A sold-out venue at the end of a sold-out tour, following four sold-out nights at the Corner in Melbourne is the setting for the rising phenomenon that is the Meg Mac show. Gushing reports have followed every date the Sydneysider has played so far, but has she left enough in the tank to conquer Brisbane on a warm spring evening?
A short set by local act Big Strong Brute sets up Banff – a.k.a. fellow Brisbanite Benjamin Forbes – to run through a set of soft and pleasant indie-pop tunes before a room rapidly filling to bursting point. Songs from his recently-released EP, Future Self, go down well, including the gently rolling ‘Anyone Else’, while a version of Midlake’s ‘Roscoe’ reveals Forbes’ influences and provides a suitable close.
Following a quick turnaround and a curtain raise, it’s to a wall of deafening, mostly female screaming and a palpable release of energy in the room that Megan McInerney takes to the stage, dressed in her trademark all-black and wide-rimmed hat. It’s not her fashion sense that makes her a class act, of course; it’s that voice. Variously towering, soulful and dripping with the sweetest of tones, hers is a vocal talent which few Australian artists can match, and will be the tool which will surely be used to forge a long and successful career in music at home and abroad.
Mac’s songwriting and stage act aren’t to be sniffed at either; as she works through tracks from her EP and a couple of covers, the quality doesn’t drop for a minute – quite the opposite, in fact. ‘Every Lie’ provides an early highlight, before ‘Known Better’ doesn’t seem like it can be beat, only to be outshone by the roof-raising ‘Grandma’s Hands’ and show-closer ‘Never Be’, with space for a cover of Jimmy Ruffin’s ‘What Becomes of the Brokenhearted’ in between; the Motown sound being a large part of the young singer’s makeup.
A baying crowd isn’t going to let her slip away that easily, though, and it’s an encore of her ‘Like a Version’ effort, ‘Bridges’ by Broods, which sends her audience back into the Brisbane night, safe in the knowledge we had just witnessed something special by a remarkably accomplished young performer.
BIGSOUND? More like bloody massive sound. Whatever the next level up from ‘embarrassment of riches’ is, QMusic have pulled it out of the bag in 2015. With 150 bands on 15 stages over two nights, BIGSOUND Live is the metaphorical all-you-can-eat buffet of emerging Australian musical talent. The only problem with having so many options is the effort it takes to suppress your FOMO when working out a schedule for the evening.
The first stop for this reviewer also proved to be perhaps the most brutal of the night at Crowbar. “We’re Jack the Stripper,” announced frontman Luke Frizon amidst a barrage of machine-gun kick drums and savage riffs, before scrambling over the railing and getting among his audience, which has doubled in size in the space of a minute, as his band’s guitarist spits beer over everything within a few metres radius. The quintet’s brand of merciless metal blows the cobwebs away and puts the eardrums on edge for the night ahead.
Over at the Zoo, Sydney’s Big White are equally impressive, albeit in a more jangly, indie-pop way. Their guitar-pop is innocent but intense, and laced with melodies to die for.
Tucked away in Winn Lane, there is a palpable buzz in the air as well as in the name of the largely unknown, but most exciting act of the night so far, Green Buzzard. With the floppiest of hair and finest of equipment the quintet give a first impression of being like Peace but with talent, and frontman Patrick Harrowsmith has undoubted shades of Tim Burgess and Ian Brown. “This is pretty cool for a Tuesday, no – Wednesday,” says their bass player to an audience too laidback to get into it. Expect big things from these lads.
Back at the Elephant, Melbourne’s Pearls are handing out a lesson in cool to a large and eager audience. A final flourish with their single ‘Big Shot’ is an excellent way to go out with a bang, before Perth’s Methyl Ethyl enjoy a similarly-sized amount of adulation before a smoke-hazed crowd.
As the air chills and the evening is well and truly broken in, Ella Thompson takes to the stage at the Brightside’s outdoor area with the voice of the night, hell; the voice of ANY night. The first of two performances from the talented Melburnian over two nights, prior to Dorsal Fins’ Thursday showcase, this over-too-soon set only reinforces the fact Thompson possesses one of the best and most soulful pop voices in the country. Songs from her debut album Janus, including second track ‘Drift’ sound, quite simply, divine.
The atmosphere is Rics is thick with hype and brooding talent as Melbourne quartet Gold Class put in a masterclass of post-punk intensity and smart rock. With an unmistakeable whiff of Joy Division and a Soviet-era fashion sense, the band put in the best performance of the evening to surely win many new fans and mark themselves as serious new contenders.
