Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sydney Road Street Party

Because we didn't see enough of each other last night, Clinton, Kevin and I met up at the Sydney Road Street Party this afternoon. Joined by their friend Cameron we walked up and down Sydney Road a few times checking out the booths and food stalls. Unfortunately it seems as though the Muslim Women's Association has given up on selling their wonderful gozleme, which is so disappointing. We ended up eating chocolate croissants and sharing a lemon tart at Choukette and had our main meal from the Hare Krishna stall. There were lots of people out enjoying the street party and the various band stages, although we didn't find any music acts that grabbed our attention. After a few hours we decided we had seen everything there was to see and headed for home.

Hungry Kids of Hungary- The Air Sick Tour

Tonight Clinton, Kevin and I met up at The East Brunswick Club to see Hungry Kids of Hungary return to Melbourne on their "Air Sick" tour. The first band I saw for the evening was Boy & Bear from Sydney. I was really impressed by them and their harmonies and folk sounding music, which is a bit similar to Fleet Foxes. They are definitely a band to watch. Next up was Ernest Ellis, also from Sydney, who had a few songs that sounded good, but overall their set didn't really grab my attention.

Hungry Kids of Hungary came out to the nearly sold out venue and opened with their latest single "Let You Down." They then launched into a couple new songs that they've just recorded for their new album. The set list was a mix of old and new material. As always it was good to hear "Set It Right," "Lenny," and "Old Money." For "Scattered Diamonds" the members of Boy & Bear came up to play percussion and sing along. They ended the set with "Good Times" and then for an encore did a cover of M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes." It was great to see them play once again and enjoy those harmonies and wonderful power pop songs. The new material sounds good, so I'm looking forward to a full length debut album.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Visiting Regional Victoria

This morning I caught the train from Southern Cross Station up to Ballarat. It was my first time on V/Line and the nearly hour and a half train ride was a comfortable one. Michelle picked me up at the station and then we headed over to get Tash. Her little cottage house is very cute. After a bit of a chat we hit the road for Hepburn Springs to have lunch at Chowder House. Co-owned by an American chef, we had been wanting to try out this place for a while now, and Michelle thought it would be a good way to celebrate my birthday. They have about six different chowders on the menu. I had a traditional clam chowder, Tash had a seafood chowder and Michelle went with the chicken and corn chowder. All of them came with a piece of homemade cornbread as well. The big bowl of chowder tasted fantastic and although not too thick was quite filling. It definitely met my expectations.

After a quick drive around Hepburn Springs to check out the many mineral spring spas in the area, we went to neighboring Daylesford to have a walk around downtown and visit some of the shops. In one of the first places we went into I spotted this necklace and really liked it, so I bought it as a gift for myself. After a while we ended up finding an ice cream shop and stopped in for some dessert. Once we returned to Ballarat we had a drive around the city and the now dry Lake Wendouree (a victim of the drought). One of the great things about many of the towns in the region is that they still have a lot of their historical buildings from the gold rush era in the mid-1800s. We stopped by Michelle's townhouse so I could have a look at it before she dropped Tash and I off for the train ride back to Melbourne. While Tash went off to watch the Tropfest short film festival at Federation Square, I headed for home.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

One Year Older

It is now officially my birthday in both Australia and the United States. The day began with a phone call from my parents. I was good and did not open the present they sent me until today, which was a photo book of my life that my Mom made. It's really awesome. They also got me the bouquet of flowers you see in the picture. I have received some lovely birthday wishes from friends and family throughout the day. Chantal and I went out to lunch at Shuji Sushi and Clinton treated me to a mini chocolate mud cake at Treasury Deli in the afternoon. After working off the cake at the gym I returned home and I'm spending the evening watching Gossip Girl and RuPaul's Drag Race. All in all it's been a pretty good birthday.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire

After work Clinton and I grabbed a quick dinner and then met his partner Kevin at the Kino Cinema to see Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire. The movie, set in Harlem in 1987, is about a 16 year-old obese, illiterate girl named Claireece Precious Jones who lives with her dysfunctional mother, Mary. Precious has been impregnated twice by her father, Carl, and suffers long term physical, mental and sexual abuse from her unemployed mother. Despite the grim storyline, it is a tale of trying to make a better life for yourself and not giving up.

