Kingswood rocked so hard it was almost scary (and were in fact blurry, going by the above smart phone photo). This is about all I can remember from their Red Deer Music & Arts Festival 2013 performance. Not sure if it was the bass bleeding my ears or the BYO beer soaking my brain cells, or both, but the devastation their set wreaked remains but a shadow on my rock and roll soul. Then shit got real hazy. I can vaguely remember my brother hoisting the empty of all but soft drink esky on to his ex-personal trainer and labourer’s shoulders, as we prepared to depart for more alcohol. Then I recall us saying hi to three couples gathered around a campfire on a property between the festival site and the house we were staying at. They said nothing in return. One of them may have cocked a gun and spat tobacco at our feet. Then finally my brother passed out in front of home base and, despite my best efforts, would not be roused so we went to our beds instead of catching headline act The Grates. I woke up with barbed-wire-wounds on my hands, possible concussion from falling over deer fences and to sunlight hitting my hungover eyes like a truck.
In regard to malevolent figurative or actual trucks, as proof “these things come in threes”, the festival’s story from my perspective began early on Saturday September 7 – while most of my fellow countrymen and women were busy misguidedly ushering in Tony Abbott’s xenophobic and economically elitist right-wing government. Brisbane City had gloriously revealed itself from my mobile vantage-point atop Mount Gravatt, as I steered my car north along the Pacific Motorway. Presently one of those orange-texted traffic conditions signs stated there was congestion on the Riverside Expressway, beside the CBD. “How bad could it be?” I thought of the expressway, that I’d never had any trouble with especially at noon on a Saturday. Margaret, Elizabeth, Turbot and Herschel Streets into the city were all missed as rat-runs I could have used to escape traffic inching along the expressway. I needed Kelvin Grove Rd, which after becoming Samford Rd would lead me to Mount Samson, under whose evening shadow Red Deer would be projecting its progressive vibes north, south and eastward.
After an hour spent feeling the skin on my right arm sizzle in the spring sun I finally discovered the source of the congested calamity, where the M3 split from Coronation Dr and usually took cars north toward the Sunshine Coast. All manner of emergency vehicles had blocked the ramp, where a truck (the first of “these things”) had apparently lost its shit and crashed. Trusting in my metallic-voiced GPS, I had no choice but to continue along Coronation Dr then turn north along Park Rd, Milton, and get back on track. When I was confronted my yet more traffic, and I swear my sun-shrivelled right arm shrieked in alarm. An ALDI truck (second of “these things”) was sitting under the rail overpass, and someone was motioning for it to reverse. “Ah,” I thought, “it’s ok: he’s just waiting for the right moment to back up and deliver his German-owned and probably Asian-made goods.” Then the truck driver got out and wandered around his truck, shrugging. The horrific reality of the truth finally hit me and almost had me returning home convinced the gods were angry with me that day: the ALDI rig had gotten stuck under the rail bridge.
Eventually, of course, I found myself on Kelvin Grove Rd, from whence there were no more traffic related problems. I was frustrated at a service station about 30 minutes later by a fat old guy in full bits-per-inch futuristic army camouflage, who was taking forever to choose his brand of bogan juice (energy drink) and blocking access to the good old fashioned water I wished to purchase. Talk about two worlds colliding. Then at Samford Central shopping centre, I left my wallet open while handing over money for my salmonella chicken wrap to the decayed-teeth late-teen chick apparently in charge of the entire shop at lunchtime. “That’s a nice photo,” she said.
“Thanks,” said I.
“I look like a criminal in mine, because you’re not allowed to smile anymore.”
I tried not to hesitate too long while also trying to avoid staring at her brown choppers, before saying: “I guess I’ll keep mine (taken about a decade ago, when I was 20) until I die, then.” The awful drive had all but killed my good spirits. Had she not been friendly, I may have snapped when after a 20 minute wait I brought the food toward my lips and noticed a piece of chicken at the wrap’s edge was barely cooked. With valiant calm I threw the offending morsel out, took the plunge on the rest of it and continued on to the house I was staying at nearby the festival – while trying to ignore imaginations that my stomach was already sending bad-meat-bacteria to my brain that might ironically render me a vegetable for the rest of my life.