This week: ATP Australia, part two
So there I was, in the ABOM bar, top of Mount Bullah.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds had just finished a triumphant, good-natured set, headlining at the inaugural ATP Australia–and Sir Nicholas had left us with instructions to go see the grind/splatter/demento/screamo/everything-o-core of Passenger Of Shit, same bar as I was psyching myself up to DJ in. I was shattered: a knee gone from walking up and down the punishing ski slopes all day long, and from dancing side-by-side with Warren Ellis to the sax-led noise explosions of Brisbane’s reformed Laughing Clowns. Beer wasn’t an option, neither were the pre-mixed whiskey drinks my photographer was pressing upon me. As Passenger Of Shit grew louder and ever more demented, and patrons began beating a tribal response on overhanging pots, I wondered quite how I was going to follow that…
I needn’t have worried. Right from the off, people were dancing crazy: hey fuck, the festival had just ended and everyone wanted to have a ball. My first choice–Andre Williams’ good-time “I’m Going Down To Tijuana” from 1952 or thereabouts, that none of the audience could possibly have heard–was accidental (it was a headphone try-out), but no one cared. It was dance music: and folk wanted to dance!
I followed it up with Billy Childish’s holiday single “Christmas 1979”–again, a song I seriously doubt anyone had encountered before–and man, we were in business. I lifted several more cuts from the same Trikont compilation, Roll Your Moneymaker, that the Williams’ one was drawn from–Ann Cole’s original of “Got My Mojo Working,” Ike Turner’s “She Made My Blood Run Cold,” Lazy Lester’s “Sugar Coated Love” (later covered by the Kinks), Rufus Thomas’ incredible ‘Tiger Man’–and threw in some trusted pleasers (5,6,7,8’s, Detroit Cobras, Cramps, Daniel Johnston, Soft Boys’ ‘I Want To Destroy You’). Sure, I couldn’t shake the sensation the crowd didn’t know what they were dancing to…but good on them!
The place hit lift-off when I followed Ramones (“I Wanna Be Sedated”) with a real chance-r (or so I thought), Violent Femmes’ “Blister In The Sun.” Turned out I thought wrong: the song was a massive hit in Australia, as Tim. from ATP co-promoters Feel Presents, pointed out when he came over to castigate me for “selling out.” Hey! It wasn’t deliberate. (And anyway, I was only knowingly playing to the crowd when I shoved on a brace of Iggy Pop and Velvet Underground sides.)
Absolute highlight? When I led the crowd through a demented dance to the Saints’ classic “(I’m) Stranded” (the reformed Brisbane band had headlined the previous evening).
After about 75-80 minutes, I’d had enough of the manic energy and brought it down sweetly with some Stax, plus a little Jonathan Richman–reducing the dancing pool to four while playing Karen Dalton’s “Katie Cruel,” before igniting once more with Motorhead’s “Ace Of Spades” followed by more Ramones.
Funniest moment? When I was asked to play “some Nick Cave,” having just put on The Birthday Party’s “She’s Hit.”
I rounded the night off (at 3am) with Edwin Hawkins’ Singers’ “Oh Happy Day,” a song that Bad Seeds fans are familiar with, whether they realise it or not.