Monday, January 28, 2008

The Satellite Nation, Media Club, Vancouver

So, Saturday didn't quite turn out like it was supposed to. My sole task for the day was to get from Mountain View, California, back to Vancouver, and by 11am, things were looking rosy. I'd managed to shake off the effects of a tough night playing Rock Band (the gravelly voice, the ache in the calf muscles and forearms, the sense of edgy excitement - it was like I'd just got back from a big night out on the town and/or a live show, but really I'd just stayed up late playing video games with workmates - and don't be surprised if people stop forming real bands and just sit around living rooms playing this - it really is that much fun), and get myself to San Jose airport. Flight number one to Portland was a little tense, I was sitting next to a scared flier, which is always a nerve-wracking experience, especially when my casual nonchalance towards flying intensified her agitation even more.

But in Portland, things went south, with weather and mechanical problems turning a 40 minute layover into a 8 hour ordeal, of which the only saving grace is the fact that in PDX airport you can get a microbrewed pint of beer for less than $4 dollars. And then they have the gall to run a happy hour from 3 to 6, where the price dropped even further. And there's no sales tax. I don't know how other states stay in business, because everyone in their right mind should move to Oregon.

So let's just say that by the time I got to The Media Club in Vancouver, at around 10.30, I was in quite a state. and it didn't help my mood at all when the first thing I saw was a Dustin Diamond lookalike (what is it with people looking like him? there was a guy playing second drums for Menomena last time I saw them who looked like him as well) draped in an Australian flag. And behind the stage was another incredibly large, red, white and blue monstrosity (the best thing about the australian flag? if you're a little bit drunk, and you squint your eyes just right, you can convince yourself it's the New Zealand one). Things were not going to turn out well.

Now, I like Australians as much as the next guy. Sure, they've generally got an smug air of superiority about them (the Flight of the Conchords episode where the Australian character brags about Ayers Rock - "It's a bloody big rock, mate" - is pretty much spot on), and they can lay it on a bit thick with the sheep jokes, but when you're on the wrong side of the world, you generally find yourself relating to their way of thinking more so than you do than with any other nationality. And plus, it's someone to talk about cricket with.

However, as soon as you get a large number of australians in one place, and make any sort of mention of nationalism, patriotism, or sporting events, pretty soon you're ready to strangle anyone who dares shout "Aussie, aussie, aussie, oi, oi, oi" for the ten thousandth time (Also - Dear North America, It's pronounced "ozzy", like the lead singer of Black Sabbath, not Oss Si, as you seem to be intent on pronouncing it. It's their nickname, learn how to say it properly. Regards,). I wouldn't be surprised if the numbers of TVs smashed in New Zealand during the Sydney Olympics skyrocketed to unprecedented levels - every time there was a crowd shot or the local colour reporter was mingling with the populace, there'd be a parade of green and gold-clad buffoonery as far as the eye could see.

But you see, when walking in to the Media Club on Saturday night, I realized what I'd done. I'd gone to see an Australian band on Australia Day, which is pretty close to hell to someone of my geographic persuasion.

Luckily, it all turned out pretty goddamn well. For all the doom and naysaying to this point, the kids in Satellite Nation know what they're doing. In the interests of full disclosure, I should probably mention that I have, on occasion, spent time with the members of said band, and enjoyed their company. But they're still a whole bunch of fun.

Now, their particular brand of pop/emo/rock is not really my cup of tea (and I realize how much of a knob it makes me while sitting on my couch watching Vampire Weekend videos on youtube ( - PS - anyone wanna teach me how to embed videos?) and making holier than thou comments like that) but sometimes people like me just need to get over themselves and enjoy a night out for what it is - a group of enthusiastic and talented (and it must be said, not unattractive) young men play cracking pop songs to a captive audience. Which, also means that they've got the Alpha Males beat on at least two of those three points (I'll leave it up to you to deduce which ones).

The lads left the australio-centric histrionics to a minimum and let the music do the talking, belting through 8 or 9 songs (it could have been more, I was long gone by this point) of good quality, sandwiching their radio hit somewhere in the middle. From what I understand, they were relatively popular in Australia, doing national tours supporting some high level bands, and have come up to North America to try their luck here. They've got a nice clean live show, and I've seen them blow local bands off the stage on more than one occasion. It sounds like they're getting some play on one of the local rock stations, which will do them well. and the video's pretty fancy too (and looks like it's racked up nearly 3,000 hits on youtube in the last two months, which currently is roughly 2920 more hits than the last song I wrote that got posted on the internet, but who's counting? (and again, in the interests of full disclosure, I should again note that at least 40 of those hits on my song were probably from me))

As always the Media Club was it's divealicious self, as per standard the bathroom had been repeatedly soiled by 11pm, and by about 12.30, I was pretty close to soiling it myself, so I beat a hasty retreat to my icy apartment. Thank the lord my winter is being temporarily interrupted for a two-week burst of temperatures in the mid 20s. And did I mention Interpol, Sonic Youth, Rufus Wainwright, and enough summery pop from people who spent too much time listening to Pet Sounds to sink a battleship. God bless the southern hemisphere.

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