Saturday, February 28, 2009

Section 8

Last night after a quick drink at the office, a bunch of us walked down Little Bourke into Chinatown, to find Section 8. A countainer, with crates around, in an old carpark, sectioned off with a wire fence - a great little outside bar in the heart of the city.

For Nikki's birthday drinks there was quite a turn out, and we soon filled a couple of levels of crates. Spotting the much loved Havana Club, I ended up buying Mojitos for me and the birthday girl...and had to drink both in the end, shame!

A young, trendy crowd, this little yard was filled with hipster dress code, the heat not deterring any of the gathering. A good selection of beers in bottles, and a full range of spirits, the service is fast and attentive.

As more clear spirits were consumed, the light faded, and the Fletcher's arrived from Sydney. Tim and I ended up joining the birthday dinner at Supper Inn around into another back alleyway of Chinatown.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Spring Tropfest

Yesterday, after waking up unusually early to watch the footy replay, I eventually made it into town and to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl for this year's Tropfest. Handed a cardboard seat (brilliant!) as I walked in, I joined Melissa and Dianna, and crew, along with the growing crowd to prepare for the night of short films.

Dianna put on a massive spread for the group, with potato salad to die for, whilst the Tropscore acts played. But as the sun set, the screening began, with the finalists shown. This years signature item was 'spring' which presented literally, seasonally, and some we didn't actually spot at all....but they must have been there!

Many of this years films had the crowd laughing out loud, with The Furry Cheque Book and Bargin! being my favourites. Creative use of a barter system, and then a cheeky perve...hee hee.

Plain silly funny were Notes From A Scaresmith, Jackie's Spring Palace. And then there was Gyton Grantley playing himself being mistaken in Being Carl Williams - second place of the competition.

Films with a punch at the end included Fences, which eventually came third for the night, NYE, The News, and Gyton Grantley again in Beyond Words.

The winner of this year was Be My Brother, portraying a lad with Downs Syndrome charming a woman at a bus stop. We were entertained by Tim Finn during intermission, topping another great night of cutting edge film makers trying to get a foot in the industry.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Nikki's Birthday Pub Crawl Extravaganza

After 5 whole months of planning and counting down and talking about it, Nikki's birthday pub crawl finally arrived yesterday. I met Nikki and Layne for breakfast at Slice, for a simple, sturdy feed to start the day.

As 12pm hit, and Layne and I started dreaming about our first beer we headed to the first stop on our route, the Duke of find it not open! Oops! Our second pub was another couple of blocks away, and so we had two pots at the Oxford Scholar. Here we were joined by Kylee and Tim, and Melissa, before "N" adorned Stacey and Andrew arrived in time to walk with us to the next stop.

Alissa and Michelle found us as we were leaving the pub, and we walked around the corner on Franklin Street to Mac's - which is an old looking pub hiding the bar Miss Libertine's. Amazing deco inside, this venue had the group grow with Bree and Kelly, Michelle, the Sydney crew, as jugs of beer were passed around among vodkas.

Walking past a closed Stork, our group merged through the market crowd to find the awesome balcony of the Mercat Cross. Joined here by Dan and co, Mary and Dan, we took in our pots overlooking the city and busy Queen Victoria Market below.

Up to Victoria Street, Kylee and I found a closed Public Bar, before we all went into the crusty front bar of Central Club for a very quick drink stop, while Justin and Rex joined us. Next stop was Bev and Mick's Backpackers Vic Hotel to mingle with the travellers for a drink.

A stop off the map to one of my favourite pubs, The Drunken Poet, with Siobhan serving our growing group on what would have been a quiet Saturday afternoon.

Getting back to the map, we headed to the Royal Standard, where we found no football coverage, to our dislike. The Carron Tavern was next, where I'm told we had our jagerbombs...jager has messed with me since being back on the drink, and has caused memory blanks afterwards....hmmmm.

We made it to the Royal Mail where we filled the front room. I am fairly sure I must have skipped the Mooma, before finding myself at the Railway for quite some time on my own, ahead of the group.

When the rest of the group arrived I was settled in with a beer, and Melissa was banned from ordering anything after making the barman unhappy by ringing his bell! Hee hee.

With the station right there, the group got a train into town, and I had dinner with half the crawl group at Young and Jackson, before hitting the wall after a long day of drinking.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Penny Blue, MOO and Trunk

Last night we left work almost smack on time, with no beer left in the fridge! Mary and Dan, Jo and I walked down Little Bourke and found Penny Blue, for week seven of Project 2009. A small bar, with funky couches and seating arrangements, we studied the range of local and imported beer.

