These days gigs for us are as rare as outback rain and have taken on celebratory, quasi religious connotations. Just like the festivals and holidays of the world's great religions, Fauves shows now dot the calendar sparsely but with great meaning. As an ongoing venture, we are looking to align them with pivotal moments of the lunar and solar cycles so as to enable planning for our fans to be easier. Naturally, this initiative will also benefit us. Fixed dates will ensure that the need for advertising is kept to a minimum and crowds can be maximised. We would like to think that, in time, all commercially available calendars and diaries will come complete with the pre-ordained schedule of our shows for the year in question: May 3rd - School holidays begin. June 14 - Fauves show at the Evelyn.
In many ways the relative scarcity of performances is just another way in which our career has completed the first lap of its cyclical journey. With each new record our sales slide ever closer backwards towards those of our first releases. Likewise, our frequency of performance is now approaching that of the early years when each show had to be earned after hours of footslogging, hand delivered demos and follow up phone calls.
There are some important differences. In the old days we often planned an entire evening's entertainment around one show. A gig meant dressing for the evening, soundcheck, dinner, show, watching the headliner and then moving on to a nightclub. We often took with us an entourage of enthusiastic friends and companions, eager to share with us the novelty of this exciting new world.
Nowadays, we favour the surgical strike method; like the US military planning a war on a vastly weaker enemy we endeavour to get in and out leaving as little room as possible for messy and protracted conflict. I think we last watched a support band some time during the '73 OPEC oil crisis and more usually experience the bands that play after us via the Doppler effect - i.e. moving away from the sound source at great velocity.
In one other important respect we have returned to the past - our mode of transport. As young enthusiasts we made great use of Doctor's parents' 4-wheel drive Mitsubishi van. This vehicle was able to carry all the gear and people that we required to stage a show, ensuring both that we always arrived at the venue together and that only one of us needed to stay sober for the drive home. Gradually, as our living arrangements changed and the Fauves diaspora spread to all reaches of Metropolitan Melbourne, this method became impractical and we began travelling separately.
Now, however, we play so little that unified travel is once again a viable option. The Mitsubishi is long gone. These days we take the Image Paving van, picked up from Barry Newey's factory and cleaned of its tools and assorted worksite debris. No longer must we juggle to fit awkwardly sized cases into small gaps in impractical sedans. We just hurl the gear in with impunity, leaving the assorted cases wherever they may lie and always find that there is still enough room for Terry.
This hints at the one drawback of the Mazda - there's only enough room across the front for three people. Strangely enough, any wrangling over the best seats has never been an issue. As a non-licence holding, heavy drinking permanent passenger, Terry is always obliged to show his gratitude to those who ferry him around. This ensures that he always rides shotgun for at least one leg of the journey. In a defacto sense it's Doug's van so he rarely ventures further rear than the petrol cap, while I'm always driving. This leaves Doctor who, in typically phlegmatic style, usually takes the other leg.
Invariably he makes the outward-bound journey. While it has always been understood that Terry must do his time warming the rear floor with his fur-lined arse, we are not entirely devoid of compassion. Two separate catastrophic late night pedestrian accidents some years ago have left Ted with a dangerously fragile knee that requires careful monitoring. A sober trip in the back amongst the amplifiers, drums and roadcases is a fraught prospect. Much better that we wait until after the show when we can pack him away like so much family luggage into an oversized boot, comfortable in the knowledge that he is well anaesthetised and, so long as he we pack the rider in around him, always within easy reach of additional painkillers.
Shows like last week's O-week performance at Melbourne Uni. are the near perfect template of a latter day Fauves ideal gig. Arrive as late as possible; get the van to within a couple of metres of the stage for an easy load; play in a position well down the running order ensuring that there is no way the event's failure can be sheeted home to us - we only needed an extra 15 grand on our fee to make it the perfect night. The multi band bill meant that soundcheck was out of the question. We wouldn't have done one anyway but extenuating circumstances like this enable us to forgo the formalities without looking unprofessional. Moreover, it was an all care, no responsibility kind of show; an atmosphere in which we excel.
Having stowed our gear side of stage, we were then forced to move it on several occasions courtesy of some overzealous university functionaries. They seemed worried that someone from one of the important bands might not be able to make it to the stage if they had to take a 20cm detour around a piece of our equipment. After these unwelcome exertions there was nothing for it but to adjourn to the backstage area where every endeavour had been made to ensure that our stay was a comfortable one. Four bottles of wine was twice what we requested on our refreshment rider, while several plates of sandwiches and a cheese platter helped assuage any potential discomfort at having to be on stage when we would usually be eating dinner. It was a microcosm of John Howard's Australia downstairs in the Union building. Relaxed and comfortable, we enjoyed our host's hospitality and noted that, without fail, other bands always sound better when heard through the unique acoustic properties of several brick walls.
Inevitably, our pleasant reverie was shattered by the burgeoning reality of an approaching stage time. In an unexpected bonus, circumstances conspired to ensure that our start was delayed, meaning that we had no option but to axe a song if we were to be off on time. We decided on The Charles Atlas Way, a convenient choice, as we'd been too relaxed and comfortable to remember to tune the spare guitar required to play it. After a rousing intro from the evening's MC's we made our way on stage to muted, but unfailingly polite applause.
At no stage throughout the evening could it be said that the audience dropped its standards. Unstintingly polite, they gently put their hands together in a thoughtful facsimile of applause at all the appropriate junctures while making sure that any bored fidgeting, distracted sidelong glances or other overt displays of disinterest took place well away from our immediate view. Long gone are the days when the Fauves could be considered to appeal to a University audience. The crowd was of an average age that must have been at least 15 years younger than the geriatrics performing for it. It was like playing a show in communist China, tanks hovering ominously on the sidelines, before a reserved audience of nervous students, unsure of how to respond to the Western decadence taking place before them.
Time waits for no band and a quick check of my watch showed that we were in serious risk of overshooting our scheduled conclusion. The impromptu axing of Medium Pacer reigned our set in nicely. A cosy nine song set had us exiting stage left at the appointed hour of 9.15pm.
Thereafter followed the most industrious 10 minutes of the evening as each band member worked feverishly to dismantle and stow his equipment in preparation for a quick get away. Emissaries were sent to organise the opening of gates and the general facilitation of vehicular access, while Terry mounted a solo expedition to locate and secure the bountiful remnants of the refreshment rider. Just as the last piece of gear was thrown into the van, 28 Days made their way out to a rapturous reception.
It's long been a dream of ours to play a show with 28 Days. They are a band whose use of baseball caps and long chains hanging from oversized short pockets has had a major impact on our sound. 28 Days is four weeks and we've always been intrigued as to the nature of the delicate artistic tensions wrought in deciding on one name over the other. For the record I think they got it right but I would have given anything to have sat the band down over a celebratory drink and picked their brains. Sadly it was fast approaching 10pm and we really wanted to beat the traffic.
Only a week or so before the gig, 28 Days had been involved in an unseemly public spat with The Drugs after some inflammatory remarks about the lead singer were posted on The Drugs' website. This got me to thinking about the power of the Internet and its potential as an unfettered forum for free speech and dissenting opinion. It also provided the impetus for canny idea on how to gauge the number of visitors to our site. Let me start by saying that I hate every band in the world; they are all fuckwits and their music is a tiresome and unwanted intrusion into my life. Now, if the six degrees of separation theory is correct then someone, somewhere will know one of the five people who access thefauves.com on a regular basis and the connecting process will begin. Eventually word will filter back to one of the world's thousands of bands that I have posted these highly importune remarks and we'll all be in real trouble.