Thee Oh Sees (John Dwyer, Brigid Dawson, Petey Dammit, Mike Shoun and myself) are on an Australian/New Zealand Tour and this is what I saw:
"Nice work if you can get it"
MELBOURNE We begin our journey with a 14-hour flight to Sydney then a 2-hour flight to Melbourne. A friend has given me some "ultra heavy duty" sleeping pills and says he only takes a quarter. Dwyer and I split one, and I end up feeling woozy and blinky and sleep for maybe a half hour and am jealous that Dwyer is resting under a bandanna tied over his eyes. (Turns out he was just under there thinking "SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP" to no avail.) When we wake up and he says "My eyes feel like two dried-out assholes," the feeling is mutual.
We land and are soon waiting in the at-least-300-people-deep customs line. A guy who looks like Kadafi wearing Gene Simmons as a skin suit tries to cut in front of us in line, and after a gentle scold from Dwyer replies "I cut your tongue out." Dwyer then offers to beat his ass, and he begrudgingly scoots out of line, only to cut in front of a woman with a huge cart and two crying kids.
Our tour manager Nicci picks us up and takes us to eat, where I have the best veggie burger with grilled eggplant and breaded carrot/lentil/blackbean with hummus. Then she takes us to our awesome hotel/flat where we'll be staying for three days—a huge modern five-person suite with a kitchen and balcony where I shower and take a nap. As I'm not in my normal stanky-back-room-of-a-club-painted-dark-red element, I sleep with one eye open. Later Nicci hosts a BBQ at her house, and I get a taste of how much more expensive Australia is at the supermarket, where a 6-pack of beer is almost $20. I buy some rubbing alcohol and potatoes instead so we can make prison toilet wine.
"My parties are totally lame" Petey Dammit
At the BBQ I try a bite of Kangaroo sausage and am a bit put-off, though maybe the combination of these huge bats flying overhead in the night sky and having recently watched the movie Contagion on the plane (SPOILER ALERT) is putting me off meat in general. We go home to sleep in our little bunk beds, and I remember Shoun's snoring style. He doesn't ever stop, but you can wake him up and have him roll into a position so he snores at your preferred frequency.
GEELONG Petey and I get breakfast at this nice cafe down the street where I have a great latte, AKA a "flat white," and fried eggs on toast that I stop eating halfway, as they taste overwhelmingly like fish for some reason. I hope to balance the universe later when we have sushi for lunch I but am disappointed it doesn't taste like eggs.
We play at a grimy little club called The Nash and have a nice dinner of spicy chicken and veggie and rice dish. Everyone has warned me that Geelong is a dead town full of "cashed out bogans." I guess bogan means white trash, so when I take a walk after dinner I expect to see a bunch of flip flopped and cowboy-booted feet sticking out from underneath Trans-Ams, and am pleasantly surprised to walk down the street three blocks to the waterfront and one of the most scenic walks I've ever taken on tour BY MYSELF. The sun is setting and there is a ferris wheel and an old-school high dive swimming area with a high dive and a park with a botanical garden. WHAT A SHITHOLE.
Geelong is a Garbage Dump
The Murlocs open the show and are great and sound like The Count Five, whom they cover, and from outside I mistake the singing dude for a raspy Janis Joplin-sounding woman. Our show is very sweaty and fun and afterwards a kid offers me free drugs if we play our song "Ship." (We don't.) On the drive back to Melbourne, Shoun and I romantically share my earbuds and laugh and marvel at the masterpiece of Ghostface Killa's "Fishscale."
MELBOURNE Today for lunch we go to a kinda raunchy looking Pho place that is supposed to be the best in town. Coming down the hallway after using the restroom, I have to step over an old woman chopping lettuce onto a cardboard box on the floor. We all get sliced beef pho that Dwyer refers to as "kitty cheeks," and I promptly vomit all over the table. Later I have dinner alone at a very crowded and fancy pizza place while reading my book and lying to myself that eating out alone isn't depressing. Some weird man comes over and asks if I would mind sharing the small table. Every fiber in my being screams "What kind of maniac would ask a person that, let alone WANT to sit at a table for three with a stranger?" But of course I reply "Uhhh, I guess..." He goes to check if they will let him, and I start eating as fast as I can so I can split. He comes back in a huff, saying the restaurant won't let him (jump ahead of 10 people and sit at a stranger's table), and I thank God and leave them a $700 tip. Tonight we play the Sugar Mountain Festival at a huge beautiful old theater with giant Roman columns and statutes next to the stage. There are loads of bands playing, but I am the most excited about Deerhoof, who are killer and have one of the best drummers I've ever seen, and Shabazz Palaces, who rule as well. It's such a treat to get to meet and watch them from the wings of the stage.
Melbourne reminds me of New Orleans
BRISBANE Rainman was right. Quantas is the best airline, as you get a FREE (rare these days) little headrest TV with your choice of 20 FREE new movies and TV shows. I watch Our Idiot Brother (meh) and Curb Your Enthusiasm (bravo). We fly into Brisbane, and while driving to get the rental gear we cross the Go-Between Bridge (named after the band from here) and turn onto Boomerang street. No joke. There was a flood here that shut down the city and the show when Thee Oh Sees were here last year so the club and fans are excited. The Straight Arrows (who are playing a lot of this tour) sound great, kind of like the Saints meets the Troggs with a little of the weirder Pixies guitar lines. The show is fun, and we have a cute hotel at which the owner opened the door barefoot and simply replied "yep" when asked if there was a password for the internet, then walked out of the room never to return.