GIG TALES: "The Couch"
CARINGBAH INN: Caringbah, New South Wales, Australia. 1987.
by Jon Dunmore ©

Cs my amber urine arced furiously onto the couch, making that haughty splattering noise, I had to wonder why I was being so careful in balancing one leg up on the couch and keeping one leg on the ground - maybe so as not to spoil the decorative threadwork of the cushions?

I was the last remaining band member in that dressing room, and in those days I used to consume beer like it was… well, beer. (Keep in mind that I'm not talking vapid Californian beer, where downing a six-pack gives the buzz equivalent of drinking water from a dirty glass - I'm talking Australian beer, 1987 vintage - the type that you just can't get in the U.S - you know, the stuff with the ALCOHOL CONTENT.) And we'd just finished yet another thunderous gig at one of our regular circuit venues - but this time, it was different…

The band was "Purple", a Deep Purple cover band (long before the term "tribute band" was parlayed into abuse) and this 500-capacity venue was a staple rockin' joint for the biker and backseat-betty set; longhairs abounded, as did Motorhead and Judas Priest denim patches, and one never lacked for a rousing knife-fight in the carpark.

We'd thundered through here many a beer-sodden balmy night, but The Eighties had over-ridden this venue at last - Huey Lewis and Hall & Oates and The Hooters were transmogrifying the musical landscape for a generation of squares who erroneously thought they were hip, creating the perception that rock and roll was ALL ABOUT the pastel vinyl suit and the hair gel mullet.

Here's some foreshadowing: our head roadie looked like Glenn Hughes at The California Jam - and we're loading into a face-lifted venue which now looks like an Ikea ad, replete with neon décor and black-lighting, designed by a pastel-gay decorator who vowed to "laminate the shit out of everything".

Before doors open, while we were drinking in the club area (all of us to a man resplendent in leather jacket, unkempt hair, worn-down blue jeans), we were told by the security staff that we would have to leave, because we weren't complying with the dress code (!) "We're the band, man" - This was the period in history when this epithet began its serious decline. No more did that phrase carry insurmountable weight, allowing unbridled access to free alcohol, privileged parking and chewable titties. It was becoming almost a curse, as we were ushered out by thick-necked bouncers, who now sported fastidious bowties and looked like male strippers.

Under heavy protest, we let ourselves be ushered, as we didn't want to make problems for our agency. But the problem lay with venues' skewed attitude towards bands of our ilk, who were seen to be menaces to the profit margin, with the influx of satin-shirted wimps hot on our heels as the breadwinners and ad-sellers, with their brand of white-bread, pseudo-cracker demolition pop. Evthin' ah know, ah learnt frem thayt there Music TayleVision….

So these venues began to afford us no respect: the BAND couldn't even drink in a public area of the venue in which we were performing! - Because we didn't fit the décor! They would let us work there because we were still a draw - but MTV was so insidious in creating the PERCEPTION of The Scene that even monetary success was not going to turn bookers' heads away from their set course: to wean their customers off this leather-clad idiom and onto the pastel-neon idiom of false pussy-promises, catering to the boof-haired post-teens with the bangles and wide plastic belts and their older sister's ID who would, in turn, lure in the male post-teen nerd contingent whose wet dreams outstripped their live game like Jack Nicholson outstripping Joey Fatone.

So I enacted revanche in its most classic form - direct, visceral and pagan - by sending a message of foul-smelling derision that no one could mistake as subtle. Like Jesus taking the sins of the world upon his shoulders, I spoke for every band who were mistreated at the hands of every glorified pub and I got my cock out that night backstage not just for the sole purpose of putting it in someone else's mouth.

This is for all your glowing neon decorator strips - this is for the rainbowed girlie drinks that taste like medicine - this is for kicking us out of your club - this is for replacing the rock and roll on your jukebox with bands created by corporations - this is for the MTV generation - god in hell! - this is for 1987 in toto -

Laughing and swearing as uncontrollably as my emptying bladder, I decided to stand full frontal on the couch, thereupon I moved to the matching plush chairs and still had a little drunken sass left over to dab some in the corners of the room, like a hint of French perfume (- eau de toilette? Mmm - yes please!). Then I got the hell outa there.

The kicker? We played there about four months later. The venue was a rock club again. The bouncers wore jeans and t-shirts. The dressing room was totally renovated.


Added: 2005, Feb 13