Posts Tagged ‘performance’

Sarah Blasko in Manchester

Friday, December 6th, 2013

It appears that I am quite the Sarah Blasko fan. A few years ago, I saw her perform at the Quarry Amphitheatre in City Beach and was eaten alive by small, black worms that emerged from the ground as the sun went down. The second time was at the Astor Theatre in Mt Lawley – no worms there, just uncomfortable seating that didn’t allow for much dancing. This time I saw her on the other side of the world – a dedicated supporter of Miss Blasko. On Friday night she performed at the Deaf Institute (Matt, who was accompanying me, pointed out the contradictory choice in name for a music venue.) The tickets for the show were around half of what I had paid for her previous concerts in Perth. Matt and I were running slightly late and I was concerned we wouldn’t be able to get a decent spot. I shouldn’t have worried. The small venue was almost empty – I would guess the audience was no bigger than 50 people. You could see that Sarah wasn’t pleased with this fact and despite the audience members trying their best to show their support, she didn’t seem enthused to be performing to an almost empty room.

From my perspective it was fantastic – I had one of my favourite musicians almost to myself. Her voice was as brilliant as always and she was supported by two musicians who played a largely acoustic set. It lacked the jazz and sparkle of her other concerts but the calmer show suited the venue. And the red cockatoo-like-birds on the wallpaper in the room fit with the Australian vibe.

Sarah at the Deaf Institute

Sarah at the Deaf Institute

Sarah signed merchandise after the show and I now have her signature on a tea-towel as well as a photograph of the two of us together. I became ridiculously tongue-tied when it was my turn to say hello to her – oh, Sarah. You so cool.  

Burlesque à Paris

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

I have been wanting to go to a Burlesque show for sometime, not really knowing what I was getting myself in for. So when my friend Jen said she wanted to go to the Paris Burlesque Festival I said, “Mais oui!!”

Located at the Bellevilloise, a multi-level club in the 12th arrondissement, there were various activities, shows and areas to explore the wonders of the Burlesque world. The festival also had a Halloween theme so there was impressive facepaint and fake blood everywhere. Upstairs there was a bar area with stalls selling feathers and themed t-shirts, a particularly buxom lady with an impressive feathered headdress casting tantric spells over any man who dared volunteer, and a tiny boxing-ring stage featuring various acts including a mexican-hat-wearing Mariachi band and a WWW-style competition between two scantily clad ladies.

Paris Burlesque festival

Great hats.

Jen and I had bought tickets to see the main show for the evening – a selection of burlesque performers from all over the world dancing, teasing and entertaining us with feathers, leather, and not a lot else. It was fantastic! The power and confidence these women oozed on stage was sensational. They flaunted their bodies, teased the audience with flashed of skin and did it all in a way that was entertaining and sexy and in no way seedy. It was very inspirational and made me realise my ridiculous misconceptions of what constitutes a sexy female body – curves can be good!

Each of the acts had different themes and techniques – some told a story while others focused more on movement and dance. One of the stand out moments was a performer who made her own costumes and came on stage wearing a corseted dress that by pulling on certain strings and ties turned into a snake, then revealed detachable tentacles and eventually completely disassembled to leave her in some lacy underwear. Very impressive.

Paris Burlesque festival

Amazing costume

It was a great night and it has made me want to go and see more burlesque performances in the future. A friend of mine is a burlesque dancer in Perth – seeing this festival gave me a whole new appreciation for what she is doing. Go Ruby DeLure!

Fanfarlo are Fab and Deserve More Fans

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Seriously, Paris has a problem. It appears that the technology that we call ‘air conditioning’ or ‘fans’ in Australia has never quite reached this cosmopolitan, fashionable, fast-paced, ‘we’re the best at everything’ city and as a result every time I go to a pub, a concert venue, a shopping centre, a supermarket, a hairdresser, a clothing store, an ANYWHERE I die from heat overload. Yes, I know it doesn’t get as hot in France as it does in Australia but that’s not a good reason to then turn on the HEATING when it is 18 degrees outside and there are going to be hundreds of bodies squished into an unventilated space.

Ready for my example? Here it is. Monday night, Tom and I went to a small concert venue called La Fléche D’Or to see the super awesome band, Fanfarlo perform. We had been to see the Jezebels at the same venue in September of last year and has discovered two interesting facts that allowed us to be better prepared for our second visit.

