Orlando furious (real name: Ben Snaith) is one of those freaky weirdo genius types. He’s perceptive, intuitive, self-aware and multi-disciplinary. Hailing originally from the Sunshine Coast, QLD, he has the title of Tahlia’s Favourite Housemate in Melbourne, from our 8 months of living together in Footscray a few years ago, not long after he made a huge banner that was displayed for 2 months on a busy intersection right near the centre of town with the phrase “I will always be your friend” in many of the different languages spoken in that beautiful multi-cultural area printed next to a photo of his giant smiling face (back when he called himself “Razorsex”. The guy is just so fucking inspiring: a hard working and open-minded artist with interests in education, inclusion, collaboration, rituals and spirituality… it’s hard not to love him.
This Monday just gone saw the last of his month long Monday night residency at The Evelyn Hotel in Fitzroy, a spot in which I have seen many friends play, but never before have I encountered the wonderful energy and atmosphere that was present for this particular gig; it being a fairly unconventional – though very well considered – use of the time and space allocated (no doubt thanks to Snaith’s experience as an installation artist, as well as theatre actor).
The night went like this:
First, the seating was casually arranged for a screening of a collection of short films by local filmmaker Christina Tester. It was funny timing for me: I’ve been thinking a lot lately about film, toying with various ideas, including animation… and then I saw Tester’s work and I was hit with the reminder of just how painstaking the animation process has to be for good.quality.work. and decided that I ain’t ready for that kind of time commitment just yet. Inspiring yet intimating stuff. Looking forward to seeing what she does in the future fo sho.
MC Lloyd Honeybrook, the guy who has recently taken over direction for the well renowned, long running, weekly improvised music night Make It Up Club (he’s also just started as a lecturer for RMIT’s Sound Art course, yeah booooiiiii), stood up, paced the room and yelled a bunch of craftily and delightfully worded information to the crowd about what we had just witnessed and what we were about to witness, which included a respectful shoutout to the Wurundjeri, the lands of which we in Melbourne live+work+play on. That guy is very good at coming up with exciting and rousing shit to shout at people. He also gives me consistently good musical recommendations and for that I will forever be thankful and appreciative.
Usually during gigs I can have a little break from cavernous band room vibes between sets while I go and smoke a cigarette; but not on Monday night, not really, because
SHIMA was set up to play on the floor between sets, off the stage and to the right. SHIMA is one of Angus Doyle’s many musical projects (I reviewed his band Galaxy Folk’s album here a few years ago), and his unassuming confidence and placidity behind his gear made for a perfect musical interlude while the dudes of Spike set up their equipment on stage. Snaith’s curatorial prowess strikes again. I did smoke a cigarette though. Old habits die very, very hard in the body of this little ball of mild-to-frustrating-social-anxiety.
I am not very familiar with Spike, though one of the duo, Pat, is a long term friend and collaborator of Snaith’s, a film and sound guy, a clever guy. He used to come over to our place a bit, helping us with lighting for film experiments and doing musical techy work or something with Ben. He and his musical partner in crime, John, didn’t crack a smile once while on stage, even when people were madly dancing up the front, even when Pat pulled out some sort of gaming device and played it along with the music. My favourite part of their whole schtick was the video projection they had going on: non-expressive faces and awkwardly dancing bodies of the two players in quick loops green-screened over a fighting computer game I didn’t recognise, hopefully the one Pat was playing. I couldn’t help giggling in appreciation. Too good. Theirs is a kind of expression that is near ego-less, non-threateningly humorous, maybe even innocent, and totally enjoyable.
The other thing I liked about it all was the gridded boxes made out of metal that were moved around stage between sets for the musicians to put their equipment on. Being able to see through these things gave the resulting industrial aesthetic a sort of unimposing quality; a chilled gig in a construction site kind of feel. It also offered a sense of inclusiveness with the physicality of the electronic producers, something important in the relationship between performer and audience member in that genre, I reckon; especially when it comes to Orlando furious and his innate understanding of the world and space around him.
Next up was Worng and his pyramid that slowly inflates over the duration of the set, fresh off the boat from Dark Mofo in Tasmania. The crowd pulsated with the music, bodies pointed to the pyramid, it felt dark and heavy but not overwhelmingly so, just enough to twist the mind in to a sense of ritual, a feeling of swimming through murky water but being totally cool with it because you know there’s no crocodiles around. Or maybe that was more of a result of the many glasses of red wine I’d consumed. “I am having a cultural experience” repeated in my head for a little while. It’s nice when that realization flashes behind my eyes, because it means that whatever is happening around me is a cultural expression that is different to my own general experience, a group maneuver, outside of the individual consciousness, everyone in attendance being present in that moment, contributing to some sort of creative outcome for the whole just by being there.
More Shima making his textural prettiness, and then Orlando furious took the stage to introduce and premiere his brand spanking new video for “Ed Sand”, an absolute banger of a track with accompanying video featuring the fkn hologram he created in his studio in Docklands a few months ago. I will post on facebook when the production team put it online. It’s great.
Dancer Carla Ori emerged on stage, and the set began proper, and loudly. I have never met Carla, but I have had a few dreams in which her name is present, I think because I have seen it on facebook so many times and I really like it. Carla Ori. Say it out loud. It’s nice. She moved with the music around the stage, flicking the long braids from under her baseball cap. Snaith moved around between music-making-desk on the side of stage and the center, back and forth throughout the set, throwing his weight around performatively, jumping off stage to belt his stuff at the circle of humans surrounding him, jumping back on stage after a chant of “ONE MORE SONG” erupts from the mouths of enthused and appreciative audience members… and my camera loves it all.
At the end of the set, I came back to the city and realized I was standing on stage. In an unthinking break for the safety of the bar, I jumped off too wildly and hit my head on one of the speakers hanging from the roof… and I may have been a little concussed (if my lack of memory from there on is anything to go by (especially because another act followed and there are not photos of that at all)). Apparently I was wandering the streets alone at 2:30am after the gig, but, you know, that could have been the wine too, OR even the sheer joyous lightheartedness I felt after such a good night of music (here I’ll make a nod back to that invincible feeling summoned by Worng and his pyramid from earlier in the night). Overall the gig was a great display of creative badassery by a wonderful friend and talented artist, Mr Ben Snaith. SOMEBODY GIVE THAT BOY AN ARTISTS GRANT SO HE CAN TRAVEL THE WORLD.
P.s. I got home safe enough to edit the photos and post them here for you to look at.