Saturday, June 29, 2019

Melbourne Cabaret Festival- What's Love Got To Do With It?

Melbourne Cabaret Festival
The Melbourne Cabaret Festival is celebrating its 10 year anniversary this year and tonight Sean and I went to see a performance by American born and Melbourne based drag queen Nefertiti LaNegra (aka Mark Brown II) in the show What's Love Got To Do With It? at Chapel Off Chapel.

This show by the self-proclaimed Serena Williams of drag is about the complexities of love and contains vignettes about Nefertiti's experiences interspersed with songs. Accompanied by a pianist, Nefertiti sang different songs about love, ranging from a stripped back version of Amy Winehouse's "Tears Dry On Their Own" to Beyonce's "Love On Top." The hour long show was engaging and uplifting, but also quite vulnerable and honest at points as it delved into the topics of race and domestic violence.

Friday, May 24, 2019

RVG- Alexandra Single Launch

Tonight Belinda and I headed to Howler for the sold out launch of RVG's new single "Alexandra." Opening the evening was four piece punk band Pinch Points, who had fast paced songs driven by a female rhythm section, and were also wearing matching band t-shirts. Next up was the indie quartet Terry, who songs have a mix of humor and politics that are sung in a more deadpan and monotone style.

RVG came out onto the stage and began with a cover of John Cale's "Dying On The Vine." Their set was captivating to watch as lead singer Romy Vager commanded the stage with her vocals and the rest of the band powered through each song. They played quite a few tracks off their debut album A Quality Of Mercy as well as some unreleased songs I'm assuming will be on an upcoming album. Highlights included "Vincent Van Gogh," "The Eggshell World" and new single "Alexandra." In the encore they started with another cover, Buzzcocks' "Something's Gone Wrong Again," and also played "Feral Beach" and an old track "Planet Earth" to finish. The band are off overseas for a June tour in the USA and Canada, so check them out if you get the opportunity as they are an amazing live band to experience in person.

Here's the video for "Alexandra"

Thursday, May 23, 2019

MTC- Heisenberg

Tonight Ebony invited me to join her for the opening night of the latest play by the Melbourne Theatre Company, English playwright Simon Stephens' Heisenberg. The play begins in a London train station as the outgoing Georgie (Kat Stewart), a 42-year-old American woman strikes up a conversation with the more introverted Alex (Peter Kowitz), a 75-year-old Irish butcher. Their relationship grows through other encounters, but there are underlying questions about Georgie's true motives and intentions.

Kat Stewart is amazing as Georgie and really brings the complexity of the character to life (although her American accent was a bit questionable at times). Both she and Peter are on stage for the entire 90 minutes of the play, even acting as their own stagehands to move props between scenes. It's an interesting exploration of what can happen when you open yourself up to the possibility of new adventures.

The play runs until 6 July 2019 at the Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio.

Friday, May 10, 2019

New Homeowner

Shortly after I returned from my Christmas holidays overseas, I got the not so pleasant phone call that my landlords were putting the apartment I've been living in up for sale. I had been toying with the idea of buying my own place for a while now, but the housing market here in Australia has been in major bubble territory for years. While it has finally started seeing more significant decreases since the price peak in 2017, I was hoping to be able to wait until later this year to start looking. However, with the impending sale I was forced into action earlier than anticipated.

I spent about a month looking around at places and going to open inspections to get a feel for what was available and prices in this market. Having never been to an auction before, I planned to go watch a couple in case I would have to bid on a property myself. One auction I went to was for a unit I had marked as having potential but hadn't had a chance to see. When I walked through the place I really liked it as it was open and had good sized bedrooms and closet space. Speaking to the agents I told them I was interested but not prepared to bid. We went outside for the auction, which turned out to be just me and another girl, who ended up leaving before they opened things. Since I wasn't bidding, the unit was passed in on a vendor's bid, and then got listed for private sale.

I spent the next week lining up a conveyancer to review the contract of sale, a pre-purchase property inspection, and getting a home loan from a mortgage broker so that I could make an offer on the unit. Thankfully a person I work with recently purchased a property, so she gave me some names of people which saved a lot of time. A week after the auction I put in an offer that was then accepted by the vendors. It was good that I managed to buy this place as the unit I was living in did sell to owner occupiers, so I would have had to move either way.

I settled on the property a few weeks ago so I am now officially a homeowner! As the building is relatively new it didn't require too many renovations or fixes. I did get it painted and replaced the beige carpets with laminate flooring and grey carpets in the bedrooms before moving in. I've been spending my time unpacking and getting settled, but overall I'm excited to finally have a place to call my own (even though I am now much more cash poor than I was a couple months ago).

