Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Deer in Headlights or: STATE FINAL, LOL

Now I'm kind of wishing I'd asked someone to bring an actual camera. 

So friends, there's quite a bit to report. As you may remember from a previous post, I spent most of last weekend crapping myself out of fear and nerves before my heat in Raw Comedy. For the uninitiated, Raw (or is it RAW? I actually don't know) is a nation-wide open mic competition endlessly plugged on Triple J, held in conjunction with the Melbourne Comedy Festival. After a bunch of heats and finals, amateur comics compete in the Grand Final, which is during the comedy festival. Then the winner wins stuff. In order to compete, one can't have earned over a certain amount of dough doing stand-up. I haven't earned any, nor have I ever even tried this sort of thing. Unless you count running around wearing a Dodo suit in a high school production of Alice in Wonderland "stand-up comedy".

In any case, my heat was on Sunday. I was terrified. I arrived at the Comic's Lounge, and to my horror I found that the vast majority of the other competitors were all seasoned in the ways of "gigging" and "being a comedian". I was suddenly certain I'd made a terrible mistake. I was going to die. I was going to vomit onstage. No one would laugh. I wouldn't know how to use the mic. I'd fall off the stage. 

I became increasingly convinced I'd let down all of my closest friends. Hell, Ferg had even driven (hungover) from a wedding somewhere in the country especially to see me. That was way too much pressure. WAY too much. Backstage, I'm pretty I must have looked like I was about to pass out. 

I peed about eight times in the space of an hour. That's no exaggeration. I paced up and down, then sat down and stared at my shoes, running through my material in my head, convinced I'd get onstage and be unable to speak. 


Of course, that didn't happen at all. Right as I thought I was going to throw up amidst all the sweating and barely held back panic attack, I jumped up and down a couple times and bounded onstage. 
"YAYY!!!! REBBYYYYY!" I heard Alice's voice yell out. That calmed my nerves immensely. 


People laughed. I felt natural. I didn't pee. I even got an applause break! Which was weird, and I almost forgot to pause to let the audience clap. What the fuck?? was the most memorable thought going through my head at the time.

I tell you what, it was exhilarating. I ran off the stage and was greeted with beaming smiles, high fives and shocked praise from the other comics. I floated about three feet off the ground for the next few hours. My phone started buzzing immediately. I reemerged at the end of the bracket to shrieks and hugs and high fives from my posse of friends. I could barely breathe. And after we all headed to Auction Rooms for breakfast (they walked, I fled), and after everyone had heaped good vibes and praise on me, I began to think that maybe I had done okay. Like, more okay than merely proving to myself that I could do it at all. As we left, I felt hands on my arms and shoulders, followed by "Hey! Good set!" or "Man, you were funny!". 

I felt almost greedy, that I could want to get to the next round after all I'd wanted to do was "see if I could do it". But then the prospect began to excite me. After all, why else would I have wanted to "see if I could do it"? I fucking love making people laugh. It's one of the few things I know I've got going for me in social situations. Or any situation. That I'm goofy as hell, and sometimes funny. 

So after we ate, and sweated in the ridiculous heat, and after I calmed down and after everybody left, I returned for the end of the third bracket. It ended, and the judges read my name out with six others and I made a choking noise and then I bailed, without speaking to the producer or to the judges because I was quietly freaking out. In the happiest possible way. 

I spent the next twenty-four hours being elated, psyched, delighted and excited. And proud of myself. 

Then I heard my preliminary final would be the next day and I freaked out again. 

I spent all of Tuesday afternoon in varying degrees of panic. I honestly thought I would vomit. All day. I was nauseous and sweating profusely all day, and I got no work done because suddenly I couldn't remember any of my jokes.

What was heartening though, was seeing one of the guys (see also: legitimate comedian who like, has gigs and everything) from my heat, Ethan Addie, on the tram. He immediately told me that he thought I was the best of our heat, and that I should start hitting up some comedy rooms around Melbourne. Which was lovely, and enough to keep the chunder from breaching my throat for the time being. 

