Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire

Tonight Lynne and I went to see Slumdog Millionaire at the Rafael Theater. Jamal Malik, who was raised in the slums of Mumbai, is a contestant on India's version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" and is one question away from winning 20 million rupees. Suspicious that he is somehow cheating, he is arrested and interrogated by police. The movie jumps from the present to the past as Jamal explains to the inspectors how he was able to correctly answer each question. Through these flashbacks you get to see the story of Jamal's life and that of his brother Salim and their friend Latika. It is a fantastic film and definitely worthy of all the award nominations it is receiving.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone! I started my Christmas Day at the 10:30 am mass at St. Raphael's Church with my parents. After mass we did last minute preparations for our annual Christmas dinner. My aunt and cousins come over to join the family each year and it's always fun to catch up with them. Unfortunately my brother had to work this year, so it was just his wife Simi and their dog Chloe. Chrissie, Lei and Mei were a bit late arriving as they got caught in traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge from people trying to get into the observation points. Their tardiness didn't stop me from enjoying multiple cups of mulled cider though.

We sat down for dinner around 6:00 pm. My mom loves a festive table and did a tablescape of cranberries and roses as well as individual name cards with cute stickers and stockings with treats. We had a very yummy meal consisting of the following:
- Vegetable soup
- Bread rolls
- Turkey
- Ham
- Dressing
- Potatoes
- Green Beans
It was all delicious as usual. Of course we had a lot of left over food but that will just be eaten in the upcoming days (plus we sent home a tupperware container for my brother).

While we were digesting our dinner and making room for dessert, my cousin Lei gave us a presentation on her summer trip to Europe. Not only did she have photos but props as well. It was great to hear about her travels and see pictures of Switzerland, Spain, France, Italy and Sicily. Next we exchanged presents and then it was on to the dessert table. I had done the majority of the baking the day before having made the pumpkin pie and sugar cookies and helped my mom with the snowball cookies. We also had cream puffs and petit fours. It was sugar overload but very good and we were all extremely full by the end of the evening. I was happy to be able to enjoy Christmas with the family as I only seem to make it home every other year to celebrate with them.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Today my mom and I went to see Baz Luhrmann's film "Australia." The story is narrated by Nullah, played brilliantly by young Brandon Walters. It is set during World War II in the Northern Territory. Nicole Kidman plays an English aristocrat who comes out to her husband's cattle station Faraway Downs. Working with the Drover, played by Hugh Jackman, they resurrect the cattle station and attempt to break the Carney cattle monopoly. The cinematography and costumes are as fantastic as you would expect from one of Baz's films. The movie is long however, and really could have ended before the bombing of Darwin. I'm not sure if Baz got his Aussie "Gone with the Wind" but he's made a good attempt.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

On The Road Again..

In another one of my very long days I flew from Melbourne to Auckland to San Francisco on Air New Zealand today. The flight was full but as pleasant as a long haul flight can be. I got to watch a few movies: Ghost Town, WALL-E, Waitress, and Tropic Thunder. I also listened to Salmonella Dub's live album with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and even got some sleep. It's nice to be back in the Bay Area, although the rain has followed me across the Pacific (not that I mind that much).

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Homebake 2008 and Sydney

Friday night Tash and I flew up to Sydney for Homebake, a festival which features all Australian bands. On Saturday morning we grabbed some breakfast and then walked to The Domain. There was a brief wait in line before we eventually got into the venue. It was a very hot day- 35/95 degrees! After stopping to buy some bottled water we headed to The Dome stage for our first act of the day, The Holidays. Next up on the stage was Melbourne female duo Dash & Will in their first ever festival appearance. Their set was a lot of fun as they used tennis rackets to lob lollies into the audience and brought out a beach ball for the crowd to toss around.

We then headed to the Main Stage for another Melbourne band I've been wanting to see for a while, Eddy Current Suppression Ring. They played a great set of their old school punk songs, and I really enjoyed hearing "Which Way To Go." After a wander to refill our water bottles, we went back to The Dome stage for my favorites Little Red. They played a high energy set with a mix of old and new songs and had the crowd singing along. I was very happy to hear "Lazy Boy" and it was good to see such a positive response to the boys outside of Melbourne. After retreating to the shade under a tree to cool down a bit we were ready for End of Fashion. Their set was really good and included their first big hit "Oh Yeah" and the single "Fussy" off their latest album.

British India was our next act on the Main Stage. They really had the crowd going with their indie rock tunes. Unfortunately we were right in the sun for their set, so my goal of avoiding sunburn failed (even though I had on sun block). Besides the multiple stages, Homebake also set up a Cinema Pavilion to show a variety of short films. After grabbing some food we headed down to enjoy some films and relax in the dark for an hour and a half. My favorite of all the shorts we saw was "Mankind Is No Island" by Jason van Genderen. It's a really moving and thought provoking film.

