In posting this I want to say this was well BEFORE Tym’s Guitars opened up an actual shop.
Once-upon-a-time someone described Ric’s Bar quite accurately, but rather dispassionately, as a place where no matter where you stood, you felt like you were perpetually in someone’s way — even if you were in a band (playing a show there).
And although I suspect there’s a point in the career’s of most Brisbane bands where they just won’t play there anymore, and it has been at times quite fashionable to dismiss and derail Rics — certainly now, and even in the old days — I will argue it meant a very great deal to a lot of people in Brisbane.
It was sometimes a ‘default’ venue — in other words I’ve found myself saying a billion times, “Aw, there’s nothing else on, let’s go to Ric’s”. But I would argue that is actually quite a compliment to the place. Ric’s is a pretty humble venue where the music was generally good, you always had a familiar face there to chat with and it felt safe and cosy and very, very “Brisbane”.
So this is a story about Ric’s — not quite a history, and not quite a beginning, middle and end tale. And in telling this tale I have asked a few of my friends to help me out with their experiences too.
When I first went to Rics in the late 90s as a terrified, snotty-nosed kid with horrible clothes and the most stupid (but sensible) footwear imaginable I had no idea this humble place would mean so much to me in the future. In this place I saw some of the most awesome shows ever. In this place I played at least the top 5 of the most awesome shows of my life. In this place I met and hooked up with Dee (and many, many of my friends hooked up with their life-long partners too). In this place a billion other very, very cool and meaningful events happened — and some very heartbreaking and profound. Rics, like it or not, was THE centre of A universe that I was wedded to in those days. Like it or not, it was our “local”. It was our natural meeting place. It was where you could go on a Friday or Saturday night (perhaps even through the week too) just on your own, no matter what time, without any worries that you could not bump into a bunch of your mates there already (or just about to arrive).
For the uninitiated — Ric’s is a very small venue that often punched above its weight — through necessity and the circumstance of Brisbane being so devoid of decent live music venues. That tiny space it occupies is at the top of the Valley Mall and gradually it evolved from a ‘quiet/relaxed/sunday-afternoon’ vibe into a place that could accommodate any band — as long as they could fit on that 6 square metre stage.
One thing that differentiates it from almost all other venues in Brisbane — and perhaps all of Australia — is the fact it has always been FREE ENTRY. And as you may have suspected from the words above — I have spent a lot of time at Ric’s. I have certainly PLAYED most of my gigs over my humble rock n roll career at Ric’s and I would bet that I have probably SEEN the most bands I’ve ever seen live at Ric’s.
A “SHIT HOLE”
At this point I know a lot of my peers will look at this subject matter and think, “What a fucking shit-hole. I hated that place” — which was essentially the words of the first person I asked for an opinion. And at times I have felt that vibe, but with the warm, blissful, fuzz of the passage of time (and the beautiful failings of memory), I look back at Rics and I think exponentially of the good times and gloss over all that bad stuff. And there was a lot of bad stuff, but it all seems so trivial and funny in that sense that drama gets endearing once you aren’t there anymore.
I think people got over Ric’s was because it eventually got quite MOR successful. But it’s eventual mainstream popularity was more to do with the Valley itself being suddenly “de jour” with ‘city nightclubbers’ than any planning on its behalf.
And like a deer startled by the headlights of a bogan 4WD heading straight at it — it managed to just jump out of the way of oblivion by slowly playing catchup.
So it got “serious” with a stage and more security and that second entrance when it got late enough. And a lot of deadshits started frequenting the place. I first knew something was up when one Saturday night I went to see this band from Perth called “Turnstyle“. They were one of my favourite indie bands but just before they played I was denied entry inside because I was wearing Doc Martins, Vinnies old-man-trousers and a cowboy shirt. The guy at the door explained quite matter-of-factly: “Sorry, but this is a t-shirt and sneakers venue”.
Rather than protest or wallow in that extreme rejection I treated this as brutal but necessary constructive criticism and a wake-up-call. A few days later I went out and bought some sneakers and hid those Docs in the most inaccessible region under the bed.
And the success of Ric’s got even more real when a few years later, around 2005, the Brunettes from New Zealand were playing there and outside was a line up that stretched for 50 metres or so. And I pretty sure it was a Thursday night. Wow. Our ‘local’ was growing up. I didn’t get to see the Brunettes that night but I still felt part of history just being outside and witnessing the spectacle.
