Random Play by Graham Reid

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Random Play: “Thank you, you’ve been a lovely audience”

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  • Danielle,

    a malfunctioning smoke flare-powered giant inflatable octopus, which had become damaged by numerous hippies floundering about

    I love this sentence so much that I want to marry it.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    There's an urban legend that one of the first wave of rave acts - Altern8, 808 State, or someone like that - played a gig once where their bass was so powerful that a number of ravers inadvertently voided their bowels....

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    a gaff gaffe...?

    ...damaged by numerous hippies floundering...

    Pitchforks again?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report Reply

  • Venetia King,

    Some of the sets at this year's BDO were painfully loud - especially Tiki Taane in the Boiler Room, I couldn't handle even one song. I use those ER-20 earplugs & they normally filter out enough of the volume but I had to resort to sound-killing foam things in the end.

    I can recall the feeling of bass coming up through the floor and trying to take over my heartbeat on more than one occasion, but can't remember what shows I would've been at. Likely candidates for venue would be Wellington's Town Hall, Indigo/SFBH and James Cabaret.

    The Cult wins my "hauling out the hits for the fans" award for their Town Hall show in 1995 (back when BDO headliners used to play side shows in Wellington). It was like a complete retrospective of their back catalogue. And Fur Patrol are kind enough to play Lydia for every audience - although in the early days Julia would fool around with the lyrics: "Am I, surprised, to see you've got chlamydia...". She wins the "best dealings with hecklers" too, always sharp and amusing though my memory's not good enough to recite any particular instance.

    Sonic Youth in 96 at the Town Hall is the most bored I've ever been at a gig. Waaay too much guitar solo wankery. Considered walking out, but in those days there was no mobile to let my other half know what I was doing.

    Best support - Primary before Tadpole, at Coroglen Tavern late 2001. Connie Mitchell, now of Sneaky Sound System, has great stage presence & the most stunning voice - wish she still did the rock band thing but can't begrudge the success, she deserves it. Thinking of that show reminds me of a great quote - Renee of Tadpole calling out that "this one's for all the rugby players out there!" before launching into 'Backdoor'. Hadn't laughed so hard in ages, but the crowd just took it at face value and sang along enthusiastically.

    Audience memories... I remember a show in Auckland - actually I don't remember the show itself - where a terrifying-looking guy in seriously lived-in leather and denim loomed behind us. Missing teeth and a nose that looked as though it had been bitten off and sewn back on, and we were a little anxious till he gently made sure my much shorter friend was safe from the surrounding moshers.

    Rudest crowd was for Bic Runga at the James Cabaret, I think she was touring her first album. The songs were fairly low-key, but beautiful and I was so angry when the punters treated it like background noise.

    The audience for the two Sleater-Kinney shows at the Kings Arms in Dec 02 was generally pretty cool, everyone was clearly stoked to be there. The first night, I was in the front row between a lass who'd flown over from Melbourne and an excitable young guy. There was a bit of shoving and it looked like things were going to get ugly, but I managed to point out to each of them that the other was being pushed from the side and wasn't smacking into anyone deliberately. Then it was all sweetness & light. The aforementioned Carrie Brownstein told me the next night that it was nice to have someone like me at the front. Two of the best shows of my life and that was the icing on the cake.

    Worst sound - main stages at Big Day Out, every time I've been, no question. But then I saw Neil Young and was gobsmacked. They can have sound of that quality???

    Looking forward to the Veils at SFBH tonight & Dave Dobbyn at the St James tomorrow... getting old though & wish SFBH shows were as early as St James!

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 117 posts Report Reply

  • Venetia King,

    Oops, didn't mean for that to get so long.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 117 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Dave Dobbyn at the St James tomorrow

    I saw him last night. When they say 'show starts at 8pm', they are not kidding! I think I missed about 20 minutes or so of his first set. I'm hoping it didn't include Songs From The Album That Three People Bought, Which I Consider Some of His Best Work (although I very much doubt he broke out 'Love Over All', my personal favourite).

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Venetia King,

    I've never bought any of his albums, but like any kiwi am pretty familiar with the singles catalogue. I've seen him live a couple of times & know we're in for a great show.

    Thanks for the tip, I was planning on getting there fairly early but didn't know there was no support act.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 117 posts Report Reply

  • Alan Perrott,

    talking about Davo, the gig he did at the Gluepot with late lamented Go-Between Grant McLennan was one of the more surprising acts I've ever seen.

    it should have been bottled really.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 438 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    I wish I had gone to The Veils, who played at the Altitude in Hamilton last night but I think I was put off by my 16 year old daughter warning me that I would stick out in a crowd of Wintec mediia arts students sporting serious haircuts. But I do like their "Jesus for the Jugular" track.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2562 posts Report Reply

  • Josh Addison,

    There's an urban legend that one of the first wave of rave acts - Altern8, 808 State, or someone like that - played a gig once where their bass was so powerful that a number of ravers inadvertently voided their bowels....