When we emerged from the cinema the weather had gotten much cooler, which was a big relief. We headed back to The Dome stage for Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson. They mostly played songs from their album together "Rattlin' Bones." They are both great songwriters and musicians, and Kasey was very funny and sweet with her song introductions. "The Devil's Inside My Head" was stomping bluegrass number that had the crowd dancing. When their set finished we made our way through the crowd to the Main Stage for dance act Sneaky Sound System. They played a lot of their hits including "Pictures," "UFO," "I Love It," and "Kansas City." The crowd was totally into it and singing and dancing along.

The headline act of Homebake was Crowded House. Tash and I got as close to the stage as we could. I thought the set was a bit flat in comparison to the other shows earlier in the week. Neil had a bit of a raspy voice and the sound from where we were in the crowd was a bit muddy and hard to hear. Their set list probably needed a few more energetic hits in it considering this was a young festival crowd. The big hits though went down really well and the band were nearly drowned out by the singing of the crowd. I also got to hear "Hole in the River" which hadn't been played in Melbourne. In the encore some idiot threw their flip flop and hit Neil, which really pissed him off. He told the guy if he threw up his other shoe and took off his pants that he might let him stay. Security ended up carting the guy away and the show continued. They finished up the night with "Better Be Home Soon" and had the crowd hold up their lit mobile phones in the air- the modern equivalent of the lighter. All in all it was a fantastic day of music.

Today Tash and I started off with breakfast at a cafe along Cockle Bay Wharf, then had a wander around Darling Harbour. Next we caught a bus to The Rocks and checked out their Sunday market. After ice cream at Circular Quay we walked over to the Opera House as it began to rain. We hid for a bit inside the Opera House and once the weather cleared headed back outside. We spent some time at QVB having coffee, cakes and conversation before heading off to the airport for our flight home.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Crowded House

Over the past two nights I have been to The Forum Theatre to see Crowded House play their first Melbourne shows in over a year.

2 December
Anika Moa was the opening act and she played a half hour set. Like her album launch a month ago she flew a couple of her band members over from New Zealand. She was as funny as always and the dub version of “Youthful” with her freestyle rap in the middle went down very well with the audience. “My Old Man” and “Dreams In My Head” were also personal highlights.

Crowded House came out onto an unlit stage with headlamps on and launched into “Locked Out.” Unfortunately when Neil went to take the headlamp off he cut his forehead and started to bleed a bit. He thought that was pretty rock ‘n’ roll. The entire show was an epic 2 hours and 45 minutes long with multiple encores. The band included additional musicians Don McGlashen and Elroy Finn on certain numbers. They played five new songs throughout the evening, which sounded fantastic and gave me a lot of hope for the new album. I especially loved “Isolation” for its jangly guitars and “Lucky” for the amazing soaring chorus. Some old classics were also played that I haven’t heard live in a while: “Chocolate Cake,” “Love You ‘Til The Day I Die” (with You Am I’s Davey Lane on guitar), “Whispers and Moans” and “Fingers of Love.”

There was lots of banter and storytelling throughout the night. Neil was perplexed about the fact the balcony area of The Forum had been walled off since the last time he was there, which led to a microphone being passed around the audience to find out when that had happened and into a broader question time with the band. One guy and his band mates requested “Private Universe” to be played and ended up on stage playing and singing with the band (along with a few other audience members).

This show reminded me of the Crowded House shows of old with the audience interactions and sing-a-longs as well as funny stories or comments leading to musical improvisations. When coming out for the second encore Neil took to the drums and Matt to the keyboards as they and the rest of the band had a bit of jam. We even got a Matt drum solo at one point (which was very good- he adds such a drive to all the songs). I felt this was the first time that Neil has been able to play in Melbourne and not have the ghost of Paul Hester looming over him (although we did get a brief verse and chorus of “This is Massive”). It was such an amazing show and a great reminder of why I still love this band after all these years.

Set List
1. Locked Out
2. World Where You Live
3. Isolation (new)
4. Turn It Round (new)
5. Pineapple Head
6. Amsterdam (new)
8. Don't Stop Now
9. People Are Like Suns
10. Chocolate Cake
11. Not The Girl You Think You Are
12. Heaven That I'm Making
13. Lucky (new)
14. Fall At Your Feet
15. Whispers And Moans
16. Love You ‘Til The Day I Die
17. When You Come
18. It's Only Natural
19. Cars Collide (new)
20. Private Universe
21. Distant Sun
22. Weather With You
23. Instrumental Jam/This is Massive
24. Fingers Of Love
25. Throw Your Arms Around Me
26. Better Be Home Soon

3 December
What a difference a day makes. Tonight’s show was a mellower affair that only went for 1 hour and 50 minutes- almost one hour less than last night. I think the main reason was because the crew had to load out for the show in Sydney tomorrow night. I had a great position near the front off to the right side of the stage. There was a lot less banter and Neil commented that he had run out of things to say after the night before. It was a heavy guitar driven set with the appearance of “In My Command” and “Silent House.” We got even more new songs which also sounded good and “Italian Plastic” by request from the audience. The funniest moment of the night was Nick and Matt acting out the opening verse of “Something So Strong.” It was so great to see Crowded House in a smaller venue again instead of the big arenas they played when they were here last year.

