3. You Am I – Berlin Chair

I’ll ignore each golden, dragging kiss you can give.
On the blankest face that you ever had to forgive.

The songs at this end of the countdown are so good, it is hard to write while they are playing since I’m so sucked in to the music. In the case of Berlin Chair I can’t type because I am headbanging. The top three are about the same in my mind. Each day they change their order, so this is a snapshot of how I feel today. You can consider this song number 1C.

I saw You Am I twice in Seattle back in the 90s and there’s a chain of events that led to me going to those gigs.

I was an unpaid intern at Microsoft in 1994. I volunteered for a few months to check out what living in Seattle would be like. I had enough money for the air ticket and living expenses, but I couldn’t afford a hotel so I slept on the floor of a friend I had known from Australia, Brian Murphy, and carpooled to work with him and carpooled home with whoever I knew that was leaving first.

One evening I was supposed to get a ride home from Microsoft back to Seattle with Iain and Phil. I was shopping at the local Sears store when I looked at my watch and saw that at that moment I was supposed to be meeting them. Instead of sitting in Iain’s car I was purchasing some nice American Levis to take back home to Australia. I called Iain to explain where I was. He answered, put me on speakerphone with Phil and they yelled “Spaz” at the phone while I came up with lame excuses as to why they had to drive out to Sears to pick me up. They have called me Spaz ever since.

I had written a feature for the old Microsoft website Sidewalk.com that searched through its database for new events that matched text you had entered into the site. I had put in “Australia” and every night my software would run and find all new events with “Australia” mentioned in them. It had no name at first so everybody called it “the mail program that Spaz wrote” and in time it was known as Spazmail.


One day Spazmail told me that You Am I were going to play in Seattle at the Crocodile Cafe. Yeah! I thought, and went to the gig with my buddy Kevin. This must have been the smallest show that You Am I had played since they were a shiny new band of kids. There were about thirty people in the audience and they were all hanging out at the back of the room. You Am I were supporting another band (The Tycoons, I think; that clip is from Public Access TV). Kevin and I moved close and watched You Am I from front and center with nobody around us, until a few of the timid Seattleites joined us later into the set when they realized that You Am I kicked bottom.

A couple of weeks later they returned to the Crocodile. This time word had leaked out how good they were and there was a decent audience. They headlined that night and played for longer, which was perfect. Tim Rogers hinted that he had a big dick and was looking for someone to communicate with when the gig was over. At least it was a little more subtle than Angelo Moore’s flashing. On You Am I’s next album there was a song called Arse-Kickin’ Lady From The North-West so I guess he found someone who kicked his arse.



I watch this video and go, “WTF? How in the world did they come up with this?” Get an old dude in a silver suit, ask him to dance to the song without practice (for he’s making it up as he goes), similarly with a girl in a flowing, too-short dress. The camera moves to the band in time for the instrumental part of the song so there’s no lip-synching. That is the best part of the video – the band rocks out. You can see Tim Rogers and Andy Kent check the monitor off-camera to the left and adjust their positions in the shot. Then they switch back to the man in silver. It is one strange video, but it works.

You can follow the chain of events further back – I went to Seattle because my PhD was funded by Microsoft, and I applied for that scholarship because a Professor I wanted to work with was hired by Microsoft and I knew that Professor because I worked at his previous university, and I went there because I knew the guy who ran the department because in the midst of an aus.flame war I mentioned my panoramic view of the Government Printing Office in Ultimo and it turned out he had the same view and lived about twenty meters away.


Without the NSW Government Printing Office I would not have seen You Am I in Seattle.

you am i

Next: 2. Manic Street Preachers – A Design for Life

Previous: 4. Beirut – Sunday Smile


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