When you have the right people on the job, with the right attitudes and the right connections, amazing things are possible. And so it was that those savvy enough to heed the call of the inaugural Tent Pole festival scored a golden ticket to an intimate chilled music fest like no other.
‘Tent Pole - A Musical Jamboree’ is a boutique music offering, that for the first time ever, proposed to sprinkle a cool authenticity over the top paddock at Mt Duneed Estate. It’s the brainchild of a group of very connected music fans… Brian Taranto aka BT of LOVE POLICE (responsible for the highly successful annual ‘OUT ON THE WEEKEND’ festival, Johann Ponniah, founder of one of the most happening young record label in Australia, I OH YOU and Kate Berry who spearheads OK MOTELS, a cooperative of local legends responsible for facilitating contemporary music and arts events that over a couple of days can singlehandedly breathe life back into sleepy towns, connecting locals with ‘blow-ins’ to create new communities. In co-operation with A DAY ON THE GREEN, Tent Pole was born.
Between them, they had the inspired idea to bring the iconic 90’s band PAVEMENT to Australia for a tour and then build a festival around it. The local bands that Johann, Brian and Kate selected were coincidentally all big Pavement fans and took turns supporting the headline act on the provincial dates. Rather like a big touring family affair.
From the moment punters arrived at the beautifully appointed venue and were greeted by a selection of vintage camping chairs and bean bags positioned under shady trees, it became apparent that today’s offerings were out to break conventions and expectations in every way.
It’s obvious the organisers are well versed and have considered every aspect, working hard to minimise the hassle factors encountered in a lot of other festivals. Today there will be no competing time slots, with a timetable being configured so that each act neatly dovetails into the next and because Tent Pole’s two stages are positioned barely 40 metres apart there is no mad rush to get to the next act. Both stages are humorously adorned in giant inflatable pink fuchsias and more antique camping chairs… A tent near the entrance offers a selection of new and used records. Everything is catered for. There is a smoking section discreetly off to the side of the main GA section with superb sight lines to the stage. A great little food and drink retreat is tucked discreetly away behind the Merch stalls. So beautifully and intelligently appointed. Full marks to the team on the aesthetics.
Due to the ridiculous traffic delays on the Melb-Geelong freeway due to the Avalon Airshow, organisers considerately delayed the start of the festival by 30 minutes.
Brian Taranto is our MC for the day and introduces each act with enthusiastic aplomb.
“Geelong… can you hear me out there? Hey, thanks for coming to Tentpole everybody! First one! First act… we hope you’re having a great day… it’s a little bit warm, I don’t know where it is but I’m sure we’ve got water somewhere… make use of the banana lounges… most of all… these bands playing today… we’ve thought about this and there’s some fucking incredible bands gonna play today so get your stamina right… work on your drinking… get something to eat… do some record shopping… have a great day and we’ll see you out there!”
First up are locals, female four-piece Sirens’ who prove themselves an enlightened choice to open and effectively christen the festival. With a superb dreamy six track EP under their belt released on Bonsai Records and produced by another accredited local, Jasper Jolly and also featuring a cameo by George Carroll Wilson.
The girls treat us to a tight six song set that gets off to a tender start with new instrumental track ‘Pilot’… this eases us into ‘The Valley’, a central track in their Sirens EP. Their sound is a dreamy combination of psychedelic, progressive rock and pop that perfectly sets the tone for the day. They receive a warm reception from an appreciative crowd and one of their mums joins me at the barrier (understandably super proud) and films the rest of their set on her phone.
‘Expectations’ is up next with a markedly darker chord progression. Lead vocals are handled beautifully by drummer Connor Ibrahim with Mila Amey (guitar), Erica Crawford (keyboards) and Lilly Copperwaite (bass) joining on backing vocals. The girls appear relaxed and enjoying the opportunity to let their hair down, with guitarist Mila Amey absolutely shredding, bending notes perfectly on the gorgeous newie ‘Bliss’.
Another new track follows in ‘One Step Closer’ which to my ears has a strong Bangles vibe. It’s a belter.