Set List
1. When You Come
2. World Where You Live
3. 789 (new)
4. Fall At Your Feet
5. Don't Stop Now
6. Lucky (new)
7. Four Seasons In One Day
8. Inside Out (new)
9. In My Command
10. Silent House
11. Either Side (new)
12. Amsterdam (new)
13. Don't Dream It’s Over
14. Distant Sun
15. Locked Out
16. Something So Strong
17. Mean To Me
18. Better Things (new)
19. Italian Plastic
20. Weather With You
21. Better Be Home Soon

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Dinner

Tonight I held my first Thanksgiving dinner in Australia at the suggestion of my Aussie friends who decided it would be good for me to start a new tradition here. Since I held it at my place it was a small gathering with Tash, Michelle, Ruth and Danny. I spent the majority of the day cooking away in the kitchen. The various dishes that I served were:
- Salad of mixed greens with pear and sugared walnuts
- Herb roasted turkey breast
- Dressing
- Mashed potatoes with buttermilk
- Green beans with glazed shallots and lemon
- Pumpkin pie
- Shortbread cookies

Considering this was the first full dinner I have done by myself it came out pretty well. All the dishes were cooked from scratch and my Mom was very helpful in hunting down some recipes for me. Overall everyone seemed to enjoy the food although I cooked so much that I have a lot of left overs that I will be eating throughout the week. The pumpkin pie was a big hit as that is a bit of a rarity here.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Good China, The Box Rockets, and Quang Goes Mangoes

Tonight Tash and I met at The Empress Hotel for an evening of music. The opening act was one Quang Dinh going under the moniker "Quang Goes Mangoes." He played solo with just an acoustic guitar for about a half-hour. It amazes me how prolific a songwriter Quang is as the songs he played were all new to me and didn't even draw on his Little Red or Hondas material. The guy has got talent and an ability to convey emotion through his lyrics and vocal range. It was nice to have a bit of a chat with him after his set (even if he was "toasted").

Next on the bill was The Box Rockets. They were pleasant and have a bit of an 80's British band sound to them. While enjoyable to listen to, their songs weren't really that memorable and blended together a bit. The headlining act for the night was The Good China in the first week of their residency at The Empress. The band is a group of 9 multi-instrumentalists, and they are a lot of fun and play very happy and uplifting music. Both Tash and I were impressed by them and how they rotated turns singing at the front of stage and swapping instruments for each song. You never knew what instrument would make an appearance next. It was a very democratic music collective! If you get a chance to catch them around Melbourne go for it- you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Melbourne Cup

Today I was very fortunate to be able to attend the Melbourne Cup horse race. Michelle's uncle allowed a group of us to use his corporate box for the day, so we got all dressed up and headed over to Flemington Racecourse. It was a fantastic day and amazing to have our own private space that overlooked the finish line. We had free drinks and a very yummy lunch with a variety of dishes. I felt so spoiled!

At 3:00 pm it was time for the race that stops the nation. The Melbourne Cup itself was a tight race with Viewed winning in a photo finish. Unfortunately the two horses I put money on didn't place, but in the next race I made back my bet plus $1 when The Fuzz finishing second. Some of the other girls had better luck with their bets and had a couple big wins. After the last race of the day we headed for the parking lot and although there was traffic getting out, it was nice to not have to face public transport or trying to catch a taxi to get home.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Anika Moa- CD Launch

Tonight Tash and I returned to The Spiegeltent for Anika Moa's Australian CD launch for "In Swings The Tide." This time we were able to share a much more comfortable booth with some other people for the show. Anika flew out the drummer and bass player from her band, so that added a richness to her songs. My favorite of the night was the reggae/dub version of "Youthful." We even got a couple verses of a reggae version of Crowded House's "Weather With You." Anika was her usual humorous self with the intros for each song and had the crowd laughing out loud most of the night. It's too bad she's going to move back to New Zealand at the end of the year.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dan Kelly with The Ukeladies

