The Saints come back to Pig City

July 14th will see a concert which should provide a rare opportunity to hear some of the pioneering Brisbane bands from days gone by and pay some tribute to them. According to this piece in The Courier-Mail, the show will include a very rare appearance by the original line-up of hugely influential Brisbane band, The Saints, who will be headlining the one day festival, titled Pig City. Mind you the article also says Pig City takes its name from a book written about the Brisbane music scene. Which I suppose it sort of does, but the book took its name directly from a song called Pig City recorded in 1984 by a Brisbane band called The Parameters – it would be nice to see that song performed at the concert by some of the original artists.

The festival is being held at the St Lucia campus of the University of Queensland, which used to be the location for many shows in that era, as well as being where community radio station 4ZZZ then had its studios. This radio station is based in Fortitude Valley these days (which is a more appropriate location), but their dedication to playing local artists of all types and levels of ability (and listenability) continues to play a big and under-acknowledged role in encouraging bands to get out there and play what they want to play. I understand that the day before there will also be a symposium held on the past. present and future of the rock music industry in Brisbane.
Early this year, Brisbane was named in Billboard magazine as one of the five music hotspots around the world. These sorts of things are always disputable, and sometimes the mythology which gets pumped out about music and bands can be full of just as much bullshit as politics (and that’s saying something), but the judgment by Billboard was still a great recognition of what is a genuinely impressive wellspring of musical talent, particularly given the almost zero recognition Brisbane’s music scene received thirty years ago when The Saints started out.

This also gave me a reminder of how one can never predict how one will get media or on what topic. My regular issuing of media releases and Senate speeches on a myriad of topics, not to mention the many more I raise on this blog, usually get a level of mainstream media attention which very closely approximates zero. Yet when this Billboard recognition occured, I got rung up out of nowhere by a journo who interviewed me for what seemed like 30 minutes – although admittedly it’s a topic I could talk on for a week if I’m in the right mood. Usually when this happens, I still only manage a sentence or two in the final story, but on this occasion the writer used many comments of mine – although not the one I really wanted – and the story ran in a whole heap of places. Of course, the one place I would really want it run was Brisbane, but the local paper here ran its own separate articles on it.

ADDITION (10/5) Queensland Premier Peter Beattie talks up Brisbane music and his CD gift pack.

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  1. Interesting article about interesting times. I read an interview with the journalist Amanda Collinge in the book “Generation Zed: no other radio like this” and she pointed out how the stifling censorship of the Joh era actually encouraged creativity and political expression. I’m not suggesting that Beattie bring back the Special Branch or ban demos to overcome apathy but there’s definitely a link between oppression and activism.

    Pure co-incidence with your article but I wrote up a retrospective here on 4RRR yesterday. I’m studying the station for a university research paper and hope to speak to some of the current staff and a few influential people from 4ZZZ’s past like Jim Beatson and Stephen Stockwell to get a feel for where it is now going.

    Derek Barry

  2. The “stifling censorship” is worse today than it ever was under Joh.

    Back in March I wrote a story about 4zzz for the indie and found that what the long term 4zzz presenters had to say elicited the most information about how the station was going.

  3. Hi Andrew,

    Just FYI – 12 months ago Queensland Music Festival contacted me and asked if I would consent to licensing the name and concept of my book for this event.

    I was of course very flattered, and a little sceptical – you may remember a similar attempt called Revolution Rock fell over a little while ago.

    Although it was the book’s concept they wanted to license, of course I let them know that the name Pig City was copped (pardon the pun) from the Parameters’ single of the same name.

    They in turn contacted the song’s author Tony Kneipp, who gave the idea his blessing (he was always very generous about the name’s use with me) but regretfully for personal reasons he told us he would be unable to perform on the day.

    It wouldn’t be fair to Tony to say why here, but I hope that clears up any concerns you may have.


    Andrew Stafford

  4. hey, the term “Pig City” was first used about Brisbane by Joe Strummer of the Clash at Festival Hall in (what) 1982. Love the Parameters, but get the facts right!

