The Tim McMillan Band – Axework for Space Goblins
The Tim McMillan Band @ Gluttony – Funny Pork
11:00pm, Fri 24 Feb 2012
It is absolute bedlam as I walk across town from the west-end to the east; the streets are as trashed as half the people walking them, and I see numerous people collapse into the care of their companions on the sidewalk, either from dehydration or drinking too much. My beloved city feels like a battle zone, and there’s a war of attrition taking place. I arrive at Gluttony and there’s people everywhere; luckily the Funny Pork tent is right near the entrance to the super-venue.
I’m apprehensive; Axework for Space Goblins is listed as a 45-minute show, and I’ve got tickets for an 11:30 show in The Garden. I know that one will start late – there’s been consistent complaints that Cantina and Soap, with their extensive bump times, completely stuff up the shows that follow… I’m expecting that an 11:50 arrival will be right-on-time. But as staff rush in and out of Funny Pork, the minutes tick by… and I grow more and more worried. I start mentally rearranging stuff in my head, and decide that I can see Tim McMillan tomorrow if tonight’s show doesn’t pan out.
Finally, at around 11:25, the doors – well, tent flaps – are flung open. Seats are quickly filled, and I’m clock-watching – I might just be able to pull this off. But then four men with guitars – took to the stage and sat down… Introducing themselves as Auxilla, they played through a quick four- or five-song acoustic set, constantly battling with the ambient noise coming from the Fringe Club next door. They were bloody good – wonderful polyrhythmic songs with unpredictable harmonies – but as they said their thankyous and ambled off stage, Matt Vecchio popped up to thank everyone for their patience… and that they’d just have to do a soundcheck.
My watch said 11:44. I bit my lip and scurried out, determined to return.
The next night, however, ambient noise was much lower. I scurried in about ten minutes late, catching Matt Vecchio & Emily Bettison in their Modern Looking Saucepan guise. Their songs are catchy and childishly fun and, whilst not performed precisely, are certainly not bereft of enthusiasm or application.
There’s no need for a soundcheck tonight, and McMillan and bassist Brad Lewis hop onstage without much fanfare and plunge headlong into a show that was similar to last year’s effort. Most of the songs were familiar, and the musicianship is still amazing – and the little stories that nonsensically surround songs (like the bizarre tales of growing up in Frankston, and of early experiments in metal with Reverend Pedophile) are wonderfully off-the-wall.
Tim and Brad really do deliver on all fronts – if you’re not being blown away by incredibly intricate original pieces, there’s insane mashups like “Master of Puppets / Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” (featuring a whole heap of other song lyrics). Tim’s fingers still dance on his guitar, and it’s great fun watching Brad – he keeps very much his own counsel during songs, quietly nodding to himself before coming in at exactly the right time for a couple of supporting notes, then sitting back and staring serenely into the distance. There’s still the playing-each-others-guitars-while-not-missing-a-note bit, an oddball shout-out to their guitar manufacturer, and…
Look, they’re just brilliant, alright? The Tim McMillan band put on a show I will come back to again and again and again, because it is just insanely wonderful. And, when I went to buy a CD at the end of that second gig, Tim remembered me from last year, and we had a nice little chat.