Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Harpoons

After a yummy dinner at Mexicali Rose with Mel, we walked down to the Great Britain Hotel where we were joined by Tash for the 7" single launch by The Harpoons. The last time I saw them was in August so I was curious to see how the band has developed since that early show. The evening began with a short set of surf music by TAN, which is basically The Harpoons without Bec (although she did join them for a couple songs). They had the crowd dancing away, especially to "Wipe Out."

After a break, The Harpoons officially started their set in front of an enthusiastic crowd. They are so much more confident on stage now and the harmonies were just fantastic. Bec's voice was soaring throughout the night. They played some newer songs as well as what's on their Myspace page including "Swim My Baby," "Hey Girl," "Garden City," and the songs on their 7" record "Faith" and "Tonight Tonight." It was such a great set and nice to see so many people discovering and falling in love with them. Tash and I will be back at another show soon if only to get a chance to buy their demo CD.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tim Finn

Tonight I met up with Fran and Rosemaree to see Tim Finn play at the Northcote Social Club. It was a laid back show with Tim on acoustic guitar and piano and Brett Adams on electric guitar. They also had a viola player in the mix for a few songs. The set list covered every aspect of Tim's career from Split Enz to Crowded House to his solo albums. It was great to hear rare tracks like "Ghost Girl" and "Parihaka" live. The big surprise of the evening was when Tim brought Andy White up on stage and they played the song they wrote together in ALT "Many's The Time." For "The Saw and the Tree" and "Charlie" the viola player switched to playing a saw, which added a lot of atmosphere to the songs. Tim also changed up the arrangements for "Poor Boy" and "I See Red." The big crowd sing-a-long took place on "Weather With You" which included a few verses of "Fraction Too Much Friction." It was great to see Tim in an intimate venue with a sold out crowd cheering him on every step of the way.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Farewell Late Night with Conan O'Brien

On Friday the sixteen glorious years of Late Night with Conan O'Brien came to an end. I remember watching the first episode of Late Night in September 1993 and seeing this unknown and nervous pale, red-headed Irish Catholic host who was taking over from David Letterman. Conan and sidekick Andy Richter had a very rough first year but the comedy was always brave, intelligent and inspired. They took chances and even though not everything hit the mark you had to admire their originality.

The last couple weeks have been filled with highlights from throughout the years. The final show included some great old clips (yay for the snippet of Ken Burns' Conan) and Andy stopped by one last time. Will Ferrell made an appearance as George W. Bush and The White Stripes played a lovely version of "We're Going To Be Friends." The show ended with Conan giving an emotional and heartfelt thanks to everyone who worked on the show, helped his career, and his friends, family and fans. He did good to hold it together for the most part.

Throughout the years my favorite bits on Late Night have always been the remote segments as it's where Conan really shines. One of my favorite remote pieces was the 1864 Old Time Baseball:

Conan was recently a guest on Inside the Actor's Studio and gave a very insightful and funny interview to James Lipton, who was a frequent visitor to Late Night over the past few years. You can watch it here. It will be interesting to see how Conan goes as host of The Tonight Show, but I have great faith that he will succeed at the 11:30 pm hour.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Trivia Night for Make Poverty History

Tonight after work I joined Marnie and her friends for a night of trivia at the Trades Hall in Carlton. It was a benefit for the 2009 Make Poverty History Internship Program. After a short introduction and film clip our evening of trivia began. There were three rounds of questions- two were general trivia and one was music. There were also two silent rounds where you had to match a person or character to a quote, and music graphs where you had to figure out the song and artist. Our team was behind by a couple points after two rounds, but we triumphed and took the whole thing by the end of the night. We divided up the great prizes for first place amongst our group and I came away with a gift certificate for a 60 minute organic facial at endota spa in the city. It was a fun night for a good cause.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Oh Mercy and The Frowning Clouds

Tonight Tash and I headed up to the Northcote Social Club for the second week of Oh Mercy's residency. After we finished our dinner we headed inside the band room for the second opening act of the evening, The Frowning Clouds. This young band from Geelong is one that I have been wanting to see live for a while now. They played their own songs, which are inspired by early 60's garage rock, and a couple covers as well. They had the whole look down- shaggy hair, skinny pants, ankle boots. Thankfully they also have the musical talent to not just be an early Rolling Stones rip-off. Definitely a band to watch.

