Here is my dodgy and poorly worded review of the Fistography party and the Fistography exhibition which took place on the 3rd and 4th of October 2014 respectively.
I had decided that this 20th anniversary "celebration" of one of my favourite labels was something that would probably never happen again and felt it was important to attend, in some ways it felt like closure. I had decided that for fun I would drive down to Newcastle, Brisbane to Newcastle is 800 kms and takes about 8 hours by car, it wasn't really fun, annoying would be a better word. I have to say the weather was perfect for driving, comfortable temperature and not one single cloud in the sky. Even went down to Bryon Bay and spent some time on the beach.
The plan was to hook up with my good friend Palindrone in Newcastle at 3pm (eternal!), kick back at the pub/hotel and then cruise into the venue. This didn't work out due to peak hour traffic, but while swearing at the slow arse in the Ford Cortina in front of me, I noticed that one of the major roads in Newcastle is called Industrial Drive! The appropriateness of this name was not lost on me.
Caught up with Palindrone, although originally from Brisbane he's now in Melbourne studying and working, I hadn't seen him in quite a while so it was good to see him. He had already been to the exhibition briefly to see Mark N to collect some records and merchandise. He'd also been to a random record store and picked up a copy of Neophyte's Protracker EP, nice! We decided we may as well just get ready and go to the venue, I wore my BF shirt and Palindrone wore a sexy black and red Killing
Sheep shirt. I needed some (beer) money so I tried to find an ATM, I swear we spent 30 minutes walking along the main street of Newcastle (Hunter Street) and couldn't find one ATM, we looked down all the dodgy side streets, nothing. We walked past the venue and 200 metres away we found something called Newcastle Permanent (never heard of it before) and happily paid the extra $2.50 ATM fee.
The Terrace Bar: its a bar with a terrace. Kind of a combination of a run down pub and a boutique bar. We noticed a DJ was playing nothing but 7" vinyls of 60s and 70s music so we assumed this was where the party was happening. I had tried to get tickets a week before but they had already sold out. I was told if I turned up early then I shouldn't have any worries. We went upstairs to an outdoor rooftop which was nice due to a lovely Newcastle evening. This lead to some sort of backstage area where we decided to wait. One of the people there was a staff member who was clearly on the sauce and spoke in incomprehensible sentences. Me and Palindrone just smiled and nodded at what we thought were the end of his sentences. Schooners and pints of Coopers Pale Ale were going down well.
The party was suppose to start at 7pm, and there was little activity at the backstage, during one of his beer runs, Palindrone informed me that there was a large lineup downstairs. Apparently the entrance to the room was a little staircase that we completely missed, bugger. The crowd were getting a bit annoyed at the wait, to infuriate punters even further only pre paid ticket holders were allowed in. I urged Palindrone to get in, and I'd find my way in somehow. While this was happening I drank beers and spoke to some really cool locals, one was a BF fan since 1994, I have a vague feeling this person was Netas, but I'm not sure. The other local was a uni mate of Guy Hedonist who would have jam sessions with him adding live precussions and drums, sort of a mash up of glorious 8 bit mono and a rock band. He eventually got in through the backstage because he knew Guy's wife. More Coopers Pale Ale schooners disappeared down my throat.
Palindrone came down to inform me that the room was nicely packed and going off, Hedonist was playing some really nice breakbeat material, it eventuated that I missed all of his set which was a bummer but I was compensated by his appearance at the exhibition the next day. Palindrone had kindly approached Mark N and told him I was having difficulty getting in, I was told to go to the rooftop, and there he was: the man of the moment, Mark Newlands. Sporting a pretty cool "don't fuck with me" haircut, Mark was clearly a busy man, he informed me that he had nothing to do with the gig entry and the management were being pricks about the number of people they were letting in. He did say that I was now able to get in which I thanked him for. He shook my hand and said he was honoured that I had travelled all this way for the weekend, which made me feel really good about myself. $13.50 later, I was in.
The imposing figure of Aaron Xylocaine was in the booth behind a laptop staring intensly at the screen, no Amigas were present as I could see, this was to be expected I suppose in 2014. Ironically the first track I heard (or remembered) was Nasenbluten's Feeling Shit and I was feeling great! The room was a fully black small to medium sized room, it looked like it had copped a fair few gigs. It definitely had a Hunter On Hunter feel to it, it smelt a bit too, that might have been the punters though. There would have been 100-200 people in the room, it was packed but not sardines packed. It's hard to describe a Bloody Fist crowd: no ravers, no metal heads, kinda gothic, some punters were more feral than others, I suppose it was a bunch of Newcastle people having a good time. No tense atmosphere, a surprisingly good vibe fuelled by beer I suspect. Xylocaine played some odd tunes that I didn't recognise, a bit more downtempo, it was really cool to see a crowd go with the music, going from hip hop to speedcore in a short amount of time, I wish the punters in Brisbane were this open minded. I know Xylocaine dropped Igloo Terror and some half speed material that was good to nod your head to, he may have also played Nasenbluten's Treadmill and Lurid, can't remember, maybe Palindrone can verify this.
