Pretty Little Him (It’s Your age. It’s my rage)
There was not a great deal of romantic drama, on the dairy farm, to fuel my imagination as a 15 year old. That was until I started staying up late to watch RAGE. My younger brother had friends and he introduced me to a radio station called Triple J. He will say later that I took ”The whole alternative thing, to an unhealthy level.”
It was staying up to press record on the VCR, that I first encounter something that would create many new questions in the answering of one. I would stay up till as late as I possibly could, wallowing in contented misery, as the many siblings and my parents slept. The nights were so still out there, sometimes. The kind of silent that made you think Scully and Mulder were in the right area of employment. Thankfully my father snored so loudly, it reminded me that my alien phobia was not centred in reality… for the most part. I would use up the extra unused time that was left on VHS tapes with taped films on them. It was rare to get an entire tape dedicated to RAGE. If there was washing to fold, i folded it, if the dishwasher needed emptying, i did that.
I crouched up close to the television in my flannel pyjamas that my gran had gotten for me and I watched a few music videos with the sound low. The song was called Pure Morning and it was by a band called Placebo. My pulse quickened at the sound of the guitar intro. It sounded lazy but sensual and tough. It evoked a sense that shot right into my heart and head. What I was feeling at that time, in that isolated place that I hated so vehnemently but loved the people fierce and erratically. The person singing was beautiful. The shiny and ebony hair, the pouty lips that shined a bit moist. The skin so very pale and sun starved. I had no idea if it was a boy or a girl. I did not care. I was in lust. I was in love. This was what was missing for me. The idea that beauty and sexuality were not so set and distinct. At the small country school that I was about to leave in order to complete my VCE at Bendigo Senior Secondary School. Boys played football and girls played netball. I spoke like a person ”Who had swallowed a fuckin’ dictionary.” It was good to have that time, it taught me things. But, Brian Molko and his beautiful weird sensuality and nasal singing voice, he taught me that my taste in romantic partners was not so conventional. I liked them pretty, I liked them arty, musical, weird.
The song on RAGE seemed to align itself with me and my plight as a bookish farm girl. ”Days don’t end, skins crawling.” Brian sang the recesses of my tortured heart and made it sound like it was actually quite romantic: to be stuck in this desolate cultural wasteland. I grew dreamy eyed as I watched the entire music video utterly transfixed. This was it. Outside under the bright star scattered sky, the cows mooed mournfully and it made me smile as the poetry of it all dawned on me. Here I was staying up in the middle of the night my only company a sleeping family and the stars above twinkling as they watch the cows wander in the moonlight, munching grass. I feel insignificant and vulnerable. This cheers me and I embrace the all consuming crushing love that I have found for a pretty little confuser who actually makes me feel less confused about myself.
Placebo’s Without You I’m Nothing (1998) is the soundtrack to my first house party with friends who are smarter than I and have read books that I have never heard of ( my friend Maria’s house. She is the person who first introduces me to the word ‘Feminazi’ and why it is stupid). It was at that party i fist saw drunk kids up close and it was thrilling. These kids had come from uptight private schools and had chosen to go to Bendigo Senior because it was more progressive and treated the 1600 VCE students as if they were already at university. I was still a practising mormon at this stage so stayed sober. It was still incredibly thrilling. These kids drank wine and listened to sad music at 2am. An actual boy was sitting very close to me on a couch and asking me about the ring on my finger. ”My mum and dad got it for me for being brave.” I remember saying, deliberately erasing the part about being in hospital. That was not a cool enough reason. I turned my head away from the boy, in an attempt to seem mysterious and complicated.
It was at this party that I learned about the origins of the scary and vengeful sounding secret track on Placebo’s With Out You I’m Nothing. I had heard it for the first time because it woke me and frightened the living hell, out of me. I had fallen asleep to the album and The secret track had woken me at a loud volume. The song sounds like a warped female voice speaking threateningly over a screeching sound of guitars and drums. The words seem lustful and violently so. No melancholy sensitivity. It is harsh and caused me a few bad nightmares as a result.
”Oh, yes.” My friend tells me. Her large green eyes and facial features very reminiscent of Christina Ricci. ”Those are actual death threats left on his answerphone. The exact words were, ‘I will f*** you up the ass and I will sneak into your room and cut your cock off and stuff it in my mouth and chew it up with my little teeth.’
My mouth drops open in horror. ”How do you know that?” I ask.
”I read it in a magazine.” She says. ”Melody Maker.”
When Black Market Music came out I was obsessed with the music video for Taste In Men. Oh Brian, the way he strode down corridors and sat on fancy couches in the long black coat and pleaded with disarming conviction for me to change my taste in men.
Never, I would think with fevered determination and a pulsing feeling between my legs and in my chest. I was pretty sure those feelings were going to send me to hell. I cared a little about this but, not enough to stop loving and lusting for Brian Molko. He was like a sexy and stealthy alien. I was meant to be scared of aliens (its a real phobia) But the ones i feared were the ones on the X Files, not sexy frontmen who were all the good parts of weird and sexy from both genders, all together in the one person. He slipped into my imagination and a very real influence on what I would later find attractive in partners and lovers. The rural Australian boys at my country school were not interesting or smart or had any of the attributes I wanted in a boyfriend or something less gender specific: a sexy friend with kissing benefits? That sounded about right.
But, Brian was the stuff of naughty fantasy. Something to be treasured and enjoyed in the shadows of existence.
Molko was the answer to the questions that David Bowie in Labrynth, had me asking as a little girl. When my brother asked me what I wanted for christmas. ‘The latest Placebo cd, please.’ On receiving the cd, it became constantly played on the cd player I get from my parents. The song Special K confused me for ages. It did not make sense that he would write a song about something so mundane and wholesome, as a breakfast cereal.
Just like I swallowed half my stash. I never ever wanna crash.
I still loved it and eventually I worked up the courage to ask one of my new and more worldly friends about it. Her name was Ellen and that friendship ended like a relationship of extreme intensity. ”Sometimes your nievete scares me.” She says after I ask if she knows what the song title is referring to.
”Drugs.” She tells me.
It just made the album more thrilling to me and exciting. I contemplated this: So, you can fall in love and it can feel like you are on drugs and a great amount of them, all at once.
It was 7 years later. I had a boyfriend. I lived in Melbourne, now, Kensington, to be exact. I was 23. Flipping through Beat street press magazine, there was the full page add for their up coming Australian tour. I practically jumped up of the couch, with excitement.
I babble about how much this band means to me in that it pretty much defined my emotional, intellectual and sexual development.
”You listen to punk, now.” He says lazily.
”The show’s in a few months.” I say, ”we must get tickets.”
”A few months? I may break up with you by then.”
We end up getting tickets. He does not break up with me before the show. He does invite a friend from his work along. This is where the trouble starts. They decide to drink before the show. The show is at Festival Hall, unfortunately. I am still beyond excited. I wanted to be there right away. The boys assurred me that nothing would happen too early. Howling Bells were the support act and I wanted to see them. I wanted to see the support act.
But, I stayed silent. I pushed the first twinge of unease aside and deep deep down. Dont be such a worry wort. I told myself. Stay cool. I did not want my boyfriend to think that I was not a cool girl. I did not want to look like a nagging harpy, in front of my boyfriend’s friend. They drink and they drink. I drink a little but not enough to get wasted. I want to be able to sing along to the songs. I had the most recent albums Sleeping With Ghosts (2003) and Meds (2006). I was ready to see my adalescent dream boat in the flesh.
The boys kept drinking. I talked and it was fine. I tried to relax and i was funny and cute. I was the way i knew that I should be. It was becoming apparent that I could be moody at times and this was not something I wanted to become a habit. I kept checking my phone and my heart would jump in my throat as over an hour went by.
Then, two hours.
”Can we please go now?” I say. We leave but I can feel he is mad at me. The boys stride ahead of me as we walk up the street. They are both over 6ft and their legs are long. They do not wait up for me. I hear the crowd screaming as we arrive at the entrance gate. I then hear Brian’s voice. He is singing Pure Morning.
”How long have they been on?” I ask the security guard.
”Over 45 minutes.”
My heart freezes. My head thrums and everything slows down. I think this what a rage blackout must feel like. We get to our seats and I am grateful for the noise. I am crying like a baby. I was good. I was patient. FOR FUCKING NOTHING. I let two men, one who was meant to love me, do what they could have done any night of the week. I missed it I missed the whole thing.
”Thank you and goodnight, Melbourne.” Brian called to the screaming crowd. I am doubled over in my seat, hot tears streaming down my face. My boyfriend’s work friend gets me a t shirt from the merch stand. I love that t shirt after this is all over. It it is black and white striped and PLACEBO is written across the front in hot pink capital letters. He hands it to me and I simply stare at it. But, I did not even get to see them live. I though. This t shirt is a tour t shirt of lies. I did not want to be the person who got found out. I would have to fib to fellow Placebo fans. ‘Don’t let this ruin your night.” I felt a pat on my back. I cried harder. The gig was the whole point of the night as far as I was concerned. Even though he got me a t shirt. I still nursed such a deep hatred for him and his stupid entitled swagger. Oh, here babe, i will throw some money and lil fashion at the problem. Chicks love clothes!! I loved Placebo. I wanted the experience more than a fucking token.
The day after the fateful gig gone bad, my boy texts me from work.
Having a horrible day. Still feel like shit about last night.
GOOD. I think.
Its fine, babe. Don’t worry 🙂
There is nothing like a formative event in your past that takes on such weighty nuance, on looking back over it as a stronger minded and feminist woman. I would never let something like that happen to me again. Never again would I simply sit and stew in my silent anguish over a gig.If the people are not as eager? Fine. I will go and arrive alone, meet up after. Or not at all. I am never late for gigs now. I am early and eager.
I do not fear doing anything alone. Every time i do something solo, I am proud.
I no longer let so much slide, in order to be wanted.
I am struck by the deep desire to get With Out You I’m Nothing, and Black Market Music on vinyl.