A gorgeous hiccup in the social fabric – 5th December 1994

Catch up again now we’re the other side of the weekend.

Thursday became an exciting day after the discovery of how to make a tape trade list on the computer so I set about doing that, in between playing games and stuff like that, and I get to realise just how many tapes I seem to possess and realise how long it might take to write this list. I do the same for most of Friday and the sun shines in through the window tempting me out.

We leave for the city as Broni has promised to babysit for Libby and Dougie and I’m off to see some bands, having half arranged to meet a guy who does a fanzine. Libby feeds us a treat and decides not to go out after all so Broni and her play together while I make my way across the city to the Annandale Hotel. Aaron, the dude I’m supposed to meet, says there’s two good bands playing tonight so I pay $6 to get in and then astound myself by parting with $4.60 for a beer, the band starts, the room is packed, I look for some dude selling fanzines. As I don’t have any idea what this guy looks like or sounds like, I don’t find him, the band has a good sound, a great sound, but they are boring as all hell grunge by numbers which goes down well with the crowd.

I stand at the back and pick up a copy of the weekly music magazine and see that Phlegm are playing at the Vulcan (wherever that is), Phlegm having already aroused my interest by being reviewed as a noise band and having played with the Boredoms and Ruins in Japan (or something like that), so I happily leave and start walking back to the city, hailing a taxi at the petrol station, getting dropped off near the Vulcan.

I walk down the side streets, luckily having some idea of where I am, but nervous as I walk past three big guys drinking in the shadows of the houses. The Vulcan is within sight though and I head toward the noise. As I go in the band is playing right next to the door, I join about four other people watching, the Vulcan is a divey little back bar but to me seems absolutely great, reminding me of sparsely attended gigs back home years ago.

The band is playing good thrash/grindcore with lots of time changes and wild vocals from the drummer, also a keyboard player content just to make strange noises with his equipment which integrate quite well, extremely tight and intricate they strangely appeal to me and I have no interest in that genre of music really, so I’m already happy to make the decision of coming here instead of the previous engagement.

I ring Broni to let her know what’s going on and then come back in to watch Farm of Tongues, the drums are set up oddly and one bass player has six strings on his bass, he also reminds me of Mick, with a mad look in his eyes like safety behind a guitar, like all of sudden I’m superhuman behind this animal machine (that’s how Mick’d describe it).

The band rip into their songs and are exceptionally brilliant and talented, the drummer all over the place with jazz beats here and there and the three guitarists mixing up all sorts of snippets of styles into short bursts of everything, they remind me of Ruins and Naked City (w/o sax). I talk to Mark, their bass player after and get his phone number to ring him to get a tape of the band, they’ve only been together for six months which seems incredible to me considering how complicated their songs were and how well they played them.

Mark tells me that Phlegm’s drummer has pneumonia so they’ll be playing an improvised set tonight and their guitarist sets up and starts twisting strange noise out of his cut off instrument and his colleague gets on the mic and starts gibbering in a Trumans Water manner and ocassionally picking up the bass and messing around with it. It’s a beautiful cacophony of screeching hell that seems odd in this place but unimaginable anywhere else.

I leave at about half midnight hoping to catch a late train, but missing it I opt to navigate my way back to Libby’s on foot, which I manage quite successfully despite my four beer drunkeness! Broni lets me in and we crash out immediately – to be awoken by little Reg and Gough, running round in the kitchen at some ungodly hour and Libby and Dougie running around after them, we manage to stay in bed for another hour or so before having to play with the kids, we’re both knackered out and running on reserves but manage to keep going the whole day while Libby and Dougie go off to a wedding of a friend and later come back drunk with Christine and Andrew in tow and then launching into more beer and cocktails and smoke for those inclined.

Drunk again we make our way home back, even before sunset, we waste the rest of the evening with TV and pizza and a bath we nearly fall asleep in, ah sweet life.

And Sunday I notice that things here are seeming more normal like I remember the first day here I walked into Hurstville with Broni and I was agog looking at everything, all new and unreal and doing that same walk on Sunday seemed so normal and satisfying, now feeling safer in this place.

I later ring my mum and she asks if I feel I’ve made the right decision and I say despite any bad times I have here like missing people I have undoubtedly made the right choice, I can’t imagine how sad I would feel if I hadn’t taken this opportunity to further myself. Ok, brave soldiers.

25th Mar 2021 – Leaving that first show at the Annandale Hotel and discovering Phlegm and Farm of Tongues at the Vulcan Hotel was an auspicious event and would lead to lots of new friendships. I also distinctly remembering walking back to Libby’s house, walking through Hyde Park in the early hours and having a feeling of absolute safety – something that would have been impossible in England for me at that time. In England you always had to be aware of things going on around you – it felt like there was always someone looking for trouble. In a new country, it may just have been ignorance – either way, it was a feeling that has stayed with me until now.

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