Too much, double bullseye, too much, do it again – 5th July 2020

A long weekend with two extra days. Though I have been barely working at all this semester, at least this weekend promised not having to attend school and an opportunity to do whatever I wanted.

I had half an idea to get back into playing some video games again but only got around to it on the last day. It was fun but unfulfilling, possibly the spectre of disappointment raised by having to relearn how to play a game again, that I was half way through and not played for 18 months. I wonder when I’ll give it another go? I wonder if my old Nintendo DS still works after all these years?

On Sunday, the skies were cloudy but the rain had been holding off. It is gonna rain again, right? That can’t be it for rainy season already? Last year it didn’t seem to rain so much and it lead to drought in many parts of the country. We’ve had some big rains and the ground is getting saturated but there’s been nothing really approaching flooding.

Anyway, Amy and I took the opportunity for a quick drive down to Phayao. Amy had an idea to pick up some English muffins and jam from a local farm run by an Aussie and his Thai wife. Well, we didn’t really need much reason. It’s nice to have a break from the regularity of school and home and we haven’t been out much due to the pandemic situation, which, despite having limited impact here so far, is always something to be cautious of.

Amy’s old workmate, Jackie, had also managed to get himself out of Australia recently, hainvg overstayed his visa by a few years already. Now, Jackie is a character, or perhaps even more accurately, a caricature. He can be difficult to talk to, difficult to listen to and difficult to understand. Having not seen him for 3 years or so it would be interesting to hear some of his stories from that elapsed time.

The drive was very pleasant and enjoyable, some fantastic mountain ranges on the right with fresh paddy fields across the plains of the valley. Everything one shade of green or another.

Soon we arrived and met up with Jackie at his friends fish restaurant on the lake, where I took the attached panorama. Jackie was exactly as we remembered though looking more like he was hitting his old age than before. He talked loudly and non-stop, mostly polite nonsense but always, always, about money, and he made us laugh with his absurd pronouncements. He paid for everyone’s lunch, despite having little money, insisting that this is the ‘Thai way’ and we will off course reciprocate if he ever comes to visit.

Next we headed to a coffee shop, also next to the lake. Everything is next to the lake – it is the main feature of the sleepy little town. Jackie told us that the waters are lowering due to the Chinese damming rivers further upstream – a common issue amongst adjacent nations around the world these days. We waited at the cafe for the farmers to deliver our order to us, as they had decided to close the farm to visitors until next year due to the virus.

When they arrived I chatted with the Aussie and Amy chatted with his wife in Thai. Jackie was listening in as they explained about closing the farm and after a few minutes it was time for them to leave. Just as they turned to walk away, and well within earshot, Jackie turned to Amy and said in Thai, something along the lines of “Fucking stupid, why they close the farm, no virus now, fucking open, make money!” Amy shushed him (and told me this story later) and Amy and I discussed driving around the lake before heading home. Jackie said we should and he would leave us for ‘romantic time’. We laughed and then he instantly invited himself along too! He actually hasn’t been here in his hometown for about 20 years so the drive around was all new to him too.

Eventually we dropped Jackie home and headed back along the highway, shaking our heads at the things Jackie had done and said in the short time we caught up with him. I concluded that we were being punished for something bad in our past lives. Meeting once every three years or so still might be too often.

We start out loudly and go in circles, all things converging, we find an end to each day – 11th April 2020

“High in the North in a land called Svithjod there is a mountain. It is a hundred miles long and a hundred miles high and once every thousand years a little bird comes to this mountain to sharpen its beak. When the mountain has thus been worn away a single day of eternity will have passed.”

― Hendrik Willem Van Loon, The Story of Mankind

That little bird is our lives. Dwarfed by the magnificence of time.

We are small and insignificant. Not individual, not a group, nor a race. Not a society, a species or a thought from God. We are nothing.

The dinosaurs, the mammoths, the pharaohs, the sultans and kings, the inventors, the thinkers and philosophers, the builders, the masters and slaves, the writers, the historians, the celebrities, the murderers, the saints and the despots. You and me. Nothing.

