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Steve Poltz @ The Northcote Social Club, 3rd Of March

At a Steve Poltz gig you’re never quite sure whether you’re witnessing an inspired solo show or one man’s slow descent into insanity. This time round, I’m pretty sure it was mostly the latter, however there was also a fair share of moments leaning towards genius as well.

The moment the night began with being offered cupcakes at the venue door (courtesy of support act Kate Walker) you got the sense that this wasn’t going to be your standard gig, and this sense was only furthered when you realised that pretty much the entire crowd were sitting down as opposed to standing. This wasn’t a show of disrespect to the performers however, but rather just illustrated that everyone was looking forward to a bit of a chilled night and gig. Everyone remained sitting for the majority of the night, and it actually made for a really nice relaxed atmosphere.

Steve Poltz’s set actually began fairly normally. Having seen him twice before I knew to expect plenty of incredible stories, some nice acoustic tunes and lots of laughs, and for the first half hour or so of his show that was exactly what the decent sized crowd got. Steve was just as charming as I remembered and demonstrated perfectly his uncanny ability to work a crowd to the point where he cannot do a single thing wrong. He would go on to test this extensively as the night wore on.

Highlights of the early part of Poltz’s set included a song-come-rap that he sung into his iPhone only to have Siri repeat it back to him (with some additional lines), some inspired use of loops to create a haunting rendition of a song I can only assume is called Sleep In The Wet Spot Of The Bed, and I’m pretty sure there were some nice ‘normal’ songs in there as well. Things took a turn towards the strange with the introduction of ‘Creepyland’, a term Poltz has coined to describe the weirder aspects of his live show.

So it was that the second half of Steve Poltz’s set saw some of the oddest things I have ever occur at a gig. These included, but were by no means not limited to Steve Poltz:

  • Kissing a male member of the crowd because he wanted to know ‘what it felt like’
  • Getting the whole crowd to sing along to his song Hand Job On A Church Bus, complete with wanking hand gestures and the line “Pastor Michael went to prison, I’ll wait until he gets released for a second coming”
  • A cover of Paul Kelly’s To Her Door that was only made possible because a friend of Steve’s went on stage to hold up lyrics for him on a iPhone (and dance like a leprechaun)
  • Sitting on a stool in the middle of the crowd while he sung a few songs because he wanted to be closer to us
  • Attempting increasingly deranged and hilarious banter
  • Singing a song called Happier Hour which he joked was written as a followup to his beautiful song You Were Meant For Me however featured the lyrics of “Why don’t you get down on your knees and blow me?”
  • Demonstrating his surprisingly skilled impersonations of Australians
  • Dancing with the bartender on top of the bar
  • A lot of crowd interaction at a very personal level (see in particular the first dotpoint)
  • Finishing the show with the frantic Dick’s Automotives while standing up in the middle of the crowd who gathered around him, all singing along loudly
  • Removing a friend’s shirt and hitting his nipples to illustrate when he wanted to crowd to sing along

I couldn’t make this shit up.

It was easily the strangest gig that I have ever been to, but it was also consistently hilarious, and Poltz’s trademark banter and charisma had the crowd lapping up every single one of his insane antics. I feel that the way he gradually undressed from a suit top and a vest to just a t-shirt pulled up over his head was an accurate illustration of the progression of the gig. By the end of the show it really did feel like more of a cult meeting than a music show.

But, despite all of this, Steve Poltz has this uncanny knack of mixing the insane and deranged with moments of genuine beauty and poignant insight. One minute he’ll have you laughing until your face hurts about the most ridiculous things, the next he’ll be playing Chinese Vacation, a  sublime and melancholy song that saw an unusual hush fall over the Northcote Social Club crowd as it transported everyone “a million miles away”.

Nothing illustrated this internal dichotomy better than one of the last songs Steve Poltz played, In It For The Long Haul. The song began with a story about a ‘Bag Of Porn’ (or B.O.P. for short) and featured more laughs than you would get out of a standard comedy show, but also featured the lyrics spoken by Steve’s mum in the story: “I’m in it for the long haul, I’m with you till the end”. That line was incredibly touching, and it was more than a little surreal reacting emotionally to it immediately after Poltz’s bizarre story interludes, especially when he got the whole crowd singing along with arms around one another.

So yeah, I have no idea what to make of this show. It was once hilarious, bizarre, disturbing, unique, insane, beautiful, poignant, creepy, inspired, and deranged. It was one of the strangest night of my life. It was absolutely, unreservedly, fucking awesome.

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3 Responses to “Steve Poltz @ The Northcote Social Club, 3rd Of March”

  1. Bradthepromoguy Reply May 5, 2012 at 11:51 am

    My phone holding/dancing and my nipples have been reviewed. Awesome. Anyone got video or pics?

  2. Nothing at all unusual there. Just another night on the road with Poltz.

  3. What a hoot best show funny sexy intimate great music good crowd forever in my memories better than the rolling stones and paul kelly shithot matey love ya POLTZY please return soon it was the best kiss cheers travel safe.

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