Choosing a New Zealand beer I'd never seen before, we discovered Moa is beer with a bubblegum finish! Soon joined by Melissa, and Yusif and Rob, we downed a few of these before heading downstairs.

Greeted by the spooky self-operating door, we entered a near empty Money Order Office, and had our choice of chesterfield couch sections. Having only been here once before, when it was packed and finding a tiny spot around near the bar, the space and decor in here is very cellar like and classy.

Another beer, and a stop for food, we walked down the Melbourne city grid to find Truck to meet up with Sarah for her birthday drinks. Joining Tara outside, the bar has the best of both worlds with inside and out. And cute boys inside! Certainly worth a return visit!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Oh Mercy

On Tuesday night Nicole and I made our way from town to the Northcote Social Club, for our selected night of the residency for Oh Mercy. We had dinner in the front bar, after discovering the decking and beer garden out the back, while we watched the bands arrived, and heard the first act through the wall.

We went into the band room to see The Frowning Clouds, a little 60s rock'n'roll band from Geelong, with their skinny jeans and ankle boots. A few covers during the first half of their set, songs like Tiger Heart had them find their presence on stage, with She's Mine and then I'm Sad stand outs.

The room started to fill out, as Alex set up the stage. The four piece Oh Mercy made a uneventful enterance on stage...but captured everyone's full attention as they started to play. Alex is chatty and engaging, while he's tunes his guitar between each song.

Full of energy, they played a set ready for album release! The single Seemed Like A Good Idea was great, and then Salvation Jane, which they say they haven't played in 10 months, and played it this night because new drummer Glen likes it - well, so do we!

A new song to finish, with just Alex and Thom on stage, drew aloft lighters in the crowd! Something I haven't seen for a long time! Such an exciting little Melbourne band, ready for big things.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Madame Brussels for Nicole's

Last night after work, I headed down Bourke Street, to meet Nicole for birthday drinks. I met her, and Belinda and the girls, and soon joined by Lucas, at Madame Brussels, on the third floor above Spaghetti Tree.

After not getting in here for week one of Project 2009, the small area inside made the long line up on a Friday night make sense. A small inside bar area, and then an outside desk - with kitchy chairs and tables, umbrellas, and table service. The waiters wore tennis attire, pastels and all.

The cocktail selection was smaller than I expected, and once we had all selected a jug each, we needed to narrow down our choices again as they were out of some of the list. Nevertheless, pitchers of cocktails in the setting sun, above Melbourne's main street was a very pleasant way to spend the evening.

A cute, relaxed bar with just a sprinkling of people on a Monday night, which was perfect. I can imagine it being crammed madness on a Friday night! Happy Aussie Birthday, Nicole!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Retreat and China

Yesterdays plans were swallowed up with the devastating fires in Victoria - Grape Grazing in the Yarra Valley was cancelled, due to damage and out of respect, with many of the wineries wiped out, along with towns, homes and the horrific death toll.

With a smokey Melbourne, sunny day, I headed to Retreat for beers with Dan. One of my favourite pubs, we first drank in the front room, before claiming a spot on the astro turf and see jugs of beer disappear.

As 9pm approached, Dan and I decided we could make the dash up the road to the Edinburgh Castle, to catch The Good China set. A couple more blocks than I had estimated, we arrived a song or two into the set.

Minus Cara for the gig, the 7 China's were crammed onto the little stage. The sound and energy took a couple of songs to kick in, with a mixed crowd. But once All Nothing was played, the band seemed to hit their straps.

A couple of news tracks here and there, I think, being several I had not heard before (or was that the beer talking!), their cover of Maples Leaves, again, was awesome, and 39 Black was strong.

Looking like a crusty old man's pub on the outside, the front room of the Castle is your typical local pub...but then there is a myraid of space out the back, with dining room and an extended beer garden, including a ping pong table. Quite an unexpected find.

We stayed on for a bit of The Holy Sea, but the need for a feed overtook us. Home via the tram, after another pub find in my local area, all good.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Horse Bazaar

Last night, week six of Project 2009, we started out once again at ...if. Extended happy hour to mark Friday the 13th was hard to resist, and thus many cheap beers and vodkas were had, before Nikki, Kylee, Tim, MJ and I headed to our bar of the week.

The website claims that it is 'a unique fusion of art, music, technology and alcohol'...we met Jenny and Amy at Horse Bazaar, for more drinks, and to take in the chilled atmosphere. The wall has a runner of distracting and engaing projected animation going on, above the collections of cute seats.

