01 December, 2009

Gig a L'abercrombie

Another day, another Slow RIP gig...

Drove up from Austi with Ebags (Ian) with our gear rattling in the back, got to Abercrombie St but were confounded by the lack of access and parking (which I kind of expected) but also the lack of any sign of life from within the pub we were supposed to be playing in.
Long story short, an hour later we finally got in and loaded our gear into what passed for the beer garden out the back.

The Abercrombie Hotel was probably once one of many classic Sydney pubs serviced by the now demolished brewery next door.. but now, it would be fair to call it a classic inner city dive.
I don't frequent pubs much at all, except to play gigs in them, but I found the Abber's dark, dank, old-beer-smelly interior, lit only by down-lights with red gels gaffed over them, spray canned wall decor refreshingly unpretentious and totally preferable to the usual yuppiefied up-market be-chromed nonsense you find elsewhere these days.

I had a post-performance chillout moment by the pool table completely untroubled by human presence; kind of odd for a Saturday night, really. The weird post-neo-primitive-industro-techno music emanating (not too loudly)from the interior PA between sets was a perfect adjunct to staring balefully into the dimly red lit space with oscillating fan installation.
It smelt like 1989.

A Slow RIP were last to soundcheck and first to play which suited me.
Ian and Phil's wall of keyboards flanking me and my guitar flat on a stand, coffee table with electronic bits'n'pieces.
My set up is different each time I play and consequently takes longer to sort out and then there were the usual last minute technical sound hiccups, the ritual dropping of, falling apart and panicky reassembling of my E-bow.
Shane, who was mixing, did The Business performing his usual cool-under-pressure work for which we thank him once again...

So, the setting: Balmy evening in an inner-city pub beer garden under a waxing gibbous, the constant thrum of traffic, a back drop of gnarly trunks and leafy branches, a sound system on the edge of the void, only a vague idea of what I was about to do and we were off...
45 minutes later we stopped.

It's hard to describe what happens in between, not being a music/performance theoretician.
It is an intense, tightly focused inward journey through landscapes created in sound, which sounds totally pretentious but about sums it up.

It's like we set off as if we're a embarking on a grand family holiday, vehicle full of stuff, heads full of optimistic bravado until we go round a bend and find we're heading up a narrow wreckage strewn back alley to a probable deadend, or finding ourselves winding off-road into 4-wheel drive territory except we're only in a Nissan Bluebird with bald tyres and a shonky diff.
Other times wir fahr'n fahr'n fahr'n auf der Autobahn passing numinous light structures heading into a wide blue yonder, then bewilderingly becalmed in a sonic swamp with only a one legged singing duck for company.. Erm...
Once in a while I opened my eyes and found about 30 people in the audience.. but had immediately to dive back into to the wash to save a drowning siren.. stop stop...

Thankfully these synesthetical reflections don't occur while playing. it's all too linear, sucking us from one moment into the next moment.
Everything needs constant attention, attenuation for continuum continuation, there's no time for sitting back n' grooning to the muzak from a speaker in the shoe rack.

Then it was over, a small round of applause and it's get yer stuff off the stage for Makers of the Dead Travel Fast (and they do)

So our thanks and gratitude to Shane and the other gents who made it all happen..
See ya next time


blurk said...

Thanks for the performance and the description of the performance. It was the second time I saw A Slow RIP live and I really enjoyed it again.

I was wondering (and was kinda going to ask Phil since I've spoken to him once before, but I didn't quite manage it) how much of the performance is improvised. Because I know your recordings are improvised, but wasn't sure about the live shows given some previous descriptions of rehearsals. But it does all sound improvised.

Anyway, I was particularly taken by the bit where you were tapping away on the guitar neck produced a sound that for all the world sounded like a step-sequenced synth. Dunno if that was the sound you were after but it was nicely incongruous coming from the guitar.

Funny thing about the Abercrombie, though: even I have performed there (as part of the Disorientation series in 2005). It certainly wasn't polished then, but has become much dingier in the last 4 years. But maybe we just had the lights up more inside in 2005.

Rob said...

Hi Blurk, thanks for your comment and for coming to see the gig...

The answer to your question, from my point of view at least is, it's all improvised.
I do however know what kind of things I'm likely to do, what gizmos and found items I'll use, but everything I play and vocalise is in response or ignorance to what Phil and Ian play. And much is left to chance, FX settings, guitar tuning, Amp settings. I couldn't preordain all that even if I wanted to.
I guess I'm developing a repertoire of techniques to apply to the poor old guitar and sundry other noise making items.
It may help to know that I'm a drummer not a guitarist.

Phil has little thematic moments he uses and there are some rhythmic drum machine patterns he adds in but there's absolutely nothing set sequentially.

"Rehearsals" are just us doing what we do live but in Ian's living room.
If there's a difference it's the addition of red wine, cups of tea and the luxury of stretching out, sailing blithely up blind alleys into dead ends, ie trying things out that often don't work.

What we play live isn't always going to work or sound good or right but it is the sound of a process and a journey we're making at that moment as much as it is for the audience.

I do know I'm always mentally exhausted afterwards.
Hope to see you next time..
Rob o' the RIP

Tegues said...

Hey Rob. That's a beautiful description of what it's like inside a Slow Rip performance! Enjoyed that, laughing a bit...
Was sad I had to miss this, stuck in Canberra. People said everyone that night played really well, espescially you guys.
Ah well, RIP the Abercrombie, it's gone the way of most of Sydney now - becoming residential flats I think?
Didn't you play in the outside area (the nicer bit)?
Anyway. nice to hear from you, it's been awhile.
cheers x T