On the night of Thursday 18 September I attended the third Melbourne gig in recent months by former Machine Gun Fellatio singer Pinky Beecroft and his band the White Russians, this time at the Roxanne Parlour in the city. Some of the songs seem to have been through arrangement bootcamp since their second gig at the Brunswick Hotel in July – they had longer rhythmic intros and less keyboard (or maybe Pinky did not feel like playing as much that night).
As I recall, the band played all of the songs from their album Somethin’ Somewhere Better (it was the album launch gig) and ‘The new Miss Sweden’ from the EP. We got their cover of Duran Duran’s ‘Girls on film’ again, along with their cover of Blondie’s ‘Call me’. They did MGF’s ‘I dance electric’ as well as the reworked ‘Unsent letter’ and the reworked and renamed ‘I would tear it down to make you happy’ (formerly ‘Just BCoz’). I was happy to hear ‘Fabulous driving’ (my favourite song of his) as the third and final song of the encore, which started with a song performed solo that I did not recognise, which is apparently called ‘Leopards’ (see Pinky’s tour diary).
It may be that I have lost the love, but this gig did not work for me. Their own songs are great and were played with energy and enthusiasm again (though Girls on film is close to being like what you’d hear from any dodgy pub cover band).
The stage banter was less frequent and less funny. Pinky told us how he had written the setlist on an airline sick bag on his flight to Melbourne and one guy in the audience was given that. Pinky described how he had walked up and down the aircraft corridor and that he had absently asked where the ATM was, which he chuckled had the effect of completely freaking out the flight attendant.
What has really deflated my interest in the band has been Pinky’s attitude to social media. He started a social network called the PB Rectangle using Ning and I had posted lots of photos and videos of the first two Melbourne gigs as well as gig reviews. Then Pinky emailed me and said he was going to remove some of my contributions because he didn’t think they were good enough and failed to represent the band in a positive way.
So far 4 of my photos (two from each of the first two shows) have been removed, but none of the videos have been, although Pinky said he was going to remove all of them. One of them has even been ‘featured’ since then! WTF? I really don’t know. You can read more about his old school authoritarian approach to social media.
I liked his music enough to turn up to 3 three gigs in 4 months (including this third gig which had a really small crowd, perhaps because it was in an unfamiliar venue for his audience, as Pinky discusses in his tour diary). I liked the gigs enough to not only take photos of them but to edit them and share them with other people. I don’t expect acknowledgement or reward for these activities, but I am astonished that a band would deliberately try to undermine a fan’s interest in them.
I’m not bothering to post content to the PB Rectangle anymore because I feel insulted and it’s a waste of my time. There’s no point contributing to a social network if its owner is going to criticise your efforts, undermine your enthusiasm then delete your work. Can a new band struggling for media attention and working hard to build an audience afford to alienate some of its fans? There were more young people with cameras at the front of the latest gig. I wonder what will happen if they post contributions to the PB Rectangle?
I was particularly interested in the presence at the gig of two guys from MySpace in black MySpace tshirts and geek uniforms (short hair, dark blue jeans, old school sneakers, hoodies wrapped around their waists). They were taking lots of photos of the band playing (see above) and were also going round asking permission to take photos of the the audience (the young pierced ones that fit the MySpace demographic anyway). They may be working on content for the forthcoming MySpace Music site.
I don’t know how this example of new media will work with Pinky’s old school attitude of controlling the media. In his correspondence with me he admitted not understanding the online world and social media. He appears not to have learned that in exchange for his audience acting as his marketing agents he has to give up some control and allow us to share gig content with each other through his social network, even if the photos show him sweating under the lights of a pub stage. So what?
Would he rather not be considered worthy of such attention? His efforts to control his audience will annoy them. As Oscar Wilde said, ‘The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.’ Will Pinky email Rupert and ask if he can delete some of the content the SpaceFace people post? LOL.