Tuesday, October 2, 2007

True Radical Miracle at Pony, early 21-04-07

Ok, I won't bullshit you here. I know these kids. In fact, I reckon I've known the bassplayer since I was about 14. He claims to this day that I intimidated him into giving me his lunch money. It seems only right, then, that play a part in creating such a punishing noise. The bullied becomes the bully, as they say.

I somehow manage to stay up until 2am to catch True Radical Miracle. As I walk into the Pony some drunk fuckheads try to charge me fifteen bucks to get in. It's the 2am Pony lateslot; it's been free as long as I've been going there, but I'm not at my best at 2am and they momentarily disorient me. I text Leith Thomas (the aforementioned bassplayer) to ask what's up, but eventually the fuckheads relent and usher me through the door. Where I'm reminded of all the reasons I fucking hate Pony.

There's a lot of good reasons to hate a venue – size, sound, location – but at Pony these are all perfect. No, my hatred for Pony is more about the clientele, and the late hour only serves to exacerbate this. Hipsters smoking cigarettes, a lot of coke done in the toilets, random kids posing on the couches out the back. It doesn't make for a pleasant evening. But then this makes me think about hipsters a bit. Leith once suggested that the annoying thing about cyclists wasn't that they take up space on the road or that they wear too much lycra, but rather that they hate all other cyclists. I don't think this is necessarily true – I stopped and chatted to another cyclist for about fifteen minutes today – but I think the theory can be applied to hipsters. When crusty punks see other crusty punks, they go get drunk together. When fifteen year old emos see other fifteen year old emos, they're best friend by default. But when hipsters see other hipsters, they spend the next hour bitching about how many hipsters are around these days.

I talk to Leith and drummer Evelyn Morris for a bit before they go on stage. Ev seems slightly nervous. They practiced once, she tells me, but it's generally a long time between shows and they're a band notorious for having onstage mini-catastrophes (once, in Adelaide, I saw Evelyn break her kick or something. The band all immediately downed their instruments and headed, as a unit, to the bar, where they started ordering rounds of shots until the problem was solved). But once they get up on stage things seem to be going well. They've slowed a bunch of songs down, stretching out the grunge sound that was once hidden behind a wall of noise. Indeed, I find myself not recognising a bunch of their songs, even though I've seen them a handful of times now. Singer Mark "Grover" Groves is shouting, ranting rather than screaming, and his frequent use of the echo pedal betrays a latent love of all things dub. It strikes me at the time that it's perfect music for those of us still out at 2am – a little sleazy, a little obnoxious, good to grind your hips and sneer your lips to, and occasionally breaking out into bludgeoning bursts of violence. Grover throws the mic against the floor again and again, despising it, wrapping it into his fist and thrusting it into to the sky like a preacher. Leith seems to be punching his bass where Scotty O'Hara picks out rhythms on a guitar held together with gaffer tape. But tonight it's Evelyn who astounds me – having seen her indie/folk/pop alterego Pikelet a couple of times now, I've forgotten how hard she hits the drums, how sharp and well-timed her fills are, how all those years listening to math rock have paid off with interest. They're pulling it off, no disasters, and the crowd are into it. Kids are dancing up the front, Grover is making jokes, and everyone is having a good time.

Midway through the show I notice Petie Hyde standing over the other side of the stage. Ali McCann is here somewhere too, and I noticed Angela Dufty's bike outside, which means there are five Stawell kids here tonight. Pete looks tired. After the show I invite him to breakfast the next day, but he tells me he'll still be asleep by the time eleven rolls around. Talking to him reminds me how tired I am. I don't even bother to say goodbye to everyone. It's now three. I get on my bike and ride home. Alicia "Fewlz" Saye is asleep on my couch when I get there, so I have to be quiet.

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