Ok, so it IS weird travelling on my own.
B and I have been basically inseperable for the past 5 years. We’re not by any means co-dependent, but at worst I have easily fallen prey on occasion, to the appealing warmth of a meal at home and a cosy snuggle by the fireplace (aka television), over goin out and, you know, doin stuff. At worst. Don’t judge me.
But I’m in San Francisco. And the kindly folk at OzCo have actually given me money to do stuff here. And there certainly isn’t a lack of things to do: a quick scan of SF Weekly reveals a dozen or so gigs that Blair would be happy if he saw in a year back home. And it’s exciting to be here. Far from pushing myself to take advantage of it, I am eager to see and do as much as I possibly can while I’m here.
To whit, another gig review…
Junior Boys and Max Tundra at Bimbos 365 Club
I was umming and ahing about this one. I really love Junior Boys, but it was blowing a gale outside, and I knew the trek up to Russian Hill was going to involve a complicated and untested trolley to cable car transfer in the middle of the city at night- on the way there and back. Being slightly neurotic as I am, I had thoroughly researched my options on Google Maps and was still not convinced. I asked one of the other interns if she thought it would “be ok” (that recieved a deservedly perplexed look- would what be ok?). Hell’s bells, I even had a back up plan – getting a taxi home if I felt out of my depth.
Clearly what I didn’t understand until last night was the key to me feeling comfortable anywhere, is having a pretty dress to wear. Having spent most of Thursday trawling the mission for Taquerias and thrift stores, I had quite a booty of new outfeets to choose from. Armed with new dress and accessories, and knowing that the venue was an original 1960s nightclub, still in original working order, sealed the deal. I flew out the door (head full of Mad Men and Desperately Seeking Susan) way too early, arrived way too early, was seated at my table way to early, ate my dinner way to early and had several hours to kill on my own before the gig even thought about starting. But still- how excited was I? This place had table service, porters, a proper coat check, host, bathroom attendant and a several island bars staffed by men in cummerbunds. I was in heaven. Of course, the plethora of service personnel required to run this place= plenty opportunities to avail myself of dollar dollar bills. But what the hell.
The longer I’m here, the easier I’m finding it to talk to strangers. I’m generally a bit shy- I’m not out there networking up a storm as a general rule. Something about not liking to be where I’m not invited (What am I? A vampire?). But guess what guys- I made friends! I had a whole table to myself, and as people filled the place up I thought I should offer up my spare chairs. The girls who took me up on that offer turned out to be fine company, and provided some welcome conversation, and I ended up heading front of stage with them when Junior Boys began their set.
Which brings me to, eh, the gig. Which was really great! Max Tundra was amusing- mostly because all of his very anglocentric humour completely went over the heads of the very Californian audience (who were nonetheless appreciative). His style of music was a lot less radio friendly than the main act- glitchy, disjointed synth loops and keyboard riffs, with his funny high pitched warbling over the top- definitely had a more Euro flavour about it. He was at his best when he sang in his surprisingly good falsetto.
Junior Boys themselves delivered an awesome, woozy, sexy, back-to-back set of shiners. And they were definitely in the business of keeping the crowd happy- playing obviously old favourites as well as brand new unreleased stuff. We stamped our feet for the encore. The crowd was really mixed, really relaxed and very demonstrative of their approval- and the band responded in kind with relaxed banter, some back story (but not too much), and plenty of damn choons. The same gig in Melbourne would be overrun with insufferable hipsters glaring at each other and playing with the fluff in their pockets the whole time. San Francisco is surprisingly un-hipster-iffic. It may sound naff, but it makes for a much nicer vibe. I didn’t feel like it was any particular scene I had barged in on, for example, just a bunch of people who all happened to really like this band.
Of course, hipsters notwithstanding, a few die-hard fans never go astray in these circumstances, and I was blessed to be surround by some incredible Junior Boys Nerds for the best part of the gig. One had glitter all over his face (he might have been wearing a headband too..), another was wearing a t-shirt that had volume level bars that lit up and went up and down with the music (see here now: http://www.thumbsupuk.com/images.php?prodID=75 ). Clearly, a Junior Boys Nerd is a niche market, and these boys had truly cornered it. They made a point of singing louder, dancing larger and whooping more than the rest of us jokers. When they finally played “In The Morning” and the crowd went wild, they made a very smug point of joking to each other a little too loudly about people only knowing this song – LAME. They were cute. It was fun to be privy to the immense drama this gig clearly was for them.
So, a good time was had by all. It was even fun gettting the cable car home. Actually, it was especially fun getting the cable car home. That thing fairly whizzes up and down the hills of Chinatown (after getting a little run-up, mind) and with my feet dangling out into the night breezes, passing through streets, some desolate, some full of people either arriving or leaving- it was a real treat- like a night-life themed rollercoaster.