Yup, I done did it! Went to Australia to catch some of the 33rd Anniversary Shows - the two in Sydney, and the finale in Brisbane. My pics turned out like crap, but a
friend snapped one of me in front of the Metro in Sydney after the March 8th show:
Here's an accurate setlist for ya:
INTRO MUSIC - The Way We Were
Picnic In The Jungle
Die In Terror
The Coming Of The Crow
Would We Be Alive?
Their Early Years
Jelly Jack (The Boneless Boy)
They Are The Meat
Burn Baby Burn
Life Would Be Wonderful - Mr. Wonderful
Ship Of Fools
OUTRO MUSIC - The Way We Were
I won't go into a blow-by-blow for each song, I think that mr Hamish's notes posted to Smartgroups did a most excellent job of that (esp. the second night).
I thought the shows were fantastic. Though there were some technical difficulties in each one (mic problems for both Sydney shows, and some monstrously loud POPping
sounds over the PA in Brisbane), they were not an impediment & the performances got better each night. As you can see from the above, they pinched from all over their
catalogue as a retrospective show would, and the fine choice of some Our Finest Flowers tracks helped to get even more into the mix.
From a musical perspective, my fave parts were the songs rarely performed (Meat) or never performed live before (Sleeper, Early Years, Alive? (the latter definitely THE best of the
show)), and those where a male-to-female switch in lead was done (Teddy Bear). From a performance
perspective, it was great to see the interplay between the Singing Resident and Molly getting tighter. Also, the Singing Resident has had a more mellow vocal tone of late on recent
releases, but he ripped it up just like the old days for these shows; he also pulled out a harmonica for some tunes, nice touch. Also, guitarist Nolan Cook was really "on", he's
catching up to Snakefinger more & more each time I hear him. From a staging perspective, it was a nice mix of "old & new" - the wonderful new birdlike suits, plus bits of the past
brought back (beaks from Wormwood, Eyeballs from same apparently, a lantern and mask from Demons Dance Alone). And the use of the adjustable ladder was nice - someone observed that
they could still see the price tag on it, must've bought it while there so's to have less to lug halfway 'round the world.
The venues & their crowds provided a stark contrast. Sydney was originally gonna be in Luna Park, which I got to see while driving over the harbor bridge - I think that would've
been a surreal location for a show, playing in a big-top tent. Alas, it was in the Metro, a nice enough place mind you, but much more like we're used to seeing the Rez play at in
the States (converted movie theater type). And since this was a festival / shared bill with other acts, there were losta folks, ummm, talking to each other & not necessarily
enraptured by the performance; even though the added second show wasn't a "festival", they did have 2 opening acts (unusual in the States for Rez shows) and a lot of this chatter
kicked in again - on this night, halfway thru the show some bloke even yelled at them to "shut up or fuck off", and things did get better after that. Oh well, their loss. It was easy
enough to maneuver up towards the front & get an excellent spot to stand & view things if one wanted, always cool. NOW compare that with Brisbane - Powerhouse seemed to be just that,
an old power plant? or an old warehouse converted into an artsy performance space. Very nice feel about the place. The space at which the Rez played was interesting - just
a few rows to stand in immediately in front of the stage. Just behind that was a railed-off hole in the floor thru which you could see downstairs, so people then congregated around
those railings to the left / right / behind the hole. The floor above was wide open, so fans could gather along those railings too, all the way up to & even behind the stage on one
side. This night's crowd was much more respectful of the acts & activities here compared to Sydney, so you could practically hear every nuance of their performance throughout. This was
nice, but come shows's end it seemed to be detrimental - when the Rez left the stage at the end of the main set, those mellow fans' clapping petered out real quickly, to the point where
I wondered "do these people really want them to come back on & do the rest of the show?" I hadta holler & start the clap thing again, the fans finally showed a pulse & picked it up again,
and thank goodness the band returned. Overall, the intensity of the performance seemed much much higher for this show compared to the 2 Sydney shows; I kept thinking to myself that THIS
would be the one they oughta release somehow, if they were to decide to do that. There was a video camera on the upper level stage right (not sure if one on left too), so I fathom someone
was capturing it for some legit purpose & I really do hope we all see it someday.
