Pub Rockin’

Sorry this is so late going up. I got distracted reading Young Adult literature. Conincidentally, that will probably be the subject of an upcoming post because it comes under the heading of “Things You Need to Know About”. Anyway, moving on. I know that many of you lovely readers are Not Australian, so I try to keep my posts as general as possible so that we can all hang out. But sometimes there is some home-grown interestingness that requires my attention. This is one of those times.

Australians generally suffer from a kind of ‘cultural cringe’. That is to say, we often prefer imported culture (American or European television, music, art, movies etc) over things that are written and produced locally, striving under the impression that our own cultural output is somehow embarrassing. I am guilty of it. I can’t remember the last Australian film that I watched. But I do like live music. More specificially, I am a big fan of live music in pubs. Tragically, due to licensing laws and a bad economic climate, a number of Sydney’s best pubs/ live music venues are going under. And it is affecting my good time. The Annandale Hotel is a particular favourite of mine (I was there last Wednesday to see the Cloud Nothings and Violent Soho, both of whom I would recommend highly) but it’s been struggling to keep its head above water for quite some time. The floor is sticky. It smells like stale booze. There’s probably enough bodily fluids encrusted in the walls to construct a whole new human being. But it’s nice. It has character and history and, perhaps most importantly, it’s really close to my house which makes stumbling home slightly drunk and covered in sweat after being trapped in the middle of a mosh pit REALLY easy.

It looks like it’s going to fall in on your head, and maybe it will but you’d enjoy it, because it’s just got that much charm.

I consider pub rock to be one of Australia’s great cultural exports. You’re probably a fan without even knowing. So, to educate some of you sexy little foreingers in the ways of the pub rock, and remind the handful of Australian readers that you should go to a gig (if not tonight then tomorrow night, and if not tomorrow night then the night after, and so on and so forth), I present to you my top five Australian pub rock bands:

  1. ACDC – Really bloody obvious. Like REALLY obvious.Despite the fact that they’re old and Angus Young should really, really put that fucking schoolboy outfit away already, ACDC are one of Australia’s biggest pub rock exports. They fill out stadiums now, but for years in the 70s they were just up and down the East Coast of Australia playing in sticky, shitty falling down pubs.

    I chose this video because I am an unabashedly fan of “bad video acting” and this is a wonderful example. Also because it emphasises what a maniac Angus Young is.
  2. Hunters and Collectors – You probably like Hunters and Collectors without realising you like Hunters and Collectors. This is largely due to the fact that Pearl Jam covered one of their more anthemic songs. Have a little Throw Your Arms Around Me, for your afternoon

    Once when I was making a CD of Australian tunes for an American friend I asked my father what I should put on it. He said, “What’s that song? You know the one? Whenever it comes on the entire pub gets really emotional and starts hugging and singing along?”  He then proceeded to sing Throw Your Arms Around Me, in a really off-key fashion. I’m not saying that the song doesn’t kind of make people want to do that, I am simply suggesting that at some point my father has been really drunk in a pub screaming along to the Hunters and Collectors. (My father and I have that in common.)
  3. INXS – Again, just another really really obvious one. But I am sucker for handsome. The Australian pub rock scene is not
    reknowned for being populated with overly attractive men. They’re faces with…character? Michael Hutchence, on the other hand…

    Choosing to go with this video because the song is sexy and because it features a pretty impressive mullet (a staple of the Australian pub scene to this day).
  4. Divinyls – I don’t how people feel about the Divinyls being on a pub rock list, but technically their success is largely due to the fact that they were able to play consistently in small venues around Sydney. Ken Cameron had them provide the soundtrack for his film Monkey Grip after he saw them play in a pub in Kings Cross in 1982. I am also including them because I have a crush on Chrissy Amphlett.

    I know you were probably expecting me to put I Touch Myself as the chosen song, but I like this video better because Chrissy manages to be both sexy and terrifying at the same time and apparently that’s something I’m into. (My mother reads this blog. Hi, Mum. Have we spoken about my love of sexy and terrifying women yet? No? Maybe next phone conversation?)
  5. Australian Crawl – There a several other bands that I could (and probably should) include on this list over Australian Crawl, but I have a sentimental attachment to them and to the song Errol in particular. If I had to narrow down what was so notable about Australian Crawl, I would say it’s the fact that, in spite of writing songs with verses and choruses, each song contains about two or three comprehensible words which can be shouted at appropriate times so you can feel like you’re singing along. Unsure what I mean? Have a look.

    Oooooh Errol, I would give anything, just to be like him! And the rest mumbled. I am also very fond of the sheer awkwardness of this video. Why is the singer clothed in a room full of half naked women/half naked bandmates? Why does he look so upset about it? Why is he dancing in a jacuzzi? Why am I laughing so hard?

Right. There ends the lesson on pub rock. I hope you lovely foreign folk learned something. Australians, have you re-evaluated your relationship with small venues and live music in Sydney? Want to help out? GO TO A GODDAMN GIG. Find some friends. Pay the entry fee. Go. It’ll be fun. I promise. Also, if you’re interested in helping save the Annandale you can do so one brick at a time.

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8 thoughts on “Pub Rockin’

      • I would have guessed that ACDC was Scottish (isn’t one of them named Angus and aren’t kilts involved?). Divinyls (whose album I have I really like) I never even considered where they were from and INXS… I might have guessed that they were British due to the whole Paula Yates thing. In my defense, I’m not a music person but could name a dozen Australian actors and/or movies off the top of my head with little trouble. I’m not totally culturally insensitive!

      • Hahaha definitely not culturally insensitive. It’s just interesting to know what people’s perception of that music is particuarly ACDC, Divinyls and INXS because I think they’re ones that loads of people know. But I am very happy to have introduced you to Australian Crawl and Hunters and Collectors, both of whom are excellent.

  1. It’s a shame that one of the reasons that the Annandale faces closure is due to noise complaints. I mean, come on! It’s been there longer than the majority of current residents living around it, they moved in knowing full well that it was an established live music venue, yet they think they can complain about the noise? It really pisses me off. Why would you move next door to a pub if you’re expecting quiet weekends? Bah!

  2. Thanks for this hopefully not yet epitaph. The Annandale is truly sacred, the best night I ever had was seeing a band called the Hard Ons who actually did a cover of AC/DC’s Let There Be Rock with Mr Henry Rollins. Having played most of these venues in my time during the sweaty early 90s it is sad to see the near demise of something that was great. Incidentally Mark Williams has a guitar shop not too far from the Annandale and his claim to fame was the fact that he was AC/DC’s bassist on their first three albums. Iconic pub venues in Sydney and Newcastle – Forest inn Bexley, Three Weeds (rose thistle and shamrock) Rozelle, The Sando in Newtown, The Metro, The Manly Vale, The Star Hotel Newcastle, The Cambridge Newcastle, The Resches Wenty, Selinas (Coogee Bay), The Mercantile. I wonder if they still have live music or poker machines.

  3. Also the guy singing in the Errol film clip is, or was, Guy McDonough. He was the rhythm guitarist from 1980 an only sang lead vocals on this track and on Oh No Not You Again, the regular lead singer was James Reyne. A rather sad note goes with this in that Guy died in 1984 of septicaemia after a failed attempt to cure his deliberating fatigue through a naturopath. In may ways the film clip shows him in happier times with more energy such as spa bath dancing, he was 28. On a less rock and roll note the drummer David Reyne hosted daytime chat TV in the mid 90s.

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