. He didn’t know I was in town. I love happy surprises.

When we got into the venue, I saw all the boys and they were all surprised and happy and then venue was pretty fucking packed out, and the vibe was lovely. I had had a dream the night before that instead of photographing the gig, I filmed it, so I took heed, left my camera at my mum’s house and started filming things on my phone through a contrasty black and white filter that mimics my live music photography style quite nicely. I filmed my friends chatting, I filmed them setting up, and I filmed the audience go absolutely mental.

Pond is an extremely popular band. They’re popular AND good. NME recently called them “the hottest band in the world”, which no doubt makes everyone involved both amused and a bit pleased. The Norfolk Basement was full to the brim with excited youngsters, relieved to have gotten to that line a bit earlier than everyone else. And honestly, I found it all a little intimidating- so many humans I didn’t recognise, so many people willing to push me the fuck out of the way so they can get closer to the front. You can see in the eyes of these fans that Pond could well be their favourite band… I have to try to imagine what I would be like if I grew up in San Antonia and I was 21 in the 90’s and I was seeing the Butthole Surfers. I would loose my shit and not care about anything except how close I can get to the flaming drum kit, so I suppose it all makes sense.

The show was fucking awesome, no surprises there. As always, the stage was full of energy and life and jokes and banter, and I grinned like a fucking idiot and filmed from as many different angles as I could manoeuvre myself into (the crowd hardly budged). Post show excitement lead to a little after party at a house down the road and I caught up with the boys properly and drank many drinks and listened to them rant about music and I was happy.

Sunday night was a little different for me. I was tired in all the ways imaginable. My spirits were good, but I felt a little weak. And going to The Bakery is weird for me too- it’s so big and open these days. I worked there before the renovations happened, so I’m used to it being a little grimier. Now there are heaps of new faces behind the bar, familiar faces whose owner’s names I can’t remember, fancy seating arrangements and weird passageways to the toilets… it’s weird. Not bad, not at all, just weird. Change, woah, I might not be good at it.

So I was at The Bakery for the Dada Records’ fundraiser show: excellent record store, excellent cause, excellent line-up. I got there a bit late, but just in time for Chris Cobilis (who greeted me near the entrance with cries of “TAHLIA??? THE FUUUCK?? YESSSSS” which is always nice). Drowning Horse blew my fucking mind, I don’t think I’ve seen such good quality doom live before. Definitely purchasing their record asap. And theennnnnnn, Mink Mussel Creek were up. I think they played last time I was in Perth, around 12 months ago, at Norfolk Basement and that one was fucking crazy fun. I was expecting more of the same, but the boys were sort of lack lustre, it was a Sunday night in sleepy Perth… and it didn’t quite happen the way I envisioned.

The crowd was sizeable, but the huge expanse of the Bakery made it feel like there wasn’t enough people. The people who were there were pressed up the front- including myself for majority of the set. At first I was a row or so away from the very front, just grooving a bit by myself and letting the memories of 2006-2008 wash over me, smiling at Nick flailing about, laughing at Ringham looking bored and lounging on stage, feeling bad about Steve’s bung ankle, marvelling at the general steez of Shiny Joe, while my lust for Kevin when he sits at the drum kit was rekindled. I felt ice fall on my neck and face a few times, and after looking around in anger, finally noticed Nick Odell in front of me to the left, staring at me with this crazed look of expectation: “TAHLIA. IT’S FUCKING MINK MUSSEL CREEK”, at which I replied “AHH I KNOW RIGHT?” and promptly ran over and hugged the shit out of that big hairy man.

Odell and I spoke very briefly then about the way things have changed… all these young kids in Perth who found Mink through Tame Impala and Pond, how the old crew of Mink gig goers have dissipated with time etc. It’s a perfectly natural phenomenon, and I have nothing against people moving on, and new folk learning about rad Perth music and going mental for it, but it felt pretty strange when I was almost tearing up from nostalgia and tiredness during the middle of “They Dated Steadily”, and a young lady slightly in front to the right turns around and grabs me, yelling “COME ON, GET INTO IT”. Honey, you have no fucking idea.

Not long after that, I had to get out of the throng of enthusiastic people, and go and nurse my beer alone at the bar. I needed space and time, I needed to be able to appreciate once of my favourite live acts in my own way, especially because they weren’t feeling it the way they used to. Which is perfectly natural too. I’m just glad these boys aren’t going to be stopping any time soon, and I’m glad I was there at the start of it all.