What will you do with this information?

Our floating houses on molten granite
Our liquid planet, it is a home for us all
I’m firmly planted, my earth is solid
I feel a presence but there is nothing at all
I wanted something, down here is something
It’s really something but there is nothing at all

‘Slowly Melting’ by Nomeansno

The Chiang Rai Alternative Hour #34

Music from Tipographica, Keukhot, Chui Wan, 400 Blows, Lifter Puller, Mazaj, Geronimo, Unknown, Pell Mell, Opal, Child Bite and Debile Menthol.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful for the space we have in our house and garden. We can move furniture around and reinvent ourselves, change our views.

When I go for a stroll I always stay on the sidewalk, and I always wear a pair of nice warm boots – 15th March 2020

We wake up in the morning fresh and ready to go and by the end of the day, we are covered in dust. The dust of emotions, of work, of stress, of everything. 

– Daily Stoic email

Most days disappear too fast. I was busy – busy with what? I set myself small goals and challenges and cross them off at nightfall. The next day, do it again. Wash, rinse, repeat.

I am a machine and the dust gets in. Wash it away, wash this out of my life.

Talking of dust, it hasn’t rained here for 6 months, the land is cracking, grass clings to life but the jungle can still prevail. It doesn’t matter what gets thrown at it.

The sight of a big rat running around hopefully means the snakes are gone for now. Our lazy cats bring us gifts of small lizards and small birds, blood trailed across the kitchen floor.

Each evening we water the plants and trees, the sun red over the mountains, barely penetrating the thick smoke blown down from Myanmar and Laos. This is still the Wild East – laws often meaningless, common moral duties not learned in the chaos of the education systems.

We live in dust, breathe it in, poison for the lungs. But, we live.

A wise man said that you can’t step in the same stream twice,
But I find that wet feet soon get caked with sand and grit, that’s very unpleasant, especially between the toes…..

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful to be able to go outside again. It was weird to be outside again after two weeks at home.

I stand before you, a simple man, a sly dog, a politician – 30th March-2nd April 2018

Thailand reminds me of the free festivals I attended occasionally in the UK in the mid to late 80s.  There’s a chaotic order and unspoken civility but one that borders on the edge of disintegration at all times.  Whilst everything goes well for everyone concerned things go on as usual.  But things don’t always remain that way and then will be the true test of one’s mettle.  Sometimes the rush of blood from my head, as I stand up too quick, reminds me of that wafer-thin barrier between reality and insanity.

At the moment, Thailand is far more beautiful at night, when the rough edges are hidden in darkness.  The smoky haze of the day’s white skies now unseen, along with the mosquitoes that suck on your sweaty ankles.

The days are full of dust and dirt.  Individual abodes may gleam and glitter powered by personal responsibility but the bits in between are left to rot and ruin.  Construction is everywhere, as in all developing countries, ignorant of the political decisions made in far-off lands.  I try not to keep up with the news of the world but the stupidity of the American presidency is hard to ignore, like a train wreck in super slow motion.  I know enough about Thai politics to not talk about it.  I am the stranger in the strange land and that suits me fine.

 

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Politics…..

 

We avoided any house stresses by taking a quick trip to Chiang Mai.  This was its own small test of my driving skills.  Whilst puttering around the city of Chiang Rai is a pleasant enough affair, the open road, full of its mountainous twists and turns, is a different beast altogether.

Tail-gaters desperately seek advantage and pull out at any opportunity and decide they will ‘go for it’ if there is even an inch of space.  All this at high speeds that even had me bemused at how fast I was going.  Amy and I whooped and hollered at one particular basket case who we hoped to see crash in a fiery ball of petrol and oil but instead, everyone acquiesced and moved aside and let the danger advance to be somebody else’s problem.

Settling into the drive, it is quite a pleasant trip through some nice forest and jungle, offering some nice views when you may afford a brief glance away from the road.  After three hours though I was happy at the approach of Chiang Mai.