Perhaps a bar filled straight after work, or maybe later...the bathroom is a trip into a tiki, water trickling wonderland - and points for figuring out how to turn to taps on first time!

The idea of having a parma for dinner took over, at Kylee's suggestion, and we soon found Pugg Mahones around the corner in Hardware Lane, and confirmed that they could meet out demands. A Bulmers and massive parma later...

Monday, February 09, 2009

St Kilda Festival

Yesterday morning I grabbed breakfast at the super slow Birdie Num Nums, before grabbing the tram through town to St Kilda. I met Nicole at the Main Beach Stage for the St Kilda Festival, just as Kate Miller-Heidke finished a last energetic song.

Nicole grabbed lunch before we found a spot to see Dan Sultan at the same stage, as the sun peaked out of dark clouds above. Melbourne had gone from oppressive heat one day, to storm clouds and chilly rain the next....

We wandered around the entertainment and market stalls between sets, before we watched an amusing The Galvatrons channel Van Halen's Jump in almost every track.

These bands finished just in time for us to make it down Acland Street to the New Music Stage, for The Good China. As the eight members set up on stage, little China buttons were passed out in the crowd, which grew within the small stage setting cutting off Belford St. A set up that certainly put Laneway last weekend to shame!

The band were introduced, and then got stuck into their happy, heartwarming, boppy tracks. The eight of them on rotation, they are so much fun! If seeing them live doesn't put a smile on your face, you need to check for a pulse!

The vocals across the board are so great, with Mit a stand out. Ryan and Mit leading their cover of Jens Lekman's Maple Leaves, with an interlude of Barry White's Can't Get Enough Of You Love Babe - love it! A band of girls and guys where Cara can jump on the drums for a song or two, after time on the keyboard the recorder, is pretty cool.

The Couch Song, and then 39 Black, which was awesome. Finishing with All Nothing, again with clapping cued by Mit for the crowd that knew it was coming up, they have surely made even more fans after this set.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Milk Changeling

To hide away from the heat yesterday, I made the mad dash in the hot, hot winds and smokey air, down to Nova. Along with half of Melbourne it seems, escaping the hottest Melbourne day on record.

Once I had left the house, there was no going back, and seeing a tram pass on the line, I jumped in a cab in order to get to air conditioned comfort sooner. When I got to Nova, I joined the long, long line for the box office.

All three of my possible movie choices had been sold out for the next session by the time I made it to the front of the line, so I purchased tickets for the following time slot, and the one after. I then braved the heat and found something to eat along Lygon Street.

Wasting time in Borders with an hour to kill, I researched my next potential trip, before making my way up to Cinema 10 and my allocated seat. To a filled cinema, we watched Sean Penn transform himself into Harvey Milk, in Milk.

The story of Milk, his struggle to become San Fransisco's elected supervisor, running an openly gay campaign in the world of Jesus-fearing politics. Starting from protests about Coors beer and their discriminatory employee policy about gay men, to battling the Anita Bryant movement across the US.

Penn, a long time favourite of mine, is sensational...and James Franco also caught my eye! Powerfully told, leading up to the assassination, which was shocking and unexpected, the film is told by Milk setting his story on tape, just in case.

In out cinema and into another, I moved into a near full Cinema 2 for the Changeling. This movie ripping your heart out, over and over! Angelina is the screen's presence, playing a character who pulls you into her plight.

Exposing corruption within the LA police force in the 1920s, and then the standing of women, and mental health processes, with every fold of the story I had to remind myself that this was based on a true story.

Christine Collins' plight, played by Angelina Jolie, starts when she is called into work and needs to leave her son at home alone. When she returns, he is gone. Seeking help, she receives very little...until amazingly, in a time when so many things are going wrong with police activity, they have found him five months later. But it's not him, and she knows it instantly. But playing on women's mental fragility, they convince her to take the boy.

John Malkovich, a local preacher over the airwaves, gets involved in an ongoing quest to expose such police fallibility and dishonesty. He's rolling baritone is one anyone would follow, but his strong political activism makes people listen, and he helps Collins' plight.

The fashions in the film are striking, with Ange wearing a hat and a gloves always, and coats from the 1920s to die for.

Flashbacks to Girl, Interrupted, where Ange collected her first Oscar, the mental institution scenes are confronting. Her depiction of Christine Collins may well just have scored her another.

