The Powerline Sneakers at The Day By The Green. Noni Dowling photo.
Well hello fellow I-94 Bar abusers! I took my skinny white bum down to Melbourne on the Friday morning – a 5am bus from the Farmhouse here in Dimboola, only a lazy 1000ks there and back - but folks, if they rock, I will travel. And A Day by the Green, the next day, was well worth it. Some call this long-running mini-festival “a day on the green”…well, it is held in St Kilda, after all.
They had a fabulous line-up, led by Melbourne rock royalty in John Nolan (ex- Powder Monkeys), in his most awesome band, The Powerline Sneakers. Also on the bill: River of Snakes, The Pro Tools, Seedy Jeezus , Cold Harbour, The Fiction, Me Graines and a couple of other bands that I missed (my bad.) I’ll be early next time.
SO FUCK DID IT RAIN. LET’S JUST GET THAT OUT OF THE WAY. Inside the dry setting of The St Kilda Sports Club, there were about 150 punters there when I made my grand entrance. No-one noticed, of course, because TheMe Graines were pumping out a fine set of tunes, with a new drummer and a couple of well-chosen covers. They were right on the money - a $20 entry fee – and I got my money’s worth right there. And it’s only gonna get better.
Raul in River of Snakes. Uncredited Facebook photo.
“I talk to a lot of people and musicians in rock’n’roll and they have a real resistance to it. ‘Why do you want to do that?’” laughs Raul Sanchez.
The object of Sanchez’s peers’ derision is his recently awakened interest and understanding in music theory – at first glance, anathema to the three-chord rock’n’roll style he’s explored and exploited as guitarist in Magic Dirt, Midnight Woolf and River of Snakes.
“Learning music theory blew my mind. I’ve known major and minor chords, but I’ve never really knew how they came from, how they worked, how they interacted, functional harmony, things like that. I just wondered ‘How the hell did we get by all those years writing songs without knowing this shit!’ You just grab that and that and say ‘Yeah, that sounds good’.”
The fuzz pedal is one of the greatest inventions of the 20th Century - and Melbourne’s River of Snakes sound like they have shares in it. Let’s hope that canny investment buys the three members a mansion each in the exotic locations of their choice.
The band has been around for a decade. The commercial music world may have moved in a wholly different direction since then, but their sound has stayed firmly rooted in the share-house, college radio universe of the ‘90s…a time when guitars were king and punk - or whatever you wanted to call it - briefly looked like it might drive a stake through the heart of blandness. Of course, that ridiculous but romantic notion was not to be…