Friday, 23 August 2013

Why the weirdest gigs are always the best

I wasn't expecting much. But I definitely wasn't expecting to be greeted at the 'stage door' by a man in pink leopard print lycra, a technicolour dreamcoat and mismatching Winklepickers.  Welcome to the Django Bar, the sort of warm salon-style bar you would expect to find only in Melbourne. 

The man in the Winklepickers was Yaron, manager of Camelot Lounge and the Django Bar: an oasis of live music and retro cool in a nondescript 1970s brink bunker, right in the heart of industrial Marrickville, Sydney.

It was all very last minute and there was no publicity, no gig listing and nor did we want any. We just wanted an empty room with a P.A where we could rehearse in front of close friends and have a drink afterwards.

We walked up the stairs, through the band room, past the toilets and then the man in mismatched Winklepickers swung the final door open to reveal middle-aged inner-westie heaven:  a room decked out like a salon from the 1950s;  red velvet curtains, framed pictures on the wall, a friendly, eclectic array of big comfy couches and retro table settings to choose from plus old juke boxes that were wired up as front of house speakers all around the room.

Beautiful warm analogue surround sound; juke box style.

The lighting was soft and moody, and the collection of retro knick-knacks dotted around made it feel like someone's living room, albeit someone with good taste in retro.  A bar in the corner offered wine by the glass, toasted wraps and margaritas with real squashed lime in them.

The stage was small and we asked if we could move the 'set dressing' of an accordion, two vintage guitars and a retro side table.  Yaron, a man big on visual impact,  was reluctant to change the aesthetics of his room to make way for a drum kit (totally understandable.)  Eventually we compromised on moving the two vintage guitars, if only for their own safety.

There was no room for Glenn (backing vocalist) on the tiny stage so he perched himself to the side (see video) behind the retro piano/organ and sang from there. Yaron thought this was weird. (THIS he thinks is weird, but the pink leopard print lycra is apparently all in a day's work.) However,  Glenn and I insisted that we enjoyed the weirdness of Glenn being in my eyeline all night.

(As opposed to the only other option which was, for Glenn to lurk directly behind me like a stalker, pressed up against the red velvet curtain with the stage lamp-light coming up from under his chin; camp-fire ghost-story-style.)

We played our set; bass (Paul Driessen) and drums (Stephen Toakley) were a dream-team rhythm section.  Glenn sang at me (and mimed some Dr Teeth piano-playing) from his weird perch behind the piano and occasionally interjected like a tight-white version of Tony Okungbowa (Ellen's DJ sidekick.)

 A projector ran black and white videos of fornicating animals on the wall beside us as we played. (This, we only found out later, but not even that could spoil my night.)

My son saw me play live with a band for the first time (and he also saw some fornicating animals he wishes he hadn't seen.)

The 'crowd' consisted of three people I didn't know, (thanks for coming) a handful of friends with their tween-aged kids and the girl behind the bar who cranked out a totally awesome margarita.

It was perfect.

We are match fit and ready for the 31st of August.

Here is some documentary video evidence of all of the above (except for the fornicating animals and the man in pink leopard print lycra: you'll just have to take my word for it on both those things.)


  1. That was lovely, Penny. Into the Sun was my favourite. I could listen to you all day (*runs off to put Seven Flights Up on the Sonos*). x

    1. Thanks Maxabella, for visiting my comments box. As you can see I don't get much action in the comments box. But now, a blogging master has deigned to visit me. Chuffed.