Posts Tagged ‘festival’

Bruce on drugs [left] Bruce straight [right]

Bruce on drugs ...................................... Bruce straight

Tim “Timmy” Rogers was coming towards the end of You Am I’s enjoyable (the latter part anyway) set, looking resplendently haggard in giant purple, sparkling bow tie; the eskies still contained enough beer to negate the need to return the 220 yards to the campsite (cheers to the early risers from Geelong for the spot); a couple were staring intently at Bruce.

Bruce himself, by this point lost in a fuggy mix of music and merriment, remained oblivious. Fran, however, did not. After a few minutes of staring, interspersed with the odd nudge and whisper of “It is. It is.”, she could no longer hold back.

“Excuse me,” she said. “Are you two OK? Can I help you at all?”

“You can, actually,” came the reply. “That is Jude Law, isn’t it?”

Poor Fran. She almost collapsed to the ground in fits of hysterics.

“Er, have you two been taking a lot of hard, mind-altering drugs?” she asked.

“Yes,” came the sheepish reply.

Still, it gave Bruce something to milk throughout Sunday, especially as the last person to name a lookalike for him had picked Rentaghost’s Timothy Claypole.

As for the rest of the festival, one can’t really complain about turning up at 12.30pm on the Saturday afternoon and discovering that space has been reserved right behind the Meredith Wheel within a two-minute stumble of the main amphitheatre.

Neither can one complain about the toilets themselves – incredible what a bit of sawdust can do and how pleasant it is to urinate while staring out over miles of rolling fields.

The Pink Flamingos, sofas (some on stilts), noodles with Malaysian sauce (until they ran out rather too early) and generosity of random strangers with goon bags on Sunday night (not that we were actually short of booze by any stretch of the imagination, but it seemed more fun to accept offers of wine from excitable people) were none too shabby either.

As for the music, Dan Deacon’s inspired dancefloor mayhem got the party started in fine style despite failing to get the entire site to join in with the running-in-circles bit, Brant Bjork was suitable stoner-sounding, the Black Seeds were pretty weak but allowed Bruce and Fran to launch into a remixed a cappella version of the advert for the soft drink Lilt, the part of Mogwai’s set where we weren’t at the tent was better than the part where we were (so much better in fact that we really should have left the tent earlier), while You Am I, as mentioned earlier, were great when rolling out the hits.

Saturday’s DJs seemed to suck, although by that stage motor functions were seriously impaired so judgement should perhaps be reserved. Come Sunday, Old Crow, JimWhite, Pivot and My Disco all entertained in their own ways early doors (as did the chap in the Flaming Lips-style giant bubble), The Drones were far superior to their Falls show (perhaps because they weren’t on at some stupid time of the day), while Gary Numan was really rather poor.

Quite who was responsible for what between his set finishing and 4.30am is a matter that Bruce is unable to resolve at this moment in time as the only thing he knows for sure is that, one by one, the people he was there with began heading back to bed as he waited for the arrival of DJ Mujava.

“I’m heading back to camp,” said the last of them at 4am.

“I’m staying here,” said Bruce. “These beats are only going to get harder.”

They did, so much so that by the time said South African broke off from his decks for a little stage side boogie, Bruce thought he was indoors at a club. Only when Mujava’s magic had finished and it was time to pick his way through the 6am detritus and head back to bed did he realise he was still at the festival.

PS Apologies if anyone woke up with ruptured groin muscles and / or a hernia on Monday morning. Next time Jude Law asks you to do a headstand on an esky, feel free to decline.


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It was around the point in his Palace set where Nick Cave was swaggering through Red Right Hand, or possibly bringing about the Apocalypse during Tupelo that Bruce had his epiphany: “I simply must attend All Tomorrow’s Parties”.

One persistent bout of whoring and exaggeration later and it was sealed: a ticket would be awaiting him atop Mt Buller…

The Hoonmobile, despite its overdue need for a service and the expanding hole in its exhaust, survived the trip; said hole even had its benefits. While waiting at the checkpoint at the bottom of the mountain Bruce and passenger were held up by a couple of joyless farts claiming they were on the guestlist.

“I’m ON. THE. GUESTLIST,” stomped one wrinkled prune of a women.

“Well, you’re not on any of the lists I’ve got here. Do you know who was sorting out your ticket?” asked an increasingly irate staff member.

“Dave,” said the hag.

“Dave who?”