The city has grown considerably since my first visit and I must confess my dislike of it now.  It sprawls and crawls, taking its dusty entrails out into the paddy fields, eating up new villages as it goes.  We were lucky enough to be heading out into those edges though, to meet our friends from Sydney past.

Jess is one of Amy’s best friends and she was staying with her aunt and cousin.  It took us a long while to find the location but once there it was an oasis of frangipanis and beautifully cut grass.  A big main house and steps leading to what was until recently a small and very popular restaurant.  So popular in fact that Jess’s aunt was on TV just a few days previously talking about the construction and design.

Two dogs, one in its autumn years, the other a bouncy teenager, sniffed at us and the younger one was warned not to get too excited.  Aunt Siripan advised that sometimes he can get aggressive for no reason as I would discover several times through the evening.  Though he never bit he would snarl and bark, teethed bared and scarily so.  But a few seconds later he would be calm and look up at me with a sorrowful face.  It was shocking and amazing to see.  One second I was expecting a bleeding arm and the next I’m in love with this pup’s dopey eyes and soon after scratching his belly again, prompted by a paw offering.

Auntie’s food was amazing as expected.  She had spent a fair amount of time in different parts of the world, including England, even speaking with a stronger English accent than myself.  She spoke a very deliberate and thoughtful Queen’s English which was impossible not to like.  We were regaled with stories of her life and past times, though saddened by the sudden death of her husband last year, which eventually saw her overwhelmed with the task of running a successful restaurant solo.

She was now reviewing her plans for the future but still in obvious mourning for that close comfort and steady hand of guidance of a partner.  She commented that if she died now she would die happy with her life as it was but I encouraged her to consider that if she lives until she is 100 she still has another third of her life ahead of her.

Our evening was enjoyed with other Sydney friends, all now scattered worldwide, Lekky and Steve and Lena. We were so happy with our time there that inevitably Jess was asking us to leave as she was tired and wanted to go to bed.  Jess is the bright shiny smile as she awaits food, but once filled just wants to slip away and retire.

We cheered everyone off as Amy and I headed over a suburb or two to stay with her old high school friend Oh, around midnight.  Amy wasn’t quite done for the night though and got Oh to ride to the 7-11 to get more alcohol.  So it was at 2am we finally go to bed with plans for a late meet up with Jess and her dad the following morning.

That done, we headed back over the mountains for the quick return journey.  Exhausted I was by the day’s end but finished off nicely with a full and fancy dinner with an ice cold beer.

So it was for the next couple of days, us totally escaping the realities of our house build, a mini-holiday, a quick trip via a tea plantation into Myanmar, to get me a new leave-by-date in my passport and to score ridiculously cheap malt whisky that I just hope is real when I get to open it in our new house…..one day!

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One fine day, conversation will cease – 23rd- February 2018

Well, today is the day to bid farewell to my mother officially.  I’m filled with some nerves, some trepidation and some relief.  Sharon and Ken are busy running around preparing for guests invited after the funeral and their son, my second cousin, Mungo turns up with warm hugs and regards, along with his eldest daughter Ella, who shares his dad’s bright blue eyes.  Despite the nature of the day, there’s no sombreness really, just a realisation that this day needs to be done and in short time life continues for all of us left.

I spend some time trying on Sharon and Ken’s hat collection whilst Amy irons me a shirt.

We head to the funeral service, just in a small room, a converted barn called The Barn.  Possibly an Australian was asked what to call it.  The site is a new cemetery where ashes and bodies can be buried with trees and a small memorial plaque.

The officials are all very nice and understand the nature of my mum’s requirements for no religious texts, prayers and hymns.  More people turn up that I expected, most that I don’t recognise but people that Sharon has managed to find in mum’s contacts book.  I don’t get much chance to talk with anyone to find out more but later reflect on the words passed on from these people about their appreciation for my mum.

It’s weird to see the coffin and imagine your mother is inside.  But I know she isn’t there, that is just the body she was using.  It did bring home a finality though and I felt sad.