Photo by Michelle Brown
The other reason certain people started hating on Ric’s was because of a venue just around the corner called “610”. And I have documented about the phenomenon that was 610 so you’ll just have to read it. Or if you can’t be bothered — just suffer this very simplistic interpretation of that vibe at the time: one of the biggest ‘characters’ in the scene at the time, and a major promotor of ‘indie’ shows, decided 610 was cool and Ric’s wasn’t cool anymore. And thus 610 was about the ‘kids’ and Ric’s was about the ‘establishment’. And more accurately (and quite base at the same time) 610 was BYO and sans-security whereas Rics was the opposite. (In other words you could party seeing some equally shithouse and equally some very cool bands at the same time saving a lot of money in the process and looking quite fashionable.)
There were very vocal and influential proponents of this philosophy and I guess a lot of people got caught up in it. (Possibly myself included — cause I fucking loved 610.) But when 610 imploded all that rubbish was forgotten and people started coming back to Ric’s.
AND YES: GETTING BACK TO RIC’S
Ric’s in the 90s and 2000s was small but NOT small at the same time. It was not quite a TARDIS but I would describe Ric’s as a series of vignettes. And in this way it could seem almost grand and spacious.
The performance area was tiny. (Until recently when they moved the sound booth) it has been the space from the roadside wall across to about 1.5 metres from the bar where the DJ/sound booth sat.
This is my humble drawing of the layout.
Of note, the toilet area was, well, “eccentric”. It was this dirty, shitty, mostly outdoor place out the back through a winding passage past the pinball machine (and below) and next to the iron backstairs up to level 2. Further back was this big fridge thing that looked like a ship container which was eventually locked after someone decided to piss inside it. But despite all this nonsense the toilet area was another zone where you could chill with your friends and it didn’t really matter that you could see the guys pissing through the gaping door-less opening to the men’s toilet or see someone doing lines through the window. Indeed these facilities became almost non-gender specific as every other user of the male side toilet was a woman.
And the graffito on the walls was always a fantastic insight into what was happening in the scene. If you had something derogatory (or occasionally complimentary) posted there — you knew you were a somebody.
BACK IN THE DAY
My first memories of Rics were when it wasn’t quite a “proper live venue”. With its ‘no cover charge vibe’ I guess it almost felt like a ‘little place’. But it was quite the opposite. A lot of really, really good bands or side-projects of really good bands would play and it was the kinda venue you could invite your friends or your parents to.
In those days Rics had bands playing on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and even evening gigs were usually “quiet” bands, jazz stuff or acts playing their more laid-back material. You could rock out I guess, but in an intimate, softer way. I remember when we first got a show there I was unnecessarily flustered, determined to put as many clean songs into the set without sounding all wimpy and non-rock.
Part of that vibe was the fact there was no stage in those days. You just played on a bit of carpet and there was a shelf behind where you could sit a smallish amp. If the room was fucking packed — like that time I saw Miami’s CD Launch — you couldn’t see anything (and I am 6″ tall) but the vibe was amazing.
THE FIRST HORRIFIC TIME I PLAYED AT RIC’S
My fledging first band was gifted a support at Ric’s one Thursday or Wednesday night by David McCormack. It was the first time I played there and this was in the days before a stage and I had seen other bands rest their amps up on this thin shelf behind so I thought that was what the cool kids did so I dutifully copied. And then during our last song I was strumming away and suddenly no sound was coming out and I checked my lead and the volume and eventually I looked up in some apologetic notion to the audience and they all looked horrified and were gazing not quite AT me, but directly BEHIND me. And I swung around and saw my amp had fallen off the shelf and punched the two leads flush inside. When I lifted it back up it refused to resume working so that was the end of the gig. We got a big applause — probably out of extreme sympathy.
In the late 90s and early 2000s a lot of new apartments were built in and around the Mall area and these people started complaining about live music noise — which is a bit like someone buying a house next to an expressway and complaining about too much traffic noise. So in 2004 the government imposed draconian noise restrictions upon the valley — Rics included. And then my band had a gig there, only about a week later (from memory) and we couldn’t play with amps — everything amplified had to go through the desk. It was surreal. It was the strangest gig of my life.
