Alpine Decline’s Australian Tour Diary
I really wish I could have gone along on the Alpine Decline Australia tour like my colleague here at Genjing World HQ Beijing PRC, Nevin, who tagged along under the auspice of “tour managing” or “networking” or some such thing. Must have been nice to fly on down to the southern hemisphere and work on your tan at backyard BBQs and shit while I hold down the fort here in -13 degree Beijing! Yeah, I’m a little bitter/jealous – if you weren’t a freakin’ book, you would be too! Anyway, to rub it all in just a little bit more, it turns out that Jonathan from Alpine Decline keeps a Diary too and now Nevin has asked me to post entries from it on the Genjing website, surrounding the band’s afore mentioned Australia jaunt. The balls on that guy, right?! They’ve even included a playlist of all the great bands they met down under. Some people have all the luck!
The Weather is Fine, Sydney
In Sydney the weather is fine. The blue sky pulses above us and the beach and boardwalk are nearly too bright to look at. The child gasps at a rush of wind. I sweat into my sunglasses. Water appears everywhere, left and right outside of the window of the car as it slopes up and down the hills and along cliffs around Sydney.
Wild & Brutal / Weak & Mortal, Brisbane
Pauline went to hotel to watch the baby right after our set, so at the end of the night I take our gear from the venue to our hotel by myself. The hotel sits at the top of Spring Hill, the club at the bottom. I am carrying overstuffed bags on my back and shoulders, dragging heavy luggage with both arms, stringing forward, leaning forward up the hill. I am pouring sweat. The sky at 2AM is black and dry. I am gasping for air.
Each city in Australia feels like it is just at the edges of the wild and brutal, where everything is lethal and only you seem weak and mortal. Our infrared vision gazes at Brisbane and sees it teeming with life where the culture appears driest. People get rowdy and then seek the shade. People get rowdy when the sun goes down. The afternoon grows long and late against pint glasses at a pizza dive. Climb to the top of the hill with the punks, the embers teeming all along the twisting banks of the river, sharpened by Mexican liquor, swallowed up into a travel-exhausted dream.
Unattended Noise, Melbourne
The grass in Julian’s backyard is hard and dry, but I don’t care and I end most nights laying there and staring up. It’s February and it’s Summer and there is warm southern hemisphere wind, and the polarity feels strange and flipped. There is a small stone patio against the house, and early in the afternoon we set up guitar amps there and Julian started the music of with a performance of “Unattended Noise,” which up to that moment I had thought was a a joke.
He flicked on some Vox amp and rested his bass against it and let it hum. He plugged some Jaguar or Jazzmaster into a gorgeous sounding Fender amp and set a wok on top of it. He flicked on his electric toothbrush, dropped it in the wok, and went back inside to continue cooking.
All of us sitting around on the grass or smoking by the grill or sitting inside around the table, from young bands, from 70’s church burners, punk kid, indie kid, vegan muffin kid, baby – we all of us stopped and stared at the electric toothbrush rattling in the wok, dancing on top of the guitar pickups, roaring out through the amp, with the bass droning low all the while.
“Unattended Noise” is all anyone will really remember about that afternoon. Julian wanted to mic up the ice cream machine as he churned out some hibiscus vegan sorbet, but the timing wasn’t right. That kind of thing.
The vegan muffins were excellent.
Last Day in Australia, King’s Cross
Down from our small room in the Sydney Lodges is King’s Cross: about two city blocks of gentlemen’s clubs, bodegas, gutter punks sitting and waiting, halaal joints that serve N.Y.C. style pizza into the morning – a zone that has been dubbed “The Lockout Zone” by the city government. There’s a drunken steroid game in this neighborhood, elsewhere called “Sucker Punch” but in Australia called “King’s Punch.” It involves punching an unsuspecting stranger in the back of the head, and five people have died this year from the King’s Punch in King’s Cross.
I put on the baby and we walk down from the room to the street, and just as we hit the main drag and the first gentlemen’s club, we drop down into the subway and suddenly we’re off. When we come back up we’re along the harbor. Keep the baby covered up from the sun. We walk along the water to the opera house. I buy two glasses of their cheapest champagne. We sit in the shade of the white shells of the theater. We stare at the bridge to the North Shore. In a few hours we will catch the plane home to Beijing.