SLIME FROM THE DRILLHEAD – An Augie March Tour Diary
June 8, 2006 | Author: Augie March. Live pics by Marty Williams
Australian Musician let Augie March loose with our good pencils and paper, as they documented a week or two in the life of their national ‘Moo, You Bloody Choir’ tour.
Wednesday 26 April. ANU Bar Canberra
Let’s start with a question. How thoroughly should you prepare for a 30 date national tour? It is definitely possible to over-rehearse. Whilst one can never underestimate the galvanising effects of fear and confusion (certain to mingle uninvited backstage prior to the opening show, both as predictable and unpleasant as a stream of urgent text messages from friends and family whom you have promised, and then forgotten, to register on the guest-list) or the acrid tinge of liquid adrenaline in the throat, you can nevertheless position too many sandbags around the stage and you can smooth edges of sound and performance in such a way that the result is an incremental amputation of the tiny limbs of spontaneous invention that might distinguish a flawless performance from a great one.
So one rehearsal will be fine. We’ll work out the guitar tunings and set lists when we get to the show. It will be cool.
After two songs it is obvious that a fiasco is in progress. The guitars are all tuned like hungover chickens. Dave has snapped the rattle-wire from his snare drum. Kiernan has not realised that a volume pedal is attached to his organ and is playing mute. The band doesn’t seem to be playing the same bits of the song at the same time. Crashing bathos ensues at a pre-song tuning impasse as Glenn announces that he is unable to perform momentarily and that “the band will meanwhile play some jazz for you”. The humorous distraction of incompetently rendered New Orleans blues becomes tiresome after seven minutes or so. Glenn abandons the adventurous set list of new songs and curls under a blanket of golden oldies. “I feel a bit disoriented” he informs the audience. “Yeah” adds Dave from behind the kit, “he went to go to the toilet before the show and filled up the hand-basin instead”.
It is a great night, truly.
Saturday 29 April, Newtown RSL Sydney
Augie March rarely attract lascivious female admirers. For some reason when the lead singer warns the front row of the audience that he has a faulty zipper it resonates less with the amorous tease of Mick Jagger’s famous banter at Madison Square Garden in 1969 (“I think I busted a button on my trousers, hope they don’t fall down. You don’t want my trousers to fall down now do you?”) and more with the slapstick potential of a Mr Bean segment. When girls have gained entry to the Augie dressing room they have invariably asked if they can be introduced to the support band.
This is only discoursed for the reason that tonight an unfamiliar girl is present in the band’s hotel room; she vomits red wine into the bin and passes out in a large cardboard box.
Thursday 4 May, The Zoo Brisbane
This is the second night of a two-show residency at the famous Brisbane grunge attic. The previous evening had ended with a bottle of vermouth being passed from lip to lip and an amicable debate about the merits of Dave using a metronome as a guide to start each song at the correct tempo. Glenn argues that the drummer should let his passion and mood for the impending song dictate its speed rather than a pre-configured algorithm, and slips in the barb “People have said you are a very straight rhythm section”.
Tonight the metronome is placed in cotton wool and Dave bursts onto stage cloaked in robes of “passion and mood”. The first three songs are unleashed at a pace so frighteningly impassioned that riffs are truncated, structures upended and Glenn is required to chop lines from verses, words from lines and syllables from words. The singer does not require a metronome to set the tempo for the torrent of expletive-riddled bile he hoses on his drummer. “Glenn, do you remember the conversation we had in the hotel last night?” Dave calmly enquires. “Yes, and I told you I don’t go for guys with mutton-chops” comes the reply as quick as anything heard on the stage all night.
Wednesday 10 May, Karova Lounge Ballarat
There is no band-room at this venue. Before the show the players huddle protectively between the merchandise stall and the pool table as a bouncer regularly opens the nearby door inviting fierce gusts of subzero condensation. There are promising rumours of a caravan in some car park that stays open all night ladling pea soup into polystyrene cups.
There is perhaps a tendency to accord regional shows with less gravitas than capital city engagements; the provincial concert-goer might well be justified in absorbing some offence from this conclusion but they are frequently compensated with an uninhibited performance of gleeful abandon and reckless inventiveness. This is perhaps the case for most of tonight’s show and confirmed indubitably as Dave precedes the encore by bouncing onto stage clad only in body-shirt and thermal leggings then conducting a short but spirited aerobics class. Someone throws a bottle at his head and narrowly misses. It is Glenn.
Thursday 11 May, Ruby’s Belgrave
There is a very large downstairs dressing room at this venue. It is actually bigger than the room that the acts perform in. Before the show an unfamiliar man confidently enters and, without greeting or explanation, lurches towards the room’s only other portal – a heavily alarmed emergency exit. When questioned politely (“Forsooth, wherefore this precipitous motion squire?”) he explains that his girlfriend is upstairs and he wishes to leave the venue without the bitch knowing, then vanishes under a blather of sirens.
After the show several vampish blondes arrive backstage and ask if they can meet Dan Kelly and the Alpha Males.
Saturday 13 May, HiFi Bar Melbourne
Edmondo arrives for the show dressed immaculately in a brown pin-stripe suit, silk tie and fedora hat. He is every inch the consecrated Corleone and takes this persona onto the stage with him, wielding his bass like an Armalite carbine rifle and pumping out incendiary reams of low-frequency bullets into anyone and anything unfortunate enough to stray upon the line of his quadraphonic boom. Kiernan’s peppered frame has to be peeled off the side-fill by the stage crew and replaced gingerly on his piano stool before taking part in the encore, painfully aware he has crossed one Sicilian that does not adhere to a code of silence.
SLIME FROM THE DRILLHEAD – An Augie March Tour Diary