The city surrenders itself to the night with a sooty belch as the office workers and 9-to-5ers flee by car, bus and train to the suburbs and townships. In the dusky hour before sunset large sections of the inner city become a sort of abandoned post-apocalyptic wasteland… the wind whistles down deserted streets with only the occasional fluttering plastic bag to keep it company.
East of the inner city the gentrification of the warehouse district is only surface-deep. The sun dips behind Lion’s Head, as if it would rather look upon Clifton’s famous beaches than Woodstock’s grittier face. Woodstock had a beach once, decades ago before the warehouses, rail yards and factories were built on land reclaimed from the sea. Looking at old photos of that beach will hurt your head…there’s sea where today half of downtown stands.
The shadows deepen and seem to conjure the people who make their living outside the confines and laws of 9-to-5.
I aim for Three Feathers Diner. I can only find parking on Main road, but it’s near the front entrance to the diner and there’s a big guy manning the door. His suit says 9-to-5, but his face says don’t-even-think-about-it. Unless the prospective car-thief is Chuck Norris, I reckon Alice will be safe.
The usual monthly market is underway. Around the courtyard custom bikes, big Harleys and muscle cars sit on their haunches with a sense of barely contained energy. Somebody turns the ignition on one of the beasts and a throaty V8 rumbles like a volcano. These aren’t toys, they’re built to go.
There are many familiar faces in the crowd; hugs and handshakes are exchanged before I go inside to sample one of the diner’s famous burgers. These are epic in size and equally tasty. Burgers are made to order in true diner-style at an open grill right behind the counter, so you know what goes onto your plate.
We drape ourselves over assorted chairs as Field of Giants prepares to open proceedings. This is one of Joshua Grierson’s projects and tonight is actually the public launch. Joshua’s been around the local music scene for a long time, but it’s been a few years since I last saw him perform. It’s just him, an electric guitar, no mic, and a few pedals. Turns out one of the latter is a loop pedal, which he uses to subtly weave layers of melody and rhythm on top of each other. Loop pedals have in recent years become endemic (some might even say pandemic) in live performance circles. With some acts it feels as if the looping is more important than the music. Field of Giants is thankfully a different story – the loop pedal is merely a means to an end. I assume that in time the act will expand to include various musicians and the loop pedal may disappear altogether. This is instrumental music; evocative and stirring in the same way that great movie soundtracks are. I’m not overly fond of genre-casting, but for the sake of reference I guess this could be called ‘progressive instrumental rock or metal’. Think of acts like Mono, Mogwai or God Is An Astronaut. Field Of Giants includes the occasional use of vocals in odd ways: almost choral, no words, but deeply emotional. Speaking of which, the performance itself is raw and sincere. Joshua’s face and body soar and contort along with the music – there is no sense of self-consciousness or pretension. I speak to Joshua later in the evening and I’m surprised to hear that much of the performance was composed on the fly.
Oh, Cruel Fate has a solid outing in preparation for their first gig on a proper stage within a few days, which I’ll talk about next time.
The weirdo of the night is a girl in a pastel-hued vest who wanders right up to the pinball machine in the middle of the Field of Giants set and plays a few games…which wouldn’t have been all that extraordinary except that the pinball machine is in the stage area and less than a meter behind Joshua. Kudos to him for not missing a beat. Think I’m exaggerating? Just scroll up to the photo above and see how close Joshua was sitting to the pinball machine.
We call it quits at midnight. Parting shot: this installment’s addition to Ye Stupendous Compendium of Free* Potential Band Names is: Pinball Rude.