The Normandy Hotel stands derelict on a desolate Clifton Hill corner like an old crone; the glow of distant wine bars and a quivering hint of music borne on the wind the only signs of habitation.
Ushered through a doorway as into some occult temple and greeted by an eerie silence, piles of rubble stretch into ink on all sides, lit only by a meticulously clean path of flickering candles. Slowly the abyss gives way to the sickly green of fluorescent lights in an old tiled bathroom, sticky, neglected urinals and graffiti enhancing the oeuvre of subway-toilet double-homicide killfest.
A doorway leads off to one side, the words ‘Do Not Enter’ scrawled onto the frame – best just to ignore them.
Inside, the excitement is a tangible thing: wild eyed kids stand awkwardly, eager for the release of the music and mayhem. The free Budweiser (thank you Converse) is still relegated to bottles at this point – but not for long.
As the Drunk Mums begin striking jingle- jangle, overdriven chords, the crowd coalesces into a singular organism front of stage. Isaac the infamous tambourine player (re: drunken hype-man) strips off his shirt, draws targets around his nipples, lights a candle and sticks it in his mouth screaming “it’s my birthday!!” Perhaps the beer or some other intoxicant has released his inner four-year-old.
By the power of imagination alone (this guy’s been watching his Barney the Dinosaur) his free Bud turns into a bottle of Bolly – the podium pipe dream catches on and before long the band, the (hired) gear, the photographers and the crowd are swimming in a sea of spraying beer and broken bottles.
The sound could be better, the vocals are barely audible, but no-one gives a shit. There’s a driving beat, distorted guitars, free beer and no rules – a pack of drowned garage-rats cutting loose.
After well over an hour thrashing about like psychotic fish, churning through existentialist rock ‘n roll anthems like ‘Eventual Ghost’ and ‘Kids Are Dead’, the Drunk Mums step down from the altar of youthful abandon to make way for the main event, The Bleeding Knees Club.
Though they manage to slip in a few treasures like ‘Have Fun’ and ‘Nothing to Do’, the BKC’s set is somehow less memorable. The extended break between bands (wiping beer off guitars mostly) meant the perfect opportunity for a cigarette and to pash that girl you’d been eyeing up in the mosh-pit all evening, however by the time most people returned from making thirty-seven new Facebook friends the band was half way through their set.
Due to licensing restrictions, The Bleeding Knees club played for all of about half an hour before everyone was ruthlessly ushered out the doors and into the street, shattering the illusion and destroying the dream of anarchic utopia forever.
This was not just a gig, it truly was an ‘Act of Disruption’, disruption of the boundaries and monotonies of everyday life in modern society. Once the ties of convention had been well and truly severed, a sense of (possibly drug-fuelled) camaraderie was manifested in its place.
Strangely the absence of monetary gain, authority and responsibility translated itself into a sense of community and selflessness – given a bit more time these kids probably could have started a fairly workable commune, squatting in the old hotel and living off the drippings of beer and sweat from the ceiling… well, at least until the drugs ran out…
- Jake Vitasovich