pictures by Bronwyn Liroudia, A.H. Cayley, Ivana Stab and me.
It was sometime after 11am when we pulled over somewhere up the Hume between Wangaratta and Wodonga for a piss and a stretch. Like everyone else, most of the time I glance at my phone at red lights out of boredom, but we had had a clear run since our departure around 8:30am on Wednesday the 29th of December and Dan Kelly's Dream had absorbed whatever buzz or vibration my mobile was making, wedged between a bottle of water and a packet of M&M mixups in the driver's cupholder. When I did check it, there were several missed calls from an unknown number, and one email on the band account:
Hey guys, I have tried to call your mobile this morning but am not getting through
- if you could call me asap on my mobile below that would be fantastic. Cheers.
This could only be bad. We were scheduled to play the Gallery Room of Oxford Art Factory in Sydney that night. It was a free show in the smaller room of the two in the venue, and it paid just enough to cover our petrol up and back. I returned the call; Lightspeed Champion (who was playing in the main room of the OAF) had been snowed in in NYC, and it was not "financially viable" for them to open up the entire venue for our gig to go ahead. FFS. We had a vote on whether to turn back or not.
The count was two-to-one in favour of continuing the journey.
The next two hours was spent as follows; Bronwyn working a pair of iPhones in the back, frantically contacting everyone we knew in Sydney who could help us put together something the afternoon of the show, Andre texting our pals back in Melbourne who might have some contacts in New South Wales that could assist, and me muttering expletives behind the wheel and interjecting into Bronwyn's conversations with friends and venue operators.
Anyway, for fear of being berated by Andre when he reads this in the next room for being too wanky in my description of our trip, I'll abandon the dramatic tone and just tell you that we ended up having an awesome time in Sydney. Although we somehow managed to get in touch with a remarkable number of people and had a couple of offers for that evening (thanks to Kate Wilson, A.H. Cayley, Chris Hearn, Joe Hardy and anyone else who worked the phones/tweets/boards for us that afternoon), we ended up just crashing out at Tropodelica HQ in Newtown; home of our beyond amazing hosts Emma & Alex, and the venue for the second and final show of our trip. Most of our angst evaporated when we saw the Coronas + fresh limes waiting for us on the table when we walked in the door. We had an awesome meal at The Sultan's Table (mixed grill was very tasty, as was the Harem's Treat pide, and vegan and vego options looked delicious too), and then crashed early.
I awoke the next morning to (what I later discovered was) the thunk of a yellow hatchback plowing into the driver's side mirror of my car parked outside (which promptly sped away before registration could be noted). Alex asked me whether I wanted to the good news or the bad news. The good news was that we had awesome croissants and a selection of fine juices awaiting us in kitchen. The bad news was that I would need to employ a roll of gaffer tape to make it back to Victoria alive. Apart from this and a mid-sized electrical shock from accidental contact with the innards my busted phone charger, Thursday was pretty relaxed. We had lunch at The Courthouse (fish was average, chips were good), dropped by Repressed Records (where I picked up a copy of the newest Deaf Wish LP, mixed by our good pal Paul Maybury), and then Pete's Musicians Market further down the road, which was sadly closed.
We spent the rest of the afternoon back at the pub with half of The Holy Soul, the inseparable AHC & P. Street combo and few other pals before I retired back at H.Q. with a sore head and belly (from either the fish, the beer, the sun or a combination). Woke back up around 8 for some pizza from Bambino's; the Mexican (for "the men") was great, and the potato pizza with the blue-vein and gorgonzola ruled. Bron had some sort of vegan thing with tofu. It looked nice too. Early-ish to sleep.
Constructing a stage in a sloped backyard is, to put it bluntly, fucked. But we did it. After a couple of hours of angst on Friday morning (and one trip back to the stage hire place for some bits and pieces), we had one pretty awesome stage which somehow stayed erect for the entire evening. And it was best New Year's ever. After sorting the backline and power issues, two-thirds of The Summervilles and one-half of The Vignettes (later to be one-third of Bang Bang Rock & Roll) accompanied the carnivorous two-thirds of YIS back to dine at The Sultan's Table to provide a stable bed for the very generous rider provided to us by our gracious hosts.
The party was happening by the time we returned and the bands fired up a few hours later. The Summervilles were great; bright garage played by three great dudes (kinda reminded me of a more Ramones inspired version of Royal Headache) with some choice covers thrown in; Rave On and California Sun amongst others. Former two-piece The Vignettes were on next with a new member in tow on, and were retitled Bang Bang Rock'n'Roll, who threw in another few choice covers as well, opening with a cover of Big Spender, as well as a BRMC tune and a great version of Ginuwine's Pony.
In the middle of all of this, there were some projectiles being thrown over the fence; an older blonde woman was apparently not a fan of the occasion and responded by hurling eggs from her balcony. She also called the cops, who strolled up just before we were about to play around 8pm and had a quick word to us to keep the amps low.
The set was a lot of fun; we played well. the sound was really good and everyone seemed to get into it; the highlight of the set being the invasion by the Cookie Monster, Pikachu and a Centurion from the party across the road.
The rest of the party was awesome; lots of Sydney friends, some Melbourne friends who had relocated and many new friends (most of whom seemed to be named Andrew). It was without a doubt my favourite New Years Eve that I've ever had.
The damage wasn't too bad the next morning; nothing got stolen, nothing got broken (except for a few brains), and after a shower and some goodbyes, we were packed and off back down the Hume, powered by a bottle of Mother (never again) and the audiobook version of Keith Richards' autobiography (as read by Johnny Depp). We arrived back in Melbourne, made some pasta and watched the Wife Swap USA marathon. Hilarious.