Tonight Tash and I met at The Spiegeltent down by the Arts Centre to see Dan Kelly and The Ukeladies. This was our first time in The Spiegeltent, and it is a small and intimate venue to see a show. Shortly after taking our seats near the front Dan Kelly hit the stage and started out solo before being joined by The Ukeladies for the majority of the set. He was quite hilarious with his intros and played some old and new songs. "Drunk on Election Night" was a highlight solely for the vulgar lyrics sing-a-long. Their new single together about global warming, "The SUV Song" can be heard here. They also did an amazing cover of Prince's "Nothing Compares 2 U." Overall it was a very entertaining hour plus set and I would definitely recommend checking out Dan if he's playing a show near you.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Crowded House Karaoke with The Basics

Last night was the convergence of two of my favorite things- Crowded House and The Basics! After the success of their Beatles Karaoke night, they decided to tackle the songs of Crowded House. Tash, Mary and I met at The Empress Hotel for dinner before taking our seats for the show. The premise of the night was simple- choose a Crowded House song from the list and The Basics would be your backing band. The boys started the night with "Weather With You" and then volunteers started to come up on stage. Some versions were better than others, and the guys probably could have practiced some of the songs a bit more as the instrumentations are not as easy as they might seem.

Mel joined us a few songs in and during the intermission dobbed me in to David the keyboard player, so I ended up signing up to sing "Mean to Me" with another girl. We were the third ones called up on stage and thankfully the song went pretty well! Even the band said we did a good job. As the night went on more people started to volunteer to sing. We had a few repeat songs but overall it was a fun night and the boys played "Not The Girl You Think You Are" and "Distant Sun" on their own before closing with "Don't Dream Its Over." I had a quick chat with Wally after the show and then it was off to home. I still can't believe I got up on stage and sang with The Basics!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

AFL Grand Final Parade

Yesterday Inala and I escaped the office to attend the AFL Grand Final Parade. This year the reigning premiers Geelong were playing Hawthorn. All the players were in the parade from the Arts Centre up Swanston and Collins Streets. There was a huge crowd there to cheer on their teams. It was the first all Victorian final for 8 years, and Hawthorn's first trip the Grand Final in 17 years. The game itself today was fantastic and Hawthorn pulled off a huge 26 point upset of Geelong (who had only lost one game this season). I'm sure Tash will be celebrating this victory for the next month or so.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Little Red-O-Rama

It has been fun with Little Red over the past week with several shows starring the boys.

September 12
This was the second sold out show at the Corner Hotel. The opening bands were the same and last month, and this time I got to see Andy Bull play. He was entertaining and has a bit of a soul/funk sound to him because of the horns section. The Holidays started out good but after a while their songs began to get repetitive.

Little Red were in excellent form on the night as they tore through their set list. I was really happy to hear "Isabella" and "Believe In Your Man" tonight, as well as the unreleased "Forget About Your Man." We got some new songs as well, and it's good to see Tom playing keyboards on those numbers (an added instrument to the Little Red repertoire). Unfortunately due to Andy Bull starting late I had to miss the encore so that I could catch the last tram back to the city.

September 18
The Hondas came and played a show at the Brunswick Hotel so of course I couldn't miss it being so close to home. It has been a while since they played together, so their set was a bit messy at times but still entertaining. They played songs from the first album as well as brand new ones they have just written. I was glad to hear "God Save My Soul," "When I Was Young" and what could be the gay anthem for 2008 "I Am A Homosexual." It was all over in about 50 minutes and I went over to Taka afterwards to thank him for playing. Hopefully he'll get his visa sorted out.

September 20
Yes, I know what your thinking, "But you just saw them a week ago." I probably would have skipped Little Red's last date at The Corner Hotel except for the fact that The Fearless Vampire Killers were opening and I've been wanting to see them for a while now. Thankfully they did not disappoint and put on a fantastic set of 60's inspired psychedelic rock. I was very impressed by them and it's no surprise that they were named one of the "10 Bands To Watch" for 2008 by Wireless Bollinger.

Little Red put in another great performance, and Mel was impressed by them. They played a similar set to the previous shows, and of the new songs "Lazy Boy" is my personal favorite. The show closed with a rousing rendition of Coca Cola and all the bands came on stage to sing along (if anyone knows people who work for Coke, that song is begging to be used in some advertising). It will be very interesting to see what the future holds for Little Red and hopefully they will continue on their upward trajectory.

You can watch Little Red live from The Annandale Hotel in Sydney on 23/8/08 here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Anika Moa

Tash and I headed to The Toff in Town this evening to see New Zealand singer/songwriter Anika Moa. This was the last night of her Wednesday residency and there was a good sized crowd in the room (including many Kiwis). She started the show with lots of disclaimers about what we were about to witness and hear, which was very funny. There were many amusing stories throughout the evening about the origins of the songs. Anika is a very entertaining performer! My favorite songs in the hour-long set were an emotional version of "My Old Man" and the fantastic "Dreams in My Head." Her latest album is coming out in Australia in November, so I'm looking forward to finally getting a copy (complete with some bonus tracks).

