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.