Groovin’ the Moo Canberra was good fun. Some fans won a Triple J radio contest by calling in and guessing Darwin’s favorite food (turkey burgers. How did they know this? Even I didn’t know this…), and their prize was sitting down with the band and having something called High Tea. There were all sorts of delicious pastries. More Lamingtons!
When Darwin was setting up onstage, there was an especially vocal fan in the front row who screamed quite prominently, “Darwin, I want to fuck you!” Later on, at the autograph signing tent, the girl appeared again and confessed to Darwin, “That was me in the front row screaming outlandish things to you.” As bizarre as it is to type this, the interaction was by no means the first of its kind or even a rare thing. But what is changing is Darwin’s way of dealing with the attention. It’s odd and it’s fascinating to watch a close friend enter into this sort of spotlight from obscurity. I’ve seen Darwin bask in the attention, and not long after, become drained by it and sometimes even feel a sort of dread towards it. He’s become more reclusive. Starting with our February England tour, he’s begun to stay backstage most of the time during shows and festivals and as the clubs clear out. I know that it’s sometimes isolating for him, but Darwin’s a smart guy, and I perceive that he’s finding a strong and healthy way to deal with these unnatural circumstances.
Our band finally was able to watch Washington, who have been lovely and friendly folks throughout this festival, and who are equally lovely in musical terms. We played Jenga against Architecture in Helsinki. We hung out more with Datarock, who we’ve been getting along with splendidly. We learned that their saxophone player, Kjetil, at one point won the title of “The Greatest Jazz Musician in the World Under 30.” Their singer, Fredrik, told us that Darwin Deez is perfect for Norway, their home country, and offered to help us spread the word there. I hope something comes of it! We made friends with an Australian band called Art Vs. Science. Watching the Cut Copy set from backstage, Greg’s friend Isharna taught me how to do this dance that I’ve been dying to learn for ages. I don’t know the official name of it, but I’m calling it “The Human X.” In exchange, I taught Isharna how to do our “Whip My Hair” dance. We went around front and watched the final Cut Copy song from the trench between the barricade and the stage, where the security guards are stationed. At this point, it was completely dark out, but the trench was lit by the blinding white stage lights. Architecture in Helsinki was there. We all started bopping around like we were at a birthday party. The singer of Cut Copy came down into the trench and sung the final song amidst our bop group. The night went out with a bang.
Greg and I stayed behind in Canberra, crashing with Isharna. All of her friends seemed to be studying law, which in the US, is a lofty endeavor, but it somehow didn’t seem like a big deal to them. Isharna took us hiking up a hill, continuously apologizing that there were no kangaroos for us to see. We got a nice view of the city. She explained to us that Canberra is one of the few cities in the world that was completely planned in advance before it was constructed. Despite this, nobody seems too excited about the place. At least, not the young people. “It might be a nice place to live if you’re 40 and have two kids,” Isharna speculated. All the young people seem restless to jump this town as soon as possible. Greg and I chewed on eucalyptus leaves straight from the tree and smelled the cough drop smell, tasted its bitterness. We went to a Malaysian restaurant and slurped up a divine creamy coconut curry soup called Latza. The two of us said our farewells and hopped on a Murray’s bus, Sydney-bound. There must’ve been a fair amount of other people heading back from Groovin’ the Moo, because two different people recognized us. A third duo of guys who didn’t notice us discussed Darwin Deez as Greg and I smiled and exchanged glances.
I liked listening to those dudes talking music. First they made the classic exchange about the Red Hot Chili Peppers, how everyone says that Blood Sugar Sex Magik is their best album, but how they actually prefer One Hot Minute. They talked about how John Frusciante isn’t going to be on the new album. Then they switched over to Kanye, and how Pitchfork gave his latest album a controversial perfect 10, and theorized about whether or not Kanye is an idiot savant. Next they discussed Radiohead, and how they weren’t really feeling the new album at first, but then the new single was playing at a party and they totally got it and realized it was fucking awesome. These were all such familiar subjects to me. I sometimes forget that pop culture in America is actually pop culture for the entire globe. It hit me, on that bus, how small this world is.
“Not all successful American bands translate to Australia,” informed one of our friends from Inertia Records, the next day over Yum Cha lunch. Can you guess what was his main example of an American band whose popularity does not extend to Australia? It was Dave Matthews Band.