​EBONIVORY | GLASS OCEAN w/ CHINO SATURN & INTROSPECT @ THE WORKERS CLUB, MARCH 2020

I was honestly in two minds about writing a review for this gig tonight but I figured that I should considering I made the effort to attend it and was looking forward to seeing the Ebonivory boys in particular.

Unfortunately my sleep deprivation really took it’s toll on me this week, having periods of 3-4 hours in which I was wide awake and couldn’t fall back asleep. It was extremely frustrating for me considering I have tried many different things to help with my sleep problems.

So by tonight, my sleep debt had accumulated to an unbearable level and I was really feeling beyond exhausted at this point. Still, I was determined to come out to this show tonight mainly because of the quality lineup of bands but also because it was supporting a really important cause – for bushfire relief!

When I walked into the band room at The Workers Club, it literally looked and felt like a sauna with the smoke machine put on full blast. I actually felt pretty chilled out and relaxed tonight, even confident. That was until the room began to get really packed.

Obviously I wasn’t anticipating an attendance of over 120 people. Mild claustrophobia set in and made me feel uncomfortable but I did my best to ride it out and focused on taking deep breaths. Also around 9.30pm, my energy levels began crashing fast.

Despite having a long black coffee from Maccas two hours prior, sadly it wasn’t enough to push me over the line. So I left after Chino Saturn played. I’d normally feel guilty for doing this but I was genuinely wrecked and didn’t want to force myself to stick around through constant yawns.

INTROSPECT are a Sydney-based progressive rock band. They had a very distinctive, otherworldly sound with dreamy melodic sections and epic guitar riffs soaring high into an alternate dimension. Guitarist Jamie had some technical difficulties early in the set but the band managed to pull through, even tossing in an impressive drum solo. It was a great performance considering this was their first time playing in Melbourne! https://introspect-prog.bandcamp.com/releases

CHINO SATURN is the latest musical project from Melbourne based singer-songwriter Jayden McGrath. Performing with a full band tonight, his style of music is a combination of ska, drum n bass, electronic, funk, rock and pop. His vocals came across as deep, powerful and confident with a free-flowing light hip hip vibe. His lyrics are very personal and straight from the heart. I was very impressed by how unique he sounded especially when combining such a diverse range of styles!

GLASS OCEAN are a five-piece ambient progressive rock outfit from Sydney and Melbourne! Check out their latest release “Atalante Instrumental Medley” here – https://glassocean.bandcamp.com/track/atalante-instrumental-medley

EBONIVORY are a five-piece progressive metal band from Ballarat in Victoria! Check out their latest single called “Explosions After Dark” here – https://smarturl.it/explosionsafterdark

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WINDWAKER w/ Tapestry & Heartline @ BANG! February 2020

I never thought I’d see myself back at BANG! again especially after all the bad experiences I’ve had there in the past. From being socially excluded to trying my hardest to be a Destroy All Lines promoter (and failing to connect with the other elitist hosts) to rude security guards on power trips, things didn’t really end on a positive note for me. I also was finding that the loud nightclub vibes inside the venue just weren’t aligning with my own! I just didn’t fit the mould of most people who attended BANG! (extroverts, party animals, millennials, smokers, obnoxious drunk people, superficial people with huge egos). Plus I am getting older!

Now at 33 (and turning 34 very soon), going out to night clubs isn’t high on my priority list these days! In fact, I’m usually ready for bed by 9.30pm. Plus I’ve also had significant health issues from depression and anxiety to fatigue and insomnia. All of the things pose a threat to me continuing to attend local gigs especially late at night! I’ve literally had to use stimulants such as caffeine and pre-workout supplements as a crutch just to stay alert and not doze off into the evening.

So when this show came along, I was initially hesitant especially when I saw that the doors would be opening at 10pm. How on Earth was I going to stay awake and focused until then let alone when I got inside the venue? This week I had the double whammy of deciding to stop taking my prescription sleep medication due to increased side effects and dependency.

Plus my roster at work has recently changed to early starts on Sunday and Monday as well as afternoon starts on Tuesday and Wednesday! I’ve also had a fairly hectic schedule with grocery shopping, cooking, housework, appointments with my OT, support worker and counselor and gym sessions to fit in too. That’s a lot of stuff to adjust to in one week but I was determined to persevere and push through the struggles and the sleep deprivation.

I chose to come out to BANG! again tonight partly because I wanted to support the bands playing (It’s a pretty stacked lineup). But also because my social life has significantly suffered lately. Namely, I miss hanging out with friends and band mates. I truly do! I’m learning to take more chances in life because holding back just leads to disappointment and regret. Maybe I will have a good time tonight. There’s only one sure way of finding out.

