Originally uploaded by Man_Overboard.
Last time I was in Brissie, I must confess I was not that impressed - my most distinct memory is of walking up Vulture Street being pursued by ominous black birds and wondering more than idly what they were. I think the main difficulty is that I was totally unfamiliar with the city and it, like any city with any class, took a little while to reveal its secrets. So, it was not until I was ready to leave that I was finding places that made me go "ooh, this is cool". This time round, they provided the starting point.
Of course, the main reason for going was to see Sigur Ros and their wonderful little support act, Amina: the cutest four women group I have ever seen, heavily into chiming sounds produced by the likes of the glockenspiel mixed up with various string instruments. Apparently, they like to improvise one new song every time they play: I was lucky enough to see them playing around with one of those songs made popular as a ring-tone. Much laughter was produced in the audience, leading to the lead instrument player (I have to confess, I do not know what she was playing) having to pause periodically while she cracked up.
The main event was amazing: two solid hours of awestruck silence on the part of the audience while Sigur Ros played maybe half of Agaetis Byrjun, with various tracks played from their other albums. Several were allegedly from the upcoming Trukk, which is already being talked about in some quarters as one of the defining moments in early 21st century music. Perhaps that is just so slightly premature an evaluation, given the CD has yet to come out. After a short encore, they did two "come out and bow to the audience" things - so rare in rock music (although there was otherwise no other acknowledgement of the audience - making it something like a play) - before putting a Trukk logo on a screen and leaving us to a track from that album being played on the sound system.
The other main activity I engaged in was to find good places to eat, which more than made up for the truly dreadful Penang cafe in Otahuhu I had had to resort to on my night in Auckland. Talking that experience over with friends later, noting the bad food, the fact that the restaurant was actually locked when I got there and that I'd only gone in because I thought I saw someone dining, it was suggested that maybe it was not really a cafe at all, but rather a front for some other business. Come to think of it, the waitress did have an odd look to her and when, in a fit of politeness, I said the food was good, she laughed.
But all that was behind me in Brisbane - even the foodcourts can produce decent Malaysian food for lunch. I think the only time I mis-fired was when I was too hungry to keep going, so went to whatever the next food outlet was: I kicked myself to find a great looking cafe around the corner. So - on the Friday night, I pigged out on Thai food in Fortitude Valley, then on the Saturday took up a friends raving recommendation and dined on Japanese foof, Wagamama style. The best of all, however, was at the Himalaya Cafe - Nepalese and Tibetan food. Once again, I proved why sometimes it is simply best to eat alone (I still remember dining in the Cow in Queenstown with a friend, way back in the 1980's, and managing to wipe spaghetti around my ears. Oh yeah, and then there was the night my fish cake went flying in a Thai restaurant in Christchurch. Some people are single for a reason.)
This time, my nemesis was something called bitten rice - it was kind of like rice bubbles, but every time I went for a forkful of it, about a million grains would skitter all over the table and then around the table: it kind of looked like six polar bears with heavy dandruff had dined with me. But, oh, the food. For an entree, I had this dish of beef chunks marinated in lemongrass and lime juice and chilli, then cooked on a charcoal grill: soo tender, I couldn't even believe it was meat.
Apart from eat, I shopped, which made a laborious multi-hour trip to the Gold Coast necessary, so I could stop in at Harbourtown and pick up some more cheap clothes from Rivers. It is strange how awkward the transport links to Surfers are.
Of course, I walked for hours, explored all the bookshops, tried out multiple coffee shops and CD shops (in a shocking departure, I didn't even buy one CD). My best walk was to go from the central city up Elizabeth Street, admiring the elegant old buildings all the way, to Fortitude Valley. From there, I walked out New Farm road and caught the ferry - what a magnificant way to spend a Saturday night in Brisbane. Apparently they've taken a while to catch on, but have had a 40+% increase in trade in the last year. So - I ferried up to the last point on the river, got out for a walk around to give the bogans a chance to shout incomprehensibly to me, and went back to where I started.
For a special treat to end the night, a couple of young guys started a punch up on the train: I was watching them, wondering if I should intervene and deciding that it was their problem, when a whole bunch of police and train officials, including dog, got the situation under control.
Ah well: next weekend, I will go to either Christchurch or Queenstown.