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The service starts with a song I picked which I knew mum would’ve liked.  It’s called Day Is Done by Peter, Paul and Mary.  I also chose the closing music which is Acker Bilk’s Petite Fleur.  After a quick introduction, it’s quickly on to me.  I have a prepared speech and stiltedly read aloud as I attempt to input some emotion into it and occasionally make some eye contact with the onlookers.  I’ve never been one for standing up and talking in front of people; unusual for someone who used to stand in front of a 100 people and attempt to sing back in younger days.

My speech went like this:

I just want to share a small story that reflects what my mum meant to me and how she subtly influenced me to be who I am today.

I’m guessing I was about 21 or thereabouts at the time and we were living in Colehill.  Most dinner times I would come home after work and mum would have baked something for us to eat, me in my room, her in the living room.  This particular evening she prepared a big fry up.  Eggs, bread, mushrooms, tomato and baked beans.  I was grumpy and ravenous.  As the egg was the final component and it hit the plate I thanked her (I hope) and headed off to my room.

Some how I caught myself on the corner of the door and the whole plate plummeted to floor, depositing everything onto our worn carpet.  I was devastated.  I don’t remember what else was going on in my life at that moment but this was the final straw, the end!  I think I burst into tears!

My mum quickly came along and told me to get something to clean up the mess.  She looked at me and said ‘Don’t worry, I’ll make you another one’.  Somehow this new plate of food tasted bittersweet.  I felt guilty but happy.

This short anecdote demonstrated mum’s attitude and unknowingly influenced me as I have since developed a strong streak of patience, a lack of drama and a get on with it approach to any difficulties in life.

This was just the way my mum was.  She just got on with things without making a fuss and bother.  She’d be furious with us all now making all this palaver over her demise but a funeral is never for the deceased but for those who are left.  So let’s remember her like this, and as we go on our own ways, let’s just get on with it.

My cousin Ken reads through a chronology of mum’s life and another song is played.  Mungo reads a short poem that also pretty much reflects my mum’s wishes (except the second line!).

‘By Herself and Her Friends’ by Joyce Grenfell

If I should go before the rest of you
Break not a flower nor inscribe a stone,
Nor when I’m gone speak in a Sunday voice
But be the usual selves that I have known.
Weep if you must, Parting is hell,
But Life goes on, So sing as well.

Finally, the director reads out a poem that my Aunt Lorna has requested be read.  Lorna is the last survivor sibling sister and unfortunately isn’t well enough to travel to attend today.

‘Weep not for me’ by Constance Jenkins

Weep not for me though I am gone;
into that gentle night.
Grieve if you will but not for long,
upon my soul’s sweet flight.

I am at peace,
my soul’s at rest.
There is no need for tears.
For with your love I was blessed;
for all those many years.

There is no pain,
I suffer not,
The fear now all is gone.
Put now these things out of your thoughts.
In your memory I live on.

Remember not my fight for breath;
remember not the strife.
Please do not dwell upon my death,
but celebrate my life.

As this poem is read out I start to feel a little emotional and so look outside through the window whilst taking in the words.  In the building opposite a dog has decided to push through the curtains and sit in the window, taking in the sun.  Life goes on.

The rest of the afternoon is spent chatting with mum’s friends and associates, some who I’ve met previously, others I’ve often heard her talking about over the years.  I think the service was appropriately short and without fuss and was a nice way to think about my mum’s life.

Later, we’re joined by Mungo’s two youngest kids who tear around the kitchen distracting us with laughter and screaming fun.

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And later still, a final dinner with my cousins where we eat well and drink copiously, even managing to pry the last drops out of Ken’s bottle of Dalwhinnie.  Discussion ranges from my mum’s life to deeper, more philosophical things as Mungo stirs the pot with his Dad, who is up for the debate.  Amy is wilting and I soon offer we retire to bed and the day ends with an upbeat feeling and one that I know my mum would have enjoyed partaking in.

 

Nobody passes the test of time – 19th January 2018

Time is short.  Our time is short.  Have you done everything you want to do yet?  What do you want to do?

Do you already look back at a life fulfilled?  Will anyone remember who you were once you’re gone?  Next year,  next century, next millennium?

