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MADE IN SYDNEY FEBRUARY 15, 2017

FREE Now picked up at over 1,600 places across Sydney and surrounds. thebrag.com

MUSIC, FILM, THEATRE + MORE

A WORLD OF MUSIC IN ONE BIG SHOW

U O R B L N E E M

A K SORCHEST R A SPECIAL INVESTIGATION INSIDE: TRUMP, TURNBULL AND THE GLOBAL WAR ON THE ARTS

Plus

T OB Y M A R T IN F OUND BY L AUR A Q DINING SYDNE Y'S BEST BRUNCH SPOTS Because nothing says the weekend like a lazy brunch.

SUBLIME WITH ROME

The new-look lineup celebrates classic hits and new faves.

FR ACTURES

"If I was going to make my play, I had to make it now."

POOLCLVB

Making music suited to summer sunsets.

F OR HONOR GI V E AWAY A ND MUCH MOR E


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AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND TOUR 2017

TUESDAY 4TH APRIL ENMORE THEATRE, SYDNEY Tickets and information available at alterbridge.com | mjrpresents.com

New album The Last Hero out now!

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in this issue

free stuff

what you’ll find inside…

head to: thebrag.com/freeshit

“Nothing really changes under Turnbull. Nobody in the world of the arts truly wins.” (16-19) 6

The Frontline

22-23 Arts reviews, Market Corner

8

Industrial Strength

24-25 Bar of the week, Sydney’s best brunch spots, Q Dining reviewed

10-11 Melbourne Ska Orchestra 12

21

Fractures is too hard on himself, but he’s primed for big things

Album reviews, First Drafts

28-29 Live reviews

Toby Martin

30

Gig Guide

15

Sublime With Rome, The Cactus Channel, Peter Black

32

Poolclvb sets out to create music as a body of work, not just for the club

33

Off The Record

34

Out & About: why it’s time for equality for everyone

20

Member, a Mardi Gras play about homophobic violence

21

Found By Laura – an exhibition of lost notes and lists, Inside Jokes

“That’s just what I peddle in, for whatever reason. Depressing shit.” (12)

MELBOURNE SKA ORCHESTRA

Nicky Bomba’s all-star (and all-ska) collective Melbourne Ska Orchestra sure know how to throw a party – and now they’re hosting the barbecue to go with it. The band’s new Ska-BQ tour sees MSO and a bunch of their best mates hitting venues around the country, all in support of Saturn Return, a full-length album of unreleased recordings from the ARIA Award-winning Sierra-Kilo-Alpha. If you’ve ever seen Melbourne Ska Orchestra in the live or festival environment before, you’ll know just how much fun their sets can be – and if you haven’t, what are you waiting for? The Ska-BQ takes over the Factory Theatre precinct on Sunday March 5, and we’ve got two double passes up for grabs. Enter the draw at thebrag.com/freeshit.

the frontline with Ben Rochlin, Abbey Lenton and Chris Martin ISSUE 700: Wednesday February 15, 2017 PRINT & DIGITAL EDITOR: Chris Martin chris.martin@seventhstreet.media SUB-EDITOR: Joseph Earp STAFF WRITERS: Nathan Jolly, Adam Norris, Augustus Welby NEWS: Ben Rochlin, Abbey Lenton ART DIRECTOR: Sarah Bryant COVER PHOTO: Ian Laidlaw PHOTOGRAPHER: Ashley Mar ADVERTISING: Tony Pecotic - 0425 237 974 tony.pecotic@seventhstreet.media PUBLISHER: Seventh Street Media CEO, SEVENTH STREET MEDIA: Luke Girgis - luke.girgis@seventhstreet.media MANAGING EDITOR: Poppy Reid poppy.reid@seventhstreet.media

PYRMONT GROWERS MARKET RETURNS

Sleepmakeswaves

Sydney food lovers are invited to head on down to Pyrmont Bay Park on Saturday February 25 for stalls full of fresh produce and hot food. Held on the fourth Saturday of every month, the Pyrmont Growers Market offers fresh veggies, meat, flowers and all things in between. Beginning 18 years ago, the market has long been a popular attraction for Sydney foodies, offering a chilled and tasty place for everyone to spend a Saturday morning.

Gareth Liddiard

GIG GUIDE: gigguide@thebrag.com AWESOME INTERNS: Anna Wilson, Harriet Flitcroft, David Burley, Ben Rochlin

SLEEPMAKESWAVES STRIKE BACK

REGULAR CONTRIBUTORS: Nat Amat, Arca Bayburt, Chelsea Deeley, Christie Eliezer, Matthew Galea, Emily Gibb, Jennifer Hoddinett, Emily Meller, David Molloy, Annie Murney, Adam Norris, George Nott, Daniel Prior, Natalie Rogers, Erin Rooney, Spencer Scott, Natalie Salvo, Leonardo Silvestrini, Jade Smith, Aaron Streatfeild, Jessica Westcott, Anna Wilson, Stephanie Yip, David James Young

Sydney post-rockers Sleepmakeswaves are back again with news of a third album and national tour. Off the back of shows in the US and China, the Sydneysiders will be heading home to play a leg of Australian shows. After releasing their ARIA-nominated album Love Of Cartography in 2014, their third effort, Made Of Breath Only, will arrive on Friday March 24. The new LP was crowdfunded by fans, raising $45,000 through pre-orders. Recorded with Rage Against The Machine and Karnivool collaborator Nick DiDia, Made Of Breath Only will feature at Sleepmakeswaves’ Metro Theatre show on the day of its release.

Please send mail direct to this NEW address Level 2, 9-13 Bibby St, Chiswick NSW 2046

MARCH ON MARTIN PLACE

EDITORIAL POLICY: The views and opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the publisher, editors or staff of the BRAG. ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE: Carrie Huang - accounts@seventhstreet.vc (02) 9713 9269 Level 2, 9-13 Bibby St, Chiswick NSW 2046 DEADLINES: Editorial: Friday 12pm (no extensions) Ad bookings: Friday 5pm (no extensions) Fishished art: No later than 2pm Monday Ad cancellations: Friday 4pm Deadlines are strictly adhered to. Published by Seventh Street Media Pty Ltd All content copyrighted to Seventh Street Media 2017 DISTRIBUTION: Wanna get the BRAG? Email george.sleiman@ seventhstreet.media PRINTED BY SPOTPRESS: spotpress.com.au 24 – 26 Lilian Fowler Place, Marrickville NSW 2204

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NEWTOWN SOCIAL FAREWELL SHOW

The Drones frontman Gareth Liddiard will send off one of Sydney’s favourite music venues with a bang. After three years of operation since rescuing the beloved ‘Sando’ pub on King Street, Newtown Social Club recently announced its impending closure due to “the current regulatory climate in Sydney and the inherent challenges therein”. Now, the Aussie songwriter Liddiard has been confirmed to play the final ever show at the venue as part of his national tour. Liddiard’s return to stage coincides with his return home after a month-long sabbatical in Latin America, and he’ll be playing a mix of solo cuts, Drones classics and unheard newbies. Liddiard closes Newtown Social Club on Sunday April 23.

Keep Sydney Open will host its third public rally against the lockout laws this Saturday February 18. Following a Supreme Court decision to prevent the planned Saturday night protest in Kings Cross this month, the Keep Sydney Open organisers have regrouped to arrange another daytime event in Martin Place. The description on the official Facebook page reads: “The longer they drag this out, the bigger we get! With a new Premier it’s more important than ever to let the government know that sacrificing nightlife for safety is shamefully unnecessary, and we won’t stand for it.” A lineup of speakers and performers will be announced shortly.

NOT YOUR AVERAGE ROM-COM

Starring Margi de Ferranti and directed and written by Monica Zanetti, the new play Ellie, Abbie & Ellie’s Dead Aunt is a charming and unconventional comedy that will feature some of Sydney’s most promising local performers. The play, featuring an all-female cast, looks to put a fresh spin on the romantic comedy genre. Inspired by a lack of rom-com narratives surrounding lesbian relationships, it focuses on a high school student who wants nothing more than to ask a girl to her formal. Young Ellie tackles the uneasiness of first love and disapproval of her family, all with

the guidance of her deceased aunt in fairy godmother form. Ellie, Abbie & Ellie’s Dead Aunt will play at The Depot Theatre from Wednesday March 29 – Sunday April 9.

GUM BALL GOES LARGE

The second lineup for The Gum Ball music festival in the Hunter Valley has been announced. Kim Churchill, The Funk Hunters and Flyying Colours are among the new artists announced for the lineup this April, as are Mick Thomas and The Roving Commission, Felix Riebl, Caity Baker and more. They join Regurgitator, Tripod, Boo Seeka and many others. The festival hits Belford in the Hunter Valley from Friday April 21 – Sunday April 23.

STICKY FINGERS SURVIVE

Back in December, Sticky Fingers fans were sad to learn that the band was breaking up – or at least going on hiatus – in the aftermath of accusations of bad behaviour against frontman Dylan Frost. Now, as The Examiner reports, the reggae-loving funsters have apparently revealed they’ll be back at a later date. During their Party In The Paddock performance, Sticky Fingers told the crowd: “There’s a huge difference between hiatus and breaking up.” Still, let’s not get ahead of ourselves – Silverchair told fans in 2011 they were going on an “indefinite hiatus”, and there’s only been radio silence ever since. thebrag.com

Melbourne Ska Orchestra photo by Ian Laidlaw

14

16-19 300 Million Backward Steps: Trump, Turnbull And The Global War On The Arts

24-25

26


FEB 17 BETTY & OSWALD RESIDENT SUPPORT THE GYPSY SCHOLARS

THU 9 - THE MORRISONS + THE SWEET JELLY ROLLS

FRI 10 - THE GOOCH PALMS +RAINDROP

SUN 12 - BLACK BIRD HUM

COMING UP / FEB 24 CASTLECOMER LEVEL 2, 75 THE CORSO, MANLY

WWW.HOTELSTEYNE.COM.AU | @MOONSHINEBARMANLY

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Industrial Strength Music Industry News with Christie Eliezer

THINGS WE HEAR • Which singer, when noticing his band’s new tour jackets had his management’s name at the bottom, snipped it off his apparel, saying they never got permission? • Will the original Van Halen lineup tour behind their 40th anniversary? • Spotted at Bruce Springsteen’s Sydney show: Glenn McGrath queuing up for a beer and chatting with punters about The Boss. • Angus Young, in T-shirt and jeans, joined Guns N’ Roses onstage at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium for ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ and ‘Riff Raff’ – the two songs they performed together at least year’s Coachella festival. He’d already welcomed the band at the airport when the Gunners fl ew in on a private jet from

AGGRESSIVE MUSIC IS GOOD FOR YOU

While the fun police might like to claim that aggressive music like punk and metal should be restricted because it causes violent behaviour, recent psychoanalytical research suggests it actually calms people down. In their essay Extreme Metal Music And Anger Processing published in Frontiers In Human Neuroscience, Leah Sharman and Genevieve A. Dingle reported: “Extreme music did not make angry participants angrier; rather, it appeared to match their physiological arousal and result in an increase in positive emotions. Listening to extreme music may represent a healthy way of processing anger for these listeners.”

MUSIC BELONGS IN THE BEDROOM

43% of people play music in the bedroom, with more unmarried couples (62%) blasting tunes than married ones (28%). A survey by the Symphony Hall in Birmingham found R&B was the most popular genre (preferred by 16% of listeners), followed by top 40 hits (12%), classic ’80s and ’90s pop (11%), dance (9%) and indie/rock (8%). The rest of the top genres included jazz, classical, blues, opera, prog rock and thrash metal.

NEW SIGNINGS #1: A.D.K.O.B @ WONDERLICK

Brisbane. • Eminem’s Australian promoter TEG Dainty says a 2017 tour poster doing the rounds is a fake, and that Eminem’s management has been informed. • Hit93.1 Riverina’s breakfast team invited listeners to ring in with their best Ed Sheeran impersonation. One dude won by a mile – and before long it was revealed the mystery caller was the real Sheeran. Ed also let slip he plans to get a tattoo of Elton John on his arse. • At their Adelaide show, Icehouse revealed that the “medical emergency” which caused them to postpone two Perth shows was guitarist Paul Gildea breaking an arm. “I got a BMX for Christmas,” he quipped to the crowd. • Two high-decibel Aussie albums stormed the ARIA charts this week: Dune Rats’ The Kids Will Know It’s Bullshit debuted at number one (their last record

STORYTELLING BEGINS AT AUSTRALIAN MUSIC VAULT

Arts Centre Melbourne (ACM) has unveiled the Australian Music Vault, a free and interactive high-tech hall of fame due to open in November. Its 17-strong advisory committee – made up of national music biz execs, media, ACM staffers and arts curatorial experts – met last week for the first time. The meeting was followed by a function for 200 execs. The Vault is set to host a handful of the 600,000 items housed in ACM’s performing arts collection, including rarities from AC/DC, Split Enz, Nick Cave, Australian Crawl and venue flyers and tour posters. Some will be used for the Vault’s ever-changing exhibitions, with items from patrons Kylie Minogue, Molly Meldrum and Michael Gudinski all set to feature. Another patron, Archie Roach, spoke of the importance of documenting the stories behind songs. He made the point with an exquisite performance of ‘Old Mission Road’, a song about the parents from whom he was stolen when he was three. Later, some of the music executives were filmed going over old anecdotes for the Favourite Australian Music Experience (FAME) program. Two of the execs shared their tales from the stage: Bakehouse Studios co-owner and

1.

Wonderlick Entertainment/ Sony Music Entertainment Australia has signed Sydney band A.D.K.O.B. The group was formed by sound engineer Mark Piccles, who over the years has put together a massive eight hard drives’ worth of song ideas. New single ‘Less & Less’ follows ‘Glue’, which got playlisted on triple j and community radio.

NEW SIGNINGS #2: PIKELET @ LISTEN RECORDS

2.

3.

Melbourne’s masked production and DJ duo Lockdown are the latest signing to That Sound Agency. Within a year of playing their first show on Halloween night, they’ve become an underground cult success. Their signing follows TSA’s recent additions Dimatik, Natalie Sax and Fresh Kiwi.

A deal with October Records will see Sydney producer/DJ Endgrain (Jackson May) issue his debut single ‘4x4’. The song draws on UK club culture, house and techno. May and two of his friends are known for putting together Translate Sound System, which powers many of Sydney’s underground party scene events.

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FALCONA ADDS NEW AGENT, ACTS

Sydney boutique music, touring and events company Falcona has appointed Joel Siviour, formerly of Select Music and Archery Club, to work on electronic acts in its agency. “Joel is one of the most talented agents in the electronic space,” says Falcona director Chris Murray. The agency has also announced new signings including LA-based producer Hook N Sling, New Zealand buzz act Sachi, Sydney’s dark electronica duo Mezko and local producers Command Q, Spenda C and Wongo. Falcona already represents Alison Wonderland, Hot Dub Time Machine, Hayden James and Young Franco.

UNIFIED EXPANDS RECORDING DIVISION

Unified has expanded its recorded music division, adding new label manager Conrad Lloyd. The artistic director at Universal Music for five years, Lloyd will work with head of recorded music Luke Logemann to grow the label and seek out new opportunities. Maya Janeska will continue to label manage the flagship heavy music imprint UNFD and Hopeless as she has done since joining the company in 2014.

