AXXONN tour blog, part 2

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Here’s part two of Tom Hall from AXXONN’s tour blog.

18 February: Toowoomba/Brisbane

Toowoomba is a place that I know little about, bar meeting and knowing a lot of people in Brisbane who have left in search of nicer horizons. I will never rag on someone’s town because one man’s shitter is another man’s kingdom so they say. But to be honest, Toowoomba scares the shit out of me: first I see it as a 10 times larger version of the town I grew up in (Devonport, Tasmania, the land of thugs); secondly, the only people I know from Toowoomba moved away and generally don’t hold it in the highest regard; thirdly, you don’t have to go far before you hear some horror story about something that happened in Toowoomba.

So as myself, Die On Planes and Ambrose Chapel slowly chugged up the mountain in our 4 cylinder Hyundai people-mover, laden with a back line that Motörhead would be proud of (I think Die On Planes’ defence mechanism was to make enough noise that they won’t even get close enough to do anything), we all voice our individual concerns of what could come of the night; we were all willing to call ‘last gig’ before we’d even begun. See, this was where things got good: a long drive, a car full of gear and blokes, it’s my kind of touring, where you can say the first thing that comes into your mind without any judgement.

We arrived at The Spotted Cow (a newish venue doing live music in Toowoomba) to be greeted by a smiling fresh-faced Tom (our sound tech for the night) who was rather impressed when none of us needed microphones and all we wanted was the kick drum mic’d. He seemed rather perplexed by our setup but none-the-less excited, especially when Ian (Ambrose Chapel) engaged in a lengthy conversation about hardcore, thrash, screamo and every other type of metal you could think of; it would seem the sound guy was quite accustomed to the louder stuff, something that always helps.

The manager of the place, Phil, greeted us with six beers (for the five of us) and a smiley face: “What would you like to eat?” Possibly my favourite thing to hear from a venue and had me instantly thinking back to awesome times years ago touring in Europe. We were still hours away from playing and the gig had literally been turned around. Nothing could stop us now, especially with a gut full of Toowoomba’s finest calamari (out of interest how far is the ocean from Toowoomba?). An hour or so went by and I got hungry again so I went for a walk because I couldn’t find Phil to see if I could get some more food (he’d already treated us better than most venues in Australia so I didn’t want to push the friendship). I went to the local servo (home-brand type) to get a milkshake and meat pie except all their pies were out, but the girl behind the counter recommended the ‘made on premises’ hamburger: risky but she was adamant I’d be into it. I gave it a shot and before I’d even got to the corner half of it was gone, it had the works and tasted fucking amazing, best hamburger I had eaten in a good few years (box ticked): the night could only get better from here.

Ambrose Chapel kicks off the evening; to be honest, I thought the sound guy mixed him a little quiet (none of us got to soundcheck). The crowd dug and I think Ian felt relieved to blow out some cobwebs, having not played for a while. Next up Die On Planes with their Sunn O))) backline got on the stage (a very small corner of the venue); they sounded awesome, for me it was like John Butler Trio meets Faust and then drops acid and rolls around in grassy meadows together. The volume was brutal and I watched half the set only about 10 metres away and slowly retreated until I was actually standing on the other side of the road (the stage opened onto the road) where I could only just hear myself think; it was every kind of brutal and I didn’t want it any other way.

Next up, AXXONN: the setup was casual and straightforward and I was more than happy with the quick line check. One local was continuously calling on me to hurry up. After a while he got shitty that I wasn’t playing fast enough and came over to ask exactly what I was going to play for him/them. I simply told him to expect break-beats, which excited him. I don’t recall him being around at all soon after I started. The set came together well and people seemed to be into it; towards the end of the set I had an impromptu collaborator who thought I needed drums, he was going to town on Die On Planes’ kit. Honestly that shit kind of pisses me off, I mean I don’t really care if his drumming added something or not, at the end of the day if I wanted a drummer I’d get one, simple as that. As it happened he was a member from local improv band 6majik9: after the set I got over it and we had a beer together. To cap things off they gave us more free beer and paid us cash straight from the till without invoice.

The trip home to Brisbane continued on a downward slope of debauchery as Rogers got a bag full of lollies from the server, ate them all and then spewed the contents of his gut along the side of our tour van. Two members of Die On Planes fell asleep while a third member put inanimate objects in their mouths. As the driver I felt somewhat responsible for all of this but at the same time the long mind-numbing road back to Brisbane was relieved by all of the above. What scared me most was we had to do it all again the next day… stay tuned for Brisbane.

Toowoomba 8.5/10

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