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Art Deco 1910–1939

Mel and I headed down to the National Gallery of Victoria after work to see the Art Deco 1910-1939 exhibition. It comprised over 300 works and covered all artistic media from painting to photography, fashion to film and architecture to jewelery. The historic and global influences on Art Deco were displayed, as well as how the style differed in various countries and throughout the time period. My favorite pieces were the gorgeous gowns and the crockery. It's a fantastic exhibition and if you are in Melbourne and into Art Deco, you should definitely check it out before it closes in a month.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Blueprint for Education and Early Childhood Development

This week the Victorian government launched the new Blueprint for Education and Early Childhood Development. This document sets the agenda for education and early childhood services for the next five years. Yesterday both Ministers gave a briefing on the Blueprint to Department staff, which was one of the better presentations I've seen them both do. My work at the moment falls under the workforce reform strategies.

Here's an article from The Age about some of the actions in the Blueprint: School shake-up, with fries.

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Month of Augusts with The Basics

Thursdays in August were a bit sweeter this month because The Basics had a residency at The Evelyn Hotel in Fitzroy. Below is a report from the shows that I attended over the past few weeks.

August 14
Opening bands for the night were The Sophisticants and Smurfinger. The Sophisticants are a punk/ska mix of music with a very entertaining and animated lead singer. We were kept quite amused my his shuffle and twist dance moves. Tash and I had seen Smurfinger before when they opened at The Empress show last month. I guess I would describe their music as more punk/grunge.

The Basics played a mix of old and new material over their hour plus set. There was lots of joking and dancing by Tim and Kris. Covers for the night were The Clash's "London Calling" and "Rock the Casbah" as well as New Kids On The Block's "You Got It (The Right Stuff)." They even threatened to play Bryan Adams and Kenny Rodgers!

August 21
After a very delicious pizza dinner at Bimbo Deluxe Tash and I headed over to The Evelyn. The opening bands this week were primarily girl groups- Hot Liquid Sex and Princess One Point Five. We didn't think much of either of them, but the second group was less annoying than the first.

The theme for this week's show could be photographers. There were about five people taking shot after shot of The Basics throughout their set. One of these photographers was from MySpace, and I noticed that he didn't care to take our picture in the crowd (I think he knew we were out of his demographic). The boys played a ripping set once again and fought against technical difficulties like the guitar and keyboard going out and Tim breaking a string. I was very happy to hear two of my favorites "Hey There!" and "Just Hold On." We once again got a cover of The Clash's "Rock the Casbah" as well as Wilson Pickett's "Land of a Thousand Dances." Tim and Kris brought the coordinated dance moves, and I enjoyed the fact that Kris kept his beer and water stored on the ceiling beam above his head. Tash and I have realized that we know the majority of the new songs, and "The Executioner" was particularly brutal tonight (I would hate to have a song like that written about me).

August 28
It was the final night of the residency and a packed house. I have discovered a new young band to champion due to the first opening act- The Harpoons! They are adorable and awesome and play some great tunes. Their 60's inspired three-part harmonies were fantastic. I will definitely be seeking out their gigs in the future. I cannot say the same for the second band, The Swindlers. They were just a mess and trying too hard to be avant garde and punk. The rhythm section actually showed potential at points, but the lead singer's shrieking got old really fast.

It was very exciting when The Basics came out on stage for the last time this month. They played a lot of songs off the album "Stand Out/Fit In" and we got energetic versions of "Memory Lane" and "Rattle My Chain." Poor Kris is a heartbroken boy, which you can tell from the lyrics of his new songs (see last week). Wally dedicated a song to Tash- well, perhaps not my Tash, but she'll take it. We even got an encore tonight and they finished off the residency with a cover of The Police's "Roxanne." My Thursday evenings will never be as fun as these past few weeks.

Watch The Basics play live at the Metro Theatre in Sydney on 30/11/07 here.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Essendon v. Western Bulldogs

Last night a group of us headed to the Telstra Dome to watch Essendon play the third ranked Western Bulldogs. I knew we wouldn't win, but was hoping it would have been a bit closer than a 46 point loss. We did lead early into the second quarter but then the Bulldogs started playing much better and dominated the rest of the match. We had at least four kicks hit the post, which was frustrating. It was good to see Paddy Ryder and Mal Michaels playing up forward and Mal even got two goals. There is one more game left in the regular season, and considering the amount players on the injured list for Essendon that's probably a good thing. We definitely have a lot of young talent which will serve the team well in the future.

After the game it was time for what Danny likes to call "dirty Asian" food. We headed to the Nam Loong Chinese restaurant on Russell Street and had a very tasty late dinner. We shared six or so dishes amongst the group and then everyone headed for home around midnight.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Little Red- Corner Hotel #1

Last night was the first of three shows that Little Red are playing at the Corner Hotel during their first national headlining tour. Belinda, Ruth, Danny and I started the evening with a great Mexican dinner at Mexicali Rose. Tash joined us for dessert, and then we walked to the Corner for the show. We entered just as Andy Bull finished his set, so I will need to get their earlier next time to catch him. Next up was The Holidays, a young indie band from Sydney. I thought they were good and they've got a bit of buzz around them.

