Thank you and goodnight Bridezilla
On January 16th, two things are set to happen. It is an utter coincidence that they should occur on the same day, yet there is also something strangely symbiotic about it. In the afternoon, after six years, I will be leaving Australia to live once again in Europe. Later that day, my favourite band will, after approximately the same amount of time, be playing their last ever gig.
I first chanced upon Bridezilla in a bunker of a venue in Sydney‘s Kings Cross on (or around) Halloween in 2006. Theirs was a woozy mix of indie, jazz and folk, coupled with a kaleidoscopic frenzy of movement and played out to a handful of zombies and slutty nurses in attendance. The violinist whizzed around the stage like a whirling dervish, the saxophonist ripped the roof off with her lung-busting sax solos, the guitarist remained enigmatic in the shadows and the drummer – the only male member of the five-piece – was all smiles at the back. Sashaying twixt them was a confident frontwoman whose vocal jumped between breathily sultry and a powerful bass growl. She wore a cat mask and robot danced. Her name was Holiday. She was fifteen-years-old. None of the quintet were old enough to be in the venue. They were the best band I had seen since forever.
Over the next few months, I made it my mission to spread the word about my new favourite band. I wrote about them in the street press all over Australia, I gushed about them on websites all around the world. I told anyone who would listen that this was a band worth paying attention to. A group that was offering something different. A bunch of teenagers that sounded like a cross between the Velvet Underground and The Dirty Three. I don’t know if anyone paid attention to me, but I hope I guided some people in their direction.
I have so many abiding memories of Bridezilla, like when they supported Midlake back in the early days. Due to their tender years, they were booted out of the club before the headliner played, so stood in the street with their ears pressed to the back door of the venue before leaving the band a love-letter and heading home. I saw them play with another relatively unknown group called The Temper Trap at The Annandale in Sydney. I was there for the stage invasion of dozens of excited teenage girls at The Great Escape, and for their gigs at The Enmore Theatre and Laneway Festival. I was at their debut headline show in Bondi. I think there was one spell where I saw them play about five times in eight days. Something like that. Which shows two things: 1. that they were a very hard working band and, 2. that I was a superfan.
I reviewed every show I could to the point where I’d run out of superlatives. And it became increasingly hard to objectively review them as they, and their families, became good friends of mine. While the venues increased in size and the crowds grew, there were still the same old faces to be found, proudly looking on from the back of the room. It was nice to feel part of the Bridezilla family.
For a while, Holiday would send me her demos and we would eat sushi together and talk about her future career in politics. Violinist Daisy and I would hang out some afternoons too and I’d see drummer Josh, guitarist Pia and saxophonist Millie out and about at night. It was always an absolute pleasure to bump into them. They are lovely people. I guess being thrown into such an adult environment at a tender age meant that they skipped the stage of being surly teenagers. Or maybe they just saved that for their parents.
After a while though, and contrary to what I had genuinely thought to be possible, it became clear that Bridezilla were not going to be the biggest band in the world. Despite successful tours in the UK and the US, and in spite of favourable reviews, their album didn’t create the waves that many people expected. Perhaps their music was a little too nuanced for the mainstream market, or maybe the band had simply run its course. I mean, let’s face it, how many of us are still doing the same thing as we were when we were 15?
Instead, Holiday, Pia, Daisy, Millie and Josh began to focus on other endeavours. Sometimes their paths still cross upon a stage, and the five of them remain the best of friends. But, after one last hoorah at Sydney’s Oxford Art Factory in January, Bridezilla will cease to exist forever. They will leave behind a legacy of songs that mean a lot to those of us that were there from the beginning. The rumbling Bondi Wave, set closer St Francine, the brooding Chainwork and the hip-shaking Brown Paper Bag to name but a handful. I still play these songs quite often and they still sound as fucking brilliant as they ever did.
While I’m sad to be missing their last dance, I’m content in the knowledge that the band played a big part in the soundtrack to my six years in Australia. I look forward to hearing Holiday fill me in on how the show went when we catch-up over tea in London sometime soonish. Which all points to the fact that nothing lasts forever, except the music that is created and the memories and friendships to which it leads.
Words and pictures by Bobby Townsend.If you are Sydney based, you would be a fool not to check out Bridezilla’s last ever show. It’s on 16th January at Oxford Art Factory. The Facebook event page is here and you can buy tickets here.