Live review: The Offspring + Sum 41 – Brisbane Riverstage – 14th December 2022

On their first Australian headline tour in 18 years and with more than 40 million albums under their belt, punk-rock stalwarts the Offspring have both nothing to prove and everything to prove on a balmy Brisbane school night at a sold-out Riverstage. So how did the much-lauded Californians’ set go down?

First up was Sum 41; the Canadian pop-punk quintet wasted no time getting boneheaded with a series of their greatest ‘hits’ mixed in with some clinical annihilations of classic rock standards and painfully contrived and contradictory audience requests ranging from “Let’s get crazy motherfuckers!” and “Let’s get a circle pit going!” to “Let’s look after each other tonight and make sure nobody gets hurt!” courtesy of dufus frontman Deryck Whibley.

Early-career lowlights ‘Motivation’, ‘The Hell Song’ and ‘Over my Head’ kicked off proceedings; the latter during which Whibley attempted to get the aforementioned circle pit happening (which wasn’t quite getting past first gear on a hot South-East Queensland evening), before the singer urged the audience to get their phone torches out for dirgy ballad ‘Walking Disaster’.

‘All Killer No Filler’ singles ‘In Too Deep’ and ‘Fat Lip’ had the capacity audience breaking (even more of) a sweat, but perhaps the most drippy moment came when Whibley & Co. showed their only flicker of a sense of humour for the evening with excerpts of ‘Smoke on the Water’ and ‘Seven Nation Army’, and the execution of a crime against musical majesty with a brutal demolition of Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’.

The headliners are, thankfully, immediately classy from the off; it was clear the Offspring were here to play like the seasoned musicians they are, but not take themselves too seriously and be smart enough not to try to be too smart, despite the assorted PhDs and tertiary qualifications famously sported by various band members.

Early setlist highlights included ‘Come Out and Play’, ‘Want You Bad’, and the Trump-baiting recent single ‘Let the Bad Times Roll’, which fitted among earlier career tracks particularly well. ‘Original Prankster’ felt like it had been thrown away early at only 8:50pm but went down a storm before the silly mid-show ‘Noodle Plays With Himself’ section saw guitarist Noodles thrash through an entertaining medley of excerpts of ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’, ‘Back in Black’, ‘The Trooper’, and Edvard Greig’s ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’. It was all deeply silly and infectiously good fun; just like the guitarist himself, who claimed “It’s hard to tell where Jimi Hendrix ends and I begin”, with tongue firmly in cheek.

The fun continued with an appropriately high-octane cover of ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ (excellent choice), and career classics ‘Why Don’t You Get a Job?’ and ‘Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)’ caused all phones in the vicinity to be held firmly aloft, and ‘The Kids Aren’t Alright’ provided the big finish before the band exited stage right to a Riverstage reverberating with appreciation.

With the venue’s infamous council-enforced 10pm cut-off time looming, there was no time to waste, and the Californians return to complete a deserved encore including ‘You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid’ in a big finish.

To bastardise a soccer metaphor, it was a gig of two halves with one side ultimately coming away with the plaudits, just like 9,000-odd Queenslanders likely came away sweaty and satisfied.

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Live review: Tame Impala – Brisbane Entertainment Centre – 18th October 2022

It’s been an age between drinks for Tame Impala and Brisbane, and with a sold-out Entertainment Centre clamouring to greet Kevin Parker and the boys, what couldn’t go perfectly right?

First up was local legend-in-the-making Sycco who looked born to do it on a stage this big and received a huge response from an already half-full Entertainment Centre for her efforts, most especially on final track ‘Dribble’.

Sycco

Next came Genesis Owusu and a lesson in owning a stage by sheer presence and force of personality alongside an energetic vocal performance and some killer lyrics. It’s hard to nail down just one thing that makes the Ghanaian-Australian such a powerful act when he seems to have it all; recent track ‘GTFO’ went down particularly well and lyrically could be Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Killing in the Name’ for a new generation. There’s absolutely no stopping this guy based on this performance.

Genesis Owusu

The members of Tame Impala saunter onto the stage amid a retina-searing light display, dense dry ice, and reverberating screams of appreciation from a heaving Entertainment Centre, with Parker looking entirely unfazed by the circumstances in which he found himself. This is a band that has grown from its relatively humble WA psych-rock roots to be the international festival headliner it now is, so it’s easy to see why this experience is all in a day’s work for the multi-instrumentalist master. His show takes a simple approach: give the audience what it wants, do it in style, and do it BIG.

Tame Impala

This is the ‘Slow Rush’ tour, so that album’s songs feature heavily at all the big moments, including opener ‘One More Year’ and early tracks ‘Borderline’ and ‘Breathe Deeper’. However, having been around for over 14 years and with a back catalogue that most bands would die for, Parker and the gang can pull from all corners of their varied career and strike a chord with anything they pull out of the bag, as with ‘Nangs’, ‘Apocalypse Dreams’, and ‘Elephant’, before which Parker enquires of the crowd’s willingness to “get a little wild” – which it does in spades.

