One shot doesn’t make you sick, little sparrow

Last night was the perfect example of why live music rules all. Also of the fact that the best live shows are not those that you pay a lot of money for. Last night I was witness to absolute rocking out and I only paid $13 for the privilege.

The Annandale remains probably my favourite venue for live music in Sydney when factoring in overall experience. It doesn’t make a lot of sense because it’s a decaying old thing, on a very busy main road, with dirty, messy decor and sticky stuff that oozes out of the carpet should you stand in one spot long enough. You feel a little like if you touched anything you’d catch something. It’s set up a little weirdly too – one bar in the centre of a building that has been split in two. The first room is quite large with no furniture bar old vinyl couches completely lining every wall. The second, larger room is the venue for the music. There is a lounge area at the back, raised a little from the rest of the room, and then just a large amount of floor space that stretches up to the stage. I don’t think there’s a spot of wall in the place that isn’t covered by a poster of some kind promoting a past gig. There is a lot of tradition at this place too – many, many Australian bands have cut their teeth here.

I always feel like, when I’m at the Annandale, I’m experiencing a real gig. Every show I have experienced at this place has been awesome – including the Mountain Goats. When I’m there I feel like I’m very close to the band (which at this venue you literally are) and I feel like I’m surrounded by people who are there for the music. The crowd can make a very big difference to your overall live music experience.

Don’t get me started on that Eels gig again.

Anyway! I had an interesting day at work yesterday – server upgrades mean all sorts of fun and hilarity. Even with all that I didn’t leave the office too late, and the traffic wasn’t too bad at all. I think perhaps it’s because football (both NRL and AFL) season is over – the last two Friday night gigs have seen me fighting AFL traffic going to the SCG and NRL traffic going to Olympic Park. Also, I think it’s funny that you can hear from certain people hardly at all for weeks and then they all decide to phone you on the same night. I spent the whole hour and a half in the car last night with my wanky hands free thing on.

I got to Probert Street in pretty good time and we warmed up with some drinks before heading a few doors up to the pub for food. This is one thing that would be just awesome about living in Newtown – within about 3 minutes (or 3 doors) walk there is a pub with decent food. At this stage Hell left us to go to a farewell for a girl from work, and T and I walked down toward Parramatta Road.

Josh and Dan were already there when we arrived. We were standing there chatting when Sianna Lee stalked past us from outside on her way to the dressing room – at this stage my commonsense wins over my inner crazyfangirl and I manage to keep the puddles to a minimum. There was about 5 seconds of me, though, making small squeeling noises and trying to draw everyone elses attention to the fact that she had walked by us, without looking like an absolute idiot. Some luck, I know.

Suz and Wendy arrived pretty soon thereafter. There was much talking and drinking, until I head subAudible Hum start sound check. It was then that I started rounding everyone up and through the door into the other room.

I’ve been pretty excited about seeing this band live for a little while now. After hearing the song Sugarcoat on Triple J some time back, I did a bit of reading about them online and half-heartedly tried to track down their EP. I liked the sound of their influences and heard (I think via a presenter on Triple J) that they pretty much kicked ass live. I hadn’t had a chance to catch them yet because they always seemed to play on nights when I was either A) busy or B) couldn’t talk anyone else into humouring me and coming along. When I heard they were supporting LOA I was truly stoked.

From the outset the band delivered. The lead singer has an intensity about him that you don’t often see in indie circles – he was all over the microphone, PLAYING that guitar, and having a good old shout. They lyrics and the music were intense. The rest of the band were also really energetic.

It’s kinda hard to pinpoint exactly what their sound is, which isn’t a bad thing. You’d say ambient rock, I guess. You can certainly hear a Doves influence – at times I closed my eyes and was completely lost in the music. The music is melodically driven and the sound is big. These are both good things.

I’ve listened to the EP a lot today while I was at work, and it’s SO GOOD. I can’t wait for the new album and until I can see them again.

In between sets I head out to pick up the band’s EP and I have an interesting little interaction with Joe, the drummer for LOA, who is manning the merch –

Me to Joe: Is this the mail list for subAudible Hum?
Joe the drummer: Yep!
Me: Umm, do you have a pen?
Joe: Oh! Sorry, yeah, here you go.
Me: Thanks!

I pick up the All For The Caspian EP and pass $10 to Joe. Sianna walks up and stands next to me at the merch table.

Me: So do LOA have a mail list?
Both Joe and Sianna look at each other and Sianna laughs.
Joe: Umm…. suuuuuure….
At this stage he turns over a random piece of paper and says –
Joe: Put your email address here.
Me: This is the mailing list?
Joe: Yes, but you have to write neatly or you’ll get nothing.
Me: Okay I’ll try but no promises.

