My Darling Escape: Part Two

My second day in Sydney started more abruptly than I was really prepared for. After getting to sleep at about 3.30AM, I woke up at about 9.30AM to the question “So, Bec, did you want to go to Bondi today? Only thing is…we have to be ready in 15 minutes.” Our host was meeting a friend so we couldn’t keep anyone waiting.
I’ll tell you what, I have never showered so fast in my life. And my ridiculous face regime, which usually takes 45 minutes, somehow managed to be shaved down into the limited time we had. We ran out of the flat, down to the car and we were only about twenty minutes late, in the end. Fairly impressive, I reckon.

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Breakfast on Bondi

I had never been to Bondi before. Except through my television when I happened to have it tuned to Bondi Rescue. So I leapt at the opportunity to see the famous beach with my own eyes. Despite the fast my friend and I were desperately tired after our less-than-ideal amount of sleep.

We started with breakfast. By this time it was closing in on 11 o’clock and neither of us had eaten yet, let alone had coffee. So we walked down the main street, trying to find a place to eat. It was a little frustrating. Why? Because my friend is gluten intolerant. So, we had to make sure that the place in which we were going to eat had gluten free bread. I never really appreciated how difficult it must be for Coeliacs. We walked past half a dozen cafés before we found a suitable one. And if that was frustrating for me, just that one morning, I can’t even imagine how frustrating it must be for my friend. Let me tell you, I am so glad I can stomach gluten. It’s just so hard trying to avoid it!

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Yes, this was graffiti

After breakfast, we walked along the beach. Well, kind of. It was still pretty cold so we didn’t walk on the sand, we walked along the path instead. No, that was in no way worse than walking along the beach. We got to see the beautiful beach, plus the emerald grass, and the simply stunning graffiti art. Seriously. I lived in a small town where the most artistic graffiti we ever saw was a “tagging” war on a brick wall down some dingy alley. This was proper art, with actual colours and talent and stuff. Here, just check this out:

So, no, I didn’t regret not walking on the sand.

That walk eventually morphed into a 45 minute trek out to a different beach (Tamarama, to be exact). It was one of the most picturesque, treacherous walks in my life. I needed a second pair of eyes because I had to watch my feet while also trying to soak up my gorgeous surroundings. Seriously: imagine walking over uneven concrete and salt water logged stairs in these damn things:

Not the most ideal walking shoes

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The view from our spot on the rock

Not the best decision I ever made. But when we finally got to Tamarama beach, looked out over the sand and the water and the amazing rock formations, it was all worth it. We sat on this multicoloured rock self, sheltered from the sun, with the entire beach open before us. We just sat there, listening to Anberlin and Getaway Plan, watching as the volleyballers punted the ball over their net. Did I mention those volleyballers were incredibly attractive, shirtless men?

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Bondi from above

Eventually, we made our way back to the main beach (Bondi, just in case that wasn’t clear. It probably was, but I just wanted to rub it in a little more), to meet our ride. Only, she was running a little late so we stopped off at Macca’s to get some sweet potato wedges. Here’s a hot tip: don’t bother. You get about twelve for $4. I mean, they were delicious but still: rip off.

So we walked a little further and spent $11 on a veritable bucket of wedges, and took them back to the grassy knoll overlooking Bondi (guys, it was really cold!) and continued to listen to music while we lay on our backs and watching the deep blue sky. Honestly, it was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time. Music and a beautiful location with good company and good food? Can’t really top it. Well, maybe if we had a few cocktails.

A short car ride back to Surry Hills/Razorhurst later (remember, from Part One? That’s where I was staying) and it was time to talk dinner. Doors were a little earlier for the concert this time, because we actually wanted to see the support (Getaway Plan!) so we decided to make some nachos before stepping out. It was when we were getting ready to head to Woolies that my friend turns to me and says “my face is feeling a little hot”. I looked at her and she was as pink as a freshly picked strawberry. I felt my own face and found it hot to the touch. Turns out, the Aussie sun can burn you even when you’re all wrapped up in jumpers and jeans. We were kind of lucky we didn’t get anything worse, like sunstroke. What a rookie, rookie error.

Shopping, cooking, eating, and cleaning happened and then it was concert time. The sunburn didn’t matter anymore. OK, that’s a bit of a lie. My friend copped it a lot worse than I did and ended up feeling dehydrated and nauseated for our first twenty minutes at the venue. (We still ended up getting to the Roundhouse way too early. Oh, yeah! Same venue for both nights. It wasn’t possible to get lost. Best planning ever). We sat up against a back wall, waiting for Getaway Plan to take the stage. And when they finally did, it was a great feeling. I’d finally made it!