Self-appointed ‘Queen SP’ Erica Crawford reiterates the communal vibe of today, humorously reminding everyone of the importance of proper sun screening… “What BT said before is really important guys… This sun has been good… and we’ve got the cloud cover, but keep the sunscreen going... if you don’t have any – I’m sure people wouldn’t mind lending it out… all good guys!”
Her bandmates crack up and Mila, who’s crouched at her mic stand in mid-hydration, very nearly snorts in her beer. This brings us to ‘Absence Of Pleasure’ the final track on the EP. It’s also a great choice to close out what’s been a credible set and the girls rock out. Sirens have delivered on the Tent Pole premise and it’s a fine start to the day.
2. Jerikye Williams
It’s a relaxed stroll to the main Tent Pole Stage where BT excitedly introduces indigenous singer/songwriter Jerikye Williams. Playing solo on such a massive stage, impeccably dressed in a silver paisley jacket and armed with his gorgeous red Gretsch, a quiff that would make Elvis proud and voice to match, he commands the audience’s attention trotting out a mix of his own compositions, familiar covers and Elvis and Roy Orbison classics. It’s an honest performance that serves to showcase his impeccable voice and stagecraft.
“Now some of you may be looking at me and thinking ‘Jeez this fullah looks like Elvis… so I’m gonna do an Elvis song for you’…” He then proceeds to sing a slow impassioned verse of ‘Burning Love’ and then stops and deadpans the crowd… “That’s it…” He jests though, and seconds later springs into an incredible full hip swing uptempo rendition. He certainly has the credentials. The photographers snap away.
His set reveals him to be a sentimentalist at heart and he takes a few minutes to cover a song written by his aunt and uncle in the mid-seventies called ‘Streets of Old Fitzroy’.
A self-penned song ‘It Was Me’ harks strongly back to Jerry Lee Lewis’s ’Great Balls Of Fire’ in both attitude and tempo. He introduces the next song ‘Dreaming My Life Away’ as his first hit and it proves a showcase for a beautiful falsetto. He encourages the crowd to sing along to Johnny Cash’s ‘Ring Of Fire’ and then follows it with a highlight that connects immediately. It’s an Australian medley made famous by Gangajang: He effortlessly segues Wide Open Road / Almost With You / Streets Of Your Town / Stranded / Sounds of Then (This Is Australia) / Great Southern Land / To Her Door / My Island Home.
A cover version of his good friend Michaelangelo’s song ‘Talking In My Sleep’ follows. I’ve become increasingly aware that one of the outstanding aspects of our great local music scene is that musicians seem to look out for each other and as well as sharing the same hairstyle as Michelangelo aka Michael Simic, I’m tipping there is quite a nurturing brotherhood at play. My hunch proves correct as I learn chatting to the approachable Jerikye after his set, that Simic was indeed the man responsible for Jerikye’s introduction to BT. Selflessness in action is a beautiful thing.
Jerikye also covers a fabulous old Exile song ‘Kiss You All Over’ and closes out his set with a stupendous solo version of Orbison’s ‘Pretty Woman’ complete with the trademark Orbison growl… It’s a showstopper.
3. The Prize
A local band that has become a personal firm favourite are up next on the OK Motels stage. Before they are allowed to start their set, BT takes a minute and introduces Al O’Neill, a local legend booker and manager on the surf coast who used to Rock'n'Roll himself and really makes shit happen.
“He’s good and we trust him, right? I just met him at the Barwon Club the other night and he said, “Put these guys on, these guys are awesome… and Kate from OK Motels, she did a whole University course on it and together the people from Victoria have chosen this band to come up next. BUT… before they start, if anyone’s got kids, there are all kinds of games and stuff and pop culture records and there’s a quiet room over there if anyone needs to chill… BUT right now… YOU are the winners because Ladies and Gentlemen, on the OK Motels stage please welcome The Prize!”
Nadine Muller on drums and vocals is the focal point of this band and from the get-go, propels her four guitar attack headlong at breakneck speed. The boys all contribute vocals and the guitar interplay is a highlight. Overall the material is a blend of all the very best in punk power pop and the tight five piece rip through a high-octane nine song set that includes a bevy of new tracks, many of which will feature on the upcoming album that drummer Nadine promises me is ‘very nearly done’, with a possible release in a couple of months. Together The Prize sound unstoppable. The songs are catchy and memorable from the very first listen and by the sets end you are left wanting more, and definitely busting to tell your mates about them. The world is The Prize’s Oyster…. I can’t wait for that debut!
