Round about 1990 we got a call from a Biker Club about doing a big gig for them. It was to be a three day festival of bikes, booze & music about halfway along the Putty Rd to Singleton. My boss at the time was a guy by the name of Rick Doolan who was no stranger to the wonderful world of the Biker. Rick was the original drummer in Bandanna and had lured me away from my comfy job at the bank to go full time with his PA company.
We took a drive up there and had a look at the site in order to do a quote. It was a beauty. Set back off the main road and in the middle of nowhere. There were going to be no noise complaints here! Rick was operating two PA systems in those days and we booked both systems and crew for this one. These type of events go until all hours of the morning so you have to have a few spare bodies to last the distance. A little while out from the gig came murmurs that there may be trouble getting the license to sell alcohol. This was a problem! The rumours came and went, mostly about a publican who had the shits about the bikers selling grog, until it was resolved.
Rick Doolan in the Bandanna days.
A catering company had gotten involved and they were licensed. They were then also contracted to operate all of the food stalls. This was getting bigger by the day. Wow, these guys were really moving in. They also managed to get the contract to supply the toilets! A couple of weeks before the gig I got a call from a guy by the name of Phil. He told me that he had been employed by the catering company to record the gig as the soundtrack to a video that was being shot. We chatted about the gear we were providing and organised to have a beer sometime over the weekend of the gig. This was a big deal for me as Phil was “a bit of a name” as he was the sound engineer for a reasonably big band. This industry is very much based on “who you know” so this was going to be a good guy to know. The actual setup went very well. The staging company had erected a nice control tower with a guy rope to the stage to attach our cables to.
Mission control after the first night. First mate “Gaf” at the helm.
The first night went well with a few good cover bands including one that I worked with regularly, The Last Stand Cold Chisel Show. The main problem was that there didn’t seem to be many people about. It was only Friday night though and we did expect that most of the crowd would roll in on Saturday morning.
The massive Friday night crowd in all its’ glory.
Saturday was a long day with bands starting about lunch time and going all the way through to about 3am from memory. the highlight of the night was the Phil Emmanuel Band. Coming on about midnight with a light fog rolling in, the atmosphere was perfect. If you’ve ever done sound for a band you will know that nothing sounds better than a great band through a big P.A. system outdoors with it cranked to 11. I still rate that set by Phil as one of the highlights of my mixing career. I once heard a classical conductor say that heaven was when the sound of the orchestra matched the sound he heard in his head. Mixing is a lot like that. You have a “perfect” sound in your head that you try to achieve with the mix. A couple of times in your life you will hit the bullseye. This was one of those nights. The only problem ws there still wasn’t much of a crowd. You could see a few of the catering company managers looking a little worried. they had brought massive amounts of food and grog in anticipation of a large crowd that never turned up. Maybe they would turn up for the Sunday?
Living in the back of the truck is tops. Not! This is Ziggy the lightingmeister.
Oh well, they didn’t turn up Sunday either. So far the bikers had come out very well with their deal to let the catering company promote just about everything. By midway through Sunday you could smell the tension. As the old saying goes “the smell of burning promoter hung heavily in the air”. For our part it was all going well. Well, most of it! You don’t sleep much at these type of events and the lack of sleep mixed with vast amounts of alcohol combined to almost spell disaster for one of our lighting chaps, Bicky. We had gathered in the back of the truck to have a few quiet beers with one of the bikers my brother and I knew through mutual friends. This guy was reasonably high up in the club and went on to become the president a few years later. All was calm until Bicky staggered in with a smoke machine in his hand that needed re-filling. This was one of the old “Mini Big Smoke” machines that were popular once. You filled them with “smoke oil” then put a CO2 cylinder into it to pressurise it. Bicky filled it with oil then let off the gas cylinder…without putting the lid back on the oil reservoir. High pressure oil went everywhere, covering our biker mates. You could see the look on Bickys face when he realised what he had done. “Near Death Experience” I think it’s called. We did some very fast talking and managed to get the lads to see the funny side of it and not kill him. I felt a bit more awake after that! Sunday progressed well from our point of view culminating in a performance by The Amazing Zarsoff Brothers. This was a band I used to see very regularly in their heyday in the early 80’s and once again they didn’t disappoint. I think they are still going around, get out & catch them if you can. I still have one of their albums which contains such classics as “Fucken’ beauty”, “Nose Pickin’ Boogie” and my all time favourite, “You’re a Prick(ya make me sick)”.
The amazing “Izzy Foreal”. He stopped the band because “some prick wanted to take his photo”.
After an eventful and tiring weekend, we crashed in the back of the truck one last time ahead of Monday’s pack up. We awoke to an empty paddock, covered in empty cans & bottles, and a few slow-moving people. The vibe amongst the catering people was now at rock bottom. They were all wondering if they were going to get paid and the boss was wondering if he would lose his house. The sluggish silence was broken by an approaching ute. It was being driven by one of the catering staff and seemed to be chockablock full of ice. He pulled up near one of their portable bars and proceeded to unload the lot onto the ground.