Not-so-new contenders Cosmic Psychos, meanwhile, are putting smiles on the faces of everyone watching their outstandingly raucous garage and punk show at the New Globe. As an inflatable doll is thrown around the front rows and Ross Knight announces “It’s a Wednesday – every day is a good day to go to the pub,” the band kick into ‘Nice Day to Go to the Pub’, and a mighty climax is reached for many punters’ first night of BIGSOUND.
One last showcase can be fitted in for this reviewer, however, and it comes in the form of Le Pie at the Press Club. With a head adorned with flowers and socks pulled to knee height, the diminutive singer and her band find it hard to fill 30 minutes, but with toes dipped in pop, punk and soul, the Newtown singer shows enough talent and promise to earn a rousing and well-deserved reception from a grateful audience.
As usual, BIGSOUND Live has delivered, most especially in the form of standouts Ella Thompson and Gold Class. May the merciful, sweet hangover gods spare our souls as we aim to do it all again tonight.
With hangovers supressed and a renewed skip in our step, we took to the streets of Fortitude Valley for another round of whatever BIGSOUND Live could throw at us.
At the Zoo, Sydney’s I Know Leopard provide a rousing beginning to the evening with a set of high energy indie-rock gems that show why the hype surrounding the band is so great. Single ‘Close My Eyes’, from a new EP released today, sounds particularly good, as does the mammoth finish with ‘Perfect Picture’.
Over at the Brightside, Melbourne’s Dorsal Fins turn the car park area into an eighties dance party; the band’s nine members exude as much joy from one set as a dozen bands put together. ‘Mind Renovation’ is the perfect place to start, and while singer Ella Thompson remains the major talent of the band, it’s the collective sense of fun that makes their show so appealing.
Meanwhile, at the New Globe, Sydney ambient rockers Dumbsaint aren’t in the business of fun. Their brand of rock is even more dark and intense live than it is on record, and is enough to hold an audience entranced despite a ‘clusterfuck’ of technical difficulties, as drummer Nick Andrews puts it. The quartet should consider their showcase well and truly nailed.
At Rics, Jonny Telafone takes barely one song to remove his shirt and expose his dadbod to an audience which laps up his electro-ambient, post-apocalyptic R‘n’B silliness. The Melbourne-based singer is perhaps one of the least known acts on the BIGSOUND bill, but will have gained plenty of deserved attention after tonight. Have a listen to ‘The Prayer’ and take your top off – go on, it feels good.
At Oh! Hello, Melbourne rapper Baro shows why he is one of the most exciting new talents in Australian rap and Hip Hop, amid repeated demands to “make some motherfuckin’ noise” and uniform arm-waving with an engaged crowd. Closer ‘Resume’ provides a mighty climax and leaves this reviewer in awe of the talent possessed by a guy who is still only 18. Highlight of the night.
Brisbane indie-pop darlings Major Leagues have drawn a big crowd at the Wooly Mammoth, and it’s easy to see why; their tunes are still as infectious and poised as ever. The quartet are, by now, veterans of BIGSOUND and take their chance to air new single ‘Someone Sometime’ in a set which goes down well.
Trying to get close enough to the Brightside stage to see JOY is a thoroughly pointless act, so the destination is Rics once more to catch Us the Band, who are thrashing out a couple of final tracks of high-octane garage-punk.
It’s up to Byron Bay’s wonderfully ramshackle Skegss to round off the evening’s entertainment in front of their homemade banner reading ‘Skegss – the worst band eva!’ Their set is ramshackle and great fun, and while the band are certainly not the worst ever, they are perhaps the loosest on show tonight – in a good way.
And so, the curtain falls on another BIGSOUND Live, and QMusic should be congratulated yet again for a bloody cracking job. Highlights for this reviewer included Baro, I Know Leopard, Gold Class and Ella Thompson. Now, just give me a bed and don’t bother me for several days.
SOMETIMES I think I’ve had enough of all these bleedin’ indie bands and the whole damn scene. I mean, how am I meant to feel good about myself when they’re making looking cool appear as easy as flicking on a switch, while I’m four beers in with a self-conscious sweat on my back that’s making me want to pack in this gig lark for good?