ANNA (pictured above avec awesome left arm tat), the soundbabe in the 2000s: “Ric’s was a pretty weird time in my life and a lot of fucked-up stuff happened to me while I was the sound guy there. On the whole, though, I feel like I got more good stuff out of it than bad. The good – I have a handful of true friends from this time, people I think the world of, who I would never have met had I not worked there- ie Racheal Johnston (an ass-kicker, genius, and one of the greatest supporters I’ll ever have), and Heather Mansfield (who later gave me an entirely new life when she asked me to tour with her band, the Brunettes, in the US). I saw some absolutely astounding shows that shaped how I think of music and performance to this day. The bad, I’ve mostly let go of now. Please note, haters, that I absolutely LOATHED enforcing the noise restrictions. I was 20 when I started that job; the final responsibility should NEVER have been on my inexperienced, intimidated little shoulders. I’ve pretty well atoned for that one though – I mixed Lightning Bolt a couple times last year, and I’d say the Coachella set got up to 118dBa at times.”
I was so appalled I wrote my very first and only letter to my local MP about this issue — which was a big deal cause I worked for years in an MPs office and I was convinced 99% of people who wrote letters to MPs were certifiable.
This was the response: (not by Peter Beattie, my local MP, but the Minister for Liquor etc)
It was just all so wrong. And sound people running around looking so defeated looking intensely at these noise-meter contraptions is so, so silly. Beside the fact a noise meter is like a DAD-O-METER — “Oh, these noise levels will cause irreparable damage” — it just put a big dent in the evening. It felt like everything was being monitored. Like THE MAN was always watching you, ready to shut everything down — even at this humble music venue where everyone was mostly just minding their own business and having a good time.
Anyway — only about 6 agonizing months later there was some special cultural zone applied to the Valley and we could all rock out again. Yes!
David McCormack of Custard: “One of my fondest memories of Ric’s is when me and Paul Medew and Glenn Thompson became Grant McLennan’s backing back for a month long residency. We got to play a whole lot of Grant’s solo songs and some GB classics. It was just before we recorded Loverama and just before I moved to Sydney and everything changed.”
And David was there with Grant on stage at Ric’s only a week before he died.
Grant McLennan was one of the singer/guitarists in the Go-Betweens. Most people had a favourite — you were a “Grant” type or a “Robert” type. Grant, at least superficially, was the straighter one. Less theatrical and more reserved. More up and down, rather than side to side — someone so compulsively charming you would have no fear taking home to dinner with your mother.
Anyway, Grant had a stool at Rics. It didn’t have his name on it or anything like that — but it was his chair.
It was at the side of the bar heading towards the back and he would be there — sometimes a few nights a week — drinking his own version of a Long Island Ice Tea. All the bar staff knew how to make it for him. And you wouldn’t even notice he was there. (And when Grant died tourists from all over the world would come to Rics just to see Grant’s stool.)
The last time I saw Grant was when he sang that last song in David McCormack’s set. The last lines are “Putting out a fire”— over and over. And that Saturday he was gone.
David McCormack (centre) at a early Custard gig at QUT — maybe 1991?
We found out a few minutes after we got to Ric’s that night. Wintah, Ben and me — the Little Lovers at the time — had just had a Saturday night practice and we were mingling around and lost eachother. So eventually I went looking for the other two and found them upstairs. They were at the very top DJ booth which was high above the floor and you needed to climb up a ladder and they were talking to Matt Brady (I think) and I was pulling faces at them from below — just being a dickhead — but they just looked at me ashen-faced and black with something that could only mean really, really bad news.
And Wintah (pictured above), whose dad played drums in the Go-Betweens, had been invited to Grant’s party that night. He took it pretty hard. There were tears and a dark, dark malaise. I remember I tried to break up with this woman I was with at the time cause she was so dismissive and unfeeling — when all I could do was “feel”.
And below — Ric’s in modernity:
NEXT PART (COMING SOON!):
And this is me in 2006 drunk texting while climbing the stairs to the second level. More on that later…
Talking to the Ric Frearson, the “Ric” in Ric’s, Smoking and Lockout. Dancing. That Del Toro gig. The CHARACTERS of Rics. Meeting Dee, the Little Lovers and the crazy days of 2006 plus much, much more.
This week I feel like I am in Twin Peaks being stalked by one armed men.