4.

Beyoncé is being sued for US$20 million for allegedly using the voice of late New Orleans rapper, comedian and YouTube star Messy Mya on her ‘Formation’ track. His estate claims Beyoncé sampled from two 2010 videos, ‘What Happened After New Orleans?’ and ‘Bitch I’m Back, By Popular Demand’. Mya (real name Anthony Barré) was shot that year when leaving his unborn son’s baby shower.

ONELOVE, 1INGROOVES SIGN GLOBAL DEAL

The US-based INgrooves Music Group has struck a global digital distribution and label services partnership with Australia’s Onelove group. Over 15 years, Onelove promoted, toured, licensed and recorded major EDM acts and events. It’s now rebranded itself in artist development and also expanded into publishing and management. It is currently launching a number of new imprints, working with artists directly and led by a fresh team of A&R talent execs. Onelove GM Ant Celestino explains that becoming an artist development hub “means more interaction with artists’ rights, and that shift requires an update of the way we work with a distributor on a global level. Efficient digital delivery, trending models and world-class label services are now essential tools at artist, executive and management levels, and a partnership with a top tier music company like INgrooves provides that support perfectly.” The new deal will be managed locally by Rick Butterworth.

SNAKE SIXX TRIBUTE

Stigmata Promotions is staging a tribute show for Sydney metal guitarist Leif Gregory, AKA Snake Sixx, who passed away late last year aged 40 from an apparent heart attack. Aside from his work with Aftermath, Destrier, Dark Order, Total Abuse and Nazxul, Snake also worked for over 25 months on the Itz All About The Riff project. 33 metal figures from three continents recorded covers of Australian hard rock classics. On Sunday February 26 from 4pm, The Bald Faced Stag will host a number of locals who played on the record, with the guests recreating the tracks after sets by Aussie Metal Knights, Twin City Riot and The Mis-Made. All proceeds will go to his family.

TAKE THE WEATHER WITH YOU

Spotify research shows listeners opt for happy music when it’s sunny and instrumentals during snow, with melancholic acoustic tracks rising in popularity by 121% during the colder months. To that end, it’s introduced Climatune, which works out the weather where you are and provides appropriate tracks from its catalogue.

Lifelines Hospitalised: Slipknot guitarist Mick Thomson had surgery on his spine, making him the third in the band to require such an operation, following singer Corey Taylor and guitarist Jim Root. Ill: Metallica postponed one of four shows in Copenhagen after James Hetfield lost his voice midway through the first. He offered to stop singing as it wasn’t fair to the audience who’d paid good money, but the crowd insisted he sing on. Ill: British ‘rockney’ duo Chas & Dave’s Chas Hodges, 73, diagnosed with early stages of oesophagus cancer. Suing: This Is Spinal Tap co-creator Harry Shearer’s US$125 million lawsuit against Universal Music’s parent company Vivendi for “fraudulently” underpaying producer royalties has now swelled to $400 million after the other creators Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner joined in. In Court: Xavier Rudd is to face alleged assault charges at Byron Bay Local Court on Thursday April 6. They relate to an alleged incident last November. In Court: a 19-year-old who smuggled MDMA in his underwear into last year’s Bunbury instalment of Groovin The Moo was given a $500 fine by the magistrate, who sternly told him the penalty was higher because the incident took place at a music festival. Died: influential US songwriter and producer David Axelrod, 83. In the mid-’60s he wrote two albums for psychedelic band The Electric Prunes. His solo records pioneered the merging of jazz, R&B and rock and were sampled by De La Soul, DJ Shadow, Cypress Hill, Wu-Tang Clan and Lil Wayne. Died: internationally renowned Brisbane music journalist and author Ritchie Yorke, 73. He spent many years in Canada where he wrote for Billboard and Rolling Stone and became close friends with John Lennon and Yoko Ono (he ran their peace drives in the late ’60s), Led Zeppelin and Van Morrison. Died: former April Wine bass player Steve Lang, 67. He is the father of Canadian singersongwriter Erin Lang. Died: seven-time Grammy-winner Al Jarreau, 76, peacefully in a Los Angeles hospital. Only days earlier, the jazz singer announced his retirement from touring due to exhaustion.

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Pikelet photo by Louis Oliver Roach

NEW SIGNINGS #4: ENDGRAIN @ OCTOBER RECORDS

SLAM co-founder Helen Marcou nominated the SLAM rally, where 20,000 marched in protest at the closing of Melbourne venues, an event that changed the government’s attitude towards live music. “It was a moment where the music industry galvanised … We took back the streets,” she said. Chris Gill, owner of Northside Records and Triple R presenter, recalled “a spiritual moment” when Roach played at the store as part of the 25th anniversary of his Charcoal Lane album – the store is in the same area where the songs were written, and Gill said fans were in tears.

BEYONCÉ SUED OVER SAMPLE

Pikelet, AKA Evelyn Morris, will release her fifth album in 2017 through Listen Records. The label is led by feminist and social rights activist organisation Listen, and includes Biscotti, Simona Castricum, Hi-Tec Emotions, Stina Tester & Cinta Masters, Shag Planet, Beloved Elk and Claws & Organs.

NEW SIGNINGS #3: LOCKDOWN @ THAT SOUND AGENCY

only reached the 22nd spot) while Ocean Grove’s The Rhapsody Tapes debuted at number fi ve. • The Marlborough Hotel on Newtown’s King Street is for sale, apparently for $35m. • After storming the European/UK charts, Kungs’ remix of Melbourne band Cookin’ On 3 Burners’ ‘This Girl’ has been picked up for an ad in the US by mobile company Cricket Wireless, and is also to be announced as the theme song for a new American TV series. • A man from Busselton, Western Australia jumped a fence with friends to get into a local nightclub and had his fi nger cut off when he caught it in razor wire on the fence. His friends retrieved the fi nger… but our genius realised it was missing his wedding ring. They were looking for it when security arrived and turfed them out.


Singles 4

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COVER STORY

MELBOURNE SKA STOP, COLLABORATE AND LISTEN BY BEN JA MIN POT T ER

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ORCHESTRA It’s that awkward, age-old question: does size really matter? Over the years, general consensus has decided that true substance is derived from ‘the motion in the ocean’ – those waves of energy that truly make something what it is.

M

elbourne Ska Orchestra, led by none other than Australian music legend Nicky Bomba, sport an ever-changing lineup – ranging from a minimum of 20 musicians to a maximum of 32 – with a decent helping of lavish instrumentation and a proud message to match. Their music attracts listeners ready to embrace the positive vibes of both the traditional ska sound and thought-provoking improvisation. “We actually don’t do a great deal of rehearsal, but we’re pretty efficient behind the scenes,” Bomba says. “It’s usually just a soundcheck, or if we’re playing a full tour we’ll book in some dates for a studio. But theoretically we all normally just do our homework and roll up to the gig and play. We did a new song off the new album recently while rehearsing before a gig in Melbourne and it all sounded a bit too nice, so we kind of just wanted to make it a bit more of a challenge for ourselves as musicians, so we stopped rehearsing like that and now everyone learns their parts individually. It’s just so much of a blessing to be surrounded by so many incredibly talented musicians who are all on the same wavelength. “Even when we play overseas we pick up a lot of session musicians because a lot of the time we can’t afford to fly everyone over,” adds Bomba. “We’ve actually got a bit of an international cast happening now – it feels like we’ve taken this whole thing worldwide.” With a band so enormous in size, it wouldn’t be hard to believe a clash of ideas might arise from time to time, even creating division within a group that so heavily relies on its improvisation and positive energy to create. But Bomba claims that’s never even an issue – his bandmates contribute in a variety of ways that may be unorthodox, but are essential to the continuation of the project. “When it comes to writing ideas, anyone can contribute anything,” he says. “It can be scribbled on a napkin, on an iPhone, an iPad – it honestly doesn’t matter. We actually do a bit of a song camp thing every now and then at my house where we have our own ideas and commit to a deadline. Everyone just puts forward their own material and we just build off that. I think that kind of process is really important, and coming from the melting pot of cultural diversity that is Melbourne, it’s essential that we have so many members with so many different nationalities because we are trying to make international ska. It’s kind of inevitable,

“THERE’S ENOUGH MUSICAL CONVERSATION HAPPENING WITHIN THE BAND TO DRAW PEOPLE IN AND CREATE AN EXPERIENCE FOR ANYONE AND EVERYONE.”

really. Surprisingly, we’re all looking at the same focus and we all get what each other are trying to do.” Since their inception in the early ’90s, Melbourne Ska Orchestra have never aimed at normality, but having adapted a sound that pays homage to soulful Jamaican mento music, Bomba is quick to point out that the broader genre of ska is one that all the members of the band are deeply passionate about. “I feel like ska covers all the genres of music because it was the mother seed from way back,” he says. “That culmination of traditional music with the heavy backbeat has always spoken to us on a deeper level. It’s just got such an element of danger and excitement that appeals to us, especially when you look at its roots within the black and white struggle against oppression in some parts of England since its inception. And that’s what’s exciting – ska has as much relevance today as it did back then. From a lyrical perspective, from an energy perspective, it really aligns itself with what we’re trying to do with the Orchestra, and we couldn’t be happier with the way it’s being received.” Bomba believes that much of MSO’s success has come through their commitment to intimate shows, where the band can be judged solely on musical merit. But he admits that music festivals are the best places for the energy and positive vibe to be fully represented. “The beautiful thing about a festival is that you’ve got an audience that comes to be part of something that’s not just about the music, but the experience as a whole,” he says. “But on the same token, we’ve done some theatre gigs where the atmosphere was just as electric. We’re always trying to make the best out of any situation we can adapt to to share our craft. I feel like there’s enough musical conversation happening within the band to draw people in and create an experience for anyone and everyone. But I think for us to exist in this industry is more than we could have ever hoped for. “Sharing music to people and raising the vibrations is definitely important to any musician, but the Orchestra is a wholesome and beautiful magic carpet ride. I’ve really never experienced anything like it – 20 or 30 like-minded people understanding the skill and technique of a live performance; it’s really beautiful to watch and even more of a pleasure to be a part of. It’s a massive positive force.” Melbourne Ska Orchestra have also recently launched their appropriately named Ska-BQ tour, which encompasses traditional ska and Jamaican music jam-packed into a celebration of the culture in all its forms, including smoking Carribean-style barbecues, drinks, scooters and more. Bomba says the Melbourne edition of the Ska-BQ in January went over pretty swimmingly, and he is excited to bring the vibe to Sydney in early March. “You don’t have to be a lover of ska to enjoy this. Just a music lover. We played with that connection in Melbourne and it was a huge success, so we’re very excited about bringing it to Sydney. People were totally barbecued out by the time we played at 8pm, including us! It’s going to be a wonderful day.” What: Ska-BQ Where: Factory Theatre When: Sunday March 5

“WE’VE GOT A BIT OF AN INTERNATIONAL CAST HAPPENING NOW – IT FEELS LIKE WE’VE TAKEN THIS WHOLE THING WORLDWIDE.” thebrag.com

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FEATURE

Fractures Forming Cracks By Joseph Earp

M

ark Zito is too hard on himself. The Melbournebased musician, a master of synth-based sadness who records and tours under the name Fractures, is a relentlessly productive writer, an enticing live proposition and the true defi nition of an up-and-comer. But just try telling that to him. As far as Zito is concerned, he is running behind, and talking to him makes it clear that he has an intense, self-imposed schedule, the likes of which would easily have other musicians buckling under the pressure. He doesn’t just work on his music: he works on his music, taking to songwriting with a dedication that is surprisingly rare in the creative industries. “I’m getting on a bit in musical terms, so I just thought if I was going to make my play, I had to make it now,” Zito says. “I made the call to just be poor for a while and give music a fulltime crack while I can. The poor aspect has defi nitely held up; defi nitely keeping up that end of the bargain,” he laughs. “Though I have got a little support network. I mean, I’ve got people I can lean on if I have to.”

But it’s not just economic issues that have been blighting Zito’s decision to fully dedicate himself to his intimate, deeply humane brand of pop electronica. He’s also had to deal with a host of other troubles, the kind of setbacks that commonly make themselves known as soon as one decides to transform their passion into their full-time job. Ultimately, Zito has found that his working methods have had to adapt to the change. “You can’t just expect that you’re going to be firing hot from nine to fi ve. That’s not always the case. It can be a bit disappointing when you spend a day in the studio – or in my case the second bedroom – and it’s not always the case that anything comes of it. So it’s … not always as romantic as you imagine it when the decision [to go full-time] is about to be made.” That said, no set of odds is insurmountable – particularly when you have an attitude like Zito’s, one driven by a clear goal and a real sense of purpose. “I know how I work well enough,” he says. “I had similar periods when I was younger where I could have a week to myself. So I’m pretty aware of how I work during the

“I MADE THE CALL TO JUST BE POOR FOR A WHILE AND GIVE MUSIC A FULLTIME CRACK WHILE I CAN. THE POOR ASPECT HAS DEFINITELY HELD UP.” day. Over the space of ten hours, maybe 12 hours, I’ll just have little allotments where it’s not working and I’ll go away and I’ll do something else. But it’s defi nitely not super structured because my attention span is far too short.” Nonetheless, once again, Zito saying that his attention span is sub-par feels like a case of the musician being overly selfcritical. After all, he not only has the attention to write and record an entire debut album – a hooky collection of broken, brutalised anthems called, optimistically, Still Here – he also has the mental energy to keep a number of other musical plates spinning in the air. Fractures isn’t his only project; it’s one of a series of musical explorations that he has categorised and carefully separated in his mind. “Since I fi nished the album … the Fractures stuff has probably slipped down a bit in terms of priority. I’m pretty interested in pop music and stuff like that. So that’s kind of jumped to the forefront,

“THAT’S JUST WHAT I PEDDLE IN, FOR WHATEVER REASON. DEPRESSING SHIT.” 12 :: BRAG :: 700 :: 15:02:17

and I’ve concentrated more on doing those sorts of things … But I don’t set out to tick a box as much as I did when Fractures was the main player.” One imagines that it must be difficult to decide which project a song belongs to when it’s only in its formative stage – a little like trying to pick an occupation for your child before they’ve even been born – but Zito has an intuitive sense of his material, and allows his writing to steer itself. “When I make it, I know,” he says, laughing at his own vagueness. “It just kinda comes out and I go, ‘OK, that’s probably for that pile, that’s for that one.’ When you put it side by side, when it’s juxtaposed, it’s probably more obvious which is the pop stuff and which is the Fractures stuff … it just makes itself obvious. It’s pretty early on when I know where it’s heading, so that defi nitely informs the rest of the process.” That sense of intuition also assisted Zito when he made Still Here, an album which ironically stands as the most carefully

structured and intricate-sounding work he has yet released. “The album perspective never really entered my psyche,” he says. “Maybe occasionally I’d kind of go, ‘Oh, are these [songs] going to be cohesive?’ I kind of ended up resting up on the idea that my voice would kind of be the central focal point. I decided I would just wait and see how the rest of the process kind of worked itself out and turned out.” Certainly, that voice – pained yet defi ant, hurt yet powerful – defi nes the record, as too does Zito’s own admittedly depressive world view. “There was never a plan, but the songs are all relatively…” He stops, trying to fi nd the words. “Well, not downbeat exactly, but certainly heavier tonally and with lyrics as well.” He laughs. “That’s just what I peddle in, for whatever reason. Depressing shit.” What: Still Here out now independently With: A.D.K.O.B Where: Newtown Social Club When: Saturday February 18

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Ovarian Psycos

Seat in Shadow

SUN 19 FEB 7:15PM EVENT CINEMAS GEORGE ST The Ovarian Psycos are a gang of feminist, cyclist, women of colour, and they are determined to create a safe space on the streets of Eastside LA, one ride at a time.