In fact, I think I was more nervous than in my heat. Before, I had no expectations. Now, not only did I want to do well, I had more people coming, which meant more people to potentially let down. Also, everyone competing was picked as one of the best from their respective heats. I got to the Evelyn and went to the bathroom so I could close my eyes for a little bit. 

My friends started arriving shortly afterwards and I calmed down a little bit. I watched the first half, and decided that I wasn't going to win. That, I think, was when I began to feel less pressure. I reminded myself of the first thing I had to say when I got onstage, and figured that if I managed to get that right, the rest of it would fall into place, and who cares anyway - I wasn't going to win. Only two comics would go through, and this was only my second gig. My first time onstage had been two days previous. I told other comedians I knew vaguely (acquaintances from time being cameraman on Studio A, a channel 31 variety show) that it was my second gig with a mixture of pride and terror. At least I was able to speak, which I wasn't able to do earlier in the afternoon. 

Anyway, I eventually ended up bounding onstage without chundering everywhere beforehand and as soon as I did, I felt fine. I actually walked around the stage this time, and occasionally paused. I felt really, really good. People laughed in all the right places, and I was able to enjoy myself without the underpinning terror that had characterised my first foray onto the stage two days earlier. Honestly though? I was sure that the crowd wasn't laughing as hard as they had during the heat. So as I raced off the stage afterwards, I was sure that the congratulations I got from backstage was simply because it was "only my second gig". I hoped that it was enough to not let my pals down, and headed back out to the main room of the Evelyn to watch the rest of the show. 

Side note: the last act of the night had me in stitches. His name was Stuart, and for the life of me I can't remember his last name, but fuck me I could not breathe I was laughing so hard. It was intense. I was doing my zebra/hyena laugh in between choking for air. I was sure that he'd be the winner. 

So when Adam Rozenbachs read his name out first as the runner-up, I thought Cool, lol. Time for me to boost, I got some Paul Kelly to see. Did I mention that? I had a ticket to see Paul Kelly and Neil Finn with my folks. I didn't get to see either of them though. Which was okay. Because my name was read out as the winner, I shrieked and dropped my bag and threw myself onto the stage (over an amp which was very graceful) and I stood there like a deer in headlights and made ridiculous faces and I think I even danced around a little bit. 

The next twenty minutes or so is a blur of saying "THANK YOU VERY MUCH" and "AAUUURGHHH!" to pats on my back and hugs and yelled cries of "WELL DONE REBBY!" and "CONGRATULATIONS BRO!". Alice was shrieking, Lucy was crying, and I didn't quite know what to do or say apart from THANKS and nondescript noises of delight and terror. 

Some dude wanted to give me his number. People were shaking my hand. Someone asked me if I had any gigs coming up. "Uh. The state final?" I replied. Then it hit me. I was the winner! I am so rarely the winner, I didn't know what to do. So I bailed. I got in a cab, thinking I might make it to Paul Kelly. I immediately realised I wouldn't, so I went back to the Evelyn. I thought it awkwardly after the point to track down the judges and do some "NETWORKING" (oh, god...), so I called Nate. 

It seemed appropriate, that the rest of the night be spent on the phone to Mitch, then having a beer with Nate. After all, they're the two #PerthLads who so vehemently told me that I should try standup. Nate had even told me as much before we knew each other particularly well, so that was certainly noteworthy at the time. Not that I don't take heed of what Mitch thinks (quite the opposite, really), but he is the one that Always Believes in Me No Matter What.

So yeah, we sank some beers and I calmed down and I slowly came to terms with the fact that maybe this could be something to try. Something that I might be good at, and perhaps worth giving a concerted go. I always feel most victorious when I'm making my friends laugh, and I think deep down I had really wanted to do well in this competition. Now's a good a time as any to admit that to myself, I think. And I think that even if I don't progress to the next round (I really don't think I will), I might as well try my hand at a few open mics around Melbourne. After all, this began as an exercise in pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Why not see exactly how far I can push? Fuck, I'd love to see if I'm a good comedian. Or comedienne. Whatever. 