Next up was Epsilon, I was expecting him to play his own material, but he spent the next 90 minutes playing prime cuts from the Bloody Fist catalogue, I don't think he played one Epsilon track! This was a blessing in disguise, I guess Brendon Epsilon just played all his favourite BF tracks, here are the tracks I remember him playing:
Nasenbluten - No Sex (I'm not sure if it's because it was live on a laptop, but Epsilon played a really beefed up version of this excellent track, the accelerated hip hop beat sounded soooo good on the sound system, head nodding was unavoidable.)
Syndicate - Jungle Muffin (this is the very underrated Syndicate breakbeat track with the famous Beastie Boys sample, the same sample is in Tim B's Stick Up on Thunderdome 10, punters were repeating the sample, don't know why but it was a good feeling at the time.)
Nasenbluten - Intellectual Killer remix (Palindrone was now finally convinced of the existence of this remix, its more of a DNB affair possibly by DJ Hidden)
Syndicate - Terrorists (one of the big surprises was the appearance of Gavin Burke, wearing a big white beanie. He was going nuts when Epsilon dropped this tune.)
Nasenbluten - Popular Shag (Palindrone, this was the tune we were trying to think of, "its off the Cheapcore EP, can't remember the name!")
Nasenbluten - Concrete Compressor (Epsilon played the version that's only on Mouse Records, never thought I would hear it out live.)
Nasenbluten - We've Got The Balls (Epsilon played the intro with the well known guitar riff, punters recognised this and anticipation grew, just when the first square wave kick drum was about to kick in...... the music stopped and there was deafening silence! The computer crashed and Epsilon looked rather embarassed. In the silence, Mark shouted: "YOU'RE SACKED!" Someone else shouted, "play some Cold Chisel!" Those 4 immortal words was proof I was at a Bloody Fist party.)
Nasenbluten - No More Fucking Soul (Palindrone's favourite off 100% No Soul)
Memetic - Sweet Rohypnol
Nasenbluten - Holy Arse
Nasenbluten - Urinal Fun
The Object Of Rave (I think)
I'm sure he played more, I made a few beer runs during the set, so hopefully Palindrone can plug in the other tunes. It was a great set by Epsilon! Watching Mark "dancing" and enjoying himself during the set was priceless. A few other people had shown up during this time:
Paul Blackout - We had met at a Bloody Fist party in 2002 when he gave me a copy of Hellfish and Producer - No Mistakes Allowed. We bumped into each other outside the Gents, he looked at me like he kinda recognised me, I thought a quick nod of recognition was the best course of action here.
Geoff Da Chef - He was roaming around the party wearing a Black Hardcore Fiends shirt, he looked really unhappy, Angry even, possibly emulating his track of the same name.
Pretty sure one of the guys from Memetic was there: LOOSEST bloke at the party. No competition.
Oh yeah, speaking of the toilets, to get to the Gents there was a narrow path that was constantly clogged up with Hipsters trying to get a root, squeezing through them was unpleasant, but the footpath was uneven and I sprained my ankle TWICE! Also everytime I went to the GENTS, there were (drunk) girls inside the Men's toilet like it was another room! In fact one girl was happily urinating in front of me. Newcastle girls: Stay Classy.
Also the venue had horribly underestimated the number of punters that would want a beer, the Coopers Pale Ale tap had run out (I'll take some of the blame for that), the number of beers behind the counter slowly disappeared, much to my horror.
10:30pm, it was time for the man we wanted to see, DJ Mark Vanilla N. Mark had provided some dope scratches to a track earlier on, I just can't remember which track it was. Starting off with some dark hip hop (possibly late 80's) and dark downtempo breakbeats in particular Guyver - Lyrics To Breakbeats and No Sex slightly sped up. I didn't recognise much of this but it was really head nodding stuff. The mixing was slick as hell and scratching was impressive as per usual. The room was totally packed now and the crowd were really enjoying this set. Palindrone was in his own world, loving everything Mark was dropping, I tried not to disturb him
during this time, it was a pretty awesome sight. Mark easily changed the mix into mid tempo Hardcore, the highlight for me was hearing Disassembler - Cold Hate, never thought I would hear that out. There were other tunes of a similar style, I just can't remember, those schooners were catching up with me. Mark eventually pitched his tent in speedcore territory, I remember Terrorists being played again. Quite surprisingly he dropped Nasenbluten - Cocksucker. Two tracks left an impression on me at this stage:
Overcast - I Will Attack (I secretly wanted somebody to play this track, it sounded glorious on the sound system, but during the breakdowns Mark added fresh cuts and scratches of the instrumental Snap sample on top, faaaaaaarrrrrrkkkkkkkkkkk!)