THU 23 FEB 9:00PM EVENT CINEMAS GEORGE ST After screening at Edinburgh Film Festival, this unusual and exquisitely shot Scottish drama comes to Sydney. An unlikely friendship between two gay men crosses the boundaries of age and experience.

Out Run

Our Love Story

SUN 26 FEB 3:30PM EVENT CINEMAS GEORGE ST Bemz Benedito dreams of becoming the first transgender person in the Philippine Congress. This documentary portrays an inspiring sense of camaraderie within one of the world’s only LGBTIQ political parties, Ladlad.

TUE 28 FEB 8:30PM EVENT CINEMAS GEORGE ST Art student Yoon-ju has never dated men but it’s not until she spots the cool and confident Ji-soo that she works out why. But when their romance begins, Yoonju’s art begins to suffer.

Fursonas

Family Commitments

FRI 24 FEB 9:00PM EVENT CINEMAS GEORGE ST An illuminating peek into the world of immersive role play. Alongside their day-to-day personalities as partners, office workers, and retirees, this documentary unveils people’s fully formed furry alter-egos.

FRI 24 FEB 6:30PM EVENT CINEMAS GEORGE ST Generations, religions, and cultures clash when David and Khaled try to marry. David’s pseudo-Orthodox mother and Khaled’s homophobic father are just two of the obstacles faced in this gay comedy from Germany.

FEB 15 – MAR 2 2017

Festival on now! queerscreen.org.au

Kore Productions presents:

Featuring Zach Goldfinch, Jacob Barn and Kailesh Reitmens Produced by Kyle Stephens

23rd March 24th March (2 shows) 25th March (2 shows) Factor y Theatre - The Terminal 105 Victoria Road, Marrickville Price range $15 - $25 $5 charge when bought at the door on the night

On Saturday we will be joined by the Beat Bang Theory.

Funny. Unethical. Slightly Gay. thebrag.com

www.factorytheatre.com.au | www.koreproductions.com.au BRAG :: 700 :: 15:02:17 :: 13


FEATURE

Sublime With Rome Sound The Sirens By Natalie Rogers

I

n the spring of 1996, the community of Long Beach, California was stunned and saddened by the sudden passing of Bradley Nowell, the beloved founder, lead singer and guitarist of ska punk trio Sublime. Sadly, his death came before the band was a household name, with some fans not even aware of his fatal overdose until MCA Records decided to release Sublime’s self-titled third album in the summer, two months after the tragedy. As music fans celebrated the life of a supremely talented artist and songwriter, some believed Sublime’s music would die with Nowell, while the band’s two surviving members – guitarist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh – struggled with the loss of their friend and frontman. Wilson and Gaugh went on to form Long Beach Dub Allstars in 1997, playing both new music and a back catalogue of Sublime’s best-loved songs. However, both men agreed that no one would ever be a permanent replacement for Nowell, and in 2002 the childhood friends decided to pursue other musical projects – until one fateful day in 2008. With the music gods smiling down, Lewis Richards of California’s 17th Street Recording Studio introduced Wilson to Rome Ramirez, an up-andcoming singer-songwriter. He impressed both Wilson and Gaugh with his understanding of Sublime’s music and his ability to echo Nowell’s vocal style without sounding like a sub-par impersonation. “I couldn’t believe it,” says Ramirez as

he recalls their initial jam sessions. “These guys were like legends to me – and the fact that they believed in me enough and were willing to give me a chance, I’m so grateful for that. “My sole passion in life is to keep writing music and keep pushing the bar forward to become a better songwriter and producer.” Ramirez, Wilson and Gaugh began to tour under the Sublime moniker, making appearances at festivals alongside Cypress Hill, Deftones, Pennywise and Bad Brains. While their hard work was clearly paying off, in late 2009 Nowell’s family sought an injunction to prohibit the trio from using the name Sublime. Undaunted by the setback and determined to keep Sublime’s legacy alive, in 2010 the Ramirez-fronted Sublime With Rome were announced. “I’ve never tried to fi ll anyone’s shoes,” Ramirez says. “There was maybe a little bit of a miscommunication at first. But we sorted out the problems and everybody is happier and we all get along – and we’ve all moved on.” In 2011 the new-look band retreated to the studio to produce its first album, Yours Truly. While the album was initially well-received, Gaugh announced soon afterwards that he would be leaving the band. But that hasn’t stopped the Sublime With Rome juggernaut. They added A Perfect Circle drummer Josh Freese, and released a second record, Sirens, in 2015. “With the addition of Josh, we really feel like a family,” Ramirez says. “With

“I’VE NEVER TRIED TO FILL ANYONE’S SHOES.”

Toby Martin

“MY SOLE PASSION IN LIFE IS TO KEEP WRITING MUSIC AND KEEP PUSHING THE BAR FORWARD TO BECOME A BETTER SONGWRITER AND PRODUCER.” each album, Eric and I have grown closer and closer – it’s been such a good experience.” Ramirez knows their international success is largely down to the millions of fans Sublime earned since their formation, but he also believes fans want to hear the newer songs too. “People want to hear everything, from the old stuff to the more recent songs from Yours Truly and Sirens, so we also try to aim right down the middle and make everybody happy – and because it’s the right thing to do,” he says. Now 28, Ramirez has grown up a lot in recent years, and can’t hide his excitement about the prospect of a third album. “We’re looking to start work on a new album in the next couple of months, so that’s going to be dope. I can see us defi nitely playing some new songs at these shows coming up. I can’t wait to get in the studio with the guys again and to keep pushing it forward.”

Where: Big Top Sydney, Luna Park When: Thursday March 9

FEATURE

Bankstown Blues By Shaun Cowe

“I’VE ALWAYS REALLY LIKED WRITING ABOUT PLACE, LANDSCAPE AND GEOGRAPHY.”

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five things WITH

HUDSON WHITLOCK AND HENRY JENKINS FROM THE CACTUS CHANNEL

Growing Up Soul Jazz Records! 1.  The now legendary Londonbased label put out New Orleans Funk Vol. 1 around ’99, we heard it when we were in early high school and it set the course. That and just playing heaps with each other – lunchtimes, after school, weekends, that made us play like we do now; we all know each other’s playing very well. In the early days we learnt from The Meters, Booker T. and The M.G.’s, Lyn Collins, Marva Whitney, Marvin Gaye, Eddie Bo, et cetera. Our perspective on music exploded a little when we start digging into the soul of the ’60s and ’70s and how it was being incorporated into the present.

2. 

Inspirations Obviously the best part of a band is all the individual inspirations and how they collide to make something unique, but a few albums that we

“LIMITATIONS ARE EXTREMELY GOOD FOR CREATIVITY.”

A

t first glance, Toby Martin may appear to be just your run-of-themill academic: a scruffy, wild-haired intellectual with flecks of grey beginning to spread from his temples. He teaches music at the University of Huddersfield in the United Kingdom. But more likely, you know him as the frontman of the band Youth Group. Their cover of the Alphaville song ‘Forever Young’ featured on the soundtrack to popular TV show The O.C. in the mid2000s – and simultaneously, became the theme song to a generation. Now, Martin is due to release a new solo record, Songs From Northam Avenue. It’s an unusual but soulful folk album inspired by time spent in Bankstown in Sydney’s southwest. “Limitations are extremely good for creativity,” Martin says. “We were limited. We didn’t have a big budget for Songs From Northam Avenue and we decided to spend the money on a studio for three days. So we had to do it in that time. I think if we were making an album for radio it would be different, but since we didn’t have to worry about that, we did what we wanted to.” Martin wrote the songs as part of a collaboration with Urban Theatre Projects in 2013. The idea was for an artist to set up their equipment in the front yard of a Bankstown local’s house and devise a project. Martin’s project was music, and he developed an unusual but friendly relationship with the property owners. “I’m still friends with them. It’s impossible not to get to know them, but I think you’ve got to be careful not to intrude too much in that situation. You get to know people like a neighbour would. You have lots of conversations with them, but there is that line you don’t really cross. I was at two houses

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vibe are Menahan Street Band’s Make The Road By Walking, Badbadnotgood’s IV, Les Baxter’s Ritual Of The Savage and Madvillian’s Madvillainy. We also draw a lot of cosmic inspiration from comedians Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim. These days we’re more into Tom Hanks. Your Band Caccy Chan, seven 3.  strong at the moment. Just

trying to make good tunes that are a bit funky, got a bit of soul and zane-brain enough for the nerds. The band has had a slow but important evolution over the past few years and we feel like we’re about to put out our most exciting stuff yet! The Music You Make 4.  Just released a single

with Sam Cromack (Ball Park Music), and we’ll be dropping a six-track EP with him in April. Super keen for that one! We just want to

get as creative as we can and keep putting out wild shit in the hope that Busta Rhymes will tweet at us. Music, Right Here, Right Now 5.  Bands that are inspiring us

at the moment are Whitney, The Frightnrs, BBNG and people like Anderson .Paak. The Melbourne scene right now is going gangbusters. There are always great things to hear, and it feels like everyone is working towards some really wild releases. Sydney is bumping too. Sampa The Great and Wallace keep things fresh. We always get lost in Sydney, shake our fists at Casino Mike, meet up with friends and they chaperone us around until we move onto Canberra or some shit. Sydney has some amazing bistros. Where: The Captain Cook Hotel When: Friday February 24

five things WITH

and a lot of their anecdotes and the things we talked about made it into the music.”

PETER BLACK

Martin has close ties to Bankstown himself. His grandfather originally emigrated to Australia in the 1940s, and he sees Bankstown as a vibrant multicultural hub where it’s impossible not to encounter people from vastly different cultures and places. “If you read the tabloids you might not get that opinion, but it’s such a nice, neighbourly place. I’ve always really liked writing about place, landscape and geography. I love the specificity of writing about real places and I think it makes songs sound real. I also like the contrast between very ordinary details, like the name of the street or the shop you go to, with some more internal emotional drama going on. That’s kind of what I was going for.” With the inspiration for Martin’s album being the people and places around Bankstown, a problem arose. Martin’s subjects were around him every day – they would inevitably recognise themselves in his songs, and so would their friends. “There’s a song called ‘Dreams In German’ which is based a little bit on one of my hosts,” Martin explains. “I did a little gig in a shop in Bankstown and he came along. When I played the song, his daughter was like, ‘Hey Dad, this song’s about you,’ and he was like, ‘Oh, is it? I didn’t even realise.’ “I think it’s funny. You worry about people hearing the music and not being happy about aspects of their lives being represented in song, but sometimes they go along with the whole song and don’t even think about it.” What: Songs From Northam Avenue out Friday February 17 through Ivy League

Growing Up The thing I remember 1.  the most about growing

up is the ‘magic-ness’ of the radio. My parents had a Volkswagen Beetle and you didn’t have to wear seat belts so I’d stand in between them staring at the radio with all this stuff coming out of it. It was wild hearing ‘Here Comes The Sun’ by The Beatles; just incredible! Later on, I joined the Police Boys’ Club band playing the cornet. It was years before AC/DC and the Sex Pistols would change everything for me. Inspirations The three main reasons I wanted to play

2. 

guitar and the SG in particular were Brian James of The Damned, Angus from AC/DC and Ed Kuepper from The Saints… wild, wild players! Your Band The Hard-Ons; we 3.  met at school and started

playing our mix of punk, pop and early metal. Nunchukka Superfly; our more proggy and arty bent. And the solo stuff I do to explore pop in a stripped-back fashion. The Music You Make I’ve lost count of how 4.  many albums I put out, and last year I released a new song every day of the year

(366 songs in total) via my Bandcamp page. Check it out at peterblacksolo.bandcamp. com. Music, Right Here, Right Now 5.  Same as always, and

thankfully there will always be good music around. It’s just a pity these days you never get paid, so its very hard to pay for the upkeep, especially in Australia where right now we are a little artless. But music is wonderful and will always be wonderful. Where: Midnight Special When: Wednesday February 22

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FEATURE

300 MILLION

BACKWARD STEPS: BY JOSEPH E A R P

TRUMP, TURNBULL AND THE GLOBAL WAR ON THE ARTS

“[My father] had a very simple sort of morality which I think, well I’m sure, I inherited. Rather an old-fashioned concept of honour and manliness and principle. It can make you a bit unbending. One thing he believed was that you should never take a backward step.” – MALCOLM TURNBULL, 1993 “It is not my job as Prime Minister of Australia to run a commentary on the domestic policies of other countries.” – MALCOLM TURNBULL, 2017

THE LIGHTS ARE GOING OUT IN AMERICA

US

President Donald Trump’s prospective cuts to the arts arrived first in the form of rumour. Given the new American normal is misinformation and speculation, it was perhaps to be expected. On Thursday January 19, amid the flurries of fear and paranoia that are now as expected from the Trump regime as the beatifi c speeches that defi ned the Obama presidency, a source told The Hill that Trump was planning to slash funding to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and completely privatise the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The real-world repercussions of such a move would be immediate. The Endowment supports public access cultural endeavours like NPR, a beloved US radio station, but also provides ground-level support for a range of different artistic outlets. The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), home to such lauded TV shows as Mercy Street and Victoria, would be under fire, but so too would smaller enterprises that profit from NEH grants. Ultimately, Trump’s plan would cut a staggering US$10.5 trillion from various arts programs over the space of ten years. The Hill, regarded for its cool-headed reportage, described the move as “dramatic”. A better word might be ‘catastrophic’. The news caused an immediate outpouring of anxiety. The paranoia haemorrhaged, fast, and before long a wide range of publications began the complicated process of second-guessing their predictably unpredictable President. How true were the rumours? When would his attack on the media and the arts stop? And, as ever when it comes to Trump, how far was he actually prepared to go?

