polaroid and gig shots by yours truly
"When I met the singer outside earlier, I thought he was a lovely guy. Just a nice, regular kinda lad, you know. But then when I saw him get up on stage, it was a completely different story. I was blown. Away." The testament of a good friend of mine, upon witnessing the glory of Pulled Apart By Horses during their first ever Australian gig at the musical landmark of the Annandale Hotel in Sydney. That's the thing about PABH. Whether you actually like their music or not is kinda irrelevant. Because either way, you're going to be swept up in their visceral, rumbunctious and noisy as fuck energy.
Though sweaty, occasionally bloody (and other bodily functions besides that I won't mention here - though Tommy and I did talk about in depth HERE) and very physical, this Leeds based quartet's stage performance isn't about anger or shock value. Well perhaps it is a little bit. But mostly, it's about showmanship and fun and simply tearing up the crowd, the stage and themselves. From busting your eardrums to getting yourself thrashed and trashed to screaming your throat raw; they will do the same and more - it's their way of showing love, in a fashion. Having said that, the crowd at the Annandale in Sydney weren't quite sure what to do with the boys, despite being loudly, sweatily engaged and even bear hugged.
And this does happen to be one of the bones I have to pick with the Sydney music scene. And in many ways I feel certain kinds of gigs are worse in Sydney than those of the same ilk in London. Do you know the ones I'm talking about? Those gigs where the band is young, the crowd is intimate - where you need to be in the know, a fan or a follower of music to be there. It's when fans and supporters should be at their most vocal, most supportive, and most gloriously hedonistic in their revelry. It's the COOLEST TIME in a fan's career. Not when you're in a stadium full of 50,000 other fuckers who are screaming, crying and applauding; because by then, it's 'okay' to be seen loving it sick because everyone else is. And most true music fans, by this stage, will in all probability feel very sad and robbed of their personal patronage anyway.
The kids that had turned up to see PABH thrash it out in Sydney seemed to be too fucking cool to be seen enjoying themselves. What the fuck is up with that? It's the reason I actually enjoy seeing sights like the yobbo whooping it up to Toro Y Moi a couple of weeks earlier. At least he was having fun.
When the person getting the most involved and having the most fun is Mick, the 42 year old Nirvana fan who turned up solo to get sweaty to PABH, there's gotta be something a little boo-town in the youth attending. And though I enjoyed Mick's attitude, I can't help but feel sad and not a little concerned about the rest of the crowd. To be fair though, the local bands that were on prior to PABH didn't give the people a great warm-up exactly. Too serious for their own good, the support bands weren't at all about entertainment or showmanship, but instead were a reflection of the crowd - an exercise in too cool and style over substance. Not saying they sucked; but if only they had caught my interest in any way! Almost anything can be forgiven if someone has a vision, or feels like they're inspired. Unfortunately, the support bands didn't. It's a vicious circle of the aloof performing for the indifferent!
I've said it before; that if there's one thing that's bad, it's indifference. But in this situation, what's even WORSE is feigning it. FUCK THAT Y'ALL! If you love it, love it; if you hate it, hate it, but just don't pretend not to care about it - especially when you paid $42 to witness it, whatever it is! Just sayin'.
Okay, rant over. Pulled Apart By Horses, who, after doing gigs all over Australia (if only they had time to meet some koalas, that would have been another notch in my Gratutitous Koala and Celeb collection), are now currently playing SXSW in Austin. Look:
In the meantime, catch the video to their newest single, 'I Punched A Lion In The Throat', a cheekily schizophrenic production filmed on what looks like the ol' VHS, complete with cheesy transitions, effects and cheery, snowy static.