live interlude – you am i in canberra

tonight this is quite a different approach. it’s a very cold and wet mid winter night in canberra. instead of listening to an album at home, this comes via the full live performance of two by you am i, one of which is on the top albums list in the whole collection. i will listen to them properly at another point. the albums are hi fi way and hourly, daily, respectively released in 1995 and 1996.

at this moment i can only speak of the peers here. canberra crowds are perhaps the least interesting you are ever likely to encounter. that stands here and now. i am here as well in spite of the potential to see one or two exes. none so far. i’d probably have sacrificed a fair bit to hear this band play their best album (hi fi way). having said that, i nearly forgot it was on, and was readying for a warm night inside.

most people look like they were probably of the era, like me. it makes me wonder what goes through their minds about their music past and present. is this pure nostalgia? is there currency for them? do they feel old? how is this making me feel if i ask those rhetorical questions of others around me?

if i belong anywhere musically, it’s here. so i’m not sure why it feels odd. i mean, i’ve never been a crowd member who comes in a group to socialise. live music is an odd experience really, because it’s almost always intensely personal for me. i am only interested in the band’s performance, not the collective experience of it. that’s probably a little too reductionist. i do get a bit of a kick out of seeing a person slightly moving their head like me in vague time with the music when it’s so good.

so this will be a rock show, it should work.

and there’s the first one, with his girlfriend. i hope they don’t move towards the corner like me… there was some inevitability about it, but a consciousness i would have preferred not to keep on tonight. will it work if i turn my back? at least i know we won’t talk, since i’ve encountered him near work on several occasions. i’m going to feel timmy’s channelled low key hostility tonight.

as i continue to wait for the show to start, looking at the merch stand brought back a vivid memory from about 17 years ago. i remember being at one of their shows and agonising over whether to buy a t-shirt. i didn’t. in the end, that wasn’t my way of collecting live shows. to this day i have only one band shirt. a pavement one from their last tour before they broke up. it was child sized…

i’m marginally depressed for a few reasons, like i always am at live shows. it’s a complex thing to explain, partly in relation to a lot of thoughts above and below. i think i will explore it further elsewhere.

and here we go; the band, the music. i bet tim rogers said how much he hates canberra before he stepped on stage. at least they did the smart thing and started with the less seminal of the two albums. later he said how close he was to canberra, without actually saying he liked it.

i remember this album, hourly, daily, was the last thing i taped off the radio when they broadcast it live back when it was first released. it’s what broke them to a higher level of popularity, and perhaps their spirits a bit.

i don’t remember venues being this well lit.

hearing a whole album performed live also highlights the weaker songs. i know them all, but not having listened to this one for ages exposes why i stopped at that point with you am i. other people have given up and gone to the bar. i’m liking their plan less, of starting with the poorer cousin. it’s a bad sign when i’m planning how to get back to my car in my head when the show finishes.

intermission. i hope i’m fucking spooking people by maintaining my positon, hood up, back leaning against the wall. i’ve never really understood other people. why don’t you all just go fuck each other?

the crowd are doing something that just didn’t happen back when this was contemporary. drinking energy juice. it makes me want to vomit like almost nothing else. the floors aren’t sticky anymore, the venue isn’t filled with smoke. i’m not saying i miss those things, per se. but they are my experience. and that memory makes me lament what this is.

do any of them comprehend what i’m doing right now? i know i don’t interact normally. but what do they get from the conversations they’re having? are they enriched? what have they achieved by sitting here talking about their houses and their jobs? is it a rare therapy these days?

i only know that i want to take a sharp object and poke each of their eyes out. at least timmy is in good form tonight. even if he needs 20 minutes to recover between sets.

as i wait, i have the benefit that i can take my glasses off and see nothing. it simply becomes a milieu of light and sounds of which i tune in and out, catching snippets of insight and banality in slightly unequal proportions.

i just closed my eyes altogether and saw an image of the band’s heads floating together, like some bad photoshop job. i think it was a waking dream. that’s how far i am transporting myself from here.

at least it was worth the wait. in tim’s own words, rock is a gift.

it must be said that their renditions of hi fi way made the journey altogether 100% worthwhile. they were such excellent songs that i had somehow almost forgotten. they even honoured with a small encore in which there were a couple of sound as ever entries… but no matter how hard i willed (without vocalising), they didn’t play jaimme’s got a gal.

oh well, you can’t have everything. from my position, i got to see it all.

love you boys.


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