“A SLASHING OF ARTS SPENDING WOULD SEND AMERICA BACK 50 YEARS, BUT IT WOULD ALSO NEATLY MIRROR TURNBULL’S OWN POLICIES, AND HIS OWN BLATANT DISREGARD FOR AUSTRALIA’S CULTURAL LIFE.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, Republicans were rejoicing. Conservatism has always flirted with philistinism, and the great heroes of the international right wing – politicians like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, pundits like William Buckley, Jr. – have long prided themselves on a ‘no nonsense’ attitude to governmental arts spending. After all, Trump is not the first Republican President to suggest such cuts: Richard Nixon first proposed a very similar set of purse-string-tightening measures back in 1969, a move that prompted children’s TV host and the legendarily well-spoken Fred Rogers to deliver a moving speech to a US Senate hearing, defending public broadcasting’s role as an advocate for

16 :: BRAG :: 700 :: 15:02:17

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great social change. “I feel that if we in public television can only make it clear that feelings are mentionable and manageable, we will have done a great service for mental health,” he said, his voice as soft and insistent as a light rain. But such arguments have largely been ignored by conservatives. It’s no matter to the right wing that in terms of federal spending, arts funding represents a drop in the ocean – that, according to Vanity Fair, the total reported cost of the programs Trump aims to cut represents “a measly .016 per cent of the total US budget, which is $4.6 trillion”. For Republicans, privatising the arts is as much a philosophical endgame as it is a practical one; a fulfilling of what they consider one of their core tenets. In response to the proposed policy, a reasonable and measured case for the arts was made by a range of publications, most notably Fortune, which quoted a striking Bureau of Economic Analysis report measuring the financial benefit of backing cultural programs. “[The bureau] found that arts and cultural production contributed more than $704 billion to the US economy,” wrote Grace Donnelly. “This accounts for 4.2 per cent of the United States GDP and is greater than the contributions of the construction ($586.7 billion), transportation and warehousing ($464.1 billion) industries.” But when have figures or facts ever stopped Donald Trump? No amount of statistics or reports regarding the arts’ status as a mass employer seemed to put anyone at ease. The mood for the day of the announcement, and indeed many days after, was one of hysteria, as a potent mix of rage and anxiety gripped creatives and arts audiences alike. It was a bleak week in an already bleak young year. Not only was Trump enacting on a range of terrifying campaign promises, he was going further; doing more. Somehow, a nation’s year of bad dreams had proved prophetic, as America’s worries transformed into dark, stone-hard truths. • Australia is on constant Trump watch now, so the news about the prospective cuts was reported in real time Down Under. Outlets like The Guardian spread the story quickly, and, as ever, the overwhelming emphasis remained on the new President’s status as a loud-mouthed braggart. “Culture is interesting to Trump to the extent that it reflects his status as a rich man,” Marla Stone, a professor of the arts, told The Guardian in a particularly scathing soundbite. “In his mind, his garish architectural style represents money and power and palaces and masculinity, which are all elements of authoritarian culture.”

“FOR REPUBLICANS, PRIVATISING THE ARTS IS AS MUCH A PHILOSOPHICAL ENDGAME AS IT IS A PRACTICAL ONE; A FULFILLING OF WHAT THEY CONSIDER ONE OF THEIR CORE TENETS.” Yet one thing proved curiously absent from such wall-to-wall coverage in our country: a single shred of self-awareness. Indeed, a lack of irony has long defined Australia’s reporting on the Trump presidency. There is nationwide outrage whenever America’s new leader suggests the extreme vetting of immigrants; a vocal, furious response when he suggests policies that are openly and inherently racist; and yes, shocked disbelief when he threatens to slash arts budgets. But such policies are fundamentally Australian; as central to our culture as Trump’s New York accent is to his. There is a reason our Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison highlighted Trump’s executive order on immigration – the so-called ‘Muslim ban’ that left families stranded and refugees in danger – as a sign that “the world is catching up to Australia”. There is a reason that Trump’s fierce brand of white nationalism is being touted as forwardthinking by Pauline Hanson and her One Nation party. Most pressingly, there is a reason Turnbull and his government have remained silent on the most conservative, most cruel elements of Trump’s policies. A slashing of arts spending would send America back 50 years, but it would also neatly mirror Turnbull’s own policies, and his own blatant disregard for Australia’s cultural life. Ultimately, Trump’s proposal represents a bleak future for America, but a future staggeringly similar to Australia’s present. Trump wants to cut funding? The Coalition already has, taking $300 million away from federal arts programs. Trump wants to declare financial war on public broadcasting services? Prime Minister Turnbull already has, laying waste to the ABC’s already thin lifelines. In so many ways, Australia is Trump’s goal; we are what he hopes to achieve. It doesn’t matter that Trump reveals his brutally unsupportive arts policies through so much mud-slinging, and Turnbull does so via tepid press conferences. Either way, the ultimate outcome is the same. The tumour is malignant, no matter how politely the doctor diagnoses it.

“You see, every person who has ultimately changed the course of history has started off being unpopular.” – MALCOLM TURNBULL, 1986

W

THE TWO TURNBULLS

hile he gets to work enacting the policy that directly puts Australia’s cultural life at risk, Malcolm Turnbull sits beneath a surreal painting of a rabbit. The artwork, an image from Charles Blackman’s Rabbit Tea Party series, hangs above his desk in the prime ministerial suite at The Lodge, glaring down at him as he shuffles through the bureaucratic hurdles and hoops that punctuate his prime ministership. The painting serves as a nice little window into his tastes. Turnbull has always favoured the sensibly garish, and his eye tends to be drawn gently back and forth between vulgarity and veneer. While the businessman in him has long been a man of rigid, rich tastes – of flashy Apple watches and snappy, GQ-cover-style suits – there is an author and art patron in him too. This Turnbull is a kitsch-loving leisure and pleasure seeker, hungrily groping after subversive art, tart wines and the eggy, spiceladen foods he is famous for wolfing down at quiet restaurants like Kingston Foreshore’s Morks, away from the public eye. It is worth remembering that Turnbull is much less conservative in his tastes than, say, Tony Abbott,

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or even the majority of his own party. While Abbott likes crooning along to Elvis Presley, Turnbull is a long-time Mental As Anything fan (‘If You Leave Me, Can I Come Too?’ is his favourite song). While the ever dry and dull Scott Morrison sings the praises of William Dalrymple’s From The Holy Mountain – a decades-old non-fiction study of the international travels of a monk – Turnbull is busy telling interviewers his favourite book is The Fatal Shore, a renegade account of Australia’s origins written by the acerbic critic and historian (and the uncle to Turnbull’s wife Lucy) Robert Hughes. It may be remiss to describe the arts as being in Turnbull’s blood, but certainly he comes from a creative family. Even though his mother, Coral Lansbury, an author and critic, walked out on Turnbull and his father when he was nine, she has remained an important influence on his life, her admirable work ethic and career highs impacting him in a range of subtle ways. Though Lansbury’s output was extensive and multi-disciplinarian – she wrote for television and film in addition to her work as an author – she is best remembered for The Reasonable Man: Trollope’s Legal Fiction. The dense 1981 study received a host of glowing reviews, with one of the most positive write-ups appearing in The Bulletin.

BRAG :: 700 :: 15:02:17 :: 17


300 MILLION BACKWARD STEPS:

TRUMP, TURNBULL AND THE GLOBAL but well-wishing, while true change was consistently being pushed further and further away from the forefront of parliament. Turnbull’s character alteration was a slow one, as subtle as the gradual weathering of the face of a statue. Facing a thousand daily frictions provided by an unruly party that had long considered him a narcissistic outsider, Turnbull slowly but subtly shifted the man he once was. He stayed silent on so much, offered to alter so little, and through his desperate attempts to control the right wing of his party, became defined by a middling approach to just about everything. The maligned 2015 budget – an organised, jutting elbow to the face of Australia’s cultural life that cut $3.6 million from Screen Australia – remained indicative of the government’s overriding policy, one that treated the arts as an economic cross the Coalition and Turnbull were unwilling to bear. Even the few ways in which the new Prime Minister did shake things up quickly rang hollow. Two months after assuming power, Turnbull dissolved the despised and criticised National Program for Excellence in the Arts (NPEA), a so-called “slush fund” overseen by George Brandis, Abbott’s Minister for the Arts, and a disastrous misuse of funds that siphoned away resources from the Australia Council. In the NPEA’s stead, amid a furore of buzzwords and paperthin sentiments, Turnbull unveiled Catalyst, a startlingly similar institution that nonetheless promised to depoliticise the handing out of grants and return some of the cash that had been sucked out of the Australia Council. Senator Mitch Fifield, Turnbull’s new Arts Minister, told the Sydney Morning Herald at the time: “Catalyst aims to support innovative ideas from arts and cultural organisations that may find it difficult to access funding for such projects from other sources.” Optimistic observers described the move as a sign of good things to come. Joanna Mendelssohn, an Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales, wrote in an article for The Conversation: “It is fairly clear that the changes in funding are all a part of [Turnbull’s] larger purpose of moving government policies away from the impetuous extremism of the Abbott years, towards the effective centralism of Hamer, Menzies and Turnbull’s long-time mentor, Neville Wran.”

“TURNBULL, PEOPLE HOPED, WAS AN ECONOMIC CONSERVATIVE BUT A CULTURAL FORWARD-THINKER, A MAN WHO WOULD TRY EVERYTHING IN HIS POWER TO PROTECT AUSTRALIA’S ARTS COMMUNITIES.”

“It is refreshing, if not surprising, to find someone who maintains that that most pellucid of novelists, Anthony Trollope, owed his literary style to the law,” wrote the young critic – a columnist named Malcolm Turnbull, who never once revealed in his painterly review that the ‘someone’ in question was his mother. “The book provides a fresh insight into the novels of Trollope and to an explanation for his style.”

So it is within him, then; the creative urge. Turnbull wrote his own book, The Spycatcher Trial, in 1988 – a non-fiction account of a legal case in which he defended former MI5 agent and author Peter Wright’s inalienable right to publish a memoir dealing with life in the secret service. And he tried and failed to finish a novel named Opium, a dense piece of fiction that his mother began work on before she died of cancer at the age of 61. Turnbull knows what it means to be creative. He understands. And indeed, that understanding accounts for the careful yet distinct tone of optimism present in the articles that followed Turnbull’s overthrow of Tony Abbott on Monday September 14, 2015, and his assumption of the highest office in the land. Abbott was a boor, a right-wing battler cut from iron and ancient history. Turnbull was something different. Turnbull had the air of culture and class that led Mamamia to publish an article titled ‘9 Reasons To Love Malcolm Turnbull’. Turnbull, people hoped, would be different. Turnbull, people hoped, was an economic conservative but a cultural forward-thinker, a man who would try everything in his power to protect Australia’s arts communities. Above: The Curious Story Of Malcolm Turnbull,

The Incredible Shrinking Man In The Top Hat

Right: Katie Noonan

The let-downs came gradually, but before long, all the anticipated softening of Abbott’s war on the arts was revealed to be nothing

by Andrew P. Street

“If Catalyst works, it will be duplicating the role of the Australia Council,” wrote Julian Meyrick, Professor of the Creative Arts at Flinders University and a particularly savvy commentator. “If it doesn’t, it will be undermining it.”

For those on the ground level of Australia’s cultural hierarchy, Catalyst’s unveiling didn’t coincide with the trickled-down change they had long been promised. Things, it seemed, were frustratingly the same. “[The] Catalyst Fund pretends to remedy the basic problems of George Brandis’ proposed NPEA, but really just sweeps up the mess into a slightly neater pile,” wrote Stuart Glover, the University of Queensland’s senior creative writing lecturer, for The Conversation. The dissolution of an Abbott institution and its replacement with Turnbull’s empty platitudes wasn’t a case of the new PM rooting out the errors that had made so clear his predecessor’s cultural ignorance. It was simply Turnbull giving new names to old troubles, slapping a fresh layer of paint on a wall succumbing to canker. And here’s the kicker: Turnbull isn’t culturally ignorant, not in the way Abbott was. He has no air of philistinism to hide behind, no excuse that he is simply an old-school conservative with a limited personal connection to the arts. Turnbull’s history of engaging with the cultural life of this country is there, plain for all to see – as plain as the paintings hanging on his office walls. Worse still, his NPEA/Catalyst move proved emblematic of all his policymaking decisions to follow. His guiding principles rely on surface-level change; on an upholding of the status quo that he disguises via an artificial obsession with all things cutting-edge. Nothing really changes under Turnbull. Nobody in the world of the arts truly wins. The same sources of pressure exert the same pressure, and the same tiny, bureaucratic horrors hurt the same marginalised, suffering people. Each day, in every single way he impacts Australia’s cultural life, Turnbull is just that statue, the features of his face gradually washing away.

“NOTHING REALLY CHANGES UNDER TURNBULL. NOBODY IN THE WORLD OF THE ARTS TRULY WINS.” 18 :: BRAG :: 700 :: 15:02:17

thebrag.com

Donald Trump photo by Gage Skidmore / Malcolm Turnbull photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons / Katie Noonan photo by Cybele Malinowski

But not everyone was so certain, and the move had its strident detractors. To the cynical, Turnbull’s actions represented a pragmatic, last-ditch attempt to save face. The problems with Catalyst, critics argued, were the problems that had blighted the NPEA, and many were concerned that the body still put a range of independent cultural funds at risk, all while remaining a dangerously politicised source of economic support.


FEATURE

WAR ON THE ARTS “I think my problem is I have succeeded in making myself unacceptable to all parties.” – MALCOLM TURNBULL, 1993

AUSTRALIA’S CULTURAL DESERT

T

he phrase “Overton window” was coined in the mid-1990s, designed by its namesake Joseph P. Overton to denote the range of ideas and theories that the general public will accept. Simply put, whatever falls outside of the Overton window seems ridiculous and far-fetched; whatever falls within it seems practical and worth debating.

As a Prime Minister defined by a full-scale assault on the arts, Turnbull has put all his skills into shifting the Overton window. Time and again he has made the funding of cultural programs seem insane – inconsequential even, beneficial to no one – and time and again he has made budgetary cuts seem like the only feasible way to reduce Australia’s debt. “A ‘loan’ to a mining giant is [seen as] encouraging jobs and growth and exports, but a touring grant or writing fellowship is lazy artists sponging off the public for their arcane, unpopular, elitist self-indulgence,” Andrew P. Street, columnist and author of The Curious Story Of Malcolm Turnbull, The Incredible Shrinking Man In The Top Hat, tells the BRAG. “[That’s] despite the fact that … mining and the arts employ almost identical numbers of people in Australia (about 230,000 people directly and indirectly), and that arts provides a better return on investment – not least in that Australian artists tend to make and spend their money in Australia while almost all mining profits go overseas.”

of less value – economically and otherwise – than ‘proper’ work,” Street says. “It’s easy as hell to score some populist points by sneeringly pointing at some niche-sounding thing like a literary journal or a theatre collective, and say, ‘Why should the public be paying for this elitist rubbish when there are people going hungry/ schools in need of computers?’, et cetera.” As a result, Turnbull’s targets have largely been those he can decry as out of touch, and his crosshairs have fallen on cultural programs the right wing has historically tried to slander as niche. Just take the Force Majeure dance company – a celebrated troupe formed 15 years ago – that was defunded as a result of the 2016 budget. By reserving a mere $28 million of the $470 billion federal budget for the Australia Council, Turnbull and his government laid to waste a host of struggling cultural programs, including Force Majeure. “Malcolm Turnbull has seriously let down the arts community,” Michael Lynch, the former head of the Australia Council, told the Sydney Morning Herald at the time. “I am incredibly disappointed.” That remains the key phrase that Turnbull’s detractors use against him: disappointing. To the hopeful public who believed he would be a breath of fresh air circulating about the stuffy Liberal Party headquarters, he is almost aggressively disappointing. He has a systematic approach to gutting the systems that keep Australia’s cultural life ticking over, and his actions have hurt almost every kind of creative discipline in this country. Turnbull has hit out against the literary community, voicing support for the removal of import restrictions on books in a move that would see the work of Australian authors greatly devalued. “It would be a sorry epitaph for Turnbull if he were to be remembered as the man who turned Australia’s most successful cultural industry into a desert,” author Richard Flanagan said of the news. And he has threatened the worlds of film and television, too. By repeatedly cutting funds for Screen Australia, the ABC and SBS, Turnbull has removed a series of important first steps that once helped those trying to get a start in the industry.