It’s probably a good idea, therefore, to be reminded of what a great guitar band can do and what an indie-rock gig can be from time to time. The warmth, the uplifting fervour, the sheer bloody majesty of it all. It’s good to be reminded of these things, and HOLY HOLY (augustly capitalised, if you please) seems the type of band capable of doing it. A sold-out Zoo is, as always, the prime venue for the occasion.
Two support bands set the scene for tonight’s show. First up is Brisbane quintet Big Bad Echo, who will have won a plethora of new fans with this performance. Part The National, part Jesus and Mary Chain, part “huh?”, their dark and trippy jams are mesmerising and intense. Eyebrows were raised as a saxophone was produced at one point, but it was a move that only served to make their strangeness more daring, and as a result, endearing. Consider this reviewer converted.
Fractures is Melburnian Mark Zito, who delivers a collection of dark and often melancholy songs from his debut, self-titled EP. ‘Unwind’ and new track ‘Noise’ sound particularly good and go over well with a swelling audience bursting with anticipation.
And so, time for that aforementioned majesty. HOLY HOLY are a band on an upward trajectory that has recently seen them tour overseas, play Splendour in the Grass and release a well-received debut record. Singer/guitarist and songwriter Tim Carroll’s Brisbane roots make this particular show a little bit special for the band and audience, and the boys deliver in fine style (and yes, there was dancing).
‘History’ and ‘Sentimental and Monday’ are top tunes to start with, as Carroll’s controlled, masterful vocals compliment Oscar Dawson’s slick licks. ‘Wanderer’ quickly follows in what is a largely laidback and comfortable set so far, before a Terminator 2: Judgment Day theme cover pops the balloon of earnestness in unexpected and compelling fashion. ‘House of Cards’ and ‘A Heroine’ further cement the band’s skills as not only top songwriters but performers too, and as ‘Impossible Like You’ leads into the soaring ‘You Cannot Call For Love Like a Dog’, some sort of symbolic wall is kicked down and the mood in the room instantly feels elevated by several levels. It’s a song good enough to remind even the most weary gig goer of the joys that drew us in in the first place; all soaring dual guitars and singalong lines that demand facial contortions from everyone who wants to sing or air-guitar along.
An encore of Neil Young’s ‘Southern Man’ rounds off what is a fantastic night of rock music, provided by an Australian band who have come of age in recent months. As I take the first steps along Ann Street towards the chaos of Brunswick Street Mall, I can’t helping feeling my faith in indie-rock is restored.
‘G’DAY, it’s been a while,’ read the sign over the door of Fortitude Valley’s newest and coolest live music venue for its official re-launch last night (Thursday 20th), as the Foundry reopened its doors for business after what has seemed like a long wait since its initial March opening.
Live performances from Major Leagues, Orphans Orphans, Palms and Dune Rats helped the Wickham Street live venue, arts space and creative studio complex celebrate its return in explosive fashion, in what is another major win for Brisbane’s live music scene.
Many rounds of complimentary drinks and food courtesy of the adjacent Greaser Bar helped a packed house settle in before local lasses (and lad) Major Leagues opened the musical entertainment for the evening with a typically delicate set of pop and shoegaze tracks, with ‘Endless Drain’ sounding particularly good in front of a rapidly growing audience.
Spencer White of local supergroup Orphans Orphans probably had the biggest and most impressive frontman pout on display anywhere in Brisbane during his band’s set, to go with his equally impressive mullet and undeniable lead singer charisma. The quintet – also featuring members of Jungle Giants, Moses Gunn Collective and the Belligerents – put on a wonderfully retro show of ‘60s and ‘70s-tinged pop tracks with clear nods to Jagger, Morrison, and even a little David Johansen.
Palms are a special band. The Sydney quartet seem the type of rough-and-ready gang who would be the most energetic party guests but would probably destroy you in a fight, yet their best songs have titles like ‘Love’ and ‘Don’t Be Ashamed’ – both of which sound fantastic tonight. Despite it being their first gig in over a year, the guys shred with sweaty aplomb, lead by the always-impressive Al Grigg.
And so, with the eloquent opening of “We’re Dune Rats, you cunts,” the Brisbane trio let loose a typically shambolic set filled with countless drug references, nudity, offers of sex and C-bombs; basically exactly what has come to be expected from a Dune Rats performance. ‘Dalai Lama Big Banana Marijuana’ is enough to have the audience’s dancing off-tap, while ‘Red Light Green Light’ gets the biggest reaction of the night, leaving DJ Dom Alessio to pick up the pieces.
