Friday, August 23, 2013

Rock The Boat

You can tell a federal election is on because the rhetoric around asylum seekers has become over the top.  From Tony Abbott's mantra to "stop the boats" to Kevin Rudd's PNG solution, there is a distinct lack of focus on the human element of this issue.  Last night Tash and I attended the Rock The Boat concert to benefit both the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and Australian Greens candidate Adam Bandt MP's campaign to retain his Melbourne seat.

The first two acts of the evening were mainstays of the Melbourne music scene in the 1990s.  Even played more of an acoustic set, while a reformed Snout came out firing with a very energetic set that got a great response from the packed crowd.  I have a feeling many came to the gig specifically to see them play.  After a short interview by MC Alan Brough with Adam Bandt and a representative from Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, hip hop act Joelistics took to the stage.  Joel started with some slam poetry before launching into songs off his album Voyager.  He was very entertaining and even sampled Dolly Parton's "Jolene" in one number.  Although he was worried it wasn't his type of crowd, I'm pretty sure he managed to win everyone over by the end.

I don't think the final act for the night, The Basics, knew how to follow Joelistics, and that coupled with technical difficulties made for a bit of a shambolic start.  Kris seemed drunk, which always adds an air of danger to their set as Tash and I have witnessed in the past during a few of their residencies.  After an abortion joke at the end of "She's Gonna B. Late" his bass decided to cut out in the middle of "The No. 1 Cause Of Death Amongst Youth Today."  Kris then invited people to hit the bar during the slower number "Feels Like Love."  It wasn't until Tim Heath's Paul Kellyesque spoken word intro to "Hey Rain" that they managed to turn a corner.  Who would have thought that Tim would be the one to rescue the set?  Dave Bramble joined the boys on keys for the rest of the set as they played "Have Love, Will Travel," "Rattle My Chain," "Lovin' Man" and then finished with some call and response on "Call It Rhythm And Blues."  It was certainly an entertaining second show back and proves that you never know what might happen at a Basics gig.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Basics- The Post Office Hotel

It has been nearly three years since all three members of The Basics shared the stage together, so Tash and I were super excited when a "secret show" was announced for last night at The Post Office Hotel in Coburg.  After three days of rehearsals the boys were somewhat ready to play live to a packed yet intimate venue. Coming out wearing brand new matching navy blue pinstriped suits, they started the evening with "Money (Gimme, Gimme)."  The set list featured a lot of older songs, including "She's Gonna B. Late," traditional set opener "Yeah Yeah," "Can You Trust Me?" and "Hey C'mon!" which had some nice additional harmonies.  The show overall was quite loose with lots of funny moments throughout the night.  Some of the best came from Tim, who sang lead on a few songs and when he couldn't remember the lyrics would start singing random things in French.

You could clearly see that the boys were enjoying playing live together again.  "Just Hold On," "With This Ship" and new single "So Hard For You" had most of the people in the crowd singing along.  I was happy to hear my favorite "The No. 1 Cause Of Death Amongst Youth Today" and "What Do You See In Me?" off the Keep Your Friends Close album.  During the extended encore Wally donned a red wig to match the hair of his fellow bandmates.  We were also treated to great versions of "Call It Rhythm And Blues," "Lookin' Over My Shoulder" and Wally's very accurate impersonation of screaming goats before they finished the night with a cover of AC/DC's "Jailbreak."  It was a fantastic hour and 45 minutes of old time Basics fun that I have really missed.  I'm so glad they are back playing live and look forward to all the upcoming shows in Melbourne.

Here's the video for the latest single "So Hard For You"

Food Trucks, Monet, and the Bombers

Melbourne is known for its food, art and sports culture, and since there is always so much on it is easy to find activities relating to all three things to do in one day!  Food trucks have been slowly taking off here over the past couple years, and a new event called Trailer Park has started at Village Melbourne on St Kilda Road where a group of food trucks are featured each month on Saturdays and Sundays.  Tash, Carly and I met up for lunch there yesterday, and were able to sample some food trucks we haven't tried yet.  We shared tacos from Cornutopia, a mesquite smoked pulled pork po' boy from Gumbo Kitchen, and a combo plate from The Curry Truck.  Of the three my favorite was the po' boy, but they all tasted good.  For dessert we each picked a different flavor creme brulee from The Brulee Cart, which while tasty was not worth the price considering the size of the serve.  Trailer Park has a great atmosphere and we look forward to coming back in September to sample the next group of food trucks.