The arts sector remains a perfect example of the “jobs and growth” Turnbull endlessly bleats on about, but it seems not to matter to him or his government. He has aggressively recast the role of cultural institutions in Australia, transforming them from places of work into places of frivolity, using the perceived slur favoured by conservatives – ‘elitist’ – to do so.

“The problem lies in how fiercely competitive [grants are] becoming, as fewer are renewed each year,” says Samuel Leighton-Dore, a young Sydney-based filmmaker and journalist.

“We’ve had years of painting the arts as something

“For instance, Metro Screen’s closure last year removed Katie Noonan

“A ‘LOAN’ TO A MINING GIANT IS [SEEN AS] ENCOURAGING JOBS AND GROWTH AND EXPORTS, BUT A TOURING GRANT OR WRITING FELLOWSHIP IS LAZY ARTISTS SPONGING OFF THE PUBLIC FOR THEIR ARCANE, UNPOPULAR, ELITIST SELFINDULGENCE.” – Andrew P. Street a vital rung to the emerging filmmaker’s ladder, adding immense pressure on the likes of Screen Australia to create further opportunities.” Others put it more simply. “[Governmental cuts] hit the arts life cycle at the hatchling phase – the hazy area post tertiary study where, without support, artists are left floundering,” says Yvette Hamilton, a visual artist and lecturer who has witnessed first-hand the impact of Turnbull’s policies. “The abandonment of the ArtStart grant is a good example of this.” These are the effects of policy: the casualties and crimes often ignored by politicians and mainstream media channels. And these are the people who have no sympathy for a Prime Minister who has spent his tenure treating passion like an impediment, and culture like a dusty, useless artefact of the past. “To be honest, the best way that this government could support the arts and artists in Australia would be to lose the next election,” Hamilton says.

I

n mid-2016, Turnbull appeared on the popular panel show Q&A. Dressed in a sensible suit rather than the iconic leather jacket he once wore on the program – back when he spat out crackling, Keating-esque takedowns of his peers and enemies alike – he fielded questions from the audience.

He struggled with almost all of them. He seemed to be battling a cold – his voice was thicker than usual, caked in resignation, and his trademark pronounced consonants fell blunt from his lips. But there was a kind of generalised exhaustion about him too; an all-consuming fragility that made him seem as though he was going to crumple in on himself at any minute. And crumple he did. It was a question from the musician Katie Noonan that did him in, a fiery line of inquiry that took him to task for his failure to support real independent arts funding in Australia. “With your government stating that ‘creativity is the key to innovation’,” Noonan spat, utterly failing to keep the contempt from warping her voice, “will you as our leader commit to funding a strong, completely independent Australia Council for the Arts?”

Turnbull waffled his way through an answer filled with non-responses, his hand limply pinching at the air in the way it does now, every time he has to face the media and deliver the kind of speeches the Turnbull of the past would take any other politician to task for making. But Noonan was unforgiving – she kept at him, asking more of his half-answer. “OK Katie,” Turnbull said, lagging. “If you’d just let me finish … I’ll, I’ll complete the answer.” There was a pause. It’s an old trick politicians use, uttering their interrogator’s name aloud under the pretence of calming things down and in order to buy themselves a little time. But Turnbull didn’t seem to be buying himself any time. He seemed to be searching for strength – staring off and out into space, as though there was something out there. He did “complete the answer” eventually, spitting out a staccato series of facts and names. But that pause ultimately answered Noonan’s inquiry. It doesn’t matter whether Malcolm Turnbull is a tragic hero – a good man broken on the wheel of democracy and bureaucracy – or a Machiavellian schemer who has sacrificed his morals for personal gain. Either way, he is a man who decides each and every day to condemn and deny Australia’s cultural life. And all that he needs is a moment’s silence – a brief, scraped together pause – in order to collect the strength to do it. ■

“[TURNBULL’S] ACTIONS HAVE HURT ALMOST EVERY KIND OF CREATIVE DISCIPLINE IN THIS COUNTRY.” thebrag.com

BRAG :: 700 :: 15:02:17 :: 19


arts in focus FEATURE

Member [THEATRE] Bring Them To Light By Anna Wilson

S

lowly but surely, society is making progress towards eradicating homophobia, raising its voice for equality and encouraging acceptance across the board. But for many members of the LGBTQI community, these advancements have come too late. In the 1980s, Australia bore witness to some terrible homophobic activity, especially along the coast of New South Wales. From violent assaults to murders, sections of the gay male population became victim to hate crimes; some of those who suffered were as young as 12. As part of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Member is a one-man performance looking to shed a light on the severity of historical crimes against gay men. The story follows Corey, a former member of a gay hate gang, whose own son reveals himself to be homosexual. Written and performed by Ben Noble, the play came about because of the catastrophic rates of homophobic crime, both in the ’80s and now. “I wanted to do something special for [Fairly Lucid Productions’] tenth anniversary piece,” Noble explains. “I came across the story of Scott Johnson in Australia and then it spiralled from there, and I needed

“I’VE BEEN LIVING IN THIS PLAY FOR THREE YEARS – THERE’S PEOPLE’S VOICES WHO CANNOT BE HEARD, AND IF THEY CAN BE TOLD AND I CAN HELP IN SOME WAY, I’M HONOURED.”

to fi nd a creative outlet of telling the story. He was an American man who’d moved to Sydney with his partner – they found him jumped off a cliff at Bondi. Originally it was ruled as a suicide, but his brother said he would never do that and brought in an investigator from the States. The status of the case has changed three or four times, but they’ve uncovered new facts that implement it as a hate crime.”

close to the subject matter, Noble understandably fi nds his role to be a very emotional one.

During a thorough investigation in which he obtained archive materials and court transcripts, Noble was able to compile enough data to create a springboard for his story. After becoming so

Though Noble himself was never a witness to any of the hate crimes in the ’80s, he still has a firm grasp on the realities of what it means to be homosexual in Sydney in 2017. “The story is told from

“It’s defi nitely a passion project,” he says. “I’ve been living in this play for three years – there’s people’s voices who cannot be heard, and if they can be told and I can help in some way, I’m honoured. But it’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears, fi guratively and literally.”

today’s point of view,” he explains. “Launching in, I wanted to know, at 12 years old, if that happened to you, how that would affect your life. If someone is a former gang member, now 40 years old and had a teenager who came out as gay, how would you be affected given your past?” Perhaps most importantly, Noble’s play focuses on these issues in such a way that will move people to action. “Unfortunately, as a gay man myself, a member of the LGBT community, you do get slurs growing up, and nowadays it’s still a common occurrence. And as much as it is more liberal

nowadays, it still occurs. “Last year’s debate about marriage equality showed how vocal people were against it. That same level of hatred was there, though that interesting discussion is there too: have we evolved? I have had people come to see Member and hear the facts, some see their lives onstage – people are coming away ready to add to the discussion and move for change.” What: Member Where: Blood Moon Theatre When: Tuesday February 21 – Saturday March 4

five minutes WITH

LIAM NUNAN FROM AWAY

W

hen did you first encounter Michael Gow’s iconic play, Away? I first read Away in high school. At the time it didn’t make much of an impact on me. I think analysing the play through the limited lens of ‘themes’ and ‘discourses’ all in preparation for some dreaded essay distracted me from its heart. I read it again some years later in drama school and found myself really moved by it. How accessible is the period setting to Australians in 2017? Michael wrote the play in the 1980s. So even from its first inception it was looking back on another era, which can possibly feel like a commentary on the 1960s. But its content is all very prevalent today. Classism, xenophobia and gender expectations are still part of our nation’s conversation. But at the core of Away’s story are three sets of parents desperately trying to protect their children from the sadness that life can inflict, and all in different stages of letting go of what they can’t control. This is absolutely a story that stands the test of time. What can you tell us about the character you play, Tom? Matt Lutton has directed this production of Away to be seen through the eyes of Tom, a young actor on the losing end of his long fight with cancer. As he grapples to work out what is now important to him and what is achievable in the time he has left, Tom takes on a Puck-like existence, invisibly observing the people around him, dipping in and out of the action. What Tom experiences, imagines and dreams all becomes part of the character’s realities. What else will keep you busy for the year ahead? Away will keep me busy until the end of May, which is a great start to the year. Beyond that, I have a few things in the works that will hopefully come to fruition. A lazy holiday somewhere is definitely within my sights too.

20 :: BRAG :: 700 :: 15:02:17

What: Away Where: Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House When: Saturday February 18 – Saturday March 25

thebrag.com


arts in focus

inside jokes

FEATURE

“WHEN I STARTED FINDING THESE [NOTES], THEY WERE LIKE MINI-DOCUMENTARIES, WHERE I READ IT AND INSTANTLY STARTED CREATING WHO THIS PERSON IS.”

Comedy, Life and Bullshit with Cameron James

W

henever you tell people you ‘freelance’, all they hear is, “I haven’t showered today,” which is as offensive as it is sometimes true. The only career that gets more derision is comedian. OK, maybe performance poet, but comedian’s not far off. Freelancing is hard, but even harder is explaining what that means to your family. Up until this year, my parents still sent me jobs they found on Seek that were ‘comedy adjacent’. One job was a writer for softcore porno magazine People, which I imagine is an endless creative exercise in coming up with adjectives for tits. If this sounds familiar to you, rest easy. You’re not alone. Maybe you’re a musician, or a graphic designer, or even a performance poet (although I hope you aren’t). Whatever your vocation, you’re probably tired of having to reassure your family and wealthy friends that it’s all going to be OK for you. And I have some good news for you – with the following guide, you won’t have to.

“FREELANCING IS HARD, BUT EVEN HARDER IS EXPLAINING WHAT THAT MEANS TO YOUR FAMILY.”

Five ways to make it look like you’ve got your shit together (when you definitely don’t)

1. 

Maintain An Enigmatic Instagram

Social media curation is key to any lie that you’re doing well, and Insta should be first priority. Inspiring quotes, photos of your workspace accompanied by captions such as “a l w a y s w o r k” or “making $$$”… and when you need to pull out the big guns, a heavily filtered selfie accompanied by an essay of all the people and opportunities you’re grateful for should help persuade your doubters that you are in fact the Kanye of your generation.

2. 

Colour Coordinate

3. 

Remember, Everything Is A New Diet

4. 

Take Fake Phone Calls

5. 

Remind People You’re Not A Performance Poet

No one has ever looked at an entirely aesthetically matching person and thought, “I wonder if they’re OK.” Your successful friends want to go out for lunch. Of course they do – how else will they get to see who’s the king? And you want to go, but you definitely can’t afford anything on the menu. Even eating a free breadstick would put you in debt. Well, you don’t have to, because you’re on a new diet that they’ve never heard of! You’re cutting out all carbs, proteins, liquids and solids. Anyone who’s dieting can’t be doing too badly. Your uncle Wayne has that look in his eye. He’s going to ask you if you’ve considered leaving comedy to get a trade. Before he can get the words out, you hold your phone up – “I’ve really gotta take this!” – and have an incredibly important-sounding meeting with any made-up person you choose. It could be your agent offering you a role in the new Scorsese film. A client offering you a $40k contract. Maybe another Chili Peppers guitarist got addicted to heroin, and you have to step up. Uncle Wayne will be silenced by your (fake) success. Unless you are – then you’re on your own.

what’s funny this week?

Becky Lucas

Saturday February 18 The Hour Of Power at The Comedy Store. A killer hour show featuring my fave comedian/ enemy Becky Lucas, along with Matt Okine, Mike Goldstein (US) and Wilson Dixon (NZ).

Found By Laura [VISUAL ART] Letters Of Note By Adam Norris

I

once discovered a fourpage handwritten letter in a second-hand book, detailing the end of a love affair between three women in Hawaii. It was full of tantalising clues, suggestions of a complex history, and with an unintelligible signature, it’s a story I’ll never complete. Found By Laura takes this intrigue one step further. Drawing from a collection of randomly found notes, lists and letters accumulated over 12 years, this is an exhibition at once deeply personal and full of wild conjecture. “As soon as I found that first [note], I remember thinking, ‘This is kind of interesting,’” Laura Sullivan recalls. “It hit me at once. I thought, ‘Wow, it’s actually kind of amazing to hold this piece of somebody’s life in my hand. So I put it in my pocket, and I know it sounds kind of cheesy, but from there, that’s when things opened up. Everything shifted. It was shortly after that I found the next one just outside the building next door, this old restaurant receipt with a printed number and [the words], ‘I Love You B.B – Your Angel’. The fact it was just on this random bit of paper, on the side of the road in the middle of the city, there was something interesting there.

“And then I found these two funny, rude ones on Pyrmont Bridge a few weeks later, and when that happened, I looked up at the sky and thought, ‘Wait. Is someone doing this? Have I fallen for something?’ It just kept happening. Then I moved to New York – there were heaps in New York – and then Canada. I never thought I was going to make a collection, but over time it just happened.” Most of us have surely misplaced some note or letter over time that once held some great significance. Thinking back to some of my own despairing, lovestruck teenage prose, I’m rather grateful that history has swallowed them whole, but the prospect of your past self suddenly materialising in the form of a found object is a fascinating one. Sadly, Sullivan has yet to discover the authors to any of her unusual collection. “No, not yet,” she sighs. “I would just love to meet some of these people. Especially the ones that I’ve – I was about to say I’ve known, but that’s not really right. The ones I’ve had for ten or 12 years – imagine meeting some of those people! ‘You know what, I’ve kept your really weird shopping list for a decade now, and I just really want to know what you were thinking when you wrote ‘can’t

do shit without your bowls’ in the middle.’ There’s another great one from around 2005 which is a list of Coke Zero and Vanilla Coke, and they’ve drawn this little star in the top and drawn an arrow pointing at it that says ‘Bob Saget’. It’s so random. I want to meet these people.” Getting closure on these writings would itself make a fine story – but then, one of the most tantalising aspects of Found By Laura is being able to create your own characters to fill in the blanks. “I’ve always been interested in people, in writing,” says Sullivan. “And documentaries! So when I started finding these, they were like minidocumentaries, where I read it and instantly started creating who this person is, who they’re writing to or about. It becomes a bit of a fiction, but it’s based in someone’s real life, in a real moment. I love a mystery, putting the clues together. And sharing them, like in the exhibition, you get these different opinions that come up with entirely new stories.” What: Found By Laura Where: Sun Studios, Alexandria When: Thursday February 16 – Sunday March 5

Monday February 20 The Comedy Lounge, Surry Hills. This firecracker of a room puts newcomers and famous comedians on the same stage. I’m actually hosting this one.