Saturday, May 04, 2019

An Evening With Katya Zamolodchikova- Help Me I'm Dying

Tonight I ventured down to The Plenary in the Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre to see beloved RuPaul's Drag Race Season 7 and All Stars 2 queen Katya Zamolodchikova in her new one-woman show Help Me I'm Dying. This title took on new meaning last year when Katya took the year off to go to rehab and deal with mental health issues. She has slowly been coming back into the public eye, first through her podcast with Craig MacNeil Whimsically Volatile, and then with Trixie Mattel as they resurrected their hilarious web series UNHhhh.

The show began with clips of Drag Race winners Bianca Del Rio and Alaska Thunderfuck amusingly congratulating Katya and welcoming us to the show. Katya did one of her trademark introductions from the podcast to bring herself out onto the stage. She opened the show with a Russian themed section in full Katya character that included "playing" violin and lip syncing to Russian language versions of different songs, including Ariana Grande’s "Thank U, Next," M.I.A.’s "Paper Planes," and Whitney Houston’s "I Will Always Love You." While she was lip syncing there were photoshopped photos of her and Trixie's faces in various scenes projected on the background screen. Katya spoke about her life growing up in Russia and coming to America and also did a lip sync to Peggy Lee's "Is That All Their Is?" with some historical footage of 50s/60s women in the background.

The next section was themed around her Boston dumpster dwelling character Trish. It started with a funny extended clip of Katya and Trixie out of drag at a Hamburger Mary’s (with a Courtney Act cameo as a waitress) as Katya talked about a horrifying dream, and then Trish came out onto the stage in a stretch denim catsuit that matched the stage furniture. Trish spoke about her life and then invited a male audience member onstage in order to do a seductive dance for him. She was quite funny with Trish's mannerisms and Boston accent.

We were then treated to a surreal video about shame, which was a mix of Game of Thrones and Twin Peaks and included cameos from Fena Barbitall, Devon Green and Jinkx Monsoon. It started with Katya in a dungeon and then she was forced to walk through the streets in shame for doing half rate drag wearing a red bra and panties. I think the crowd were even throwing mini hands at her. Then she teleported into the Red Room of Twin Peaks where she spoke with Jinkx. It was such a Katya clip and was my favorite bit in the show.

Katya then came out onto the stage as herself and told funny stories, including what her dream gender reveal party would entail. She also showed us a clip of one of her first audition tapes for Drag Race, which was very her. For the finale she changed into a lace bodysuit and did a lip sync medley of some of her greatest bits, including Tamara Lowe's Jesus sermon, Lady’s "Pussy," the Katya verse from "Read U Wrote U," and Tatianna’s "The Same Parts" from All Stars 2. The performance also included full jumping splits and pussy pounding the floor both forward and back and in a circle.

Katya is once of my absolute favorite queens and it was so amazing to finally get to see her perform in person. As expected she put on a very unique and on brand one-woman show with beautiful costumes and a running list of references to things from all her previous works. If you like performances that are surreal and non-linear, go check out her show.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Tim Minchin- Back


Tim Minchin has returned to Australia and is currently on tour with his new show Back, which has been billed as "old songs, new songs, fuck you songs." Belinda, Sally and I met up tonight at the Palais Theatre where he has been doing a huge run of sold out shows. It's been eight years since I last saw Tim live, and his career has skyrocketed mainly due to his work on the play Matilda the Musical.

Tim started his set playing solo on piano and then revealed his full band a few songs in. His voice sounded amazing as he played a wide range of tracks from throughout his career. It was good to see him with his trademark wild hair, black clothes and bare feet. Along with a few rants he also provided explanations for some of his songs and what was happening in his life at the time. There was early material like "Mitsubishi Colt" and "F Sharp," and a bunch of my favorite later 2000s/early 2010s songs such as "Rock n Roll Nerd," "Prejudice," "If I Didn't Have You," "Thank You God" and "Woody Allen Jesus."

The newer songs fit right in with his previous work, which included the new single "15 Minutes," "If This Plane Goes Down," "Leaving L.A." and "Fuck," which was a huge rant against nearly everyone and everything. For the encore he played "When I Grow Up" from Matilda the Musical, and then finished the evening by gathering with the band around a single microphone to sing a brand new song. I'm glad Tim is back playing live and look forward to these new songs being released.

Here's the video for "15 Minutes"

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Rone- Empire

Rone Empire
I was fortunate enough to spend my Easter afternoon in the Dandenong Ranges to check out the latest exhibition by Rone titled Empire. For this installation he and his collaborators spent a year transforming the deserted Art Deco mansion Burnham Beeches into an immersive multi-sensory experience across the ground floor and upper level rooms.