Honestly though, I can definitely say that I haven't been this excited about something, or this proud of myself in a ages. I mean, fuck, it feels GOOD to win! And it feels good to feel like you're doing something that people get a kick out of. This, combined with a few other little things I've got going on has meant that for the first time in a while, I'm actually super psyched about what the next few months might hold. Or maybe that's just the lack of complete and undiluted terror and panic talking.

THANK YOU to everyone who came to see me on Sunday or on Tuesday. I really appreciate that you made the trek over to support me and kept me from chumming everywhere with your yelling. You guys are The Best. 

Also, I feel I must give Mike and Jaz a shout-out. You guys are SUCH good sports. x

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Hey, guys.

Valentine's Day is a strange one, isn't it?

I was going to have a good old fashioned ramble tonight. However, I know that I'd just be adding to the many, many piles of words that already exist about Valentine's Day and that resurface on Valentines Day if I were to say any of the following things:

  • Oh my gosh, pals! Valentine's Day is just one big marketing ploy! 
  • Valentines is such a waste of time! 
  • Just take your lady out any other day of the year! Don't make it a token gesture because you fucking have to, guys
  • Everything's twenty thousand times more expensive on Valentine's Day! Don't be a chump! 
  • Laydeez, why the fuck do you care if your SO gets you something shiny on Valentine's Day??

So I won't say any of those things, because they've been said about a million times before, in ways and words far more articulate than I can be bothered mustering up at this hour of the night. 

I will say this though, and I'll try to keep it brief. The day puzzles me. It really does. I tried to explain as much to a few of the guys I'm working with at the moment, and I got a response along the lines of, "Are you just being a grinch because you're single?" to which I became suitably enraged because my argument was reduced to being the gripe of some pissed off singleton. 

It just seems like a giant waste of time to me. It seems like the time to wheel out a token gesture from the guys, and a shitty excuse to expect something shiny from the more princess-y girls. Dude, take your significant other out for dinner any other damn night of the year. I can say this honestly - every time I've actually had someone to spend Valentine's Day with, I've not wanted to do anything. In fact, if I remember correctly I actually think I spent a Valentine's Day a few years ago not with the guy I was seeing, but with a friend, watching shitty movies. 

I actually think I declared the February 14th to be "THE WHO RECORDED LIVE AT LEEDS ON THIS DAY IN 1970, SO IT'S WHO-DAY SHUT UP" at that point. Which is silly, but you know. 

Put it this way: if I were with someone today, and they suggested we go out of a romantic dinner, I actually think I'd almost be disappointed. Why are we going out for dinner? So we can be overcharged and be amongst all manner of insufferable couples? Please. I'd rather stay at home and hang out.

This is almost an exact quote, said yesterday by a guy I know. "It's good, I only have to take her out for dinner twice a year - Christmas and Valentine's Day. After tonight, I'm halfway there." I just think that's one of the stupidest statements I've ever heard, on a variety of levels. 

And before you say it - no, I'm not just peeved because I'm single. I do have the capacity to be hopelessly smitten and disgustingly enamoured. And I do have the capacity to appreciate romance. Sure, I can't abide public online declarations of love (EVERYONE LOOK! LOOK AT ME!), but I definitely appreciate romance. Hell, When Harry Met Sally is one of my favourite movies of all time. Case in point: today on the train coming home I watched the girl sitting in front of me grinning at her phone, attempting to stifle giggles at what were obviously messages from her significant other. That actually brightened my mood immensely, especially after having to deal with the usual peak hour public transport cluster fuck. That feeling of being shockingly smitten is an amazing one, and to see it physically manifested on someone's face - that put me in a happy place. What also put me in a happy place was watching the hoards of be-suited men carrying armfuls of flowers (and one guy with a bear almost as big as he was) onto the train. That made me legit laugh out loud at one point, but that's entirely different. 

