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I arrived a bit before eleven in the morning, left at midnight. Thirteen hours of music, straight through the day, a couple of fifteen minute breaks for food and sunscreen, then back. When I got home, I ordered new body parts.

This photo I took at around four in the afternoon. Couple of hours later, I was in the centre of that crowd, up against railings and being sprayed by water with security guards. Fuck I loved those hoses.

This was the Big Day Out, happening all on Australia Day, which meant that there were thousands of people each with the day off, and every band kept wishing everyone a happy Australia Day, except for Beasts of Bourbon and the Herd and Iggy and the Stooges. Iggy simply said nothing, didn't seem to care what day it was as he battered camera men out of his way, urged the crowd onto the stage, and informed everyone that money and television had strangled the life out of rock. The Herd made political statements, for that is the Herd. I only caught the end of their act, came in as they were saying we owed respect to the Indigenous community, which was cool. But it was Tex Perkins fronting the Beasts of Bourbon who called the day Invasion Day, basically spitting out the hate and bile as he stalked the stage, letting us know that as far as he was concerned, the wasn't nothing good to celebrate on the day.

Myself, as I go on, I find it increasingly problematic to celebrate Australia Day. It's the day when England finally ditched its unwanted, fucked over the Aboriginals, and for a long time viewed us as nothing but a necessary stain in their Empire. The 26th isn't a day to celebrate. When we turn to a Republic, we should make ourselves a new day to celebrate Australia, a day where everyone living here can celebrate it.

But back to the music.

By far, the two best bands I saw were Beasts of Bourbon and Iggy and the Stooges.

Beasts of Bourbon are a band from the eighties, early nineties that ended before I got to know them, but I knew front man Tex Perkins from his fine solo albums and also as the front man of the Cruel Sea. I'd seen him perform with the Dark Horses a few years back when he was touring his second solo album, Dark Horses, and he was great. An easy stage presence, always professional, unafraid of the crowd, and always in control of his urban blues folk style. When he steps out to front the Beasts of Bourbon, however, you're getting a different Tex: he prowls the stage, spits, screams, howls, and basically mesmerizes you.

It's simply fucking amazing.

On the right corner there is Henry Rollins. He watched the Beasts of Bourbon play after his spoken word performance, where he basically told everyone that Iggy and the Stooges and the Beasts of Bourbon were the only bands worth seeing here today. Watch both bands. I am the warm up act for both bands. Fuck you all, watch these bands. And really, it's hard to impress just how good the Beasts of Bourbon are.

And Iggy and the Stooges were better.

I've only got shit photos for Iggy and the Stooges because, while I was somewhere in the middle of that huge crowd shot that tops this post, my camera is only a small thing, and can only do so much. So yeah, I found a couple that didn't look too bad, but the important thing here to note is, just like the Beasts of Bourbon made it impossible to listen to End of Fashion afterward (they sounded tinny and like teenagers who didn't understand their guitars), Iggy and the Stooges made the White Stripes sound boring and plain, which I guess they are, really.

What made Iggy and the Stooges work for me so much that I lift them above the Beasts of Bourbon considerably is the fan factor. I swear to you that I never thought I would ever get the chance to see Iggy Pop (much less Iggy and the Stooges) perform 'Nineteen Sixty Nine', 'Funhouse', 'I Wanna Be Your Dog', 'Dirt', and everything else they played. It never crossed my mind until the Big Day Out lineup was mentioned, and even that, after I bought a ticket, I worried that Iggy and the Stooges would simply be too old, too fucking done to be any good.

I was wrong.

There was also one noticeable difference between Iggy and the Stooges, the Beasts of Bourbon, and Sihad (who were also quite good), and that was that they were not afraid of the crowd. Iggy especially ran off stage, threw himself into the crowd, and even called people up on stage. They touched him, sang with him, danced with him, and by the end of the Stooges set, you knew that as far as this band was concerned, music wasn't about money, tv, or even albums. It was about the people. The experience.

And fuck me if it wasn't an experience.

More later, when new body parts arrive, perhaps.


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Jan. 27th, 2006 01:44 am (UTC)
"When we turn to a Republic, we should make ourselves a new day to celebrate Australia, a day where everyone living here can celebrate it."

I'm not sure if it's even possible. I think national days of celebration create division and controversy merely by existing. The reason I say this is that I went out and had a barbecue and a swim and more than a few drinks yesterday like a good little Australian, but still, when I drove past the fireworks-goers draped in flags in the evening, getting trashed and throwing bottles onto the road, making to shag each other if possible, falling out of their tops and screaming, and raising their arms and pelvic thrusting at passing cars, I still despised them. But they were just being Australians, and they weren't doing anyone any real harm.

I think "the day for everyone to celebrate Australia" is a utopian target we won't even approach asymptotically. It's a vanishing point on the horizon. Get used to the idea that not everyone wins or has a good time on Big National Day, because what better day is there to bring out all the bad feelings about the place?
Jan. 27th, 2006 06:06 am (UTC)
yeah, but your difference is that the people you hated are just people. there's a huge problem that divides the indigenous population and the white population and you can feel it most on australia day. reconciliation is, as far as i'm concerned, tied into issues of becoming a republic, of becoming our own nation. it won't make everything better, sure, i understand that, but it'll begin to repair the damage that has been done.
Jan. 27th, 2006 10:12 am (UTC)
You make me wanna go to the BDO in Melbourne. I fucking hate the BDO, I haven't been since '96 and I really cannot cope with crowds, particularly crowds which include teenagers and drunk people.

