Momentum built as we moved into the last quarter of the tour. A week in Sydney, a festival in Braidwood, and it’d all be over. Not wanting to waste any time, Joe and I found more than a few ways to be productive – shopping around for something to spend out band fund on (team favourite being a Boss RC-30 Loop Station), practicing and partying at the warehouse, and drinking hundreds of coffees. The addiction began to spiral out of control, coffees on King Street, coffees on Oxford Street, on George, Prince’s highway, take-aways from Campos Coffee to take to Camperdown Rest, and a few at that delicious place up from the uni. Flying thusly on one of drugs of choice, Joe and I managed to play a few gigs as well… The Manly Boatshed and the Clovelly Pub gigs were both beautiful, and packed; all wide-eyed and excited about finally having an upright piano to play, we insisted that they mic up the Yamaha at the Boatshed, only to discover mid-song that the keys were stickier than the guy who invented Post-its. Joe’s frustrated, hang-dog looks from the piano didn’t quite get through to me and I took a turn on the ivories as well, much to my musical chagrin. It still felt great to play a proper piano at a show!
Sydney conjured up some really special events for us, particularly the Jurassic Lounge party at the Australian Museum. Lighting shows, a bar, live art, a couple of excellent sets from WIM and Hero Fisher, and interactive everything: what a fantastic way to bring people into the museum and to create a unique atmosphere. I had a great ti me investigating the history and composition of minerals, what to do if there’s a shark attack, looking at prize-winning science photography – my nerd side really dug it. Joe lost his glasses meditating in the Indigenous Caves on the second floor, but otherwise it was an entirely excellent night.
Our Sydney-side companion AJ (BA Info Tech, CPA, Gordon Frost Organisation, Dionysus, the Loft, et al.) pointed out a beautiful slice of a venue on King Street named Corridor, and when I knocked on the door and asked for a show, we were welcomed with open arms. Joe and I set up in an artfully decorated and hallway-width’d (hmm… ed.) upstairs room and played a giddy and exploratory set to a select group of folks: some old friends, some new ones from earlier stops on the tour (Jobi in particular!) and a group of American girls that Joe had met on the street, who hula-hooped while we played. As it turned out, this spectacular and spiritual pair were to join us for the next two weeks as travelling companions and show-stopping hula-dancers. Joe has an astonishing ability to find and befriend really great people wherever we are. It’s an enormous asset when on the road – in the space of a week in Sydney Joe found four people who went beyond hangouts and became traveling companions, heading down south with us to Braidwood to take part inR.E.G.E.N.‘s Regrowth festival.
Regrowth was one of those festivals whose experience is almost impossible to shape into lines, words and letters. Joe and I split up to head down to Braidwood, the plan being that AJ and I would find some camping essentials and material to repair our batteries, and Joe would get down there before dark and find us a camping spot. As it turned out, we all spent six hours on the Sydney-Canberra autobahn waiting for long weekend car-crash congestion to clear; Joe took the scenic route down the coast, and AJ and I pushed on down the reluctant highway. Against all odds, when we pulled up to get our wristbands put on at the festival, well after dark, the car in front of ours was Joe’s trusty Camry. We found ourselves in the middle of a beautifully-decorated festival in the depths of the bush, lights at every turn and installation art hidden all over the place. The vibe of the place was extraordinary, and everyone we met was caught up in a spirit of sharing, dancing, and loving life. We got to see a bunch of excellent acts, some of whom we’d met before: M.O.R.,Onepointzero, Foldy/Black Samurai, Gabe Gilmour and Canberra’s own (mind-blowing) NOZL. Joe and I played a spread-out, jammy, three-hour set, and were rewarded with a bevy of embraces and one tearful audience member who had found some serious catharsis in our songs. We danced and then it was days later and we were taking the warm feeling with us on the trip back home…