It was during an extended ‘Let it Happen’ that one of the band’s trademark moments comes with the launch of the confetti cannons at the drop, before a chilled-out ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ provided a cool counterpoint. This left only the need for a big finish to top off the show, which came in the form of ‘The Less I Know the Better’ and ‘One More Hour’.

It was all a truly mind-melting visual experience; the lighting was simultaneously mesmerising, trippy, and, at times, almost difficult not to turn away from. But in terms of Australian music, this band’s live experience is up with there with the very best. It definitely wasn’t slow; it definitely WAS a rush.

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Live review: BIGSOUND Live night three – 8th September 2022

It’s night three of BIGSOUND 2022 – hands up if you can still feel your legs. No, me neither. What else is to be done but get right into it?

The string of Rage Against the Machine tracks that played over the house system at the Loft gave some indication of what’s to follow when The Riot took to the stage. The Gold Coast quartet is made up of four very different musicians stylistically, but when it all comes together it works beautifully and provides the perfect start to another night of outstanding music.

The Riot

Over at the Outpost, Selve laid down some catchy grooves and upbeat vibes before a hugely appreciate audience with the levels of throwaway fun right on the money. Led by Jabbirr Jabbirr man Loki Liddle, the band provided one of the highlights of the evening early on; all killer synths and even more killer basslines, joined by much-loved Auslan interpreter Mikey Webb. A finale of Fatboy Slim’s ‘Praise You’ lifted hearts and spirits – these guys deserve a lot of attention from all the best people.

Selve

In the mall, Blute’s was once again packed to sardine levels as Platonic Sex took to the stage. The buzz around the Brisbane alt-rock four-piece was palpable, and early track ‘Devil’s Advocate’; all about letting go of the ball and chain of toxic masculinity showed why.

Platonic Sex

Wooly Mammoth Mane Stage was similarly rammed for an assured performance from Beckah Amani, who played a clutch of songs from her recently released EP, including the excellent ‘Smoke and Mirrors’, highlighting the singer-songwriter’s passion for ethical fashion choices and tackling climate change. The towering ‘Standards’ elicited enthusiastic audience participation Radio Ga Ga-style as Amani repeated “For a black woman like me / I’m standing up for my needs” alongside some deft guitar licks.

Beckah Amani

At O’Skulligans, up-and-coming folkie Sam Windley performed songs that appear soft and lovely on first listen but are laced with confusion and pain through the lyrics, while over at BLVD, Brisbane’s Yb grinned from ear to ear amid a smooth set of genre-bending indie/pop gems and tight musicianship.

Sam Windley

Dallas Woods promised he was “gonna take you all home to the East Kimberley” amid several audience interactions sprinkled through the Noongar rapper’s set at Summa House. Early track ‘Colorblind’ from the recent ‘Julie’s Boy’ EP hit home hard, and when joined by both members of Fly Boy Jack (who impressively upped the swear count immediately), the set kicked up several gears towards an epic finish.

Dallas Woods

At Sound Garden, bass player turned produced Tentendo described his BIGSOUND experience as “full-on, as I’m pretty introvert”, while producing an instantly classy, instantly catchy, instantly danceable, and instantly generally bloody impressive set of dance tracks alongside his keyboard player and drummer. What a find.

Tentendo

At the Loft, Jerome Farah set about unleashing something particularly special – even among so much bright talent over the past three days. From the second the Melburnian opened his lungs it was a show-stopper; the former dancer moved from smooth soul to soaring strength to rap and back again with ludicrous ease. “When my hair isn’t in braids, it’s in a huge afro,” he explains, mocking the constant requests from people wanting to touch it before ‘Afro’ kicks in. The lyric line “Why you gotta go and do that for? Please, white boy, don’t touch my afro” is delivered with humour and power, and the audience reacted with appreciation in spades. This was one of the best performances of the festival, and the perfect point to call it a day for this reviewer.

Jerome Farah

Now it’s time for that sweet, sweet sleep. Thank you and good night.

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Live review: BIGSOUND Live night two – 7th September 2022

It’s BIGSOUND night two of three – are you all hanging in there?

First up at Tomcat was Ok Hotel, who, despite being at only 75% capacity due to the loss of guitarist Lucy to illness (“She’s alive and well – we promise!”), delivered a powerful set of grunge-rock-vibed goodness mixed with some sweet melodies and a ramshackle charm. Their final track ‘Life is Crazy (Like That)’ hit home hard and reassured an appreciative audience that BIGSOUND was alive and kicking for a second night.

Ok Hotel

Over at Summa House Old Mervs delivered a more laid-back, easy-and-breezy vibe, while, at the Zoo, the Andrew Gurruwiwi Band got into some seriously funky jams; proving themselves to be an early highlight of the second night of the festival. The seven-piece Arnhem Land collective took a large and appreciative audience on a winding journey through a set of depth, heart and top-notch musicality; and they only got better as they went on. The maestro Gurruwiwi himself, looking effortlessly cool seated at the front of the stage in dark sunglasses, led the way through a captivating collection of tracks sung in Yolngu Matha.

