THE MOOPS (now known as THE PERSIAN RUGS)
@ the Hopetoun Hotel
September 6, 2001
Since the Hoey is pretty small and it seemed to be an open secret that the line up of the Moops consisted largely (or as it turned out, entirely) of former Hoodoo Gurus, I figured I'd better get there early in case it was packed. So I did and it was.
Get this, an "unknown" band was playing it's first ever gig, two sets without any support acts, and at 8:30 it took close to ten minutes to get from the front door to the bar and get served. Did I mention that the Hoey is pretty small? Partly the problem was due to the area in front of the bar being jammed solid with trendoids who showed no sign of stepping back to make way for anyone they weren't personally acquainted with; partly it was because the place was packed solid, full stop. Shit, if every new band could get half this many people to its first gig, the Sydney scene would be in great shape. Of course, if every new band could be the subject of on air breakfast discussion on national radio the following morning, as the Moops were before I hit the snooze button (it's a radio alarm) and went back to sleep, then everything definitely would be blooming in the garden.
None of that was going to help me get a drink right then however. When I finally got within touching distance of the bar, right in front of me there were half a dozen women drinking shots of tequila and treating close to two metres of the bar as their own personal preserve, so I had to bypass them and get in behind the bloke who seemed to have been at the bar the longest. Unfortunately he was more interested in checking for SMS messages on his mobile phone than in getting served, so when he ignored a passing barman for the second time, I elbowed him aside. From the look on his face he clearly thought I was being rude and uncouth, but since I thought he was a selfish cunt, I didn't care much what he thought.
Beer in hand, I headed for the front of the stage and took up a suitable position, like a big game hunter in a blind waiting for some rare and exotic animal to emerge. Hmm, maybe David Attenborough would be a better reference point, since what I had in mind was close observation, rather than slaughter. For a while, the only activity came from an increasingly frantic soundman, who was having a lot of difficulty with microphones (a not uncommon occurrence at the Hoey in my experience) and foldback monitors. Since 60s bands never had the luxury of foldback monitors, I thought this band was passing up a golden opportunity to inject some indisputable period "realism" by simply turning them off, but apparently no one in the band saw things that way.
Eventually the sound seemed to be sorted out (though there were continuing problems for most of the evening) and the band emerged wearing matching white trousers, black skivvies and sunglasses. While it's undeniably an authentic 60s look, their group entrance also carried with it the impression of "Reservoir Dogs" being remade featuring a cast of out of work 60s porn stars. Towards the end of the evening, someone yelled out, "Show us yer money shot", which leads me to believe that I wasn't the only one making the porn star visual connection.
Unfortunately, when the band tried to get started, there were more sound problems immediately. These lasted for several minutes, resulting in a number of false starts and causing Brad to comment impatiently, once they were finally able to commence, "So far it's just been a fashion parade". However, it was worth the wait in the end. Although characterised as "60s-punk-styled originals", any project involving Dave Faulkner was always going to exhibit plenty of pop sensibility, but there was nevertheless a genuine garage/punk feel behind the music. One idiot kept calling out periodically, "Play some punk!", but clearly he had misunderstood which punk movement this band was drawing its inspiration from.
For most of the evening, Faulkner tended to favour his keyboards (though I couldn't spot a "Farfisa" label anywhere), only stepping out from behind them occasionally to play guitar. The organ added to the 60s feel, but the songs still sounded more like modern covers of 60s originals, rather than the originals themselves. Prior to this show, I had heard that this project was going to involve Died Pretty's Ron Peno, but aside from acknowledging his co-authorship of a couple of the songs, no mention was made of him.
If I was to compare the Moops to Melbourne band Hands Of Time, also noted for their garage/punk style and whose self-titled album was reviewed by both Simon Li and the Barman himself not so long ago, I would say that the Hands Of Time have blended their Seeds with the Masters Apprentices, while the Moops have opted more for the Knickerbockers and Paul Revere and the Raiders, though there were some songs which wouldn't have sounded out of place in a set by the Shadows of Knight, Golliwogs or Blues Magoos any time during the mid to late 60s, or more recently on any album by the Cosmic Dropouts, Highrollers or Kwyet Kings (as you can probably guess, I've been overdosing on Scandinavian garage/punk lately).
The Moops even have their own theme tune, "Mooping Around" (or possibly "Mooping Along"). Needless to say, if every new band was as ready to play two sets worth of material this well developed at their first gig, they'd be beating off A&R folk with long sticks. Rumours of an album in the not too distant future surfaced almost as soon as the band left the stage. - John McPharlin
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