The rooms were themed around different seasons, with the dusty Art Deco furniture and dried plants making it feel like you were walking through a bygone era. Rone painted his trademark female portraits in each room, this time using actor Lily Sullivan as his muse. The whole exhibition was so inspiring as you wandered through and experienced the beautiful rooms. I hope that when the building is turned into a luxury hotel that it retains the majority of its Art Deco charm.






Here's the trailer for the exhibition:

RONE EMPIRE - 4K full edit from Common State on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

MICF- Lazy Susan and Joel Creasey

MICF
Tonight were my final two shows of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. I started the evening at ACMI to see the UK sketch comedy duo Lazy Susan (Celeste Dring and Freya Parker) and their show Forgive Me, Mother! The minute they came out and greeted the crowd with, "Good evening, ladies and predators" I knew I would enjoy the show. They started out with a few harmless improvisation games, but woven through the hilarious sketches was the underlying threat that someone would die tonight, and Freya's increasing fear that a male audience member was after them. The threads of the various sketches, including Celeste hitting on an audience member when Freya worked to calm herself down, all culminated in a murder - but you need to see the show to find out who the victim was. This show was very well done and I highly recommend checking them out.

MICF
Next I went to the Forum for Joel Creasey's latest festival show Drink. Slay. Repeat. Joel came out onto the stage to some pyro going off at the sides of the stage. You know that Joel is going to give you all the juicy gossip from the past year in his shows, and he did not disappoint. He discussed his latest celebrity feud with the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, his encounter with Kylie Minogue at Sydney Mardi Gras, the controversy around what he said during Australia's Eurovision broadcast, and dealing with a stalker who wasn't happy with one of his tv appearances. He also told personal stories about his friends and family, including officiating a straight friend's wedding, his boyfriend's health scare, and how he dealt with the death of his nan. It was non-stop laughs throughout and Joel even cleverly did a call back to someone at the end of the show where he was able to get his ultimate revenge.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

MICF- Maria Bamford, Rhys Nicholson and Anne Edmonds

MICF
I began my Melbourne International Comedy Festival shows this evening at the Forum with Belinda to see the American comedian Maria Bamford and her show The Irrelevant Redundancy. It's been eight years since she was last in Australia, and this was my first time seeing her live. She spoke openly about her mental health issues, but her main bits were focused on her career and relationships with her family and husband as she took on their voices and worked through different scenarios from each person's point of view. The funniest bit was about her and her husband role playing solutions to problems such as having a living wage and gentrification.

MICF
Next I headed to the Victoria Hotel to see Rhys Nicholson's show Nice People Nice Things Nice Situations. In this show he talked about being the non-exciting age of 29 and that transition as you move into adulthood and can't really do things you never got around to doing as a younger person. Many of the stories he told were from his day to day life, such as his relationship with his family and fiance, and encounters with people at the dog park (which happens to be the one next to where I live). He crammed a lot into his hour long show with some very funny and inappropriate lines that were well suited to his core audience.

MICF
My final show for the evening was Anne Edmonds' What's Wrong With You? at the Melbourne Town Hall. Last year I saw Anne as her character Helen Bidou, but this year she was just herself with a strong command of the late show crowd. She was quite funny dealing with the audience, particularly a guy at the front who decided to rest his foot on the stage. She spoke about her mental health issues, particularly thinking the nearby freeway was poisoning her and what she did to heal herself. She also had a running thread throughout the show around dealing with males who don't think the rules of society apply to them, whether that be a young boy not listening to his indulging mother at a grocery store, a man with road rage about a turn lane out front of a hospital, or a guy deciding to play a ukulele at the end of a yoga class when no one asked him to.

Saturday, April 06, 2019

MICF - Dazza & Keif and Hans

MICF
Tonight I ventured down to the Malthouse Theatre for my two Melbourne International Comedy Festival shows this evening. Sean joined me for the first one, which was Dazza & Keif and their show Go Viral. We saw the duo in January at So You Think You Can Drag and were looking forward to seeing them in their own show. Dazza (Keely Windred) and Keif (Danni Ray) are desperate to become YouTube famous for their mad breakdancing skills. However, a staged breakdancing battle in a Bunnings car park doesn't quite go to plan, and they not only get defeated by a girl, but also become inadvertent feminists. The show features some hilarious dance routines to classics such as Bomfunk MC's "Freestyler" and Darude's "Sandstorm." Dazza and Keif are played with some nuance, and you end up feeling real emotion for them as they go through some ups and downs in their friendship.