It was great to see Oh Mercy again as it had been a while since I last saw them play. They have a new drummer who just joined the band recently. Most of the songs were new ones, a few I recognized from previous gigs, and they played my favorites "Salvation Jane" and "Seemed Like A Good Idea." Eliza was having trouble with her bass lead and Alex was having issues tuning his guitar but overall it was an entertaining set. Alex is such a great storyteller that I could listen to him sing all night. I am eagerly awaiting the appearance of their debut album (whenever it may be released). I also must commend the band for actually finishing at a decent hour, i.e. while the trams are still running.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my birthday. I started the morning with a phone call from my parents, and at the office received a beautiful bouquet of Aussie native flowers from them. After work a group of my friends and I headed for drinks at Madame Brussels on Bourke Street. We tried a couple different pitchers of punch, which are their specialty. After chatting away and a quick bite to eat, it was off for home. Thanks to everyone who has sent me birthday wishes today.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

St. Kilda Festival

Today Tash and I headed down to the St. Kilda Festival. Thankfully today's weather was much cooler than yesterday's horrific 46.4/115 degrees. We spent the majority of the afternoon at the Max Beach Concert stage. The first act we saw was Kate Miller-Heidke, a trained opera singer who has moved into pop music. As expected she has a very powerful voice and is a bit of an eccentric performer. She and her band did a rock opera version of John Farnham's "You're The Voice" and finished with her hit single "Can't Shake It" complete with dance moves.

Next up was Dan Sultan, a phenominally talented indigenous singer/songwriter. I was completely blown away by his voice, charisma on stage, and total mix of music styles- roots, soul, and a bit of country. Dan and his band had the soulful energy and showmanship of James Brown and at times it felt like a revival was taking place.. He's such an amazing talent and will just get bigger and bigger as more people hear and see him perform live.

After a bit of a walk around to check out the various booths and other attractions, we were treated to the 80's glam metal of The Galvatrons. Imagine the synthesizer part from Van Halen's "Jump" used over and over again in songs with metal riffs and you'll have some idea of how their set sounded. I'm sure the kids felt they were cool and relevant, but to me they sounded like they were trying too hard to be an 80's metal band and it was all just cliche and unintentionally laughable.

Our last band for the day was The Good China on the Air New Music stage. They drew a good-sized and enthusiastic crowd for their half-hour set. This was probably their biggest show to date, and both Tash and I were really happy that their following is growing steadily in Melbourne. They played another entertaining set and had the crowd clapping along to their closing song "All Nothing." We even managed to get The Good China badges, which were being handed out to the audience.

Friday, February 06, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

This meme has been doing the rounds on Facebook, so here are 25 random things about me:

1. I was born and raised in San Rafael, California. In Marin Country there are many old 60’s musicians and other famous types who live there. Throughout my school years I attended school with some of their children, including the son of Peter Tork (The Monkees), daughter of Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead), and son of Joe Eszterhas (screenwriter). If you’re curious, Jerry Garcia’s daughter was into hip-hop.

2. I have been a huge fan of Crowded House since I first watched them play a spring break concert in Daytona, FL on MTV in 1987. They were my first ever concert in 1989 when I was 14 years old. Throughout the years I have become friends with other fans as well as a few people who work for the band. This has allowed me to meet lead singer Neil Finn, who for some reason seems to think that I actually work for him. The last couple of times I chatted with him (which was a few years ago) he thanked me for all the work I do. If only I was on the payroll!

3. I love to bake yummy treats. I am especially good at baking cookies and pies. I still have not mastered recipes involving boiling sugar to specific temperatures like toffee, but that’s probably a good thing because I love English toffee and it would be very dangerous if I could successfully make it at home.

4. I was a primary school teacher for over 4 years in California. While I enjoyed the majority of my students, one thing that is rarely spoken about is the classroom selection process. If you are a new teacher at the school, you are guaranteed to have the worst class possible for your grade level because the other teachers will dump all the bad kids in your class. It happened to me twice.

5. The busiest year of my life was when I decided it would be a good idea to complete my master’s degree while teaching full time in a brand new school and grade level. I still don’t know how I managed to finish my thesis on time, teach, and maintain my sanity.

6. I’ve lived in Australia for over 3 years now and have not lost my American accent. When I studied at the University of Melbourne for a year abroad I had a bit of an Aussie accent on my return to the US that didn’t go away for a couple of months. Perhaps age is a factor with the adoption of accents, which really makes you question why Madonna has been sounding British for all these years.

7. I hate hot weather and absolutely dread summer. One of the great things about living in the San Francisco Bay Area was that you would never get more than three hot days in a row because the fog, nature’s air conditioning, would come in and cool things down. I also had access to my parents’ pool. No such luck in Melbourne.