See on friday the new washing machine was delivered and front-loading washing machines are fucking heavy and our driveway is seriously steep and the dude arrived with the trolley and the box already on it and made it down the driveway and up this big step and into the laundry not needing any help from me. And we were chatting about the “transit bolts”* and stuff and it was then I noticed he was missing a big chunk of his left arm — namely anything halfway down the forearm. Like a total fucking fool I suddenly couldn’t finish the sentence I was saying and I am lucky I didn’t fall over in amazement.
And then last night at the omnium I was resoundingly hammered by that incredible youngster who has almost the same condition.
My mum says everything happens in threes so I am waiting for Mike to show up.
But Mike’s cool. He can visit anytime.
And so I googled and managed to contact Cernak (and with a name like that it wasn’t hard!) and she was happy to hear from me and told me where the view her picture was based on was located. The picture below was taken at street level where the image was drawn from the view from the Hanlon building across the road which is a lot higher.
And above is the Hanlon Building where Cernak lived back in the 70s.
Being stupid-arty on the Bicentennial bikeway
And today I met Tom for a short ride up Coot-tha and then over to Mt Gravatt.
The view from Mt Gravatt is a little hindered by trees, but I think it is actually better than Coot-tha — maybe just cause you can see Mt Coot-tha and it’s dreamy TV towers — something I have loved ever since I was a kid. (Cause TV was like magic to a 6 year old and those towers were like totems to that magic).
On the way home my route got blocked by some street market.
And then I got to the Baroona Road shops and pulled apart my saddle bag to get at my emergency $10 and bought fish n chips for lunch. YUM. And so I took a self-portrait while I waited just to celebrate.
* See I only know about transit bolts because I learnt about them the HARD WAY. That story involved But naturally I didn’t mention that to him and pretended I was just super-streetwise when it came to washing machines.
This is what happens when you do not remove the transit bolts. The machine starts acting like it’s having an epileptic fit. Above Dee is trying her best to stop it shaking.
And this is Moochey — my old cat (RIP) — getting a bit weirded out by the new appliance. Also of note is that OLD WASHING MACHINE with its very checkered history.
Scott was so, so excited about today. An Omnium was like Track Racing Christmas for him. And I thought I was an exceptionally passionate soul — but Scott shits all over me in this department. Just rips me to shreds. He had to give me a lift cause Dee had stolen the car for her hen’s weekend adventures up in the Pomona wilderness.
In the car I could see he was almost shaking with excitement and also a healthy dose of fretting. He kept saying, “What have I forgotten to bring?” Yet he had bags and bags of stuff including a $40 trip to the supermarket which accounted for the two grey Coles plastic bags full of snacks and healthy bike-fuel.
He had brought various sets of wheels, extra chainrings, cogs, tools — you name it. And yet we still had to stop at Gear for the most expensive lockring he could buy — cause some wheelset absolutely needed it.
Meanwhile I was just coming along for the adventure — not really caring about outcomes. I had mashed out a ride already this morning so my legs were a bit damaged. But when the event came upon me I kinda regretted that effort and realised I was competing so I wanted to be just a tiny shadow of what awesomeness I can muster. Scott instinctively knew I just might want to compete (perhaps actually ignoring my protestations) and had decided I needed a better wheelset and had brought along his Woblers (from his Rossin) and they didn’t just do the shit — they looked the shit too. I offered to buy them but Scott said, “Fuck off.”
So we only got about 5 or 6 minutes of warmup and then it was a massive waiting game while other divisions raced.
I guess that’s where the lustre wore off for me cause it was fun racing, but it was a shitload of waiting in between sets.
Of course Scott just buzzed the whole way through it. “I love this! I am so happy!” he kept saying.
And it got really, really cold when the sun went down and it seemed a bit more like camping than track racing. I was suddenly telling bad jokes and we were all wrapped up in doonas and blankets huddled together and eating chips and looking at flammable things with a bit too much interest. Red eventually caved and rode home.
My first race was the “flying 200” which is essentially a lap of the velodrome from a rolling start. I thought I did OK except I rubbed off a bit of speed just rocking the bike a bit too much with my mashing. It may seem crazy but I had never gotten out of the saddle here. And I was too scared to attempt this — so maybe that fucked me up a bit too. (Later I managed it — just through necessity)
Meanwhile Shirts had too tiny a gear and I could see him just spinning out and unable to get any faster. It was a bit weird seeing him a bit handicapped but I am getting used to the fact that Track racing is not just power, but decisions and strategy.
