I was going to go right to bed but I’m kind of wide awake and I want to write stuff down before I forget it.
Work was okay, better than yesterday because I actually got a couple of tasks crossed off my list. I’m already starting to feel a bit overwhelmed with all the work that needs doing so I’m trying to have systems in place to keep me on an even keel and productive. So far they seem to be working okay.
I felt so gross by the end of the day that I rushed home, had a shower, blow-dried my hair, put makeup on and got dressed in my Nobue green dress – all in 45 minutes. I really just wanted to lie down and have a nap but there wasn’t time. I thought that since I’ve been feeling so revolting it was worth making an extra effort to look nice because even if I wasn’t feeling nice I didn’t have to compound it by thinking I looked like a heap of rags to boot (note for future reference, when I wear makeup I’m either feeling fantastic and showing off, or at an extremely low point and trying to camouflage it).
Mum had had a crappy day so I went into the city earlier than I had planned to have coffee with her. I do so like being in the city with mum, whether it’s shopping or drinking coffee or whatever. She left to catch the bus home and I went up to Kinokuniya for a little while to browse. I have no money, so it was probably an unwise thing to do, but I managed to restrain myself from buying anything, and went down to Town Hall to meet Guan, Mary, Joe, Carly and Alex.
We ate dinner at a great little Japanese restaurant on York St (whose name I forgot to take note of). I shared gyoza with Guan and for mains I had teriyaki chicken, both of which were delicious and just what I felt like.
The gig was at the City Recital Hall at Angel Place, which is one of my favourite venues even though I haven’t been there that many times. It’s just such a lovely building, tucked away in a laneway, with clean minimalist interiors and excellent acoustics in the hall itself.
The first act was Clogs, who primarily play intricate instrumental pieces, although tonight they were also doing a couple of songs with vocals. I didn’t think they worked as well as the other stuff. But the other stuff was great – they added an eclectic mix of instruments to the guitars, violin, bassoon and percussion (not often enough you hear a celeste or a steel drum these days!), and created really dreamlike, luscious soundscapes.
It didn’t do much to alleviate my melancholy though. Even as I revelled in the music, it made me feel very sad. At interval I just went and stood up the back for a while, and was just glad I was with friends who understood.
Then The National. I wasn’t going to take notes during the concert this time, like I did at Sufjan, but about halfway through I decided I had to write some things down because I couldn’t keep it all in my head. Guan chuckled at me and Carly seemed intrigued but, well, I’m a writer. I write things.
Except now that it’s 12.30am, I’m unable to turn my notes into anything more coherent, so I’ll just write them up (with occasional embellishment) and they may seem completely disjointed but…oh well.
Matthew Berninger has a voice like molasses, dark and rich and seductive. A voice to get lost in.
Drumming with mallets, urgent and compelling and so infectious.
Exquisite stops, every song is like heartbreak, and is bittersweetly unresolved.
The sound reverberates through the wooden floor and fills me up.
I want to eat the sound.
None of us can sit still in our row, our legs keeping time, our hands twitching. The boys all lean forward, like they want to leap up and run into it.
A restlessness. Couldn’t get further away from Sufjan and Andrew Bird. Where they were all colour and whimsy, this is blackness and boldness. A black curtain hangs behind the stage, the band members (except for Padma Newsome) are all in black. They’re manly men. There are women who come on to play for a few songs, but they don’t diminish the testosterone.
Blue light on his shoulders is the only colour. Everything stands out in sharp relief.
The gobos in the automated lights are simple but effective; like rolling lighting, and then like a massive pair of angels’ wings hovering behind him.
People suck: they keep getting up and going out and coming back in. One guy pushes open the door and says loudly “Let’s go get drunk!”
Padma Newsome is like some sort of grungy Puck to Berninger’s Oberon. He weaves around the stage with his fiddle, then plays the piano, then grabs the violin again and dances around, delighting in the sound. Berninger wrenches sound out from himself and twists and screams, while Newsome flits in and out and sings with a sublime falsetto over the top.
A shimmering clash and clamour of sound heralds the end of the show and one by one they all wander off the stage, leaving the blackness and the ringing in our ears.
So there you go. And now, to bed.