Speaking of capturing, back in Sydney I was blown away by the number of people I saw with what appeared to be video cameras in the audience, from the smallest cameras which will save small
video clips, all the way up to big hand-held units (that guy said he was part of the venue staff, and periodically captured bits & pieces of all acts for some official reason). Never seen
that done so freely at a show. Maybe I'm full of beans here & most of the small ones were simply digital cameras with things set to display the moving image until they stopped & chose a
still frame to snap. I dunno, but it all caught my eye & I thought I oughta mention it. Again, if I'm not wrong about this, I hope some of those fans share some of that.
The Residents used projection to superimpose images atop the moveable rectangular scrims/screens. In Sydney, I only remember noticing them being used in the pre-show/beginning, and
again at the very end during Ship Of Fools (I could be wrong about that too, but that's all I remember). In Brisbane, there were images frequently projected throughout the show. Nothing
earthshaking, but it gave ya more to look at.
I also got to talk to the promoter of the What Is Music? festival; he happened to be a buddy of the friend with whom I attended the shows. The promoter said that the same person who
sponsors the famous Big Day Out festivals was helping to bankroll this one, and that tho this year's Big Day Out shows were a financial success, this festival was definitely NOT going to
be one (and in fact they would take quite a heavy loss). But the fact that it was an artistic success was what counted, as this person is also a big fan & really wanted to see the Rez return
to Australia. He also said that matters were not helped by the fact that the Sydney shows were originally set for Luna Park, and that many fans were just totally confused by the fact that
the event would take place in a tent in a theme park (as if it was some "kiddie" thing, not an avant fest), some even calling & wanting their money back. And he said that he had submitted
the questions used in the Sydney-area local music rag Drum Media's interview with a Cryptic. We saw him at each of the 3 shows I was at, and when we saw him in Brisbane, he mentioned that
some of the Cryptics (plural) were there earlier roaming about the venue sampling some of the other acts' performances. (No one in the group I was with personally saw any of them.) He
had a laminate around his neck, and I joked "what would it take to pry that off'n ya, haha"; of course he needed it to finish doing his job the rest of the day. At show's end whilst
heading towards the doors after that last night of the tour, I saw him again & thanked him for his part in making all of these fine performances happen, then continued to exit - but he called
me back, fumbled thru his wallet for a bit looking for something, and then he GAVE me the backstage pass from around his neck. Wow. I know he knew my story of coming halfway around the world
just to be there & he'd seen me for 3 shows running, but that was totally unexpected & I heartily thanked him again. I left the venue raving, with the biggest smile on my face. He's a real
quality chap. And it made for a very fine ending to the tour experience.
Alrighty... So if you didn't get to attend the shows, what "Official Product" did ya miss? Of course, our purpose in the main list is to document this kind of stuff, so we care
about such things. Well, you didn't really miss much in this area. A wall of CDs for sale by all of the other acts, but none from the Rez. Another wall full of other textiles for
other acts, mostly shirts for them (+ Chicks on Speed hot pants!) & a couple for the What Is Music? festival itself, but none of the latter had show dates on them, nor the acts on the
bill (I got one of these just to have one, and I'll put it in the list). The only Rez shirt was a "classic Eyeball" front / blank back, no different from one you could order now
from RalphAm. If it had something on the back noting "33rd Anniversary Tour" or something like that, I bet that more would have sold (I surely would've grabbed a half dozen for me &
friends). Sadly, they did not choose to make a t-shirt with the "Sound Of Music" takeoff artwork on it; I think they would have sold a boatload of those. The ONLY must-have item was
a small poster of that artwork, for nice & cheap (AU$5).
Ticket handling in Sydney was unusual - Metro folks would check your name & code# against a list if you'd gotten e-tickets, and then stamp your arm, no stubbie. We asked about that,
as we'd done the e-ticket thing & I really wanted a stub - were told you can pick up one after the show at the ticket desk. After the first show, no one at the ticket desk had any
they'd give us. Ugh. For the second night, we'd brought our blueish/purpleish ones we'd bought at a record store a few days earlier - the ticket desk folks took it, again stamped
our arm, but no stubbie. Asked again, were told the same thing. Ugh ugh. Then my friend saw that promoter & chatted him up about this; he said you needed to go to the "coat check
area" and that they'd really REALLY have a ticket for us after the show. Following the show, we went there, and they did in fact give us tickets, but they were yellow ones & not the
blue/purple ones we'd turned in. My friend saw the promoter & asked about this, and the promoter went & dug out a blue/purple one just for me. Brisbane was standard - even tho we'd
also e-ticked for this show, they gave you a real ticket, you got a stub, and a little wristband so you could pass in/out if needed.