Fighting My Way Back
Feel The Beat
Don’t Know You
Don’t Need 'em
Say You’re Mine
Easy Way Out
Wrong Side Of Town
Had It Made
As The Prize hit the last power chord of their epic set closer ‘Had It Made’, BT is already back down on the Tent Pole stage, singing the praises of Melbourne punk power trio CLAMM.
CLAMM are essentially two school mates, Jack Summers and drummer Miles Harding, accompanied by newest recruit Maisie Everett (also in Belair Lip Bombs), who joined the band on bass duties shortly after their ‘Beseech Me’ long player was released.
This band doesn’t muck around… they’ve got a lot to get off their collective chest in their 45 minute slot and get straight to the point. Summers’ writing is straight from the heart via the solar plexus… and CLAMM is today’s social conscience… a conduit for tough love. The songs are short, belligerent, biting rages against social injustice, misrepresentation, and hopelessness. An unswerving wind tunnel of angst in the hot sun, the trio spit out tracks from both their long players ‘Beseech’ and ‘Care’. It’s just a shame that today Jack’s vocals are a little buried in the mix as his lyrics pull no punches and deserve to be heard far and wide.
Exhibit 1: ‘Incompetence’
“I’m a part of a very crook setup
Paying taxes to sanction the innocent
Lock up the person that is sleeping on the street
While the politicians lie, steal and cheat
Yeah, I'm a part of a very crook setup
Where my money funds high-powered weaponry
And I pay my ten percent GST
For the police to bully, hate and beat”
Exhibit 2: Care
“Yeah we care about seven years
Seven years too long
High tea for the parliament
While the refugees rot
Rights, lives, lies, life
Fight, for rights, lives, life
Cause they can't tell us what to say
If only listening was a part of the government's way
But they can't tell us what to say
Problem is, I think they all like it that way
Yeah we care about inept men
Blow it up for a coal mine
You make me sick”
The blistering 45 minute set is a sweaty bootcamp of intent, with only seconds between songs and minimal banter. In faded grey singlet, buzzcut and blue ribboned rat tail, a deeply focussed Jack delivers every song with an unswerving conviction, evoking attitude and perspective that most of us only get as far as thinking privately. The set resonates with the audience who lap up the brutish attack on the establishment, each song met with nods of agreement and hearty applause.
Done It Myself
5. MOD CON
Next up on the OK Motels stage are locals MOD CON comprising Erica Dunn (Vocals and Lead Guitar), Sara Retallick (Bass) and Raquel Solier (Drums).
It’s my first time hearing this local trio but from the first verse of ‘Cool It’ I’m unequivocally hooked… Erica Dunn’s unpredictable angular guitar lines and very Souixsie-ish vocals spearhead a superb rhythm section. The playful ‘Learner In An Alpha’ proves an instant earworm, possessing a real B-52’s sensibility. ‘Electric Whip’ fairly whomps with its super hooky bass-line and yelping vocals. A glance around the audience reveals it to be peppered with fans who’ve obviously seen the band before and are keen to get amongst it as they seem to sing along to everything. “Scorpio Moon’ off their debut is absolutely killer and the girls really let loose on this. Dunn comes across as infinitely relaxed in her role as frontperson, a consummate performer who is able to carry the set effortlessly. It’s well paced and the 45 minutes whizzes past. She dedicates “Submit!” to her bandmate… “this goes to the cheeky fucker who robbed my wallet last night… No, really!…. I hope you had a good time…” Knowing smirks all around. The retro-sounding ‘X-Ray’ bounces along playfully and is the perfect finale to what has been a penultimate beginners’ introduction to MOD CON. I’m sold and will definitely be catching them again.
Learner In An Alpha
Is Your Heart A Joke
6. The Black Lips
A band high on everyone’s list today is next up… Brian Taranto’s certainly excited… introducing the legendary Georgian garage band: “EVERYBODY at Tentpole… here they come… 756 times this band has rocked this nation… Australia, please welcome… The BLAAAACK LIPPPPPS!”