What was definitely heartening and cause for rejoicing though, was the fact that upon leaving the office I realised how genuinely excited I was for a night by myself, watching a movie and having time to cook up a storm. I'd been invited to a "I Hate Valentine's Day" party by a friend from high school, but honestly - the thought of buying a bottle of wine and turning a mass of lentils into a mass of MY BITCH was too attractive to push to the wayside. Besides, I was fairly sure Miguel and Jaz were going to be out having a romantic night, so I'd be able to do all of the above in my underwear, while listening to Glen Campbell unaffected by shame. 

They're not, just FYI; walking into the house singing along to Tears for Fears I realised Mike was at home. That fact was initially somewhat irritating, but only for a split-second. As I finished off my dinner, Mike gave me a run-down of the bazillion course meal that he planned to cook for his lady, and I congratulated him with genuine applause. His Valentine's Day romance comes from a genuine place, that much is clear. He dumped about twenty thousand shopping bags full of ingredients on the kitchen bench, and I gave him a mental thumbs-up. But you know, if we're being honest ... I'm listening to the Louvin Brothers at the moment, REALLY LOUD. If you know what I mean.

That's totally not the point of this post though. The point I'm trying to make is thus: over the past couple of years, I've rediscovered how much I really, really enjoy my own company. If I'm being honest, I'd rather hang out with myself than most people. I don't have a significant other, at least in part because the thought of spending that much time with someone else isn't the least bit attractive. In years gone by, I'll have filled my time with friends and company because I didn't want to be by myself for that sort of extended period of time. Now though, I'd rather go to the movies by myself than with most other people. Having someone else in my bed means that there's less room for me. Other people talk during TV shows, and that I just cannot fucking abide.

I've had that realisation a few times in recent months, but it was nice to have it reaffirmed today. Seeing dudes carrying bundles of flowers, and watching a guy at work scramble to secure a booking at a restaurant, and watching the cavalcade of posts on Facebook, the overwhelming thing I felt was being torn between what movie I was going to watch upon getting home. That thought makes me happier than any thought regarding a significant other, and thank god for that. I'd be a shitty girlfriend. 

Comedy Stylin'

I've made a decision that could end up being either an amazing move, or the Worst Decision I've Ever Made. Basically I'll come out feeling victorious, or in dire need of therapy for years to come. I can't really imagine it being anything much in between those two extremes.

I've decided to enter Raw Comedy.

I'm not entirely sure what possessed me to sign up, but I did.

Actually, I lie. I'm pretty sure I can actually pinpoint my thought process and motivation.

Firstly, Mitch has always told me he'd like to see me onstage attempting standup comedy. He's obviously biased, but I have to admit that I do feel a sense of accomplishment and victory when I make someone whose opinion I value erupt into cackles of laughter. So I felt good for a bit, then forgot all about any notion to give it a go.

Then, I spent a few months being unemployed and job-hunting, to very limited success. I guess signing up was my weirdsville way being proactive, even if it was just to do something fucking absurd.

So now I've got to do it. The time has come for me to actually follow through with what I said I'd do and I am FUCKING ABOUT TO CRAP MY DACKS, I kid you not guys.

At some points I'll be quietly okay about it, thinking Oh yeah, this won't be so bad. I make my friends laugh all the time! ... and then I'll think about it some more and I'll begin to panic and sweat and I'll need to sit down.

But I'm going to do it. Because I've told just about everyone I know that I'm doing it, and I tested some "material" on the guys I'm working with at the moment and the more people I get to come, the more like a coward I'll feel if I pussy the hell out. I think now I almost don't even care if I win or if I do particularly well, as long as I do that. Actually, I take that back. I'd love to do well. But mostly, I just want to prove that I can do it.


If this looks like the kind of silliness you'd be into, come along. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Back to the Colonial Hotel

A kind of shitty photo of the scene of the crime.