Cameron James is a stand-up comedian. You can follow him on Twitter at @iamcameronjames, or in the streets. thebrag.com

BRAG :: 700 :: 15:02:17 :: 21


arts in focus

free stuff

head to: thebrag.com/freeshit

arts reviews ■ Film

RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER A Few Less Men

In cinemas now

FOR HONOR

There’s a new battle to be fought. For Honor is the newest addition to the realm of action fighting games, developed by Ubisoft Montreal and based on an intuitive control system, the Art of Battle. The multiplayer and single player game sees three warring factions – knights, samurai and Vikings – brutally duking it out on PS4, XB1 and PC. Each warrior comes with their own particular weapon set and play style, but their goal is the same: victory through teamwork, coordination and fear. For your chance to win one of five copies of the game on PS4, visit thebrag.com/freeshit.

A FEW LESS MEN

The sequel to 2011 comedy hit A Few Best Men is here. Forget the questionable grammar of its title, A Few Less Men boasts an expanded cast as Xavier Samuel, Kris Marshall and Kevin Bishop are joined by Shane Jacobson, Deborah Mailman, Ryan Corr, Jeremy Sims and Sacha Horler for some great Australian high jinks. The film opens in Australian cinemas on Thursday March 9, but we’re giving you the chance to see it early at a preview screening in Sydney on Tuesday February 28. Enter at thebrag. com/freeshit.

five minutes WITH

GLITTA SUPERNOVA

Never say die, because zombies seem to have long shuffle lives these days. Resident Evil and its illustrious string of films return to grace us with an apparent last instalment, The Final Chapter. Directed and written by Paul W.S. Anderson and starring Milla Jovovich as its iconic femme fatale battling the Umbrella Corporation, the film follows humanity’s last chance at survival, with a pinch of CGI and BMW motorbikes. Resident Evil originally came to us as a video game in 1996, making its fi lm debut in 2002. The Final Chapter covers all the bases: larger-thanlife, fi endishly aggressive and oversized mosquito creatures, painstakingly edited fi ght scenes, an Australian actor cameo (bless you Ruby Rose), and an exceptional core workout, with lasers thrown in for tension.

In short, The Final Chapter has not strayed from the previous fi ve instalments. Its attempt to come full circle and return to where it all began is a double-edged sword: it’s likely to satisfy long-standing fans, but offer little for the newcomers. The opening shot is of an alive Alice (Jovovich) clawing her way out of rubble in Washington, D.C., following her betrayal in the last fi lm. After stumbling around bleary-eyed, she fi nds water – then boom, there’s a fi ght with an undead, a shock to the system and away we go. Thanks to a predictable and stilted script, we are reminded that we did not come here for the dialogue. The fi ght scenes, the ongoing tension with Dr. Alexander Isaacs (Iain Glen), the special effects and the guessing game over which character will be next to die do their best to

retain interest, but it’s not always gripping stuff. At the end of the line and

■ Theatre

OSAMA THE HERO Reviewed at Kings Cross Theatre on Tuesday January 24

ody Map is your new show as part of Mardi Gras 2017. Where will the map take us? A deep, deep dive across the consumer onsumer borders of the planet and into your our own inner being and of course mine,, this is a warts-and-all human experience nce – no Photoshop, hashtags or filtering g of any kind. An exploration on what is really wrong with nudity.

12 years on, the breakout play from nowstaple British playwright Dennis Kelly has lost none of its fire, its relevance and its visceral impact. At least on the page. Brought to the Australian stage today, it is missing two key factors: the relevance of its geographic location, and the subtleties of its narrative, lost in a well-intended but cacophonous production.

What is the ‘Bordello body bus’? us’? It’s an adults-only guided realityy tour that the Body Map show takes you on – a bumpy ride with no seat belts,, not for those easily offended or queasy, y, unless of course you want that kind of pain... and somewhere deep inside, side, don’t we all?

Gary (Josh McElroy) has always been a weirdo, but this time, he’s gone too far. When he’s asked to make a presentation to his class on a personal hero, and chooses Osama bin Laden, he raises the suspicions of his neighbours. Someone’s been blowing up bins in the neighbourhood, and all eyes are on Gary…

What kind of audiences are most receptive to sexual performance art? At the premiere of the show for Perth Fringe World, I had an 82-year-old queer professor and d a gaggle of ‘just adult’ female teens all gushing with words of identification and solidarity. I’ve had audiences from bikers to hipsters; I don’t think any one type of audience can be labelled. Sexual performance art is not unlike sex – it depends in the moment on you and if you’re willing to consent.

Director Richard Hilliar’s predilection for British theatre (see 2013’s Scenes From An Execution) has finally led him to Kelly, and Osama is a timely choice. It so perfectly captures the irrationality and hysteria created by fear that it has audience members squirming in their seats, uncomfortable as much with the events unfolding in front of them as those outside the theatre.

B

Why is it important to present unsanitized, uncensored art? Provocative and uncensored art in all forms makes the world go around. Love it or hate it, but you’ll never walk away with no opinion, no thought, no emotion. Or we could all just stay home and binge consume what the corporate machine will tell us is great viewing.

Oddly, Hilliar has made no effort to relate the production to our context, meaning we must bear with British accents of varying quality. The extra work is superfluous – the cast would be more relatable without having to compromise just to sound accurate. The characters’ complexities and simple contradictions are what make them so compelling. Tel Benjamin overdoes

Francis’ skinhead thuggishness, at first, but his transformation by the third act is deeply moving. Similarly, Lynden Jones finds a richness and variance within Mark that make him surprisingly magnetic for so alienating a character. McElroy’s Gary is a strange and engaging creature – the choice to put Gary on the spectrum is a natural one, which McElroy plays with sincerity and integrity. The problem is that the entire production, from word one, is pitched at full volume, full intensity. Tooth And Sinew, true to its name, makes gutsy and intense productions, but without variance, layering or delicacy it is merely playing at King Lear, roaring into the storm. Three clearly delineated acts are yelled and rushed through in the same manner, leaving little time to let the powerful emotions of the play’s most affecting moments set in. In the staging, as well, there are far too many elements at play. The effort to keep our darting eyes interested distracts from the moment at hand – when one character speaks, three others perform tasks that demand to be watched. How can we possibly stay glued to such frenetic, discombobulated motion? Osama The Hero is an astonishing play that everyone should see, even if the hammer that Tooth And Sinew took to it has knocked loose some of its teeth. David Molloy

What: Body Map Where: Giant Dwarf Theatre When: Friday February 24 and Saturday February 25

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thebrag.com


arts in focus

market corner WITH

DEAR PLUTO’S SEE YA SUMMERTIME MARKET

Speciality: What our See Ya Summertime Market lacks in size, it makes up for in variety and unique talent. Hand-picking each of our stalls, we aim to provide you with an experience unlike any other market in Sydney. Across our 20 stallholders, you’ll fi nd a range of common themes – Australiana, pastels and typically sweet illustrations juxtaposed with rude words and feminist mantras. Highlights include Salt Country’s koala caps, Zuku’s glass jewellery, Herbert Flores’ fi ddle leaf fi gs and quirky ceramics and Millie Hall’s bordering-onoffensive cards. There are few stalls without a strong sense of humour, begging to help you show off your wit with a brooch, card or tote bag.

Alice’s story, we’re left with a fi nely choreographed, actionpacked and dialogue-dry last hurrah for the fans. No surprises

here, apart from the jump scares. Amy Henderson

Zuku jewellery

Herbert Flores plants

The crowd: We probably wouldn’t recommend bringing your Catholic grandmother, or any children that might take a liking to new rude words, but of course everyone’s welcome at this event. Please bring your dogs too; we like puppies (and they’re heaps less impressionable than children). We also have a very non-offensive and super fun fl oristry workshop running on Sunday, featuring wild foliage and native fl orals. Find a bargain: Most of our stalls have something you can nab for pocket change, but for $10 or less we’d get a cute cockatoo print from Ellen Macintyre to hang on our walls! What’s the fuel? We’ve got dumplings, great coffee and a bar serving ice cold beers! It’s the perfect farewell to summer. If you need extra incentive to stick around for a drink after you’ve perused to your heart’s content, we’ve also got some fantastic DJs playing across the weekend, including Adi Toohey, Shantan Wantan Ichiban, FlexMami and Mr. Friendly. Salt Country patches

Stallholder info: You can apply on our website, dearpluto.com.au Where: 107 Redfern St, Redfern

■ Film

When: Our See Ya Summertime market runs over two days on Saturday February 18 and Sunday February 19 from 10am till 5pm. Stay in the loop about future markets by subscribing to the Dear Pluto mailing list on our website.

A STREET CAT NAMED BOB In cinemas now A Street Cat Named Bob is the heart-warming and feel-good true story about a young and homeless recovering drug addict living in London with his cat. James Bowen (played here by the occasionally whiny Luke Treadaway) is down on his luck, busking in Covent Garden and living in public housing until a chance meeting with a ginger tomcat changes his life. The pair become inseparable, with Bob the cat sitting by James’ side as he faces up to his heroin and methadone habits, becomes a Big Issue seller and looks to turn his life around.

More: dearpluto.com.au

Bob plays himself in the film (along with some stunt cats), and he steals the show. Cat enthusiasts will love the fact he has many close-ups and mishaps to enjoy, and that scenes are even shot from his perspective at times. A Street Cat Named Bob is not a particularly gritty film, but it does include some funny moments and some interesting and well-realised dramatic subplots with James’ estranged father (Anthony Head) and a fun but contrived romance with his kooky, vegan neighbour (Ruta Gedmintas). A Street Cat Named Bob is a Hollywood take on addiction, for James’ struggles are often downplayed in service of getting the story moving. But if you can overlook this sanitation, and you’re after a film about hope, companionship and redemption, then this biopic ticks many of the right boxes. Natalie Salvo thebrag.com

Haus Of Dizzy earrings

Millie Hall avocado print tote BRAG :: 700 :: 15:02:17 :: 23


FOOD + DRINK

FEATURE

bar

OF

ADDRESS: SHOP 1, 65-67 FOVEAUX ST, SURRY HILLS WEBSITE: FONZARELLIS.COM.AU OPENING HOURS: WED – SUN 5PM-MIDNIGHT

TH

EK

FONZARELLI’S BAR

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Three Of Our Favourite

Sydney Brunch Spots BY JESSICA WESTCOTT

The Wooden Whisk, St Leonards In terms of consistency and quality, this staple of urban St Leonards is buzzing. Despite the fact it’s on the Lower North Shore, there is a distinctly Eastern Suburbs vibe to this comfortable cafe – the prices are good, and the menu is huge. There are daily specials, including the famous pulled pork eggs benedict and the kale crossfit breakfast, which makes you feel as healthy as it looks. The Wooden Whisk breakfast is loaded with protein and comes with a nice ceramic pot of home-made beans on the side.

Tell us about your bar: Fonzarelli’s is split over two levels, each with its own character, vibe and bar that pays authentic tribute to the iconic style of 1950s and ’60s Americana. If you are after a mood-lit bar with plenty of red velvet, love booths, VIP rooms and loads of character, you can head downstairs where we’re serving up cocktails like the Buddy Holly (classic amaretto sour with fresh OJ) and Correctamundo (Campari, Solerno blood orange liqueur and fresh OJ). The upstairs flourishes with a selection of over 45 whisky varieties designed to spoil even the finest aficionado, and craft beer with hardly a trace of mainstream. What’s on the menu? Our menu features American and Italian-inspired sharing plates and dishes that include the sliced char grilled Rangers Valley Angus, the seasoned pasture-fed beef and pork burgers as well as our smoked footlong hot dogs. One of Fonzarelli’s most popular dishes is the onekilogram serving of our five-hour Applewood-smoked St. Louis ribs that simply melts in your mouth. Care for a drink? We believe good things come in pairs, so Fonzarelli’s welcomes you through the door with two bars,

1.

This is the kind of cafe that deals with black pudding like it’s a regular feature on a Sydney menu. The waitresses are quick, friendly, and numerous. So numerous, in fact, that over many visits I don’t think I’ve ever encountered the same waitress – regardless, the service is wonderful.

beginning with a beautiful moodlit cocktail bar on the ground level complete with booth seating and two private VIP rooms for your leisure. Our upstairs bar is dressed to the nines and designed to spoil whisky lovers for choice with over 45 varieties stocked throughout. Fonzarelli’s leaves mainstream beers on the curb and instead focuses on custom and craft beers that beckon adventurous palates and refined tastes. One of our signature drinks is the Cool As Fonz. Well, we don’t know if anything or anyone is as cool as the Fonz, but this cocktail will definitely hit the spot – a refreshingly blended combination of vodka, home-made lemon and lime sorbet, Prosecco and fresh citrus. This one is made to share and served in a carafe. Sounds: Fonzarelli’s is proud to have a sound system that, for a bar, is world-class. Designed and installed by renowned sound guru Michael Bartolo from Slave Sound, you will hear a selection of classic ’60s and a

sprinkle of ’70s music on both levels. The top level bar is a little more laidback, with music at a good level to chat and meet new friends. Take a stroll to the lower bar, and you will definitely start feeling the vibe to shake, rattle and roll. Starting very soon, we will also be introducing some rotating live music during the week, showcasing the huge pool of talented musicians we have in Sydney. Highlights: This bar oozes with character, with a unique take on era replication from the ’50s and ’60s, an incredible bar menu that will have you coming back for more, and a cocktail and drinks list that has been designed to spoil even the finest aficionado for choice. Immerse yourself in those beautifully hand-crafted booth seats and you will be taken back to an era of good times and great music. The bill comes to: Enjoy one or two of our sharing plates together with one of our signature drinks and you should not pay more than about $50-60 per person.

The Cove Dining Co, Abbotsford Hosted in the community hall of the old Nestlé factory of Abbotsford, this delightful Latin-Australian menu is classic and hearty, thanks to the head chef Brock Coffrey, formerly of Rockpool. The ambience is decidedly antique, and the dining experience Melburnian. A recent change in management has seriously helped the quality of the service and the food – the latter being unusual and delicious. Patrons are served brunch options like braised beef cheeks and smoked trout with fish egg, and all ingredients are locally sourced. The sourdough bread and the cheese are homemade, rich and chewy. The Campos coffee is caramel and nutty, as expected. The leafy Abbotsford surrounds prove an ideal area to take children, with room for plenty of prams, and a secluded lawn out back – a perfect area to let small bodies run around.

3.

More importantly, there is a fantastically rich children’s menu featuring a cheese jaffle, pancakes, and fish and chips. Upon my visit, there was a mixture of mothers’ groups, friends catching up for coffee, and a pre-bridal party enjoying a hen’s brunch. A wonderful day out is assured at this uplifting cafe – take your family, your friends, and their family. Oh, and try the fish pie.

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FOOD + DRINK

REVIEW

Let’s be real; it is of national significance to highlight the importance of brunch. The nature of brunch in Sydney especially is everchanging, as innovators and traditionalists converge to create amazing wonders out of sourdough and an egg. Forget avocado toast – here’s your chance to try the dishes the locals have been keeping secret, and add these venues to your brunching top ten.

Q Dining

PRICE PER MAIN

$: $0-10 $$: $10-20 $$$: $20-35 $$$$: $35-50 $$$$$: $50+

BY AMY HENDERSON $$$$

W 2.

hen comfort and relaxation are of the utmost importance, we turn to certain havens. Afternoon strolls beside a lake, evenings undisturbed with a good book, binge watching the latest Netflix series… and of course, Q Dining.

