When Spencer phoned out of the blue to say did I need a lift to Oxford St I didn't hesitate. I pressed pause on the DVD, applied red lipstick, tied something or other around my rain styled hair and put on my shoes but as it turns out sometimes a movie is better than bands.
The Oxford Art Factory wishes it was a dive but it isn't. It's a concrete bunker with a glass box for bad art and the kind of sound that makes you wish you were born deaf. I partially attended Exquisite Corpse, some kind of night featuring unknown Sydney bands. I say partially because I was picky about which bands I descended the rubber coated stairs in the mirror lined stairwell to see. The sound tech is clearly in the wrong job, he is better suited to being The Captain of Unreasonable Tortures, fortunately Madam Squeeze agreed.
We crossed the street to sit in a civilised cafe. We drank soy decafs and took great delight in the clatter of tea spoons stirring sugar into hot coffee. The saucers matched the sugar bowls and the ashtrays, white with a slim silver band at the lip, they played records, the good warm kind recorded when stereo was new and everybody thought album cover art could save their lives. We sat at a small round table watching rain, people and talking over particulars and nothings.
Spencer met us half way back across the street, turned on his snaked skin heel and fell in step with us, he too had climbed the rubber stairs in the mirrored stairwell. You see we'd all been hoping the bands would be better, the sound at least listenable and that the rain to ease just a little.
We had missed Whores, driving around and around looking for somewhere to park Spencer's car, a car being almost necesary to traverse to the other side of this damn city. Public transport ought to be ashamed of itself. I was disappointed to miss Whores, last time I saw them, in a real dive, I thought they were extraordinary. Damnbuilders are quite something, I'm not sure what but that first song is worth mentioning, the rest of the set suffered not because of either of the band members but because The Captain of Unreasonable Tortures failed to understand the need to balance the two pieces in a two piece band. Ben is a magnificent drummer, everybody knows that, any band would be lucky to have the likes of him but The Captain of Unreasonable Tortures was clearly in love with him and failed to allow the guitar or vocals to intrude on the drums for even a milisecond.
Diamondbackrattler failed to make us stay. We were looking forward to their set, one of our party has a high school strength crush on a member of the band but not even a crush could hold us in that non-dive for a moment longer. The drummer seemed excellent, lot of good drummers kicking round Sydney at the moment but The Captain of Unreasonable Tortures joined forces with the bad performance artists in the bad art glass box and who were we to stand up against such powerful forces? The Atrocities and The Disbelievers weren't due to play until something like 4am so we walked through the rain, past the man wearing his ex-girlfriend's jeans, past the goths in giant hats, the women with the power of wearing towering heels on wet footpaths and the regular detritus flowing down the hill from Kings Cross. We laughed on the way home, getting almost lost. I was thinking fondly of my newly rearranged room inside the warmth of The Peach. I'm glad I ventured out despite the rain, that I discovered The Falconer Cafe, that I spent a long moment or two talking with good people like Halcyon and Raid but as I lay sleeping I was thinking of something else entirely.
Lying in bed submerging and emerging from sleep I could hear the calendar clicking through pages, at first backwards but then steadily forwards spinning out year shapes and squared days and the constant presence of friends. I don't know what I'd do without my friends, not even Spencer who has promised to officially impersonate me poorly at my funeral and then remind everybody of what an idiot I could be, sometimes.