Posts Tagged ‘music’

Don’t Blame Me, I’m Just an Australian!

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

So I did it! I managed to talk my way into the 10km run this morning. Why I did this, I’m not sure, considering I almost died as a result. But when asked for my medical certificate I pulled a “I don’t have one because I’m Australian!” line and it worked! I had to write a note (in French) declaring that I was taking all responsibility for my health. So when I almost collapsed from heat exhaustion at the 4km mark of the run, I actually stopped because otherwise I’d have to sue myself.

Anyway, GO ME! I did it! I ran the 10km (well… I walked maybe 100 of those metres in total) and I crossed the finish line and the best thing of all… I wasn’t last! I wasn’t first either, but I also wasn’t a guy with ripped leg muscles who just sprinted the entire race. Nor was I wearing short lycra shorts. Some clear disadvantages there, I think you’ll agree. I came 350th (a nice round number) out of 600 competitors which I am quite pleased with. My time – 55 minutes and 57 seconds. I had Tom standing by the side of the road with a camera and a water bottle so there’ll be photos of me with a red face pulled into all sorts of “Oww! I want to stop!” contortions. But I have to say I am very proud of myself for doing it. Not only that, I managed to complete it in under one hour and I wasn’t last. And I have fulfilled one of my goals of running in fun run and I did it in Paris! Awesome.

Strangely enough, one of the biggest difficulties was the heat – it was really warm! So far I have only ever run in temperatures below 20 degrees (once or twice it was -2) in Paris so running in the warmth was a bit of a shock to the system. My body doesn’t like me much at the moment but in half an hour I’m meeting Rom, Coup and Amanda (visiting from Perth) for ice cream. I think that will make everything better. Then we’re going to go and check out the noises coming from the canal – it is Les Voix sur les Berges which I think is a choir competition on the canal. Could be interesting, could be terrible. We shall see. Until then, here’s a photo of me having just won the Paris Marathon.

The finish line

VICTORY!

They Built This City on Rock and Roll and Jazz and Hip Hop and Techno…

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

I love Paris. Sometimes it just really comes through and makes you realise how great a city it is. Yesterday was Fête de la Musique which is the one night of the year where the city fills with music on every corner of every street. At about 8pm, Tom and I headed towards the centre of the city and met up with Rom and Coup (who is sporting a new Swedish hair style and looking very snazzy) and we made our way aimlessly, following the sounds of instruments.

I have never seen anything like it before – bands were competing for sound space and sometimes if you stood in the right place you could have an indie band playing in one ear and a dj ‘mixing it up’ in the other. Thousands of people were out and about enjoying the free concerts and everyone was in great spirits. What particularly interested/amused/excited me was seeing such a wide variety of music being enjoyed by such a wide variety of people. At one stage we were standing outside a middle eastern restaurant listening to an elderly guy singing and playing a keyboard and creating amazing music (I think it was middle eastern of some description – not sure.) There was a huge group of people listening and dancing to the music and the crowd would have had a representative from every gender, age group, nationality possible. Further down the road and into a little side street we followed the sounds of electronic doosh-doosh music to find a white-masked dj playing from the window of a small clothing store with about 20 darkly-clad goths dancing wildly outside. That was just weird.

The potentially strangest moment of the night was our final music viewing. Things had started closing and we hadn’t seen any music for two street blocks but could hear something in the distance and walked towards it. As we turned the corner we saw a small stage set up next to a church where two guys were playing digeridoos to a crowd consisting of happy, drunk, young white folk; a hippy girl on roller skates; an asian guy on a fold up bicycle; children (it was midnight by this point); a punk; and all sorts of other ‘types’. The music wasn’t great but the crowd sure was enjoying it. I was enjoying watching the crowd and trying to work out how on earth this group of people could potentially have gathered in the same place at the same time and actually have something in common. It was brilliant.

Fete de la musique

He definitely wasn't Australian – A blurry photo but you get the idea

So a great night was had and not once did I see a drunken brawl or anyone doing anything even slightly stupid. If this had been in Perth, the riot police would have been in full patrol and everyone would have been strip searched and sent home to bed by 8pm. We bought pints of beer in plastic cups and walked through the streets past police officers who didn’t even look at us. It is technically illegal to drink in the streets but unless you’re drunk the police will overlook it. And it works.

Merci pour un bonne nuit, Paris.

