The Null Device
Last night, I went to see I'm From Barcelona at ULU; it was the third I'm From Barcelona gig I've seen, and was excellent.
The first support was some geezer with an acoustic guitar, who varied from ordinary to passable. The second support was quite a bit more impressive; a Swedish indiepop band named Irene; they were somewhat smaller in scale than I'm From Barcelona (they had about 7 members, which seemed positively modest compared to IFB's 29 or so), though had much the same sort of joyous summery exuberance about their music. I suspect I'll have to get their CD.
Then I'm From Barcelona made their entrance, with their usual grandeur and showmanship; the strains of that Queen song they use as an intro played and Emanuel and his friends filtered onto the stage, resplended in their usual slightly cartoonish hipster attire. (Aside: I'm told that all the cool kids in Stockholm are wearing oversized plastic glasses these days.) Giant balloons were inflated and thrown into the air above the audience, who proceeded to volley them around throughout the gig, and an industrial bubble-blowing machine was set up on stage. Then the intro ended and the band kicked off with a rousing rendition of "Treehouse", the audience singing along with the catchy chorus.
Audience participation was the order of the day; the audience were invited to join into the easy parts of various songs (the "Daaaamn!" in Oversleeping, and the second repetition of We're From Barcelona, with some prompting), and those who had kazoos (available at the merch stall) were invited onto the stage during Chicken Pox. The band seemed to be having fun with the music, taking it on mischievous detours (a chorus from a Madonna song in one song, an excursion into reggae towards the end of another). They also played a few new songs: one (with a severely reduced line-up; just Emanuel and two others) was about making friends with grizzly bears, inspired (somewhat mischievously) by Werner Herzog's The Grizzly Man, and another referenced Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
The gig was an exuberantly joyous experience; there was a really friendly mood in the venue, with everyone brought together by the music. By the end of the gig, the audience were (in Emanuel's words) the band's new best friends, and I'm sure that I'm From Barcelona were quite a few people's new favourite band.
Attendees at the Sydney Big Day Out have rejected the organisers' call to leave flags at home; the festival was a nationalistic show of strength, with flags everywhere, and an underlying atmosphere of jingoism.
However, political leaders rejected his appeal, and today many fans on their way to the event appeared to be ignoring his request as well.
Rather than the flag being a victim, as it was portrayed in arguments about its use at the Big Day Out, academic Roger Bell believes it was used as a heavy hitting weapon by over-nationalistic aggressors at Cronulla, and that this mood carried through in the weeks leading up to BDO.Could this be more evidence for the hypothesis that today's youth have rejected the left-wing values of the 1970s and 1980s and shifted dramatically to the right (see also: Vice Magazine, Hillsong) and line up on the Howard government's side of the culture war, or even that Howard's Australia is developing a US-style culture of flag-waving jingoism, coupled with the intolerant, aggressive majoritarianism that has been on the rise?
"People I know were in the audience last year and witnessed people basically being made to kiss the Australian flag and if they didn't they would get their head beaten in," Ms Ashworth said.I wonder whether one could be beaten up for wearing one of those Dangerfield "Worst Prime Minister" T-shirts to Big Day Out.