Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Hayseed Dixie

Thank goodness I don’t believe in karma, or at least that karma doesn't believe in me. Recently I wrote a post about the residents of Mount Dandenong which was rather mean but nevertheless perfectly true. As a result, I felt going to Belgrave on Sunday night to see the Hayseed Dixie concert might not just be tempting fate to bite me on the arse, but to commit upon said orifice acts generally associated with prison showers, soap and large, lonely, socially maladjusted men. Fortunately, dear readers, no mountain man made me his wife that night, although the possibility remained tantalisingly, terrifyingly close throughout the event.

When I was younger, dumber, and ever so slightly more full of bile than I am now, I used to gravitate towards heavy metal bars (ooo, Jon, weren’t you hard!? No, no, just an foolish lad with a penchant for loud music that over-utilised the lyric ‘motherfucker’); therefore, when I say that the crowd at Ruby’s bar was potentially one of the roughest I’ve seen, and certainly the ugliest, I know what I’m talking about. An example: upon entering it took somewhat less than two minutes for a gorilla in a human suit - hulking, soused and broken-nosed; shirt stained with no less than three types of human effluvia – to repeatedly threaten me with violence while tenderly stroking my back.

It was an oddly mixed crowd, though. While the average concert attendee was about six and a half foot tall, weighed three hundred pounds and wore flannel, a grog-soaked beard, and an expression of idiot rage upon a lumpen, pig-eyed face, there was nevertheless a generous smattering of emo kids, hippies and soccer mums: weird.

This is to say nothing of the band, however. I am not a fan of bluegrass music, but I’d been told Hayseed Dixie were something special, and was not disappointed. Coming on stage looking very like the majority of their audience (i.e. over forty, insane, giant and red-necked), they informed everyone straight off the bat that there were only four topics it was right for manly men to sing about – drinkin’, cheatin’, killin’ and hell - before launching into a set played with more goddam brio than most teenage bands (if anyone out there in blog land was lucky enough to see the Wire last year, the energy levels were comparable). Throughout the performance the band kept up a witty repartee, chatting with the audience about the urinary habits of Coldplay, how they felt about Bush (they like it well-manicured), and their love of large women and moonshine. Was it all a piss-take? Of course (hill-billies don’t usually reference Decartes and Rorschach), but they audience either didn’t care or more likely didn’t realise, and they played both original songs and metal covers to the accompaniment of enthusiastic yee-haws, drunken do-si-do-ing (the mountain man’s mosh) and the sound of smashing bottles. Hayseed Dixie were not kidding about their music, though – anything played with such skill and passion is a pleasure to listen to, and while I’ve heard music I liked better, I haven’t had so much fun at a gig in years.

Fun interspersed with worry about one of the locals deciding you're purty enough to stuff in a sack and load in the pick-up truck for later is still fun, in anyone's book.

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