The 30 lap points race was next and I knew this would be chaotic and an ordeal but I just went along with it. I tried to grab Shirts’ wheel but I lost the main pack after 6 laps and was on my own for ages. And then I realised Jesse was behind me so we worked together to finish the race. Which really fucking hurt, but we did it. Even though we got lapped twice and had to scream at the front crew that we were still racing when they started acting like drunkards all over the track. One fucking idiot, perhaps trying to be a hard-on, screamed at me, “the race is finished” and I was like, “You lapped us, UGH!”
I only did one more race and it was the 6 lap “Pursuit”. And just quietly: I was up against a ParaOlympian. (And thus a very, very good rider). And so when he lapped me on the final lap with his rear-wheel disc spinning up this “whoosh, whoosh, whoosh of EPIC DOOM” it was horribly deflating. I was already feeling so tired and slow and generally pathetic. My friends in the crowd watching were spurring me on in the early laps but then they got quite deathly silent as I spun past and I knew something terrible was about to happen.
So that, and the cold and the fact things were just going so slow meant I took an opportunity to get a ride home with Jesse. When I left I heard that Scott was ahead in “elite B”. GO SCOTTY!
And here are some pics — some by me, some by Red and some by Nate.
This is me grimacing on the flying 200
A lot of people took this waaay too seriously. Kids came out with “sperm helmets” and everyone seemed to be switching to TT bars for the pursuit. I was out of my depth. Way out of my depth.
Scott and Jesse having FUN!
The very first time I ever rode a bike was the day I had my very first bike crash.
It was my 7th birthday.
I looked like this:
We were living in a rented house on Seventh Avenue, which sounded glamourous, but it was just the Seventh Avenue in the hum-drum suburb of Kedron, Brisbane.
I keep telling people how poor we were growing up but no one seems to really believe me and even I don’t believe how far I have come when I arrive home to this amazing house Dee and I now live in. And reminded of our home’s incredible value from the blog I wrote yesterday — plus in the many times the house and I share alone together — instead of an empty, lonely feeling, I melt into this place with all it’s beautiful furniture and art and personal details and I feel supremely good and I remember so acutely that I should also feel incredibly grateful and privileged.
But I’ve digressed.
That magical birthday morning in September started with presents from relatives and a present from Dad and Mum. Once everything was opened I was entirely satisfied with my haul but my Dad suddenly announced there was one more present and I’d have to follow him to get it.
Curiously I followed him through the house and then downstairs and around the car and then we were suddenly upon something leaning up against one of the house stumps. I recognised it as a maroon-coloured bicycle but I was still waiting for the actual present. I looked at it for a few seconds in bewilderment but then realised when Dad was looking at me expectantly for some emotion. And then it hit me: the bike was the present. And then eventually I said to my father very soberly, and this is VERBATIM: “Is this for me?”
And he said, “Yes!” Almost as bewildered as me that he had to answer such a question.
I was still not entirely convinced this was all real and was perhaps just a tiny bit wondering if Dad had mixed this present up with another kid. So I touched it as delicately as I could like this was all a dream and it in fact belonged to someone else like I had guessed all along.
Eventually when it seemed like no one else was going to claim the bike for their own and Dad hadn’t said, “Just kidding kid, as if we could afford this bad-boy” I decided it was in fact MINE. A very, very alien feeling for something so big and shiny and new and mechanical. And so there was no SCREAMING FIT of excitement, just a very, very slow and steady realisation. I guess that was disappointing for dad, but I can assure him now it was just as amazing a feeling as that kid felt in the video back there. Maybe.
Anyway — until that day I had never ridden a bike*. I know that seems crazy cause kids today ride all sorts of two-wheeled contraptions — like balance-bikes — to prepare them for real bikes. And indeed there are plenty of very small bikes suitable for kids as young as 3 or 4. But in my day, that stuff wasn’t really around.
So Dad was like, “Do you want to try it?” And I was utterly petrified but had to agree seeing as Dad (and, I learnt later, some other benefactors) had gone to so much trouble.
Dad promised to hold onto the back of the bike as I rolled around our deserted early morning street and that worked well and I was gaining confidence. Then about three go’s later I looked back and dad wasn’t there holding the bike — he was back in the distance looking pleased with himself — and me, well I was suddenly riding on my own and I panicked and immediately crashed. From memory it was pretty low speed and I think I even got a healthy bit of foot down so there were no cuts or scrapes — just a very, very sudden stop and a healthy dose of shock.