At this point, the boss appeared and we could see that his head was now glowing bright red. The rant was absolutely priceless. “How dare you go into town and spend MORE fucking money on ice we don’t need! I’m gonna lose the lot… blah, blah” On and on he went. Whipping himself into an absolute frenzy as he went. The employee was just speechless. I thought the boss was going to spontaneously combust. As he built his rage into a fever pitch, the rest of the staff were gathering around, not believing the spectacle before them. At this point, we noticed that the bikers were all retreating and some had actually locked themselves into one of the nearby buildings. This guy was scaring everybody! Finally, when I thought it couldn’t get any better, he launched himself into the air and came down smack bang in the middle of the ice pile. He then continued to scream incoherently as he ripped the ice bags to bits and spread it everywhere. Unbelievable!
After a few minutes, it all subsided and he lay there on top of the ice pile almost motionless, gasping for breath. There was just silence for a good 30 seconds then… the assembled crowd of catering staff erupted into spontaneous applause and cheering. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. The incident that came to be known as “The Ice Dance”. Believe it or not, the bikers weren’t deterred by the apparent failure of Yella Rock 1 and held Yella Rock 2 the next year. But that’s another story…
My memories of the 1st Yella Rock was arriving on the site at about 2am Saturday morning because I’d had a big day Friday at the Bankstown Motorcycle Show, and proceeding to start drinking! This went on most of Saturday until some time Saturday night when I passed out in my car (I couldn’t be bothered setting up the tent lol). 1st thing Sunday morning, hung over as hell, getting out of the car I jammed my middle finger of my left hand in the car door, splitting it open right down the side. The thing that bothered me most was that I had 3 gigs coming up that week, which I ended up having to play ‘1-fingered’ (lucky I’m a bassplayer and not a guitarist lol). But anyway, the finger kind of dampened my party mood, so I drove home to Sydney to spend Easter Sunday with my family, which turned out to be the last one with us all together because my father passed away about 1 month later, so it just goes to show you that even when things seem like shit, sometimes they are just meant to be, and they work out for the best in the long run.
Sometime I shall have to tell you the ‘Cherry Fuck’ story, which came about because of me jamming my finger in the door that day!
And Mark, if you remember, there were even LESS people at Yella Rock 2 lol
my first memory of gig was illegal pretty much after that ive no memry at all except bits and peices yogi and the broadcast truck mark his bro and ziggy kb yeah i do remember i was working for the last strand chisel barnes show sponsored by ashley and martin
Well F#$k me of course I remember that gig.What a weekend, man we had worked so hard for so long and stayed awake for days (wonder how) I was a zombie after that, Patching the PAs together and running another split to a recording truck was amazing I have only ever done that once before at Selinas at coogee (a gig with dragon as they recorded it also but the recording room was way over in the motel rooms two multicores to get there hired from Jands ofcourse))And when the fog machine went off it was the funniest thing I have ever been involved in, in my life, death and laughter at the same time can surley wake one up hey.The nigh the fog rolled in it was perfect a magical moment, PA cranked to 11 and everything just right the sound was awsome one of the highlites of my career also, Mark got it perfect ,Oh and remember yella rock 2 and the stunt driver? There was this stunt guy who was booked to jump his car over a bus, and while we were setting up I kept looking at this ramp they were building with a dozer , I`m no professional stuntman but that ramp looked a bit too steep almost too steep, I remember saying to the crew that this guy ain gona jump no truck with a ramp like that but like I said we aint no stunt men, so we just worked on, well the night came and I ended up chatting to the stunt man and asked him if he though the ramp was alright, “thumbs up, no worries mate its perfect” well this guy has comes thundering down this track hits the ramp and the car just goes straight up nose in the air about 20 feet and lands with an almight explosion of fire and smoke on the bus, boom!!. Well later on we found out that it was planned, there was no way he was going to jump that bus, as he said a crash was more spectacular, so if you ever get a chance to do a three day gig with the bikers, do it! it is great you will never forget it ((forget it forget it forget it (echo)))). Oh just one warning make sure you wear good foot ware as I recon I must have walked from the FOH to stage about fifty kilometers no joke my legs were killing me and for god sake get loaders for the haul out, we had a crew of five and we often did big out door gigs by ourselves, these days you use about 20 for something like that at least but we did it with five(remember one of our crew had a bit too much party and work and locked himself in the truck in some sort of psycotic episode) must say we had a prety good pa system thanks to Mark G wiring and multicore setups, we were one of the first to multicore the lot so patching everything is was way quicker back then, Ive been giging for a long time and worked for some world class acts but every now and again magic happens and the yella rock fog was one of those times.