Tash and I then headed to the NGV to catch the Monet's Garden exhibition.  It mainly featured paintings Claude Monet did of his garden at Giverny in northern France, including the waterlilies and Japanese bridge he is most famous for.  It was so interesting to see these impressionist paintings up close and compare the variation of colors used to paint the same setting at different times of the day.  I didn't realise that later in life Monet had cataracts issues which affected his vision and perception of color.  Thankfully he was able to have surgery to restore his sight, but it must have been fairly devastating to go through that as an artist.  At the end of the exhibition there is this great panoramic film of the gardens at Giverny which makes you want to go there to visit it in person.  The exhibition is on until 8 September so if you are in Melbourne get down to the NGV to check it out.

After a mulled apple cider at the Tram Bar outside the NGV we hopped onto a train to get to Etihad Stadium for the twilight match between Essendon and North Melbourne.  Tash's cousin Nick O'Brien was starting in the team this week, and we were fortunate enough to get tickets from Tash's aunt.  The Bombers have not been playing well for the past month, and with the interim ASADA report on last year's supplements program and the club and senior officials being charged this week by the AFL for bringing the game into disrepute, I did not have high hopes for this match.  The skill level was poor throughout the game and we paid the price for errors on the scoreboard.  Although the boys finally showed a bit of life in the fourth quarter it was way too late and we ended up losing to North by 45 points.  There are two more matches left in the regular season, and we are going to make the finals no matter what (as long as we don't get stripped of our premiership points by the AFL).  I hope the team can find some form so we aren't completely embarrassed in the first round of finals.

Final Score
Essendon: 9.16 (70)
North Melbourne: 17.13 (115)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

MIFF- Accelerator 2 and Good Vibrations

This is the last weekend of the Melbourne International Film Festival, and I spent the afternoon catching two different sessions.  The first was Accelerator 2 at the Kino, a compilation of short films from emerging directors in Australia and New Zealand.  Of the seven films shown there were two that really stood out.  One was Rebecca Peniston-Bird's Summer Suit about an epileptic girl who lives in a country town.  She spends the summer working at her father's service station while wearing one of her brother's brown suits as her uniform.  The other highlight, and my favorite short, was Jordan Prosser's Hungry Man about a homicidal tape worm that lives inside its host, Declan Greene, and talks him into eating things he wouldn't necessarily choose on his own.  A film noir with a warped sense of humor and a fair amount of blood, it received the best reaction and biggest laughs from the audience.

After a quick gelato break at Spring St Grocery I walked down to the Greater Union to line up for my second session of the afternoon, the Ireland/UK film Good Vibrations.  Set in 1970s Belfast during the Troubles, it follows record store owner Terri Hooley who ends up starting his own label and becoming the godfather of the city's punk scene.  While Hooley has a great enthusiasm and ear for music, his business sense is not as strong which affects his family and business partners at the end of the day.  The bands featured in the film were on Hooley's Good Vibrations label and the closing concert is a triumphant moment for the musicians and the Belfast punk scene.  Definitely check this film out if you get the chance.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

MIFF- Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer

The Melbourne International Film Festival is currently on at the moment, and Tash invited me to join her today to see the documentary Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer.  Pussy Riot are the Russian feminist punk collective that saw three of its members arrested in 2012 for their protest performance at Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

The film follows the trial of Nadya, Masha and Katya and gives you some background on their upbringings and political activism through archival footage and interviews with their families.  All three women gave powerful and articulate statements at the closing of their trial, which ended in them being sentenced to two years in prison.  At an appeal hearing Katya was able to get her sentence suspended and be released, but the other two are still serving time in separate penal colonies. 

The film also delves into the broader issues of President Vladimir Putin, his policies and connections with the Russian Orthodox Church in what is supposed to be a secular society.  It's also timely to watch considering the global media coverage of Putin's anti-gay policies and threats of boycotts and protests at the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi (never mind NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden just getting granted asylum in Russia for a year).
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