I had an interesting experience a couple of nights ago. Put simply, I had a run-in with the location that provides the background to a truly staggering amount of my teenage memories...many of which feature me literally staggering around. I went back to the Colonial Hotel for the first time in about five years and, upon seeing it clean and not filled with drunken young'uns (and not being a drunken young'un myself), had my mind blown when I realised where the hell I was. That was where my friends and I spent many, many a weekend circa 2007...being super alternative, going to an alternative club, and having all sorts of awkward teenage adventures in the World of Going Out to Clubs, which obviously none of us were well-versed in.

Context. I occasionally take photos and do some copywriting for the Venuemob. A quick plug, they're a really lovely bunch of dudes, and I'm having an absolute blast spending time in the office writing for them and occasionally trundling around town taking photos of venues. It's a welcome change from sitting around the house in my pyjamas doing "work", and it's nice to be earning money doing things that aren't waitressing and making coffees. So if you have a function coming up, give the website a look-see.


Tuesday night I made my way to the Colonial Hotel to take some photos of their various spaces for the Venuemob website. I got there, and the ground floor was nicely set up with tables and chairs and tablecloths and flowers. It all looked very classy. At that stage I had a vague recollection of having been there before, but I was in a rush and was running late. So I met the girl working that night we went upstairs and BAM. BAM. My mind exploded everywhere.

I remembered the stairs. I remembered the room to the right, that'd more often than not be playing 90s hits. I remembered the little in-between room, where people'd be making out. And I remembered the main room, with its bar on one end and D-Floor at the other, where I'd spent many, many weekends from the age of about eighteen till I dunno, a couple years after that.

My mouth agape, a few exclamations of "Holy shit! Ho-ly-SHIT!" escaped my face. "I remember this place!" I cried. "I came here all the time!" There was a guy with us too.

"What was the name of the night that was on here, on weekends? Ages ago?" I asked him.
"I dunno, there's been heaps. Um. Click Click?"
My arms flailed around. "YES! That was it! Click Click!"
He laughed. "Oh my god. That was ages ago. Years ago."
Well shit. I thought. I guess it was. 
"Yeah, it was."

It was strange to suddenly see the venue clean, and empty...and clean. Click Click and that other god-awful night that was on ... Pow, or Splooge, or Bang, or Crash or whatever the fuck it was called, my friends and I were there all the time. For those of you who never had the questionable good fortune to attend, it was a bunch of rooms playing "alternative" music while emo-fringed kids danced around and made out, and while my friends and I took our first foray into the world of going out and getting kind of fucked up.

A pimply-faced youth. One of the few photos
of that era I could find on Facebook.

It was a time when kids still hung out in front of Flinders Street Station. It was a time when everyone had an emo fringe. It was a time when people still used Myspace. It was a time when my friends and I hadn't exactly figured out our style and schtick and what exactly it was that we were about. So obviously, I occasionally wore high heels and I had long hair.

My friend Nate rode over, to hang out/keep me company/kill time before we met Jaz and Mike at the Liberty Social to see a Yeasayer DJ set. As I snapped away, I excitedly told Nate about the adventures my high school friends and I had within the very red walls, and on the now-empty and now-clean dance floor.

"Dude, this was the place we spent our weekends!" I repeated again in astonishment.
"Oh, cool."
"Seriously! This is where we ended up on my nineteenth birthday!"

He was obviously attempting to be interested in my exclamations while he fiddled absentmindedly on his phone. As one of the newer additions to our circle of friends, Nate didn't have the kind of context for five-year-old adventures that Jaz and Alice might. He didn't know me when I was an obnoxious kid. He met me when I was an obnoxious 23-year-old, after all (lol). Still, in the now-empty rooms I had to share the myriad (admittedly blurry) memories rush back to me.

Oh man, the memories! We'd jump around on the D-Floor, singing along to Karnivool's "Themata" for the umpteenth time. That song was played multiple times a night, and we all complained about it ("WHY DON'T THEY PLAY ALBUM TRACKS!"), right before we sang along at the top of our lungs. Back then, I hung out with band-tshirt clad guys, and I almost exclusively dressed in things bought from Dangerfield. We were all skinnier, and we all had longer hair. It was in those rooms that we almost dutifully drank too much, then cabbed our way back to one of our houses then fall asleep on the floor.

