A Square Busker and a Circular Quay, Day 1 (Sydney 5)

So I’ve been writing posts that are likely overlong. To compensate for that, I’ll detail my gig at The Basement mostly in video. I filmed a random song from each of the six contestants from this grand final of the singer songwriter competition, for you to judge who you think ought to have won. Please leave a comment about that below – it’ll also let me see who’s reading :).

So The Basement is THE venue in Sydney for folk, jazz, indie (as opposed to the Annandale Hotel). I can’t describe how amazed and grateful I was to play there, in a packed house with a peak audience of a hundred and fifty, sitting in a dressing room where Billie Holliday, Harry Connick Jr., Ralph McTell and many others also prepared to play. A wonderful sound guy recommended I borrow a guitar rather than double mic it, and recorded the entire gig live. Again I played while Russell counted the votes, which were legion this go around. The lowest vote total was 157. Australians really drink. I thought I might play four songs, maybe six, but I ended up playing twelve. Ah!

The audience started off quite loud and chatty, which I thought normal as they’d been kept pretty hush throughout the night. After three originals I decided to try and win them to me with the Mario Kart Love Song, which did the trick well. Their conversations and fidgety looks had been very disconcerting and somewhat discouraging before, along with the steady flow of leavers, and I felt it hard to even keep up my smile. You see, I perform as I’ve learned from countless Play-ins and JS shows – I focus almost not at all on the words or the tune but more on the feeling and with finding a connection with the audience. I keep my eyes open and focus on my allies in the crowd. This time they sat near the bar – the nice men who promised to look after my Zi8, stood to my left drunken and raucous and enthusiastically calling for “One more!” and up front, where the initially disaffected youth table found interest. Malachy’s friends sang along to Mad World, even.

Afterwards, Dan Usher having won out in classic person who goes first and brings a lot of drunkards fashion, those allies on the left bought my CD and signed up for my mailing list. I found myself unconsciously bowing after everything, Japanese style, but couldn’t seem to stop. I stuck around for stragglers even though it was past midnight and my flight to Hobart left the following morning at 7.20, but I needn’t have. What with the long night, the steep admission fee and the high volume of money spent on drinks, people shook my hand and thanked me but weren’t terribly keen to spend more money. I set up my mini merch at a choke point at the end of the bar. The venue rushed people out, too, as they wanted to close. Still, I played in The Basement, and that’s all I wanted from tonight.

Audience: ~150 and falling to ~ 75
Earnings: 109.00 AUD, 40 minutes
Song of the Day: Mario Kart Love Song – Sam Hart

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