It Stinks

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

The particularly unpleasant smell of someone cooking French beef in butter is permeating my apartment at the moment. French beef has a lot stronger flavour and smell than Australian and it really smells when you cook it. I wish they would stop.
Meanwhile, there appears to be a concert happening in my backyard (aka. the park behind my apartment.) I’m going to go and check it out this afternoon. At the moment all we have heard are sound checks and fairly average guitar playing. Hopefully things improve or it’ll be a noisy afternoon in Paris.

Park

The sounds are coming from somewhere behind those trees

Sunny Weekend in Paris

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Ahh sunshine… I think I have prattled on about the wonders of the sun a fair bit, but it is amazing how much sunshine affects the general feeling of Paris. Everyone comes out of their grey coats and lies half naked in parks soaking up the rays. People drink beer, play guitars, and sit around chatting with friends, making the most of the weather. In Australia I think we take our weather for granted and know that tomorrow we’ll probably have a fine day once again. Whereas here you make the most of what you have because it may not happen again for awhile.

The days are getting much longer and the change into summer time really spurred the long evenings along. The sun sets around 8.45pm so we have been finding ourselves eating dinner very late and staying up until past midnight most nights. Considering I used to be a 6pm-dinner and 10pm-sleep person, this is just strange. I have had a few stomach aches in the last few nights thanks to going to bed with a very full tummy, but it is an enjoyable lifestyle. On Saturday night, Tom and I had a picnic with our friends Rom and Coup down by the canal Saint Martin. The canal edges were full of Parisians doing exactly the same thing and it was one of the most enjoyable things we have done while in Paris. But imagine doing this in Perth – at 8pm we went to the supermarket and bought two types of cheese, vegies, chips, dips, beer and wine; went to the bakery and bought two fresh baguettes and by 8.30pm we were sitting by the canal setting out our picnic. It wouldn’t have been possible to do that at that hour in Perth and if we’d bought all of that food during opening hours it would have cost us around $100. Here we bought all of that for less than 30 Euros. Oh, I love Paris.

Friday night we went and saw the Australian band Architecture in Helsinki at a new venue just down the road from me. It was such a great night – the venue was amazing. It is a new, contemporary art gallery/performance space that has been inserted into a beautiful ye-olde building. The performance space was a big box in the middle of what could have once been a ballroom. The bar was in another room which had frescoes with gold trim on the ceiling and red velvet puff seats scattered throughout the room. The band was great and once again I was amazed at how few people we had to watch them with. Despite being in such a densely populated city, most of the music gigs that we have been to haven’t been sold out and have been in relatively small venues with a moderately sized crowd. Perhaps I’m going to un-cool music but still. It’s great!!

Anyway I have to go to my French class. It has improved slightly as I have learnt some new verb tenses that I wasn’t sure about before (when I say “I have learnt”, I mean I have been given the idea to go home and look up what they are myself) and the teacher is cracking down on slack students. Hopefully it’ll continue to improve and I will actually get something out of this experience.

Music Madness

Monday, March 21st, 2011

This weekend provided an eye-opening insight into the world of live music for myself, Tom, and our friends Rom and Coup. Friday night we met up for dinner at an indian restaurant (hooray for flavoursome food!) and then we headed to Le Cafe de la Danse to see a band called The Woods, recommended by Coup. The doors were supposed to open at 7pm, which even by Perth standards is very early for a Friday night. Plus, having never heard of the other band, we assumed The Woods wouldn’t be playing until later in the night anyway. So we took our time and arrived at the club at 8.45pm.

The place was tiny and had the usual group of smokers standing outside puffing away. There was no one performing and the place was eerily quiet with no background music being blasted through the speakers. We bought some very average beer (1664) and sat down on the tiered seating. No dance floor in this Cafe of Dance. As we sat, the lights went dim and the band we had never heard of (The Low Anthem) started harmonising into a microphone. It was at the end of the first song when the lead singer thanked The Woods for starting the show that we realised we had made a mistake. It really had started at 7pm and The Woods were the support act. We had missed them and were stuck listening to a group who sang about going to Ohio and women wearing too much deodourant. Honestly, they weren’t THAT bad and they worked well together on stage despite a few technical hiccups. They were all very talented and played multiple instruments, swapping between songs. Quite impressive. But not what we’d paid our entrance fee for. We learnt our lesson – be on time.