8. My skin is very pale. It is absolutely impossible for me to tan as I just turn red and then peel. I’m ok with my white skin and feel no need to use self-tanners, although I think I’m starting to become a bit translucent.

9. I am a walking encyclopedia of useless knowledge. I know the most random pop culture questions and oddball facts. I chalk this up to the large amount of media I read and watch, especially late night talk shows.

10. Music is a huge part of my life. I own more CDs than I care to count and am grateful to have grown up in the days of alternative music. Back in the mid-80s and early-90s I would listen to radio station Live 105 and watch MTV’s 120 Minutes (remember Dave Kendall?). It was fantastic times in music: British bands, Aussie bands, College radio, Modern Rock, Britpop, and Grunge.

11. I love television and watch a lot of it. I remember when I was young viewing Dallas and Dynasty with my mom (why did she let me watch that when I was in elementary school?). I tend to like comedy talk shows, teen dramas, reality tv, news, and home improvement shows.

12. I’ve only been to three countries so far in my life: United States, Australia and New Zealand. It’s hard to believe, but I’ve never been to England, Europe or even Canada or Mexico. All I do is fly back and forth across the Pacific Ocean.

13. For senior prom in high school my date was a friend of a friend. By the end of the night I was looking to ditch him. We were in the parking lot of the hotel about to make our grand escape when just as we were getting in the car he spotted us and asked if we could give him a ride back to Marin. So close and yet so far.

14. I never really had any grandparents. My dad’s parents and mom’s father weren’t alive when I was born, and my mom’s mother died when I was a few years old.

15. Melbourne is the best city ever. It’s got a similar vibe to San Francisco and is full of culture. You will never be bored here or lack something to do on a given night. There is a thriving music scene, Australian Rules Football and other sports, various community festivals, Fashion Week, the International Comedy Festival, museums, galleries, theaters, etc. I love living here.

16. Slides, water and concrete don’t mix well together. I learned this lesson at day care when I was young. We thought it would be a good idea to put some water on a metal slide and go down it. When I slid down in a swimsuit on my stomach feet first I didn’t stop at the bottom but flew in the air and landed on the concrete, completely scraping up my hands, arms, knees and feet. The teachers carried me into the kitchen area to bandage me up and I remember leaving a pool of blood behind. When I got home to soak the rocks out of my skin in the pool my cousin Leilani was very upset by my injuries (see Lei, I do remember some things from childhood).

17. The first time I owned a mobile phone was when I moved to Melbourne in 2005.

18. I am a long time supporter of Apple. I played many games of Donkey Kong and Frogger on an old Apple IIe computer growing up. I am a bit ashamed to admit that I bought a PC once (it was when Apple was close to going out of business in the 90’s). Thankfully Steve Jobs came back to the company and I have been a loyal Apple customer ever since. I’ve had an iBook, currently own a PowerBook G4 and of course an iPod.

19. I don’t drink coffee. I prefer tea, hot chocolate, or chai lattes if having a hot beverage. However, I do like coffee ice cream. Go figure.

20. I am a fairly organised person. The clothes in my closet are grouped by type and color and my CDs are in alphabetical order. I have even been known to organise others’ food cupboards. People have mocked me for my clean desk at work over the years but I can’t function with clutter. White space is your friend.

21. Although I rarely drink soda I prefer Coca-Cola to Pepsi.

22. My parents never pick me up from the airport anymore. It all stems from one spring break trip home in college when the airline was asking for people to volunteer and get off the flight so they could lessen the weight of the plane and clear the parking structures next to the runway in San Diego. I went for one of the vouchers they were offering and got booked onto another flight. However, by the time I was able to call home and tell them what happened, my Dad and brother had already left for the airport. I don’t think they enjoyed the wait. I got a few free roundtrips, but from then on it was the Marin Airporter for me. However, my parents do now drive me to the airport when I fly back to Australia.

23. I’ve always been interested in photography. My mom studied photography when I was little, and my parents even have a potential dark room in their house (although it’s currently being used as storage). I took photography classes in high school and college and own multiple cameras (both film and digital). I tend to take mostly nature and architectural photos.

24. I have never had a pet in my life.

25. I do not own a car in Australia. As much as people like to complain about Melbourne’s public transportation system, I actually find it pretty good. I do live in the inner city, so I have access to buses, trams and trains. If I had a car I honestly don’t know when I would drive it. Everything I need is in walking distance or a quick ride away on the train or tram.
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