MICF
My second show for the evening was cabaret star Hans with Like A German. Hans (Matt Gilbertson) has done many shows at the Adelaide Fringe and even appeared on America's Got Talent in 2018 (making it to the quarterfinals). Hans talked a bit about his experience in the States, but the majority of the show was him and his band singing songs and having lots of fun with the crowd. He did a hilarious polka style mashup of Australian rock classics on the accordion, and got two guys from the crowd to change into some sequin hot pants and vests to dance and see who was the bigger Hans fan. It was a very entertaining and fun show full of fabulous costumes and music.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

MICF- Hannah Gadsby: Douglas

MICF
It's been two years since I last saw Hannah Gadsby at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, where she debut a little show called Nanette. I knew while watching it that it would transform the structure of comedy, and it not only did that but also made Hannah an international star. Tonight Ebony, Sally and I got to see Hannah's new show, Douglas, at the much bigger venue of the Arts Centre Playhouse compared to her previous shows at the Melbourne Town Hall.

Opening up the evening was the hilarious Zoe Coombs Marr, who did a few bits from her show Bossy Bottom, which is being reprised this year for a short run at MICF. If you haven't seen it check it out as it was my favorite of last year's festival.

Hannah has named her latest show after her dog, Douglas, but like Nanette, the title doesn't really hint at the content of the show. Hannah started off by talking about how her life has changed since moving to Los Angeles and having access to some of the trappings of Hollywood. She joked about various words and references she will have to change in her set so they make sense to an American audience, and also referred to America as the straight white male of cultures, which is sadly true. Both Ebony and Sally told me after the show they felt slightly uncomfortable for me, but I'm well used to the American bashing by now.

The main theme of the show though is power - who has it and its impact on others. Hannah talked about how men are the ones that have named everything, and how it was mainly men who complained that Nanette was not comedy, but a lecture. She turned than on its head by actually doing an arts lecture, which is something that has featured in her work over the years. Hannah also spoke for the first time about her autism diagnosis, and how she has to navigate in a world that is ableist and doesn't recognise neurodiversity and the impact of that on her life. It was always going to be difficult to follow up Nanette, but while Douglas has a bit more laughs, it still holds those in power to account.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

The Ocean Party- Farewell Tour and Nothing Grows EP Launch

The Ocean Party have embarked on their farewell tour as a band, beginning with tonight's sold out show at Howler. Besides being a farewell, this show was also the launch of the Nothing Grows EP, which were songs written by Zac Denton before he passed away last year that the rest of the band finished on his behalf.

Opening the evening was Melbourne band Cool Sounds, who came out on stage wearing t-shirts from different eras of The Ocean Party. Besides playing their own songs, they also threw in a few songs by Zac, who used to be a member. There was a lot of support for the band in the crowd, and they finished their set by inviting Ashley Bundang to join them singing the Ciggie Witch track "Wrong Crowd."

The Ocean Party's set was split into two parts. For the first section they played the Nothing Grows EP in full, bringing out musician friends to sing lead vocals on most of the tracks. It was the final song "Birth Place," which was sung by Zac's partner Mashara, that packed the biggest emotional punch.

After a short break the band came back out for what they termed a "greatest hits" set. Each band member took turns singing songs from their back catalogue, with highlights for me being the dolewave track "Quarter Life Crisis" off the album Split, "Deluded" and "Head Down" from Soft Focus, "Guess Work" off the Light Weight album, the title track "Restless," and "Rain On Tin" and "White Cockatoo" off their latest album The Oddfellows' Hall. For such a prolific band that also has members playing in other bands, they spoke about knowing songs were meant for The Ocean Party because they were the honest ones. For the last song of the night they invited friends and people from the audience up on stage to sing one of Zac's first singles with the band, the now anthemic "Split." Although it's sad to see the band finishing up under these circumstances, I'm sure they will all continue to make music in one form or another. Farewell The Ocean Party - you will be missed.

Here's the video for "Rain On Tin"

Thursday, March 21, 2019

French Film Festival 2019

This year is the 30th Alliance Francaise French Film Festival, which is running from 6 March - 10 April 2019 in Melbourne.  I once again bought a five film pass and have attended the following films over the past few weeks:

A Faithful Man is a romantic comedy directed by and staring Louis Garrel as Abel, a man who's relationship with his girlfriend Marianne (Laetitia Casta) ends when she tells him she's pregnant by his best friend Paul and they plan to get married. Fast forward seven years and Abel ends up reuniting with Marianne after Paul dies unexpectedly. However, he encounters some roadblocks to rekindling their romance due to her son and Paul's sister Eva (Lily-Rose Depp), who has been in love with Abel since she was a teenager. The film shows key events from each character's point of view, and it is amusing to watch Marianne and Eva battle for Abel's affections.