Andrew Gurruwiwi Band

At Wooly Mammoth Mane Stage, Teenage Dads gathered quite the crowd and set about immediately going down a storm; all hip-wiggling, fist-pumping cringe in only the best ways possible. “It’s just a name. Don’t ask that question. It’s getting stale”, advises singer Jordan, pre-empting the very thought most likely on everyone’s minds.

Teenage Dads

At EC Venue, Flyboy Jack was spitting rhymes to a bouncing audience in what felt like one of those BIGSOUND moments you’ll tell people about in years to come. The quartet operated in perfect harmony, delivering cutting lyrics with a vibe that only drew a bigger crowd the longer the set lasted.

Flyboy Jack

The ebb and flow nature of movement between BIGSOUND venues means you can’t always get where you want as crowds gather and melt away, and the influx of people towards Teenage Joans unfortunately made the Loft unattainable for this reviewer. Based on the fervour for the band they must be doing something special.

Back at the Wooly Mammoth Mane Stage, the Rions seemed to have added even more people to an already heaving crowd left over from Teenage Dads; there was barely enough room to turn around in the cosy upstairs venue. The impossibly-young-looking but musically adept triple j Unearthed High winners delivered a slick set of indie-rock richness and marked themselves as ones to watch – with impressive ’70s-style moustaches to boot.

The Rions

At Prince Consort, Selfish Sons set about treating the pub gig setup almost like a stadium rock affair; all “Hey BIGSOUND, how we feeling?” and “Get your hands in the air, BIGSOUND!” call-outs, and, having already supported acts of the stature of The Kid Laroi, it’s probably clear why. The Brisbane trio worked hard and had a blast and, as a result, the audience had a blast too.

Selfish Sons

At Summa House, it was time for a big night two finale, and it came in the form of an epic performance from Butchulla rapper Birdz, accompanied by Fred Leone on vocals and didgeridoo. Opener ‘Aussie Aussie’ hit harder than anything on show so far, as did mid-set highlight ‘Fly’, before an all-conquering ‘Bagi-la-m Bargan’ closed out a punch-to-the-guts set of power, pride, and truth-telling in a BIGSOUND moment up there with the best.

Birdz with Fred Leone

One more day to go: let’s keep the BIGSOUND train a-rollin’ for another 24 hours.

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Live review: BIGSOUND Live night one – 6th September 2022

Back in the flesh for the first time since 2019 and celebrating its 21st birthday this year, BIGSOUND is back with a bang and then some in 2022.

With 300 performances over three nights to choose from, it’s impossible to be across all the up-and-coming talent on offer, but when there are so many unknown gems to uncover, the only way to do it is to dive right in.

First up was Brisbane-based Talk Heavy at Wooly Mammoth Mane Stage. The quartet opened with a warmly received Acknowledgement of Country before launching into an unholy racket of pop-punk goodness; all catchy, sardonic, and fun. Despite guitarist Pat jokingly exclaiming, “All our songs are about Bret Hart”, a collection of tracks from their upcoming EP, including ‘I Wanna Skate Again’ prove otherwise in a fine start to the evening.

Talk Heavy

Over at the Prince Consort, Sydney’s Enclave produced an altogether more ominous mood that probably would feel at home in the Road House in Twin Peaks on Halloween. With a darkly engaging frontman whose style and delivery sits somewhere between an intensely brooding Mick Jagger and Brandon Lee’s character in ‘The Crow’, the band is well worth checking out. Single ‘Bloodletting’ is a good entry point for this unique act.

Enclave

“Hello, BIGSOUND, we’re Future Static,” is the call at Ric’s Backyard as a flurry of high-octane, high-energy heavy rock is let loose on a captivated audience. The likely destruction of dozens of sets of eardrums aside, the Melbourne five-piece’s barrage of noise goes down a storm as singer Amariah Cook proved to be one of the most impressive of the night. Third song of the set and new single ‘Venenosa’ was a highlight.

Future Static

At the Zoo, Queen P wasn’t blasting the crowd with noise, but winning them over with charm, humour, and confidence, and proving herself to be a star in the making, if she isn’t one already. The diminutive rapper still managed to cajole the audience to get onboard with lines like, “This is BIGSOUND, not small sound!” and the audience responded in spades; most especially during a fun cover of Missy Elliott’s ‘Work It’.

Queen P

An absolutely rammed Blute’s Bar was the setting for Jem Cassar-Daley’s stylish blend of indie-pop, with the large, buzzing crowd including dad Troy. Opening with ‘Letting Go’ and moving into ‘Like It More’, the singer-songwriter and recent Queensland Music Award winner showed exactly why there’s been so much attention coming her way in recent times.

Jem Cassar-Daley

At Ivory Tusk, the call, “We’re Greatest Hits and we’re here to play them” opens the best performance of the evening based on a vibe of sheer throwaway fun and weirdness alone. The Gold Coast trio blend genres and styles effortlessly, with a sound akin to a synth-drenched sonic scream that puts the hook in you early and doesn’t let go. The vibe of simply wanting to have fun above anything else is a welcome approach at an industry festival, and the discipline of keeping up the schtick for a full 30 minutes is worthy of praise alone. ‘Palm Springs’, a song about “us never going to Palm Springs”, went over particularly nicely. Well played, Greatest Hits.

