Luna Ghost are a shoegazing band from Melbourne. I could now go on to describe them in the same way every blogger describes a shoegaze band, using words like ‘hazy’ and ‘swirling’ and citing the same two bands – MBV and The JMC. As those masters of music douchery over at Pitchfork have said, there is nothing, no pattern of words, no arrangement of adjectives, no syllabic order that has not already been said, written and published when it comes to talking about Shoegaze music. Yes, Loveless changed everything. Yes, noise guitar sounds amazing when done well, and yes they sound bad when it’s 2006 and you’re still essentially an emo band. Yes, Kevin Shields is god. No, music critics are not tired of shoegaze, and I don’t think they will be any time soon.
It had been a long week. Our show was on Friday night, and we had only just put a set together on Wednesday afternoon – without our drummer. 8 hours over two days later and we still weren’t anywhere near tight enough to be comfortable, but we figured we’d just get loaded before our set and things would be alright. We’d only been playing together for about a month, a few of us had been in other projects before, so this wasn’t a huge deal but for some of us this was our first time actually playing a show, and we were nervous as hell.
Our practice space was a warehouse in Marrickville, four rooms with no air-con, decaying soundproof boards and glitchy PA systems. One room though, room five as it was called, was in perfect condition. Still no aircon service Sydney, but a few inbuilt ceiling fans and freshly laid carpeting on the walls and floor. There was even a decent looking drumkit in there, and enough plectrums to last at least a week of rehearsals – unsurprisingly it was always booked out. When we arrived on Monday, we saw the band that had booked it – four girls, each eerily identical to each other. Short but slender, bleached blonde hair that grew over their eyes, faded black knee length dresses, they looked a little like Beaches if they stayed indoors and played morgue-rock. When we left on Monday night, the band were still in there. From what we could hear, they were playing the same song, but such repetition is not uncommon at rehearsals.
When we rocked up late Tuesday afternoon, the same group of strange quadruplets had booked the room, and were in there again, playing the same song. It was a droney, shoegazy, hauntingly familiar four chord noise rock song that they played with completely straight attitudes – even the drummer sat nearly motionless. As we set up our gear, I made a joke about how those girls in room five must live there or something. My remark was met with blank looks.
“What girls? The only people here today is that classical guitarist from Peru in room one”
“I don’t even think there is a room five”
I knew they were messing with me, but I didn’t know why. Was there a joke I wasn’t in on? Were my band mates just too fried to remember how to count? I thought nothing of it for the time being. We practiced.
After an hour and a half of trying to get the tempo change in Song Three (working title) sounding tight, we went out for a cigarette. As I walked past the stairwell that led to room five, I noticed something odd. There was no room five. This was definitely creepypasta.wikia.org worthy, buy my feeling of mild, spooked out discomfort was overshadowed by frustration as our lead singer took it upon himself to rewrite the lyrics to the only good song we had.
Thursday rolled around and as I carried my amplifier up the cement ramp, I looked up to see the infamous room five, exactly how it looked on Monday, with exactly the same four girls gazing at their pedals, playing the same song. I stopped and stared through the perspex at the strange, sanguine sounds emanating from the deep blue room. I slowly approached the door to get a closer look, but as I took two steps forward, I was stopped in my tracks. The drummer shot me a stare through her straggly, snow white locks – a stare that reached like a clawed talon, deep down into my chest, deeper down into my lower stomach and then eventually into my crotch, and definitely not in a good way. I freaked the fuck out. I dropped my amp where I stood and ran to our rehearsal room. Shit was getting weird.
On the way out that night, room five was still there, but it was empty. The same song was playing, yet this time through the PA, mastered, leveled and sounding pretty decent. The soft carpeted walls beckoned me inside, the coloured lamps gave off a ‘come hither’ vibe, and I followed – the low fidelity track dragging unwittingly inside like a siren. I investigated the mixing board, but nothing was plugged in. Where was the sound coming from?
As I turned to the door, the thick polyester slammed as much as a heavily padded door could possibly slam, all but locking me in room five. The lights cut out, leaving only the switch lights from the PA and a little light from the main hallway sneaking through the grimy perspex window.
Ready to let my bowels loose out of fright, I rushed for the door. As I slammed into the padding, I felt a hand on my shoulder and long, dry strands of hair brush against the back of my neck. My heart stopped. I dared not turn around as I slowly felt my way out the door with my two eyes closed as tight as drumskins. The hand held me tighter, the ice cold grip not wanting to let me go so easily. Wordless reverberations echoed in the depths of my eardrums until I opened my eyes and found myself outside room 5. I didn’t want to believe. This was all just an awful acid flashback, or like a sleepwalking, lucid dream sorta thing.
I found a single, long golden hair on my t-shirt that evening in the laundry.
Friday evening and we were all set up on the little pub stage. It’s not fucking easy carrying a drumkit from Camperdown Memorial Rest Park all the way to King St, I’ll tell you that much. Still freaked out by the events of Thursday, I drank more than my bandmates to compensate, until my nerves were calm enough to hold a steady barre chord. At 7pm, we got onstage to a small audience and to our sincere relief none of our friends had shown up. Nobody was really paying attention until about song three, but I wasn’t really looking out into the crowd – we were all kinda watching each other, trying to predict all the chord changes we’d written in at the last minute. As we started our final song of the set, I looked out to the thirty people in the bar – only one of them looking our way.
A girl, short but slender, with long, bleached blonde hair over her eyes and a faded black knee length dress. Again she stared, her gaze clawing through me looking straight through me and all my pretentions – deep into my soul and into that incarnate piece of being inside all of us.
It turned out she was just some hipster chick who used to work at the pub and still got staff discounts. She bought us heaps of drinks and I made out with her later on the nightride. It was awesome.
Luna Ghost’s The Sea is available on Bandcamp – catch them this Friday at The Tote down in Melbourne supporting The Citradels.
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