The Black Lips are a five-piece (Cole Alexander – vocals, guitar, Jared Swilley – vocals, bass guitar, Oakley Munson – drums, vocals, Zumi Rosow – vocals, saxophone and Jeff Clarke – guitar, vocals)
Zumi Rosow’s cacophonous sax is a rallying call to the crowd who all press forward to the barrier to take in this energetic if not somewhat ramshackle set.
Founding member Cole Alexander shifts between two adjacent microphones to deliver the rollicking classic ‘Slime & Oxygen’ It only takes a couple of verses to win over the crowd. Saxophonist Zumi is already bent double down on her back blowing to the heavens.
“I walked the path of million men
I gorge the belly I fight and sin
Battles in the Trojan War
I drink the wine and blood of before
A nimble skull will always crack
1000 year faithful attack
Will a coward die from calloused hands
3000 rationed spinach cans”
After all that saxxing Zumi is obviously a little lightheaded… “Thank you Adelaide…we’re so happy to be here”… Nobody notices and (if they did) nobody cares.
Jeff Clarke takes vocal duties for the distinctly country-tinged “Holding Me Holding You”. The band hit a groove with everyone singing backup except drummer Oakley Munson who just concentrates on holding down the backbeat on this hectic hayride.
It’s Jared Swilley’s turn on vocals for the quirky ‘Modern Art’. He energetically jump-marches us through the whole song and the energy is infectious.
“K-hole at the Dalí
Seeing the unknown
Well, it might have been a molly
'Cause my mind's being blown…”
The Black Lips then take us a little closer to home… It’s 'Georgia' with the crowd joining in on all the ‘Woo hoos’… They know how to get an audience on their side and everyone’s onboard… “Angelo Rodeo’ and a well chosen cover of The Velvet Underground’s ‘Get It On Time’ are right on point.
It’s fresh for us but in retrospect, for The Black Lips at least, today’s setlist is the road well-travelled…a tried and true cross-section of their back catalog. We get ‘Cold Hands’, ‘Family Tree’ and ‘Tongue Tied’ before the band sense that their time may be running out. They look side of stage to their tour manager for an indication of time remaining only to be told they have time for at least FOUR more! They’re happy about that as they are loving the vibe. They round the set out with a brilliant ‘Dirty Hands’, ‘Hooker Jon’, “Gentleman’ and the perennial set finale of ‘Bad Kids’.
Slime And Oxygen
Holding Me Holding You
Get It On Time (The Velvet Underground cover)
7. The Schizophonics
I think it’s fair to say nobody was prepared for what was to come next on the OK Motels stage… Hailed as the wildest live band in America (for good reason we were soon to discover), this San Diego band’s live performance is a hybrid of the ferocity of Iggy Pop meets the distortion and bloody-mindedness of the MC5, with the moves of James Brown and Little Richard and the sonics of Jimi Hendrix. Pat Beers is a true rock'n'roll showman, a machine and an athlete and his guitar has to be the toughest out there. In this performance, the microphone stand is but a single, momentary touchpoint of the stage as this whirling dervish relentlessly spins, splits, tumbles, rolls and bounces his way around and on and off the stage. Almost impossible to photograph I’d say… At one point the desire to connect with the audience is too much for Pat and before security even realise, he and his microphone stand are down off the 6-foot stage, over the fence and into the audience. After wading about 10 metres into the crowd he has us all crouch down to do the equivalent of the Schizo’s version of the ‘Peppermint Twist’. It’s a definitive ‘lightning in a bottle’ Tent Pole moment, not soon forgotten. I’m sure most have never witnessed a performance like it. Absolutely gob-smacking. I didn’t know any of the songs but it didn’t really matter. Presented in this way, they all sounded fab. It was the sheer spectacle of seeing a player defy audience expectations AND destroy his shoes in the process. Incredible. This band is definitely crying out for a serious footwear and equipment sponsorship though… just sayin’.