The Tuckshop, Glenhaven A sign painted over the service area reads: “Where it’s not the city and you couldn’t care less”. 32 kilometres north of Sydney is a long way to go for a poached egg, but if you’ve got the weekend… it’s a lovely drive. This light and airy cafe features locally sourced meat and dairy, and fruit and veg from orchards in nearby Dural. The brainchild of the boys behind The Baron – Ricky Row, Mike Ico and Matthew Stone – and Eels legend Nathan Hindmarsh, The Tuckshop was built out of a defunct milk bar. The coffee and bacon and egg rolls are famous across the upper North West, and don’t be afraid to try their beef brisket, or the innovative breakfast taco. This reviewer is always up for some brex-Mex (that’s breakfast Mexican for those playing at home). A highlight is undoubtedly the provided blankets in a bin, and the fact you can take yourself and your bacon down to the park and enjoy the sun.

Q Dining is perched on the mezzanine level of the Pullman Quay Grand, overlooking East Circular Quay. Boasting chic modern interiors of muted steel tones and contemporary design, Q Dining’s ambience is extended further with fl oor-to-ceiling glass overlooking the bustling harbour. Nestled above the action below there is an immediate sense of calm amid the thriving metropolis. Q Dining’s culinary offerings are led by executive chef Stefan Brademann. Brademann’s 18-year career has seen him bring his extensive, innovative and locally sourced approach to cooking to all new heights – and the proof is in the palate. Living by its motto, “Good food is the foundation of genuine happiness,” Q Dining starts bringing the joy from morsel one. The charcuterie spread ranges from cured Spanish salami to juniper and red wine-infused Wagyu beef, wild boar and duck wrapped in pastry, and rabbit slow-cooked in duck fat. Suffice to say, paralysis of choice begins early and doesn’t cease. The wild boar and duck is moist and fl avoursome, effortlessly collaborating with the pastry, while the rabbit is consumed with enamoured intensity. The first course sees you choose between a host of the sea’s greatest bounty; Sydney rock oysters, seared scallops and Mooloolaba prawns dance

about before your eyes. The seared scallops partnered with creamed rice and pork hock create a textural and fl avour combination that, surprisingly, remains smooth and light. As a main, the Rangers Valley fl ank with aubergine, mustard leaf, mushroom ketchup and sesame brings together Australia’s excellence in produce in a full and nuanced dish. The beef fl ank cooked medium is tender and organically rich, and coupled with the mustard and mushroom notes, the fl avour points are in a happily active dialogue that entice and satisfy. And then it was said, let there be dessert! The aerated chocolate parfait with chocolate sorbet and raspberries is a world of activity and voice. The saucy notes of alcohol meet with deep and smooth touches of jazzy chocolate to make this dish a song and dance of merriment. As an accompaniment, the caulifl ower with currants and beurre noisette brings crisp and edgy fl avour profi les. The relationship of the crumbling coating and the fresh caulifl ower offers an innovative modern twist to the serving of this vegetable. As to the wine choice, there is an extensive range with fl avours galore, including varieties from every cape and altitude, and from domestic and international soil. You can take a trip around the world in your glass, indeed. From sparkling wine to deep, deep reds, Pinot Gris to the demure sherry, Q Dining houses them all, ready to lithely swill about your cup. The service is consistent with attentive, personable and informed waitstaff; any questions regarding wine pairings and ingredients are pleasantly answered. Q Dining, a hallowed place of respite for the hungry soul and belly. Get thou to its table.

More: pullmanquaygrandsydneyharbour.com/qdining-en.html

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Where: Mez zanine Level, Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour, 61 Macquarie St, Sydney

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Album Reviews What's been crossing our ears this week...

ALBUM OF THE WEEK ELECTRIC GUEST Plural Dew Process/Universal

Electric Guest are back with a stimulating follow-up to their 2012 debut, Mondo. Their new record, Plural, has everything from breezy vibes to ’80s pop tones, a little reggae and a little rap, and really it’s quite astounding. It flirts with going too far over the top, but it still keeps everything fresh. xxx

As a collection of individual songs, Plural’s varying styles are executed brilliantly. The album opens with ‘Zero’, a track that lands somewhere between Scissor Sisters and the New Romantics of the early ’80s, though it ends abruptly. ‘Oh Devil’ is a delightful summer groove, while standout track ‘Back For Me’ occupies indie territory with ease. The diversity continues with ‘Glorious Warrior’, reminiscent of a Christmas song

decorated by Michael Jacksonesque lyrics and vocals – it’s unusual, but well worth your time. The Californian duo channel an array of different influences throughout Plural, but ultimately it’s the rounded tone and clarity in production that most recall Electric

Guest’s fine first album. This one is an appealing chillout release, but there’s an instability to the songwriting that makes Plural slightly inferior to Mondo, enjoyable though it is. Anna Wilson

“As a collection of individual songs, Plural’s varying styles are executed brilliantly.”

FIRST DRAFTS

Unearthed demos and unfinished hits, as heard by Nathan Jolly MICHAEL JACKSON – ‘BILLIE JEAN’ The most celebrated song by the most famous man in musical history had a pretty shoddy start. The ‘Billie Jean’ demo is fascinating because you can hear the bones of the song, musically speaking, but lyrically, MJ is nowhere near where he should be. “More kick and stuff in the phones, I need it,” he orders the engineer as that familiar bassline creeps in. “More bottom and kick in the phones,” he repeats, before tentatively beginning to sing. You can hear him literally figuring out the song’s melody as he goes, ad-libbing some truly terrible lyrics, such as: “Where we go, on the winds, in the wild”, “She told me I was a lonely man, and I felt sad”, and – best/worst of all – “and I sit, in a cup, on a ride”, which is clearly a reference to the Alice In Wonderland tea cup ride at Disneyland, a nice early pointer to his later obsession with theme parks. The melody is basically a looser version of what he ultimately arrived at, and it is

amazing how certain tossed-off phrases, such as “be careful what you do”, became the support beams around which he built the finished version’s rather dark story. The chorus is lyrically complete in this demo – it’s interesting how the false paternity thread is there from the beginning, showing he at least had the song’s concept in mind. Luckily, he didn’t keep the tea cup ride section in, or this could have been used as further evidence against him in later years… Jackson famously composed the music for this song in his head while driving down the freeway, and was so absorbed in it that he hadn’t noticed his car was on fire. A passing motorist informed him of this little fact, and saved Jackson’s life – and that of the song. Jackson didn’t play any instruments,

and the way he composed was incredible, writing each musical part by humming, singing or beatboxing. He demonstrated how he did this in the otherwise horrible Martin Bashir documentary about his life, and again in a court case where he had to defend himself from a plagiarism charge. Also unheard of for a pop single at the time was the 29-second musical intro, which producer Quincy Jones wanted to cut. Jackson fought this, as Jones recalled. “He said: ‘But that’s the jelly! That’s what makes me want to dance.’ And when Michael Jackson tells you, ‘That’s what makes me want to dance,’ well, the rest of us just have to shut up.” Can’t really argue with that now, can you? Listen to the original ‘Billie Jean’ demo at thebrag.com.

“Michael Jackson famously composed the music for this song in his head while driving down the freeway, and was so absorbed in it that he hadn’t noticed his car was on fire.”

INDIE ALBUM OF THE WEEK OSLOW Oslow Resist

Melodic and melancholic, Oslow’s pensive full-length debut proves why they are Sydney’s best-kept secret. Vocalist and bassist Dylan Farrugia has said, “The songs themselves seek to express our personal experiences as young people in Australia and what that means at this juncture in history.” And that resonates: Oslow is a snapshot, a time capsule of the thoughts and attitudes of Australian youths in this particular period of time. It’s apathetic, it’s anxious and it’s hopeful. A careful partnership of brooding lyricism and rosetinted-glasses songwriting is what ties this record together as a coming-of-age work from the local fourpiece. The late David Bowie summed it up best: “And these children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds / Are immune to your consultations / They’re quite aware of what they’re going through”. Lead single ‘Cold Dark Space’ and its intricate guitar melodies are as majestic as the accompanying

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instruments. It’s a demonstration of this release’s biggest achievement – production that serves as sonic replication, rather than emulation, and a collective that understands the push and pull of its musical relationship. Partnering with producer/engineer Dylan Adams (DMA’s, James Blake), Oslow have positioned themselves among today’s post-punk leaders, together with the likes of Title Fight, Pup and Basement. Aaron Streatfeild

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up all night out all week . . .

live reviews What we’ve been out to see...

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN AND THE E STREET BAND Qudos Bank Arena Tuesday February 7

“That’s a long way, man!” says an unusually hesitant Bruce Springsteen. He’s peering down at the crowd from atop his runway at the middle of the arena floor, a sea of hands beckoning him for a lift back to stage. The 67-year-old performer chuckles, closes his eyes and leans into the throng. Springsteen has always known how to throw a party. These are not party times – already on this tour, the veteran songwriter and activist has had his say about President Trump – but tonight’s show is more about generosity than protest. That generosity goes both ways: not only from the devotees in the audience bellowing “Bruuuuuuuce!” and singing every lyric, but from The Boss himself, courtesy another of his famous three-hour sets.

simple minds 09:02:17 :: Hordern Pavilion :: Moore Park 28 :: BRAG :: 700 :: 15:02:17

PICS :: AM

The program is built around The E Street Band’s piano-driven heartland rock, from ‘Darkness On The Edge Of Town’ to ‘The Promised Land’ and the parade of classics in the finale – ‘Badlands’, ‘Thunder Road’, ‘Born To Run’ and more. It’s during an early audience request for ‘Hungry Heart’ that Springsteen takes his opportunity for the stage dive.

But while Springsteen doesn’t outwardly discuss the political climate in his native US, the implications of his most important lyrics are as vital as ever. In ‘American Land’, he sings of the multicultural immigration on which modern America is founded: “The Muslims and the Jews … They died to get here a hundred years ago, they’re dying now”. Later, ‘American Skin (41 Shots)’ sees saxophonist Jake Clemons hold up his hands in surrender; hundreds of hands in the audience return the gesture in an affecting moment of solidarity. Ultimately, however, this is the Bruce Springsteen show – save for an incredible guitar solo or two from Nils Lofgren – and The Boss is as watchable as ever. He injects what would be an otherwise forgettable song like ‘Mary’s Place’ with irresistible character, and bounds past the three-hour mark without even leaving the stage (at least until his James Brown death-and-resurrection impersonation in ‘Shout’). Springsteen speaks to the masses in 2017 as loudly as ever, and while the lyric on ‘Wrecking Ball’ mightn’t be his most poetic, it sums things up in the stony-faced language of the working class. “Hard times come, and hard times go,” he sings. And through it all, the music of Springsteen stands eternal. Chris Martin

PHOTOGRAPHER :: ASHLEY MAR

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GUNS N’ ROSES ANZ Stadium Friday February 10

“Not in this lifetime,” Guns N’ Roses told the world. And yet here they were in Sydney for a fantastically well-received stadium performance with their classic lineup, minus Izzy Stradlin. ANZ Stadium turned into one giant dive bar with enough smoke and sweat to account for the thousands of venues Guns N’ Roses have fi lled over the years; shows that many of tonight’s audience never had a chance to witness. Axl Rose, Duff McKagan, Richard Fortus, Dizzy Reed and, of course, Slash were accompanied by smoke screens, fireworks and strobe lights as they burst into ‘It’s So Easy’. And really, they do make it look so easy. Across nearly three hours of their most loved songs, everything was so grimy, yet so, so epic.

tropfest

A highly rumoured appearance by AC/ DC’s Angus Young came to fruition. The crowd witnessed two of the greatest guitarists in rock history back to back, as Young and Slash mastered their way through a rendition of the classic AC/DC songs ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ and ‘Riff Raff’. As Rose took to the glitter-encrusted keys of a grand piano, ‘November Rain’ offered a poignant refrain on the evening before the climatic fi nale and encore that included ‘Nightrain’, ‘Paradise City’, more fireworks and a whole lot of confetti. Guns N’ Roses aren’t just a band, they’re an institution, with a legacy that will one day become legend. Just as our parents tell us about great rock’n’roll shows of days gone by, so will we one day tell our children of this most legendary of evenings – a night that left us shook up and breathless. Anna Wilson

THE BEACH BOYS, THE TEMPTATIONS The Star Event Centre Tuesday February 7

There are certain things in life that might never have quite found their way onto your personal bucket list, yet when they roll around there’s an unexpected frisson there regardless. Catching The Beach Boys (well, most of ’em) perform was a pretty grand experience, but the real memory of the night belongs to the opener, The Temptations. While only the 75-year-old Otis Williams remains of the original lineup, witnessing the iconic Motown band do that signature classic, ‘My Girl’, was one hell of a thing. Who would have thought in 2017 that such an opportunity could still exist? The Temptations have always been flamboyant performers, and true to form, the eccentric costumes have carried on down the years; it’s like they’re ambassadors for a Sergeant Pepper fashion empire. Sure, they might move a little stiffly these days, and their choreography probably hasn’t changed in 30 years, but their voices still soar – Larry Braggs and Ron Tyson in particular – and it would take a hard heart not to get caught up in a number like ‘Ain’t Too Proud to Beg’. And then, The Beach Boys. No Brian Wilson, alas, but Mike Love on primary vocals is still an impressive and (personally) unaccountably nostalgic act.

The landscape of their music is from an era I am entirely disconnected with – the US coastal culture – but such is their influence and innovation that many of their songs have wormed into the soundtrack of later generations. Those who were there to dive into the rise of The Beach Boys as their fame rolled around the world – here in Australia ‘Kokomo’ spent eight weeks at number one – ensured the venue was packed; a sea of white hair and Hawaiian shirts far as the eye could see. For a 50th anniversary tour, you can forgive the odd off-pitch moment of mumbled lyric, especially when you find yourself swept along in a relentless wave of classics – their cover of ‘California Dreamin’’, ‘Sloop John B’, ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’, ‘California Girls’. The best part of the night, however, derived from the fact these guys seem to genuinely still love to perform, even if they are laughing into their 5000th rendition of ‘Surfin’ U.S.A.’. ‘I Get Around’ was a highlight, but how could you not lose yourself in ‘God Only Knows’, ‘Good Vibrations’, ‘Barbara Ann’, ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’… my God, there are just so many. There aren’t many bands out there who can claim the success or the longevity of The Beach Boys. Maybe it wasn’t a bucket list item when I arrived, but by the time I left, they may have sneaked on there after all. Adam Norris

PICS :: AM

Cries from the audience of “Fuck, they look old!” punctuated the night, but the Gunners played with more energy than many had expected. Carrying his signature falsetto through classics like ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ and ‘Mr. Brownstone’, Rose’s ageing body is merely a shell protecting his youthful voice – yeah, he’s still got it. Kudos

to the frontman for the energy and entertainment he provided – for all that his conversation with the audience was minimal at best, his interchanging plaid shirts and bandanas to refl ect each era of fashion and music in the band’s lifetime was a point of humour for the fans, who accompanied Rose through each and every song.

11:02:17 :: Parramatta Park :: Parramatta thebrag.com

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g g guide gig g

the BRAG presents

send your listings to: gigguide@seventhstreet.media

TURIN BRAKES Newtown Social Club Monday April 10

pick of the week

For our full gig and club listings, head to thebrag.com/gig-guide.

