Saturday, January 29, 2011

Because We Don't Do Everything Together - Deftones, UNSW Roundhouse - Sydney - 28 January 2011

I'm not a huge metal fan but there are a few acts that really rock my world.  And of these, my favourite is, without a doubt, Deftones.  I've been a fan of theirs since I first heard Around The Fur.  But listening to them is not anything like seeing them live.  Thanks to a Christmas present from Mine, this is exactly what I was going to be doing.

Their only side-show in Sydney while touring with the Big Day Out, Deftones made it an all-ages to accommodate their younger fans.  As a consequence, I barely had time to look at the merch stand (disappointing) before Deftones started their set.  I raced up stairs to the balcony level and was surprised by how good a view I was able to get.  Even so, the few photos I took with my phone don't really do the position justice.  And of course, being the sort of gig it is, the constant jostling made it even more difficult.  See what I mean: 

Looking down on the thrashing sea (well, large pond) of punters, I was glad to be standing in the relative calm on the balcony.  Stand-in bass player, Sergio, looked to be at home with the rest of the band, working seamlessly with Abe Cunningham's percussion and darting between his mic and the front of the stage, while Stephen Carter's hulking presence is personified by his massive guitar riffs layering over Frank Delgado's keys and soundscapes.  

But if the night belongs to anyone, it is to Chino Moreno, who not only held the audience in the palm of his hands but whose vocals were every bit as powerful as they are on record. Standing on a platform over the top of the fold-back speakers, it wasn't hard to imagine it as an altar, with Chino sacrificing his voice over and over, much to the delight of the sweaty throng.  

The set, a massive 23 songs, included material from all their releases.  I loved hearing older tracks like Minerva, Nosebleed, My Own Summer (Shove It) and personal favourite Around The Fur.  I was a little disappointed they didn't play Back To School but with six albums of material, its not hard to understand why it didn't make it.  There is no denying the power of the new tracks included in the the set however.  Diamond Eyes was made to be performed live while Sextape provides a welcome change of pace between Royal and big crowd favourite, Rocket Skates.  Check out the full set list here.

I'm sure Deftones have no problems playing the big stages, but there is nothing like seeing a band such as this in a small venue.  And while it's still early in the year and I may end up eating these words; could this be a contender for gig of 2011?  Only time will tell, I guess.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Forays Into Forgotten Vinyl - Vinyl Tidings


Mine and YourZ truly were weaned on a diet of flat black plastic growing up.  As we moved from teen petulance to young adult… well, erm, petulance, our vinyl collections were suddenly usurped by digital interlopers called CDs.  Because we (and yes, I have the courage, in this instance, to speak for both of us) are attracted by bright shiny things, our poor vinyl collections were superseded.  

Also out were the good old reliable turntables, replaced first by CD players then by DVD players.  We loved the new technology because we could pogo, mosh and/or bump'n'grind in front of the stereo without any fear of a causing a skip, jump or scratch.

Unlike most, however, we couldn’t let go of our albums.  When we combined households years ago, we both dragged two crates of records into the mix as well.  We used the full as speaker stands but found the more we looked at them, the more we longed for a record player.

Then late last year, Mine purchased, for a modest price, a Technics SL-D2 direct drive turntable (which apparently was considered quite good in its day).  Soon after, she also got a great preamp as a Christmas present. And this is where the music part of this post starts.

Christmas Day, instead of traditional carols, we played every single Midnight Oil album and the one single we owned.  It was like listening to a time machine, a powerful reminder of days gone by.  We listened to lots of other music too - The Flowers, Divinyls, John Kennedy, Paul Kelly, The Hollowmen and INXS, to name just the Australian acts (or at least those we could remember - we had a very jolly Christmas).  But it was Midnight Oil who ruled the day.  

We started with Place Without A Postcard, followed by Head Injuries, then 10, 9, 8..., Red Sails In The Sunset and the Power And The Passion single with a dub version on the B side - not necessarily in the right chronological order, but close.  As I listened, I felt connected with a time when life was stretched way out in front of me, brimming with all sorts of possibilities.  It teased me with the exuberance of youth I no longer have while reminding me of how good I have it now.  It was also the perfect way to spend a Christmas Day with the one I love.



While many of my friends and acquaintances have chosen to throw away their vinyl collection, I've never been able to my records go.  While more and more old music is re-released on CD and for download, many of the albums I loved in my youth miss out.  So for some time now, I've trawled the pages of eBay looking for my holy grail - a Direct Drive turntable in good condition at a reasonable price.

I have to confess that I bought this particular model because it was one I'd used before.  In fact, when my first husband bought it sometime in the late 70s it was very expensive and state-of-the-art.  I love the fact that it has a series of black lines on the side of the platen - so you can adjust the speed for pin-point 33 and 45 rpm speeds.

When I first bought it, we went in search of a phono preamp and picked one up for a very small sum.  Be warned, cheap preamps aren't worth the cash, and we abandoned our first vinyl session pretty quickly after finding a bass hum - probably because it wasn't earthed.  But Christmas Day dawned and the first crisp, clear notes rang out.  As did the hisses and crackles from long-ago times, and the odd jump as we re-learned to tip-toe past the turntable. (Do you have the same song in your head that I do?)

What I thought was remarkable about the rest of that day wasn't that we chose to play all our Midnight Oil (come on, Peter Garrett is our federal MP!) but that there were very few arguments about what we were going to play.  We pulled out lots of albums, scattered them all around the room and had a hoot of a time.  We danced (well, I danced), sang and generally carried on as if we were 20 years younger.

More please.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Comeback

Yes, we can hear you.  We know we've been a bit slack but as you can see, we put our designers to work while we swanned about enjoying time with family and friends - indulging ourselves copiously and often.  Twas the season to be jolly and all...

We talked a lot about where we might take the whole 'YourZenMine' thing once we'd finished our initial challenge.  All the hours spend at endless meetings, the arguments and debates can be condensed to the following five categories:
  1. What Isn't On Our Ipod
  2. Forays Into Forgotten Vinyl
  3. Visual Aspects
  4. Because We Don't Do Everything Together
  5. A Way With Words
The meanings of each of these is either evident or will become so as we continue.  

The astute among you will also notice the ratings have changed to suit our broader interests.  Feel free to make use of these any time you fancy.

And off we go...