It’s then quickly down to the Tent Pole stage to take in a gorgeous Didge-led ‘Welcome to Country’ before the spectacle that is…
8. Charley Crockett & The Blue Drifters.
BT: “Yeah… how’re we feeling out there Tent Pole People??? How about that weather??? OK Folks, well what an incredible little interlude there as we switch into the gears, we switch continents… all the way deep in south Texas… for the first time in the great state of Victoria, please welcome to the stage Charley Crockett & The Bluuuue Drifterrrrss!”
Those in the know refer to him as the hardest working man in Country & Western currently and with an incredible 11 albums in the last 7 years under his broad western belt buckle, Charley Crockett is certainly that. He claims relation to the famous Davy Crockett and even has a record label called ‘Son of Davy’ that he releases all his music through. He also knows a crack band when he spots one. The Blue Drifters are an incredibly versatile five-piece that can transform a great performance to an exemplary one.
Over the course of 45 minutes, Crockett treats Tent Pole to a sincere 14-song set that cherrypicks 7 of his albums, kicking things off masterfully with ‘Run Horse Run’ from 2020’s ‘Welcome to Hard Times’, a real mood setter featuring a trumpet intro by one of the Drifters that rings out forlornly across Mt Duneed’s Top Paddock, immediately transporting us to the desert plains of Waco Texas,… then ‘Cowboy Candy’ from his latest ‘The Man From Waco’ (2022).
He gets wistfully romantic on ‘Just Like Honey’ before the reliable swagger of a slide guitar-driven ‘Black Sedan’ gets the whole audience swaying along. We’re like putty in his hands. That is followed by a track that could be the embodiment of the man… his theme song even… ‘The Man from Waco’.
‘The mirage of Del Rio it was burning in his eyes
And sleep had escaped him, too consumed by his pride
Like the lonesome and high country he was lost in a haze
And the thoughts of what he'd do if he unloaded all his rage
The man from Waco’
Crockett is a class performer, deadly serious about his craft but is also able to have a bit of fun with it, striking the odd pose with his guitar for the photographers in the pit, eyeballing them down the neck of his much-loved twelve-string.
Set highlights include ‘’Music City USA’, Welcome To Hard Times’, ‘Trinity River’ and a scorching instrumental played by Crockett’s slide guitarist who is introduced thus: “He’s willing and able… on the geeetarrr table, folks… please give it up for Nathan Fleming!”
At the climax of the final song of his set ‘I’m Just A Clown’, true to form, he unplugs his guitar, takes the lead and playfully swings it around his head for a few seconds like a lasso before releasing it towards the crowd. With a wink, a tip of his stetson and a smile from ear to ear, he acknowledges the crowd, “We’ve been Charley Crockett & the Blue Drifters and it’s been our pleasure to serve you”. Giddy up y’all.
Run Horse Run
Just Like Honey
The Man From Waco
Music City USA
Welcome To Hard Times
Name On A Billboard
Round This World
I'm Just a Clown
We’re getting to the pointy end of the night now and by the time I get back up to the OK Motels stage, locals Floodlights already have a packed audience on the barrier. Tonight is all about road testing the new songs off the upcoming album ‘Painting of My Time’ which is due out on April 21, this year.
It’s straight into a newie…the heady slow builder ‘Moment of Distraction’. It’s a great choice for a set opener, and is destined to become a Floodlight’s classic. Ash’s punctuating guitar lines really help propel it along. The smiles all around the band tell me that they’re happy with the way this one is sounding live.
Without a moment’s hesitation, it’s straight into last year’s ‘Human’. It hasn’t been around all that long but it’s already a firm fave and everyone’s chiming in, in succession on the refrain. Two songs in and the set is humming. ‘Thanks for Understanding’ follows and Ash’s harmonica hits the sweet spot.
Before commencing the next track guitarist Ash respectfully compliments Tent Pole on the beautiful ‘Welcome to Country’ and then it’s time to road-test another new one. It's called ‘Wide Open Land’ and its trumpet intro, chord progression and driving tempo are ingredients that instantly remind me of the national pride embodied in songs like Goanna’s ‘Solid Rock’ or Icehouse’s ‘Great Southern Land’ and bestow it the distinct flavour of an Aussie classic in the making.
