An Australian volunteer who was doing whatever volunteers do in PNG.
I was there for 2 years until Dec 2005 .. I hope I made the most of it.

Saturday, November 12, 2005


A change of pace last night. Instead of just the usual drinking of a Friday night, it was this time peppered with a concert. My first in a long time. Although a PNG concert of course is a different experience to anywhere else you care to name.

The artist in question was long time PNG music legend George Telek, probably PNG's only really internationally known act (although O-Shen perhaps is now known throughout the pacific). The man has toured world music festivals in Australia and is loved throughout PNG and especially in his native Rabaul.

He is probably credited with a lot of the sound that PNG music has now. If you don't know the music scene here is quite impressive. There is prodigious output from the major local label here, CHM, which is then sold through their stores and others around the country. CHM also produce a couple of music video shows which are shown in prime time on EMTV (the only local TV station), and these show the local music acts performing their songs in bad (oh yes they are bad) videos ... (think girls on the beach dancing poorly, cut to long lost boy walking up the beach, back to girls, back to boy who finds girl, he then sings his song to her while cutting back to the dancing girls occur).

Anyway last night me my mate from next door (the only other person interested) got to the Aviat Club early to buy tickets at the door, just in case there was a rush and it was sold out. We then headed off to meet up with friends and dinner before heading back around 10 (the guy on the door when we got the tix said "10 na bout" when questioned what time he would be on).

The place was far from packed, but still had lots of people. We had a few beers sitting outside by the pool, watching and observing all manner of locals in different states of inebriation, some falling over, some throwing up in the pool, others getting half naked on the dance floor. A quick scan showed that we were the only whites in the entire place.

A DJ was busy keeping people on the floor, but as I have observed before the tidal action was happening again, even though in this case the DJ was mixing the songs successfully. There is just something about Papua New Guineans and the transition between songs. When one finishes they have to disembark the dance floor, wait until they hear what it is, decide if they like it and then go up and dance again.

Eventually after a little while an MC came on to introduce the main act, he repeated the words "legend", "eight albums" and "now without further ado", multiple times. From then is when the real differences between concerts I am used to and the PNG variety came into focus.

The most obvious thing was that nobody was crowding the stage. Everyone was hanging back around the edges. It was only when Telek came up with his guitar and started to sing did anybody come up close and that was to dance. The crowd around the stage was so fluid that it enabled me to get up close and snap a picture before returning to hang back and listen on the fringes.

Unfortunately the listening didn't happen as much as I would have liked. I was discovering another area where the concerts I have been to are different from PNG ones. It involved being chased for the entire event by a girl who wouldn't leave me alone. She seemed to take quite a fancy to me ("mi les long PNG man, mi laik white man") and I couldn't shake her. Not that I have objections to being the centre of affection for a pretty young thing, but I had come to see a concert and wasn't particularly interested in giving up my life story to a fawning 16 year old still in year 10 at school. Call me strange, but I would have liked to have heard the legend sing ... and also I am sure there are some laws that could be breached there.

We ended up leaving before the end and before the fights took hold, and drove back in the pouring rain.