Tuesday, September 23, 2008

So we did this show in a moving bus...

For our album release of Owl + Owl in Auckland, we decided to play a show in a moving bus. We were actually having a little trouble finding the right venue, and we wanted to do something a bit special. Anyway, here's how it happened:

So we decide to do the bus thing a month or two out. We find this company in Auckland called Party Bus, who run a bus kitted out with a big soundsystem and a liquor license. They do chartered pub crawls. After a few emails we get them to agree to letting us host a show in there, and even get them to sponsor us with a cut price deal. So there you go, Little Pictures: sponsored by Party Bus. Of Montreal would be proud :D

Anyway, we drive up with our good friend Alistair, and head to the bus depot. The bus depot is out in the countryside, and it turns out Party Bus have like 50 buses out in this giant paddock.


So we soundcheck stuff, and amazingly we're able to get it all running. We had borrowed a little battery power generator to run all of our stuff, and the bus company hardwires in our mixer into the bus specially for us. VERY nice of them!

On the night of the show we turn up to see a bunch of people waiting on the footpath. We'd sold out the show in presales, which was a first for us, but we were still nervous as to what actually might happen. Well everyone's there early, our friend Andrew from cheeseontoast plays bus conductor, clipping peoples' tickets and so forth. People pile on with a TONNE of alcohol. As we pull out of the bus stop, unbeknown to us, a couple of guys from our NZ label Lil Chief Records turn up (we left slightly early) and run alongside the bus trying to get in. But no one saw them! We feel so bad for leaving Scott and Lawrence behind :(

But we take off into the night, and Andrew starts up his ipod DJ set through the Bus PA. We weren't sure what people would do on the bus. Would everyone just sit there awkwardly? Well, no they didn't. Everyone was drinking and chatting and having a good time. So we drive around for a little, and everyone gets to know each other. We were surprised, we had never seen most of the people in the bus before. Exciting!

It came time for us to play, but we were worried how it would work out. We taped everything down to the seats and the floor, to try and stop it all moving around. We knew the PA wasn't loud enough really, and with everything jostling around we feared for the worst... but it totally worked. In fact, some songs even sounded BETTER on a bus than in a venue (...). People were up dancing and singing along. We even had a go at doing "This Bus is Very Small". Worked pretty well :D We went over the harbour bridge and so on. Then we played our last song as we climbed Mount Eden, and just as we finished we pulled in at the top and everyone rushed out to the panoramic view of Auckland. Perfect!

It just couldn't have gone better. And all you other bands out there, play in a bus! It's a lot of fun :D

Tonnes of pictures here, thanks to Trousy and Ali:





Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Australian Tour was awesome!

So we did this tour a few months ago, but we've been so busy with recording new album stuff and Uni that we hadn't had a chance to do a write up. So here it is!:

We had an amazing time! We played 6 shows in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Hobart and with the exception of one show, each show had a great turn out and a great vibe! Marc from Popolice booked the whole tour for us, and played support for us at most of the shows. We can't express how awesome Marc is!

So we fly into Melbourne a couple of days early and arrive at Marc's house. He's booked our tour for us, and he's in a one man band called Popolice who are totally awesome, and he is an amazing guy. The second we arrive he offers us his room and his bed, opting to sleep on the couch. "It just makes sense, you guys are a couple and I'm just one guy, it just makes sense." Haha, see!

Our first concert was in Melbourne, on a Thursday night at a club night called 'Pogo'. This is the strangest concert I've ever played. The club night is held in a four story night club, complete with U.V. lights, the whole shibang. The club night is the most bizarre thing we've ever seen. It's sort of a hipster indie disco sort of deal, except the people that come are 18, or younger (illegally) and are totally wasted, spewing, but dressed in super expensive trendy clothing. I guess it's the whole 'indie kid' thing, except way way younger and very jockish and nightclubish. Anyway we pack in, and the people running the night are really nice, and they give us a whole bunch of drink cards, something we'd never come across before. Marc opened for us, and he was great, but no one was in the band level of the nightclub. Because the place is spread over four levels, everyone was hanging out with the DJs upstairs. And so when we played there were maybe 20 people there. Smallest crowd we've played to, probably. But it was still a fun night, and totally crazy to see these real young hipster types off their faces. Someone from the small crowd was actually yelling something about Mechano, which is an old band I was in. That was weird, I guess they used to live in NZ.