    Ah, the brown note - I heard about it as a rumour attached to the Butthole Surfers, but it seems to be an urban myth. Shame, no illegal bowel disruptors for us...

    Onehunga, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 298 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Littlewood,

    Worst sound - main stages at Big Day Out, every time I've been, no question. But then I saw Neil Young and was gobsmacked. They can have sound of that quality???

    Talking to some of the BDO technicians before his set, I think it's mainly down to the fact that Neil Young is a notoriously unrepentant audiophile. They were pretty surprised he still used analogue soundgear (the same goes for the lighting too, apparently), but in this case, it was perfect- as you say, everything about that set was perfect, and the sound played a huge part in it.

    The loudest gig I've ever been to was the Dead C a few years back at Arc Cafe in Dunedin- it was painful, but worth it. I saw HDU shortly afterwards, I'm not sure whether my ears fully recovered from that double-wammy.

    Regarding Sleater-Kinney, I didn't get to see them in 2002, but in 2006 in Auckland they were amazing- that band really listens to oneanother, and the way everything pivots around the drummer is pretty startling to watch. She's a machine. I think they get the visceral thrill rock can provide if its rooted in the ground.

    Rudest crowd was for Bic Runga at the James Cabaret, I think she was touring her first album. The songs were fairly low-key, but beautiful and I was so angry when the punters treated it like background noise.

    The only time I've seen Bic Runga live was back in 2004, at Knox Church. I had to review the gig, and one thing that I pointed out was how respectful the audience was. It was a really strange atmosphere, but the choice of venue was perfect. It was just a lovely set.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 449 posts Report Reply

  • philipmatthews,

    Ah, the brown note - I heard about it as a rumour attached to the Butthole Surfers, but it seems to be an urban myth. Shame, no illegal bowel disruptors for us...

    I think the same sort of thing was said about the Swans. Who used to play very loud indeed during the Holy Money/Public Castration era. This quote from Michael Gira: "I used volume as a way to become transported by the music. The sheer physicality of it was so enthralling. It just felt good."

    And this description from an old Simon Reynolds live review, from Melody Maker, 1986:

    Some bands use noise to blow the mind. The Swans music acts more like a compression of consciousness, a soul mangling. We were frozen in their noise, our minds unable to wander.

    Wish I'd seen that.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 656 posts Report Reply

  • Scott A,

    Danielle: "I'm hoping it didn't include Songs From The Album That Three People Bought"

    Well, that's you and I. But who on earth brought the third copy of Lament for the Numb?

    That trio of albums Dobbyn did in the 90s; The taut, dark, edgy pop of Lament, the controlled chaos and whimsy ofTwist and then the beauty and beautiful release of The Islander; superb stuff. Will surely go down in history as his finest work (even if, for the most part, the crowd-popping hits came from both before and after that period).

    I recall hearing an anecdote that Mr Dobbyn once responded someone who kept calling for "Bliss" with a "thanks for reminding us both how old we are" retort.

    The wilds of Kingston, We… • Since May 2009 • 133 posts Report Reply

  • Marcus Turner,

    Went to the Christchurch Cooder/Lowe concert. Enjoyed it.

    (Does anyone know the story behind the ticket prices? I paid over $130.00, but many others got their tickets for $60.00. Hard not to feel peeved about that....)

    Most of the audience, as far as I could tell, were in their 50s or 60s.

    The warm-up act was loud. Certainly too loud for some, and I know it made one person feel physically ill. I found it uncomfortable to begin with, but seemed to adapt. From my point of view, the musicianship was great.

    There was yelling from one or two sections of the audience, just before the last song or two (of the first act) to "turn down the bass".

    The main act didn't seem nearly so loud. I don't know whether that was because I'd adapted, or everything was less compressed, or there were no keyboards filling out the middle of the sound, or they just played more quietly.

    I think that - at least in part - the "problem" was an issue of age. Older people perhaps don't enjoy loud music so much. I certainly don't like loud music so much as I did 30 years ago.

    Getting sound loud enough to overcome ambient noise etc. is an issue that can be tackled in a number of different ways. A friend was telling me last week about a folk festival in Australia where, by the clever use of many speakers placed down the sides of a marqee tent, and linked with some sort of delay system, they're able to produce sound that's quite loud enough inside the tent, but doesn't leak outside and intrude on nearby (tent) venues.

    I think part of the reason for such a loud sound at the concert in Christchurch was the design of the sound system for the gig: i.e. projecting the sound from speaker stacks on the stage. Those seated at the front - particularly near the stacks - got more than they wanted.

