Raggamuffin and a rap battle beats Laneway festival. Easily.

Laneway festival never took off.  There’s no better litmus test of if an event really gets going than whether the festival cockheads start ruining it.

They seemed trapped by the event’s cool reputation and the lack of FUCKIN’ PARTY! bands.  The cockheads couldn’t unleash and I couldn’t cope with the boys in matching fluro singlets and tights not shitting me – no one was comfortable.

And the sound sucked.  And it rained.  And security kept making people put their cigarettes out.

The next day however, couldn’t have been better.

A mate organised for us to get in to Raggamuffin free, as guests of the organisers.  We found a spliff on the footpath as we walked in.  As he picked it up, nearly two metres and around 140 kg of red-eyed, tattooed Polynesian concreter said: “Spark that up now bro and share it around.  We all saw it at the same time, you just picked it up first – spark it up!”

Seemed fair.

For every day tainted by the “respect it or fuck off” tshirt crowd, this was a festival where you respected everyone there, and the music – or you could fuck off.  And half the pub bouncers in Brisbane, who were there drinking beer, smoking spliffs and dancing, would happily assist you to.

Through Steel Pulse, Blue King Brown and Julian Marley – we all danced and smoked and most paid $7.50 for a mid-strength beer, because to allow us anything heavier would apparently lead us to rape and anarchy.

By Sly and Robbie I was nicely baked in a couple of different ways and the rhythm took over.  A festival crowd dominated by shirtless and tattooed men sounds appalling, but when they’re islanders it means groups of men unembarrassed to be dancing together and feeling the music.

There were some excellent tattooed portraits of Bob Marley, some dreadful ones and a reminder that the greatest embrasure of RastafarI outside of the African diaspora has been by Polynesians.

When one of the backing singers in Blue King Brown launched into a haka-style chant at least a quarter of the crowd responded and it eventually morphed into Is this Love? by Bob Marley – that sums the day up.

We split after Lauryn Hill, who kicked arse, and got a cab to a pub where our mates work.

Amateur rap night! As our mate behind the bar said: “You can’t lose, if it’s good, it’s good. If it sucks it’s hilarious.”

Remember homies in the ‘90s?  They’re still around apparently, and all of them think they’ve got flow.  The catch is they have to get into character which means they come into the pub and demand a fuckin’ drink, and my man behind the bar tells them to get the fuck out, and they then have to tell the bouncer to get his fuckin’ hands off them and demand to know what the fuck people standing outside smoking are looking at.  And then have to apologise to all concerned when they realize they can’t participate in the rapping if they’re kicked out and that’s what the came all the fuckin’ way in here to do.

Meanwhile I lean on the bar and drink stubbies of XXXX – my man was right, you can’t lose.

We were standing outside on the smokers footpath when Marilyn Monroe walked past.  Not the real one – this one was a man.

I bet the trannies in Sydney and flash and womanly, really fucken glamorous. I bet the Melbourne ones are all arty, cool and seductive.

This fella was a stone-cold Queensland trannie – no wig, just shoulder length dyed blonde hair with a thin patch at the back.  He had broad shoulders and chest, five o’clock shadow and a shitload of unsubtle makeup – like Ernest Borgnine playing Marilyn with a blind Tammy Bakker doing the makeup.  He made me feel all damp-eyed patriotic about my town and state.

He wobbled off on his pumps, bow-legged into the night – may all his trannie dreams come true.

My man behind the bar had had enough of the rappers by one o’clock and had stopped serving them.  One took the mike and said: “I’ve been asked by the bar staff to call last drinks.”

“Last drinks?” My man yelled out. “More like, all of you get the fuck out!”

They eventually did and we locked the doors and settled in with the staff from the pub’s other bars to drink and slag the punters.

We’d heard there was an abandoned ‘80s nightclub in the pub basement, boarded up years ago and left the way it was.

These things evoke images of the social morality of Bjlke-Peterson’s Queensland: when drinking, dancing and listening to music were suspicious, but sex clubs and casinos were up front and accepted.

The boys found the doorway, covered up in years of gig posters and blocked by furniture.  We moved it all away, but the padlock had been drilled through and couldn’t be unlocked.  Someone got a screwdriver and took the whole lock and bolt off.

It was like a bad movie.  A gust of stale air and dust came up the staircase when we opened the door.  The light didn’t work and wreathes of cobwebs hung from the roof and stair rail.  The steps were all painted different colours, could’ve been either ‘80s good vibe brightness or gay rainbow.

We used our phones as torches.  There was less than six feet of clearance and lower brick arches between the different areas.  A bench in the darkest corner had ‘bar’ carved into it.  In black marker someone had written ‘toilets’ and drawn an arrow pointing back up the stairs.

One of the boys was disappointed, he’d heard there were chains hanging from the ceiling.  But it was bleak enough, ‘80s Brisbane must’ve been a tough scene if this was a club.

We boarded it up again and went back to the bar.

“Arrrggh, put your tiny cock away you grub!”

I thought someone must’ve beating off at the window, but the female security guard had spotted someone pissing on the closed door, oblivious to the fact we were in there.  The motherfucker must’ve been a camel because it was an impressive stream that poured under the door and snaked across the bar floor.

Me and another fella went to the window and started calling him a dirty cunt and telling him fuck off.

“What’d you fuckin’ say cunt?”  He was a hood-eyed-pissed Polynesian fella and we were firing him up.

“Fuck off and piss somewhere else fuckhead, it all came in under the door.”

We were up him through the window, which he approached and threw a punch through.

We got his arm and my man said: “You’re fucked now, I’ll pull you in.”

He pulled free and smashed the window down to show who the man was, then bolted.

We called it a night and got a cab home – Saturday beat the shit out of Laneway festival on Friday.

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