Reality is a harsh mistress, is it not? You close a book, turn off a good movie, leave an awesome party, and all of a sudden you’re back to square one with all of the bullshit you were trying to forget however long before. People say that you come back from holidays refreshed and I suppose that’s true, but I usually find that I feel a little depressed after a holiday. Because for that short time you were able to cut loose and enjoy yourself without worrying about the ramifications. Ramifications have a nasty habit of catching up with you, though, and I’ve found myself right back in the middle of assignments that need to be started, weight that needs to be lost, and calls that need to be made. I love going away for a bit. It’s the coming back that spoils it.
Anyways, I just got back from a weekend in Sydney. It was the best weekend I’ve had since my birthday. Which is surprising because I’ve never been overly fond of Sydney. But I was staying in this cute suburb known as Surry Hills and I’ve got to say, I think the best way to see Sydney is from the outside in. Starting in the CBD is a rookie error. It’s way too busy and breathless and you don’t get time to just be in the city. Starting from the outside and making your way to the CBD means you can build up to the hustle and bustle and get out whenever you want. I think I may have changed my mind about Sydney.
Sidenote: Surry Hills is right next door to Darlinghurst. Now, I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Australian TV but we have a series known as Underbelly over here. One of the seasons, Underbelly: Razor was set in Darlinghurst. During the Prohibition era (yes, we had it too), the Sydney Underworld was under the control of two women: Tilly Devine and Kate Leigh. During that time Darlinghurst became known as Razorhurst because the gangs used to use cutthroat razors as weapons. Men in that era used to shave that way so which copper was going to condemn man for carrying around a razor? No wonder the damn things are illegal now.
So, me and a friend of mine were in Sydney for the entire weekend. We managed to cram a lot into two days, so I’m going to split the trip into two posts. Because you really don’t want to sit there for the entire recount. It doesn’t matter how well written the recount is in the end, there will simply be too many words on the screen. So here goes nothing:
When I got off the bus at Central Station, I was completely prepared for an epic hike to the place I would be spending the next 48 hours. Not only that, but I was prepared to get hopelessly, tragically lost at least six times before I got there. Nope. We had ordered breakfast within fifteen minutes of leaving the station. We took my bags back to the apartment, walked for about forty-five seconds and then found one of the cutest cafés I’ve ever been in. It was a place called Kantine. Now, I judge every café by the quality of its soy mochas. Doesn’t matter how good the food is, if the coffee is disappointing, I won’t be back. The soy mocha I had at Kantine was heavenly. The only coffee I’ve ever had that comes close was the soy mocha I had at uni. I wish I’d gotten a photo to share with you guys, because not only was the coffee fantastic, but the food was delicious. I’d just come off two weeks of not being able to eat real food. My stomach could only handle two kinds of food: plain bread or deep fried anything. So when I took my first bite of that breakfast which included tomato, turkish bread, sausages, scrambled eggs, and mushrooms, I could feel my stomach smile at me. And let me tell you, that was a weird feeling.
From breakfast, we walked around to the CBD. Maybe it was because it was a Saturday, or maybe it was because it was drizzly and miserable, but it was fairly quiet in the city. I didn’t feel as though we were being buffeted by a sea of uncaring people in suits. In fact, it was quite easy getting around. We could see a full 360 degrees around ourselves. It was this visibility that allowed us to see the cupcake shop at around lunchtime. I love my cupcakes, but they don’t have any cupcake shops in Canberra. So I jumped on the opportunity to indulge my sweet tooth. And I could stomach it! Well, except for the icing, but that didn’t give me cramps anywhere near as terrifying as the ones I got after eating almonds. As we left the cupcake shop, I saw a Lindt café. Like the Lindor chocolate. Only a café. We didn’t go in, which is probably a good thing. I would have had to have been rolled out.
Instead, we hit the Museum of Contemporary Art. You know, to soak up some culture. Only thing is, I felt pretty let down by the exhibitsin art galleries. See, to me, art is something that requires skill and emotion and the ability to make people feel. I don’t know what the hell I’m supposed to feel staring at a series of framed napkins with French phrases scribbled on them in permanent marker. Or an exhibit that breathed. Or virtual fat that bled and moved and did all sorts of disgusting things. I walk out of museums feeling underwhelmed most of the time. Modern “art” always seems like something of a PR stunt. Anything can be art if you spin it the right way. So those napkins were probably saying something about the fleeting nature of humanity and how we’re all as disposable as a napkin. But, you know, why couldn’t the artist just paint that? A lot of the time, I feel like artists take the easy way out. If anything can be art when explained in the right way, then what happens to all of the true artists who actually have skill and don’t need the justification of an explanation? Art galleries make me sad.