Saturday night was my turn to organise the musical expedition – I had spotted a brochure for a show featuring a French group that I like – Poni Hoax. After dinner at our place (stuffed eggplants cooked by Chef Thomas) we caught the metro out to the edge of Paris near where we had been to the flea markets a few weekends before. We wandered through dark, empty streets towards what appeared (from the outside) to be a night club in the middle of a residential street. From the inside, the place looked like a community hall where little kids go to perform annual ballet shows to prove to their parents that spending that money on classes wasn’t a waste. We all stood and looked at each other for a few minutes as we tried to grasp the situation. Lots of coloured walls, tables set up with people drinking cups of tea that they had bought through a hall in a wall that lead to the community centre’s kitchen.

The music was set up in the next room, however, and it was atleast dark. There was a stage AND a dance floor and if you forgot about the community centre foyer you could have thought you were in a very small nightclub. The crowd wasn’t huge (thankfully) but did grow as the night progressed. I had checked to see when Poni Hoax would be on as doors for this event also opened at 7 and, once again, I figured that was a bit early. The email response said they wouldn’t be on until atleast 11pm so our arrival at 10.15pm worked well. Once we got there we saw they weren’t due to start until half past midnight which meant we’d only be able to watch them for about half an hour before going to catch the metro back to Paris. See? Perth isn’t so old fashioned after all! Paris is just as weird with its public transport.

Anyhoo, this show was just as odd as the previous evening, if not more. We watched the end of an electronic-The-Knife-esque band who were quite good but the lead singer needs to work on her singing abilities. The next band was Belgian and had the strangest mix of band members I have ever seen. It was like it was made up of members from various different Eurovision song contest bands. The lighting on the stage made it impossible to see the drummer so who knows what he looked like. The bass player had dreadlocks and stood at the back being quiet. Then there were two keyboard/cow bell players – one had wild, curly hair and a scruffy beard and was heavily involved in his music. Every time he would go to do back up vocals, he would screw up his eyes and lean forward over his keyboard as if in pain. The other guy looked Swedish but had a hairstyle that reminded me of the old fashioned photos in my year 8 German book where everyone wore limewash jeans and fluro bomber jackets. But that’s not all – this guy was wearing a long white jacket with blue trim and an upturned collar that he clearly thought made him look either like a space man or a heart surgeon. Really, it just made me laugh. He was deadly serious for the entire show and kept making gestures with his hands to demonstrate the power and intensity of their songs. Impressive.

The lead singer appeared to be from Spain (despite his insistence that they were from Belgium) and clearly thought he was hot stuff. A v-neck tshirt and tight pants – stylish. As a band they weren’t bad – I have heard worse. Their lyrics were SHOCKING, however. It is quite amusing listening to bands sing songs in English when it isn’t their first language. The lead singer had a thick Spanish/Belgian accent and for most of the songs, we had no clue what he was saying. Every now and then we’d pick up lines and they were generally very weird. I was quite glad when they made their grande finale and got off the stage. One step closer to Poni Hoax.

And then came the disappointment. I was expecting, and hoping for, the entire Poni Hoax band and for them to perform the songs that their fans know and love. Instead, it was two of the Poni Hoax members performing their dj set which consisted of them standing behind computers and mixing desks, heads down, not looking at the crowd and making a lot of duf-duf-duf sounds. I don’t mind electronic music but it wasn’t what I expected and I had dragged three other people with me telling them how GREAT Poni Hoax is and that they’ll LOVE the music. The djs managed to mix tiny elements of their songs into the music but I could have just stayed at home and listened to their CD. Still, it was an interesting night out and it isn’t every day that you go to a community night club in a residential street to listen to music performed by Eurovision contestants and members of a band you like. Certainly entertaining.

 

Poni Hoax

Poni Hoax sets up their desk-of-tunes

The Sweet Sounds of Sarah

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

I’m in love. And once again it is with a female songstress. Last time it was Alison Goldfrapp, now it is Sarah Blasko. I went and saw her with my brother at the Astor Theatre in Mt Lawley last night. I had seen her perform almost exactly a year ago at the Macquarie Amphitheatre where my friend Simone and I were attacked by thin, black worms that decided to come out as the sun went down. That’s always fun.

Sarah Blaskon

She's so cool.

Sarah is beautiful – amazing dress sense (she was wearing a flowing white dress with an amazing big, bright, baubley necklace around her neck), awesome hair, and that voice! Her raspy tones just draw you in. She is cute, funny and had some long chats with the audience throughout her show. Basically I just wanted to give her a hug and claim her as a friend. Not sure how she would feel about that.

