A made a new little friend yesterday, Jarryd Ruffhead the lizard. At Byron Bay Brewery. I was outside talking to my cousin on the phone between set up and soundcheck when there he appeared. In his resplendence. He had a very long tail. I suggested it would be useful because it made him look like a snake so he could ward off potential predators. Danny offered that perhaps that was where Jarryd might keep his spare change. Either way, he was quite a specimen.
We loaded in the side entrance to the band room, backing the 12 seater up and lugging the entire bands' equipment to the doors at the top of the ramp. A young hippy type sat reading a book and looking on from nearby. "Are you guys in a band?", she asked astutely, ten minutes into the process. "Yes, yes we are" I confirmed and went back for another load.
The Brewery is a great venue. We were told that it's been used in a few other capacities in the past, including a cinema and a restaurant. There can be something special about buildings like this that become music venues later in their existence. The walls have contained other worlds before and can sometimes exude some strange kind of wisdom for it. In the Brewery's case this felt true. It housed a high stage. On either side of it massive front of house speakers stacked from the floor loomed over the tables set out for the punters. The band room was adjacent to the stage separated by a curtain and a few steps, the white walls covered with graffiti from musicians that had played before us. The inevitable drawings of the old cock and balls were abundant which was strangely comforting. It's nice to know that, no matter where you play in any city or town in this vast country, living the life of the troubadour, there is at least one precious constant - dick drawings.
The crowd was modest in numbers but incredibly warm and responsive and we began to get the feeling, for the first time really, that what we are doing was being received and understood. Maybe that coincides with us getting to know the set ourselves and understanding each other better as players. A band is very like a sports team. Rehearsals are the pre-season and the first run of gigs mirrors the opening few rounds of the fixture where every player is working the others out and finding their best position for the overall good of the team. There's some weirdness until everyone feels comfortable. No-one wants to let the team down so everyone's playing it safe - chipping it around the back line instead of going up the guts, if you will - until people trust that their passes will be received further downfield. Back yourself. And back each other. That's only something you can do when you feel confident. We're getting there.
The Brewery gig happened to coincide with Halloween. But as we discovered, the backpackers of Byron really are scary enough without the fake blood and half arsed zombie costumes (literally half arsed in some cases, arses and breasts were abounding). As we loaded out after a great couple of sets and a merch desk bonanza we were accosted by a gang of them, drunk and lurching, screeching in chaotic symmetry. Jason was trapped talking to a couple of them, or rather backed slowly away as they squawked at him, baying for cigarettes and a lighter. We saved him and made a swift exit. Onwards and upwards.