Art of Fighting – Adelaide – Governor Hindmarsh, Australia – 2001-07-14

Art of Fighting
Where: Adelaide – Governor Hindmarsh, Australia.

When: 2001-07-14

In the wake of around 5,000 people turning up on Saturday morning to show their support for Adelaide’s live music venues, a good vibe was prevalent in the Governor Hindmarsh when I showed up at around about 8. However, with only two bands on the bill, the actual concert started a lot later than the doors open time of 8 (Art of Fighting didn’t start playing until about 9:40), so with nothing to do I sat with my girlfriend by the main bar, speculating on who present was going to see SM. Later it turned out that three of the people we had earmarked as SM fans were actually in Art of Fighting.

Art of Fighting started the set excellently, and most of the crowd was fairly quickly wooed by the lead singer’s voice; however, their brand of intense, emotional post-rock seemed to be alien to a lot of punters there, as a gap between the stage and the band opened up. The band seemed quite self-conscious about the fact that they were a mismatch, and their constant apologizing soon began to grate. Despite all of this, the sound was excellent, and when they played their slightly faster and rockier material, it was easy to see that the audience was entranced. With a slightly different audience and different bands alongside them, Art of Fighting would definitely be a band to catch live; it was just the vibe from the audience was slightly wrong on this night.

The buzz surrounding Stephen Malkmus’s entrance began to grow as the clock approached 11, whilst the roadies (I swear there are only three different roadies in Adelaide; they seem to be at every concert) tinkered with the various guitars onstage. As the audience congregated right around the stage (in my case, on the speakers) it was clear that this was what everyone had been hanging out for. You could tell it was going to be an excellent concert from the opening repartee between SM and the crowd (‘save the Gov? I didn’t know we were playing at the Gov, so I thought it meant like Save the Governor of this province or something’). In between forgetting to plug in his guitar, throwing down his guitar stand, and taking a toilet break in the middle of the show, Malkmus managed to blast some excellent interpretations of his solo material (“Phantasies,” “The Hook,” and “Jenny and the Ess-Dog” stick out in my mind). He even read out the Yul Brunner Sample from Jo-Jo’s Jacket himself, before moving on to discuss whether or not his haircut is actually a mullet (and for the last time it’s not a mullet, despite accusations from every single type of Australian music press that it is. Mullet: n. A haircut, long at the back, short at the sides and front).

As Malkmus has been prone to do lately, there was the requisite Oasis cover, a superb rendition of “Live Forever,” although those hanging out for a Pavement best-of show would have been sorely disappointed. Not that it mattered tonight, because the overwhelmingly positive vibe from the crowd, the fact that the Jicks were obviously enjoying themselves (incidentally, a Jick is apparently a jerk crossed with a dick), and the excellent acoustics of the venue combined to create a thoroughly enjoyable night.