The show was fantastic – Sarah and her entertaining and animated band played songs mostly from her newest album and also some tracks from her first two records. Her songs are easy to listen to and the crowd bopped along in their seats. One of Sarah’s band members was quite a character and really got into the music. On occasion he looked like he thought he was playing hard rock as he jumped around on stage. Certainly a change from the last concert I went to – Florence and the Machine – where the band members stood around like zombies.

So today I think I might go and walk around Perth and see if I can spot Sarah and ask if she’ll be my friend. Or marry me. I might make her a sock creature. And if she says no to my advances I’m stealing her necklace.

Must Go!

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

I have spent my morning procrastinating by reading the 2010 Fremantle Festival program. There are so many great things happening! There’s art, music, community events, kites! I’m kind of disappointed that I will be in Sydney over the main festival weekend – 12-14 November. But then again, I’ll be in Sydney so I don’t completely mind. This does mean, however, that you (yes, YOU) must go on my behalf. Download the festival program, nominate an event you wish to attend and then come back to me with your thoughts, feelings and comments about said event. Ok? Ready? GO!

Freo Sounds

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Went to the Fremantle Arts Centre on Sunday afternoon and enjoyed a beer and good music in the Arts Centre courtyard. Every Sunday (well… most Sundays) they have free music that you can go and listen to. Take a picnic and a bottle of wine (or support local art and buy a drink there) and just chillax. The courtyard is a great place to spend a Sunday afternoon being surrounded by big shady trees and beautiful old buildings. Highly recommended. This week was The Brow Horn Orchestra who had everyone up and dancing with their energetic trumpet-filled tunes (similar sounds to Cat Empire). I particularly enjoyed when they inserted a bit of drum and bass into the mix – it worked surprisingly well. They are releasing their first album at the Llama Bar (of all places…) in December. One to look out for.

Blast From the Past

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Lately at the gym they have been playing some great 90s dance music which always brings a smile to my face. There’s something so great about dance music from the 90s – fast beats, girl singing, white man attempting to rap. Today I was very excited to hear Adelante by Sash coming through the speakers – so much so that I turned the treadmill dial to ‘fast’ and started to sprint. Now it’s your turn.

So? How was it?

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

I know you’re all chomping at the bit to know how I enjoyed my Tuesday night out at Challenge Stadium. Well calmez-vous, here is your answer.

Where to start… My decision to go to Florence and the Machine was made before I really knew who she was and how many times she gets played on Nova. When I originally decided to buy tickets to her show, I was under the impression that she was a bit like Goldfrapp and that only weird (but super cool) people get her music. I later discovered that she is a tad more ‘pop’ than Goldfrapp and so I attended my first concert with a bunch of 15 year olds. I’m used to going to festivals and gigs in licensed venues where everyone is AT LEAST 17 with a fake ID and completely off their faces. When my brother and I arrived at Challenge Stadium and went to find our viewing position on the basketball court I found myself surrounded by sober, excited teenage girls who had spent the last month planning their outfits and hence needed to stand around for 15 minutes taking photos of themselves pouting. It was all very new and probably more enjoyable than the drunken yobbos but once Florence came on stage I learnt yet another thing. Fifteen year old girls sing louder than Challenge Stadium’s sound restrictions. While I will admit to singing along at concerts myself, I was a little bit frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t really hear Florence singing over the cat-screetches that were coming out of the audience. Sure, I could maybe handle it if it was just the chorus, but they sang for the ENTIRE song. I must be getting old.

When I could hear them, Florence and the Machine’s performance was very good although not the best show I’ve seen by any means. Florence was very vivacious, bouncing across the stage and clearly getting into her music. I’ve never seen that much emotion on a performer’s face before – it was almost melodramatic. Her voice is spectacular and she can move from deep roars to high notes very easily (I don’t know – maybe this is normal but I found it quite impressive!). Her band was a little disappointing as they sat spread out around the stage, not interacting or putting on any sort of show. Their bored looks were amplified by Florence’s extreme hyperactivity and I wanted them to dance and sing along. In the last  few songs they seemed slightly more animated but I think they took on their role as “the machine” too much.

Overall it was an entertaining show and I enjoyed it but I think the main issue was the terrible venue. Challenge Stadium is a basketball court, not a music venue. The stage lighting was marred by the fluorescent Exit signs that were dotted around the stop of the stadium. I’m glad we’d chosen standing tickets as the people sitting down would have had a very average view. Perth needs to build a descent music venue that’s easily accessible and that world-class performers will actually want to come to. The current situation is just embarrassing.