After my boxing class with CinFull Fitness, I made my way down to Jordanville station to catch the train into the city. Thankfully the class actually gave me a much needed boost of energy and stamina. Lining up outside the venue with the usual riff-raff, we didn’t get inside until quarter past 10. Then we were forced to wait inside the beer garden area until they were ready to open the main bar area. It honestly felt like being herded in a cattle pen and it was slightly uncomfortable until I met up with my friend Jordy Shore. It was nice to have someone to break the ice with.

One of the biggest things that continues to annoy me about BANG! is that they never run on time and tonight was no exception! Heartline were meant to start at 10:15pm but got pushed back to around 10:30pm. Of course some people would see that 15 minute delay and think “big deal” but it’s difficult when you have to rely on public transport to get yourself back home safely. Plus I’ve always been a very structured person and that includes keeping to a schedule and being conscious of what the time is.

Once we got inside the main bar area, my worries seemed to deflate and I actually felt pretty chilled out for once. My brain was still in sensory overload mode though, taking in the emerald green chandeliers with forest-like foliage hanging from the ceiling and the crowd of familiar face. I was positively buzzing when it came to meeting all my friends and band mates. I’ve really missed them all so much!

I’ve never found it easy to stand out in a crowd so I have to rely on making eye contact and finding the right moments to speak up. My anxious thoughts always tries to derail moments like these “Don’t interrupt anyone! You don’t want to piss anyone off!” Of course when it comes to local gigs, musicians are always busy and therefore the “perfect” opportunity to say hello to them simply doesn’t exist. I had to be brave enough to JUST DO IT, just put myself out there and I did it.

Honestly the vibes tonight were so friendly and positive that all my past perceptions and bad experiences about BANG! seemed to dissipate into the background. I was legitimately surprised that I was actually having a good time tonight but I was also very glad that I was. I really needed this. I guess I’m growing to like this venue again and that is saying something.

HEARTLINE…This was the band that I was most giddy to see perform live! I’ve been supporting this Melodic Metalcore band from Adelaide, South Australia since the middle of last year and tonight was their first ever show in Melbourne. Their stage presence was majestic, confident engaging and passionate. Frontman Luke Taylor did an awesome job getting the crowd pumped up and they were equally as excited to participate. They simply blew my socks off tonight and I was super proud of them all for finally breaking into the Melbourne scene! Set List: Twenty Two, Crystal Eyes, Weightless, Essence, Covert. https://music.apple.com/us/album/essence-ep/1478821238

TAPESTRY…Formerly from Darwin and now relocated to Melbourne, this five-piece Melodic Hardcore band just never seems to disappoint. They are lovely and humble musicians with supreme talent and high quality songwriting. The band played tracks from their 2018 EP “Ghost of Me” for the final time tonight plus a few other surprises for older fans. The audience was immediately captivated, singing along to many of their songs. Eventually frontman Tom Devine-Harrison launched himself into the crowd of people near the stage, making a physical and personal connection with them. They were amazing!         Set List: Ghost, Ember, Dark Shade, Retrospect. https://music.apple.com/us/album/ghost-of-me/1353365058

WINDWAKER…Even though their set was on really late (they didn’t start until 12:15am), I was determined to stick around for one of my favourite Melbourne-based Alternative Heavy Melodic Hardcore outfits. I was stoked that they managed to draw such a moderately large crowd for their headlining show tonight. They poured their hearts out in this 45 minute performance, covering both their “Fade” and “Empire” EP’s for the final time tonight. Frontman Will King was as passionate and inspiring as ever with a beautiful vocal delivery and a confident stage presence. He won the crowd over very easily and it was good to see the band send it tonight! Set List: My Empire, The Destroyer, Castaway, Arrested, Grey World, The Sitch, New Infinite, Bring Me The Horizon medley. https://music.apple.com/au/album/empire-ep/1448666181

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TAME IMPALA – THE SLOW RUSH (ALBUM REVIEW)

One-man band Kevin Parker from Perth, Western Australia has been a self-confessed loner and perfectionist. His latest record, The Slow Rush, which comes five years after the release of 2015’s Currents, is aptly titled as it implies that Parker is in no immediate hurry to put out new music. It also homes in on the concept of time, and Parker’s relationship with time. Early 2019 single Patience, which sadly didn’t make the cut for this album, is probably the best representation of this as well as the ever-evolving experimentation of his trademark sound.

Parker seems to answer the question during the song’s chorus (Just growin’ up in stages…living life in phases. Another season changes. And still, my days are shapeless). He lays down a 70’s inspired glam disco groove with permeates throughout the whole track like a sample on repeat. There’s also a sonically distorted piano loop, soft electronic synths and the distinct sound of bongo drums with conjures up a hazy summer music festival type vibe. And this is pretty much just a taster for what’s in store for the rest of The Slow Rush.

