ATP Mt Buller: Part 3

As with recent shows over the last couple of years, tonight’s Silver Apples set is performed as a solo set by Simeon Coxe.  Similar to Fuck Buttons he’s got his array of vintage-looking instruments laid out on the table in front of him, but unlike Fuck Buttons on the Bourke Street Stage, the smaller and lower Amphitheatre Stage, togther with him singing, means that it’s easier to take photographs that don’t look like someone just stood at a table.  Whereas Fuck Buttons have a distinctly retro feel, from their use of toy instruments, musically, at least, Silver Apples sound surprisingly contemporary, although Simeon’s half-spoken/half-sung vocals and lyrics make their 1960s origins a lot more obvious.

Silver Apples

Silver Apples

With Ocean Songs having been on heavy rotation over the last couple of days and the drive up from Melbourne, it’s already become something of a soundtrack for the weekend, even before the Dirty Three take to the stage to play the album in its entirety.  However, they start earlier than listed and I can already hear them playing as I start up the hill for the last time for the day.  Out of breath and with calf muscles screaming in pain, there’s no trouble getting into the pit, although I must be about 10 minutes late.  For tonight, as with previous ATP shows, the three have become four for the night, with Nick Cave on piano.  From a photographic point of view it’s disappointing, as the lights are kept very low and Warren Ellis plays facing Jim White and with his back to the audience for most of the set, only really showing his face when introducing the songs, which he does in ever amusing and detailed descriptions.  However, musically it’s sublime, utterly spell-binding. 

Despite starting earlier than billed it’s not to give them extended time, as so they also end earlier than advertised, meaning that they are forced to cut the album short and end up dropping ‘Black Tide and ‘Ends of the Earth and finishing with ‘Deep Waters. It’s a huge disappointment for them to not play the album as intended, especially as even though their playing time had been moved forward, The Saints didn’t start until their advertised time, meaning that the additional time is only used for is setting up The Saint’s stage.

Dirty Three

Dirty Three

Dirty Three

Dirty Three

When The Saints played at Pig City in Brisbane in July 2007 with the reformed Kuepper/Bailey/Hays original line-up, the weight of expectation for their finale put the band in an impossible position that they could never live up to. So the Pig City set was good but not great. ATP puts them in a similar position; there is a huge weight of expectation and people in the crowd are telling those around them that they’ve waited 30 years for this moment. How can you live up to that? The answer is that you can’t, and The Saints put in another good but not great performance.

Ed Kuepper‘s playing is as superb as ever and they obviously have the quality of songs on those first three albums to be fair way to pulling off an outstanding performance, but the main sticking point that prevents them from doing true justice to their legacy comes in the form of Chris Bailey. Vocally he is not what he was, with the bratty, menacing sneer of his youth replaced by something akin to a mid-Atlantic accent, although his chain smoking does seem to give something to his voice as their set goes on. But it’s his onstage persona that does the most damage; embarrassing banter and dancing around the stage like a middle-aged relative at a wedding, following John Lydon into the life of punk pantomime dame.  A viewing of The Saints infamous Paddington Town Hall gig on YouTube gives you a glimpse of what might have been.  It doesn’t seem that hard; all he has to do is stand there and smoke.  And ideally not play acoustic guitar. 

The Saints

The Saints

The Saints

The Saints

The Saints

The Saints

Knowing that I’ll be seeing The Saints play back in Brisbane in a few days, and as the novelty of only wearing a t-shirt has rubbed off in the cold night air, I decide to go and check out Passenger of Shit in the warmth of the ABOM building.  In retrospect it probably would have been better to have stuck out for the rest of The Saints’ set as although it was not perfect, it was still considerably better than what transpires in Brisbane a few days later. 

The ATP program describes Passenger of Shit as “erotic SPEEDCORE happy TERRORCORE / HARDCORE GABBA / trendy fuckwit breakcore tamborine core TYPE DAnCE MUSIC GAME CORE and SAD CORE. SCREAMING VOX + harsh shit NOISE AND OTHER dum SHIT MUSIC”.  And astonishingly this turns out to be a fairly accurate description.  Imaginge someone screaming something intelligible over a backing track of white noise and 250bmp drums, only for the song to suddenly  breakdown to nursery rhyme-type melodies before returning to the more extreme noise and you have a typical Passenger of Shit song.  A large number of the crowd manage not only to get into it but to dance to it, whilst others can only endure a few minutes before deciding to call it a night.  Knowing that an early start of photo editing is on the way and another day of walking up and down the hill with a bag full of heavy camera gear I decide that it’s time to go. 

Passenger of Shit

More ATP Mt Buller photos on flickr.

One Response to “ATP Mt Buller: Part 3”

  1. […] band that live up to the hype. Essentially, they are everything that The Saints should have been last night but weren’t. Unlike last night, Ed Kuepper is in a jovial mood and looks happy to be there […]

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