We were not particularly well-versed in drinking (we started late), but we'd get it done. The guys weren't particularly good at picking up, and neither was I, but at the tender age of eighteen it felt like that was expected of us. That to go out to a club, we also had to drink too much and attempt to pick up members of the opposite sex. Not that we didn't have an awesome time, but it was the kind of awesome time that you have when you don't quite know what you're doing, and when you don't quite know your limits.

Nate had met me in the "rooftop terrace", which I knew as the "room on the side that played older less metal stuff". I remembered being there on my nineteenth birthday, dancing to "This Charming Man" with a friend from uni. I remembered drunkenly wondering out loud whether or not I should break up with my first boyfriend dancing to some shitty R&B. As we descended the the stairs, and I remembered stumbling down them, and once carrying my blonde friend down them so I could take her home on one of the few occasions she'd joined us at the sprawling club.

Nate sat on the couches downstairs, taking photos of himself with my little iPhone fish-eye lens. I looked around us, at the pillars around the tables around us, so nicely set up. Wasn't this once a club as well?

"Oh MY GOD." I exclaimed.
Nate looked up. "What?"
"This is where Mitch and I met! Except it was a club then, not a restaurant! Oh my GOD."
Nate laughed. "Was he working? Did you say, 'Forget the beer, I'll have your FACE.'?"
"No...shit. I can't believe this looks so different...!"
I laughed, and made a mental note to tell Mitch. It was beyond bizarre.

Anyway, I finally finished taking those gazillion 360 degree virtual tours, and Nate and I left. We headed to the Liberty Social, to meet Jaz and Mike. I was driving. I approached the door and was surprised when the bouncer demanded to see my ID, which I didn't have.

"Seriously man. I'm twenty-four."
I looked over at Nate. He was laughing.
Seriously man. I wanted to tell the bouncer. I just spent the last hour reminiscing about my teenage clumsy drinking and disco pashes. This guy is younger than my younger brother. I AM OLD ENOUGH TO GO INTO THIS BAR.
Instead I said. "Dude. Come on."

It sounds stupid to feel old at this age
but I tell you what it was a weird night...

They let me in. I was driving, so I wasn't drinking. Jaz and Mike were already a bottle of wine and many beers into the night.

Admittedly, my first thought was I am way too sober to be in a room this filled with lasers and smoke machines. And admittedly, I spent the first twenty minutes or so awkwardly dancing, and being very aware of the fact that I was super sober and dancing. I was suddenly reminded of being a kid at Click Click, and being incredibly insecure about the fact that it was expected of me to "dance sexy". And obviously I couldn't do it. Because I was a complete geek, and so were my friends.

Before long though, Nate and I were making complete spectacles of ourselves on the ol' D-Floor, arms punching and legs kicking and jumping around. We pretended to be animals, we pulled faces, we made up truly absurd moves and danced around in a completely over the top way, not giving one iota of a fuck. Covered in sweat and completely sober, we danced up a storm to a DJ set that took a bizarre turn for the 90s-inspired. I laughed to myself, amazed. The nineteen-year old Reb could never have made that much of a D-Floor spectacle of herself while completely sober...unless I was moshing, of course. I would've been too self-conscious. But here I was, making ridiculous faces and making a fool of myself with Nate, who obviously gave even less of a fuck than I did.

Probably how I thought I looked back then.

If nothing else, it's heartening. I can dance my little heart out, and not care what anyone thinks. In fact, I wrote a post entitled "Times I've Enjoyed Dancing", expecting I'd write a few more. I quickly realised though, that every time I go out I now enjoy dancing. Is it something that comes with the years? Is it because I now hang out with people like Alice and Ferg and Nate, with whom I can't help but dance around and not give a fuck? Or am I just becoming more and more comfortable with myself? It's probably a little from columns A, B and C.