  1. You cannot leave the venue so it is best to eat beforehand.
  2. It is sooooooooooooooooo hot in this place that you will sweat like a pig, lose 10 kilograms and feel faint for most of the concert.

With our stomachs full, we arrived an hour after the doors opened, therefore reducing the amount of time we would have to stand around sweating/fainting. The support band had only just started, so I was pleased with my timing. I still managed to wear too many clothes though. At one point during their set, Fanfarlo suggested everyone remove all of their clothing in order to keep cool. It was almost a logical idea.

Despite the heat, Fanfarlo were terrific – they played lots of songs from their newly released album plus some of their more well known hits. They were very chatty with the crowd despite the occasional “Parlez en Française!”. Unfortunately, as per usual, the mysterious “No matter where you stand at a concert, half way through some idiot is going to come and annoy you” phenomenon happened. It is amazing – at all gigs that I go to, at some point, a drunken, tall, jumping idiot comes and knocks people over or stands right in front of me, and therefore distracts me from enjoying the music. This happened again, except there were four of them. At least they were having fun and enjoying the music, but one of them was an old guy in a horrible leather jacket who kept telling the crowd that we had to dance like we were at a disco. Ahhh… the French and their discos.

Anyway, we left hot, sweaty but with lovely songs floating through our heads. And it is moments like being at a concert, standing in a busy metro train or walking through large crowds in Paris that I am glad I am an unusual tall blonde and that I stand at least a head taller than most French people. It makes for an excellent view of the stage.

Fanfarlo in concert in Paris

My view.

(One of the) Best Days Ever

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Every now and then days come along that are just fantastic. You wake up and everything goes to plan or amazing things occur that make you laugh and jump for joy. Last Friday was one of those days for me, where I let down my hair and let whimsy take over. Thanks, whimsy. You’re a good one.

Here was my day:
7.30am – I met Becky down stairs for our usual morning run, but poor Becky had to pull out by the time we reached the first corner due to extreme knee pain. So I took it upon myself to run for the both of us, heading straight up hill to Parc de Butts Chaumont, and then down to the canal. Usually at this point we head for home, completing a 7km circuit. But I was feeling good, my legs weren’t tired and I had spring in my step. So I ran on joining one of our other routes and heading to a bridge that has “Cabaret Sauvage” written in shiny lights. By the time I got home I would have completed a 10km circuit. A great start to the morning.

9am – Breakfast. Having showered and de-stunk, I sat down and ate my usual banana, muesli and fromage blanc (it’s like yoghurt but better) concoction and continued to read Le Delicatesse. I am determined to read and entire book en français and have been given a short novel that I am slowly making my way through. I haven’t read much in French in the past as it is hard, slow going and generally frustrating as I realise how few words I actually know. But I am doing it! I am learning new phrases, new verb conjugations and actually enjoying the process. Fun times.

Between 9.30am and 12noon – I worked on some ideas that I have for a new book. I started researching my favourite street in Paris, Rue St Denis, as well as prostitution laws in France. Yes, prostitution. Fascinating history – it has shifted from being an acceptable and socially appropriate career to now being illegal. Despite this, it is extremely easy to spot in certain areas of the city.

10.30am – Morning coffee with half a gevulde koek.

12.30pm – Tom and I met Pip and her boyfriend, Manu, for lunch. We went to L’As du Falafel, one of Paris’s most famous and popular falafel restaurants in the heart of the Marais. As per usual, it was extremely delicious and ridiculously hard to eat as these pitas are stuffed full of falafel, lettuce, and grilled eggplant that just go all over your face and hands. So good.

2pm – Manu wanted dessert (I like this guy) so we wandered through the Marais before settling on le Pain Quotidien, a chain boulangerie that makes very good bread and desserts. I had a mini chocolate tart that fit perfectly in my stomach after my large falafel.

Chocolate tart

Yum.

3pm – Time to do something crazy. Pip talked me into going ice skating with her outside the Hôtel de Ville in the centre of Paris. It is a beautiful setting and each year the Mairie sets up an ice rink that people come and zoom around on. I am the world’s worst ice skater. Really I am the world’s worst at any physical activity that requires me to be balanced and moving at the same time. I stuck to the wall on the side and pulled myself along, my legs like two planks who refused to bend and glide, bend and glide. Pip eventually convinced me to go around with her. I didn’t fall over! I think that’s a positive. And there was a fun and supportive atmosphere amongst all of the less-talented skaters. I was sure to speak in my strongest Australian accent so everyone realised that I wasn’t from these European, ice-filled lands. I’m quite certain that Australians were not designed for ice skating.