Little Red came out to loud cheers from the sold out hometown crowd. It's amazing how much success the boys have had over the past year. They played the majority of their debut album as well as a few new songs. The call and response during "Little Annie" and "Jackie Cooper" was fantastic and everyone had a great time throughout their hour-long set. There was a lot of energy and goodwill in the room and Taka was his cheery self behind the drum kit. They finished up the night with a rocking version of "Coca Cola." I can't wait to see them again when they come back in September towards the end of their tour.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Oh Mercy- Take Two

After having to leave Oh Mercy's show a couple weeks ago before they took the stage, I was happy to be able to attend last night's gig at the Brunswick Hotel. Michelle and Tash joined me for the evening, and it was a fantastic hour plus set of music. They played some older songs like "Salvation Jane" and "Holding On" as well as newer material that they are recording for their debut album. I absolutely adore this band because they play some of the most beautiful and dreamy pop music. The only down side was some mobster's two drunk girlfriends who came into the venue midway through and tried to spoil things, but the band wouldn't let them. The night finished with Alex solo singing The Triffids' "Wide Open Road." It was a great evening- and so close to home too.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Basics- Get Back Relaunch

This evening Tash and I met at Roxanne Parlour in Chinatown to see The Basics launch the re-release of their debut album from 2002 "Get Back." During the 45 minutes set we were treated to many of the songs on the album as well as covers of the Spencer Davis Group's "Gimme Some Lovin" and The Police's "Roxanne" (in honor of the venue). Besides the gorgeous harmonies there was lots of humorous banter between songs about the history of the band and origins of the songs. It was a great warm-up for the August residency shows on Thursday nights at The Evelyn starting next week. Also in the crowd were Taka and Quang- I think they're stalking me.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Oh Mercy Equipment Fundraiser

Last night I headed over to The Evelyn Hotel for a benefit show for Oh Mercy. Their musical equipment was stolen a couple months ago in Sydney while on tour, so this was an attempt to raise some money to buy new gear. The evening opened up with Kimbra, a singer-songwriter originally from New Zealand. I thought her set was good- she used looping pedals for vocal and rhythm effects and did covers of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" and Gotye's "Hearts A Mess."

Next up was my favorite Japanese pop band The Hondas. Taka was once again a comedic shining light as he introduced a song by telling a story about a girl who left her watch in his room. He took it to Cash Convertors and bought a harmonica, which he proceeded to play on the next song. Funny stuff! Their set was a mix of old favorites and new songs they are recording for a new album, which will be out soon. Very exciting.

After The Hondas was Little Red's other side project band The Greasers. How lucky for me to have both groups on the same bill. I still have not managed to get a copy of The Greasers album, but they played a good set, including my favorite of theirs "Metamorphosis." Once they finished it was already late, and since I didn't have much time before I would have to leave for the tram I decided to head for home. Unfortunately, this meant that I had to miss Oh Mercy's set. However I'm hoping to catch them when they play down the road at the Brunswick Hotel in August.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Red Door Burlesque

Tonight a group of us from work headed over to the Order of Melbourne for the Red Door Burlesque show. Our table was right up against the stage, and by the time we finished eating our dinner, the show was ready to start. We were treated to an aerial artist, magician, and dancing from the Hi Ball Burlesque girls. The main reason we were there though was at the invite of one of our coworkers who was the intermission girl for the evening. It was a fun and entertaining ladies night for us all.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Dark Knight

Tonight I met Tash and her friends at Hoyts in Melbourne Central to see the latest Batman film The Dark Knight. I haven't seen many of the previous movies, so I think I was lacking some elements of the back story that would have helped the plot for me. Overall it's a good film and I thought that Heath Ledger's portrayal of The Joker was fantastic. He was very funny in parts and increasingly psychotic as the film went on. The special effects are well done and would probably be insane to see on an IMAX screen.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Basics

Last night after a tasty dinner at Tash's house, she, Belinda and I walked over to The Empress Hotel to see The Basics play. The show was a benefit for director Campbell Hynam-Smith to help fund his final project for film school. The place was packed and we really couldn't see Wally at all from where we were (only when he stood up from the drum kit a couple times). The hour long set was a mix of new songs and old favorites, and it was good to hear them play electric this time. They even had "ghost member" David Bramble with them on keyboards (he used to do IT work in our office). All in all it was a great night, and we look forward to catching them play again at their residency dates in August at The Evelyn.