Opening track One More Year contains a shimmering melody, stuttering vocal effects and a rollicking drumbeat! Compared to Tame Impala’s previous albums, this is probably the most unusual of tracks to start a new record on especially with Parker opting to do some spoken-word rambling over the hypnotic house beat (We got a whole year. Fifty-two weeks. Seven days each. Four seasons, one reason, one way. One year from today).

And yet bizarrely, Parker manages to make it work with his complex sonic arrangements all blending together seamlessly. Instant Destiny on the other hand seems to move us into more familiar territory, more akin to the sound of Tame Impala’s last record Currents. But at 3 minutes, it’s a short-lived moment and far from representative of the album as a whole.

His official first single for this album Borderline underwent some radical changes including a shorter track length (3:57 compared to 4:36 of the original YouTube release) and a deeper, groovier bassline. Whilst I can certainly appreciate these changes, I prefer his original release as it seemed more natural and organic! Sometimes I feel like Parker’s perfectionist tendencies gets in his own way. It’s the classic case of having too many cooks in the kitchen spoiling the broth! He’s well intentioned in switching up this arrangement but to me it seems like a rare misstep.

Speaking on the original release of Borderline, it’s probably one of his best compositions to date. He delivers a mellow, stripped back track complete with beautiful harmonies, organic percussion, lush instrumentation (piano, bongo drums, flutes) and his usual stream-of-consciousness styled lyrics (There I go. Quite a show for a loner in LA. Askin’ how I managed to end up in this place. And I couldn’t get away).

In terms of musical influences, Parker seems to pull a page out of almost every decade of music! From Led Zeppelin to Daft Punk; From Aphex Twin to Radiohead; From Quincy Jones to Van Halen, the listener will most likely find themselves scratching their heads thinking “I’m sure I’ve heard that guitar riff or that drum beat or that synth line from somewhere before”. It’s a clever way of creating familiar sounds without blatantly sampling or ripping off an artist which Parker does very well on this album.

Posthumous Forgiveness is the most personal track Parker has released to date. It’s presumably about his late father, reflecting on the difficult relationship they had and finding a way to forgive him. The intro sounds like something from a Quentin Tarantino film (like Jackie Brown) but it progressively evolves with increased synths, repetitive drum loops, funky guitar riffs and blissful melodic stretches. It’s a deeply emotional track and one of Tame Impala’s best songs to date!

Breathe Deeply seems to combine influences from both the R&B and dance music worlds! Vocally this probably the best he’s ever sounded, pushing his falsetto vocal tones to their limits. Lyrically it shows a new-found confidence that we’ve yet to see from Parker until now (If you think I couldn’t hold my own. Believe me. I can). On track further adds to this with its swirling sonically manipulated aesthetic and upbeat hooks. He also highlights on the fact that he’s finally found love (The hardest part is over, adjusting makes it slower. So glad you’re coming over, I want to bring us closer).

Recent single Lost in Yesterday is easily the most catchy and accessible track on here. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad though. It’s a standout in terms of its groovy melody, funky basslines, Parker’s falsetto vocal range and memorable lyrics (So what was I ever afraid of? Why did I worry? And why was I ever so brainless? Head in a flurry). But compared to most of this album’s tracks, it’s pretty middle-of-the-road by Kevin Parker’s standards.

It Might Be Time fares better in terms of putting the focus back on this album’s central theme of time, specifically reflecting on what you’ve done with your life and comparing that to others (And suddenly. All my friends are growin’ up and movin’ on. I must be missin’ something). Closing track One More Hour is an epic 7 minute opus which sees Parker pulling out all of his impressive sonic tricks like a funky piano loops, buzzing guitar riffs, colourful synths, kaleidoscopic melodies and loud machine gun-like drumming.

After a 5-year gap between records, I think most fans were naturally worried that Kevin Parker had set the bar far too high for himself with 2015’s Currents. So, it’s a huge relief and a pleasant surprise that he manages to live up to those enormous expectations (for the most part). The Slow Rush is a record that documents the organic evolution of both Kevin Parker as a musician and a human being.

While there are still lyrics which suggest Parker still has moments of self-doubt and insecurity, there is a lot more optimism and confidence shining through here that hasn’t surfaced on his previous efforts. Perhaps his wife Sophie Lawrence who can be heard on the track Tomorrow’s Dust is the reason why Parker seems to be much brighter and more positive now. The future may be uncertain but for KP, he’s certainly got a lot to look forward to.

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TRACES (CAN’T STOP ME AUST TOUR) w/ The Motion Below, Furious George & Elements @ The Last Chance Rock & Roll Bar, January 2020

I’ve been supporting this Heavy Melodic Alternative band from Tamworth in New South Wales since the release of their 2017 EP Change. They have a passion and a maturity beyond their years that I could really appreciate and resonate with. I was absolutely blown away when I first listened to their single Broken, being able to fuse several styles of music together and tie it together with Jack’s mesmerizing vocal delivery and inspiring lyrical content. And to top all of this off, they also record, mix, master and produce of their own music as well as film their own music videos and design their cover artwork. That is something to be truly proud of! https://tracesaustralia.bandcamp.com/album/change

More recently, I’ve been connecting with the boys online through social media platforms as well as several live-stream videos in which they hosted some Q&A sessions, a guitar play-through and revealing what they’ve been working on musically in their home-based studio. It’s very rare that you see musicians who are both extremely talented and extremely humble at the same time but this is the very thing I love about them. They take the time to connect with their fans and they also appreciate every opportunity they receive. https://www.facebook.com/tracesaustralia/videos/

To say that I was really excited to meet these boys in person and to see them perform live is an understatement. Today there was a forecast temperature of 37 degrees in Melbourne! I know what my limits are when it comes to extreme heat as I am very susceptible to its effects (light headedness, physical and mental exhaustion, dehydration, increased heart rate). But I wasn’t going to let this stop me from attending! I just have to be prepared for it by drinking plenty of water, wearing sun protection and pacing myself (resting when needed). https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/how-to-cope-and-stay-safe-in-extreme-heat

There is also the lingering threat of the Novel Coronavirus! I’ve honestly been in two minds about how seriously I should take this information with many conflicting news reports in the media and warnings from the Australian Government! Should we all be wearing face masks when we’re outside or around members of the general public? I don’t know! Are the media and the government covering up the truth? Possibly! It doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence when nobody knows for sure how deadly this virus really is.

But again, I wasn’t going to let this stop me from going out to the show! If I end up getting infected (I mean, I really hope that I don’t), so be it. That’s life! https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/novel-coronavirus.aspx

When it comes to preparing for and attending local gigs, my brain often runs through a huge mental checklist to make sure that I don’t forget anything (Tickets? Check! Water bottle? Check! Hat? Check!). Plus allowing myself enough time to get there is equally as important. When I got to Jordanville station, everything seemed to be running smoothly…until I heard the announcement from the loudspeaker (Flinders Street train will be delayed by 20 minutes). Just what you need on an extremely hot Melbourne day!

So of course I had to endure the now 41 degree heat while waiting for my train to arrive. I was a little worried that I wouldn’t make it to the show on time thanks to the delays but I found out that Elements wouldn’t be starting until around 8pm which gave me a buffer to work with. Getting off at Melbourne Central station, I swiftly walked up Elizabeth Street towards the venue (I was also busting for the toilet at this point)!

I noticed several people wearing surgical marks or respiratory masks but I tried not to let this deter me. I had a quick pit stop at the nearby McDonald’s and bumped into Tom and Tori while I was finding a seat. Typically, my coffee was boiling hot and refusing to cool down plus I was running out of time! So I decided to finish it on the way. When I got inside the band room at The Last Chance Rock & Roll Bar, I could feel myself buzzing from the caffeine I just consumed! I was on a positive high, putting myself out there socially before the show officially started.

Of course my anxiety was trying hard to counteract this with unrealistic social expectations (Why isn’t that person talking to me? Hmm maybe they don’t recognize me with the hat on!) but I did the best I could to ignore it! Overall, I had a really good time and ticked off a lot of boxes which I hadn’t done previously.

ELEMENTS…To be honest, I really didn’t know what to expect from this Melbourne-based metalcore band! I knew that they were originally a duo consisting of Joshua Flint on vocals and Adam Haley-Perko on guitar. Plus they dropped a three-track release in October last year! Tonight they played their first live show as a five piece band! It sounded a little rough around the edges at times and they did have a few stuff ups but musically they absolutely smashed it with lots of heavy breakdowns and futuristic electronic samples. I think that this band has the potential to go a long way!                                                                Set List: Lucidity, Six Foot Hole, cover of the Architect’s track Doomsday and PREY! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVqgeJNMP1KCIKJVYyU9_9w

FURIOUS GEORGE…Every time I see this band play, they always manage to put a smile on my face! Vocalist Jake Mandaliti was rocking out as usual with his wild mop of hair and colourful, psychedelic-looking shirt (which was actually a collage of different Pokemon)! The band were previously seen at this exact venue last year and they managed to deliver any equally incredible performance here with dark menacing screams and epic guitar riffs. It’s always a good time! Set List: Hell, Egodeath, Repose and Devoid! https://furiousgeorgeau.bandcamp.com/

THE MOTION BELOW…The last time I saw these boys perform was at their EP Launch Show last year and now they’re back here for round two! Vocalist Thomas Katgert was very entertaining, making some light hearted jokes which didn’t go entirely to plan and giving a highly passionate performance! Backing vocalists Ryan Matheson and Stephen Latocha were equally as good with their clean vocals. A very tight and impressive set! Set List: Figureheads, Wasted Years and State of Decay! https://music.apple.com/au/album/cronus-complex-ep/1469929282

TRACES…Despite facing some technical issues at the last minute, it was absolutely worth the wait seeing this band perform! It was a near surreal experience for me as I’ve been supporting and following these guys for a long time and now I’m seeing them in the flesh! I could tell that the crowd around me were just as giddy and elated as I was, belting out the lyrics and even jumping around at the end of their set!

Guitarist Ryan Sanchez Crane could be seen wearing his black bandit mask (reminding me of a ninja warrior) and pulling out some wicked guitar spins on stage! It was also really amusing to see drummer Isaiah Olig-grennan rocking a very stylish cowboy hat during the show, which looked like something Russell Coight or Indiana Jones might wear! As for vocalist Jack Pallett, he was truly amazing and inspirational as he spoke on the importance of music and bringing people together as a community!

While it was a shame that their set got cut short due to time constraints and the venue’s curfew, it didn’t seem to bother me that much at all. I think I just appreciated the fact that I was finally able to catch these boys performing live on stage. I left feeling more than satisfied! Set List: Can’t Stop Me, (New Song), The Light, Rain and Broken. https://music.apple.com/nz/album/cant-stop-me-single/1481772386

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AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2020 + The Veronicas @ AO Live Stage, January 2020

Today could have potentially turned into a massive disaster with the discovery of my recent Medicare rebate claim getting rejected this morning. The letter I received from Medicare read “We received your claim for Medicare benefits. There are no benefits to be paid for the claim for the following reasons…Reason code 141 – No benefit payable for services performed by this provider.” I was gobsmacked and confused by this information as nothing was fully explained to me plus I thought I ended everything correctly into the mygov claim form.

Mum suggested a trip down to our local Centrelink / Medicare office in Cranbourne. It turned out to be huge mistake as a) it was packed to the rafters with other customers b) the woman servicing me was a useless cow and made me feel more agitated. At this point I figured that I typed something wrong on the claim form or was missed something. Then I approached my counselor Judie via text message for answers as i was getting stressed out and at the end of my rope. Thankfully after looking into it, she discovered that my GP wrote the wrong provider number on the invoice. So now it  should hopefully get resolved!

I think my stress and conflicting thoughts on the problem were trying hard to ruin my day. It’s crap that really I shouldn’t have to be dealing with. But in this situation I’m in with my new counselor, I have to figure out the Medicare claims process myself and hope tat I don’t mess it up. It’s a very unforgiving systems through mygov which if you fail to provide all the information or type something incorrectly on the claim form, you’re basically screwed! And so I was ruminating on this bullshit all morning and I hoped that attending the Australian Open this afternoon would help giving me some positive distractions.

When Mum and I arrived at Flinders Street station just after 3pm, my energy levels suddenly plummeted through the floor! I was clearly not quite feeling 100%. I needed to sit down again. MUM TO THE RESCUE! She bought me a bottle of water and an apple cake to share. I couldn’t help feeling like a burden though. I had so much anticipation about going to the Australian Open today and yet my stress, fatigue and anxiety were making it very difficult.

We ended up catching a tram to Collins Street then walking towards Elizabeth Street and dropping into The Block Arcade. There was a massive group of people lining up to get into the very popular Hopetoun Tea Rooms. But Mum needed to buy a special birthday card for her sister’s 50th birthday coming up at Card & Caboodle! Next we had coffee together whilst admiring The Dr. Seuss (Cat In The Hat) art collection in front of us. We also got to witness the Royal English clock chime indicating that it was now 4 o’clock!

Fatigue was trying hard to bring me down again but I was determined to stay awake and focused. Eventually the buzzing energy from my coffee began flooding through my body as the peak hour crowds were building on the streets of Melbourne. I was trying my best not to bump into anyone as we navigated down Collins and Swanston Streets but it wasn’t easy.

After we arrived at Flinders Street, we discovered that tram number 70 can take us directly to Rod Laver Arena. They had a fun and amusing recording playing on the tram which informed us of he three tram stops available that are relevant to the Australian Open. After finding the Garden Square entrance, it was a little misleading and confronting working out where to lineup as a Grounds Pass ticket holder. We went through the usual bag checking, wand body scan and ticket checks before finally entering inside the Australian Open.

Being our first time at the Australian Open, there was a lot to take in and process. After grabbing a map from the information desk, I noticed that the layout resembled a village which included the large arenas (Melbourne Arena, Rod Lave Arena, Margaret Court Arena) plus retail shops like Adidas and Chemist Warehouse, various food outlets, several sunscreen lotion and hydration stations, the showcourts practice village, AO Ballpark and AO Live Stage.

Inside the AO Gift Shop, Mum and I were approached by no less than six young salespeople with the typical polite questions “Can I help you? Are you looking for anything in particular? Do you need any help?” Not that I can blame them for doing their jobs and what they had been trained to do but it was a little overbearing considering we were literally just browsing the shelves. I did end up buying myself an official Australian Open shopping bag plus a pen and later on a program on the event. Being our first time ever at an Australian Open, I really didn’t want to walk away from the event empty handed.

Next we decided to watch one of the tennis matches that was in progress! We asked a young girl named Sarah to help find our way towards the showcourts. Eventually, we made our way over to showcourt 19 and sat down in the stands. It was Andrey Rublev from Russia taking on Yuichi Sugita of Japan. There was a loud cheersquad in the back cheering and applauding every time Sugita won a point. It was actually quite funny and entertaining in a way. I was just thankful that we got to see some tennis action. https://www.atptour.com/en/news/rublev-sugita-2020-australian-open-second-round

After grabbing something to eat at one of the food outlets inside Rod Laver Arena (super expensive mind you), it was finally time to make our way towards the Live Stage where The Veronicas will be performing! We did get a little lost getting there but eventually we were heading in the right direction. The one thing we didn’t anticipate was how long the walk would be, especially with the dozens of tennis fans you have to navigate around also.

When we arrived at the live stage, it was already packed and crowded. We were very lucky to find a couple of spare seats to sit on.

THE VERONICAS put on a very nostalgic and entertaining 45 minute performance, even though they did start a little late. They performed a mixture of earlier songs plus a couple of more recent tracks. Even when the dark overcast clouds were rolling in and the temperature dropped, it certainly didn’t dampen the spirits of the audience who were singing and dancing along! I was so glad that I was able to finally see them live on stage. It was definitely worth it! Set List: Take Me On The Floor, Everything I’m Not, Hook Me Up, You Ruin Me, Ugly, In My Blood, Mother Mother, 4ever, If You Love Someone and Untouched (Please stand for the national anthem!).

Here are some tips if you ever plan on going to the Australian Open in the future:

Pack For All Seasons – Melbourne’s weather forecast can be very deceiving from strong gusty winds to showers to overcast and humid! So be sure to pack a raincoat, poncho, jumper, umbrella, a hat, sunglasses, beanie and scarf.

Bring Extra Money – The food and drinks at the Australian Open are all overpriced and very expensive (e.g. ice-creams $6.50, water $5.00, small tray of fish & chips $12.80). Be sure to bring loose change plus have money on your eftpos cards ready to go!

Do Your Homework – Make sure you check out the Australian Open website, download the app onto your phone, look up the map of the area plus any train and tram timetables you may need to get to the Australian Open! https://ausopen.com/

Plan Your Day – As Mum and I quickly discovered, it’s practically IMPOSSIBLE to fit everything into your schedule if you only have 2 or 3 hours! Unfortunately we missed out on seeing the ANZ Hot Shots and didn’t make it to the AO Ball Park in time! You really need to attend the Australian Open from 10am if you really want to make the day out of it!

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MIKEY’S 2019 YEAR IN REVIEW

HIGHLIGHTS & ACHIEVEMENTS

  1. Spending time with my family and visiting places including North Melbourne, St Kilda, Lakes Entrance, Bairnesdale, Ballarat, Bendigo, Kyral CastleKyneton Bushland ResortRACV Goldfields Resort and Creswick Woollen Mills.
  2. Attending local gigs and continuing to support local bands including ATLVSFurious GeorgePridelandsHara KiriAbove the FallenEarthbøundWeighbridgeSpectral Fires (RIP!), FoxbloodTapestryRed LotusEbonivoryDiamond ConstructWindwakerMake Them SufferTo OctaviaThe Motion BelowIn VanityElision and The Gloom In The Corner.
  3. Working on my health, fitness and wellbeing goals by attending weekly boxing classes at CinFull Fitness, group fitness classes (RPM, Body Balance, Body Pump) at YMCA Casey ARC and YMCA Casey RACE plus using spa, sauna and swim facilities.
  4. Attending several group social nights with Aspergers Victoria including dinner at The Pancake Parlour (Malvern East), lawn bowls, BBQ’s, Dungeons & Dragons and Board Games (Cards Against Humanity, Monopoly, UNO, poker), held at Power Neighbourhood House in Ashwood.
  5. Nickelback’s Feed The Machine Australian Tour at Rod Laver Arena in February.
  6. Celebrating my 33rd birthday at Kelly’s Cranbourne with family and friends in March.
  7. Completing a sleep study at Frankston Intergrated Health Centre to determine how bad my sleeping problems are and work out any possible treatment solutions for them in May.
  8. Completing a Creative Writing short course at Balla Balla Community Centre in June.
  9. Participating in a research study on Power Posing to improve social confidence and emotional regulation, held at Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre in July.
  10. Attending The Australian Beatlez (Beatles tribute band) at Mulgrave Country Club in August.
  11. Attending Good Things Festival for the first time, held at Flemington Racecourse in December.

LOWLIGHTS & UNPLEASANT EXPERIENCES

  1. Having frequent anxiety/panic attacks mostly at work and in some social situations.
  2. Feeling constantly fatigued with low energy and motivation to do things when my depression and anxiety is at its worst.
  3. Having the front windscreen of my car smashed in one night and having to fork out $450 to repair it the next day.
  4. Adjusting to changing and starting new antidepressant medication. Side effects include nausea, light headedness, fever, profuse sweating and increased heart rate.
  5. Dealing with some specialists and allied health professionals who have not been helpful. At times, they are not the easiest people to open up to about my experiences. Some of them could be quite judgmental, cold, harsh, condescending and patronising. It can be quite expensive in the fees they charge for their services, even with the Medicare rebates.
  6. Getting emotional and having a mental breakdown when things have gotten “too much” or overwhelming in my life including dealing with difficult customers at work, unexpected bills or expenses, having trouble making decisions, feeling pressured by societal and parental expectations.
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GOOD THINGS FESTIVAL (MELBOURNE) @ Flemington Racecourse, December 2019

A couple of years ago, I made a silent vow to myself that I was done with attending music festivals. There were a number of reasons for this: the large crowds, the lengthy duration, getting dirty and sweaty in the moshpit. It just wasn’t my thing anymore. Though I did push myself to attend Unify in 2018, it wasn’t an enjoyable experience for me. The lonely overnight camping plus my unruly neighbours and my fragile mental state also didn’t help matters. It was more to say that I did it and crossed it off my bucket list. But I wouldn’t do it again.

However, when I considered going to Good Things this year, it felt like a throwback to the days of the Big Day Out (1999-2014) which I used to go to. Similar lineup of bands. Similar layout of stages, rides, food trucks. And it’s only a single day festival. I said to myself “You know what? I’ll give it a shot.” And so I opted for the pay over time installment option as I couldn’t afford the full cost of the ticket at the time. I used to complain about how expensive festival tickets are but if you consider how many big international bands are on the lineup, it’s actually pretty reasonable.

My biggest concern going it to this was how my energy levels and tiredness would fare. This is after all a 9-10 hour event so I knew that I would have to pace myself throughout the day and place plenty of rest breaks in between bands. The most important decision of the day was working out which bands to see. It’s good that Good Things offers fans plenty of variety and choice but that means there’s a lot of potential for timetable clashes. The biggest offender would have to be between Windwaker and The Veronicas which actually sparked a lot of outrage, shit posting and memes on social media.

From catching the train from Southern Cross to Flemington Racecourse to lining up outside the entry gates, I felt a huge rush of anticipation and anxiety. Even though I was well and truly prepared for this, my brain decided to overthink things big time. I figured that this would be like an episode of Border Security when it comes to the bag checking process. However, the girl wasn’t even that thorough. She barely giving the contents of my backpack more than a glance.

The only odd thing was having my photo ID checked twice by two different security staff. Not that it really bothered me to be honest. It was more that I expected to be scanned for metallic items and be searched by sniffer dogs, according to the information on the Good Things website. But getting through the entry gates did make me feel more at ease. It took a while to get my bearings of the festival site layout but it wasn’t too difficult to navigate. I had a printout of the map and digital copy on my phone just in case.