A backstory: This same friend and I were supposed to see Getaway Plan back in Brisbane last year. I was flat broke, so I wasn’t going to pre-drink with the rest of them, but my friend insisted. I was fed glasses upon glasses of bourbon, champers, vodka, and probably a little wine. I mean I could have said no, but you know when you hit that tipsy state, and you just want to keep drinking? Yeah, I hit that. Anyway, I pre-drank so hard that I wasn’t allowed into the venue, in the end. When I sat down on the curb, I ended up projectile vomiting everywhere (except on myself, funnily enough) and couldn’t be moved. I remember lying on the nice, cool ground with water dripping on me like tiny drops of Nirvana. I remember hearing the word “hospital”, and I remember being wheeled away in a wheelchair.
I actually ended up in a chaplain’s office in Fortitude Valley to sleep it off. I woke up at about 2.30AM, stumbled out of the place after lavishing the staff with thanks, and walked into my friend and her boyfriend. Best timing ever. But, yeah, that was my first abortive attempt to see Getaway Plan in concert. And it’s my one OTT drinking story from my 20’s.

In all honesty, I was a little disappointed in Getaway Plan. The band seemed to be having an off night. They just didn’t have that oomph that you expect from a live band. And the frontman was all business. The word that keeps coming to mind is lacklustre. There was very little audience engagement and it kind of pissed me off. Support acts are supposed to get the crowd going and Getaway Plan just phoned it in. They played a great set, and we were dancing and yelling lyrics at each other, but it was lacking that extra X factor that makes live gigs so special. But then Anberlin came on stage and all was forgotten, if not forgiven.

The first time I saw Anberlin live was at a concert, seven years ago, where they headlined a tour which happened to be supported by my favourite band at the time, The Academy Is… . I fell in love with Anberlin as I researched them before the concert. “Feel Good Drag” was the first song I ever heard by Anberlin and it still rocks as hard now as it did then. From there, I found so many beautiful, lyrically masterful, distortion heavy songs that always seemed to touch me.
There’s one Anberlin song that holds a special place in my heart. It’s called “Breaking“. In my group of friends in high school, we had a couple of songs we’d listen to on repeat, whenever we got into one another’s cars. “Breaking” was one of them. Plus, it became fairly monumental to me after a huge misunderstanding that lost me one of the best friends I had in my adolescent years. I can’t listen to it without thinking of that time, and when he quoted one of the harshest lines from the song at me, during one of our last conversations:

The best you could hope to be is now just a bittersweet memory

Ouch.

You can probably tell that Anberlin means a lot to me. And given that this was the band’s farewell tour, I was feeling especially nostalgic. So it was especially annoying that the crowd was 95% tall, burly blokes who always seemed to stand directly in front of my friend and me. At one point we had six of them in a row, blocking our view. We moved backwards, found a decent vantage point, and let the music wash over us.
We ended up directly under a speaker, so my ears rang in between songs, but it was all totally worth it. Anberlin tore the house down. There were no slow songs, very few new songs, and so much action and screaming and distortion and old memories that the set was a blur. The lead singer, Stephen Christian, has a delicate voice. But “delicate” is almost the wrong word. Underneath that delicate, sweet voice is a ragged passion that lets itself out in sporadic screams and eargasm-inducing vocal solos. His is a voice in a million and I am so glad that I got to see him off on Anberlin’s last tour.

It was funny, but my friend only came to the gig with me for Getaway Plan, but I was definitely there for Anberlin. So I’d be belting out lyrics, jumping, and cheering my head off, when I’d turn around and grin at my friend like a fool. She seemed to be having an awesome time, but I felt a little guilty, like the concert meant more to me than her or something. But that guilt kept getting washed away in waves of melody and lyrics.

Anberlin played “Breaking” and as I punched the air and leapt around, I had a distinct memory of the concert, seven years ago, where I called my sorely-treated friend and held up my old flip phone as Anberlin played “Breaking”, back when it was still new. Let me tell you, the band made that song shine. As only they could. They also rocked out to “Feel Good Drag” and made me feel sixteen again.

In contrast to the night before, it wasn’t raining when we left, the bus actually pulled up, our tickets cost just over $5 between us, and there was a helpful commuter who told us exactly where we had to get off. It was just such a lovely way to wrap up a perfect weekend. There’s nothing quite like live music in this world. It’s one of those things that simply makes you feel alive. And the fact that I got to see two gigs just before the busiest part of my semester so far? Brilliant.

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About Bec Graham

Bec Graham, 24, was born on the wrong continent. Everything from her burns-like-paper skin tone to her inability to cope with the slightest hint of a hot day suggests she should have been born under the gloomy skies and mild sun of the UK. She hopes writing will get her to her rightful home one day. Failing that, she scans the skies for a spinning blue police box, hoping to catch a lift back to the motherland.
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