Celebration: Yves Saint Laurent is a documentary about the late fashion designer by Olivier Meyrou. It covers the lead up to the release of his final collection before the fashion house was sold to Gucci in 1999, and contains archival footage and interviews with the key players, including the seamstresses, his business partner Pierre Berge and the reclusive Saint Laurent himself. It's not the most flattering portrait of the man, which is probably why it has taken nearly 20 years to get permission for the film to be released.

One Nation, One King by Pierre Schoeller is based around the events of the French Revolution, from the storming of the Bastille in 1789 to the execution of King Louis XVI in 1793. It was not the most exciting of period dramas as the main focus was more on the National Assembly and parliamentary speeches instead of the street battles or glamour of the French royals.

Jean Paul Gautier: Freak & Chic is a documentary by Yann L'Henoret about the fashion designer as he prepares for the opening of the revue "Fashion Freak Show" at the Folies Bergeres. It is a very entertaining film as you watch them develop and rehearse for the revue and create the different costumes for the show. The film is also a unique way of delving into the career of Jean Paul Gautier as you get to hear him talk about the events from his life that inspired each vignette in the revue. Definitely check this film out if you get the chance.

The Sisters Brothers is a western directed by French filmmaker Jacques Audiard, but the film is in English. Set during the California gold rush in the 1850s, it stars John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix as Eli and Charlie Sisters, two brothers who are hit-men. They are hired by The Commodore to kill chemist Herman Kermit Warm (Riz Ahmed), who has a secret formula for finding gold. Also on the hunt for Warm is John Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal), who happens to be a few days ahead of the brothers on the trail from Oregon to California, and he ends up finding and partnering with Warm. The film is not your typical western as it has not only humor, but more of a philosophical undercurrent along with some beautiful cinematography.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

C.W. Stoneking- The Gasometer Hotel

C.W. Stoneking is playing some solo shows around Melbourne over the next few days. Tonight he did an early evening gig at The Gasometer Hotel under the open roof, which made things interesting as it was still light out when he hit the stage. The set list contained songs from all three of his albums, including some pretty deep cuts that you don't get to hear live that often.

Highlights for me included "Goin The Country," "Dodo Blues" and "Way Out In The World" off King Hokum, "The Love Me Or Die" (C.W.'s version of a murder ballad), "Talking Lion Blues" and "Jailhouse Blues" off of the Jungle Blues album, and the Gon' Boogaloo tracks "The Thing I Done," "I'm The Jungle Man," "On A Desert Isle," "The Zombie" and "We Gon' Boogaloo." C.W. had some amusing observations and anecdotes about songs throughout the night, and commanded the stage with just his voice and guitar. To finish off the nearly hour and half set he played "Jungle Lullaby." It's always a pleasure to get to see C.W. play live, especially in such an intimate setting.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Brunswick Music Festival: Dolly


The Brunswick Music Festival is currently happening in venues around town, and tonight I went to Estonian House for a very special tribute to the legendary Dolly Parton. Coming together to sing some of Dolly's most loved songs as well as a few rarities were Emily Lubitz (Tinpan Orange), Loretta Miller, Emma Donovan, Sarah Mary Chadwick and Alexander Gow (Oh Mercy). Everyone took turns singing either solo or in small pairings alongside a fantastic house band.

Brunswick Music Festival: Dolly
Emily Lubitz opened the show on autoharp with "Coat Of Many Colors." Highlights from the evening included Emma Donovan's powerhouse vocals on "Jolene" and "Harper Valley P.T.A.," Alex Gow singing the rarity "Down From Dover," and Loretta Miller doing an amazing version of "I Will Always Love You." Alex and Loretta dueted on the classic "Islands In The Stream," which inspired some people in the crowd to come up front and dance, and then it turned into a big celebration as everyone came back out on stage to sing the final song of the evening, "9 To 5." It was a wonderful to hear each artist's interpretation of Dolly's songs, and huge kudos to the house band who did an incredible job learning all the songs that were played tonight.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Happy Mondays- Australian Tour 2019

During the early 1990s I was a big fan of bands out of the Manchester scene, including Happy Mondays, who released their seminal album Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches in 1990. Tonight I had the unique opportunity to see the band play the album in full at the Forum. Opening the evening was the five piece Sydney band The Lulu Raes. They sounded really good and had these lovely melodic indie songs, but I was a bit thrown by their look as it didn't match how they sounded.