“Dave. He’s already on the mountain.”

“Have you got a surname? Or a number for him?”


And on and on. Simultaneously, the Hoonmobile kept farting away, until:

“Will you please turn the engine off – you’re gassing us?” asked misery.

‘Never has destroying the ozone been so worthwhile,’ thought Bruce.

Once up the mountain, well, what can you say? Fitzroy and Collingwood bars must have had a quiet weekend. A stunning location, paucity of dickheads (despite Bruce’s best festival pest efforts), a cowbell orchestra (and subsequent blood blisters), a smorgasboard of musical tastes, chairlifts carrying people over the crowd for the mainstage, facial hair to make Bruce’s Chopper-plus number look rather tame, dung core, ocelot coats, a miserable emo kid spotted smiling, Passenger of Shit’s penis mask and much, much more.

Any complaints? No, well other than a fly taking a liking for Bruce’s Jaeger Dry, over-officious security guards, the afore-mentioned inadequacy-highlighting facial hair and the fact the chairlifts didn’t operate 24/7 (“This shouldn’t be called All Tomorrow’s Parties,” said one girl hiking up the hill on Saturday afternoon. “It’s All Tomorrow’s Boot Camps.”).

The Booze Bus even waved the Hoonmobile through on the Sunday afternoon journey home, thereby negating the need to see how fast his body processes alcohol. Amen to that.

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Northcote's entertainment hub

Northcote's entertainment hub

“So you’ve come from shit weather to more shit weather,” said the man from Brisbane as a young girl on a skateboard hurtled past him before being brought suddenly and painfully to a halt by a bench on which were scrawled a selection of childish rude words – balls, wees, poo.

Now, while Bruce would be foolish to deny that Melbourne’s flirtation with above 20C temperatures has only been tantalisingly fleeting, he is reminded of the words of Bill Hicks whenever people question why he and Fran chose Melbourne over the warmer climes of Queensland. Then, speaking of Los Angeles, the great man said:

“Hot and sunny, every single day, hot and sunny. And they love it. ‘Isn’t it great, every day, hot and sunny?’ What are you, a fucking lizard? Only reptiles feel that way about this kind of weather. I’m a mammal, I can afford coats, scarves, cappuccino and rosy cheeked women.”

Moments later, the young girl by now carried to the relative safety of a nearby shrubbery patch by her friends, a skinhead in a red hoodie approached the same bench at speed, leapt over it while performing a somersault, mistimed his landing and careered into a row of parked bicycles. Half an hour later he was back pretending to be a dog and giving someone’s black labrador the time of his life. Welcome to Northcote’s High Vibes festival.

Despite being located in a section of Northcote High Street, it did a remarkable job of capturing so much of what festival-going is about:

  • You don’t actually see any of the bands (in this case, because the venues were so packed by the time we arrive there mid-evening rather than any lack of willing to traipse through fields knee deep in mud)
  • No matter how drunk you are, there is someone far drunker only yards away. Always reassuring
  • The police are there in body only
  • Grown men who would otherwise guard against it think nothing of displaying deep affection for each other in public
  • You realise just how little it would take for Western society to descend (rise?) into anarchy
Boatyard blues

Boatyard blues

That Bruce and Fran had spent the preceding few hours watching a bunch of good ol’ boys (and some not so ol’ boys) playing soulful rockabilly and blues in a wooden boatyard in Williamstown (featuring a man playing an armoured breastplate with metal thimbles), which itself came less than 24 hours after they’d watched some pretty nimble breakers and talented graffiti artists at the Don’t Ban The Can protest event in Brunswick, made for a colourful weekend.

Then there was the Spanish food in the couldn’t-sound-more-Scottish Robert Burns Hotel, in Collingwood, a great and very popular little place that combines the decor of the mercifully defunct Berni Inns of 70s and 80s Britain with tasty food and generous bar staff. And The Detonators rockin’ and rollin’ at The Gem around the corner, complete with a singer whose quiff was only outdone in its audacity by the leather holster belt in which he carried his eight harmonicas. Quite what was so special about the ninth – kept in its own separate padded container – is perhaps best left secret…

Reflecting on this as a crowd gathered to form an impromptu choral line for some buskers in Northcote High Street as the festival came to a close, Bruce wondered why anyone would choose not to live in Melbourne. Even the visitor from Brisbane admitted: “Only in Melbourne.”

Then he remembered – it’s not hot and sunny every day.

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