Ice skating

Jess "Ice Legs" Davies

Anyway, for just five euros to hire the ice skates, it was a fun way to pass the time. The boys stood on the edge and froze. Silly things. And on my various turns around the edge of the rink, I could have acquired at least seven phone numbers from French men watching and saying, “Bonjour, la blonde!” They must be desperate if they’re willing to go for the dorky blonde who keeps saying “WHOA!” and almost falls over.

4pm – From here we separated ways and headed home. I went online and bought a Le Creuset pot for even LESS than I had seen in the shops! It arrives in the mail next week (I hope.)

8pm – We met Pip and Manu again for dinner Le Jardin D’en Face. We wanted to take them to our favourite restaurant before Pip and I head back to Australia. I had spoken on many occasions of the world’s best chocolate cake that can be found at this restaurant and so there were high expectations. Thankfully dinner (and the cake) were delicious PLUS the waitress who has been there for our past few visits mentioned that she recognised us and asked where we were from, what we were doing etc. When I said we were from Perth she became very excited and said she had lived there for eight months. Of course she had. Every French person between the ages of 22 and 30 has. So now we have a friend at our favourite restaurant. Hoorah!!

10.45pm – The night didn’t end there. The old saying, it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know (or rather it’s knowing people who know other people), came into fruition with Pip having scored us half price tickets to the Moulin Rouge. Pip works in the pub next to the Moulin, and the dancers come in for drinks so everyone is friends with everyone. This is fantastic when you want to save 50-plus Euros and see half naked girls dancing.

Moulin Rouge

Le Moulin

We were allowed to get in through a secret back entrance with a password, gate keeper and locked doors. Very exclusive. Pip’s friend and Moulin dancer, Alex, met us backstage wearing a face-full of stage make up and very dirty terry-toweling overalls. It was fantastic. All of the dancers were wearing these as they walked past with their heads high, shoulders back, looking ravishing from the neck up, and like trailer-park bumpkins from the shoulders down. I need to get myself one.

We were taken to our table as the show began and another friend of Pip’s was our waiter. Once again, this came in handy as he put an ice bucket on our table with three bottles of champagne. Thank you.

So, the show. I have to say I was a bit disappointed. The costumes were fantastic with some great use of colour and they were well designed to cover and reveal the dancers bodies. It wasn’t all boobs – some of the dancers remained covered up for the entire show and only the lead dancers revealed their ‘bits’. The dancers’ bums were more readily on show as most of the outfits involved minimal ‘bottom coverage’. It certainly wasn’t crude, nor was it overly sexy.

The choreography was a bit tired and could do with an upgrade or perhaps return to how it really used to be when the Moulin was in full swing. It seemed very 80s and some of the dancers looked bored to tears. It was the late show and I don’t blame them for being sick of doing the same steps over and over again, but the crowd is expecting some sort of enthusiasm. The girls were definitely better than the boys, with most of the guys looking like their mum was making them do it.

There were a few interesting moments involving snakes and miniature ponies, but really overly I felt the show lacked some sort of spark. Maybe my expectations were too high, but really I’d much prefer to spend that sort of money and go and see a band perform. It was a bit naff. I think the other problem was that the crowd was full of tourists, half of whom didn’t really seem to get into the performance. There wasn’t much excessive clapping and the atmosphere was generally quite flat.

The show finished at 1.30am, our day of Parisian fun over. Tom and I walked home and were finally in bed by 2.30am. It was a long but fantastic day and a great way to say “A bientôt, Paris!” It also made me even more determined to be back here in six weeks’ time for more good times and more good food.

More Mud

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

It is currently 12.15am on Sunday 28 August and I have two woes.

Woe #1 – Underworld Concert

The main reason why Tom and I came to London was to go to the South West Four festival to see one of my favourite electronic groups, Underworld, play. I love seeing them live and have on previous occasions flown to other cities within Australia to see their concerts. So it wasn’t a completely out of the ordinary decision to buy a ticket to a concert in London seeing as it is just a 2.5 hour train ride away. I now wish I had saved my money.