Most of the original band members of Happy Mondays were on board for this tour, including lead singer Shaun Ryder, who got around stage on a walking stick. They began the evening with "Kinky Afro" and Bez had the crowd going from the start as he danced back and forth across the front of the stage shaking his maracas and interacting with people all night. Rowetta's soulful and powerful vocals were amazing on each song, and highlights for me were "God’s Cop," "Loose Fit," "Dennis and Lois," "Holiday" and the massive hit single "Step On," which went completely off. They finished the main set with "Harmony," and then for an encore played the earlier tracks "Hallelujah" and "24 Hour Party People." I'm glad I had the opportunity to see Happy Mondays play live and hear the album in full, although dealing with some of the guys flailing around on the floor was annoying at times.

Here's the video for "Step On"

Saturday, March 02, 2019

They Might Be Giants- Australian Tour 2019

Over the last two nights They Might Be Giants have been playing shows here in Melbourne pitting different decades of their extensive back catalogue against each other. On Friday night at 170 Russell it was the 1980s vs 2010s, and then tonight at The Croxton it was the 1990s vs 2000s. The last time I saw them live was in the mid-1990s, and I will admit I am way more familiar with their 1980s and 1990s songs, so I knew about half the set list each night.

Each show was split into two halves, with an intermission in the middle and then a mini acoustic set to start the second half of each evening. There was lots of banter between John Flansburgh and John Linnell as they told funny stories, talked about what they had done during the day, and interacted with members of the crowd. Both Johns rotated around the stage and onto different instruments throughout each night, and it was great that they had a full band with them, including trumpet player extraordinaire Mark Pender (formerly of Conan O'Brien's late night bands) who was on fire, particularly tonight.

Of the two nights I really enjoyed Friday's show because those were the songs that I grew up listening to. Highlights from Friday were the debut album tracks "Put Your Hand Inside The Puppet Head" and "Don't Let It Start," the Lincoln album songs "Ana Ng," "Cowtown," "Mr Me," "Shoehorn With Teeth" and "Where Your Eyes Don't Go," as well as the single "Why Does The Sun Shine?" and new track "The Communists Have The Music." On Saturday night I was excited to hear a lot of my favorite tracks from the 1990s, including "Your Racist Friend," "Birdhouse In Your Soul," "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)," "Twisting" "Whistling In The Dark" and "Particle Man" off Flood, and "She's Actual Size," "Turn Around," "Spider" and "The Guitar (The Lion Sleeps Tonight)" off Apollo 18. It was such a privilege to get to see them play live again after all these years, and I definitely need to delve into the more recent releases from the 2000s.

Here's the video for "The Communists Have The Music"

Monday, February 25, 2019

Rufus Wainwright- All These Poses Tour

Rufus Wainwright is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his debut album with the All These Poses tour, where he plays songs from his first two albums. Nicola and Belinda joined me for tonight's show at the Melbourne Recital Centre, which is a dream venue acoustically to hear Rufus sing in. Opening the evening was one of his band members, Rachel Eckroth, who played a half hour set of atmospheric songs on keyboard while also utilising samples, loops and vocal effects.

Rufus is touring with a five piece band and they started the evening with his very first single "April Fools" (I remember when that video came out in 1998). The show was broken up into two parts, with the first half focused on songs from his eponymous debut album. Rufus was dressed in a top hat and jacket but took those off a few songs in to reveal a gold sequin tank top with his high-waisted striped pants and suspenders. He played many of my favorites off the album, including "Barcelona," "Danny Boy," "Millbrook," "Foolish Love," "In My Arms" and "Beauty Mark," which is about his mother Kate McGarrigle. He had a few funny stories to tell about his mom, including that Joni Mitchell was banned in their household. This didn't stop him from participating in her recent 75th birthday tribute concert and singing for us her song "Both Sides, Now," which was absolutely amazing and brought some of the audience to their feet after it. He also played his latest single, "Sword Of Damocles," which was inspired by Donald Trump.

After a brief intermission the show continued, with the second half focused on songs from Rufus' second album Poses. He came out in a very decorative and heavy jacket and started with "Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk." The set list balanced between the more upbeat tracks such as "California," "Grey Gardens" and "Shadows" and slower ballads like "Poses," "One Man Guy," "The Tower Of Learning" and "In A Graveyard," which he performed solo on piano to finish the set.

For the encore Rufus came back out in a red bomber jacket and played "Imaginary Love" off his debut album, the emotional "Going To A Town" off Release The Stars (my very favorite song of his), and then finished the night with The Beatles' "Across The Universe" accompanied by a choir of audience members. This was such an amazing show and a privilege to get to hear his first two albums live in person after listening to them so many times over the years.

Here's the video for "Sword Of Damocles"

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Bianca Del Rio- It's Jester Joke Tour

Bianca Del Rio, the stand-up comedian, drag queen and winner of season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, brought her latest show It's Jester Joke to the Comedy Theatre for the first of two sold out performances tonight. The title of the show is not only a pun, but a nod to her clown persona, which is something she fully embraced with her orange wig and choice of costume.

