Excerpt from The Bedroom Philosopher Diaries — the new book from Justin Heazlewood
Saturday August 14. Hobart. Brisbane Hotel. All Ages.
Gig Vibe: 4.5 Venue treatment: 6 Band morale: Good.
In an attempt to make the tour as comfortable as possible, we’d hired a fourteen-seater bus. Gordo’s jaunty nature made him the perfect bus driver. I hitched my legs up in the backseat and gazed at the city parks, listening to the sunny chatter of my entourage. It felt like a school camp for adulthood. This time it was on my terms. I was surrounded by the people of my choosing, united in a love of the craft and commitment to a shared goal. I meditated on the point, reminding myself that this was happening, it was my life, I had created it, it was good and I was actually happy. I then asked the band to turn the music down.
The Brisbane Hotel is like the Tote in Melbourne. It’s an authentic rock and roll pub, built from the timber of smashed guitars and held together by the blood and sweat of Tex Perkins. Turning your venue into a rock and roll pub is a sound financial decision as you don’t have to maintain it, nor lift a finger towards making it remotely comfortable. The Brisbane band room looked like an abandoned high school basement where the groundskeeper teaches boxing to special needs kids. A cold, concrete floor with autopsied furniture and a bar freshly polished with a nail gun.
We’d brought along our own sound operator, Jeremy. Most gigs, we’d wait at least forty-five minutes for the support band to arrive, followed by the venue manager, a man who spends his life being ‘on his way’ and ‘getting back to you.’ The venue is his crib and no one may touch the toys until he shows you how to set the dials to Muddy.
I check out the toilet. I consider myself a connoisseur of toilets. Nothing makes me happier than a clean, lemony, well tiled men’s urinal. Knowing I’ll spend important time there, a restroom with a breezy, fresh feel can make my day. There’s a certain brand of urinal cakes, that in combination with an open, spring-time window, takes me back to a good childhood place of hanging out at the Wynyard Bowls Club with Nan & Pop. Smell is a wormhole for memories. That said, the Brisbane toilet was tangy and dank. Above the urinal was written ‘Beertallica masturbated here!’
I’m flightier than a set of stairs. The venue managed to not receive the thirty A2 posters that cost $15 to post. ‘Oh mate, we must have smoked them rolling those big A2 doobs!’ With ten minutes of sound check left, I lurched on stage with the fold back howling and Pinky Beecroft scowling. As management talked about confusion over all-ages playing times I stormed off to look for lunch. I chomped fish and chips while reading a comedy special in FHM. It was all overseas comedians except for a special on Tripod and Axis of Awesome.
Every day, in every way, I’m getting bitter and bitter.
The all ages gig was weird. The empty cement room threw cold sound back in our faces. It was redeemed by two blonde fans that made themselves at home down the front. As we started Song To Nod Off To one piped up with ‘I do the house cleaning to this song,’ stretching out on the floor like a sleepy lion. They had written some suggestions on the set list, which I appreciated. I didn’t play any of them – I’m not a human jukebox. During the pre-amble to Generation ABC a bright-eyed lass appeared.
‘I have to go, my Dad’s picking me up, can you please sign my poster.’ I obliged, signalling Nature Boy to perform his ’50 states of America in 30 seconds’ routine. She told Anthea this was her first ever gig.
Disaster struck during an ill-advised scissor kick on the cramped stage, I collected my leg on the drum kit and landed on my ankle. Cushioned by adrenalin and yoga smarts, I managed not to break it, but hobbled off stage feeling thirty and ridiculous. I sat cross legged on the merch desk while chirpy young things brought me abstruse items to sign including library cards and a plastic ball. One girl made a piece of lithographic art from my promo photo and coyly handed it to me. I was gruff in response and felt a chill of alienation as she walked away.
From the awesome new book The Bedroom Philosopher Diaries by Justin Heazlewood. Illustrations for feature image by Leigh Rigozzi.
Avail. as an E-book through Affirm here: