Hugs and Kisses 57: Stereo Total and the Brisbane Live Scene


Stereo Total photo by Cabine

Another week, another episode of Hugs and Kisses from Mr. Everett True, Plan B editor at large, White Stripes book author, all-around bearded dude who’s recently relocated to Brisbane. Harass him about liking the Spice Girls at — SOTC’s Home Spice

Hugs and Kisses

The Relocated Outbursts of Everett True

This week: Stereo Total and the live scene in Brisbane

Stereo Total, “Carte Postale” (MP3)
Stereo Total, “Party Anticonformiste” (MP3)

Folk dance like it’s the Eighties here — all uncoordinated arms flailing at their sides, feet moving on tiny imaginary bike pedals, heads shaken furiously from side-to-side. The girls all dress in pleated skirts and Olympia tops: the boys, straggly and occasionally bearded, struggle to keep up (as always). There’s a semi-pogo happening in spots — or at least the energy of one: a fair amount of grabbing another dancer and swinging round for three seconds or so, raising the occasional arm in the air. No hair-slides sadly, but a few badges pinned to lapels — dude, this is Brisbane, after all. The crowd at the front is resolutely mid-twenties. Behind, the age shoots up by several years. It’s making me very happy, watching this bustle and giggle of enthusiasm being exerted stage-front: it’s making me feel far more at home than anything this side of our local ice cream vendor; it’s making me begin to think that I’ve definitely chosen the right city to stop in, that there’s no way Sydney or Melbourne would support this sort of unabashed support — too cool. And you know what? The band on stage is as un-cool as I’ve seen for many a long year.

And they’re glorious! Recently, I’ve been having mainstream Australian TV folk poking fun at my taste because I admit to a fondness for The Spice Girls. But, but, but, they’re entertainment! They have great pop songs, and harmonies, and voices you can recognise in a darkened lift. And these folk are mainstream… Jesus, they probably think Bono is cool! Are The Spice Girls un-cool? Is Stereo Total? Should there be any sort of differentiation simply ‘cos the last time I saw one was at the front of an Italian stadium packed with 20,000 screaming pubescent girls and the other one was at the front of Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art packed with a couple of hundred of reasonably excited arty and lesbian and hipster sorts? Both are great. Both dress ridiculously, in clothes that just can’t exist outside of punk designer hovels. And both are top-class entertainment.

Stereo Total were nothing like I expected — I thought there would be about eight of them, for a start, racing around the stage and being all cutsie and energetic and YOUNG, kinda like Los Campesinos!, only with balls (and pussy). No no no: two members — the dude all lanky and supremely awkward in PVC trousers like an ex-member of great deconstructionist German punk band Die Toten Hosen, forever whipping the crowd up into a fever of expectation, doing absurdist dance moves and stopping only to swear good-naturedly at his effects pedal. And the lady was rockin’ the school librarian look — only for real, with her hunched shuffle and stern glare and reams upon reams of lyric books that she’d fluster over. It was all very fine and Continental and something you just couldn’t appreciate in a big city like New York or London without having a great big neon sign flashing IRONY in six-foot letters above their heads… and that wouldn’t have worked either, cos the one thing this amalgam of punk and disco and splatter and pop and chanson and glitch and more disco and punk wasn’t, was ironic.

It was simply great, fucking great pop music — and man, I can’t ever get enough of that.

Hugs And Kisses Top 5

I have 74,749 songs on my iTunes — even allowing for duplicates, that’s still a solid five months of non-stop listening. Which ones will play today?

1. “Party Anticonformiste,” Stereo Total (from Party Anticonformiste)
Wow, that’s some coincidence! Oh wait, I’ve had my iTunes set to play only Stereo Total for a week now.

2. “El Paraiso,” Causa Sui (from Causa Sui)
It’s heavy, it’s relentless, it’s brutal… and it’s 12 minutes 40 fucking seconds long and nowhere near heavy enough. Where’s that search function gone?

3. “You Know You’re Right,” Nirvana (from Nirvana)
Wait, is this that new song placed on a ‘greatest hits’ to bamboozle diehard fans into forking out money once more? Oh right. I prefer ‘Free As A Bird.’

4. “Contreras 2am,” Kama Aina (from Music Activist)
This is what’s termed ‘easy listening’ on iTunes. What — because it isn’t noisy? I’m thinking Walter Wanderley. And you…?

5. “No Generation Gap,” The Wipers (from Over The Edge)
People in Brisbane have this mistaken belief that I’m a fan of ‘grunge.’ Uh-huh. Unless you mean this sort of edgy, paranoid, tightly-wound rock music from one of Portland’s finest.