That being said, after a beautiful dinner of gnocchi with duck ragu, my friend and I hit our first concert of the weekend: You Me At Six. We timed it perfectly. We’d never heard of the supporting act, so we decided to miss them. When we rocked up, we heard the discordant sounds of soundcheck. Flushed with our success, we hurried into the venue, only to discover that the Roundhouse had snuck in an extra support and that the support act, Tonight Alive, that we were trying to avoid were about to take the stage. Disappointed though we were, Tonight Alive put on a fantastic show. But they played for about an hour! Since when do supporting acts get to play for an hour? It was one of those things that were disappointing only because it was unexpected. Tonight Alive really got the crowd going. Plus, they’re from Sydney. How cool is that? Maybe that’s why they got to play for so long, I dunno. The front woman, I believe her name was Jenna, was awesome. I felt like she was Australia’s answer to Hayley Williams. She had the voice and the stage persona. But she had our Aussie roughness and honesty. Plus, her dancing was different to that of any front person I’d ever seen. So, good on her. But the weird part was when she tried to get us all to chant “Commonwealth” (because You Me At Six are British and Tonight Alive are Aussie). It didn’t work. A word that long has no place at a concert. So the chanting didn’t really happen. My mate and I just laughed and laughed. Anyway, here’s just a taste of Tonight Alive:
As great as Tonight Alive were, my friend and I were there for one reason and one reason only: You Me At Six. Way back in January when we saw You Me At Six supporting Paramore, the frontman Josh Franceschi, told us that he and his band were coming back. I waited for months, scouring all of the social media outlets I could think of for any whisper of the concert. It wasn’t until June that I found a poster on Instagram. Three months later and we were screaming with the rest of the crowd, as the boys from Britain took to the stage.
I am a huge anglophile. I’m obsessed with everything to do with Britain. So hearing these guys talk in between songs was amazing. The British accent in surround sound? Yes please. Plus, well, Franceschi:
He’s British, he can sing, he’s gorgeous, and he was wearing leather? I mean…give the other men in the room a chance, man, geeze.
You Me At Six were just as amazing as I expected them to be. They have so much energy and joy for what they do that you can’t help but jump and dance and scream to every song. They played a hell of a lot of old stuff (YES!) with only a few new songs thrown in. I actually prefer concerts this way. Sometimes it feels like bands plug their albums at gigs, but not YM@6. They play the songs that are most likely to get the crowd up and moving. There weren’t really any slow songs during the set, but they played “Reckless” and “Underdog”, so I can forgive them for that.
What intrigued me most about the gig was that there wasn’t just one circle pit, but multiple. I lost track of the number of times I grabbed my mate’s arm and pulled her backwards as the crowd started running around in a circle, shoving each other. Circle pits, like the Wall of Death, are just one of those concert-type things I don’t really understand. I don’t want to get hurt going to gigs. I don’t understand the people that like being thrown around and punched by strangers, but maybe I’m just a square. What was most surprising is that YM@6 are pop punk. They aren’t all that hardcore. I mean, their first album was, but they toned it all the way down. So I wasn’t sure how circle pits were possible, but the crowd managed it. I think the guys wanted to prove how manly they were and the girls wanted to show off, just a little, for Josh.
(I get circle-pitting for this song, but this is the most hardcore that YM@6 get.)
Another interesting part of the gig was at the beginning of…I think it was “Reckless”, Franceschi had us replicate Reading festival a little. Apparently, at Reading, the crowd all removed one item of clothing and held it above their heads. Thank God my jumper was wrapped around my waist because I was seconds away from taking my shirt off. I get way too swept up in music sometimes. But the most memorable part of the entire gig was when Franceschi looked up into the balcony after he made his “remove one item of clothing” decree and saw a guy in a Paramore shirt:
“Take that Paramore shirt off! Hayley Williams would want you to take that shirt off!”
And surprise, surprise the guy took his shirt off. There aren’t many human beings who can resist Miss Williams. Even if she isn’t actually on the premises.
You Me At Six are born entertainers. They know exactly how to manipulate a crowd. I know I haven’t really deconstructed the gig for you, but that’s not what concerts are for. We had a blast, dancing around to songs we belt out whenever we’re drunk. If you leave a concert sweaty, with a croaky voice, the band has done its job. And You Me At Six definitely did that. Live music at its finest. In all sense of the word.
After the gig, my friend and I had to battle through pouring rain and drunken idiots to get to the bus stop, only to have the bus we were waiting for drive straight past us. We hailed a taxi and ended up with the most incompetent taxi driver I’ve ever had. I was actually scared. The guy had no idea where we were going and instead of typing our address into a GPS, he handed me a refidex. I haven’t used one of those for years. So my mate whipped out her GPS app and started directing the guy. Now, GPSs can be faulty but you trust them in a crisis. So when this idiot driver started to question the directions he was being given, I got pretty freaked out. As soon as we saw familiar surroundings we leapt from the taxi, threw money at him, and got the hell outta there. Not the best way to end a fantastic night, but not even that could spoil the awesomeness of the concert.
Silver lining: we both got a wicked anecdote that’s hilarious, a little scary, and opens up conversation to other taxi driver horror stories. Score!
Come back any time, You Me At Six. Just double check your taxi drivers.