Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A Death In The Family, The Nation Blue, Brisk, Coue Method, Identity Theft, Lead Sketch Union and a bunch of other bands I either missed or can't remember at the Espy, 26-05-07.

Tom and Tara and I are tired. We sit around the living room considering staying in and watching American Dad on dvd. The Espy, even though it's only really ten minutes down the road, seems further and further away with each passing moment. But the appearance of both Coue Method and Identity Theft has left us speculating about a secret Mid Youth Crisis set, and besides, The Nation Blue are playing. We drag ourselves off the couch and get on our bikes.

Later in the night Kieran, who I have just moments ago foolishly introduced to his former housemate Jen Jen, outlines the four major problems with the Espy:

It's in St Kilda.

It's the kind of place that would appear in a Lonely Planet guide to Melbourne nightlife.

People go there 'to go out', not to necessarily see the bands that are playing, and

It's in St Kilda.

When we enter all four of these problems are immediately evident. Some terrible band are playing in the front bar, so we wander into the Gershwin to see Identity Theft. The guys from Luca Brasi are there, including the bassplayer, who I yelled at a couple of weeks ago when he threw a lit cigarette butt that nearly hit Tom. I'm overpolite to him and he smiles at me nervously. I'm more impressed by Nathaniel, whom I meet at the bar, and his efforts at sneaking into yet another licensed venue at the age of sixteen. "Kitchen steps," he tells me, "always a winner."

Identity Theft start up and I'm surprised at just how metal they sound. Chris – who I think used to be in Silpheed, is shredding guitar solos all over the place, and Big Jay supplements his thudding drum thunder with screams and growls. Weirdly, though, it's underpinned by this melodic hardcore sound, and it doesn't really come together the way that it should. They've been around for ages, are excellent musicians, and have really impressive amplifiers, but I'm too confused to be into it.

Lead Sketch Union are playing in the front bar and Nathaniel and I go check it out. I bump into Kieran and Jen Jen there, as well as Jen's longtime boyfriend, whom I've never met, but whom I'm sure hates me. He's pleasant enough, though – a pretty decent guy. I'm disturbed that I don't know him already; after all, he's straight edge and into bikes and tattoos, and there aren't too many of us around who fit that description. Resolving to go see more edge bands, I turn to Lead Sketch Union, before turning quickly away.

It's at this point that I realise what a nineties-revival evening this is. The bands playing tonight consist of people who I've been seeing play in bands since 1995 or people who so obviously attended the same shows I did during those halcyon days. I'm kinda torn and a little bit disturbed about this. I mean, I love the nineties, and I love nineties music, but really, I'm not sure how I feel about people making nineties music so far into the new millennium.

Pushing on, Kieran and I wander back into the Gershwin to see Brisk. Now, I've met the singer from Brisk a couple of times – he's quite good friends with Tara – and he seems like a pretty nice guy. But tonight he doesn't really seem all that interested. He pretty much just stands in the middle of the stage and screams without enthusiasm. The rest of the band are ok, but it's difficult to take any notice of what they're doing, because, well, the vocals kinda overwhelm everything. And really, a moustache doesn't help. I suggest to Kieran that the ironic moustache is the new trucker cap and he concurs. We go outside for coffee and talk shit until we realise that Coue Method are playing.

Steve from Mid Youth Crisis sings in Coue Method, which is definitely a good thing. His voice sounds exactly the same, and his songwriting hasn't slipped. Kieran tells me that he has a folk thing going on with Adrian from Mid Youth and some mandolin player, and to be honest, I'm more into the idea of that than Coue themselves. Despite having a difficult to pronounce name, they're ok, but pale into comparison with the band they will constantly be compared to. Sucks for them.

I'm typing this quite a while after the fact, so the details are starting to slip away. Somewhere along the line we end up in the Gershwin room again for The Nation Blue. And then they're playing, throwing their bodies around and beating their instruments into submission. Perhaps they don't like the Espy either, because tonight they seem unhappy. Tom Lyngcoln kicks their drinks rider – a plastic blue tub full of ice and beer - towards the punters up the front. They take the cold cans of Carlton Draught and drink up. The drummer is pelted with unmelted ice. Now that the initial shock of their onstage histrionics have worn off I can appreciate more the emotion they're exerting. I'd seen Lyngcoln drinking at the bar earlier, his flannelette shirt halftucked into his jeans, looking like a lost farmer. But now he's onstage shredding his vocal chords, mumbling barely-formed sentences into the mic between songs, and swinging his guitar around his neck with nary a thought to personal safety. I forget to pay attention for a little while, distracted by some aesthetically pleasing locals, and before I know it the set has ended. The crowd cries out for more, but Lyngcoln suggests that instead we "Go see A Death In The Family slay us all".

So we do. Tara and I are nearly falling asleep on our feet, but we manage to climb the front bar stairs for a decent vantage point. A Death… are good, even better now that Jamie Hay is playing guitar for them. I start to think about Sarah, the girl he replaced, and then it strikes me: with ten bands on the bill tonight, I have not seen a single female on stage. Not one. Tara suggests we cut out early, not in the slightest interested in seeing the appallingly named "These Hands Could Separate The Sky". We look around for Tom. He's up the front, standing at Jamie's feet. I go grab him and we're on our way. It's cold, but the wind is at our backs.

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