Friday, 21 March 2008

Silver Sounds

LCD Soundsystem, shall I compare thee to some other bands this summer's day? Thou art more lovely than quite a few bands that I've heard....

At a Big Day Out whose weak line-up was brutally exposed in Sydney by Bjork's last minute drop-out (rumours abounded that she had pulled out after getting booed in Brisbane) small pleasures were to be treasured. They were few and far between (P'nau's dancing fruit ensemble; at least half of Arcade Fire; Kate Nash's enthusiasm if not her songs; a nice couple of rants by Billy Bragg - post-modernised by him being framed on all sides of the stage by the sponsorship of a popular brand of
American shoe with minimal arch support) and it was quickly apparent that most people were only there for one band. I'm sure it must be a source of daily bemusement to the four members of Rage Against the Machine that their informed, principaled and politicized outpourings are essentially ignored by the majority of people who watch them who are far more interested in taking off their shirts, sweating and jumping up and down on people. Still, it would have been interesting to see an aerial shot of the Sydney Showgrounds as Arcade Fire finished their set about 30 metres from the Rage stage; at least 80% of the entire BDO crowd were there. However, even standing 1000 rows back and four songs in we were quickly covered in piss/beer, trod on a few times and had far too much contact with slimy-skinned imbeciles with Southern Cross tattoos.

This all turned out to be good though, because if this hadn't happened I don't think we'd have seen as much of LCD Soundsystem and wouldn't have been impressed enough to get a last minute ticket to see them the next day at the Enmore. And how we were impressed... yes they sound like a few other bands - but hey, they're all good bands. Who wouldn't want to see a group that pulls out the best of Joy Division, Talking Heads, Underworld, the Doors, David Bowie, Underground Lovers and New Order - but yet feel completely honest, fresh and modern? The band were a real revelation (apparently they feature a member of Arcade Fire on percussion) and Mr Murphy was as charming and self-depreciating as you'd expect from someone who has taken 15 years to 'make it'.

I know every poll and their dog has ranked Sound of Silver highly in the 2007 best ofs, and that the same happened in 2005 when they released LCD Soundsystem but for some reason I just couldn't bring myself to get involved. Maybe too many people were harpiong on at me... but who knew that those songs would sound so good live? They played pretty-much all the new album and a hefty whack off their debut (I think), but in the end it didn't matter whether you knew the songs (most people there) or not (me) because they all worked and they all sounded perfect. People danced their bums off all night, euphoric and we all rose as one to concede to the inevitable promise/taunt - 'we're your friends tonight.' If you can see them, do.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Food of the Long White Cloud

Should you ever be in New Zealand and feeling hungered I can throughly recommend these little corners of joy:

Flying Burrito Brothers, Cuba Street, Wellington
Gram Parsons should rise from his grave for this Mexican which offers smarter than the average fare. Great choices (for vegetarians and omnivores alike), fresh and tangy tasting sauces and a cool hardcover drinks menu that reads like a 1850's bible on booze and voodoo.

Dexarelli's Pizza, Westport
Bloke from Dubbo who lives in New Zealand and runs a lovely authentic 1970's pub with the original beer pumps and has a pizza oven at the end of the bar. The clever bit? Pizzas are cheaper if you eat them in - so stay, have chat with the clientèle, play a few games and enjoy a brew with a tasty pizza.

Red Star Luxury Burgers, Wanaka

Wandered in on a random Tuesday arvo and found a normal looking take-away nicely decorated with old pulp fiction book covers and cool music in the background. Fantastic selection of burgers for all tastes and meat-eating persuasions which left a nice sauce moustache on both of us. Not too expensive either compared to the prices that were seemingly increasing the closer we got to Queenstown

Vespa Designs and Cafe, Queenstown
Hope I got this right; I didn't write it down at the time as I wandered away in a satisfied cheese-roll induced fog towards the mini-golf. Vespa is a cafe and design shop based in the oldest cottage in Queenstown down by Lake Wakatipu in the main town. It was here that we discovered the $2.50 joys of the cheese roll - a South Island speciality involving a slice of bread, a slice of cheese, some onion soup mix and a toastie machine. Three should fill you up for the morning - make sure you get the grainy bread. We enjoyed our cheesey comestibles and coffee inside a greenhouse, which isn't something you do everyday (unless you're a pensioner).

Champagne Cafe, Struthers Lane, Christchurch
The only place I've ever been decorated with wallpaper inside and outside. Lush little cupboardy kind of place hidden under the adjacent Yellow Cross pub but is far better for atmosphere and service. I'm not very good at indulging myself (or parting with money) but was glad I did here. Shared a highly likeable cheese platter which was topped up for free, washed down with a mandarin gin cocktail. La di da me. Nice though but...