Overcast - Cut Session (The Grand Finale. If you have Under Sufferance, you'll know how this goes, but to actually hear and eventually watch Mark perform the scratches live in front of a jumping crowd is ONE OF THE BEST THINGS I'VE EVER SEEN FROM A DJ. I totally went into fan boy mode, ran up to the booth and was able to witness the scratching from a side view. I just watched with the biggest smile on my face as he performed better (yeah, better!) and more intricate scratches that he did on Under Sufferance, it was an epic ending to an epic party, everybody cheered at the end, best $13.50 I've ever spent.
During Mark's set, I went to get a beer, and the bar had no beers, yep, we actually drank the bar dry.
As a postscript, me and Palindrone hadn't had dinner, and all that beer made us hungry. Similar to our ATM challenge, we spent 30-60 mins trying to find somewhere to eat, at some point Palindrone's phone was saying we were going in the wrong direction, which eventually lead us to the biggest McDonalds I've ever seen! I'm not sure if that is a comment on Newcastle and its dietary needs, but yeah it was big. It was 1am, the place was full of security guards, a fuckload of bogans and girls in tiny skirts. I vaguely remember some dickheads in their lowered Holden Commodore trying to act hard, the perfect incentive to walk home drunk with a sprained ankle.
Woke up the next morning, with no hangover, and we decided we may as well check out the exhibition early. There was a free breakfast buffet at The Albion (where we were staying), I had Coco Pops for the first time in 20 years (!), while we were eating, someone else joined us, seeing the T-shirts we were wearing he could tell we were Bloody Fist fans who had attended last nights shenanigans. His name was Reece, he was originally from Newcastle but was now living in Melbourne. He was a pretty cool guy, discussing the Melbourne scene and reiterating the notion that if you lived in Newcastle in the 90's and didn't listen to (pub) rock music, you were really in your own world. It's one of the reasons he starting listening to Bloody Fist, his favourite album was Nasenbluten's N Of Terror. He was also baffled as to why Bloody Fist hated the Sydney rave scene so much at the time as he thought they were all part of the same electronic music scene. He had also made some music, although I didn't ask if the music had been released. We all finished breakfast, Reece was also going early to the exhihbition so we'd catch up later.
The exhibition was in the upper part of Hunter Street, I suppose the Central Business District, while driving in this area we couldn't help but laugh at all the bank ATMs at every street corner! The Emporium is an arts/crafts/design boutique styled shop, it had a few other exhibtions going on but I didn't check them out. We eventually found some doors with an amusing disclaimer on the front, and by pure chance Mr Newlands was just about to open the doors. He looked shagged from last night and mentioned he was not in the right head space, fair enough. The room was about 10 metres by 10 metres. The records were all in this nice casing which Mark had bought from Ikea. All the records were placed in chronological order, me and Palindrone wondered if some of those records from 1994 would be under lock and key. Mark said its the reason why he was hanging around in case some gronk tried to nick off with those particular records. Underneath the 100% No Soul Guaranteed record was two large metallic master plates of Side C and D on IS030, apparently this was "awarded" to A. Lubinski. Mark had mentioned that one of the surprises of last night was seeing a particular Bloody Fist artist, I asked if this person was a pretty cool guy, kinda low key, and speak of the devil, Reece turned up. Reece was actually Rhys Arvidson aka Fluorocarbon! That was a weird but awesome experience.
With the records in chronological order, you would walk clockwise, alongside some of the records were press releases and reviews. There was a paper towel covering up the Fraughman record which read: Lift With Caution. The background music of the exhibition was the Straight Outta Newcastle picture disc being played on a little portable record player. FIST22 made an appearance, as well as all the records made by Bloody Fist artists on other labels. Also royalty payments, cheques to Sound Base Music and a schedule of the last several Fist releases were on display. Three sides of the exhibition were records, the fourth side was dedicated to flyers of various parties both local and overseas, some of the lineups were amazing. Also those amusing emails and letters that used to be on the old BF website were on display, including some I hadn't seen before. My favourite one was someone calling Mark out for playing at Sydney's popular rave parties called Utopia. Mark's response was epic and hilarious. Quite a few photos were on display, seeing that Memetic vomit pic up close was probably not the best thing to see before lunch. In the middle of the exhibition was a display cabinet, that housed various bits of hardware including a battered Amiga, throughly battered mixers, old floppy disks and something that had melted in the corner. The top of the cabinet had the entire Bloody Fist Tapeography in order. Remember tapes? Speaking of tapes, there were a few things for sale, several of the tapes had been repressed in sexy red cassettes. Some records were for sale, however the Fist Plate had already sold out, lucky I pre-ordered my copy. There were CDs and clothing available, but by far the most interesting item for sale was a 300 page book penned by Mark himself detailing the entire Bloody Fist story and how every record had come together. If you liked the other literary efforts by Mark, then you'll LOVE this book. I've had to restrain myself to a few pages each day. I bought the book, Xylocaine's Cluster Bombs, Syndicate's Deathtrap, the Fist Plate and Deathchant 69.