YOU AM I, SCREAMFEEDER, BEN ELY & THE MUNGO FUNGO BAND
THE TRIFFID, BRISBANE
FRIDAY, 1 DECEMBER 2023
WORDS & PHOTOS BY CHRIS SEARLES
I'm sure if I look hard enough I could find my 'Berlin Chair' cassingle from 1994 in a box of mementos and keepsakes somewhere... I would never let go of it because it was my first introduction to a very special relationship with You Am I, a band I've loved to this very day. To be totally honest, I preferred 'Jaimme's Got A Gal' which was also on there as a b-side, I felt like it was a movie script waiting to happen.
Fast forward almost 30 years and I find myself sitting outside You Am I's dressing room at The Triffid, camera in hand as the Screamfeeder photographer, with a thousand butterflies getting busy in my stomach. Davey [Lane] arrives early and smiles and says hello warmly to everyone, Andy [Kent] comes in next and is busy sorting stuff as he plays the dual role of rock 'n' roll bassist and manager. Rusty [Hopkinson] is tucked away in the back corner hitting his sticks on a chair. And then Tim arrives.
He breezes past us all, in and out of their dressing room, slowly making additions and subtractions from his arrival outfit to his magical stage outfit. At one point in the evening around about between Ben Ely and Screamfeeder are on stage, I'm near Andy and so I thought I'd quickly say hello, let him know I was here to shoot the show, and offer if he would like me to shoot them also. To my absolute delight, he couldn't have been nicer and says "Sure, shoot as much as you'd like!"
So that's the live stuff sorted and locked in, I'm happy knowing it's already about to be the best night of my photographic career, but I also desperately wanted some backstage images. I've surrounded myself with coffee table photography books for years, mostly music... and mostly the ones I treasure are by Ethan Russell and Bent Rej of The Stones in their golden years. It's the observational pre-show photos that I've loved the most and they've imprinted on my mind and influenced my style greatly.
With my new found confidence I waited until all of the band were in their dressing room and peaked my head around the slightly ajar door. I nervously ask, "Hey guys, is it okay if I just grab a couple of really quick photos...?" Everyone looks at Tim, Tim looks at me and nods the affirmative and smiles. I hope like hell that I have focus ready and fire up a couple of quick shots before backing out of there.
I sneak a couple of other shots over the next few minutes, but it's the ones where the band let me into their hallowed space and pre-show ritual that I will treasure the most.
The show is amazing as expected... Ben Ely and his new outfit The Mungo Fungo band are just so damn funky, while Screamfeeder blow the doors off it. You Am I play some deep cuts and a great selection from their huge catalogue of hits. So many hits. Tim not so much sings but peforms for an adoring and raucous Friday night crowd.
If I have one regret from the evening... it's that I had the perfect opportunity to ask him, but I still have no idea what a 'Berlin Chair is', or whether Jaimme still has the same gal. Next time...