The concert was out in Clapham, an area of London recently targeted during the riots. I wish they had locked up a few more people because I’m fairly certain half of the people at the concert would have been on the streets throwing bottles through windows last week. It was an interesting bunch of people – I always feel out of place at electronic music festivals as I stand in my fully-dressed attire waiting patiently for a certain dj/band to get on stage as drunken 18 year olds flirt, dance and throw themselves around provocatively nearby. I hate Australian crowds, but this was worse. EVERYONE was drunk. Usually it is only about 80% of the crowd – this was 99.9999999% with Tom and I being that last remaining percentage. Not only that, but at least six times during the four-hour period that we were at the concert I had guys with large wads of cash walk past asking the crowd if they’d like ecstasy, cocaine or marijuana. And there were a few ‘Yes, please’s.

Normally I would have just stood to the side and tried my best to ignore the idiots around me but it was a little difficult to move as every step you took resulted in you sinking into more mud. It had been raining for the past week or so in London and if there is one thing that rain, land and lots of people equal, it is mud. It was as if Tom and I had returned to the North Sea and were attempting to mudwalk with a bunch of intoxicated losers. It was awful. I had had prior thoughts of “Maybe I should buy some cheap shoes to wear in case it is muddy” but decided against it. When I arrived and saw what was in store I bid farewell to my Campers and plunged straight in. At least I am now a seasoned mud-walker and I didn’t fall flat on my arse. I did get a bit girly about the fact that my perfectly wonderful shoes were getting covered in mud. So when we were finally in front of the main stage, we picked a standing spot and stood there. The less we moved, the harder the mud beneath our feet.

When we arrived John Digweed, one of my brother’s favourite DJs was mixing it up on the stage and it was good. It was very good. But unfortunately he finished and was replaced with a guy by the name of Laidback Luke. Lazy Luke would be more appropriate – all he did was slop together a bunch of random songs with popular tunes/lyrics/choruses in order to make the audience say “YAY! I like this song!” and therefore make him look good. I felt like an old-woman-mother-figure standing with a frown on my face, not understanding the music of the youth of today. But finally he finished and Underworld came on stage.

Their set was short. And quiet. And there was no encore. And the crowd weren’t supportive and hardly cheered at all and were too busy smoking (there was a stall selling cigarettes); drinking; taking drugs; looking hideous with their ridiculously short shorts, bad hair cuts and general poor dress sense; and being obnoxious. Basically, it was no where near as good as when I saw them in Perth – now that is saying something. I would even rate seeing them at Bondi Beach on New Years Eve with evil drunk Australians as a more enjoyable experience than tonight. Such a shame because I had such high expectations. I don’t blame Underworld at all because they did their best and their music was awesome. But I just couldn’t hear it and was too busy trying to stop a stupid girl next to me from standing on my feet.

We did have delicious indian food for dinner though so I guess that’s a positive.

Woe # 2 – More Rain

We are supposed to be catching a flight to New York on Tuesday afternoon and there appears to be a bit of weather about on that side of the world (aka. a hurricane.) That’s a tad worrying as I don’t really want my flight to be cancelled or delayed as I had planned on being there for my birthday. At the same time, I also don’t want it to rain there because it has rained enough here in London. So hopefully that will all blow over (get it? Ha.)

Bed time.

Dreaming of a Midnight in Paris

Friday, August 12th, 2011

I have been meeting a lot of new people during my six months in Paris and recently, whenever I mention that I am a writer who has moved to Paris to ‘be inspired’, the person I am speaking to asks if I have seen Woody Allen’s latest film, Midnight in Paris. As I generally dislike Owen Wilson, don’t really enjoy Woody Allen’s work, and found the advertising posters for the movie to be particularly off-putting, I had avoided seeing it. However, everyone insisted that I go and see it and so Tom and I finally spent a rainy afternoon sitting in a tiny cinema, reminiscent of the Luna cinemas in Perth.

Midnight in Paris

Oh it's so awful...

