I have this idea that one of the most quintessentially Australian things, something that everyone in this country born between 1970 and 1995 shares, is the experience crashing on the couch after midnight on Friday and Saturday nights and watching Rage.
Some visionary at the ABC back in 1987 somehow figured out that what the Australian people needed more than anything was eight hours of uninterrupted videoclips twice a week. 25 years later it’s still probably the best thing on the ABC. It’s not a complicated formula – play video clips back to back all night flashing the word RAGE on the screen every 45 minutes or so – but it works.
The show has remained basically unchanged over two and a half decades, with the exception of one key innovation: the Saturday night Guest Programmer. Artist/band picks their favourite clips and talks about why they mean so much to them. Inevitably picks some obvious classics, some obscure masterpieces and some complete what-the-f***s. (Machine Gun Fellatio won my heart when they screened Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart and Sting’s masterpiece of awkward homoerotic tension All For Love. Bryan Adams looks both confused about where he is and on the verge of making a panicked dash for the door.) You lie on the couch cursing their terrible choices, debating what you’d play if it was up to you, and promising over and over that you’ll go to bed after this song.
Cause when it’s – ALLLLL FOR LOVE, IT’S ONE FOR ALL
This March, the You Are Here festival is paying homage to the ABC’s iconic music show with our gRage series. Every weeknight of the festival at Smiths Bookshop, a different artist will be guest-programming a selection of their favourite five music videos. Unlike its namesake program, gRage will feature not only musicians but also theatre performers, visual artists and storytellers.
The gRage lineup features Sydney DJ and producer Dro Carey, playwright and drag performer Declan Greene, local indie maestros Cracked Actor, visual artist and Canberra Rollerderby League co-founder Lucy Quinn, writer and ABC Radio presenter Melanie Tait, pianist and composer Adam Cook, sculptor Jacqueline Bradley and high-energy guitar/drums duo Yes/No.
Sydney DJ and producer Dro Carey.
Host James Fahy will join the guest-programmer on the couch to discuss their selection and explore how these videos have affected and influenced them. Following the screening is a short live performance by the artist, so we can see these influences in action.
gRage is on every weeknight (and one Saturday) from 14 – 24 March, and like everything else in the You Are Here festival it’s completely free, so really I mean why not? All you have to do is roll over to Smiths, have a glass of wine, settle down in a cushion, enjoy a handpicked bouquet of fine videoclips, dig a live performance, and then hang out afterwards chatting with the artist about their selection what worked what didn’t and what they shoulda picked instead. Come check it out. Do it.
Okay nobody asked but I’m gonna tell anyway: if when I receive the invitation to guest-program my favourite clips, THIS is on the top of the pile. It has EVERYTHING (where everything = vikings).
[Cover Photo: Visual artist and CRDL co-founder Lucy Quinn. Image by Jay Kochel.]