A few more favourites follow: ‘Overflowing Cup’, the succinct ‘Small Town Pub’ whose lyrics really resonate and make me wish the song went for a few more verses…
“What’s our identity?
Stubby shorts and a culture cut short
Shane Warne on the telly
That’s our identity
Out of sight and out of mind
Does that work in the dead of the night?
On stolen land
What did we build from?
Who dealt this hand?
Ciggie smoke in a small town pub
Rough as guts
Ghosts of the gums
Are calling back
And the crack of the gun
Keeps ringing back”
“Nullarbor’ is next. The lyrics are superbly evocative. It serves as momentary pause for reflection.. the need we all have for some ‘alone time’ in order to reconnect…
“I pack my boot up and drive
Everything that’s necessary for my life
My jack, tools and tyre repair kit
It makes me look the part
But in Bridgestone I will sit
Driving through the quiet rural towns
A novelty sized fruit stands with nobody around
The cattle station hums into the night
But I ain’t seen nothing yet, 'ya see?
The sun at my back when I wake
My brain see-saws
Is this a big mistake?
Constant phone calls ring out
It's nothing personal
I just need a people drought”
The brand new single ‘Lessons Learnt’ is next. It’s a cracker. Played much faster than in the video and during all the excitement Ash plays so hard that her harmonica box falls onto the stage spilling the contents far and wide, much to her fellow bandmate’s amusement.
It’s a wistful interlude with ‘Things You Do’ before the more familiar ‘Matter Of Time’. The band wrap up what’s been a rewarding set with the title track of their forthcoming album ‘A Painting of My Time’. It begins with a simple bass progression that builds with the rest of the band slowly chiming individually. Ash’s harmonica break kicks off the main section of the track and has the audience cheering in appreciation… it features an infectious ‘woo-ooo’ chorus that has everyone involved. If the new songs previewed this evening are anything to go by, this next album is gonna be a pearler. Floodlights for the win!
Moment Of Distraction
Thanks For Understanding
Wide Open Land
Small Town Pub
Things You Do
Matter Of Time
Painting Of My Time
Having caught Spiderbait live only two weeks ago at the Echuca Riverboats Festival (they slayed), I choose this time as my first opportunity of the day to hydrate and grab a bite to eat. I chat to some hardcore Magic Dirt fans who I commend for their dedication. They are already lining the barrier to be front and centre for Adalita and her band in 45 minutes' time. At a festival like this, at this stage of the night, peeps are deciding where they want to be for the headliner acts they have prioritised and a few have already staked their positions in readiness.
As I walk around the venue, it’s super chill, with lots of space and I spot some of the performers from earlier in the day who are milling around taking in the happy vibe. Everyone’s in a great mood and enjoying what’s on offer. There are no egos or attitudes and performers are infinitely approachable. I congratulate The Black Lips drummer, Oakley Munson, on a great set and then recognise The Prize’s drummer Nadine Muller who is standing nearby. She brings me up to speed with progress on her band’s upcoming album and I really enjoy getting to chat with the affable Jerikye Williams who is having a quiet smoke while he takes in Spiderbait’s set.
Spiderbait play a power-packed set and race through their hits which the crowd adore. Highlights are the whole crowd singing along to ‘Fucken Awesome’, ‘Calypso’, “Hot Water & Milk’, Kram dedicating ‘Old Man Sam’ to Charley Crockett… ‘Buy Me A Pony’ which bassist Janet English plays on drums (momentarily relegating Kram to bass), ‘Footy’ dedicated to the Australian Woman’s League… and of course the set closer, an epic extended version of Spiderbait's massive hit, ‘Black Betty’. Kram and his band are firm faves with the Tent Pole crowd. BAM-BA-LAM!
11. Magic Dirt
I take in Magic Dirt’s set from a distance. Like others I’ve talked to earlier, I’m opting to forgo this particular set, in readiness to be on the barrier for Pavement. They open with ‘Sparrow’ and when the breeze blows the right way I can hear snippets of ‘Pace It’ and ‘Plastic Loveless Letter’ amongst other songs. The delivery sounds powerful and urgent and I’m sure they hit the spot with their fans but standing here in the optimum spot to catch Pavement for my first time ever on the barrier, I’m pretty confident I’ve made the right decision.
