Melbourne Music

7 Apr

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March 24, 2012

The first half hour of our morning was spent finding out from the people working at reception how to best spend a Saturday in Melbourne. With a rough plan in mind we set out walking along the Yarra River before heading north on foot to the City Centre area of town which is the Yorkville of Melbourne: from Chanel to Gucci to Louis Vuitton, if it’s high end, it’s in City Centre. There, we window shopped and popped into a few of the unique stores such as a first editions bookstore. The shop was lined with bookshelves and glass cases and had that distinct smell of old books – my university roommate, Wingham, would have been in heaven.

Next we paid a visit to Lululemon to replace my lost Paris Pink t-shirt. It must cost an arm and a leg to ship the Lulu merchandise to Australia because the price was 25% higher in Oz than what I paid for the exact same shirt in Canada and that’s not counting the exchange rate! But alas, I am reunited with a key staple of my nomadic wardrobe.

We then walked up to the Carlton area of town where we thought we’d walk through the gardens there. As we were standing at the crosswalk that would lead us to the garden entrance we came across a lonely iPhone 4 looking up at us from traffic island. Knowing what it’s like to have your phone go missing we waited for the inevitable: a call from its owner. Luckily she had only gone about a block and we were able to return the phone to her sooner rather than later.

We approached the garden entrance only to find out the grounds were closed in preparation for an upcoming garden show. Not only were the gardens closed off to the public but also the Royal Exhibition Building which was next on our list of to-sees. Lucky for us the Melbourne Museum was a matter of steps away and though we didn’t go through and visit the exhibits (we wanted to be sure we had enough time to visit Fitzroy in the Brunswick precinct), we were able to marvel at the architecture of both the Melbourne Museum and the Royal Exhibition Building.

On our way to Fitzroy we got ourselves a bit turned around and looking very much the part of lost tourists with our maps out and gesturing in all directions, a nice couple out for a Saturday stroll stopped over to help us. We were specifically looking for Rose Street where there was supposed to be an artist market but unfortunately the couple had no idea where that was and couldn’t help point us in the right direction. They did however mention that the Melbourne Gaol was just behind us and that we could check that out and so we walked around the courtyard and I took a few quick shots of J.J. acting as prisoner.

Not able to find Rose Street we decided to abandon the artist market plan and head to the Fitzroy to see what we could see. First we found an amazing little café called Argos Loves Company and J.J. and I shared a sandwich and I had a coffee, a little re-fuel after all of our walking. Next, we found incredible vintage shop after more incredible vintage shop – if I had to re-create my entire wardrobe from scratch this is where I would do it. There were so many Mad Men-esque pieces: Joan-like high-waisted skirts, Mrs. Draper dresses, high patent leather heels, you get the idea. There were also a ton of pieces that screamed London and Laura Boshell at me – Bosh, you would have been in heaven! As the stores began to close their doors for the night, we decided to grab a drink at dimly lit semi-busy bar called Libation before catching the tram back to our hostel.

At Urban Central we quickly traded dressed down day clothes for what can only be considered mildly dressed up night-on-the-town clothes (Melbourne is COLD at night and all I’ve got for dressy is a sundress or 2!). J.J. had purchased tickets for us to go to a jazz concert that night at Bennett Lane, a tucked away venue on the brink of City Centre.

We found our seats and got our drinks just in time to hear the pre-show announcements which were much like the pre-show announcements at the movies. Bennett Lane was a designated listening venue and as such they requested that anyone wishing to have a conversation during the show step outside to do so.

The band consisted of a 60-something year-old man on lead vocals, a guy in his late 30s on piano, another guy in his late 30s on drums and a guy in his 40s on the bass. What a band of characters. The lead singer looked to be in severe pain based on the facial expressions he made as he wrapped his lips around every word. His introductions to each song were more like long-winded former-hippy rants, all said in a calm monotone voice as though he’d been hitting the bong backstage before the show. The drummer also made some incredibly entertaining facial expressions as he played – closing his eyes, raising his eyebrows and half opening his eyes all the while opening, closing and twisting his mouth around. I’ve never seen anything like it before. The bass player seemed normal enough but looked like a younger and only slightly thinner John Lovitz. I have no real comment on the piano player other than if we played the Sesame Street game, one of these things is not like the others, I would have chosen him only because he looked like more of a former wrestler than musician.

In terms of the music, the band was incredible and the songs got even better when the singer would abandon vocals to pick up the trumpet. I’m not sure if the 4 instruments together sounded better than 3 or if it was the simple fact that I was no longer distracted by the off-key singing and accompanying facial expressions.

2 sets and a bottle of wine later we caught a cab back to our hostel and headed to bed, dreaming of our Sunday plans to visit the area of St. Kilda.

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