My psychological makeup is such that I rarely find myself looking forward to something. However, I do feel some glimmers of anticipation about the Pig City concert which is being held in Brisbane next Saturday (14th July). I wrote about it before in this post. Most of the pre-publicity has been focused on the reunion of the original lineup of The Saints who recorded the seminal song “(I’m) Stranded” in 1976. (it will actually only be 3 of the 4 original members, but the two key ones – Chris Bailey and Ed Kuepper – will be performing together under that name for the first time in Brisbane since the 1980s.)
But the band I’m particularly interested in seeing will be Ups & Downs. They were a 1980s Brisbane group who grew from being a jangly-guitar-with-paisley-shirts band into something much better. They definitely fit into the category of ‘should’ve been commercially successful’, and they probably would’ve been if they hadn’t had to face the hurdles Brisbane bands did in those days, most of which are no longer there. You can hear a few of their tunes by visiting their MySpace site here.
I’ll still be interested to see The Saints, but I saw Ed Kuepper perform live as part of The Saints some years after he originally left the band, so the base novelty value of that is fairly minor for me. However, they have some good songs amongst their first three albums, and it’s always a good thing to see/hear a band perform their good songs. However, I reckon the band Kuepper went on to set up after leaving The Saints in 1979 – the Laughing Clowns – were more ground breaking musically. If I could see The Laughing Clowns play again, that would really be something – not that I expect it to happen. I suppose they also wouldn’t have the crude parochial angle of being able to be called a Brisbane band, despite Kuepper and its other key member, drummer Jeffrey Wegener, being from Brisbane originally. (yes, drummers can be key members of a band).
The Pig City concert will also have the nostalgia of (I assume) seeing a lot of people who I haven’t seen much in recent years, as well as that of attending a concert at the University of Queensland, which was the site of many significant concerts back in the 1980s. In those days, the University also hosted the studios of alternative music station 4ZZZ-FM. I’m a bit biased I suppose, but I think there should be a greater recognition of the crucial role that this radio station played in supporting and creating the musical environment that the Pig City concert is celebrating. Indeed, the song Pig City was recorded in the 4ZZZ studios at the University. This was in the days before bands could put their music and images on the internet, and also before JJJ radio was broadcast nationally, so having a local radio station that provided an outlet for local, independent bands was crucial. I should emphasise that ZZZ still does play this role from its studios in Fortitude Valley – just 5 minutes walk from my office, (for all those people who love conspiracy theories, in a building once owned by the Communist Party).
Community radio is often viewed dismissively, but while there are different opportunities for local bands these days, the value in getting radio airplay, doing interviews and the like should not be dismissed. Brisbane musicians have been recognised on a world level in recent times, and the role of grassroots support like ZZZ can’t be over-estimated. (and if you agree with helping an organisation that supports local music and creativity, feel free to give them some financial support by clicking here.)