Pavement are blessed to have passionate fans. I’m standing with a couple who have travelled to Japan recently to see the band and know of another who has pretty much seen every show around Australia on this tour. It’s my first introduction to them and I’m impressed with the passion already on display.
A very excited BT is back on the mic to introduce Pavement:
“Hello… hello… hello…. HELLOOO….wooooooooh! A massive thank you to IOHYOU, DAY ON THE GREEN, OK MOTELS and those fools from LOVE POLICE for putting this joy on… Look at all you happy people! We might just do this again! You know we’re lucky in this world… we’re a little bit connected… and we get to do good shit… and stuff comes along… like this band… Pavement?… and why don’t we do a show with Pavement… and it’s like, ‘okay, let’s get a festival around that and call it Tent Pole’…and that’s tonight… and so… from the foreclosure capital of the world…would you welcome… on the last ever show of their Australian tour… to the Tent Pole stage… Ladies and gentlemen and everybody else… PAAAAAAAAAAVVVEEEEEE MEEEENNNNNTTTT!!!!!"
As the band appear on stage, in his excitement, BT pulls his shirt up to reveal his gut.. obviously an in-joke as a couple of the band members do the same, as they walk past him.
Stephen Malkmus is visibly excited as he ‘woo woo’s’ into his mike. A couple of pedal adjustments and we’re off.
First up it’s ‘Grounded’. Those around me are already singing along… It’s a good sign. Huge applause. ’Silence Kid’ and ‘Trigger Cut’ are up next. Spiral takes over vocals for ‘Date w/IKEA’ and the energy levels rise noticeably.
Malkmus takes the opportunity between ‘Embassy Row’ and ‘Two States’ to give us some pointers on the best cheap wine from their town.
Tonight, for the first time in only two gigs in the entire history of the band, the legendary Pavement are one man down. Bob Nastanovich is currently in hospital nursing some severe bruising on his leg after suffering a fall into the orchestra pit of the Palais Theatre in St Kilda the previous night. It takes the band eight songs before any mention is made of the elephant in the room. Stephen Malkmus confesses he was a bit nervous about bringing it up. Tonight Bob’s yelps and percussive duties are being shared around.
After the joyous upbeat ’Stereo’, the markedly slower and elegant ‘We Dance’ is a stark contrast. It is extremely pretty in this incarnation and Scott and Stephen remark as much at the end.
‘In The Mouth A Desert’ is introduced by Malkmus; “OK, this is a major opening riff in the history of Indie Rock.”
Spiral has the cowbell at the ready. The song is an extended jam with the band really vibing off it. At one stage Spiral spots one lonely beach chair off to the side of the stage and drags out a little more guitar lead length to enable him to venture out there onto the stage wing and play the rest of the song seated, looking out at the audience and also back at the band.
BT, who has been observing from the sidelines all set, takes this as his cue to do the very same. He spends a couple of songs sitting on a deck chair off to the side taking it all in… the happy band… the happy audience… the joyous festival atmosphere. It must be a very satisfying moment for him to see the fruition of all the organiser’s hard work.
He has such a great time out there, he brings more chairs back onto the stage and invites some people that the band obviously know from the audience to come around the back and sit behind the band during the next few songs. It's a special moment.
Of the remainder of the spectacular set, ‘Gold Soundz’ and ‘Cut Your Hair’ elicit the biggest crowd response, but ‘Summer Babe’ in the encore was just magnificently joyous.
Such a privilege to catch this band, playing at the top of their game, in such a brilliant spot.
Date w/ IKEA
In The Mouth A Desert
Father To A Sister Of Thought
Harness Your Hopes
Cut Your Hair
Fight This Generation
Hearty congrats to the organisers of Tent Pole - A Musical Jamboree! What they have achieved today is a brilliant amalgam of diverse talent, coming together for an unforgettable day of relaxed revelry. So many happy punters. Cannot wait to see what incredible surprises they pull out for the next one.
5 Fuchsias out of 5!
Words by Harry Williams
Photography by CarbieWarbie