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[ Sydney Post-Punk Memoirs ]

Richard Fielding

Memoirs of a Baby Squid, Part 1

This is how I remember it, don't expect accuracy...

For someone living in the conservative 'leafy' Sydney suburb of Mosman the inner-city held out a promise of all the illicit charms of an oriental cathouse. And so it was that I was drawn to the somewhat less than salubrious streets of East Sydney to see some weirdo bands regaling themselves under such monikers as Voigt/465, Crime and the City Solution and The N-lets... at a place called Garibaldi's.

After a sedate jaunt from Musgrave Street Wharf across the Harbour on our beloved ferry (a bit of tourist brochure colour there), I'm plunged into the mean streets of the Cross to be accosted by prostitutes and drug addicts and bikers and pimps, to the favoured haunt of inner-city sophisticates, Garibaldi's in Riley Street Darlinghurst. Little did I know that I would soon play my own first 'gig'just down the road at the notorious 'Death Exhibition' at ICE (the Institute of Contemporary Events) in 1980. At this stage (1978) I was just a punter looking for musical kicks and a frisson of punk nihilism.

One good thing about these outings was being guaranteed never to meet anyone from where you lived or went to school. For some reason I'd always been drawn to the most marginalised and reviled members my peer group (gulp!). When I was at school the dominant group was surfies and that was about it. These days you can choose your tribal allegiance without batting an eyelid. That's not to say we were out there on the cutting edge of rebellion maaaan. We were just school pariahs and zeros in the thrall of 'The Little Red Schoolbook', busily editing our own underground school newspaper called variously 'Sexy Susan', 'Eric' and 'Crocodile Perambulator' (do they still have school newspapers?) I was a big fan of the English mag 'Private Eye' at the time which explains a lot. Why be embarrassed about influences? As if we're all so shit hot original. Yes we did read comics, yes we did listen to The Mothers and Henry Cow and Chrome and Pere Ubu, yes we did watch 'Monty Python' and 'Beachcomber' and 'Aunty Jack' and 'The Two Ronnies' and yes we did read 'Catch-22' and Kurt Vonnegut and yes we did see 'Walkabout' and 'Slaughterhouse Five' and 'The Amazing Three' and 'Beany and Cecil' and yes we were only 12 at the time.

But back to the sweaty nights at Garibaldi's and French's and the Grand and the Civic and all those other inner-city dives. I used to see J.M.M. a lot, I think they were the hardest working band in show business. Not to mention the Thought Criminals - they played live incessantly or so it seemed. But Voigt/465 at the Sussex was always a good night. All that 'make up' - it's as if Glam never died and all those weird time signatures and chord changes. What's going on here? No wonder they kept shouting for Henry Cow. I wonder if they'd heard Dry Rib.

A favourite band at the time was 'The Sydney Quads' (later to be known as 'The Wet Taxis') who didn't have a drummer but employed a drum machine a la 'Metal Urbain' and did funny fuzzed out songs like 'Poliobaby' and 'Vomit'. Ofcourse that crazy Bradbury chap was the drum machine-iste in that band and we formed 'Hiroshima Chair' later. Mind you I lasted about one day.
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