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The week has been ok.  It’s my last day of six twelve hour shifts, the last four as night shifts.  I’m tired and slightly out of it.

We are often reminded of our fragility.

There’s always a lyric that can be found to echo my thoughts.  Often, from Nomeansno.

Thin voices call out of thin air
“Do you really care?”
“Do you really care?”
There is no reason to be afraid
All of the bodies have been laid to rest
Nobody passes the test of time
The long climb
Into thin air
Thin air
There is no one there

You think you have time
You have no time

An image may be left in place
Of what was felt there is no trace
In words recited without a sound
By voices buried underground
There is no meaning to be found

 “Do you really care?”
There is no one there
You think you have time
You have no timeThere are no castles without ghosts
And no spirits without hope
But nobody passes the test of time
You stand in line, you have your place
Then in the space of moments fall
From again and again and again
To not at all
From again and again and again
To not at all
I do not fear the buried sounds
Of words that echo underground
A memory is a loaded gun
And I remember everyone

I remember you..

“Do you really care?”
There is no one there
“Why are you scared?”
There’s no one there
You’re clean, strong, and free
Like you always wanted to be
You’re alone, alone, alone
There is no one there

Various disguises are regrettable but necessary – 26th February 2012

Sunday, February 26: Jura Books, Petersham – Lenin Lennon, Wells, Union Pacific, Zounds, Palisades

Jura Books is a long running anarchist bookstore and library almost directly opposite the Bald Faced Stag and just a couple of doors down from the Clarence Hotel. Both hotels have live music, although I’m not sure what styles are entertained at the Clarence as I’ve never come across any bands I know in Sydney that may have played there. A block away from these pubs there’s also the Petersham Hotel which used to be a bastion of the Sydney music scene about 15 years ago, I don’t think they have any live music these days though. It’s certainly an easy area to find a drink if you want one though.

Jura Books is pretty much a converted house and offers no competition to the hotels. The downstairs is a small shopfront whist the upstairs is a small library. Emphasis is on small here. The space is made available to host shows, talks and potentially other suggestions can be brought to the table too. Obviously the space has a huge political slant but there is no overt influence cast over a show beyond the fact that it being an intimate setup and a shop where “fuck-wittery” will not be tolerated.

Today’s show was an amalgam of two lots of traveling bands looking for a space to play in Sydney. Main organiser Mitzi, who rarely organises shows at all, knew that it would be easy to pull something together quickly utilising the small community of friends in and around Jura, and after a few phone calls, a Facebook event was created and it was on. Having her own PA for use, all that was needed was to organise some drum and amp sharing. Easy!

Ben is currently the event co-ordinator for Jura and as a musician himself he’s come to prefer the more intimate shows that spaces like this can provide. He also feels there is more direct participation from bands wanting to use the venue (i.e. bands may organise everything themselves from equipment and line ups to promotion and food options). Once the show is happening the intimacy provided by the cramped space is often accentuated by the fact that you can be sure that everyone in the room is a friend of a friend or perhaps once more removed at most. This makes for a comfortable setting and also provides the opportunity to easily make new friends.

All of the artists playing today confirmed the preference for intimacy and the comfort it provided even for interstate bands who may know no one at the stage of their set and make firm friendships by the end of the night. Teo from Palisades sometimes hosts shows in his house back in Melbourne and understands and appreciates the effort that goes into such events, including the shitty end of the deal cleaning up the following day, but also the highlights of the freedom and self regulation that goes on. There’s no requirement for hired security and money is not a prime factor in these type of events. Today’s show had a sliding scale donation entry of 5 to 10 dollars and those too poor to pay at all are often welcomed too. It’s easy enough to soak up the atmosphere from downstairs or outside anyway and today two acoustic acts jumped on the bill and played between the main bands up in the library.

Sunday afternoon shows can be a lazy affair and despite some of the high energy music on offer they were brief bursts of energy amongst friends that brought smiles to our faces and pleasure to our ears.


