Sunday, March 6, 2016

PURE POP FOR NOW PEOPLE: Classic Indie Pop at the Vineyards

Yesterday I had the supreme pleasure of attending my second Day on the Green at Bimbadgen Estate...or as I prefer to call it, Bogan Estate!
It was a great line up of Rat Cat, Died Pretty, Sunnyboys, Violent Femmes, and Hoodoo Gurus.
I will admit straight up I do not care for these Vineyard concerts. I was lucky at my first, Leonard Cohen, as the crowd were very respectful as I guess you would expect for such a performer. The crowd at this one left me seeing and hearing things I will never unsee or unhear. And here’s the thing, there is no way of saying this without sounding like a snob, but this is what happens when middle-aged bogans go out for most probably the first time in a long time and start drinking cheap booze in the sun from midday. And yesterday was hot. Going to the bathroom between the last two acts was like watching a turgid documentary on how not to conduct one’s self in public and I think it is best left at that.
But, it didn’t spoil the entertainment, which is what I was there for.
The day started with our lovely friend L driving A, J, and myself on a mini road trip up to Bimbadgen. It was hot when we arrived, really hot, but occasionally a great breeze blew round and cooled us. We found our spot in the seated section and set up camp. Refreshing beverages and homemade hotdogs were a great way to get things travelling. In fact, between the four of us, we catered splendidly, with a mix of sweet and savoury within our collective picnic baskets.
And Rat Cat hit the stage. I was quite a fan – or so I thought – back in the day.  I can’t say they did much for me and I barely recognised many of their tunes. Simon Day wasn’t quite as cute as he used to be, but then none of us are. I had never seen Rat Cat, despite wanting to way back when. I even had tickets to a concert, but unfortunately an early start on homemade cocktails followed by some interesting karaoke at The Blackbutt Hotel (of which I have minimal recollection, I was good apparently!) and an unfortunate incident in the bathroom (I may or may not have drunk too much and may or may not have been unwell) meant I was dropped home prior to the concert! Anyway, I can say I have seen them now.

In between acts there was a DJ dropping tunes, and getting the mix impressively right for the day.  He spun good outdoor, festival songs with a great mix of classics, late 80s and early 90s, and one set involved only Bowie. Only omission, Exodus, which always sounds great played loud outside. And our fabulous friend T texted me and we found out she was in the very next section and could chat over the fence! Yay for like-minded musical friends!
J and I were on a drinks (and ice cream – but they were sold out, how do you sell out of ice cream that quickly that early in the day!!!!) mission when Died Pretty came on. I was a huge fan of Died Pretty back in the Day. Doughboy Hollow is one of the great underrated Australian albums in my opinion, and Ron Peno’s voice stunning. They sounded shakey and not so great from where we were which made me feel sad, but I wonder if it was just the area because by the time we sat back down they sounded terrific. Ron – never an attractive man now looked like someone’s Pop – but still had that swagger on stage and that wonderful voice. They ripped through their set leaving us wanting for more. Godbless and Sweetheart were the stand outs. That delicious key change Peno does in Sweetheart when he sings, “Over and, Over and, Over and, Over and Over” was sheer perfection. I need to see them headlining something very soon!

Next up were The Sunnyboys. I have always loved their unique sound and style but never saw them live so I was excited. Plus, I think everyone knows Jeremy’s story. I just wanted them to be good. And they were. In fact, they were better than good. They fucking killed their set. I don’t say such things lightly, I was pretty much in tears the entire set. Seeing the joy and hearing the perfection of their sound was one of the highlights of the day. That twangy, surfy guitar sound they made their own was note perfect and Jeremy’s vocals exactly right. He didn’t say much, left it all to his brother, and that is ok. What a remarkable story of redemption and what a great gift to all of us who were lucky enough to see it.

And it kept getting better.
Violent Femmes. What can I say, I worshipped them back in the day, seen them 3 times, and love them. I love their quirky and unusual style, their songs that yearn for audience participation (the kind I do not mind participating in), and their sexy, rock and roll sound, and pretty much everything else about them. It’s probably been 20 years since I last saw them, and you know, they sounded as fresh and as real as they did back then. Not dated, not tired, not dodgy. That is pretty amazing. I was beside myself singing and dancing and loving them as I always have. The set included all the old favourites and some new tunes from a new album, which I must go and buy.  Again, I need to see them perform a full concert very soon. Gano, may look like Patton Oswalt these days, but his voice, is still as unique and sexy as ever. I like American Music too...

The headliner were Hoodoo Gurus. I have seen this band more times than any other band. I would say 30ish times, but I think that is being conservative. I know their music inside out, with a preference to the early stuff of course. They broke my heart when they sold out for the footy. But I forgave them, they were consistently better than most of their peers, but never really reached the heights they deserved nor got the accolades that went with that. I guess everyone needs to pay the bills. The downside, and I could tell from Dave’s banter and from seeing them a few times in recent years, is they have a whole new following now and I do not think it sits well on their mighty shoulders. Fans that want What’s My Scene and the later hits but have no idea about any of the songs off Stoneage Romeos (one of my all time favourite albums). And of course a concert like this has those kind of ‘fans’ in droves...sigh. But nonetheless the were great, consummate performers with that great clean pop sound. Dave’s writing is genius, the stories and language, the classic pop tune with a twist, and a great sound that harks back to the 60s. Plus paisley shirts...godamn, I love a man in a paisley shirt.

They say you can’t go back in time, but for a few hours yesterday we managed to. It was divine. I had had one of those awful weeks where you struggle to put one foot in front of the other. Going to this concert with my favourite gals was exactly what my soul needed to reclaim some spark.
Oh, and Bimbadgen on dusk with the sun setting is pure perfection!

The Title of the blog comes from a Nick Lowe quote by Peter Oxley in an interview about the tour.

And I am aware my photos are very ordinary!

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