Greatest Hits

Around the corner at The Loft, Brisbane’s Hallie pulled off a slick pop masterclass with a set of cleverly crafted songs delivered with a powerful voice alongside a stage presence that belied their youth. Based on this performance, it’s easy to see how their fanbase could go from big to massive in no time at all.

Hallie

Back at Ivory Tusk, WILSN delivered arguably the most soulful set of the evening. The Melburnian’s bio opener, ‘Possessing the kind of voice that stops you in your tracks’ couldn’t be more on the money; her vocals provided a genuine ‘wow’ moment towards the end of an already talent-filled night of music.

WILSN

Back at The Loft, the crowd swelled for Noah Dillon, and the Fremantle singer-guitarist delivered in fine style to cap off BIGSOUND night one, with even one or two of the BIGSOUND staff getting side-tracked from their door duties to come in and join in or film the fun. Dillon doesn’t build slowly; opener ‘Alive and Kicking’ got the audience bouncing from the off, following it with ‘Drip Dry’ from the ‘Kill the Dove’ album to keep the party going.

Noah Dillon

Let’s see what the nights two and three have in store.

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Live Review: Songs of Hope and Healing – QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane – 8th June 2022

A large and enthusiastic school-night audience filled QPAC’s concert hall for an evening of musical hope and healing to raise funds for HEAL (Home of Expressive Arts and Learning); a program that provides creative arts therapy to young people of refugee backgrounds.

Hosted by lawyer, CEO, human rights advocate, and refugee of the Soviet-Afghanistan conflict, Mariam Veiszadeh, the evening provided an eclectic and affecting mix of music to inspire collective belief and soothe the weary soul.

When it can feel like the walls are closing in, connecting through stories and songs has a way of breaking them down, and, following a Welcome to Country and self-written lullaby courtesy of Gudja Kerry, the hope and healing began with the QPAC Chamber Choir performing a sprightly version of Bill Withers’ ‘Lovely Day’.

Next was the first of two appearances from the outstanding headliner Mahalia Barnes; her powerful blues-rock vocals lifting the audience to another plane with a rendition of Helen Reddy’s ‘I Am Woman’, followed by a long and luscious ‘Ain’t Nobody Else’.

Mahalia Barnes

The most unique and captivating performance of the evening followed from JADE; a Brisbane-based ensemble featuring Japanese koto master Takako Haggarty Nishibori, Nepalese tabla virtuoso Dheeraj Shrestha, Australian guitarist Dr Anthony Garcia, and Wakka Wakka didgeridoo and keyboard player David Williams. The quartet played the subtle and stylish ‘Ancient Waters’ and ‘Fishbowl’, with Garcia relating the story of the latter track being written deep in the bowels of QPAC itself in an artist area known as the ‘fishbowl’ to the audience’s appreciation.

JADE

Next came Irish band Sásta (meaning ‘happy’ in Gaelic), who are warming up for an upcoming tour of France and Ireland, with the instrumental ‘Ron’s Time’ followed by ‘She Said’, which allowed singer-guitarist Mick Hughes’s deft vocals to come to the fore, before the QPAC Chamber Choir seized the opportunity to promote their upcoming ‘ABBA Evolution’ concert in August with their version of the Swedish legends’ recently released ‘Don’t Shut Me Down’.

Deline Briscoe changed the pace and injected a more direct storytelling approach with her songs ‘Sweet Frangipani’ and ‘Big Law’; the Yalanji woman relating tales of her grandfather’s youth on Palm Island, the sounds and smells of the place and time, and the injustice experienced by her family in a skewed justice system. Soft and mellow the telling of her stories may have began, but when the Cairns-based singer let her voice soar, strength and courage reverberated around the hall.

The Obscure Orchestra

The expansive stage was quickly filled by roughly 20 members of Matt Hsu’s Obscure Orchestra; the recent Queensland Music Award winners taking the audience on a whimsical journey through a three-track set including highlight ‘Welcome to the Neighbourhood’. One of Hsu’s trademark instruments, the $27.95 Mitre 10 saw, appeared as part of a fitting finale to the set of surely one of Brisbane’s most innovative groups.

Finale

And so, for the grand finale to send gig-goers home feeling healed and hopeful. Mahalia Barnes once again took to the stage to blow the roof off QPAC, performing mighty versions of ‘Three Times and I’m Gone’, ‘Little Light’, which she proudly dedicated to her 13-year-old daughter, and ‘You Are My Sunshine’, which saw the Obscure Orchestra return to the stage. The curtain came down after a final dose of thunder with ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’, on which all performers from the evening collaborated to form the ultimate Australian super group (for one unique performance only).

On a chilly Tuesday evening, hope and healing never sounded so good.

Donate to HEAL at its website.