But then I had a bike and I kinda knew how to ride it. And I’d like to say I embraced it, but in reality I did pretty stupid things like walking it up a hill and freewheeling down. It was a few years later when the BMX craze hit before biking got cool again and this bike — a roadster — was horribly passe. But that is another story.
A bit later — I think I was 10 here.
* I had a tricycle as a toddler
I am just a tiny, tiny bit chuffed tonight — and very appreciative — cause it seems this blog will creep over 10,000 hits tonight in it’s short history.
And I cannot lie — it has taken some effort to get to this stage. I am even getting a bit neurotic about it. I am forever, “What am I gonna blog about next?” and taking a camera with me everywhere I go and just constantly OVER-SHARING. Even sharing stuff I promised I would never do. And this takes some chips out of your soul. But perhaps these ‘chips’ are replaceable with more awesome ones. We shall see when the dust settles on this little experiment.
And it is an experiment. It is just something different I wanted to do to keep things interesting.
And I am getting used to this blogging thing. I think I am even approaching it a little too scientifically as well. Cause I realise pictures are what people are mostly interested in, plus stories of me failing (which aren’t that hard to come by) and any shitty-boring-fact-picture I want to illustrate — if I put the cat in it or Dee — then it will be 10 times more popular.
A lot of people have said they enjoy this little adventure. Except Red who the other day said he only reads my blog for the bike stuff (which he appreciated) but he said he wouldn’t bookmark it cause if he looks at it any other time — he just sees “all this shit about your cat”. TRUE STORY.
Anyway. I am doing this just cause it is fun and I like writing and I like taking shitty pictures and I also, just quietly, like getting hits.
So thank you everyone who has indulged me.
BONUS PIC – TOTAL OVERSHARE! (Dee and I doing those pore-pack treatments where you get to suck out 100 zits at once. AWESOME!)
Once upon a time I did this Brisbane band (“brisband”) family tree. It started as “something to do” over the forced Christmas vacation in 2004. The idea came from the first article in Rolling Stone about Custard (which wasn’t actually about Custard) and how they were in and related to so many other bands in Spring Hill. So thus inspired I realised I could do my own little network — all visually displayed like spaghetti and meatballs.
Initially it was purely narcissistic. I just wanted to prove my band was related (and thus perhaps on a par) to a whole lot of much more awesome bands. But then it just kept growing.
EVERYONE in a Brisbane band seemed interested. But, just quietly, more than interested. When they saw it they were like, “Holy shit!”. And then EVERYONE wanted to help.
So, apart from reaching out to bands via the internet, I printed this bad-boy out on A3 paper and took it to all the shows I went to and thrust it into people’s faces (and shoved a pen in there too) and said, “Can you add to this or clean up any mistakes?”
Without exception, everyone was happy to help and it really did give me a great opportunity to meet a lot of people. In those days I was much younger and shyer and just generally a dickhead. So the “tree” was such a facilitator.
It got so nuts I just had to stop. It just couldn’t be displayed in a LINEAR/2D fashion anymore. Plus I got bored so above is a snap-shot in time. It has lots of mistakes apparently, but it is the best I could do. My friend Mongoloid Dave has posted it on his website ever since 2004 and he tells me it gets downloaded the most out of all the other awesome stuff he makes available. Weird!
And I am acutely reminded of it tonight because the only reason I know of “Clag” – see the previous blog — is because I discovered them through the tree. They had broken up by the time I was ‘around’ and I only knew their songs through the magic of MP3s on the internet.
HI RES VERSION:
I came so very, very close to going over the bonnet of a car this evening, which kinda made a big dent in what was a great afternoon of seeing Clag for the first time, catching up with some old mates and just generally having a good time.
It was on Baroona Road and I don’t know how the idiot driver didn’t see me — I was owning the entire left lane and I had a Knog Boomer flashing with all it’s retina-burning intensity. Yet a car tried to turn right — and thus right over the top of me. I yelled, braked and hooked left (almost in that order). Anything I could do to avoid what looked like another certain bike crash. But so very luckily the driver heard/saw me and screached to a stop halfway across the intersection and because I had veered enough to the left, we didn’t come into contact.
