The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'the hummingbirds'
Today I heard the sad news that Simon Holmes, frontman and songwriter of 1990s Australian alternative/indiepop band The Hummingbirds passed away over the weekend.
I met him once, about a decade ago, at his record shop in Sydney. There was a copy of The Hummingbirds' debut album loveBUZZ there, which the band had all autographed back in the day, and which I ended up buying. Simon demonstrated his signature on a piece of paper to show that it was genuine; with his characteristic humility, he didn't know how much to ask for it. I think I gave him $30. We also talked briefly about Sarah Records. I got the impression that, as well as being a fine songwriter and musician, he was also a genuine, decent fellow, of considerable thoughtfulness and sensitivity.
A few years earlier, not long after I had moved, on a whim, to the northern hemisphere, I was catching a sleeper train from Paris to Zurich. I remember listening to the Hummingbirds MP3s which I had on my MP3 player, sometime around midnight, somewhere near the French-Swiss border, and feeling a little less disconnected from the home I had left behind.
And some years later, I heard that The Hummingbirds were reuniting to play a one-off show at Big Day Out in Sydney. I had been thinking of visiting Australia again, and brought forward my visit, timing it to catch them. They were well worth the airfare and the jetlag.
And now Simon's suddenly gone, which sucks, and the only Hummingbirds that exist are some Mumford-alikes from Liverpool, which sucks even more.
Simon's friend and sometime collaborator Tim Byron has written a fine memorial to him.
The Hummingbirds, arguably the greatest Australian indiepop band of the 1990s, are reforming for a one-off set at Sydney's Big Day Out on the 27th of January. Well, so far it's a one-off set; perhaps they'll do some other Australian shows. I imagine that them playing Indie Tracks or the Gothenburg Popfest would be a bit of a stretch, though.
Meanwhile, Mess+Noise also has a two-part retrospective on the Punter's Club, the legendary Fitzroy music venue which closed its doors in 2002 (1, 2), interviewing many of the people involved, who went on to work in other Melbourne live music institutions.
The Punters Club closing was so final, though. We knew it was going to happen and that another business was going to move into the building, so it couldn’t be saved. It might have indirectly inspired the SLAM rally and all the outrage about The Tote, because it proved that people actually give a shit about music venues closing. I actually think The Punters Club was more loved than The Tote, but over the years, people came to realise that they didn’t want to lose another venue.
In hindsight it’s sad, and we miss that venue, but Brunswick Street really sucks these days anyway. I’m pleased that I don’t have to go and see gigs in that area anymore. Johnston Street and The Old Bar is about as close as I want to get. I don’t want to be with all the hipsters there. It’s like the gentrification of St Kilda. I remember when Brunswick Street only had three or four cafes: Bakers, Rhumbarella’s, Mario’s and The Fitz. That said, Melbourne has an extremely strong live music scene, so for every venue that closes, a new one opens somewhere.This weekend, for those in Melbourne, there is a series of Punter's Club reunion shows at the Corner Hotel in Richmond.
The spectre of closure, usually driven by gentrification and the increased rents coming from it, is seldom far away from live music venues; recently, Melbourne's favoured ex-neo-Nazi haunt turned band venue, Birmingham Hotel ceased putting on gigs, due to it losing money. Meanwhile, in London, increasing costs have forced the Luminaire to close at the end of the year. The Luminaire was one of London's better medium-sized venues; it will be fondly remembered, particularly the hand-painted signs on the walls informing punters in no uncertain terms that it is a music venue not a pub, and instructing those who wish to talk to their mates to leave.
I just heard on 3RRR that apparently Ratcat have reformed and are doing gigs again.
I remember Ratcat from various times and contexts; when they were current, I was in high school, and they were popular with the various skate-punks, alongside Dead Kennedys and various hardcore punk bands and such and such. A decade and a bit later, I discovered that they were a staple of Australian indie-pop; the Fanclub night in Melbourne (circa 2004 or so) had a policy of putting on Don't Go Now whenever the dancefloor was looking insufficiently busy. Which makes sense, as they were basically a skronky indie-pop band, just noisy enough for the Vision Street Wear kids to be able to thrash to them without scaring away the indiekids.
Were I in Australia right now, I'd probably book a ticket to see them. And if their contemporaries, The Hummingbirds, were reforming and doing gigs, I'd probably be kicking myself for being on the wrong side of the world.
The top 100 indiepop albums, according to an Italian website. The descriptions are in Italian, though the choices look mostly quite sound. The top 3 are C86, one of the Sarah Records compilations and Belle & Sebastian's If You're Feeling Sinister, which sets the tone and gives an idea of the aesthetic involved. The rest doesn't disappoint: The Jesus and Mary Chain's Psychocandy is #11, #13 and #14 are Orange Juice and The Pastels, Japanese pop band 800 Cherries have #21, The Hummingbirds' loveBuzz takes #55 (and I didn't think anyone outside of Australia had heard of them; perhaps the next one of these that comes out will name-check Clag or Mid-State Orange), meanwhile Lush's Split has #67, Slowdive get #89 (along with what looks like an arch comment about the decline and fall of Creation), and The Radio Dept.'s Lesser Matters comes in at #83.