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Live review – The Stress of Leisure – Lefty’s Music Hall, Brisbane – 19/11/20

The Stress of Leisure Lefty's Brisbane 2020

It was a good night for an art-rock hootenanny as Brisbane’s The Stress of Leisure successfully launched their new album, ‘Faux Wave’, before an amped-up audience at Lefty’s.

With COVID restrictions eased just days ago, there was a palpable relief and optimism in the air as ales were sunk, memories of distant gig-going were reawakened, and heads were nodded in time to the quartet’s unique brand of jittery, unconventional and fun sound.

Given much of the lyrical content of the songs to be found on ‘Faux Wave’, with song titles including ‘Non-Expertise is Killing Me’, ‘Banker on TV’ and ‘Beat the Tension’, one could be forgiven for thinking this is The Stress of Leisure’s ‘lockdown’ album. This couldn’t be farther from the case.

Indeed, the entire album was recorded in February, just before everyday reality spiralled sharply into the realm of shitshow; possibly making The Stress of Leisure the soothsayers of a generation or simply fortuitous peddlers of exactly the right kind of musical vibe suited to these *cliché warning* unprecedented times.

The show was almost a straightforward run-through of ‘Faux Wave’ from start to finish, with additional tracks including oldie-but-goodie ‘Sex Time’, ‘Thought You Were Young’ and ‘Pulled Pork’; the latter of which frontman Ian Powne declares a work of “genius”, as it’s one of the only songs to tackle “politics, nationalism and pork-barrelling”; not to mention getting shouted at him “any time he walks around New Farm”.

‘Non-Expertise is Killing Me’ is dedicated to “Donald over in the States”, while latest single ‘Banker on TV’ and a gloriously ramshackle cover of The Clash’s ‘Lost in the Supermarket’ round off a solid hour of off-kilter rock and pop; leaving an audience riding high on the crest of a wave of ‘faux’; whatever that may be.

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Live review: Sleaford Mods + The Chats – The Triffid, Brisbane – 12/3/20

Sleaford Mods Brisbane 2020

Midweek apathy, a relentless downpour and the scourge of lingering pandemic panic weren’t nearly enough to dampen the spirits at Sleaford Mods’ debut Brisbane appearance on Thursday night (12th March).

The English duo, touring Australia for the first time since their 2007 inception, left nothing in the tank after what must be one of the most brutal, hard-hitting, entertaining and darkly funny performances of recent times in these parts.

Speaking of entertaining and funny, Eamon and Josh from Sunshine Coast slackers The Chats provide a solid support slot, even though they do almost nothing of worth other than hit ‘play’ on a playlist, crack a few tins and sit in front of quizzical audience grinning from ear to ear. The award for the most laidback DJ set of all time has just been given.

the chats sleaford mods brisbane

For Sleaford Mods’ Andrew Fearn and Jason Williamson, not much, it seems, is laidback, although they’re not above taking the piss out of themselves with as much venom as they attack the ruling classes, austerity politics and pop culture.

Opening with ‘The Committee’, ‘McFlurry’ and ‘Fizzy’, Fearn nods and bops behind his laptop that teeters on a battered, old stool, while Williamson vents spleen, sends spittle sprays for seemingly impossible distances, and contorts his body in tune with the tunes while flitting between ranting, rapping and preaching – all liberally sprinkled with a plethora of c-bombs and truth bombs in equal measure.

It’s the no-bullshit nature of the duo’s act, full spectrum of emotions witnessed onstage, badass beats pumped forth by Fearn’s laptop, and utterly acerbic and absorbing vocal and physical performances by Williamson that makes a Sleaford Mods gig a truly unique and necessary experience in 2020.

Through ‘Kebab Spider’, ‘TCR’, ‘Reef of Grief’ and ‘Jobseeker’, the pace doesn’t let up, and the diverse Triffid audience laps it up from beginning to end.

Williamson’s lyrics and mannerisms provide many of the highlights, and while Sleaford Mods may be too riddled with complexities and contradictions to be the heroes we need in 2020, anything that gets Brisbane dancing on a cold and rainy Thursday evening is worth the price of a ticket alone. Ten out of ten: should visit again.

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Live review: TOOL + Author & Punisher – Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane – 20/2/20

tool brisbane entertainment centre 2020 maynard james keenan
Image: Scenestr © Charlyn Cameron

The anticipation and tension in the air was palpable in and around the mosquito and hot chip haven that is the Brisbane Entertainment Centre as the mighty, genre-skipping rockers Tool made their first visit to the town in seven years in support of their highly anticipated fifth album, ‘Fear Inoculum’.

Support came in the form of a brutal and demanding performance by Author & Punisher, also known as San Diegan solo artist Tristan Shone, who delivered a punishing and absorbing set of pounding, industrial drones as the male-dominated, heavily lubricated audience poured into the sold-out, 13,500-capacity venue.

Reports from the quartet’s Sydney and Perth shows spoke of visual spectaculars, a strict camera ban, and a band musically at the peak of its powers, and this show didn’t disappoint on any of those fronts.