As for other swag, you'll eventually see whatever could be scraped together in the different sections in the list (I made doing this spiel first priority, documenting things while
still fresh in mind, so item notes & pics will commence shortly thereafter), but I'll mention some stuff here now:
* As noted on the What Is website, they did produce some small programs, basically condensing the info on the website (groups on bill, bios, dates/venues) into a handy format; there
also were some postcard-sized handbills; both of these items covered all 3 cities' shows & were freely distributed in all cities.
* At the Sydney & Brisbane What Is shows, there were some handbills posted around the venue with a stage / act / time matrix (just a printout from a spreadsheet), so's patrons could
know wassup & where to be for what they wanted to see - I'm guessing that the Melbourne shows also had some of these too; in Sydney they also had a small stack of handy-sized ones you
could take with you from the ticket desk, but I did not see any of these in Brisbane.
* At the Sydney show, we saw that our compadres in fandom The Moles had some fine color handbills setup by the bar, and they were all gone by show's end.
* And as you've already seen from that pic above, there were very large (door-size) posters created for each individual city's shows; these posters were so large that they had to be
printed in two sections & have the top/bottom patched together; in Sydney, the show was also promoted by Egg
Records (a fine shop, look them up (SEE BELOW)), and once again the proprietor was a buddy of my friend's - he told us that 50 large-size posters were made for each city, and
that in Sydney all but 3 immediately disappeared into private hands; of those 3 in Sydney, 1 was at the venue (as you saw above) and 2 were at Egg Records; my friend spoke to the guy while I
was perusing his wares, and persuaded him to give up the one he had in his storefront window; another quality chap indeed.
*** CORRECTION: have since found out that there were only 10 large posters per city, & that the band wants that last one in Egg Records.
*** Also found that there were 200 of the small posters for sale in each city / 600 total.
(The Pitt St store on the left has closed & its stock is being moved to the other stores)
* The same Egg Records gent also had a mobile (like you'd hang in a kid's room) on display in his store - the mobiles showed a set of the 4 Residents figures from that same "Sound Of Music"
shot, laminated & strung up to the mobile bars; he said that only 5 of these promo sets were created, 1 was given to the band, 1 was of course on display, 2 went immediately into
private hands, and that he had 1 for sale... which I quickly added to my pile of items I wanted to buy.
* Did not see any posters for the second Sydney show; only references to it on handbills & adverts.
Of course, there were other things like local music papers with interviews & adverts, some handbills for The Metro with dates for both shows, a blurb in the aussie version of Rolling
Stone mag, even a picture & a lame review in the daily Sydney paper after their first show. Check the list in the Handbills: Tour, Magazines, and Paper Misc. 2000s sections for this
stuff. That was all for Sydney, but time constraints did not allow for a similar type of cataloging for Melbourne (I came in town the night of that show / attended / left early next
morning to get back to Sydney for my departure flight), tho I did snag the aforementioned matrix sheets & a local music rag laying on a table in the venue's bar area.
Of course I've gotta extend a big THANK YOU to my friend & his family who put me up during all of this and got me to all of these shows, and to the people of the country - I met a lot
of very friendly folks, had a great time & truly enjoyed the beauty of Australia (wonderful public-access beaches straight along the coast, the rainforest area near Brisbane, the
wonderful downtown area of Sydney, etc.). And I got to do some shopping & pick up aussie pressings of LPs and CDs I can never find back home. Despite everything it took to make the
trip happen & the travel days involved (out of 9 days, 2 getting there/back, and 2 going between Sydney/Brisbane/back), the entire experience was wonderful & definitely worth it all.
But (haha) I wished those darn kookaburra birds weren't waking me up at 6:30 every morning with their laughing calls!
P.S. - if the guy we met from Revolve Records reads this, we never finished our conversation; drop me a line (see the Igor page) & we can finish it... glad you were able to attend the
Alrighty then. My friend who took the above pic also gave me the okay to post some of his show pics; enjoy.