Besides that, the fact that I'm able to go out and not immediately sink a bunch of beers is heartening. That I (mostly) know my limits is something I've been glad to note also. Mostly though, the fact that I'm comfortable with myself now and (mostly) don't feel like that naive and insecure kid is something worth high-fiving myself about. PROGRESS.


The overriding feeling I was left with from Wednesday night though, was that it's fucking strange to suddenly think about so many hilarious drunken escapades that I hadn't thought about in many, many years. Jumping around to Rage Against the Machine with your best friends, having after-dark clubby adventures, being eighteen and stupid and fucking up ... it was the best of times, it was the blurst of times. Sunrise, sunset, all that shit.

Justin Townes Earle @ The Corner

Last time Justin Townes Earle was here, I wasn't able to see him. Firstly, I had no one to go with (or so I thought). Secondly, I was in the midst of editing a rather epic and stressful project while also working full time and packing up all of my belongings in order to move out. I then heard from a pal who actually did go that it was Pretty Much the Best Thing Ever. Obviously I was beyond disappointed in my having chosen sleep over seeing endlessly talented, tall, dapper-as-fuck, singer-songwriter son of Steve Earle. Who needs sleep when you can have a night of the twangin' musical stylin' of JTE? Chumps. That's who.

Then, lo and behold, I heard he was coming back and I proceeded to lose my shit in excitement. Turns out he actually comes to Australia fairly often; he's been here about six times since 2008. Well, I praised the musical gods of touring at that nugget of information. To cut a long story short, I finally saw Justin Townes Earle on Sunday night at the Corner Hotel.

After so long spent watching countless  live performances of Justin Townes Earle on Youtube, I can now happily say that I've finally seen him in the flesh. In fact, I wouldn't just say it happily - I'd probably shout it, with wild gesticulations and a slightly crazed look in my eye. I can honestly say that I haven't been that enraptured and mesmerised by a live performance, or that moved by a gig in a really, really long time.

The entire night.

Wanting to minimise the amount of time fiddling around absentmindedly on my phone while standing by myself, I ended up arriving about two-thirds of the way through the second of the two support acts. I instantly regretted my decision to be a pussy, as Robert Ellis was onstage and immediately grabbed my attention and interrupted my "find a beer and and try not to look like a loser" train of thought.

When I arrived, the Texas native was about to launch into "No Fun", the cause of my aforementioned distraction from beer acquisition. That song, and "Sing Along" were particular highlights from what I managed to catch of his performance. Post-gig, I made sure to buy a 7-inch single of "Friends Like These" and congratulate him on a super set. Standing by the merch table and shooting the shit with punters, he was just charismatic and friendly and as good a story-teller as he had been onstage, if not more. So you know, keep an eye out for him if you're into a good dose of twang.

In any case, I marched my way to the front and waited for JTE to take the stage. Which he did, after what felt like aeons and after I managed to hit myself in the face with my beer. How that happened I'm not entirely sure, but it did and it was awkward and I was by myself. That's entirely beside the point though, because shortly after I proved yet again that I can't leave the house without making an ass out of myself in some way, Justin Townes Earle took to the stage. And when he did, a huge grin must have appeared on my face and I'm pretty sure it didn't leave for the duration of his set.

The first thing I'll say about Justin Townes Earle is that his onstage presence is something to behold. He's charismatic, self-effacing, and has a sense of humour that's a little wry, that betrays some intense geekery and that is very, very engaging. As in, I spent a lot of time giggling. Even while mentioning rehab and stints in jail, he had the crowd laughing. He spoke about his mother, about living in a terrible part of Brooklyn, and revealed the stories behind a number of the more touching or #dark songs in his arsenal of tunes, all in that amazing Southern drawl of his. I'm sure they're anecdotes he shares regularly to crowds around the world, but the show had the intimate atmosphere of someone sharing something personal - needless to say, he had the Corner audience eating out of his hand before long.