Zounds


Lenin Lennon


Palisades


The Union Pacific

Whilst it’s obvious through the writing of this piece, and well established by those that know me, I am immersed in this scene and these spaces. It’s a special occasion for me to venture to a regular bar venue and as a consumer at those events I can enjoy myself immensely. But I still leave them without caring about the venue in any shape or form. If it closed down the following week I would unlikely be affected.

Sydney, and everywhere else, has other options. Currently these places are mostly inhabited by the punk and alternative music scenes but they are all open to anyone; anyone with a shred of organisational skills could put something together and likely be welcomed as they diversify the range of events and broaden their audiences. When people cry about the death of a music scene in a city I believe they haven’t yet fully explored all the options available to them and despite the naysayers the Sydney scene is very much alive and well.

29th Apr 2021 – Originally published at Polaroids of Androids – also see entries for 24th and 25th of February.

Picking your feet till they bleed may only be the half of it – 25th February 2012

Saturday, February 25: Black Wire, Annandale – SoundDave
Featuring: Chambers, Milhouse, Palisades, Nathan Martin, thedowngoing Vs Fat Guy Wears Mystic Wolf Shirt (Grind Vs Grind), Nick Van Breda, Berkshire Hunting Club, Perspectives, Union Pacific, Surprise Wasp, Epics

I wasn’t too worried about running around 20 minutes late and trying to make the supposed midday kick off for this event. But, much to my surprise,things were on schedule and I missed Chambers. I did notice they were also organised enough to have t-shirts available, though I’m not sure if they sold any. I heard no reports about them either way so can’t really comment.

I’m not sure of the motivation for today’s spectacular — beyond the great timing of the pun — but this mini-fest hosted by Dave Drayton and record store/venue Black Wire was truly an alternative to the huge attraction of the following day’s SoundWave festival. Probably not an alternative option for folks wanting to attend SoundWave but an alternative for folks wanting a fun filled 8 hours or so of interesting variations of punk rock for a fraction of the price.

When considering venues for the show, Black Wire instantly came to mind as a supportive space. Easy to work with and having lower overheads, Dave felt that a regular pub venue wouldn’t want to take a risk on such an event as this. Factoring in that though he seems to have been around for years and years, Dave is still only 22 years old and making this event all-ages was also a major consideration – something which is not always easy to organise in a pub venue where beer sales are the main revenue. (Dave also writes the All Ages column in Drum Media – the local street press).

Not to miss a trick, one of Dave’s bands played next. Milhouse are a three piece that didn’t impress me much last time I saw them, but today their happy bouncy melodic punk was well suited to an early afternoon slot and they got helped rev up those in attendance.

Next up was Melbourne’s Palisades on their second visit to Sydney, having chosen Black Wire to play the first time round too. Bass player Matt (a Sydney ex-pat) loves the open mindedness of the venue and the people who attend in general. He also commented that these things go in cycles but noticed that Sydney is once again going through a flush period of having alternative spaces to play. Palisades brought a little lazy afternoon mosh action with their brand of screamo hardcore with some clean guitar sound that brought to mind old favourites Eucalypt. A great roar that made myself and many others very happy and juxtaposed nicely with what was to follow.

The sun shining and the vegan BBQ on in earnest it was natural for everyone to head out to the backyard but the music didn’t stop as Sweet Teeth guitarist Nathan Martin picked up his acoustic and amused one and all with tales of drunken nights and mistaken identities. Despite his drinking ability he makes note that he loves Black Wire because music is the main reason that people are there, it’s a relaxed environment with a community spirit and people are polite. A statement perhaps born out of too many dud shows with an audience more intent on drinking at the bar than enjoying a night of musical entertainment, a point echoed by many other artists playing today.

Back inside, folks have been busy preparing for Grind Vs Grind — two drum kits and two guitar amps ready for thedowngoing and Fat Guy Wears Mystic Wolf Shirt to trade song for song with the humour of a bad (good) wrestling match. It’s fascinatingly fast entertainment as they each blast out 30 seconds or so before goading the other to better them. Everyone seems to agree on a draw at the end of it all and ideas are bandied around about future 3 way grind to death events. Chris Fat Guy (looking thinner each time) is loving today’s mixed bill and feels like it’s a big egoless house party.