Next night was in Melbourne again at a venue called The Tote. This venue is kind of like a much bigger valve, kind of scummy, but really cool. We played on a great bill with locals 99 and Handheld, plus a band from Tasmania called Viva Computer. We played second to a reasonably sized crowd, and everyone was really receptive. Lots of clapping and smiling. We then manned the merch table and sold a bunch of stuff. It was our first feel of really playing outside of New Zealand. We had so many warm comments, and met a bunch of the nicest people. People kept asking us about Camp A Low Hum, and this would continue throughout the entire tour. After the show we went back to this Warehouse. In Australia, a 'warehouse' is a converted warehouse fitted out as an 'art space' where people illegally live. So pretty much a giant party space. This warehouse was amazing! They had old school gaming machine, a million couches, heaps of band equipment, and a multi level open plan thing going on. They even had a cardboard cut out of Nick Cave! We chilled with him most of the night.





We actually came back to the warehouse the next day, because a couple of guys we'd met at Camp A Low Hum lived there (Marcus from Bang Bang Aids, smoking hot bitch and Nat who did a bunch of filming at camp - both of whom were in our video clip), and were showing some footage Nat had shot. We had a great time hanging out and having a low key time :)

On Sunday we were invited to join a few people we'd met at The Tote for brunch. We were told to meet at this place called the Northcote Mall. Turns out it's this old persons mall. We ate in this weird caferteria place. The food was actually really cool. And we just sat there watching strange old people walk through the mall outside. We had brunch with Dan Lewis, Neil and Alexis. Neil is in a band called Crayon Fields, and Alexis is in a band called The Motifs. Both of these bands are amazing! Dan Lewis plays in noise bands and runs a booking company. Anyway, we had an awesome brunch with these guys, and we'd see them again at our last show.

The next show was down in Sydney. Now, we'd heard over and over again from different people in Melbourne that Sydney was really hard to play. It's apparently really hard to book a venue if you have no profile because there are only a handful of venues. And apparently Sydney crowds are scary and standoffish. This was not our experience! Sydney was a real highlight. We caught a bus from Melbourne to Sydney, it took 12 hours but it went overnight. I highly recommend this bus ride, it's really really cheap, and you can sleep the whole way! We played on a Wednesday at the most amazing venue. It's this little Italian restaurant. But on a Wednesday the guys who run Dual Plover take it over and put on a sort of indie music night. There are two rooms. In the front room this guy called Tom was playing his gameboy, playing chip tunes music. And then in the back room the bands played. There was no stage, and only half a PA. One thing we learnt to do on this tour was adapt to weird, low key, crappy PA setups. Most of the time we had no fold back, and pretty much no PA, but we were able to make it work easily, it's so good having such a simple setup! So there was no sound guy tonight, so we just sound checked ourselves by running back and forth to the sound desk. Popolice opened, and had brought a tiny little practice amp with him from Melbourne and he had endless trouble with it, it kept dying on him, although it sort of suited his noise rock thing. The show was actually a local band's EP release show, so we were kind of worried when we were told we'd be playing after them. This happened a couple of times, I actually think people thought they were doing us a favour by 'letting' us play last, when really we have zero profile and were just riding off other people's crowds. Anyway, there were a bunch of people at this show there especially to see us. I think we'd been blogged about a bit on Sydney blogs. Anyway, it was the warmest crowd ever, and we had heaps of fun playing in this weird little Italian restaurant, even sold a bunch of albums!