Behind blinds surrounding the edge of the stage, the foursome took their spots to an intense outpouring of emotion, kicking off with ‘Fear Inoculum’; the lead single from the album of the same name. It was a special moment for a Brisbane audience who had waited years to see their heroes once more, and it showed.

Singer Maynard James Keenan began as he meant to go on, on a raised platform behind and to the side of Danny Carey’s drum kit, surveying his domain with menace and anticipation, crouching for the most part with his mohawk and punk getup visible as a silhouette against the searing visuals. Bassist Justin Chancellor twisted and twitched as he delivered thundering notes to leave ears ringing for days, while Adam Jones was the epitome of cool as he reeled off the riffs.

“Hey Brisbane,” said Keenan. “Heard you’ve had a bit of flooding recently. Being so near the ocean and all. Yeah, whatever.”

The setlist remained similar to the band’s two Australian shows thus far, with ‘Ænema’, ‘Parabola’, ‘Schism’, ‘Pneuma’ and ‘7empest’ featuring as part of a relentless wall of sound that the audience lapped up every second of. Almost as entertaining as the show was the venue’s security team’s eagerness and enthusiasm to jump on anyone using their phone, even if not taking photos, and issue a sternly worded warning or eject them from the centre, as signage and PA announcements repeatedly warned of the perils of using video recording equipment at any stage of the occasion.

It didn’t matter, though, as, following surely one of the most intense aural assaults of recent times, hordes of sweaty, black-t-shirt- and cargo short-wearing fans left the Entertainment Centre, hopeful to not have to wait so damn long for next time.

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Live review: Elton John – Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane – 18/12/19

Elton John Brisbane Entertainment Centre

It was a night of big hits, storytelling, sequinned blazers and a masterclass of musicianship as Elton John and his band brought their Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour to Brisbane on a humid, midweek evening.

The 72-year-old may be around halfway through a 300-odd-show run for a tour which began in September 2018, but the energy level didn’t let up for over two and a half hours as the British Knight Bachelor showed he still has the Midas touch when it comes to mesmerising an audience – a task the old master has been succeeding at for close to 50 years.

A lack of supporting artist made little difference to the palpable level of anticipation echoing around the dated walls of the Boondall venue as an army of Elton diehards found their seats while adjusting flashing glam-era spectacles, removing layers of glitzy clothing and chomping on boxes of hot chips with eyes affixed to the big screens for signs of movement on their hero’s part (kudos to the tour team for the acknowledgement of the Turrbal and Yugara people as the Traditional Owners of the area).

If anyone was feeling a tad lethargic or in the depths of a midweek funk, the first few bars of “Bennie and the Jets” changed all that. Its delivery was one of power, poise and nonchalance; tossed off by a master in perfect control of his realm and with nothing to prove. The fact that we were witnessing a man who has created some of the most perfect pop hits for several decades hit like an embarrassing reminder that we shouldn’t have expected anything other than utter brilliance.

“All the Girls Love Alice” followed quickly, before the man himself addresses his people. “We hope you like what you see and what you hear,” he says, before launching into “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” and “Border Song”; the latter before which he takes the opportunity to relate how Aretha Franklin’s decision to record it in the early ’70s gave him and co-songwriter Bernie Taupin great confidence as young musicians. This is the first of many such reminiscences and nods to the skills and input of Taupin of the night.

The anthemic “Tiny Dancer”, as fifth song in a 25-song set, is almost thrown away without a care, but not before getting the biggest response of the evening with a spine-tingling sing-along in the 13,000-capacity venue. It’s a similar situation for “Rocket Man” in eighth position, although the band take their time with the classic track; each taking a masterful solo to transform it into an extended, bluesy jam. Elton takes his bows and laps up the adulation between hits, and a genuine connection is felt between performer and audience.

There may be moments for the diehards only, including “Burn Down the Mission”, and patches of lower intensity that follow, but towards the pointy end of the show, the hits start rolling again, with “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”, “I’m Still Standing” and “Crocodile Rock” which perfectly set up an encore of “Your Song” and obvious closer “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”.

The overall feeling as the frenetic applause finally fades and the satisfied hordes dissipate into the night is that they just don’t make them like Sir Elton any more.

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Live review: Regurgitator – The Tivoli, Brisbane – 27/10/19

regurgitator brisbane the tivoli 2019

They may be 25 years into their distinguished and acclaimed career, but you can bet your shoes on the fact Regurgitator aren’t about to start taking themselves too seriously.

In fact, the Brisbane trio brought out all the weird and wondrous silliness they are known and loved for as an appreciative audience, many of whom were likely not born when the band formed, brought the party to the Tivoli on a balmy Sunday evening.

The second of two nights celebrating the homegrown legends, this was a veritable mini-festival of fun stretched over six hours, with supports Koko Uzi, The Stress of Leisure, The Fauves, Screamfeeder and Shonen Knife providing the build-up to the main event.