After this intensity the backyard is even more packed as Nick Van Breda plays some quiet noodly acoustic tunes with sad tales of destiny and chance. He has everyone captivated. I missed it but heard there was some banjo action later on too. I was busy talking with Tom, the man behind the venue, behind on rent, rates and bills and generally in debt to quite a few of his friends, most of whom let it slide for now in order to help keep the space operating.

Tom’s mantra is based upon his preference for smaller intimate shows. Stay small, stay local, stay punk. When quizzed to clarify his definition of ‘punk’ he veers away from a musical identity and he laughingly describes a collection of weirdos, misfits and outcasts, but who are highly ethical and supportive of each other. His preference for dealing directly with band members, often denying responses to enquiries from managers and agents, can sometimes lead to problems with disorganised artists, but often an event will pull together with the sheer will power of the community involved. Also most bands wishing to hold an event here are well aware of the working aesthetic of the venue.

Berkshire Hunting Club are another new Sydney band that impressed me with a loud, noisy post hardcore sound that was both subtle and aggressive and made all the more interesting by some post punk guitar effects that reminded me of Siouxsie and the Banshees. A grand discovery, they only suffered a little with their time slot as folks were still soaking up the sun and tofu wraps out the back.

Whilst there isn’t normally a BBQ going on at events at Black Wire there is usually a food option as Elise bakes and supplies vegan pies which people can grab in the kitchen for a few dollars each. Besides her connection with a punk ideal she feels this is another small way to help support Black Wire because she appreciates what Tom and the space offers, investing back into the music community. She’s actually the first person to state that it’s in a good location, which is interesting in relation to some people’s thoughts on the Annandale Hotel, only a couple of blocks away, being in a difficult location.

Another person you’re likely to encounter at most Black Wire shows is Kevin. Still only 17 he’s been involving himself here almost since the beginning, often manning the door or running an errand for someone. I’ve watched him grow from an awkward teenager where he’s talked about having trouble fitting in at school to a confident young man, able to make friends quickly with almost anyone who walks through the door. This is testament to the acceptance into the supportive community around him and he willingly gives back as much as he can.

Talking of youngsters, Perspectives are a 5 piece from the northern beaches all aged around 17 or 18. This is their first time playing at Black Wire though I’m sure a couple of them have been here in attendance previously. They play a typical shout along hardcore that I really shouldn’t like but for some reason these kids do it well and I find it very enjoyable. They’re stoked to be playing here despite constant guitar amp issues, something which many of the other musicians playing today quickly gather together to try and find a fix for — another indicator of the willingness of everyone to pull together to make for a great event.

A tired crowd head back inside to enjoy Melbourne pop punk band The Union Pacific who bang out a constant set of melodies that everyone seems to enjoy though it does little for me and I take a rest in a quieter corner to talk with others for a while. I am interested to check out Surprise Wasp though who play competent high energy punk rock a la the Hives, singer Dean making for some good photo opportunities mid song as he knocks out plenty of dance moves.

Though it’s only early evening this big long day is rounded off by Epics whose chief song writer Jimmy writes a tune to match any catchy early Black Flag material. He also loves to play and it shows in his wild antics on stage. Well, of course, there is no stage but you get my drift. Vocalist Nick does his best to keep up and ventures into the crowd to encourage some participation. It’s definitely part of the community feeling he enjoys about the venue along with it being easy to book without having to worry too much about how big a crowd can be pulled. Epics throw in a Black Flag cover which they could probably do without as their own material is just as good. Then it’s over. Everyone tired and sweaty.

Whilst everything went off without a hitch, 150-or-so people having enjoying a great day of diverse music, at one point during the afternoon 3 cop cars suddenly pulled up across the road and smashed in a car window to rescue a baby locked inside with a 30 degree sun beating down. There was at least a brief moment where we all assumed they were coming to shut the show down. Thankfully, not this time.

29th Apr 2021 – Originally posted at Polaroids of Androids – also see 24th and 26th February entries.