Even though she stopped to apologise I still swore at her with the intensity she deserved and all the rage inside me having had such close calls so many, many times before. I also told her that it didn’t necessarily matter that she hadn’t hit me – it still hurt me as a bike rider.
Anyway — that stuff documented — this blog is about Clag’s first Brisbane show in AGES.
Clag is an important band as far as Brisbane is concerned. They were the epitome of those bands full of people without much musical talent — just having a go and writing the best songs they could — which were simple and stupid — but it came from the heart. It was unprecedented in those early 90s, yet nowadays every second band from Brooklyn seems to be deliberately “shit” like they are harvesting some lo-lo-fi gimmick. Yet Clag were honest. And mostly all-girl and with a set that meant they were constantly derided at shows. I can’t imagine what they went through. But they were good and decent and in their own way — worthy.
It’s been a feast of alleycats of late and the latest was Bridges of Brisbane 3.
The idea here was to visit 8 of Brisbane’s bridges choosing your own route and the order and noting down some clue at a specific spot or doing some activity with the checkpoint person at the 3 bridges that had someone there to greet you.
There was only really two choices about the order — clockwise or counter-clockwise.
Upon some discussion with Scott and Shirts about the fact the Story Bridge checkpoint was on the footpath on the eastern side I changed my original plan and decided to go counter-clockwise.
But as it turns out that was all moot as I DNF‘d. But more on that later.
It was a simultaneous mass-start and I smashed off with what seemed like two-thirds of the 20ish participants and got a decent run all the way to the ‘Swamp Bridge’ at Stones Corner to find it without its appointed caretaker. It seems Marty had got a bit excited and went past this bridge to take up a lonely position on a different bridge 1km further down the road. LOL.
So the 8 or so of us in this bewildered daze eventually just decided to push on. On O’Keefe Street Shirts and Scott went straight ahead (they’d worked out a shortcut) while I led everyone else along the bikepath. They put at least 30 seconds on us with this little trick which Shirts told me later he had thoroughly researched including investigating elevation differences.
Meanwhile I felt my saddle behaving oddly. It seemed I was slipping forward but I dismissed it as just the fact I had knicks under my shorts. At the other side of the Eleanor Schonell Bridge Shirts was already caning it back towards the city with Scott just behind. Kristine gave us all a peg (which I attached to a brake-lever) and we pressed on.
It was just Jordy, me and Red at the top of Annerley Road and I told everyone to grab my wheel cause with gears I could be better use to the group on this downhill. And on the Goodwill Bridge I jumped off the bike to find the clue we had to note down and it was then I felt my saddle was actually bending. Not good. Instantly I knew it was too dangerous to continue racing so the others rode off and I wondered what to do. The saddle was cracked in several places but seemed like it was stable enough to make it back to Dan and Kath’s at the start/finish.
But it was hard to go from “race-face” to a boy with a broken bike limping home — especially when everyone else was out there having so much fun — so I decided to go to the Story Bridge checkpoint and wait for Shirts. So I rolled off via the Kangaroo Point cliffs and waited about 5 or 6 minutes and then followed him back from there. I smashed out of the saddle almost the whole way but it hurt so much trying to rest your legs just standing on the pedals. OW. We both got a great run and negotiated the final tricky bit — getting across Shafston Road (which has this huge traffic island in the middle) — with the help of a green light and no traffic on the wrong side of the road (which we took for 2 blocks).
Shirts got a time of around 35 minutes — which I think was quicker than the time Declan did when he won the first Bridge Battle when there was only 6 bridges to visit.
Red, who came second, told us later he had run across 6 lanes of road at the northern end of the Story Bridge amidst honking and general craziness. I would have killed to see this!
Naturally I got rather wasted at the end and was rolling around the ground at several points in fits of laughter and at one point jumped over the fire attempting to do a heal-click as I did so. I was informed later that lycra is highly flammable and that possibly wasn’t a great idea. “Ok,” I said.
Of note when I attempted said “over-the-fire-heel-click” I actually missed my left heel and instead took a big chunk of skin out of my ankle — which was only noticeable when it started hurting like a motherfucker when I got home and into bed. Oh Davey, when will you learn?
So sorry about the poor quality of the photos. The little camera isn’t that great at low-light shots and plus I got a bit too fascinated by the fire in the state I was in.
This is BEFORE and below is AFTER: