“…this is a deep-rooted mentality underpinned by the history of the industry, not the people. Most were born into the industry as it is today, but did not see that it was born out of an economic and industrial mentality…” – Rohin Jones.
On the morning of the first Museum Collective show, I woke to the early mist luring over the city. The event was due to begin at the Old Museum Building at 5 p.m. and would be played out in the gardens; a perfect choice considering the month was September, the most beautiful of them all.
I strolled through the CBD towards Bowen Hills, heading bang straight up degradation creek, coursing through Brunswick street, passing an assortment of strip clubs, adult shops and deranged minds, loitering in the background.
I had been cooped up in the house too long, forgetting life’s ability to fold and manifest itself, shying away from the sight of all those dolled up, pimped out, sex pistols, that seem to fire off around you like rockets at a Chinese send off while you walk the pavement. But as sure as hell is hot, I could see the tips of the Old Museum Building looking over Fortitude Valley, confidently pronounced in stone.
Making my way around the building to the gardens where the stage was set, everything seemed to be moving along according to plan. The lighting towers stood tall and sturdy, positioned in the corners of the stage. Placed just below was an arrangement of guitars, drums, kits, keyboards and carpets for comfort. The Old Museum Building staff weaved back and forth in their black shirts, stopping here and there to reshuffle a mic stand, loyally picking up behind crew who were feeling short of time.
Half an hour before the doors opened, the Museum Collective gathered in a small area aside the garden. I watched them lean back into the words of producers Will Davy and Chris Neehause, speaking from the centre, as they whipped the air with motivational bits and pieces from more than 50 years of equated experience between the two of them alone.
The collective were previously introduced to me as a group of facilitators, curators and specialists who share a common love for genuine music. Their differences to the traditional approaches of the Music Industry had been outlined, describing the exchange between an artist and a record label as purely monetary and lacking patience for the human element.
They believed that the essence and meaning of a performance were lost in the process of satisfying corporate demands, and wanted to rather create an environment where music lovers were able to attend a show without any preconceived ideas or expectations that are traditionally attached to a price tag and names connected. This would allow the artist an honest and unhindered exchange between the audience, therein lying the uniqueness of the experience.
It was an interesting view in light of other industry accusations like Sinead O’Connor’s open letter to Miley Cyrus released online early October last year, with mentions of prostitution and other debaucheries, a further response from Sinead stating, “You will yourself one day suffer [mental] illness, that is without a doubt. The course you have set yourself upon can only end in that, trust me.”
I turned to Rohin Jones (a.k.a R.L. Jones) for some insight from his experiences, into the challenges faced by musicians. “An artist creates subjectively, but then has an objective agenda associated with the work. Record labels hear a song as a product when the artist hears it as a piece of new life. So the challenge is having confidence in the people who represent you when your relationship with them is business-based.
“Unfortunately, this is a deep-rooted mentality underpinned by the history of the industry, not the people. Most were born into the industry as it is today, but did not see that it was born out of an economic and industrial mentality rather than focussing on cultivating and nurturing human activity,” Rohin explained.
Reflecting on those words, in contrast to the varying opinions and beliefs, who knew what we were in for that evening? Two hundred or so had gathered in the gardens and the lawn in front of the stage had become an interesting mix of picnic blankets and dancing shoes.
The first act was on. Bud Rokesky stepped up and took the mic, like a prophet with an eye for the unknown, eased into a gently rolling hum that lifted the show off with the wind, pushing confidently across the garden. I watched from my standpoint, as I always do, faltering in the background, taking notes.
The audience breathed deeply through the beats, and returned exchange for exchange, nodding attentively all the way. The acts moved from Bud to Alex Henricsson and his throaty, heartfelt tone. Then to Sleepy Tea and Tom Wearne, bouncing along the bop of Lyndon de la Cruz, flowing into the rhythmic truths of Kahl Wallis, sitting in the descriptions of R.L. Jones, shifting into the sound of your thoughts with newly formed Jaws and Bree Tranter, closing with the Matt Corby (band) surprise appearance.
The rise reached its tipping point, spilling all over the technicians shoes, as they leaped for the helping hand of the melody, operating in their crazy manner; the silhouetted, flailing balls of retardation hidden in the parameters of the complete awe, working frantically to cover up the excited steps of musicians feeling the heat of the limelight.
The closing group jam session welled up above the audience as the final wave of progressive madness swallowed them, drifting off downstream on the mysticism of the garden rose bed.
Since the time that’s passed the collective have produced a second show, paying homage to Australia’s origins and standing up to voice their global concerns. Now, the Museum Collective are looking to the 18th of May, which will see the celebration of International Museum Day hosted at the Old Museum Building. The invitation is there, as in the words of the Museum Collective, ‘Museums are meant to be cultural hubs, a vibrant demonstration of the power of arts and culture. The Old Museum Building bears much significance for the residents of Brisbane and now we look forward to giving them an excuse to revisit and appreciate the space with us.’
© Jonathan Boonzaaier 2016