Toowoomba is a place famed for murder. A town about 2 hours drive out from Brisbane. Driving to it you become very aware of the fact that you are in Queensland and Queensland has its own inherent eeriness, strangeness. Huge tracks of green open hills, with cows scattered sparsely over them. Tabletop mountains on the horizon. And built into the hills are these huge villa like Queensland castles where who knows what goes on behind the protection of the palm trees in front of them.
The boogie shack was where we were playing for the night, in a town that had multiple double letters in it’s name. The place has been set up in the style of a 1950s American Happy Days Dinner. Set up by a mad woman who is obviously great at collecting things but not so great at collecting anything of interest. Instead the diner is crammed with old coke bottles, ash trays with pin up girls splashed across them , old parts off a hundred drum kits hanging from the ceiling, half mannequins with the ugliest of 1950s clothes draped on them, the metal parts of a babies bassinette, Hawaiian carvings and hula dolls everywhere, four poster tables, horrifying murals of 1950s swing dancers plastered to the walls, diner style menus filled with dust that was also from the 1950s, the stench of cat urine filling your lungs with every breath, a waiting staff taken from two spectrums of life. They either looked like life had relentlessly wore them down or had the fear in their eyes brought on by ones first paid employment. The joint was packed with rockers, bootscooters, swing dancers, Goths, costumed cowboys and every other social group that stakes a claim in the 1950s American adorance of Fonzie. And the longer the set and night went the more they took to their cartoon like characters, cornering me against the bar to inform me of the movies that they want to one day act in, how they sustained their arm injury by chopping wand then polishing wood, what sort of guitar they play and why, informing me of the absolute ineptness of the four people who were gyrating on the dance floor, girl number one doesn’t move her feet enough, girl number 2 moves them to much.
They were all very assured and defiant in their place in small town Queensland.
I dared to order the only thing on the menu a hamburger, although the hamburger could be ordered in a number of different ways, as a JFK as a Big bopper etc. and I immediately regretted it. I seem to have no ability to not attempt to fully immerse myself into whatever scene I’m currently in despite the obvious harmful drawbacks , and this hamburger was harmful.
The DJ for the night, playing before and after us was an elderly gentleman well into his 70s who’s quiff stood higher than a crack addict. His suit was jet black his shoes shiny. The flyer informed me that he was “very popular” . “I likes to play music that sets a scene.” He slurred at me. I’m not sure what his version of a scene was but Big Mumma Thornton is defiantly in it. The mad woman stormed around. Moving things. Dust took over my lungs making me sneeze. I had a headache.
The mad woman’s husband and part owner of the place asked us to sign the “superstars wall” a wall left for textad autographs crammed in between the million other trinkets. This wall never gets washed, he proudly announced, I showed no sign of surprise..
Unusual things have gone on in this place and this town and this state. Bad things maybe.
The venue seemed to have rubbed off on the band who played one of the better, looser, stranger sets of our tour filled with greater improvisation , humour, lies and purpose . We roamed around the stage like madmen intent on some form of destruction. If we escaped fast enough it might not be our own.