The dust has settled, I have caught up on some sleep (no thanks to Eurovision, artists, and the company of Theatre Technicians), the Hardman is having a well-earned sleep, and K is bigging it up at the local cafe with her mum-friends.
So lets gets this gig wrap-up out of the way before I sleep or Hardman wakes.
As you know, The Steinbecks don’t gig often. We’re all too old, too busy or too pre-occupied with our children to be bothered. And besides, we’re much more keen on writing and recording songs than we are on playing to small crowds of unappreciateive drunkards in a sticky, stinky, smokey room. I love watching bands in pubs, but I’m not so keen on being one of them.
Still, that doesn’t mean I don’t dig the feeling you get from a good gig. When everything goes right, it’s sensational. The album launch was, by and large, one of those gigs.
First off, there is the stage. It’s roomy without being too big. There’s ample off-stage storage space, and a nice elevation from the crowd.
The PA and electronics are a-class, and in the hands of a top-class engineer (like Sirri, who mixed us), the room can sound great.
After soundcheck, we had dinner at the pub. I had a delicious fish’n’chips, with the fish cooked in Coopers Ale batter. You KNOW that rocks.
The Northcote Social Club is, without a doubt, one of Melbourne’s finest venues for gigs. The stage, room and equipment are great. Then there’s the band room, with a well-stocked fridge (more of that Coopers magic), a tele for watching Friday Night Footy, and some comfy couches – all safely locked away behind a security coded door. The staff are of equally high standards. Polite, friendly, and informative. They kept the night running incredibly smoothly. From bouncers to bar manager, they were all damn-near perfect.
So, enough of the venue, how about the music? Indeed.
First up we had Matt, who is The Daytime Frequency, up on stage playing some of his sweet pop. Just one man and his guitar, or keyboard. Matt’s album ‘Sun Opus is Upon Us’ (incidentally, Matt seems to have a thing for palendromes, with the album including a track titled ‘Now Eve, we’re here we’ve won’) is available now, and served as a great calmer on work at Monday, and kept me from frying my brain.
The crowd didn’t realy start to build up until the second half of Matt’s set, which was a relief to me, because I did an early headcount, and was feeling quite nervous (when you’re at a top venue, you really feel obliged to pull in some numbers).
Second up we had Steinbecks-cousin Tali White’s band, The Guild League. Tali’s something of an icon in the Melbourne pop scene, thanks to his work with The Lucksmiths, so alot of the crowd were there to see him, which worked out great for us. The Guild League ripped throgh a rather lengthy, but highly enjoyable set. With Tali being predictably charming and funny, wooing every single person in the room.
Then there was us, The Steinbecks. We opened up with ‘1987+1994=2007’, which also opens the new album (Far From The Madding Crowd). I’ve always thought this one was a bit shaky to be an opener, but the guys like it, and Josh’s My Morning Jacket-inspired wails at the end always put me in a good mood. We had what was probably our only seamless transition out of ‘1987…’ into ‘Moon and Stars’ which I always find awkward, but amazingly, is my Dad’s favourite track from the album. The crowd remained positive, and even put up with Joel’s broken string, and some moments of dumbfounded silence as he retuned his guitar (we’d run out of witty banter too early, it would seem). The last third of the setlist was by far the most oustanding. Tali came back on stage to sing ‘Have You Ever Looked After A Song’ (which he co-wrote with Joel), and the Guild League crowd loved it. He then stayed up on stage to help out with backing vocals on the wonderfully full ‘Blank Pages’. We also had Matt up with us on keys, and Rohan and AD belting out their Trumpety goodness. ‘Blank Pages’ received a pretty darn good reception, one of the best I’ve encountered, which was just great.
The excitement of the crowd was well timed, as it led into our Tali-sung first single ‘The Doppler Effect’. Again, it was a cracker of a song, and got us another great round of applause. It’s not often we get to play to that many people, especially not ones who are so happy to hear us.
We ducked off stage fora breather before the fake encore, which did make me feel kind of stupid. But hey, that’ showbiz right…. Right?
When we jumped back on stage, we fired out a couple of pop gems. We had Matt’s keys and the two horns back for ‘No Strings, No Money, No Worries’, and Josh had slipped into his Papua New Guinea ‘Sydney 200’ track top, and went through some loosely choreographed hand movements. ‘No Strings…’ is a song that does’t get much live time, as it’s heavily dependant on the horns, and is incredibly short. But when it does get a guernsey, it really rocks me. We closed the evening with a cover of ‘Alone Again, Or’, a cracker of a song by Love. We’ve only played it live once before, and Crumpet missed it somehow, so I gently pushed the band into playing it again this time. It’s a great number to end on, the twin vocals of Joel and Josh, the dramatic end to each verse, the frenetic clapping of two horn players and Tali, and Matt’s lightning strings, and then the amazing horn solo. It ended the set on such a high note.
I was buzzing so much, and then the house music came up – The Flaming Lips ‘Race For The Prize’. Every part of my body wanted to jump down off the stage a dance, but alas, I had to pack up the gear quick snap and get home to relieve our aging babysitters (it was 1am, after all).
I should also mention the amazing Jerry Rinse, beat the crap out of his pagan skins, anonce again did a wonderful job of holding his rather incompetant musicians together.
And so there it is. I had fun. Muchos Grande Fun.
How bout you?