-by Dylan Slater
(Image credit: Adam Thomas)
The Money Bin and Smith’s Alternative
Sunday and Tuesday March 16 and 18
Max Barker’s I Gave My Soul to Rock ‘n’ Roll and Didn’t Charge Anything made its second outing at this year’s You Are Here last Tuesday night, this time in the moodily-lit Smith’s Alternative. A monologue equal parts poetry, lecture, and autobiography, I Gave My Soul to Rock ‘n’ Roll paints a personal, yet thoroughly relatable, picture of one man’s torrid love affair with all things rock ‘n’ roll.
Making liberal use of words like academic, cerebral, socio-cultural, and modernity, one might assume that Barker’s performance was one of petty technicalities and fanatical pedantry, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
I Gave My Soul to Rock ‘n’ Roll begins with a tale of a younger Max Barker spending his hard earned pay at Sanity in the Belconnen mall. Should he buy a new release for $30? Or should he “delve further into the canon” and search through the classics? Almost immediately Barker’s passion was obvious, and strangely infectious.
Central to his performance was the idea that popular music has a cyclical and self-referential nature. 1970s punk harkened back to 50s rock ‘n’ roll, grunge in turn harkened back to 1970s punk. The Jam were mod revival, referencing the mods of the late 50s and early 60s, and Blur had an album in the 90s called Modern Life is Rubbish; a “mod revival revival?” Barker asks.
Perhaps the weakest moment in I Gave My Soul to Rock ‘n’ Roll came with a somewhat trite description of music as a soundtrack to our lives. A song for our first kiss, the first time we fall in love, and yes, a song for when our hearts are broken. Barker’s sincerity and delivery went a long way to compensating for the clichéd concept, but there was a sense that it had all been said before.
The highlight of the evening came in the form of Barker’s depiction, in almost rambling poetry, of being at a pub, packed on a Sunday afternoon or dead on a Tuesday night, right before the band starts to play. “It was four clicks of the drum sticks,” he said before repeating the phrase, its inherent rhythm and rhyme made more musical by the repetition.
I Gave My Soul to Rock ‘n’ Roll and Didn’t Charge Anything may not have been the most ground-breaking thing at You Are Here, but it was entertaining and it certainly stuck a chord, with many laughs, approving nods, and sympathetic smiles emanating from all present at Smith’s Alternative.
Rock ‘n’ roll is “an experiential thing, it’s a visceral thing,” mused Barker, nearing his conclusion. “Do you dance?” he asked with a smile, “I always dance.”
Born and raised in Canberra, Dylan Slater always had two passions; writing and music. He pursued both throughout his schooling and was awarded a Certificate of Excellence for Outstanding Achievement in the Performance Arts for his grades in music, and became a published author in the 2009 Lit Links creative writing anthology. Dylan recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Canberra, majoring in Journalism, Creative Writing, and Sociology. Dylan still pursues his passions, regularly contributing to Canberra based music review website Dirtygal.co and playing music whenever and wherever he can. His favourite book is Catch-22 and his favourite album is Disintegration.