Our first trip overseas with the band was always going to have an interesting start. After certain visa issues, we were told our passports were in the mail and on the way to us from the US Embassy in Sydney. The day before our flight to the US, they still hadn’t arrived and things were starting to get a bit tense. At 10pm the night before our flight, Simon decided to visit the Australia Post Alexandria sorting facility. Having just missed the truck carrying our passports to yet another sorting facility, he then headed off to Chullora in Western Sydney, following our passports deeper into the catacombs of Australia Post and their confusing systems. Arriving 5 minutes too late once again, this time the supervisor in charge called the truck driver with our mail in it, and he personally delivered our 6 passports to Simon’s house at 3am, 6 hours before our flight! So despite violating pretty much every rule in the Australia Post handbook, we couldn’t have done it without you, anonymous Australia Post employee, so thank you!
Our first show in the USA was in Las Vegas, city of dreams and nightmares. We were greeted with a taste of the luxury and ease we’d never thought we’d experience but had kind of expected in a place like Vegas. As we waited for our chauffeur to carry our bags and instruments from the terminal to our awaiting black limousine, we had our first gamble on the slot machines next to the baggage carousel. Heading down the strip (some of us sipping champagne), we saw our hotel in the distance, the giant glass pyramid of Las Giza with was was allegedly the world’s strongest light shining from its apex. We turned down the 6 twin-share rooms we were offered at the hotel, not really sure we could handle sleeping alone, and instead squashed into 2 larger rooms.
The following day we made our way down to the hotel pool, which was more like an oasis in the desert, for our gig. Our stage was set up next to the pyramid, and we got underway with preparing for our show, although somewhat distracted by the plastic surgery test dummies wandering around the pool pretending to be waitresses. As the sun came out in Las Vegas, so too did the biceps and the attitude, as we played one of our most unusual gigs yet, to a crowd of spring break revelers. We were received quite well however, despite our preconceptions, and headed off to make the most of our incredible private backstage room with its buffet and unlimited drinks.
Later that night we checked out some of the other casinos on the strip, most taken by The Venetian. We were impressed with the indoor re-creation of the canals of Venice, but in absolute awe of St Marc’s Square, complete with campanile, pigeons, and ceiling that changed colour as we ate real Italiano pasta whilst the sun was setting, indoors. This didn’t really help the unusual time our bodies were running on, moving 4 time zones in as many days, and becoming very confused as to if we were inside our outside. With a 5am lobby call the next day for our flight to New York, which ended up being 4am as daylight savings changed on us unexpectedly, we turned in for the night.
NEW YORK CITY
New York was where we headed for our next batch of shows, arriving in style in the only car we could fit into at the airport, a white stretch hummer. Surprisingly there isn’t actually much space in those things. We were impressed by the recession buster deals in every bar, like a beer and shot for $2, though we took it a bit far with Abortions, a nauseating mix of Kahluha and Baileys. We had some mean tacos, with Snack Dragon in the Lower East Side being our favourite, and partied in some bars like Arlenes, where The Strokes played their first ever gig. The Big Lebowski store in Greenwich was a real hit too. We were fortunate enough to play at The Bowery Ballroom, a bit of an institution in New York, as well as a gig in Williamsburg, in the middle of a scene we could really get used to.
On the subway
Austin was abuzz with the kind of atmosphere you rarely get to experience. The streets were packed, the tacos were cooking and there was music coming from literally ever corner of the city. We kicked off our SXSW experience with a Daytrotter Session, recording a few live tracks in a backyard shed, which will be streamed online very soon. We were told some of the other bands recording that week included J Mascis & Surfer Blood, so we were in good company. Later that day we played our first real SXSW show, upstairs in a club usually reserved for Austin’s elite businessman, and similarly elite but beautiful girlfriends. This week however, this club was a make-do music venue, along with several hundred other assorted clubs, venues, bedrooms, sheds and alleys in town.
We dined that night at The Boiling Pot, a famous Austin eatery where you order seafood by the pound, and they literally dump the lobsters and crawfish and prawns on the table in front of you, where you dig in with your hands and watch your pile of shell refuse slowly grow. There was something primal yet romantic about the whole experience, reverting back to the days before we used knives and forks and plates and manners. The following day we played a show with some other Australian bands, including The Jezabels and Washington, as well as some festival buzz bands like Twin Shadow & Cloud Nothings. The interesting thing we discovered this day at SXSW is how every band playing at the whole festival is on a very level playing field. You all have 10 minutes to set up and you all have half an hour to play your hearts out, and whether you’re the biggest or smallest band in your home country, you’re pretty much equal with every other band at SXSW. Later that day we saw our friends Little Red play down the road, as well as some other newer bands like Walk The Moon & Chapel Club.