Of course, I did manage to be standing next to the all-sway, all-singing, all "YEE-HAW!"-ing epitome of That Guy (or woman in this case) who doesn't understand proper gig etiquette. That was a little tedious. But for all of her off-key wailing and her shitty, no-sense-of-space or of time and place dancing, I couldn't really fault her too much. I mean, her exterior personified what I felt like on the inside, and isn't that a good thing? Besides, the guy standing on her other side informed her that he was at the gig to see Justin Townes Earle perform thank you very much so she did eventually shut up. Which must have been embarrassing for her. I empathised - I'd just hit myself in the face with a beer after all. BUT I DIGRESS.

It's worth mentioning that the evening show on Sunday was actually the second one he'd done that day; the first was a matinee show. I suppose when you do two shows in a day you've gotta do something to keep things interesting, and to my delight that led to a few different versions of songs. A blues adaptation here, a re-imagining of "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" there (a particular highlight in my opinion), and a few moments of suddenly changing his mind or pulling out a song he hadn't played a long while. The set-list appeared to be in large part completely improvised, with moments of, "Ah, shit. I reckon I'll try it this way instead..." muttered while adjusting a capo, or re-tuning his battered black guitar.

I'll admit - if it wasn't already obvious - to being quite the fan of ol' JTE's catalogue. I suppose his particular brand of country and bluegrass twang peppered with tales of fuckin'-up, being down and out, heartache and redemption appeals on a very personal level. And I guess the fact that all those songs of his about being down and out, about heartache and redemption come from personal experience and IRL days of being down and out makes for some really affecting stuff.

That being said, I'm certain that even if I didn't have a personal attachment to his tunes and even if I didn't think him just about one of the most easy-on-the-eye/stylish people I've ever laid eyes on (I'm not even kidding), I'd have been pretty mesmerised by his performance. Completely disregarding any of his banter or his laughing at the shit yelled from amidst the crowd, his performances of the actual goddamn songs were kinda nothing if not heart-wrenching. Face contorting and body moving as his long limbs pace up and down the stage - it's like each note is a part of him wrenching itself free. If that sounds painful, it's not meant to be; it's just an indicator I think, of a singer who pours everything into every performance. It must be exhausting.

While I enjoyed the entire set (obviously), particular highlights in my opinion were "Look the Other Way", "One More Night in Brooklyn", "Black-Eyed Suzy", "Harlem River Blues" (SINGALONG, SINGALONG!), and of course, the previously mentioned "No One Knows You When You're Down and Out" (here's a link to another performance of it). For those of you playing at home, "Nothing's Going to Change the Way You Feel About Me Now" may have just been my mind-blowing moment of the set. Prefaced with a quip along the lines of "if you ask an artist you're dating to write a song about you, you might not like the result", it was the song I had been looking forward to seeing and it was all I could do to keep my hands from clapping involuntarily in glee.

Anyway, the set rollicked along in the charming, engaging, occasionally heartwrenching, occasionally hilarious fashion I have described in all sorts of gushing ways in this post. And at the end of the gig, I suddenly realised my attention hadn't wandered for the entire time JTE had been on stage. Which may seem like a strange thing to notice, but it's certainly noteworthy in my case. Even if I'm enjoying a gig immensely, I'll inevitably end up thinking about other things at points during the set, whether it be my To Do list for the next day, or something a song reminds me of, or whether I'll make the last train. Furthermore, I often find that by the end of a gig, I'll be ready to head home. Not that I hadn't enjoyed said gig, I'll just have had a sufficient session of rocking out and I'll be ready to head home and hit the hay. It takes something special for me to yell "MORE! MOAR!", and this was the first time in a long time that as the lights came back up I wanted much, much more.

In fact, I'm pretty sure the only time my mind wandered, it was for me to suddenly wish I'd come with someone, if only to be able to share the musical experience with someone. I wanted to teleport the friend I'd originally planned on going with to the Corner, because I knew the gig would've blown his mind.

Instead, I wandered on back home, all elated and in high spirits, and proceeded to describe how amazing Justin Townes Earle was to Mike and Jaz when I got home, with wild gesticulations and yelling and brandishing my cup of tea around.

Best gig in a while, in case that wasn't clear.