You Am I & Jebediah
UBar, Hobart TAS
October 10th, 2019
I tell you, shows in Tassie are something else. Brisbane had a way of making memorable shows, sure, but this place has a way of really ensuring you go away with… a little more on board. It’s like there’s this unspoken competition between acts that has bonded them all into a sworn match to come up with something—nay, anything—to outdo whatever else has been and gone. This show was no different.
Now, I’d seen Jebediah before (hell, I even met them one time), and I’d seen Tim Rogers of You Am I under various guises (Tex and Tim played a festival the night I met my ex, sadtrombone.mp3), but it was at least a decade and a half between drinks on any of them. To get a refresher in a new venue was a good’n.
Uncharacteristically for venues in Hobart, UBar features a fence separating stage from inebriated punters (although, it was of questionable effect – more on that later). On the other hand, uncharacteristically for venues with fenced areas, press are wedged firmly between regularly-delivered Caprioskas (~CULTURE~), pints of Cassy Blue (a hometown cult hero), and bodies that have, for the most part, seen at least 35 flights around our parent star, rather than between it and the stage. That part is a blessing and a curse, largely the latter when you’re having to scream over the top of wailing foldbacks that you need to shove your not inconsiderable heft through a gap that would make a doughnut hole blush.
First up, the Jebs. We all know them, for about a decade there, they had a run of minor and major alternative chart hits on the back of their first two releases, Slightly Oddway, and Of Someday Shambles. Their brand is honest, dirty, and typical of the local alternative scene around the turn of the millennium.
Where certain contemporaries forsook the honesty of the craft for bigger production more akin to what large rock groups from the US and Europe had on offer, they stayed largely on brand. That brand translates brilliantly to a live show (especially one with a crowd that’s less James Joyce and more Jimmy Barnes) because it focuses on playing kick-arse tunes instead of outright virtuosity—although that certainly isn’t a skill absent from the war chest.
By this point, it’s another one of those ‘more of the same’ shows where they carried us through a career that most of us are familiar with, and in a form befitting a band that’s been playing together their entire adult lives. It bopped hard, as expected, and there wasn’t much to dislike. I am sort of sad they didn’t end on their traditional encore piece, ‘La Di Da Da‘, instead opting for ‘Jerks of Attention‘ to close us out – although that’s largely just nostalgia moreso than an actual gripe.
Where Jebediah were predictable, You Am I were… not. The pair could not have been more different in content and delivery, which given their similar pedigrees is quite an accomplishment. Instead of a programme composed in general of familiar sounds from a career littered with high chart rankings (an accomplishment that the band likens to cricket scores, suggesting that achieving number 1 is an insult, while the “right side” of 100 is an accomplishment), the band took a more abstract approach to the affair.
Trust me, abstract is a deliberately chosen adjective here. Tim arrived on stage dressed like a 1970s TV country rock star (think Austin City Limits or the Johnny Cash Show) had an identity crisis and thought they were Elvis (not 50s Elvis, fat Elvis), informed is that it was San Fransisco on a Saturday (even though it was Hobart on a Thursday – minor details), and that pretty much set the tone.
Do I even need to tell you that they were bloody excellent? At this point I’d hope it was fairly strong subtext given circumstances, but in case you need it spelt out in words: they were bloody excellent. So excellent, it seems, that their rendition of ‘Jewels and Bullets‘ (one of the more well known offerings in the set) inspired a young man from the audience to sneak up on Tim and effectively coerce him into a hug mid-song. About that fence I mentioned hey? As one would imagine, a seasoned rock veteran necking a bottle of red and performing in a borderline trance wasn’t exactly thrilled at the development. “I see devils and you all look like snakes to me. I’d hate for anything to happen to you, but don’t interrupt me while I’m doing my job.” That warming was delivered with a conviction rarely seen on stage (including some casual profanity and a promise of genuine physical harm), so heeding it seems wise.
After a few more obvious choices (‘Who Put The Devil In You’, ‘Rumble’, ‘Cathy’s Clown’), we run into the end of the set after what feels like way too short of a time to have been an hour and a half. We’re told there will be no encores because they’re patronising, and treated to a stellar rendition of ‘Berlin Chair‘ to round out the night.
I’ve maintained for a long time that You Am I are one of the greatest Australian rock bands of all time, so getting to cross that name off is satisfying. Jebediah being along for the ride and playing in top form just made it sweeter.
Good ol’ Hobart. Never change.
You Am I
You Am I + Jebediah – Australian Tour