Continuing with our foodies tour of America, we sampled yet another batch of trailer tacos, some of the best we’d tasted yet, probably due to our closer location to Mexico. That night we ate at The Ironworks Barbecue, Austin’s famous rib eatery, which we are told the Bush family owned for several generations until one son ruined the restaurant and the country. Standing in line for our ribs, we were greeted with a waiter obviously quite taken by the soup nazi and his impressive ordering system. Follow the guidelines or risk getting yelled at by a crazy Texan. Great ribs though.
Throughout our week in Austin, we also got to see Toro Y Moi, Atlas Sound, The Strokes, and Foster The People among others. I was impressed but also disturbed by a hip hop trio called Dominique Young Unique, and blown away by Little Dragon. And we listened to Odd Future from the street outside one of their shows, feeling sorry for their sound guy who was copping plenty of abuse from this ‘super’ group throughout their set. We finished off our trip to Austin with some legit southern seafood at Capt’n Benny’s, probably the worst decision of the trip yet.
Flying into LA we hit the most intense turbulence we’ve experienced yet, which was obviously too much for some passengers, as the plane was escorted to the terminal by a team of Fire Engines and the passengers were rushed off the plane as soon as the doors were opened. Our final show on the tour was at The Echo in Los Angeles with the taciturn Fujiya & Miyagi. What we found most curious about LA was how beautiful yet retro the place is. It’s as though the city peaked architecturally in the 1970s, and these days all the diners and art deco buildings are just the norm. For the town that is home to the majority of the world’s celebs and entertainment industry, I guess you’d call it a bit of a retro future. Our celeb spotting was relatively unsuccessful though, only spying Jack Nicholson (at the Lakers vs Suns basketball – which went intro triple overtime and was the most insane game ever!) and Cesar Millan, the dog whisperer walking one of his canines on Venice Beach.
We went to a Steel Panther concert, a band who seem to be heavily inspired by Spinal Tap, and who were actually incredibly sexist and racist (in a good way). Their interesting way with words didn’t seem to stop the majority of the female audience hopping on stage and showing everyone their wares. We also got to experience some of America’s finest television during a rainy day in LA, where reality TV has gone to a new extreme. Death Wish Removalist was one of our favourites, documenting how a poor removalist had to carry a couch up 5 flights of stairs, and Hard Core Pawn was another hit, though was probably not what most people expected it to be. We sampled some more of the local delicacies, including Wendy’s, In N Out Burger, Jack In The Box & Taco Bell, although by the end of the trip I think we’d all lost the ability to tell if we were hungry, just eating because we could.
THE HOLIDAYS – APRIL 2011
With special guests Gold Fields
WED 30 MARCH UNI OF NEW ENGLAND, ARMIDALE NSW** NEW SHOW
THU 31 MARCH WOLLONGONG UNI NSW** NEW SHOW
FRI 1 APRIL CAMBRIDGE HOTEL, NEWCASTLE NSW** NEW SHOW
SAT 2 APRIL OXFORD ART FACTORY, SYDNEY NSW
WED 6 APRIL KAROVA LOUNGE, BALLARAT VIC** NEW SHOW
THU 7 APRIL FEDERATION SQUARE, (ALL AGES) Free Entry VIC
FRI 8 APRIL REPUBLIC BAR, HOBART TAS
SAT 9 APRIL EAST BRUNSWICK CLUB, MELBOURNE VIC
SUN 10 APRIL EAST BRUNSWICK CLUB, MELBOURNE VIC** NEW SHOW
THU 14 APRIL ELSEWHERE, GOLD COAST QLD
FRI 15 APRIL THE ZOO, BRISBANE QLD
SAT 16 APRIL GREAT NORTHERN HOTEL, BYRON BAY NSW
WED 20 APRIL BEACH RD HOTEL, BONDI Free Entry NSW
THU 21 APRIL MONA VALE HOTEL, MONA VALE NSW
SAT 23 APRIL TRANSIT BAR, CANBERRA ACT** NEW SHOW
THU 28 APRIL AMPLIFIER BAR, PERTH WA
FRI 29 APRIL FOWLERS LIVE, ADELAIDE SA