    Another part of the phenomenon is the need to overcome ambient noise. I've heard it suggested that audience behaviour at live performances began to change significantly in New Zealand fairly soon after the arrival of television. People got used to the idea that they could talk while watching a performer concentrating on their performance.

    There has always been a tendency, I think, for certain types of performances to be associated with drinking and/or drugs. The resultant loss of social skills produces well-documented consequences (see previous posts).

    Whether because of wisdom gained through ageing or simple loss of energy, the audience at the Cooder/Lowe concert seemed prepared to sit and listen (and show hearty appreciation for numbers and solos). The volume setting for the opening act may have seemed unneccessary.

    Actually, I think it was probably just uncomfortable. A mismatch between a young band and an old audience perhaps.

    But I don't think anyone's looking for someone to hang, as a result.

    The notion of wearing earplugs to a gig is something I've considered, for the sake of preserving hearing, but it seems somehow perverse. For the most part, I just avoid loud concerts, and seem to live a fulfilling existence, nonetheless.

    Stranger still, seems the notion of wearing earplugs to perform. I've performed with musicians who do this (I think of a performer who played a particularly piercing ocarina while wearing earplugs). But if it's too loud for the performer, surely it'll be too loud for everyone else. (It sure was for me...)

    Perhaps it comes down, again, to the design of the sound system. Sound needn't be loud on stage if the sound system can make it loud enough, from other sources, for the whole venue.

    Maybe in future we'll all carry our sound systems with us, and adjust the volume/EQ etc. individually. That sort of thing sort of already happens at some gigs, doesn't it?

    The Cooder/Lowe concert was as enjoyable as Graham's review of a more northerly one had led me to expect. Those who know more about these things faulted Lowe's bass playing a little, and I did notice that he seemed to strum his guitar with this thumb, which was something of a surprise.

    There was something sort of strange about playing some songs with a guitar/electric guitar/drums combination and no bass, but Joachim's playing seemed to fill for that very well.

    Most of the time, the only "middle" was provided by the two female backing vocalists, and there was plenty of space for Ry Cooder's guitar. But the sound didn't seem sparse at all.

    I enjoyed the way that both Ry Cooder and Nick Lowe engaged with the audience both between and during numbers. Lowe, in particular, was really personable.

    I enjoyed seeing Cooder play so many different guitars, though I couldn't really hear much difference in tone between them. (I presume they were in different tunings. One - a Stratocaster - had a very long neck. Someone counted 24 frets, which is unusual. And it seemed to be tuned very low.) Loved hearing some songs sung in Spanish.

    "Peace Love and Understanding" and "How can a poor man stand such times and live?" - both included in the encore - have very similar refrains, don't they?

    As we got up to leave at the end of a very satisfying evening, I commented to a friend that it was just like a folk concert, really.

    And he said "It was a folk concert."

    And he was right.

    Since Nov 2006 • 212 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    One of my regrets is that I only got into Sleater-Kinney after they disbanded; I'd love to have seen them live.

    Missing the first part of gigs: I went to see Lemon Jelly at the Junction in Cambridge. Doors opened 8pm, we got there at 8:45... and discovered that we'd just missed the band handing out bingo cards to the people through the doors at 8pm and calling a few sets of bingo for band memorabilia. Classic.

    My favourite gig moment ever, though, was an Orbital gig back in 1999. My partner had lured me over to the UK with the promise that we could probably see some bands I liked, and lo, Orbital played the Corn Exchange not two months after I arrived. They played a great set, we all jumped up and down, everyone was happy. Then they went off and we all screamed for an encore. They came back on and started twiddling things. A series of slow bass throbs started; cue everyone in the crowd thinking simultaneously "I know I know this song, but damned if I can recognise it." More bass throbs. A twiddling bit starts. Then a familar sound -GANG GA GANG, GANG GA GANG, GANG GA GANG... - kicks in, and the entire audience realises what it is at the same moment and screams with joy as we all realise they're actually doing a version of the theme from Dr Who. Later on I found that it was a staple of their live show, but at the time none of us had a clue what it was until we all realised at once. Part of being a great happy single organism, which was a nice experience.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 709 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Great post, Marcus. I don't think it is so much to do with age in respect of sound level tolerance, as the circumstances. I left the Leonard Cohen concert in Auckland wishing it had been less restrained (and louder)--and regretting I had chosen this concert over Neil Young.

    But what does drive me spare is the so-called 'ambient' noise in cafes and bars, when all you can hear over the patron noise is the base 'boom/boom/boom' from the sound system. It is like listening to a noisy party three houses away , late at night.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2562 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Re Ry Cooder Nick Lowe concert Wellytown.