Here is the video Campbell directed for "Lookin' Over My Shoulder"

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Christian Dior Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2008-2009

John Galliano has outdone himself with this collection for Christian Dior Haute Couture.
Check out the show here (Part 1) and here (Part 2)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Listen to Little Red

Tonight after work Lucas and I headed over to Polyester Records on Flinders Lane for Little Red's in-store performance to celebrate the release of their debut album "Listen to Little Red." I last saw them play in March during a lunchtime concert at Melbourne Uni, so it was good to see the five boys together on stage again. Their 40 minutes set included many songs from the new album and it was one of the tightest performances I have seen them do. Everything sounded really great. I highly recommend that you go out and buy their album- those of you overseas can order it from JB Hi-Fi.

Here's the video for the first single "Witch Doctor."

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Black Keys

Last night I joined Danny to go see The Black Keys play a sold out show at the Palace Theatre on Bourke Street. The band consists of a drummer and guitarist (sort of an all male White Stripes) and they have a very bluesy/rock sound. Their backdrop was a giant inflated tire- an homage to their Akron, Ohio roots. I had heard a couple of their songs from appearances on Conan, but wasn't that familiar with their catalogue. Overall it was a good show. Dan and Patrick are talented musicians although at times the songs sort of blended together because there is only so much you can do live with drums, guitar and one singer.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Liam Finn and The Gin Club

Last night I headed to The Evelyn Hotel to see Liam Finn play. After touring extensively throughout the US for the first half of the year, he scheduled four dates in Australia and New Zealand as part of his "Better to Be Home Soon" tour. My first surprise of the night was the length of the line that greeted me when I arrived at the venue. Liam is obviously getting more popular as none of his previous shows had been this packed out. Opening band The Gin Club were entertaining as all the band members switched instruments and took turns on vocals depending on what song they were playing. They sounded great (sort of folk-rock) and are a talented bunch of musicians.

Liam and his lovely sidekick EJ Barnes opened with a crazy noise jam that was actually done to test out their equipment as they had been having technical issues at sound check. Unfortunately, EJ's loop pedal wasn't working so she couldn't do any vocal loops (although she did get it to cooperate once). Liam also had problems keeping his guitar in tune after he knocked it against a beam in the ceiling. Despite the technical difficulties it was a fun hour long set with lots of banter back and forth between EJ and Liam. Jokes about Liam's height led EJ to refer to him as Prince, and they created a jam about EJ's cowboy boots because Liam wanted to wear them. Liam nearly broke his drum kit when he used one of her boots to play. We got a new song that featured EJ on autoharp and Liam using percussion mallets to play the drums, and they closed the night with "Wide Awake on the Voyage Home." On my way to the tram stop I had my second surprise of the night when I passed Quang and Taka of Little Red sitting outside at a restaurant on Brunswick Street. Melbourne can be a small town at times.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Hondas

Since Monday is a holiday Belinda and I took advantage of not having to go to work and headed out to the Ding Dong Lounge tonight to see The Hondas play. The opening band The Moderns were nothing to write home about, and their lyrics were laughable (I went to LA/I drank a latte). I was glad when they finished.

The Hondas came out with great energy and played a fantastic and entertaining set. I should mention that this is the other off shoot band of Little Red, containing Taka Honda and Quang Dinh. Taka was really emphasizing the Japanese pop angle of the band (appropriate since he's from Japan), and it was good to see him out from behind the drum kit and up front with a guitar. He was very amusing throughout the night and had a good rapport with the audience. I was laughing a lot at his song intros and even the venue employees picking up empty glasses had smiles on their faces. Their set was short but they played a lot of songs- a mix of stuff from their album and some new numbers. I was very happy to hear "God Save Your Soul," which is my favorite song on the record. All in all I was impressed and look forward to catching them live again soon.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Plastic Palace Alice, The Greasers, and Oh Mercy

Last night Belinda and I headed over to the East Brunswick Club for the album launch of Plastic Palace Alice's "The Great Depression." We didn't know much about the band but were impressed by their musicianship and the epic, ornate nature of the songs. They even did a cover of Jefferson Airplane's "Don't You Want Somebody To Love?" which was entertaining.

The real reason we went to the show though was to see the opening bands Oh Mercy and The Greasers. Oh Mercy kicked off the night with their folk-pop tunes. It was a mellow set but this young band has a great catalogue of songs already, which I would love to get my hands on as a CD release. Next were The Greasers, an off shoot band for Little Red's Dominic Byrne. The Greasers are rockier than Little Red but the songs and harmonies are still there. I was really happy to hear them perform "Metamorphosis," one of my favorites. Their debut album is coming out next week, so I will be eager to get a copy as I think the songs will be a bit more polished on record.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Blueprint for Early Childhood Development and School Reform