It was only around half an hour before Love Outside Andromeda came out onto the stage for sound check. The tummy butterflies started like they always do before a gig I’m really excited about. I managed to push forward (with Dan’s help) so I was about 3 or 4 people back from the stage – this was a pretty good view point. Early on (the set list is a bit of a blur) they played a lot of tracks from the new album, and in amongst that was Boxcutter, Baby. Sparrow is just an amazing song – I love it on the album and I love it live. They played Bound By Hurt Disolved, during which Sianna tried to get a singalong going. She chided herself at the end of the song for not picking something easier for us all to singalong with. The chit chat amongst this band throughout each of their sets is great – I really like it when I band interacts with the crowd or hangs shit on each other or generally gets a bit chatty. She also explained that the song Past Tense, from the new album, is about one of her younger brothers. This makes a lot more sense to me now. As a person who is constantly reading and trying to interperet lyrics I just love it when a songwriter gives a little insight.

One surprise for the set list that was completely awesome was a cover of Love is a Battlefeild by Pat Benatar. She explained that it was a song from her childhood, and as much as I’ve never been a great fan of the song their interperetation of it was great.

Sianna Lee is fascinating. The woman has a fierceness and intensity (there’s that word again) that’s actually a little intimidating in a fully awesome way. She stalks rather than walks, she snakes and slinks rather than dances, and every lyric is projected into the air with a force driven seemingly from where the lyric stemmed from in the first place. Her voice can go from crooning to banshee in 0.3 seconds and it makes every hair on my body stand on end. After every LOA live show I come out absolutely sure that they’re my favourite Australian band bar none.

The call for encore was pretty loud for a small venue, and thankfully LOA came out pretty quickly (I really hate it when bands take too long). So what do they kick into for first encore? Juno is what. This song is why people should see this band live. It’s a bit of a sleeper on the album, but live? Holy crap. The thing that makes the song is the crashing guitars and drums followed by the perfectly timed silences that leave the whole crowd holding their breath before they crash back into the guitars and drums. I think also there is something about the 3/4 time signature that works so well for this.

Second encore (speaking of whacky time signatures) was Something White and Sigmund. Could there have BEEN a better encore??! It was a slightly different arrangement of the song, but I like that. I like that they mixed it up a bit. They didn’t, however, mess with the rocking out so THANK GOD for that. The song is awesome and contains plenty of screaming and crooning from Ms Lee so I was very happy hearing it.

Joe is a machine. The more I pay attention to the nuances of their music, both on the albums and live, the more I appreciate how good he is.

I don’t know who might stumble across this rant while they’re pushing around the interweb searching for something related or otherwise, but to whoever is reading this I IMPLORE you –

See Love Outside Andromeda live if you ever get the chance. And subAudible Hum. As far as intellegent Australian alternative rock goes, it does not get better than this.

After the gig we go to a pub I can’t remember the name of (the Royal Alfred maybe?) and have a few more drinks. I get a drink and then proceed to drop it on the floor. Everyone else, at my protestations regarding my inebriated state, touches the glass to feel how slippery it was. They all agree that yes, that’s one slippery glass. SEE?!?! We milk the jukebox for every good track it had (read the sole NIN, Cranberries, RHCPs and Radiohead tracks) and then decide to head home.

Some photos were taken. Some of them are hilarious.

SMILE EVERYONE! Damn Wendy for refusing to be in the shot, and where the hell is Dan? –

THIS one makes me laugh out loud every time I see it –

What the hell is Tony thinking about? He looks like he’s about to rip someones head off. Oh and THERE’S Dan –

The walk home was, ah, interesting. Who’s idea was it to cut through the hospital anyway?! I was massively drunk, in my own little happy post gig, drunken world, walking along humming and smiling happily to myself, when all of a sudden we were plummeting down a hill, through bushes, and into a wall. At this stage H and T decide to push on and follow the wall around and/or face the 10 foot drop to the footpath. I think better of this (at least, I think this was my thought process. I have no idea really though because I was pretty damn drunk) and head back where we came from. About 100 bushes and fences and carparks later I hit a road that actually had cars on it, and turn right. At this time it’s been about 5 minutes or so since I’ve seen the other two. My phone rings, and it’s Hellen asking where the fuck I am. The following is how this conversation was relayed back to me this morning, because I don’t actually remember it –

Me: HI!
Hellen: Where are you?
Me: I’m okay man, really!
Hellen: No but where are you?
Me: There were two carparks!
Hellen: Yes, but where are you?
Me: I’ll see you soon okay!?

It was all okay in the end. Turns out if you hit a road and follow it long enough you will find someone eventually. Or they will find you.

Last shot of the night!

Taking a camera was a good idea. National Pornographic again in two weeks!

There’s a nice feeling ’round these parts tonight. Everyone along the row has their windows and doors open, and all night there has been various sounds and smells coming through my door. A barbeque from number 5, some sort of asian dish from number 8. Also, as people are walking past each other’s doors they’re calling out to each other and stopping to chat. There is laughing and talking and tonight it’s music to my ears. It’s not a night to feel alone in the world.