    Good show. Yes I saw the earplugs and stole a handfull (I am a shooter!). I too thought the lead in act was loud. My test was "can I hear the lyrics?" well, no I couldn't but when I stuffed my fingers in my ears I could. The distortion was undeniable but it was scary to figure out was it my ears that were distorting or the speakers.

    When the Cooder came on he actually gave a compliment to the sound and obviously the volume appreared to get lowered for the second half. I could hear the lyrics.

    But for a masterpiece of a concert hall and all the design features that (allegedly) ensure every seat in the place gets a quality sound, I find it incomprehensible that the sound engineer felt the need to wind the knob up so much.

    Frankly, I could not believe that there were boxes of earplugs outside the door. For $120 a ticket I think I want to hear the concert, not dull the response by stuffing the ears.

    I have a wife who wears hearing aids and it was a pain - literally - for her. They turned off automatically because of the sound level and consequently had to endure the performance somewhat quieter and certainly without the frequency response the aids supplied.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    the entire audience realises what it is at the same moment and screams with joy as we all realise they're actually doing a version of the theme from Dr Who.

    I think there's a live version on the b-side of one of their singles. I've got a copy somewhere.

    They also used to mix in Belinda Carlisle 'heaven is a place on earth' in their live shows. Which always used to make me giggle, in terms of the 'great happy single organism' thing.

    WRT earplugs: I've found a a decent and low-cost option to be 'Alpine' earplugs.

    They come with swappable inserts that are tuned to remove or damp down certain freqency ranges - the ones that actually do the damage. I've only used them a few times at gigs, but I haven't really noticed any appreciable loss of sound quality, just raw volume. Pretty comfortable, too - much better than the foam crap you get at the chemist.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Venetia King,

    I wish I had gone to The Veils ... but I think I was put off by my 16 year old daughter warning me that I would stick out in a crowd of Wintec mediia arts students sporting serious haircuts. But I do like their "Jesus for the Jugular" track.

    Sticking out in the crowd - for not being part of the demographic - is part of the fun of going to gigs as I get older. Though I was slightly uncomfortable that time I went to Sneaky Sound System in my rock show gears & was surrounded by bright shiny young things dressed to sparkle, in not very much.

    Sophia from the Veils writes a highly readable blog, thinking about stickers. She posted some great stuff on the experience of playing live - I particularly liked this note of appreciation to the crowd:

    I don't know who you were. But thank you for coming. Especially thank you to the two young men front and centre who spent the show with arms around eachothers shoulders, sweating and yelling.

    'PLAY CALLY-OPE!'
    'PLAAAYYY CALLY-OOOOPE!'
    'Uh, I think we already did.'

    Seriously, I liked those guys. There's something kind of....nice, about people who are clearly dilettantes in Veils-dom appearing in the front row. No doubt they really start to fuck you off, if you're, say, La Roux, but as a novelty...besides, watching someone embarrass themselves is always kickass. The looks from people around them were priceless.

    Oh, and "Jesus for the Jugular" is fantastic live. I hope they play it tonight.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 117 posts Report Reply

  • Julian Melville,

    Sarah McLeod of the Superjesus

    She's wonderful. Pretty much my favourite rock moment ever was at the 1997? 8? Falls Festival when someone chucked a bottle out of the crowd, straight at her head. She caught it with her left hand, told the audience to throw underwear instead, and carried on with the show.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • Julian Melville,

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Oh. I am now reminded: I actually saw Elvis Costello in the State in 2004. I must disagree with you there. It's a truly gorgeous theatre, but the mad 'orientalism' of the Civic has the State beaten in terms of sheer trippiness. Every single light in every chandelier in the Civic is held by a different tiny elephant! And the globe over the proscenium arch has a giant New Zealand on it and nothing else! And there are gold lions with flashing eyes! Plus the star-studded sky and the shooting stars and the moving clouds... no, I'm going to say the Civic is way more hallucinogenic.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    They Might Be Giants at the Powerstation wins for "dopey audience of the year" interaction - they came on stage with teh usual "Hello Auckland" bit, then "Are you ambivalent about being here tonight?" to which the audience responded with a "YEEESSSSSSSS" (programmed concert responses ftw). They Might Be Giants look a little non-plussed, and repeat the question, to which the audience again responds "YEESSSSS", except for me who says "NO" and gets frowned at by everyone around....

    That's hilarious, nice one Dave.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Waaay too much guitar solo wankery.

    For all my sins, real, imagined and future, I found myself at a Deep Purple gig at Western Springs circa 1975, having won three tickets on Radio Hauraki. Richie Blackmore had already moved on to bloated solo pastures and Tommy Bolin (RIP) was in the band. 20 minutes into Smoke On the Water's guitar solo we left.

    I was later told by the one of us that opted to stay that it had some way to go...

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Stormbringer!

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

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