STRANGE CHARACTERS

A STORY BY BEN ALLEN

I really love going to gigs. I probably share that with you, if you’re reading this. One of the great things about going to shows at local venues is the odd characters you meet from time to time. It’s not rare to see people smoking spliffs, but what about that guy I saw once who brought a bong to the Evelyn? Or that nun who I saw at the Workers’ in Geelong?
 

The first show I ever went to was that time they tried to bring back Vans Warped, but the first show I went to that wasn’t a festival was NOFX and The Bennies at the Barwon Heads Hotel. I’ve always wondered if they intended to book the more well known Barwon Club Hotel and mixed it up. Anyway at one point I felt something tugging on my (considerably long) hair. I looked round and a bald man had been draping my hair over his head so that his friend could take a picture. I don’t remember anything else about him.
 

Once I went to a show in Traralgon to see The Bennies (again) supporting The Living End. There was a bloke standing next to me in the crowd wearing a pair of sports teacher sunnies that had that bronze reflective thing going on, and a hinge so the lenses could be flipped up away from your eyes. They basically looked like the sort of thing an 80s sci-fi movie thought the world would be wearing now in 2020. Anyway he turned to me and said something like, “I’m gonna make these sunnies famous, watch.” And he threw them onstage where Anty picked them up and put them on. I guess he succeeded in making them famous, even if Anty didn’t find the hinge feature.
 

This business-casual guy bought me a drink one time after I helped reunite him with his missing device at Stay Gold. He approached me and asked to borrow my phone. I was wary of that, but he just wanted to ring his missing one. It didn’t turn up, but after he wandered off I got a call from someone who had found it lying around, as my number was the last missed call. After retrieving it from security I was able to locate him and hand it back. He was super chuffed and we shared a drink. He was relieved. Said he would have been in hot water with his wife.
 

One afternoon at The Last Chance I remember a gentleman who seemed to want to hold a conversation with Hanny J. While she was in the middle of a set. From the other side of the room. I could barely understand his words – was he making requests? Or asking how her family was or something? Pack it in, mate.
 

And then there’s the people you meet when you’re not at a gig. When I lived in Ballarat I was air drumming while walking through bridge mall (maybe I was the odd character that time) and a man approached me and asked if I was a drummer. When I told him I was, he asked if I could do double kick beats (I can’t) and explained that he was looking for a drummer for his band Gutterslut, whose genre he described by making a throaty growl. I spent 20 or 30 minutes with him, over which time he asked me to buy him a drink; told me Megadeth were great and Metallica sucked; asked for my phone number, which I nervously provided on a scrap of paper; and asked if I wanted to see a body he had found in a burnt out house. He never called me about that audition, but maybe that’s for the best.

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