It is my second week working in the Research Branch and today I got the opportunity to attend the final consultation forum for the Blueprint for Early Childhood Development and School Reform at Moonee Valley Racecourse. Both Ministers addressed the audience about the Blueprint discussion papers and the government's reform agenda. Then we broke up into three different workshops. I was a scribe at one of the tables for the Early Childhood Development discussion. It was interesting to hear what the various professionals from different parts of the sector had to say. After the workshops everyone reconvened for a plenary session to finish up the afternoon's proceedings.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Dinner and Breakfast on the Mountain

Last night I met up with Fran at Melbourne Uni and we headed out to Kalorama to have a birthday dinner for Peter and Rebecca at Peter and Mark's house. It was chilly in Melbourne so we knew it would be a cold night on the mountain. Thankfully the boys had the fire going when we arrived. We ate Indian for dinner and cake for dessert (although most of us were too full to eat it). I stayed the night and played games of pool with the boys (won against Mark and lost against Peter).

Melanie came and picked me up in the morning and we drove to Olinda for breakfast at Ranges. We got a table by the fireplace and I had pancakes with a side of bacon. After eating we visited a few of the antique shops before Mel took me to see her house in Tecoma. It's a very peaceful place being surrounded by trees and I admired all of her art deco furniture. We chatted for a bit and had some tea before Mel dropped me off at the train station for the hour long journey back to the city.

Friday, May 02, 2008

San Francisco and Beyond

Louise Bourgeois’ Crouching Spider
It has been a fun and relaxing second week in the Bay Area. On Tuesday Lynne and I took the ferry into San Francisco. We had lunch at the Ferry Building and then walked around the Embarcadero and downtown for some shopping. It was a gorgeous day and I bought a few things but didn't do too much damage to the bank account. That evening Lynne and Jeremy came over for dinner and American Idol. Unfortunately my parents hate Jason Castro, but at least Lynne was there to back me up on liking him.

On Wednesday my brother came and got me bright and early and we headed up to his new house in Green Valley (between Fairfield and Vallejo). It was my first chance to see the house and area where he and Simi will soon be living. They have been having basic work done around the house before they move in- painting, floors, carpet cleaning, etc. The house looks great and is big enough that they will probably never need to move again.

Angel Island
Yesterday Lynne and I took the ferry to Angel Island for a hike. We walked around the perimeter of the Island (4 1/2 miles) and had great views of the bay along the way. They are gradually fixing up the various Army buildings and Immigration Station around the Island. After taking the ferry back we had a late lunch in Tiburon and then headed for home- sunburnt and tired.

Unfortunately my time is now up and tonight I fly back to Australia. It has been a quick two weeks but was nice to be home and spend time with family and friends.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Angie and Andy's Wedding

Yesterday was Angie and Andy's wedding, the official reason for my trip home. Things kicked off on Friday when Angie and I had our nails done at a salon next to her coffee shop (my first manicure and pedicure ever). We got all the wedding favors done while we were there- lottery tickets in little envelopes with a lucky penny. After our nails were finished we headed up to Healdsburg for the wedding rehearsal and dinner. Everyone practiced their entrances and exits a few times and I worked on my job as flower girls wrangler. The dinner was at an Italian restaurant and it was nice to catch up with some old friends and members of Angie's family.

Angie and I went out to run a few errands and then had breakfast on the morning of the wedding (the calm before the storm). We got our hair and makeup done before getting dressed and heading up to the Healdsburg Golf Course. It was a hot day but not too horrible. We did photos with the bridal party before the ceremony and then Angie went off to hide before her grand entrance. The wedding itself went very quickly. The flower girls did a great job getting down the aisle and the vows were over and done with before I could get a sunburn. After the family and wedding party photos we were finally able to join the reception inside. I got through my wedding toast and once dinner service was finished they cleared some tables so we had a dance floor. Everyone had a great time and I made sure to have a sample of each layer of the wedding cake when they finally cut it. Angie and I ended the reception dancing to New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle." The newlyweds are now off to Disneyland for their honeymoon, and will have a few days alone before Katie joins them mid-week.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bay Area Fun

It has been a mellow yet somewhat active few days back home. I had Angie's bridal shower on Sunday and was happy to be able to attend. We had a few party games, including creating wedding dresses out of toilet paper. My group's efforts were not the best, but the others were very creative. I picked up my bridesmaid outfit from Angie's house, which thankfully only required a few alterations to the top. The wedding rehearsal and dinner are on Friday, with the wedding taking place Saturday afternoon up in Healdsburg. I think most things are ready to go.

I have enjoyed seeing my family and spending time with them. We all went out to dinner last night at The Cheesecake Factory and ate way too much food (the servings are huge there). I have yet to see my brother's new house, but hope to go up for a visit early next week when he is off work. I have also been on a few shopping excursions around Marin but have not found that much stuff that I like in the shops. I plan to go into San Francisco next week so hopefully there will be some good things to buy downtown.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...