POPPY…Like most people, I only discovered this Massachusetts-born singer songwriter a few months ago. Her style is a unique fusion of pop, electronica, metal and industrial often with sweet melodic choruses and heavy breakdowns in the verses. She came out onto the stage with a drummer and guitarist, both wearing weird face masks, platinum blonde wigs and black leather suits. In the words of Kath and Kim, she could be described perfectly as noice, unusual, different. Set List: Concrete, Am I A Girl?, Play Destroy, Scary Mask. https://music.apple.com/au/artist/poppy/1004130511

GRAVEMIND…I can’t say that I’m as invested in Death Metal bands as I used to be. However, I do have a soft spot for these guys. I was particularly impressed by their connection with the crowd both in supporting local bands and the importance of overcoming mental health issues. They delivered a super heavy set with lots of emotion and heart.Set List: Lifelike, Phantom Pain, Volgin. https://music.apple.com/au/album/conduit/1462900465

WINDWAKER…Okay look. I was honestly very divided about whether to split my time between my boys in Windwaker and The Veronicas. But the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a pointless idea. Being a music festival, there is so much ducking and weaving between the crowds of people and therefore it’s time consuming getting from one stage to another. So I went with my gut and stayed where I was, which I believe ended up being the right decision.

Today was Liam Guinane’s last show with Windwaker. It was a very bittersweet experience for me. But it was such a pleasure watching him perform a keyboard and vocal solo of the track Colourless with the entire crowd kneeling down. I was crying internal tears, that’s for damn sure! The band had some technical issues early on which delayed their starting time. However, they more than made up for it by the awesome show they put on, complete with plastic beach balls, crowd singalongs and an epic circle pit to rival The Veronicas wall of death! Set List: The Sitch, Grey World, Reject, Colourless, My Empire. Freak (Silverchair cover) https://music.apple.com/au/album/empire-ep/1448666181

TRIVIUM / BAD RELIGION…After Windwaker’s set, I decided to take a break and chilled out on the lawn between Stages 1 and 2. Unfortunately, I began getting myself overcome with conflicting emotions, depression and loneliness. I couldn’t really work out where it was coming from, though witnessing people hanging out in groups may have been a trigger. It’s not a new thing for me as I’ve always been “flying solo” when it comes to attending gigs and music festivals. And yet it’s still not always easy accepting that I don’t really have a close circle of friends around me.

I decided to try meditating, reached out to a few friends on social media and listened to the sets of Trivium and Bad Religion from a far distance away. It was difficult trying to shake the black dog off me but slowly I started to feel better. Considering how far I’d come just to attend Good Things for the first time, it was an important reminder to put things into perspective. Plus I had already met and bumped into lots of amazing band mates so I was far from alone, even though I was hanging out by myself.

SIMPLE PLAN…It’s hard to conceive that this Pop-Rock-Punk outfit from Montreal in Canada has been going for 20 years. Admittedly, I decided to watch their set for the nostalgic value of their classic anthems, mainly from 2002 to 2009. I found myself singing along with the crowd around me to songs I grew up with in my late teenage years and early adulthood. And after such a long time together, they still sounded great and the lyrical messages of not fitting in and not feeling accepted are still relatable today. People were randomly throwing rolls of toilet paper through the air and tossing giant black beach balls back and forth.        Set List: I’m Just a Kid, I’d Do Anything, Addicted, Perfect, Welcome to My Life, Shut Up, Jet Lag, Summer Paradise, Boom! https://music.apple.com/us/artist/simple-plan/150861

KARNIVOOL…This was the band I was the most keen for today. The Perth-based Progressive Rock outfit have been around since 1997 and this was my first time catching them live. I wouldn’t call myself a hardcore fan, even though I do own all of their albums. But their quality of songwriting and musical output in truly phenomenal. Their style is complex and out of the box, touching on important social and political themes such as media corruption, the end of the world, the existence of God and the function of society and governments.

Vocalist Ian Kenny still has one of the best clean singing voices in any Australian band and put on an outstanding performance tonight. And I’m sure many Karnivool fans out there are still wondering when the 4th album is going to drop? I guess you just can’t rush art! Set List: We Are, Simple Boy, Themata, The Refusal, New Day. https://music.apple.com/us/artist/karnivool/85099785

I did consider staying for PARKWAY DRIVE but then remembered the announcement after arriving at Flemington Racecourse. The last train to depart will be at 9.20pm. Which meant that I would only be able to see about half of Parkway’s set. Honestly, I was pretty wrecked after Karnivool and decided to leave early. I saw all the bands I really wanted to see and therefore didn’t feel the need to stay any longer.

Overall, it was a pretty good festival. The very long queues for entry, cloaking, band merch, the toilets and food trucks were annoying but inevitable considering how large the attendance was. The litter on the ground was fairly disappointing considering how many bins there were available. The free water stations and first aid tents were an excellent idea. The weather did get deceivingly warm today and I did get sunburned but it could have been much worse, considering it is meant to be summer now. I’m really glad I came out!

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