THE BEST DAY EVER…in CANBERRA!!?! (+ PERTH ninja gig, tomorrow!)

**business first….for my PERTH FRIENDS!!!!  there WILL be a  NINJA GIG IN PERTH TOMORROW, SATURDAY the 5th!! go to the bottom of the blog for details. short story – we’ll meet up outside the spiegeltent at fringe world around 9:30 pm and kick it outside, then all head into the spiegeltent (well, whoever can still fit) for a SPECIAL MIDNIGHT SHOW i’m doing with Mikelangelo, St. Clare, and his band THE TIN STAR. all info way down below. as always, follow the twitter feed for last-mnute changes**


holy fuck.

there are some days that i don’t believe in terms of their epic scope.

thursday was one of those days.

you cannot TRULY PLAN shit like this….i mean you can try, but you will fail.

you must trust strangers.

plus….in CANBERRA….

who KNEW??


let me explain canberra to all you americans and europeans who do not have a working knowledge of australia and it’s city-specfic prejudices.

canberra is australia’s capital city, because, about 100 years ago, sydney and melbourne had a FIGHT about which city would get capital status.

somewhere in the government, someone was like “aie! aie! quit yer bitchin’, both of you!” and decided to settle the matter once and for all by simply building a NEW city in the middle of absolutely nowhere. it’s not on the coast, like pretty much every other major city in australia, because they thought they’d be safer from naval-based invasions.

all it means nowadays is that you can’t go to the beach.

almost everybody in town works for the government.

so when you mention you’re going  to canberra to an australian, they tend to wrinkle their noses with pity.

bohemian americans: imagine a combination of “i’m going to las vegas” and “i’m going to visit rural texas”. it’s just not high on the list of most places people head out to, and most bands (well, small american bands) don’t tour here. there’s just not a big enough market to justify the expense to fly here.

however: canberra is filled with crazed magic.

we collided with the right people, and we found the party.


first of all, we rode the carousel. (this is me the great moldavio, and mikelangelo:
photo by eric.

“not so amazing,” you say? “carousel, eh.”

but no, wait.

the real mayhem begins when we hook up with RAT PATROL, the DIY scavenger-bike-building posse of ROCK.

lots of people were twittering and wondering if this alleged ninja bicycle concert was still going to take place in the face of the impending storm.


we met up at the rat patrol headquarters at 6pm, cracked some beer, got to know the locals a little bit, and were loaned rat-patrol-built bikes on which to ride.

here was eric’s:


the rat patrol makes frankenstein choppers and other bikes out of scavenged parts (thus they are RATS) and rides them around, spreading joy wherever they go.

and here was mine:
(photo by red dog)

my bike was small, low to the ground and had a very wide handle-bar….and it was titled “the tooth fairy” because apparently somebody had one too many vodkas one night and flipped right over the front, rendering themselves without a row of front teeth. HOT.

and off we went.

there were about 70 or 80 of us, all on various bicycles…

if you can see from the photo above, there was a tandem rat-bike, and this was the way the rat patrol carries their BEER COOLER and the STEREO.

the music mix was wonderful, kudos to whoever made it. we listened to arcade fire, men at work, R.E.M. and other inspiring music as we whipped and wheeled through the hot streets of canberra, honking our horns at the passersby. the civically-minded rat patrollers would shout out compliments for good signaling skills and good bike etiquette.

it was one of the most beautiful bike rides of my life.

i took a few of these from the ride…





these below are by Red Dog….and some are by kath.

if a photo in this blog isn’t credited otherwise, it’s by one of them!

go look at the whole gallery, it’s awesome…


red dog:



here’s a great quickie clip of us biking down a bike-path…

we made a pit-stop in town…here’s the whole posse….


and then we headed to the carillon.

the carillon, which is actually pronounced “CARE-ILL-EE-ON” as if it were spelled “careillion”, was a was a gift from the british government to the people of australia to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the capital (canberra) in 1970. it has 55 bells – the smallest weighs 7 kilos and is about the size of a shoebox and the largest one – which is the size of a giant refrigerator – weighs fucking SIX TONS.

you can see it in the background here….

we parked our bikes and greeted another 100+ people who were all waiting on the island for us to arrive by bicycle….



….and we were cordially introduced my nancy porker, esq. (our rat patrol hook-up and host) to  Lyn Fuller, Carillonist and President of the Carillon Society of Australia.


and while mr. fibby, my opening act for the ninja gig, prepared their cello, violin, guitars and eastern european accents down below in front of the gathered crowd….

and the storm started to encroach upon the gathered masses ….