TREVOR HALL

Newtown Social Club Wednesday April 12

MILES ELECTRIC BAND

WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 15

Yellowcard

Enmore Theatre Thursday April 13

Dr Taos Lazybones Lounge, Marrickville. 5pm. Free.

NATIONAL FOLK FESTIVAL 2017

E l Guincho Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. 8pm. $43.

FRIDAY FEBRUARY 17 Enmore Theatre

Yellowcard + Like Torches 8pm. $82.70.

THURSDAY FEBRUARY 16

NIKKI HILL

Newtown Social Club Monday April 17

Moth King Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. 8pm. $10.

THE STRUMBELLAS

FRIDAY FEBRUARY 17

ST PAUL AND THE BROKEN BONES

Oxford Art Factory Monday April 17

Metro Theatre Wednesday April 19

Betty And Oswald Selina’s, Coogee. 8pm. Free. Clairy Browne Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. 8pm. $23.

PLTS Brighton Up Bar, Darlinghurst. 7pm. $15.

SATURDAY FEBRUARY 18 Benj Axwell St George Masonic Club, Mortdale. 7pm. Free. Fractures Newtown Social Club, Newtown. 8pm. $17

The Aussie hip hop pioneers return to the stage for The Dopamine Tour, performing at some of their most intimate venues in years.

Metro Theatre Sunday April 16

The Morrisons Hotel Steyne, Manly. 7pm. Free.

The Gooch Palms Hotel Steyne, Manly. 8pm. Free.

Metro Theatre, Sydney. Thursday February 16. 7pm. $59.90.

CORINNE BAILEY RAE

Kishi Bashi Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. 8pm. $33.

Fatback Hudson Ballroom, Sydney. 9pm. Free.

Bliss N Eso

Exhibition Park, Canberra Thursday April 13 – Monday April 17

James Morrison Big Band Taronga Zoo, Mosman. 6pm. $75. Mountain Sounds Festival – feat: RÜFÜS + Hermitude + DMA’s + Skegss + Mosquito Coast + The Gooch Palms

+ These New South Whales + more Mount Penang Gardens, Kariong. 11:30am. $99. Punk Out With Camp Out! – feat: Mixtape For The Drive + Stellar Addiction + We Take The Night Annandale Hotel, Annandale. 7pm. Free. Tiger Army Metro Theatre, Sydney. 7:30pm. $71. What So Not Mona Vale Hotel, Mona Vale. 2pm. $20.

SUNDAY FEBRUARY 19 Jet + Bloods Taronga Zoo, Mosman. 6pm. $81. Vanessa Heinitz Observer Hotel, The Rocks. 6pm. Free. Wil Wagner + Laura Stevenson + Lucy Wilson + Iona Cairns Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. 7pm. $28.70.

George + Felix Riebl + The Cat Empire

Manning Bar, Camperdown. Friday February 17. 8pm. $66.

Taronga Zoo, Mosman. Friday February 17. 6pm. $75.

California’s masters of darkness bring their 11th studio album Fires Within Fires to the Australian stage.

Katie Noonan and co. are making a comeback, showing off their timeless pop songs in front of the equally iconic Sydney Harbour thanks to the Twilight At Taronga backdrop.

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Yellowcard photo by Joe Brady Photography

Neurosis + Dispossessed

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brag beats

Poolclvb

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FEATURE

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brag beats

Off The Record Dance and Electronica with Alex Chetverikov

Sunset Sounds By Zanda Wilson

I

t’s been a couple of years since Poolclvb unveiled his first single, ‘Here You’re Mine’. In that time, the Sydney producer has become increasingly renowned around the local club scene for his sunset-tinged tropical electro sets. He’s released a steady stream of remixes and original singles since his debut, and now has finally unveiled his maiden EP, You + Me. The EP features several amazing performances by a slew of vocalists, and has already been warmly received on Poolclvb’s ongoing national tour, which will see him take in Mountain Sounds Festival on the Central Coast this weekend.

moment. Also, being on brand with my name; the pool club is all about the summer time and the sunshine and positivity and love. So I guess another key to the release of this EP and the timing of it was to release it during the summer – that was crucial. Sometimes sticking a record out as summery as this is in the middle of winter might be a bit tough, but on the flip side it could also bring some sunshine to the colder days.” Poolclvb laments that the growing propensity is for musicians to write songs that don’t necessarily express their own style or feelings, but which are created with the express intention of gaining radio airplay. “As soon as you start to write a record for triple j or for a certain record label, I think that’s where you start to hit some walls. So for me it was all about trying to block all that out and just let that expression of what I wanted to do come through.”

“THE MUSIC IS ALWAYS BEST SERVED WITH A BIT OF SUNSET.”

“‘Here You’re Mine’ was actually the first single I did as Poolclvb, then I did another one called ‘Move Me’ and I just thought I’d want to do two singles first just to see how they would go and how they would be received,” he says. “Then I wanted to also do a body of work, something a bit more personal and relatable to me. I really wanted to create music, not just for the club or for the radio, but a body of work.” As is the case for many producers, part of the struggle was always going to be creating a record where each track had a purpose. Poolclvb stresses that one of the reasons the EP took two years to create was because he didn’t want any cuts just thrown in to make up the numbers. “That was it, I didn’t want to do an EP with just one main single and have the rest of the tracks just go unnoticed,” he says. “I wanted to treat each track as a single, so that was probably the most timeconsuming thing – working with vocalists and trying to get it right, trying to get each track to be an A-side. It took about 18 months to put the whole thing together.” There were other challenges too, like trying to time the release perfectly to optimise listenability. Not only did Poolclvb want to release You + Me in the summer – ideally to be played at the pool club – but also at a time when he wasn’t facing too much competition from Australia’s growing stable of talented producers. “That’s the tough bit – how do you get noticed among such a sick field of upcoming talent? Especially in this country. The spotlight is on Oz at the moment and it’s about trying to figure out how to punch through that. But as soon as you remove that from your mentality when you’re in the studio, that’s where the true magic will happen. “I’ve always been a house head, so there are elements there of traditional 4/4 house, but I’ve also drawn elements from the new synth/French-pop/house sound that’s coming through at the

For all his efforts, Poolclvb is pretty stoked with how the new material has been received thus far. “I’m on my second week into the tour, and it’s been great. It’s been the first time I’ve been able to do a tour and play at least 70 per cent of my own tracks. It’s been quite refreshing and exciting to see when you see the crowd singing along to the lyrics. That’s been the most exciting and rewarding thing, especially after working on the EP for a year and a half, and seeing people that dance and know your music is awesome.” As for Mountain Sounds, Poolclvb struggles to hide his excitement when talking about what could be a breakthrough live performance, which he hints will contain something a little different from the run of club shows that he’s performed so far. “I think I’m headlining the Bus Stage at a pretty good time,” he says. “I think the music is always best served with a bit of sunset, so I’m really excited for that one. “It’s always great to include a bit of a festival run as part of the tour too. I played Summer Vibes in South Australia and then I played the afterparty at a club called Fat Controller and didn’t start till 2am, and it was very much in club mode then. So I do adapt my set quite a bit from an outdoors environment with the sunshine and the poolside vibes to a dark, sweaty back room – there can be a pretty big shift in my sound.” What: Mountain Sounds Festival 2017 With: RÜFÜS, Hermitude, DMA’s, Dune Rats and more Where: Mount Penang Parklands When: Saturday February 18 And: You + Me out now through Etcetc

“I REALLY WANTED TO CREATE MUSIC, NOT JUST FOR THE CLUB OR FOR THE RADIO, BUT A BODY OF WORK.” thebrag.com

Why Don’t We Treat Electronic Music Seriously? D

iscourse and discussion on the many-headed beast that is electronic music* seems infinitely couched in rose-tint, reverence and revisionism. Even as electronic music continues to seep into our greater cultural consciousness – one way or another – academic representation in this field has, for the most part, barely scratched at its many surfaces. One potential reason is that other genres of music, be it pop or rhythm and blues (and their extensions) are a more familiar and established marker in the lexicon of Western popular culture. Or perhaps it’s more comfortable to recycle the same old, tired tropes about Kraftwerk et al. But it’s a bit lazy, and it’s not really offering anything new.

Larry Levan

“THIS IS AS GOOD A TIME AS ANY TO BE ENGAGING IN MEANINGFUL RESEARCH AND PUBLIC DISCUSSION ABOUT ELECTRONIC MUSIC.”

The discussion appears forever caught in ultimately circular debates on the physical mode of production (analogue versus digital, laptop versus turntable); on the obsessive distinction or retrospective on genre and subgenre (is it outsider house? Insider house? Dew-droplet house? Full House?); or on rosy references to musical icons or institutions (Larry Levan, Ron Hardy, Frankie Knuckles, The Warehouse and so on) that border on full-blown hero worship. I’m not arguing against their necessary legacy or importance. It’s important to recognise and respect where we come from. This is more an attempt to identify a glaring lack of attention afforded to a broader critical discourse on electronic music. And, to a lesser extent, to identify the problematic nature of the rapid commodification of subcultures. What are the social conditions that surround and sustain the music? What are its effects, what are its ramifications? Why do we listen to it?

Terre Thaemlitz Luminaries and musicians such as Brewster/Broughton, Tim Lawrence and Simon Reynolds have shed light on DJs, disco and Kirk Degiorgio its (dis)contents, while identifying the multitude of other genres that have contributed directly to electronic music’s development. What we’re missing are the critical voices. Terre Thaemlitz is one such example (she is wonderfully eloquent and her writings and interviews are well worth a read), Kirk Degiorgio another. Ethnomusicologist Dr. Luis-Manuel Garcia has also contributed significantly to furthering the greater discussion, with his texts available online. This is as good a time as any to be engaging in meaningful research and public discussion about electronic music, ethnographic or otherwise. In as much as club culture, for example, has its similarities, so too does it have its idiosyncrasies – idiosyncrasies and qualities that make Sydney’s nightlife distinct, the hopeless inadequacies of the lockout laws aside. * I’ve persisted with this disastrously awkward generalisation in this column, but it’s still better than cringey labels like ‘EDM’.

THIS WEEK’S PLAYLIST Sons Of Kemet’s Lest We Forget What We Came Here To Do. They’re a four-man jazz outfit featuring the supremely talented saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, some great tuba work on the basslines and two drummers – think Afrobeat/Arabic-inflected jazz. Also see Terre Thaemlitz and her Soulnessless EP 1 (K-S.H.E remixes) – it’s deepest house boasting Thaemlitz’s mastery of sampling, space and atmosphere.

RECOMMENDED Tall Black Guy

SATURDAY FEBRUARY SATURDAY MARCH 4 Mad Racket Mardi 18 Gras Special w/ Bondi Beach Radio Presents – Is That Fair? The World Bar

Picnic One Night Stand w/ Kali Secret BYO Location

SUNDAY FEBRUARY 26 Tall Black Guy Cake Wines Cellar Door

Christian Vance Marrickville Bowling Club

SUNDAY MARCH 5

Soulection: The Sound Of Tomorrow w/ Jarreau Vandal, DJ Sosupersam Pier One Sydney Harbour

MONDAY MARCH 13 Nicolas Jaar Metro Theatre

BRAG :: 700 :: 15:02:17 :: 33


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Queer(ish) matters with Arca Bayburt

It’s Time: Equality For Everyone

W

ith the marriage equality debate coming back from the dead à la Lazarus, there’s been a lot of speculation around how and when equality is going to happen. If it happens. There’s talk that some Liberal MPs are now pushing for a free vote on same-sex marriage, leaving the charred remains of the plebiscite firmly in the past. There is ample evidence that most Australians support same-sex marriage. That has only made the politics even more frustrating. Equality seems inevitable, or eventual, but it also appears at risk of being shut down a few thousand more times before it happens for real. I have a hard time understanding how people let their personal beliefs dictate the rights of others, especially in the light of cold hard logic. My personal belief is not concordant with marriage equality. I don’t feel that I need marriage, but that doesn’t mean I think other people don’t. I’m not about to disqualify the needs, rights and desires of other people simply because I refuse to empathise with them to preserve the integrity of my own world view. That’s utter stupidity, and so is this entire ‘debate’. Canberra is busily stonewalling itself while the politicians cloistered within Parliament’s rotting

bowels are pointing fingers at each other and having pissing contests – and queer people are suffering in droves. Marriage is by no means a panacea for all that ails the queer community, but it will be a massive step – no, leap – towards it.

“POLITICIANS ARE POINTING FINGERS AT EACH OTHER AND HAVING PISSING CONTESTS – AND QUEER PEOPLE ARE SUFFERING IN DROVES.” If anything, this free vote could happen as soon as the end of March. I suppose we’ll all just wait and see. In the meantime, a new marriage equality campaign is being launched. The new campaign will be farreaching, with a television spot and billboards as well as digital advertising. It’ll be comprehensive and calculated to take advantage of the current political climate. It’s got every chance at succeeding in perhaps not changing minds, but at least forcing people to consider the issue more deeply. I’ve made it known in the past that I find campaigns like this excruciatingly

pathetic – not because of their content per se, but because they need to exist in the first place. Here we are again, doing the same thing – trying to convince people we are human beings. We’re just more sophisticated about it now. Instead of appealing to people’s emotion and humanity (we’re just like you, we feel love, we bleed when we’re stabbed by homophobes in the park, we’ve got jobs, we feel pain), we’re trying to appeal to their reason too (I serve my country as a soldier and protect its citizens and liberties, surely I deserve the right to marry my partner). The campaign features people like soldiers, nurses, doctors, lifesavers and firefighters. It attempts to highlight the value these people contribute to society, their expertise, sacrifice and dedication – and asks why they aren’t allowed to marry their partners. Yes, of course somebody who serves their country is simply entitled to ask how their country serves them and their human rights. But queers have now elevated themselves to superhuman status out of some unbelievably sad necessity. To achieve any equality, we must be fl awless public servants and exceptional in our patriotism. Globalisation has begun chafi ng the political world at large, so this campaign is both timely and depressing. I hope it works.

this week…

heaps gay street party 11:02:17 :: Garden Street, Marrickville 34 :: BRAG :: 700 :: 15:02:17

PICS :: KC

Below Her Mouth On Saturday February 18, head over to The Shift Club for the glorious return of Red Heaven and its Fifty Shades Of Grey-inspired party, Fifty Shades Of Red. Provocative dress is encouraged, and you’ll be able wear a wristband indicating your level of participation in the party. Expect candles and sensual performances to set the mood. The DJs are DJ Issy, Murray Hood and Brett Austin, and tickets are available now.

Also, Wednesday February 15 sees the start of this year’s Mardi Gras Film Festival. Get over to Event Cinemas on George Street this week for these standouts: Below Her Mouth. Billing itself as the “sexiest film of the year”, expect a lot of, well, sex. Shot with an all-female crew, and starring Erika Linder and Natalie Krill, it’s a rare film that explores the female gaze. Don’t Call Me Son. Pierre is like any rebellious 17-year-old: he’s in a band, sleeps around and parties with friends. He also secretly wears women’s clothing. This is a must-see.

Don’t Call Me Son

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See Ya Summertime Makers Market ● ●

All Weekend ~ 10am till 6pm

Saturday 18th February & Sunday 19th February



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