Seeing the Vegas Kings tonight really makes me miss Ric’s circa 2005/06.
A few years ago Black Bear Lodge would have been packed and an easy sell out, and it’s really surprising that it isn’t, even more so as it’s free entry. I guess the trouble is that all those 20-somethings grew up, started families and don’t get out to many gigs these days or alternately have moved away from Brisbane. There’s so many people that would have been here (and at half the gigs I go to) a few years ago but now live in Melbourne or have moved overseas.
I’ve always considered that Brisbane needs a strong Ric’s (or at least somewhere similar). I couldn’t tell you the last time I went in there but am pretty confident it would be measured in years. It’s a far cry from those first few years I lived in Brisbane when I was there just about every weekend. To be able to walk off the street into a venue, not have to pay a cover and to see so many good bands, night-after-night, week-after-week, was amazing. Everyone played Ric’s and when they weren’t playing they were all there watching other bands and drinking; it was the centre of the whole local music scene.
With Big Sound having been in town last week (and avoided like the plague) it was interesting to read some of the interview pieces where, as you would expect, everyone was championing the Australian music scene as being amazing and in a golden period. I think if you asked the same questions to the same Australian music industry types in any of the (almost) 10 years I’ve lived in Australia, you’d get exactly the same responses. It would be Un-Australian to say anything else. The reality is that there are creative peaks and troughs everywhere. They’ll always be a good band or two around, but sometimes there’s a boom time of bands coming through. I don’t think it was moving to Brisbane in 2005 and the newness of it all that made all the bands seem so good. I think 2005/06 was an absolute golden time for the Brisbane music scene. I think there was a lull for a couple of years after that before another peak in maybe 2009/10. At the moment I think Brisbane’s back in the bottom of the trough. Some good bands, yes, of course, but they feel few and far between at this point in time. Give it another year or two and, no doubt, there’ll be another phase of the cycle, with an overabundance of good Brisbane acts coming through.
You’re never going to get anyone in the Australian music industry saying anything remotely like that though. They’re never going to admit to anything like a natural cycle of creativity, with alternating high and low points. It would be like getting someone from Melbourne to admit in any year that their city isn’t the creative heart of Australian music when the reality is that creativity isn’t based on geographic location and, in some years, local scenes outside of Melbourne will be more interesting. It’s like how in the UK, sometimes it’s Manchester, sometimes it’s Glasgow, sometimes it’s Sheffield or Leeds or Liverpool. Occasionally sometimes it’s even London, even Birmingham. Sometimes it’s nowhere and there’s just one terrible band after the other. The post-Britpop vacuum of the late 1990s instantly springs to mind. It’s a similar thing in the US so why should Australia think it’s any different?
So yes, Vegas Kings make me miss the golden years of Ric’s 2005/2006. I think they also make me miss TOMB. They might have only had a couple of rehearsals but you wouldn’t have thought it, the band sounding like they never went away and as good as they did three years ago. I bet they were better than most, if not all of the Brisbane bands that got to play showcases at Big Sound.