No one was safe during Bianca's hour plus stand-up set as her biting wit took aim at disabled people, different races and ethnicities, gays, lesbians, other Drag Race alum, the Catholic Church, and various audience members sitting in the front rows. Going into Bianca’s shows you know she will say some truly outrageous and offensive things, but it is important to remember that at the end of the day you are attending a drag show and it's not meant to be nice.

Bianca was very quick with her interactions and responses to the crowd, and was riffing so much I'm not sure how much of her planned set she managed to get through. She spoke about doing promo on some of the Australian morning talk shows, and her funniest story was about when she had to play a Gay Sober event in NYC after a big night out and was desperate for a drink prior to going on stage.

After her set Bianca did a Q&A segment, answering prewritten questions from the crowd. They provided some funny moments, including one from musician Henry Wagons about his young daughter's love of Bianca and RuPaul's Drag Race. If you get the chance (and don't mind potentially being offended), be sure to check out Bianca when she plays in your city.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Mclean Stephenson and Alexander Gow Photography Exhibition

Memphis Projects
Tonight Mary, Belinda and I attended the opening of a photography exhibition by Sydney-based photographer Mclean Stephenson and Melbourne Oh Mercy frontman Alexander Gow at Memphis Projects in Abbotsford.

Contained in one large room, it was interesting to observe the contrasting styles of their photographs in the exhibition. While Alex's photos were mainly black and white portraits of friends and fellow musicians, Mclean's photos were a more abstract mix of people and landscapes. There was a nice turn out for the opening which included many of the subjects in Alex's photos, as well as Henry Wagons, who played a part in the black eye Alex was sporting from a recent a game of squash.

Memphis Projects

Memphis Projects

The exhibition runs from 22-23 February 2019, or you can check out their works online on their sites.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Trixie Mattel- Skinny Legend Tour

Tonight I had the privilege of seeing my favorite RuPaul's Drag Race alum and All Stars 3 winner Trixie Mattel return to Melbourne at The Plenary with her new one woman show Skinny Legend. This was the last night of her Australian tour, and opening the evening was Melbourne's very own Karen From Finance, who performed a great routine themed around the working women and office environment. She not only lip synced to Dolly Parton's "9 To 5," but also former Prime Minister Julia Gillard's famous misogyny speech against Tony Abbott.

Before Trixie came out on stage there was a cute little cartoon of her getting ready, then a compilation of clips from interviews, RuPaul's Drag Race, the YouTube series UNHhhh and Viceland's The Trixie and Katya Show. Trixie began the show with a lip sync mash up to "Roxie (The Name On Everybody's Lips)" from the musical Chicago, but with a robot voice inserted to say Trixie instead, as well as some monologues by Tammie Brown and Jasmine Masters. Trixie was wearing a full blond wig and purple jumpsuit with long bell sleeves for the first half of the show. She had some great stand-up bits and stories that covered a wide range of topics, including going through Australian immigration, ageing, parenting, bears and interactions with fans. Despite not liking hugs she invited an audience member up on stage to hug her, which resulted in a red warning alarm going off while she was being touched.

Trixie Mattel Skinny Legend Australian Tour

Trixie's Australian accent has improved from previous visits, which could be thanks to her watching Wigs By Vanity Instagram videos. As expected, she played some songs on guitar, with "I've Already Got Your Money" dedicated to people who might be offended by the show, a new song "Rich People" about the troubles of the rich like having to double parking their boats or staining their fur coats with the blood of the poor, and "Little Sister" off last year's EP One Stone. Trixie also sang a hilarious parody of Kim Carnes' "Bette Davis Eyes" called "Steve Buscemi Eyes," which featured a photo montage on the screen of various Drag Race alum faces photoshopped with his eyes.

After a brief intermission the second half of the show began with old black and white fitness and modelling clips hilariously narrated by Devon Green. Trixie then came out in a 1970s Cher/Native American inspired pink outfit with a long pink headdress that showed off lots of body. She had some hilarious puns about her outfit, such as,"I had reservations about wearing this" (note Trixie is Ojibwe). She told more personal stories with her stand up in the second part of the show, including about growing up in rural Wisconsin and being a country gay, moving to Los Angeles and the differences in who's considered hot, and some interesting encounters with the dentist and proctologist.