Emerging from the dark, cool theatre, the air outside had finally dropped from it's 46C, the highest temperature for Melbourne on record.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Golden Monkey

Last night's bar for Project 2009 was totally rigged, with my plans to go to the cricket and Dan being away. We picked a bar we had both been to from the pack, in a big FOMO ('Fraid Of Missing Out) move. But alas, my cricket plans were pulled by the lads at work, and out drinking I was instead.

The Golden Monkey was the draw card, but as my crew from work left the office, we stopped again at ...if next door. Thirsty work getting the lift downstairs!! Happy hour here was the drawcard, and there was even a free round of pina colada shots passed around by the bar lads. We think one of them has a crush on Mary!

Moving on from Queen Street, we walked down and along Hardware Lane to The Golden Monkey. Having been there before, I still couldn't picture walking in there...and the reason for this is that it is like a secret den downstairs, with only a symbol out the front of a restaurant to guide you.

Jo, Bec, Alissa, Michelle and Michelle, Mary, Kylee and I found a table section and ordered drinks, and caught up with Jenny's crew in another section. The bar is dark, with Asian decor, and many sectioned off table areas. Great for a group, but again not a mingling bar atmosphere.

Jo and I headed to Swantson Street later for something to eat, at our old faithful, fast and cheap Dumpling Plus.

Monday, February 02, 2009

St Jerome's Laneway Festival

Yesterday I went along to the St Jerome's Laneway Festival, in the laneways of Melbourne. After 4 sweltering days of heat, yesterday promised to be a cool 31C...hmmm, perfect for battling the crowds at a music festival!!

Upon arrival I did a quick wander about to figure out the lay of the land. One stage was set up in Little Lonsdale Street, with one entrance from Swanston Street. Another stage was set up in Lonsdale Street, again with an entrance from Swanston Street. Both with long lines. Having studied the line up, I joined the queue to get my wristband, and into the Little Lon stage, for the first of the bands on my list.

The John Steel Singers were first up here, and I settled in just back from the stage and enjoyed a new band to my ears. At the end of their set I went out to grab some food, and to meet Dan.

Back in to Little Lon for a few beers, we watched and were impressed by Canadian Born Ruffians. The drummer calls the shot for the band, and they had a great presence with the audience.

We left the fenced off area then, for the Library stage and little Melbourne band Oh Mercy. Having seen these guys last year, they were one of my main attractions for the festival. So cute, and a great sound. Seemed Like A Good Idea was a stand out....but I still want Eliza to sing to us!!

Here we caught up with Mary and Anna, and consulted on our plans for the day. Dan and I parked on the grass and took in a chilled set by Pikelet, before working our way back into Little Lon stage for more beer and Cut Off Your Hands.

A Kiwi band that comes recommended, sadly from halfway down the lane, we couldn't hear much of them. Back to the bar, and then out of the sectioned off area again to the Library Stage, we sat on the grass as the sun started to set behind the city buildings for Holly Throsby. Having heard One Of You For Me, hearing in live just made me love this track more. She was great, very folkie, and sweet.

Next up was the main dilemma for me for the day, with AIH and Augie March scheduled at different stages at the same time. Having seen AIH many times, I chose Augie, having never seen them live before and not really hearing any of their new album.

Slightly bigger stage over at the Lonsdale Street set up, it was clear when making our way through crowded Swanston Street that the Little Lon set up was packed, to overflowing, with a massive line all the way down the street. We got into Lonsdale with ease, plenty of room, and time for another beer.

As twilight descended, Augie came on stage and mixed new album with their big release from 2007. Stumbling over words for the first few tracks, Glenn admitting to being hungover and almost with it, The Cold Acre stood out from their country flavoured new tracks. Ending their set with the disarming One Crowded Hour.

Dan and I then worked our way down Caledonian Lane, where the festival started 5 years ago, to get a look at the Red Bull stage, and what the concept was all about. Inadvertently bypassing the line up for this section, we walked down the back alleys to an near empty and eerie little stage pocket. The sweeping lighting and music here painted a picture of what the festival was like when it was all back here.

Back to the big stage within the Lonsdale side of the festival, an announcement urged patrons to stay for The Hold Steady, as the Little Lonsdale stage area was now full and closed - to the boos of clearly tired, hot and frustrated fans disappointed at not getting in on the other side. We stayed for maybe half of this final set of the night.

American, this band had an assertive and abrasive presence and manner. Loads of crowd participation here. We stayed till Sequestered In Memphis, which has a great sound, before we left the festival.

Down the road to Fed Square, we sat with some couple of hundred people, and I watched a set and a half of the Men's Final of the Australian Open between Federer and Nadal, before making a dash for home and the last set. Great match, and a new champion...
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