The Beginning: Food and Wine

Thursday night consisted of wine and the Moroccan Soup Kitchen (I think that’s the name). Waiting 75 minutes for a table seemed like a downer but the bar next-door more than compensated.

Once the rosé vanished, a table awaited us. The food was just that good, like nothing I’ve tried before. I couldn’t even tell you what was in any of the dishes, save chickpeas. All three mains were just a culmination of deliciously clandestine ingredients. The baklava and Turkish coffee was the coup de grâce.

Afterwards, a food coma was lurking in the shadows, ready to lull me into a state of lumbering lethargy. I called its bluff and walked it off. And then everything that happened after the walk will stay in my head. Yes, it will.

OK, so, Friday night.

M83: Life Completed? Yep.

The 55 and 8 trams kindly saw me all the way to my friend’s house in South Yarra, where we drank and smoked and didn’t really stop talking about how much that night was going to blow our minds.

And it did.

We arrived at Prince Bandroom almost late and M83 came onstage whilst I was relieving myself. Not a great start. We ran out, had some loverly Agwa and pushed as far forward as possible, which wasn’t far at all but being 6’1 meant I could see the elevated stage from pretty much anywhere. My friend struggled, given she’s a foot shorter than me.

[Aside: M83 have six albums. The first five follow a similar formula in terms of style and feel. Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming doesn’t even come close to this. So, obviously, there were many fans there that might’ve only experienced his sixth album. This seemed like a real possibility. And that’s a shame because after hearing a boatload of tracks not from Hurry Up, they’re going to pissed they didn’t delve into his discography more; or, alternatively, they’ll be really happy that there’s five albums waiting for them to experience.]

He opened with ‘Intro’, off Hurry Up, which worked real well. I even thought it was Zola Jesus singing and playing keys but I was wrong. It was Morgan Kibby. She did a knockout job on every song requiring her vocal prowess.

Now I don’t remember the exact order of the set list because it all became a sort of blur. I was just that fucking happy. But here’s an incomplete list from memory:

‘Kim & Jessie’

‘Run Into Flowers’

‘Sitting’ (encore)

‘Skin of the Night’

‘Midnight City’

‘Reunion’

‘Teen Angst’

‘Couleurs’

But what made my night oh so complete was when the stage went dark and Morgan’s keys and voice floated over the crowd:

‘Secrets from the winds / Burnt stars crying’

I fucking lost it. The drums and synth roared in and I couldn’t have been happier. The only other cats I could see who loved ‘We Own the Sky’ nearly as much as me were standing to my right. Two guys and a girl. From that moment on everyone surrounding us retreated a few feet, giving us enough room to physically express ourselves. (Besides the behemoth behind me whom attempted to impose himself within the aforementioned personal space. He failed).

Now, from memory, which is understandably hazy, they left the stage and the encore was ‘Sitting’. It was fucking epic, and I use that word rarely. I held on to the vain hope that they’d come out for one more track but the house lights ensured me that my hope was indeed in vain.

I bought a tee and we bailed, heading home for relaxants and bed. I can’t say I’ve ever been to a better gig or had a better in my 24 years. If I had a bucket list, which I don’t, this would’ve been the only thing on it. Actually, that’s a lie. There would probably be others but this would be at the top.

St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival: Life More Complete? Yep.

Woke up late on Saturday and wandered down to Chapel for breakfast. Came back to the house and failed miserably at organising the day. Had a visit from a real top guy then, after admitting organisational failure, proceeded to walk and get a cab to Footscray. But as we were about to start some serious hailing, the phone rang and we returned to the house with the knowledge that our earlier attempts at festival organisation were not entirely futile.

I kind of wanted to be at Laneway by 1:40pm to catch The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Austra and Laura Marling. We got there at 4pm sans I.D. that hadn’t expired. Luckily, the security lady was switched on and let us in.

We wandered down to Twin Shadow and bought drinks and met up with friends then sat on the grass. Unfortunately, we forgot to mention to each other, prior to the day, the colour of the outfits we intended to wear. Because, you know, that’s a legit hurdle you have to jump before going to a festival. So, we ended up both wearing burgundy shirts and black shorts. We got some odd looks before joining the others and breaking up the two-toned outfit party we were having.