Much like Regurgitator’s musical output over the last quarter-century, it was a wild and eclectic affair that played out in several parts; each celebrating a different element of their history and interjected with humourous and ludicrous introductory videos featuring Dylan Lewis and Tim Rogers, among others, as well as retina-searing and, at times, hilariously lewd graphics.

regurgitator brisbane 2019

Early tracks ‘I Sucked a Lot of Cock to Get Where I Am’ and ‘F.S.O.’ (about domestic violence – “Let’s fuck that right off”, requests frontman Quan Yeomans), went down a storm amid a maelstrom of noise and enthusiasm as the band bounced around in costumes adorned with multi-coloured pom-poms.

Next came the rap-rock section, and a switch to the “life-sucking” (bassist Ben Ely’s words) tracksuits, with ‘Light Me on Fire’ proving to be a high point.

Another switch to a somewhat gold-sequinned costume affair and the arrival of Seja Vogel on keys brought the band to their ‘Unit’ phase, which was always going to be a major highlight of the evening, including the graphic cartoon rimming on the big screen during ‘I Will Lick Your Arsehole’.

The lingering feeling is that if Regurgitator was to somehow still exist 25 years from now, it would continue to be the irreverent, self-deprecating, outsider beast that it has always been. And that’s exactly how it should be.

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Live review: BIGSOUND Live – Brisbane – Night three (5/9/19)

With livers running at 200% capacity and the memories of a normal routine feeling distant and fuzzy, it’s time to dust ourselves off and give it another crack at Bigsound’s third official night of live music.

First up at Crowbar Black is Towns, playing their twelfth show since Saturday. The Adelaide duo immediately set the scene for a tip-top evening with a charismatic, funny and skilful set of punk/pop/rock numbers. “I’m so fucking happy!” says frontman Aston Valadares, grinning ear to ear, before throwing a bunch of t-shirts into the audience, Oprah-style. A medley of television themes, including ‘Home and Away’, ‘Round the Twist, ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ and ‘Friends’ provide a fun counterpoint to their admittedly “little sad” track, ‘Bleach’.

towns bigsound live brisbane 2019

Towns

Over at Black Bear Lodge, Sunbeam Sound Machine’s Nick Sowersby and his band are making a gentler, more blissed-out sound, including tracks from new record, ‘Goodness Gracious’. ‘Talking Distance’ goes over particularly well in a venue that is perfect for the intimate feel of the group’s music.

At the Elephant, Reliqa vocalist Monique Pym is more into demanding intimacy from her enthusiastic audience. “Tell someone you love them – the person right next to you!” she suggests, to awkward glances from strangers taking in the Gosford collective. Pym is a powerhouse of energy with a towering voice that must place Reliqa as one of the most exciting young metal bands in the country.

Reliqa Bigsound Live Brisbane 2019

Reliqa

Mermaidens are certainly not the demanding types at the Ivory Tusk, saying they “don’t want to get in trouble” if they play over their timeslot, although they do mention their new album being out tomorrow (6th September) several times. They do exactly as their bio describes, and do it extremely well – all dreamy vocals, hypnotic guitars and more charm than you can poke your hangover at.

Mermaidens Bigsound Live Brisbane 2019

Mermaidens

At the Outpost, Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers are simultaneously expressing their gratitude for the presence of a sizeable crowd, generating considerable industry buzz, displaying their Canberra home-town pride and playing a collection of rock and alternative numbers like its some of the best parts of the ’90s all over again. ‘I Like That You Like That’ is their best song and marks them as serious contenders.

Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers bigsound live brisbane 2019

Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers

Following a solid first-night show, the draw towards Laura Imbruglia at Black Bear Lodge is almost irresistible, and going against some imagined principle/protocol/ethic/whatever of Bigsound and seeing the same artist twice suddenly doesn’t seem in any way criminal. The Melburnian and her band, the Bin Chickens, are, quite simply, a class act. ‘Tricks’ and ‘Carry You Around’ allow lead guitarist Alex MacRae to flex his considerable chops as the quartet settle into a potent groove for another evening-winning set.

Laura Imbruglia Bigsound Live Brisbane 2019

Laura Imbruglia and the Bin Chickens

What a bloody great three nights of live music.

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Live review: BIGSOUND Live – Brisbane – Night two (4/9/19)

Dusting off hangovers, minor/major exhaustion and the shadow of day jobs brings the second night of BIGSOUND back into focus, and with another outstanding line-up of bands to get the teeth into, the appetite is big for night two of the showcase.

First up at Crowbar is Sydney quartet The Buoys, who blast through a high-octane, “emotional rollercoaster” of a set, with frontwoman Zoe Catterall getting among the audience and getting into the mood by snagging a bite from a punter’s Bloody Mary celery stick between bouts of highly impressive shredding.

The Buoys Brisbane Bigsound 2019

The Buoys

Over at Ric’s, Egyptian-Australian Mariam Sawires is impressing in a somewhat more serene fashion; her voice on songs like ‘Together’ – inspired by missing her sister when living in Japan – soars high and marks the nomad vocalist as not only one to watch, but probably deserving of a classier setting than the milk-crate-adorned surrounds of the beloved Valley venue.