All of us had prepared ourselves for the movie to be difficult to watch, but it wasn't that graphic and at a lot of the worst moments in Precious' life, it would switch to her having a dream sequence. Gabourey Sidibe is great in her first acting performance as Precious and Mo'Nique is amazingly brutal as Precious' mother. This film definitely deserves all the awards and Oscar nominations it has received.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Good China at St. Kilda Festival

Today I headed down to the St. Kilda Festival to catch The Good China playing the Main Stage on the beach. They won the opening slot by being voted best band on the New Music Stage at last year's festival. A small but enthusiastic crowd gathered to watch them play their half hour set. They started with a new song and then played one of my favorites "If Pain Persists." Other songs in the set included "No More Maps," "Turn The Page" and "All Nothing" (complete with hand claps). They finished off the day with a rousing rendition of "We Found Three Whistles" that had the crowd dancing. It was very exciting to see the band playing on the big stage, and I'm sure it would have been a huge thrill for them all. Since it was a fairly warm day and there weren't any other acts I was dying to see I headed back for home.

The Cuckoos

Last night Belinda came and picked me up and we headed off to Brunswick Street as a bit of a farewell since she will be moving to London in about a week. We had dinner at The Vegie Bar, dessert at Trampoline and then headed to The Evelyn to see The Cuckoos. The first band we saw for the evening was The Alcorettes, who had a much more alt-country/early rock 'n' roll sound that I was expecting. Next was The Revels, who have that classic Aussie pub rock sound and good energy on stage.

The Cuckoos played a fun set and had a group of people dancing at the front of the stage. They played a mixture of new songs and ones off their EP. It was good to hear "Sweet Tooth Sally Malouf," "Clementine" and my personal favorite "Lovely Day." They even sang their own version of "Happy Birthday" for someone in the crowd (and I'll take it as early birthday wishes for myself too). It was good to see Tom and Quang playing live again, as Little Red don't seem to be doing much these days.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

When Thunderstorms Attack

Around 3:30 pm the thunder and lightning started and then the rain began. By 4:30 pm parts of the city were under water due to flash flooding and a couple people were even spotted swimming down Flinders Street. It was the heaviest rain I have ever seen in this town, and the lightning was very close to the CBD. Thankfully by the time I left work for the gym things had calmed down, and more importantly the temperatures have finally cooled after a hot week.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Basics Record a Live Album

Last night Tash, Mary and I made our way to the Northcote Social Club to see our beloved band The Basics record songs for an upcoming live album. After signing our names in paint on the boards that will be used for the album cover, we entered the sold out room. The band played a range of songs spanning all their releases throughout the two hour set. The evening started with just Wally, Kris and Tim on stage, and then they were joined by David Bramble on keyboards and other musicians as the evening progressed.

There were a fair amount of songs from Stand Out/Fit In, with "Lookin' Over My Shoulder" having a more reggae sound. "Three Cool Cats" had the audience clapping out the rhythm and Tim played a lively version of "Have Love, Will Travel." There were only a few songs played from the new album Keep Your Friends Close, including our favorite "The No. 1 Cause of Death Amongst Youth Today" and a completely new and faster arrangement of "Home Again" that was inspired by Simple Minds' "Don't You (Forget About Me)." I was really excited to hear the unreleased track "What It Feels Like To Be Loved," which was played at The Evelyn residency in 2008 but didn't make the album.

It wouldn't be a Basics gig without covers, and we got a few throughout the evening, including The Police's "Roxanne," Neil Young's "Old Man" and New Kids On The Block's "You Got It (The Right Stuff)" complete with dance moves. To finish off the night they played a medley of Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love" and Eric Clapton's "Cocaine." It will be interesting to see what songs end up making it onto the live album.

Here's the video for their brilliant latest single, "The No. 1 Cause of Death Amongst Youth Today"
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