….*we* were snuck up into the tower….


and i was given a tour of the whole joint, and when we got to the room where the carillon player sits, i was gifted a short carillon lesson by lyn:


the room from which the carillon is played has two identical keyboards in it, one which is attached – by cords – to the 55 bells in the chamber above, and one is attached to “mock” chimes so that the carillon player can practice without broadcasting their mistakes to the entire village of canberra.

here are the bells:


i grabbed this still from a “virtual tour” you can take of the whole carillon online….it was WAY too dark to actually photograph in there, but then the sun was gone and rain was starting to come down.)

back to the control room: the keyboard is set up like a piano, but the keys are huge and wooden and you play the notes with your FEET and your FISTS.

we were waaaaaaaay up in the air, unable to hear what was going on down in the crowd below (strangely alienated, i must say), but we decided that “coin-operated boy” would be the best use of this instrument, so i tried to pull it off.

here’s a clip of lyn showing me the ropes and then me trying my hand at playing….and, i like to think, playing “coin-operated boy” to the entire australian government:

but WAAAAAAAAAAY better than that clip, is the view from DOWN BELOW, which luckily somebody caught on youtube….

this clip needs some explaining.

the best thing about this clip is that there are basically four totally different things going on:

• one is that i’m playing “coin-operated boy” on the national australian bell tower.

the other is that
• mr. fibby, the opening act, had no idea i was going to do it, and i interrupted their opening number, leaving them with no choice but to start theatrically shaking their fists at me.

• it’s thundering and about to start PISSING down rain in buckets.

but the best part is that
• this entire time, a group of people are attempting to unload an upright piano off the back of a flat-bed truck for the ninja gig.

i think this clip might be my favorite thing ever committed to video. my only sorrow is that the person who filmed it didn’t pan upwards to get the view of the bell tower. but use your imagination.



after we came down, the rain was SLASHING and people were bravely sticking it out, soaking wet, huddled under the minor protection of the bell-tower….and i played and screamed over the noise of the storm.




….everybody drank, sang, and continued to get soaking fucking wet……

and then mr. fibby took the stage.

i want to post VIDEO of them so you can get an idea of how FUCKING WET EVERYBODY WAS and how RAGING the storm was: it was absolutely BIBLICAL.

they aren’t even playing yet in this clip…

but have a look a the sky, and note the LIGHTENING: youtube.com/watch?v=SbxBnJUhUfI

when they finished up their set (they were BRILLIANT, i suggest checking them out pronto: mrfibby.com), the upright piano was un-sheathed and people held a tarp over it while i played requests….


there’s a clip here of

• lyn playing a tune from “chicago” for us on the carillon (“they had it coming”)

• me playing “should i stay or should i go” with the guitarist from mr. fibby

• us all *very* drunkenly singing “hallelujah” on the ninja-piano towards the end of the night.

then, against my better judgment, i got BACK on the tooth fairy completely wasted, biked all the way across town, and got into THIS – a backyard hot tub filled by water warmed in a wood-burning stove, belonging to one of the rat patrollers:


the faces say it all.

and we kept drinking long after this photo was taken….and i have to admit, i don’t remember much of it.

and the hangover was EPIC. but worth it.

eric and i finally got a ride (from nancy porker, esq., of course, whose wife, we should point out, is 9 months pregnant – he was the on-call designated driver, seeing as at any minute he might need to go deliver a baby) back to our digs and we crashed HARD.

when we woke up in the morning and looked at each other on the way to the airport to fly to perth, we both kept wondering if the night before actually happened.

apparently it did: there are all these pictures.

i mean, australia is amazing, but this shit was just RIDONKULOUS.

who has a day like this?

so we declared it:





the moral: a city is as magical and cool as the people in it who make the magic happen.

thank you from the depths of my soul to everyone who came out, got wet, fed us beer, whiskey, vodka, and veggie BBQ, hauled pianos, had me sign their children’s diapers, gave me CDs to listen to, made music with me, danced, shared flasks and cake, and brought the fucking love….especially the rat patrollers – you are saviors of the soul. people of canberra: love your rat patrol, and maybe go make a bike. it will heal you. their website: http://www.rat-patrol.org/RPOz/



and now: PERTH, you have your fucking work cut out for you.

the gig at fly by night is SOLD OUT, but i’ll be kicking it tomorrow night (SATURDAY, the 5th) in true ninja fashion.

my friends in The Tin Star have invited me to invade their late, late set at the spiegeltent, which is set up outside the art gallery for the fringe.

their show is ticketed (it’s $25) and i’ll be playing a 30 minute set, BUT i’ll be doing ninja-action OUTSIDE the venue as perth kicks off the start of fringe, FUCK YEAH.

here’s the deal…start gathering and meet me around 9pm-9:30 in the Urban Garden near AGWA (the Art Gallery Of Western Australia).

we’ll camp SOMEWHERE around there and i’ll play from around 9:30/10pm til about 11:30, at which point we’ll all go invade Mikelangelo/Tin Star’s show at the spiegeltent right next door.


if you want to book tickets for the late night show, i recommend: http://www.fringeworld.com.au
it’s $25, and 18+ (sorry)…

there’s some great stuff on before me in the spiegeltent for fringe tent as well…..

7:30 pm – 8:30 pm

BARRY MORGAN (who i’ve heard is hilarious)

9:00pm – 10:00pm

WAU WAU SISTERS (also legendary)


12:00am – 1:00am

LATE NIGHT TREATS with The Tin Star, St. Clare, Amanda Palmer & MIKELANGELO!!!

ALSO, if you are able: bring SEWING and MENDING implements.
if you are at a loss: bring clothes to be mended!!
i’ll partner you up.

also part deux: bring ukuleles. of course. we will make a ukulele ARMY.

let’s DO THIS SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

i will sign, so bring stuff, and we’ll bring a mini-pile of merch (CDs and posters mostly) for you to buy if you couldn’t make the show tonight.



Back to Blog