Pond, Doctopus, Peter Bibby and his Bottles of Confidence, the Independent, San Francisco, 30 October 2014
Well it kind of felt like being home again. Except I was sitting at a bar eating pancakes and rex was drinking a $2.75 beer. Both those things couldn’t happen at home. There’s no pancakes at the bars, and you gotta burn a bunch of money, like the Melbourne boys say, to get even a teeny beer in our town. But outside the window the boys were all walking by and i could wave from the window or run out on the street and see my friends. I was in San Francisco, all the way across the crazy world, and they were there too – the simplest explanation for it: friendship and adventure on my part, and them being good at music, very, really good, on theirs.
Nick was smoking a cig on the footpath, getting ready for a pre-show interview. Everyone was car-lagged and dopey. Stephen and John and Jeremy seemed to still be in the “I can’t believe this is happening” phase of getting flown to another land to play shows. Julien was wandering in the street with his lady. Ben, the Doctopus driver and wonderful photographer, seemed to have been kicked in the guts by the 12 hour drive down from Portland, where the van had been broken into and many things nicked. But they were all there together so all signs still pointed to contentment and a very fun night.
So the show was at the Independent but I didn’t take much notice of the surroundings. I just had eyes for the buddies. What a strange thing to walk in and Peter Bibby’s on a Californian stage, with Nick at his side on drums, all concentrating and serious, Johnny at the edge, looking like a lovely cartoon and giving some grins at us in between his sweet unaffected deadpan stance, and eventually hearing the words from Pete “Hello my name is cunt and I’m a regular Midland train station” and singing along with Joey and Steve in the chorus. It was all so weird and all so fine.
When Doctopus played it was hard to tell if everyone loved it, but I loved it as hard as ever. Some guy talked to me after and said he couldn’t understand anything Steve sung. That’s kind of a nice idea, that Australian is really a different language and that you gotta actually come hang out for a while here to get it. Kasie liked it for sure. She’s my favourite new person in San Francisco. The night before I had played in her friend’s attic, this great guy called Ash who did simultaneously melodramatic and super chilled singing over big beats while nonchalantly eating a pear during his own opening set for the little house show. Kasie and I had never met before but she’d organised this house show and brought me flowers and I’d brought her a three colour bean Vietnamese bean drink and I watched her do an amazing set of melancholy hymns and she cried when I was playing, so it was instant friendship. And yes, she and her friend Aubrey liked Doctopus for sure.
When it was time for Pond, people shuffled up closer and started getting out their phones and started buzzing a little bit. Sometimes if there’s friends in the audience Nick will come out before he plays to get a little bit of love, to fill his tank, cos it’s kind of hard to be up there with all the eyes on you, pouring yourself into songs and your energy out toward a crowd of strangers if you are keen to love them and give them a good show but you’re also pretty shy, so he came to get a little hug and kiss, a squeeze of friendship confidence. I made sure he met Kasie and gave her a big hug because I knew it would make her day/night/week/month/year, and I knew that the feeling she would give to Nick in three seconds of hug would be good, sweet, kind energy, which is what everyone needs when they play, unless you’re going to be biting heads off chickens in your show I guess.
They played songs from all the times – forward in time to Man it Feels Like Space Again, back in time to Frond. My eyes always go from one man to another man when I watch Pond play, but my favourite this time was watching Gumby drumming up a sweat lodge of loveliness, and being a cutie pie telling everyone from the stage that he’s got a small penis and isn’t ashamed, when girls were calling out to him cos he took his shirt off. I think his shirt gets taken off as clockworkly as Matthew McConaughey’s. “I understand what it takes to be a man but I don’t have the time of day to be brave” that’s a line from one of his songs that I’ve been listening to this morning.
After the show we all went to a guy called Merkely’s house for a little party after. I had been a bit sceptical but wanted to keep hanging out, and it turned out to be the greatest house ever. I’d need a long time to describe it all to you, but just imagine a place where everywhere you look there’s a hundred great things to see, and imagine that your host looks like a cross between Michael J Fox and his dad in Teenwolf when they’ve been transformed into werewolves, and that the host is pretty eccentric but still properly connects human to human and loves your accents, and imagine sitting on a double bed in a tiny dark enclave with too many people to fit on a double bed, friends and friendly strangers, listening to music and giggling and knowing this can’t last forever but for the moment is the best possible place to be. Yes, imagine that and then times the feeling by 1000 – not so much happiness that you faint, but enough that your whole body is full to the brim of contentment for a moment in life, or even a whole nice night. That’s what it was like. And I know you’ve had those times too.