Compared with Laneway in RAdelaide, the setting and atmosphere was way better here, like you could actually breath without inhaling someone else’s exhalation. It’s more open and sizably bigger. And almost everyone was dressed reasonably well—aesthetically pleasing—and far more chilled; there wasn’t a sense of urgency about anyone, especially in neither those I was with nor myself. But the best part was knowing almost no one. Not having to have the same ‘catch up’ convo over and over was a godsend.

Sitting on the grass with friends and new friends, the good vibes of Laneway kicked in and time flew a little too quickly. Before we knew it, The Horrors were about to play, so we meandered up to that stage, hearing ‘Who Can Say’, or maybe ‘Still Life’, as we approached.

Standing around, talking shit and drinking, prevented me from realising just who was standing about seven metres behind me. (Warning: idiosyncratic celebrity infatuation story will begin…now). At first, I thought it was she; I was adamant. Red lips, distinctive tattoos, hot dress. All the hallmarks of whom I believed she was. I turned and made someone hold my drinks then turned again to make sure it was her. I was pretty sure it was her.

‘H—, give me your camera. I neeeeed a photo.’

‘Of who?’

‘Look, behind me. It’s Marieke Hardy.’ *swoon*

I know what y’all are thinking. It’s only Marieke Hardy, whatever. No, no, I’m infatuated. You try finding someone as witty, hot, smart, and funny as her. OK, found one? Now see if that person can write like her. No? Psshhhh, didn’t think so.

So, I grabbed the camera and took two steps before my courage fell through the asphalt and doubt barreled into my brain. ‘Maybe it isn’t her…’ I returned to the group, disheartened.

‘Did you get one?’

‘No, I don’t think it’s her.’

Then, from another friend, ‘Oh my god, Shane, wasn’t that Marieke Hardy?’

Wasn’t? What whaaa? It was her! I drained the cup and grabbed the camera again and turned only to find she had fled the scene. Fuck it, I needed a photo. So I stormed off in the only direction possible, scanning the crowd like a parent looking for a lost child at the Royal Show. It was about 7:57pm and M83 were on in half an hour.

Upon reaching the intersection leading down to the other stages, the sun-dappled cityscape captivated me and I struck up a convo with a guy called Viv, who was creating a digital memory of it, explaining to him the virtues of experiencing M83 over SBTRKT. This distraction proved to be a major thorn in the side of my Marieke search. I admitted defeat—the only regret of my two-and-a-half days—I walked back to my friends.

As more and more people rolled up to see M83, one particular person found their way to the general vicinity, which would make the set a real good time. And it was a real good time. Once I heard the crowd acknowledge Mr. Gonzalez’s arrival by screaming fucking loud, I grabbed her hand and bolted as far forward as possible.

This is the best my iPhone could get. Apologies.

The set was similar to Friday night. He played all the songs that’d suit a festival and, once again, it was outrageously perfect. The night air and the feel of Laneway added something to what was, in essence, exactly what I heard the night before. Perhaps, it was something about being outside or having more people I knew around me. Either way, it topped Friday night.

[Another aside: As much as I liked the crowd at M83, a whole bunch of them were evidently Triple J listeners. They mustn’t have heard the other five albums because as soon as ‘Midnight City’ finished, around 100 people bailed (I didn’t count them; the number just feels right). I don’t care, personally. It’s just a shame they didn’t hear the rest of the set. I wish, for their sake, they reconsidered. Being this much of a fanatic prevents objective reasoning from being a reality.]

Afterwards, I said my goodbyes to those I had to and waited out the front for H—. SBTRKT finished later than where I was and when she finally made her way out the gates I yelled out and we sat there for a bit.

There was something oddly calming about the night. It wasn’t cold and there was no wind. Something just felt really right. We thought it’d be cool if Melbourne was situated on the East Coast, so we could go to the beach and drink until the sun rose. Instead, we chose to head home, get some cider and more ciggies and sit in a park until we got tired.

We did get tired and went home when the sun was rising and I fell asleep with Morgan Kibby’s voice in my head, replaying ‘We Own the Sky’ again and again. I couldn’t have been any effing happier.

Merci, Monsieur Gonzalez. Merci beaucoup.

SDH

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