But you make me wanna go to see the Beats and Iggy and the Stooges, who, incidentally, were both on the BDO line up in 93, the first time it was a national event.
Jan. 27th, 2006 10:27 am (UTC)
did he come for 93?

i got to admit, the crowds and the shitty drunk teenagers didn't bother me, possibly because i learnt how to surf them. you simply jump from gig to gig, and if your tastes don't run to the main two stages exclusive, the crowds are tolerable. i did that crowd early for magic dirt and gerling. my friend wanted to see the latter, but we both thought they kinda blew, and the venue was too big for magic dirt to work, i thought so we spent maybe an hour there. i returned for iggy, but got a bit of franz ferdinand (who were pretty bland), but spent most of my time outta there. it seemed the way to go.

but i got to say, when there's music, crowds don't bug me. i just trip on good music. i don't care who's there and if the crowd is into it, even better.
Jan. 27th, 2006 10:32 am (UTC)
Wait, I think that maybe I am wrong and that Iggy played at the '92 one, which was just in Syd and Melb and at which Nirvana played, or were billed to play.

I used to deal better with crowds when there was music involved, but now it's an unpredictable reaction, and does tend to be more to do with the nature of the crowd than the nature of the music (although certain bands/events draw different crowds).
Jan. 27th, 2006 10:36 am (UTC)
okay. 92, 93, beyond my time to afford music (or even when i was into it, i have to say).

i do get what you mean about the crowd nature. there are times when i've had awful ones, though, that totally ruined the music. just goes to show that people suck.
Jan. 27th, 2006 12:55 pm (UTC)
The whole day sounds like too much work.

You make me feel old. I hope you burn in hell for that.

Jan. 27th, 2006 11:16 pm (UTC)
You make me feel old. I hope you burn in hell for that.

god, i hope i do. i want it on my hell checklist. when i get there, i want the devil to say, 'and reason 47 for why you're here: you made john feel old.'
Jan. 30th, 2006 11:35 am (UTC)
Ben, I really don't understand this term, "Invasion Day"-for me, its politcal correctness/white liberal bleeding heart guilt gone insane. I notice a lot of liberal arts academics and students use it-it saddens me, and makes me wonder .

Australia Day is a day for us to feel proud to be Australians, to think of what we have achieved, and what we will achieve in the future. I have heard a few of these liberal arts students bemoaning our flag as well. Have some pride, people. Why is it equated with fascism to be proud of your country? I love Australia for its diversity, and I think its a crime that we lock some people who come to our shores up. You see, i am liberal too-I just don't think we should walk around feeling so guilty and weak all the time.

Quite frankly, every country, every continent has been invaded, conquered, and asborbed. Ok, the First Fleet came from England-England is a patchwork of conquests-Normans, Saxons, Romans, etc etc. everyone came from somewhere. What about the Maya's, for fucks sake?

Why in Australia do we like to pretend, or the bleeding heart liebrals would like us to pretend, that the poor Aborigines are the ONLY culture ever to have been conquered. It staggers me that you seem to think our national day is a day of shame. Do you honestly believe anything is served by having rockers spitting bile on our national day? I worry for you, and those like you, if you do.
Jan. 30th, 2006 11:41 am (UTC)
Why in Australia do we like to pretend, or the bleeding heart liebrals would like us to pretend, that the poor Aborigines are the ONLY culture ever to have been conquered.

who's pretending? i'm aware of what has happened round the world, but i am also aware of it here, and i live here, so i mention it. as for why mention it--well, it seems to me that the indigenous people of the country have suffered quite a lot since. it was also genoicide, in fact. and these indigenous people, they remember this, they feel it, and if we're all to have some harmony in the country, then this has to be respected. i know the argument can be made, why don't they respect the day now... well, i dunno, why should they?

i don't think rockers spitting out hate solves anything, but it's nice to seem them aware of the issue.
Jan. 30th, 2006 12:11 pm (UTC)
But its not just the Aborigines who don't respect the day-its these deluded bleeding hearts who want to run around saying "WE ARE SO SORRY" all the time! Jesus, give me a break. Those kind of ideals are the first to die when they hit reality, and stop being debates in a classroom.

For this country to come together we have to stop taking this big trip to "Negative Town", and cease burning flags, and cease rioting-I'm talking about all sides there. Is there a Reconcilation Day? If there isn't, there should be, and if there is, perhaps its profile needs to be raised.

Quite frankly tho, I would like to see Australia move beyond "white guilt".

Anyway just my 2 cents!
Jan. 30th, 2006 12:19 pm (UTC)
you can't move beyond the issues till they're made public and delt with, in my opinion. there is no reconcilation day where government apologies have been made to the aboriginal people, for example, and this needs to be done for things to begin changing.

anyhow,t hanks for stopping by.
Jan. 30th, 2006 01:03 pm (UTC)
No worries Ben.
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