Mariam Sawires Bigsound Brisbane 2019

Mariam Sawires

Meanwhile, at The Wickham, Sydney rap queen Lauren. riles up an enthusiastic audience by getting in their face before claiming, “I only smoked one bong today!” to a huge roar of appreciation.

Lauren Bigsound Brisbane 2019

Lauren

At the Brightside, Brisbane’s First Beige have packed out the room and melt into an instantly engaging jam, including a guest trumpeter, while at the Elephant’s crammed back bar, English quartet The Amazons run through a set of polished pop tunes on their first ever Australian gig, and Ainsley Farrell is winning hearts and minds with a classy, lilting and uplifting set at Black Bear Lodge, including new track ‘Dark Spell’.

First Beige Bigsound Brisbane 2019

First Beige

Downstairs at Crowbar, Melbourne metallers Outright are loudly-and-proudly anything but polished, with powerhouse singer Jelena Goluza taking the classic foot-on-monitor stance between explosions of noise, before Sydney post-punk outfit 100 put in a solid and loose shift in front of an appreciative audience.

100 Bigsound Live Brisbane 2019

100

Seeing Mambali – from Numbulwar in the Northern Territory – is the perfect way to finish the evening; the Indigenous collective play an exciting, captivating show to a wildly engaged crowd as the evening draws to a close.

Mambali Brisbane Bigsound 2019

Mambali

Is anyone ready to pass out yet?

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Live review: BIGSOUND Live – Brisbane – Night one (3/9/19)

Like Christmas, your birthday, or the dread of filling out another tax return, BIGSOUND rolls around again in no time; although it’s significantly more welcome milestone than many.

First up at Crowbar, singer-guitarist Siobhan Poynton introduces Scabz as “the shittest band at BIGSOUND” before opener ‘What You Stand For’ – a song about Anthony Albanese and false promises. “Told you we were shit,” she follows – a patently untrue statement. ‘Brett Lee’s Got no ID (And He Can’t Get Into World Bar)’ tells the story of Poynton’s encounter with the cricketer at a former place of work; a close call as he “likes Tony Abbott”, as it turns out.

Scabz Bigsound Brisbane 2019

Scabz

Over at Woolly Mammoth, Concrete Surfers are conducting a more polite, but equally impressive and somewhat ramshackle, affair. “We’re here to hopefully rock your socks off,” claims frontman Jovi Brook, softly, while bassist Trent Courtenay – looking like the throttled young caddie from ‘Happy Gilmore’ – slaps his instrument like a master.

Concrete Surfers Bigsound Brisbane 2019

Concrete Surfers

Only a lucky handful of people are present to witness Black Rock Band at the Woolly Mammoth, and what a delight they are treated to by the West Arnhem collective. They aren’t the only band giving an acknowledgement of country tonight, which is encouraging to see and hear, but are likely the only singing in Kunwinjku – addressing both a depth of cultural and social issues and making a rapidly growing audience dance their asses off, too.

Black Rock Band Bigsound Brisbane 2019

Black Rock Band

Reija Lee, playing outside at The Wickham, promises to “amp it up a little” at the beginning of her set. The musical chameleon delivers a varied collection of pop and electro numbers, switching between bass and vocals and winning over a seated audience in no time at all. Her voice and performance deserves a bigger stage.

Reija Lee Brisbane Bigsound 2019

Reija Lee

Over at The Foundry, Dianas are shaking the walls with the tightest performance so far this evening – the Melbourne-via-Perth group make a hell of a sound for a trio, despite complaints of an incredibly sticky stage. Powerhouse drummer Anetta Nevin steals the show with a skin-thumping masterclass, leaving her kit beaten and defeated as the cymbals ring out on the final tune.

Dianas Brisbane Bigsound 2019

Dianas

At The Zoo, Laura Imbruglia and her band the Bin Chickens immediately prove to be the best act of the evening so far as they run through songs from new album, ‘Scared of You’. Opener ‘Tricks’ and follow-up ‘Carry You Around’ set the tone for a classy, skilful set that looks like it will be hard to top this year.

Laura Imbruglia Bigsound 2019 Brisbane

Laura Imbruglia and the Bin Chickens

BIGSOUND veterans Bad//Dreems go about their business with the loose, vaguely off-kilter aesthetic they are known and loved for, playing songs from their upcoming third album, including new tune ‘Piss Christ’. Older tracks ‘My Only Friend’ and ‘Mob Rule’ still sit well among the new songs, while “oldie but a garibaldi” (frontman Ben Marwe’s words) ‘Hoping For’ remains some of their finest work.

Bad/Dreems Bigsound Brisbane 2019

Bad//Dreems

Approachable Members of Your Local Community are the perfect end to the evening at the Ivory Tusk. The “deep south” Melbourne quartet, dressed in ludicrous, matching red Adidas shirts and shorts, are fun, upbeat and silly in all the best ways. New track ‘The Internet’ sounds like a winner while ‘Semiotic Vision’ is perhaps their best song, but it’s the performance that makes it a killer show.

Approachable Members of Your Local Community Bigsound Brisbane 2019

Approachable Members of Your Local Community

Bring on nights two, three and four.

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