Ok, I will admit it straight away – I cried at the end of the movie. Not because the movie was so amazing or the script so wonderful, but because Owen Wilson’s character was me. Someone searching for something that they can’t necessarily get but hoping that Paris will provide them with the answers. No, I haven’t gone back in time and met amazing writers from the past or fallen in love with someone from the 1920s but I do walk the streets of Paris wearing rose coloured glasses and seeing this city as the be all and end all. The main reason for my tears was that the movie painted Paris as I see it – amazing sites, beautiful people, constant excitement – and it frightens me that I am going to lose it all soon. Owen Wilson’s character arrogantly decides to “move to Paris” – although I do wonder how French immigration feel about that – and all I want to do at the moment is make that declaration myself. Luckily for Owen, visas don’t exist in the movies.

Anyhoo, the movie itself was fun and easy to watch and I didn’t completely hate Owen Wilson but I think that’s just because we suddenly had something in common. The script wasn’t bad, the plot was acceptable and Woody Allen managed to make a fairly exaggerated story line seem somewhat acceptable. It is a fairy tale for adults but who doesn’t like to escape with the fairies every now and then? Plus it was fun to play spotto with the scenes in the movie – I get a bit of an ego kick when I watch a movie set in a city like Paris and tell you exactly where they are. Owen Wilson spends a lot of time down near the bridge Pont Neuf (built by Henry III in the 1500s) and keeps walking past where I explained the history of Paris to my tour groups.

Pont Neuf

Pont Neuf in real life

Oh, and I think the reason why I managed to like Owen Wilson was because I detested his girlfriend and her family so much. Those characters were a bit excessive with their dislike of Paris and their over-the-top wealth. I found them to be more unbelievable than the characters from the past.

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.

Madrid Part 6

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

The Bulls

The reason we had to leave the art gallery was because we had bought tickets to see a bull fight. As I write this I know there will be people tut-tutting under their breath and preparing a speech about animal rights and how I shouldn’t actively support bull fighting as a sport. I wasn’t sure how I felt about watching the spectacle but was curious to see why the Spanish have been so passionate about it. For centuries they have dedicated themselves to bull fighting and matadors are highly regarded within the culture. On one hand it is the deliberate killing of an animal for the enjoyment of spectators, and on the other it has been deeply embedded in Spanish culture and is part of their way of life.

Plaza de Toros

Plaza de Toros

We bought cheap seats in the top section of the stadium but could easily see the show. The stadium is a beautiful building in itself and it was worth the ticket price just to see inside. However, as soon as the first bull was released into the right and the matadors started their thing, I wished our seats were a lot further back.

Stadium

Nice stadium

I was able to form a very definite opinion of bull fighting within the first 15 minutes. Here’s what happens: A bull is released into the ring and three or four guys wave pink capes at it to get it fired up. This is apparently to test how aggressive the bull is and how it is going to behave. After a few minutes, trumpets sound, and two guys on horses come into the ring. The bull charges at a horse (since the 1930s the horses wear protective armour but I still don’t see how they don’t get hurt) and the guy sitting on the horse stabs a sharp pole into the back of the bull, making it bleed. This was when I stopped enjoying myself.

Bull fight

Annoying the bull

The bull is stabbed twice before the horses are taken off and the main matador comes out with colourful spears which he waves at the bull before stabbing them into the bull’s back. This is probably the only time that I could see any element of danger for the human as it is just the matador versus the bull and not a lot of space between the two creatures.

Once the bull has four or more spears in his back, the matador gets a red cape and a sword and waves the cape at the bull for a while, getting the animal really annoyed. Plus he has spears in his back and is bleeding so if I were the bull, I’d be pretty damn annoyed. Eventually the matador gets another, bigger sword which he eventually attempts to stab into the bull. Apparently he is aiming to get between the bull’s shoulder blade and through its heart. He generally missed and had to try again, basically making the bull bleed more and get generally more disgruntled. Once the bull eventually falls over, another guy shoves a small knife into the bull’s spine, apparently killing him instantly, and everyone cheers and the matador bows.

Bull fight

Out goes the red cape of death

It was awful. It was a display of man’s ability to control, tease, hurt and kill defenceless animals. At no point did the bull have a chance. The humans were always in control and unless the matador did something really stupid or the bull made a sudden, unexpected move, the matador is never really in danger. I was shocked by the pointlessness of it and will never watch it again. I’m not even sure I am pleased I saw it once – I felt sad for the animals and hoped they would charge into the audience and maul all of the stupid cheering spectators. Well, not really. No death of anything or anyone would have been nice. And it wasn’t just one bull who was killed – we stayed for 1.5 hours and watched four bulls being killed. I suggested we leave when the fifth arrived.

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