Trixie Mattel Skinny Legend Australian Tour

Musically Trixie showed off her chops by playing a pink clarinet to "Colors Of The Wind" from the Disney movie Pocahontas, her beautiful pink autoharp on the plaintive song "Is Michael Cera Hot" (complete with photo montage playing behind her), and then back onto guitar for the unreleased song "Yellow Cloud," which is due out in May 2019. To finish the night we got a snippet of Oasis' "Wonderwall" by audience request before she played the song that represented her past 12 months, RuPaul's "Kitty Girl" from the All Stars 3 finale. Trixie sang the first two verses before getting a guy from the audience to sing BeBe Zahara Benet and her parts of the song. Overall Skinny Legend was such a fantastic show and demonstrated how multitalented Trixie is as a performer. I am looking forward to some new music on the horizon and hopefully more Australian shows in the near future.

Here's the video for a live acoustic version of "Little Sister"

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Eurovision - Australia Decides 2019

Australia has been officially competing in the Eurovision Song Contest for the last four years, but this year is the first time that the Australian public has had the opportunity to pick which song and artist represents the country. Tonight on SBS was Eurovision - Australia Decides, appropriately held on the Gold Coast and hosted by Australia's Eurovision commentators Myf Warhurst and Joel Creasey. Ten artists performed their original songs live on tv for the national final, with the expert jury and popular votes counting for 50% each.

It was an entertaining evening, with Kate Miller-Heidke's song "Zero Gravity" deservedly winning the crown to represent Australia. I think it will do really well at Eurovision with its pop-opera sound and staging.


Second place went to the fantastic Electric Fields with their song "2000 and Whatever," which had parts of the song sung in language.


My other favorite performance of the night was Courtney Act with "Fight For Love."


The Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Tel Aviv, Israel from 14-18 May 2019.

Friday, February 08, 2019

RuPaul’s Drag Race Werq The World Australian Tour 2019


Tonight I went down to the Palais Theatre for the first ever visit to Australia of the official RuPaul’s Drag Race Werq The World tour. This tour featured seven queens from different seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race doing individual and group numbers accompanied by four male dancers.

The show was hosted by Season 10 finalist Asia O'Hara, who did a fantastic job keeping things moving along and wowing the crowd with her numerous costume changes throughout the night. The Season 10 alums featured at the start of the show with Kameron Michaels performing a medley of Cher songs, and Eureka O'Hara doing a routine dressed as Ursula from The Little Mermaid that contained many of her signature dance moves (and a cameo from Asia O'Hara as Ariel). After an audience game of "Wig In A Box" where three people had to lip sync for their lives, my favorite queen from Season 8, Kim Chi, did a very beautiful lip sync to an emotional ballad in a fantastic costume that was gradually torn away to reveal a sequin dress underneath.


After a short intermission the Season 10 queens kicked off the second half of the show with a 10s Across The Board boxing themed routine. One of the great things about tonight was the amount of young people in the crowd since it was an all ages show. This included a little five-year-old girl in the front row, who Asia O'Hara interacted with throughout the night. Having someone so young in the crowd was a bit of a challenge though for Season 5 and All Stars 2 finalist Detox, who did a very sexy and risque number. It was quite funny to see her doing the sign of the cross and mouthing "I'm sorry" to the little girl's mother.

RuPaul's Drag Race Werq The World Australia 2019


Next up was Season 7 winner Violet Chachki, who did a fantastic burlesque routine that included her doing aerial acrobatics using a large hoop hanging from the ceiling. It was pretty spectacular. Asia O'Hara came out and did a flag and baton twirling routine, and then it was time for Season 8 and current All Stars 4 contestant Naomi Smalls to perform. She did a high energy dance routine that featured her now iconic back bend and slide across the floor, which had the crowd cheering.

RuPaul's Drag Race Werq The World Australia 2019

For the finale all the girls came back out in silver outfits for their final bow. It was a very entertaining evening getting to watch the queens do full production numbers and exciting to see some more Ru Girls that I haven't seen live before.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Midsumma Festival: So You Think You Can Drag 2019

So You Think You Can Drag
It's currently Midsumma Festival in Melbourne and last night Sean, Mat and I went to see So You Think You Can Drag at Howler. This contest for amateur drag queens and kings was hosted by the hilarious Dolly Diamond, and featured a variety of acts across two intervals. I always enjoy performances that have a bit of humor, and my favorites during the evening were the lonely Betty Crimes, the explosive Dr Safari Boob, and Mustashe with his vegetables.

While the judges discussed their scores and determined the winner, we were treated to a performance by the reigning champions, Dazza and Keif. They were so entertaining with their dance routine, matching tracksuits and Shannon Noll t-shirts that I will likely check out their upcoming show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. The winner of this year's So You Think You Can Drag was Femboyant, who had a bit of a rockabilly kabuki vibe. It was a fantastic evening and great to be able to see some of Melbourne's up and coming drag talent.
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