Oils on the Road
It’s night two for us on the road with the band affectionately known world-wide as ‘the Oils’. The crowd has poured in with the insistent rain soaking through to their skins, into a Brissy-green amphitheatre right on the rivers edge. Below them the stage is alive. Around them nearly 10,000 peoples veins are pumping with rock’n’roll. For some, it’s their first oils gig in 30, 25, 20, or 15 years. For others, their first ever. Beams of desert-red light illuminate the falling atmospheric rinse, as a harmonica washes over our heads towards the city behind, instigating an essential Oils hit.
I cannot recall what led my 11 year old self to permanently borrow the Oils greatest hits from my folks’s music collection. It’s still there on my shelf, with the red $20 ‘Brashes’ sticker on the front sleeve the only physical reminder I have of the now deceased record store. The band occupy the full front cover, with a centralised Garret in a lengthy blue t-shirt with ‘What’s your excuse?’ emblazoned over it. Maybe that’s what drew me to the music, the idea that maybe the world I pictured as a primary school kid wasn’t exactly as I thought it was. The idea that outside our front living room in eastern Melbourne, some adults weren’t too keen on something.
‘What’s my excuse?’ Excuse for what?? I dunno, do I need one? Most lyrics went over my head those days – fair enough for a Grade 5 kid, but others didn’t. Beds are burning? Even the limited/zero exposure I had on the treatment of indigenous peoples that we received in the suburbs was enough to join the dots there. With a desire to increase my ever-expanding view of what actually occurred outside the front door, the Oils offered – I was hooked on them instantly.
Many years and events later, we meet on the Great Circle tour. The crowd sways and yells in and out of tune to favourites, b-sides and covers, all with the infamous corrugated water tank rusting away stage right of the drum kit. From our stall at the very back of the crowd I dissect the tunes embedded in my sonic memory – the drums beaten to half-death cut through yet meld together so bloody smoothly with bass and guitar it’s perfect. When the rising and rolling riffs of Truganini take shape over the steaming masses, I literally laugh I’m that happy to hear it in the flesh. And of course, there’s the frontman pacing around, elbows stapled to his waist, lanky arms flailing around and all of us clasped in the palm of his hand forever. It’s seriously just how I imagined it would be. In a word: Solid!
To me, the Oils embody Australian rock’n’roll like no other – music that sounds like the landscape that shapes us all. Choruses and words we all know, topics we can all understand, and above all – an over riding sense of the all-inclusive, the potential of a positive future for everyone, not just a select few. It’s wholesome music.
We dance into the evening, see out the rain, embrace the double encore, and close our five our stint informing a stream of concert-goers about the plight of our greatest barrier reef, exposing people to the Fight For Our Reef campaign, and how they can get on board and help.
With smiles our faces and a mass of conversations and petition signatures under our belts, we remain fully energised to continue to empower the Australian community towards a cleaner, healthier, and environmentally sound future for this grand landmass.
That’s the power of great music. The power of quality, tasteful songwriting that captures the urgency of the moment whilst keeping you dancing and singing along the way.
One vision, one people, one landmass, one ocean, one policy, one passion, one movement, one instant, one difference, one lifetime, one understanding.
Where’d we be without the Oils?!
Have you signed up to the Making Tracks newsletter yet? It hits inboxes randomly every couple of months – my blend of photography, writing, and content I won’t share elsewhere (exclusive content, if you will). Sign up here!