Thursday night we headed over to Canberra on the bus. We were playing another club night. This seems common in Australia, where a venue will have a different promoter running a special genre specific night once a week. We played a night called 'gangbusters' here at this funny venue in the city. It too had no stage. Except even more bizarrely the area where they set up the bands was sort of in front of this corridor that lead to the bathrooms. So while bands were playing, people were sort of walking through the band to get to the toilets. This is actually pretty awful, and really kills the vibe, for both watching bands, and for playing. They also played the most awful merry-go-round music over the PA REALLY loudly all night. We played last out of four bands, two of which were local. So the crowd progressively thinned out as the night went on. But still there was a decent sized crowd when it came time for us to play. But no one was really interested in us. This was sort of a first for us, we've had a pretty good experience with being able to engage an audience, but tonight it was not meant to be. There were maybe 10 people paying attention to us, while the others talked so loud it actually kind of drowned us out. But on the upside, the guy who runs gangbusters, Warwick, put us up at his place and he was an awesome guy! But I don't think we'd go back to Canberra again. The crowd seemed more keen for some angry bands, apparently metal's big in Canberra. Our friends and label mates The Brunettes have had a similar experience in Canberra apparently.

We caught a plane down to Hobart for the next night's show. Marc from Popolice had talked up Hobart big time. He's played down there a bunch of times and he loves it. The venue itself, confusingly called The Brisbane Hotel, was a sort of pub venue, it was pretty nice in there but also pretty big. We were on a bill of 5 bands, and we were playing second to last. We sat on the door that night, which we really like to do, but found that most people who came through the door were pretty quiet and reserved. The first band started real late, so we were a little worried. But no one left, not even before the last band even though they went on well after 1am. Marc played a really awesome set, and people were really into it. We played to sort of lukewarm applause. In fact, we had our first heckler in Hobart. Apparently there's this one infamous guy who comes along to heaps of shows and heckles the band. Anyway, he was trying to tell us that we were too happy. At one point we tried to get everyone to step forward towards the stage a bit, but no one would, it was really uncomfortable... But then after we'd played we went back to the door, and ALL these people came up to us telling us how amazing we were, and we sold a heap of albums. When we were on stage we thought it was going awfully, but afterwards we were glowing! Apparently Hobart has quite hard to please crowds, but it seems like we did pretty well for our first showing, we'd come back down! We stayed upstairs in the hotel part of the pub which was a novel experience. After being on tour a little while it was really nice to have a room you could go to to get away from it all. We're not really big party animal types.

We came back to Melbourne for the last show of our tour. We were playing at this venue that EVERYONE had told us was amazing, called Pony. They do this weird thing where they stagger bands throughout the night, so we were playing the 2am slot. Entry to the venue is free, and the venue pays the band a handsome guarantee. So we show up at 1.30am and the manager asks "So.. where's your sound guy". Turns out we were meant to provide one. Shit. So we start asking around trying to find someone to do it. In the end we roped in a friend we'd made at The Tote. He's the nicest guy ever called Dan Lewis (who we had brunch with). I think he might have been quite drunk, and he hadn't really done sound before, but he said he'd give it a go. We were kind of stressing out, because the venue is this real grimey bar, think a way scummier Valve in Wellington but a bit bigger. There were heaps of people there but everyone was really drunk. They were playing Rage Against The Machine over the PA and there were a bunch of people singing along and stuff. We were a little worried we were going to be booed off stage. Kind of like that scene in Blue Brothers, we needed a cage. This show was probably the most fun show we've ever played ever! Once we started playing, heaps of people came up from the downstairs bar. We played in this reasonably small room, cram packed with 150 or 200 people all cheering and clapping and yelling for more. Everyone was clapping along and going nuts dancing. There was even a guy riding a skateboard around at the start of the set before it got super packed. At the end of our set everyone was chanting for us to play more, and we could barely leave the stage, we had to literally push with all our strength through the crowd to try and escape the encore trap! Everyone was telling us how awesome we were and how much they liked it. It's awesome playing to a 2am crowd, everyone's drunk and friendly!

So we returned home VERY weary and sick and tired. But what an amazing time! We can't wait to do more touring internationally. We're in the middle of booking a US, UK and European tour for May next year where we'll be releasing our album in a bunch of different countries. We'll keep you in the loop!