It’s taken a while, but the great news is the Foundry is back and is here to stay this time. There’s already an outstanding list of gigs locked in for the rest of the year, leaving no reason for you to not check it out.
It was a bleak time for popular music. That ‘Electric Feel’ song was hanging around like a fart in a blanket, Kaiser Chiefs were still being taken seriously and Kings of Leon had begun the long journey up their own arses. All was not well, oh my brothers and sisters.
But just as the wave ebbs, again must it flow, and its warm and welcome embrace arrived in the form of TV on the Radio’s breakthrough third album Dear Science; a masterpiece of indie/art-rock that was as innovative as it was well-received. Nothing would be the same for the Brooklyn band again, and now, two albums later, they have become something of an institution, highly regarded internationally for both their recorded and live output. In the country to play Vivid Live and a handful of east coast headliners, the quartet are taking the opportunity to give material from their latest album, Seeds, an Australian airing for the first time and it’s Brisbane on a cold (read: not that warm) Wednesday evening that’s the setting.
Someone who cares little for the setting is Kirin J Callinan. “Look at all you Brisbanites together – isn’t it good? Well, it’s good for you, not me,” he laughs, most of the way through a set that chafes, charms and confuses. Top-drawer between-song banter is fast becoming a lost art, but Callinan is a master, although it’s his ability to deliver the unexpected – in this case the crushingly soulful ‘Apology Accepted’ followed by the camped-up-Iggy-on-acid ‘The Toddler’ – that makes him most exciting.
TV on the Radio’s performance, on the other hand, is anything but unexpected – they are tight, trim and untempered by genre, style or trend. Taking the start-with-a-humdinger-before-taking-it-up-a-notch approach with ‘Young Liars’ and ‘Lazerray’, it’s clear the band are up for it from the first few bars. Tunde Adebimpe is a rare breed; a singer who can roar and howl while remaining smooth and soulful, and he consistently proves this while flapping limbs with impressive fury.
‘Happy Idiot’ is an early highlight; it’s typical of the band’s best output in that it’s simple, catchy and urgent, while ‘Could You’ is its obvious twin and ‘Winter’ arouses Adebimpe’s suspicions concerning the lack of anything winter-like in Brisbane. ‘Wolf Like Me’ gets perhaps the biggest response of the evening before ‘Trouble’ and ‘Repetition’ provide a wigged-out close.
It’s now – during their encore – that TVOTR throw a curveball (simultaneously speaking to the nerd in us all) with an excellent reggae/dub version of the Game of Thrones theme. It’s an ace move that is well-received but leaves more than a few heads being scratched, while ‘Staring at the Sun’ provides a more familiar and fitting close to a solid and, at times, rousing performance.
Hats off to TV on the Radio; they made existing in 2008 a more tolerable affair and they’re still doing it seven years later. That ain’t no mean feat.
THE list of highlights and accomplishments in John Mayall’s career reads like a who’s-who guide to contemporary blues and rock music.
The 81 year-old has not only released over 60 albums, but his band the Bluesbreakers became the vehicle which introduced one or two talented folk to the public sphere for the first time: Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor, Peter Green, Jack Bruce, Mick Fleetwood and the recently-deceased Andy Fraser, to name a few. To say the Englishman has had a bit of a part to play in the many twisting paths of contemporary music is a laughable understatement: the guy is simply a living legend.
Each of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne has benefitted from his being in the country to play the annual Byron Bay Bluesfest, and this gig would allow Mayall to put on yet another masterclass of blues and rock not often seen in such a great venue in Brisbane. With his outstanding backing band of Chicagoans Jay Davenport and Greg Rzab (drums and bass, respectively), and Texan Rocky Athas on guitar, the veteran played a range of tracks from all periods in his career, from sixties classics like Blues From Laurel Canyon to most recent effort, A Special Life, and he and his band pulled out all the stops to have an Easter holiday audience stomping and baying for more.
Looking calm and casual like the seasoned musicians they are, Mayall and band start with ‘Not at Home’, which gives the frontman the chance to take his first of many harmonica solos; each of which stun and enthral in equal measure.
Moving through ‘The Bear’ and Sonny Boy Williamson’s classic ‘Checkin’ Up On My Baby’, the gang hit their stride and calls from the audience to “turn it up” ring around the auditorium. ‘Nature’s Disappearing’ keeps up the trend of each song lasting about ten minutes and featuring extended jams and solos, before Mayall announces “We’d like to change the pace a bit for you now,” as the slower ‘Have You Heard’ allows Athas to unleash some of the finest blues licks this reviewer has had the pleasure to witness in many a moon.
