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Down on the Street (outside Festival Hall) // Anthony Beech

“What’s the point of going?”

“Well, it’s better than staying home, isn’t it?”

Dad was probably right, but I seriously had to think about whether that was the case. Iggy Pop is possibly the one musician – nay, the one solitary thing - that Tom, Dad, and myself all see eye to eye on. There was never an inappropriate time to have a Stooges record playing in the house, from our Sunday barbecues (much to Mum’s behest) to birthday parties and everything in-between. Every time the sinister groove of ‘Down on the Street’ would rear its ugly head, all three of us would become possessed, which we would express by way of semi-involuntary muscle spasms (or, ‘dancing’) and unpredictable behaviour – much like Iggy; the wild animal howling encouragingly through Dad’s old Bose speakers. My Mum and Dad and brother Tom were down to visit me from Adelaide. Tom wasn’t old enough for the concert, so we didn’t bother getting tickets. So there we were, stuck at my place while Iggy Pop was hours away from playing to a packed out Festival Hall. Tom had made use of the Inner North’s bountiful record shops and picked up a copy of The Stooges’ ‘Funhouse’ for thirty-five bucks – the cheapest you’d pay for a brand new reissue. I also had a few records with me, The Stooges’ first three (and only worthwhile) studio albums.

“I guess.”

“Look, it’s just something to do. May as well bring your records and see if we can get them signed. We’ll have a better chance than the people inside. We’re gonna have a plan,” Dad said with a confident grin. Barely convinced, I went to my room to gather our records, tested two permanent markers on a pack of rolling papers, and off we went.

The fifteen-minute trip to Festival Hall was peppered with various emotions and predictions. “What if we just see him walking down the street? That will save us having to hang around some dingy venue for two hours,” I said, resenting the fact that we had been dragged out of the comfort of the lounge room. Tom was ever the optimist. “We’re not gonna see him anywhere, let alone walking down the street without an entourage of fans and security.”

Dad drove us past the front of the venue; our first bit of reconnaissance for the evening. I was jealous of the people lining up, sneering as I salivated over their vintage Stooges t-shirts and unworthy ticket-clenching hands. Our seemingly doomed voyage hit its first speed bump; as the road we were on turned into freeway – taking us on an express route to the outer reaches of the CBD. We all burst into laughter, acknowledging the futility of what we were doing by way of increased speed limits in the wrong direction and sparse industrial surroundings. Eventually, Dad’s faith in my (barely) superior knowledge of Melbourne’s roads landed us behind the venue. We got out and stood facing the Hall’s rear entrance, around the corner from the heavily-guarded stage door.

“Look, he’s got the right idea,” says Dad, spotting a bald man leaning against a wall near the stage door. Like me, he was carrying a tote bag on his shoulder, the unmistakable shape of records poking through. Dad was inspired and decided it was time to hatch our scheme to steal Iggy’s signature. We strolled around the corner of the building to the sectioned-off stage door, the perimeter of which allowed enough room for a black BMW to wait engine running for Iggy to finish his set and be chauffeured away. We noticed a member of the support band come out of the stage door to have a cigarette. Dad suggested we give him the records to get signed and bring back to us. Even Dad, who wasn’t very familiar with the band, knew that this would be a bit of a stretch. Tom and I, being *kinda* fans of the band knew that he probably would get them signed, only to sell them on for beer and/or cheap pills. This didn’t stop me from rolling up and lighting a cigarette of my own, hoping he would catch a glimpse of me. Together we would form a bond based on our mutual devotion to Phillip Morris.

Dad interrupted my little daydream by injecting some much-needed structure and logical thinking into our plan. The chauffeured-BMW had two routes to exit the premises. It could turn right onto the main street we had been loitering around earlier, or go straight ahead down a narrow one-way lane. Taking this into account, Dad decided our best shot of getting some of Iggy’s scribble was by waiting at the top end of the main road, where a stop sign would give us a small window to approach the vehicle and get the signatures. This was of course assuming that the car would turn right, and not opt the more inconspicuous laneway route, allowing a swift getaway.

Our concentration was rudely interrupted by the dulcet tones of a drugged-up teenager making threats against the security after being kicked out of the venue for crashing the stage. I felt no sympathy for either parties, as the kid should have known better than to pull a stunt like that at such a heavily-guarded event, and the security for opting to share in the kid’s aggressive language as an apparent means of diffusing the situation. The three of us decided it best to lay low, and instead became temporarily fascinated with the cracks in the pavement beneath our feet. Once the young man accepted defeat, walking off with a gracious middle finger for the bouncers, Tom and I got in position at the corner, on the phone to our man on the inside.

The music inside Festival Hall stopped and people began flooding the streets. Most start pooling together around the stage-door, hoping to get a glimpse of Iggy. Tom and I assumed that’s exactly what they got, as a loud roar of cheering and applause soon floats up the street. It’s go-time.

“Shit, you guys should have waited here. Every man and his dog got something signed,” said Dad, unhelpfully.

“Don’t fuckin tell us that!”, I mournfully reply into the phone, more on edge

than ever.

A small group of tattooed and spiky-haired women stumbled towards Tom and I. Admiring the records I was clutching so tight against my chest, one reached her hand out, asking if she could have a look. I took a generous step backwards and held out my copy of ‘Raw Power’.

“Yeah pretty cool, hey,” I said calmly, sensing a potentially sinister turn to our encounter. In our heightened state, Tom and I were startled by the tinny bellowing being emitted from the phone’s speaker. “He’s going straight! Run to the street over! Go!” Without bidding farewell to our female friends, we followed Dad’s orders.

The dark street was soon lit up by crisp LED lights that could only belong to a new BMW. As the car makes its way up the street in our direction, I positioned myself at a safe but visible distance. Frantically waving my arms, I clenched for dear life to a black sharpie in one hand and my cherished albums in the other. The car was soon metres away and showing no sign of stopping. I instinctively ran onto the middle of the road and force it to stop, having no time to think about getting flattened. Tom and I sprint up to the rear window to find a similarly-stressed Iggy insisting he can only sign one album. The equipment truck behind us repeatedly bashes its horn. Despite the adrenaline-fuelled situation, I have a premonition of me and my brother arguing who gets the signed copy. I plead Iggy to at least sign both of our copies of Funhouse, but, a man of his word, he hurriedly scribbles over just my copy of the album, before speeding off into the night.

- Anthony Beech

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