i turned 23 on friday. twenty-fucking-three. that's mid-twenties, i think, or at least teetering on the edge of them. i don't feel 23. i don't feel the weight of experience i imagined would weigh me down and inform my decisions when i thought about it as an 18 year old.
jock and i went and saw the Aampirellas last night; he's a fan of their girl-driven rock, whereas they are definitely Not My Music. they're skilled at what they do, but i found myself watching the small crowd in distanced interest. the greyhound, st kilda is a pub in the old sense of the word. the bar is manned not by backpackers with killer hair and sass but by a forty year old woman with a worldly smile, with eyes that follow potential drunken problems as they stagger around her bar; she's a publican (i'm guessing), the owner-occupier-manager-beer pourer. her patrons ebb and flow, drinking under the disinterested gaze of the perennially bored security guard, a man whose expression has settled into a horrific mundanity. the patrons are nearly all regulars; a saturday night, a band from brisbane backed up by some new zealand stoners, and the small space gives off the illusion of fullness perhaps three times that night, the crowd surging and dying, old bikers mixing with young tradies, sad-eyed drunkards tottering towards the safety of the bathroom past horny thirty+ women looking to score. i watched the quickest seduction i've ever seen: woman, near bar, appearing to watch the band until a sharp-nosed, prematurely greying man drifts into her field of vision, provoking a quick burst of dancing (the female ruffles her plumage to impress), the male homing in after an initial appraisal. they dance quietly (a courting ritual) before he leans in to whisper a nothing and her arms rise up to enfold him and they dance and swivel and grind a little and prepare their bodies for the task ahead and i look away - a minute, perhaps less.
the band are underwhelmed by their crowd; the bar offers no stage, no dais from which to request attention. they play from the carpet, amidst the small crowd, drunks brushing past the guitarist on their pilgrimage to the urinals. the lead guitarist deserves his own note: a tiny feral with a red guitar nearly half his size, he delivers self-deprecating lines throughout the show, making his unhappiness with the size of the crowd clear; plenty of triple j airplay, the revival of rock, full-size promo posters scattered around melbourne, and perhaps thirty people in a dingy bar on a saturday night, from which only the support act and jock could be called true fans.
the guitarist breaks a string and the show stops; the singer/bassist, who delivers a knowing brand of feminism/independence breaks the pause by offering a joke. "what do you call a woman with no arms and legs?" she asks. "a damn fine fuck" - offered by a disgusting man in the audience, who snickers before retreating into his friends. she (blonde, youthful, beautiful) tries to defuse this with sideglances and nonspeak, deciding (desperation?) to offer the mike to the audience for other jokes.
men step up, some awkwardly, approaching from an angle before swerving in, one, a biker with a fine, full beard who mutters an unintelligible joke and hops away, embarrassed and pleased, a little boy. the jokes range from crude to clever, and nothing more is heard from the disgusting man in the shadows.
- the second guitarist is jesus on his second time round, reborn as a rock-messiah, rangy, shapeless, too thin, a profusion of facial hair which he uses to mask his remnant embarrassment as he cavorts and capers, leaps up on the pool table, savages his guitar in a violent, near-coital frenzy, lets his hair cover his antics and cloak his small shame which is hidden by the bursts of pleasure. he seems to be going through a protracted painful orgasm.
- jock goes up after the gig and reveals himself as the one-true-fan; the lead singer showers him in thanks and gratitude and a free tshirt and he comes away grinning and she leaves grinning and i feel almost ashamed that i did not watch much of their show, that i found them and the bar and the patrons interesting from afar, a trainee anthropologist