Well that’s our first Australian festival done. Our final gig was in front of 5000 people and they gave us an amazing reception throughout, and a standing ovation at the end. The Australian audience does seem to be much more prone to applauding things that other audiences wouldn’t. Our song A Lovely Cup Of Tea – about York’s Islamic community’s response to an English Defence League protest outside their mosque, inviting the protesters in for tea and biscuits, and a game of football – took three times longer to sing than usual because they were applauding every single line. When I got to the line, “we play football for planet earth united, because that’s how we all should be,” the entire audience erupted into raucous applause that lasted for nearly a minute. Then again, they also applauded our sound checks, so I’m not sure if I can really be too big-headed about their enthusiasm for my song. Although, in fairness, we did do a bloody good sound check. My “testing testing, one two one two,” brought the house down.
The festival MCs have also been interesting and different to the MCs at English festivals. They spend about ten minutes with us before we go on stage, asking us loads of questions about who we are, where we’re from and what we do. Some of them have also asked us to impart a funny story about something that’s happened to us, or something interesting that they can talk about in their introduction, before we come on stage. This over-zealousness doesn’t really happen at British festivals. The MC usually just has a few facts gleaned from the band’s biog, and they do a quick introduction to announce you onto the stage. Or, if they know you and are fans of what you do, then they will speak from the heart rather than just memorising facts.
Often, the MCs at this Australian festival have spent so long chatting to us and garnering information, writing down things that they might want to include in our intro, that they haven’t had time to memorise any of it. This means that many of the MC’s introductions have consisted of them reading from some hastily written scrawls, unconvincingly trying to recount a midly humorous tale which we’ve been forced to dredge up just seconds before, which has been feverishly transcribed into a hastily cobbled together shorthand that the MC then has to try and decipher and recall with conviction.
So our introductions have been very interesting. It’s also a bit awkward for us, as often we are stood on the stage at the microphones, ready to launch straight in, and we have to stand there while the MC attempts to read from a piece of paper that contains a semi-funny story that he’s completely got confused and incongruously frantically written down just seconds earlier. I tried to help out by joking along with the MC on the microphone, hoping to spice up the intro a bit and to make it seem a bit less formal, but that didn’t work, largely because the sound men hadn’t switched my microphone on yet. The microphone level was however coming out of our monitors, and so I could hear it and the MC could hear, but the audience couldn’t. This caused the MC to confusedly halt his speech, and then just continue, a bit flummoxed, and of course the audience had no idea what the heck was going on.
Another odd thing that happened was that the MC invited us up onto the stage individually, calling out Sean first. Sean then awkwardly stood there while the MC told the audience that he sang and wrote songs, and that he was a history graduate. The audience then gave Sean a round of applause, before Michael was invited to join Sean on the stage. The audience were then informed that Michael was also a singer, played guitar, and had recently been to New Zealand on holiday. The audience then applauded Michael, and I was invited to join the other two on stage. I was then individually introduced to the audience, who were informed that I also sang, and played the accordion and piano, and then, oddly, they were told that I have been blind since nine months old due to cancer, which was something that he asked me in conversation, although I had no idea that this would form part of my introduction. I was then given a round of applause, which was louder than the applause that the other two received. I’d like to think that this was because the audience found me the most attractive and interesting, bit ut was probably just out of sympathy after hearing the blind cancer story. And then we were eventually allowed to start.
It will be interesting to see whether this is a thing with Australian festivals on the whole, or if it’s just specific to those particular festival MCs.
I’m writing this at 10pm. We have to be away by 630, meaning that I need to have gotten today’s Dollop released before then. If you’re reading this and it’s Monday then you know I’ve done it. This means I’ll have to get up at about 4 tomorrow morning, to make sure that this gets recorded and uploaded in time. I’ve had solid WIFI for the last few days, but I’ve no idea what the WIFI situation will be like after tomorrow, as we’re heading to a new destination. Might this Dollop be the last of the consecutive daily Dollops? Find out tomorrow.