  5. Fesitval Hall?! Surely you mean Cloudland, old fella! Feb 20th, 1982. More police outside than concertgoers inside, even though it was a full house. Although I can’t imagine Joe was the first person to join the words Pig and City together. Still, perhaps I should ask the songwriter of Pig City – to see if his use of the term stems from that night.

  6. Thanks for the memories, Andrew.
    I was lucky enough to catch the Saints at the toga party concert at UQ in 1988.
    And a few years earlier as a naive year 9 student I was always puzzled by the abundant graffiti concerning Gerald’s identity, until a part time job landed me making burgers side by side with Who’s Gerald drummer Cathy. When I went to see them warm up for the Painters and Dockers, I suddenly understood the hype.
    Since then a couple of school-mates have made it big with Regurgitator and Powderfinger, so the influence of the 80’s Brisbane rock scene lingers on. I don’t know if that’s worthy of a world-wide top 5, but it’s pretty cool that Billboard thinks so.

  7. Bonjour from France Andrew !
    I find your project Pig City very exciting for the Bastille Day !!
    I have a blog MELTINGPOD where i posted mostly punk rock and roll podcasts from bands I like, coming from all around the world.
    if you checked it you will see Australia has a very big place in my heart and in my blog/podcasts.
    I met two times Chris Bailey and the Saints and you coud listen to interviews and live shows recorded in France in 2005 with them.
    Others bands are present too likeThe Angels, Rose Tattoo, AC/DC’s first singer Dave Evans, the Bon Scott Celebration Concert…you could find a lot of interesting things from your country !!
    But now I would love to come myself to Brisbane (Marseille’s sister city!!) to do some podcasts about that great event and unique Saints’reunion + see the Riptides with Buzz Bidstrup from the Angels : do you have any idea to help me to realize my project ? i’m sure you need the first woman who started a podcast in France (revolutionary blood guaranteed !!)
    Cheers from Marseille

  8. Hi Annie

    You would need to contact the folks at Queensland Music Festival – go to for contact details, etc. Paul Grabowsky is the artistic director and Erica Hart is also very helpful.

    For those interested, I’ve written a story on Tony Kneipp and the genesis of the song Pig City itself. It should appear in Saturday’s Courier-Mail (“etc” section).


    Andrew Stafford

  9. Regrading comment #3, the Revolution Rock project has been going since 1999 and is still alive and well.

    Also I have spoken to a number of persons who were at the 1982 Clash concert at Cloudland…(me included) and we all recall the words being yelled by Joe strummer at cloudland… i.e. “Pig city” a reference to Brisbane being part of a police state….so there is another spin on the liscened use of the term “Pig City”.

  10. Hello everybody !
    I just came back to your blog today Andrew B and too late. I thought nobody will answer after a few days and…thank you Andrew S !!
    I can’t come from France now it’s very painful for me.
    But I will try to do something through phone interviews…:)
    Stay connected with MELTINGPOD !!
    I just found a cool link to a video-clip with recent interviews from Ed Kuepper, Chris Bailey, Rob Younger, Nick Cave…ah ! Australian rockers…:)


  11. The show is being widely touted as the first “full” Saints reunion forever, but this seems somewhat questionable to me.

    1). To complete the “I’m Standed” line-up Kym Bradshaw would have to be involved, which doesn’t seem to be the case. (If I am wrong about this, I apologise, but I haven’t seen his name anywhere).

    2). OK, so if the classic Saints line up is Bailey, Kuepper and Hay, didn’t they reform within living memory?:

  12. I was at the Clash concert at cloudland.

    They invited Bob Weatherall (Qld Aboriginal leader) on to stage with them and he danced and delivered a rave about the commonwealth games protests.

    I can’t remember the term “Pig City” being used, but I’m surprised I can remember anything of the night.

  13. OK, was anyone at a Saints gig in the E.G. Whitlam room in the Union Building? I’ve met one other person who has similar memory to mine, but as we all understand, details are somewhat hazy. I seem to recall a bit of damage to the fixtures of the room, and a bit of argy bargy as to who should foot the bill. I think I was on door bitch duty, but this is from deeply recessed grey matter.

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