‘Big Town Playboy’ and ‘A Special Life’ show that the most recently-released material stands well next to the classics, and upon completion of ‘Walking On Sunset’, Mayall asks the audience “You’re all very well behaved aren’t you?” to rapturous applause.
‘Moving On’ is followed by ‘Long Gone Midnight’; the latter gives drummer Davenport a chance to strut his stuff with some seriously sassy solos, while JB Lenoir’s ‘Mamma Talk To Your Daughter’ goes down a storm. Otis Rush’s ‘All Your Love’ would have been the closer, but after several minutes of rabid noise, the band reappear onstage to run through an excellent ‘Hide Away’ to send this audience home ecstatically happy.
IT’S 6:30pm in Brisbane and something big is happening. Traffic is gridlocked across the CBD, there’s a queue at every ATM and a childlike optimism fills the streets; something definitely isn’t right.
As a giggling swarm of teenage girls descends upon Brisbane’s River Stage, absorbing a seemingly endless supply of hot chips and Dagwood dogs, Ed Sheeran fever takes hold, and it’s not yet clear whether tonight’s gig – the first of three in Brisbane – will be a triumph or a tragedy.
Brisbane boy Conrad Sewell is first to feel the force of the girly screams; the young singer and his pianist run through a short set of sickly sweet pop songs including singles ‘Hold Me Up’ and ‘Start Again’, which sound fine, but could do without introductions like “this next song is about the world” or “this is for all the ladies in the building”.
Second support is Sheeran’s countryman Jamie Lawson, who is the most timid and melancholy performer on show tonight, although his guitar work is fairly classy. He loses the majority of the audience for the first half of his set, before reeling them back in by requesting the wall of baying girls at front-and-centre “be his horn section” (the jokes practically write themselves) on ‘Ahead of Myself’ and latest single ‘Wasn’t Expecting That’, which includes the classic lines “You spent the night in my bed/You woke up and said/‘I wasn’t expecting that’”. Don’t worry mate; it’s happened to us all.
By now, the 9500-capacity venue is full to bursting and the screams welcoming Ed Sheeran to the stage are approaching ultrasonic. Bouncing around with his flaming locks flapping in the breeze, the 24 year-old announces “My name is Ed and my job for the next two hours is to entertain you. It’s your job to be entertained,” as he starts with ‘I’m A Mess’ and ‘Lego House’, with only an acoustic guitar and loop pedal in tow. It only takes the Englishman to stand on his monitor and put his arms in the air to unleash another wave of screaming that threatens to shatter windows within a kilometre’s radius as he moves through ‘Don’t’ and ‘Drunk’, which by now I seriously wish I was.
“I came down with a bad case of man flu this morning. I’ll lose my voice by the end of the show; I hope you do too,” he says, before yet another request to sing along in what, by now, is becoming part of an obvious formula for pretty much every song: (1) request singing, (2) strum a few jaunty chords, (3) throw in some “ooh, oohhs”, (4) break into a sort of pseudo-rap vocal nonsense for two to three minutes, and (5) stand on the monitor if the response isn’t satisfactory.
After the first few songs the formula gets very tired very quickly, and while Sheeran undoubtedly has talent and puts everything into his live performance, it’s hard to see how anyone except naïve kids and their bored middle class parents could be taken in by what plays out as essentially a glorified busking set. In saying that, there’s major money to be pulled from the willing hands of those demographics, as tonight’s gig shows; quality of musical output be damned.
THE talent-rich sunshine state celebrated another fantastic year of music and creativity at the Queensland Music Awards at Brisbane Powerhouse in New Farm last night, with big wins for Violent Soho, Sahara Beck, Bobby Alu, The Amity Affliction and Airling.
Hosted by six-time veteran Sarah Howells of triple j and the wonderfully hilarious Fred Leone of Rival MC and Yarwah fame, the event – moved from its normal September slot to avoid clashing with BIGSOUND – proved to be another fine showcase of the outstanding range of quality music coming out of Queensland in recent months.
While Violent Soho bagged album of the year for Hungry Ghost, freakishly-talented teenager Sahara Beck deservedly grabbed the gong for most popular female, and a laidback Bobby Alu picked up the most popular male award, leaving last year’s winner Jeremy Neale empty-handed.
The Amity Affliction accepted their award for most popular group with a video message from somewhere on tour in the northern hemisphere, while Airling not only performed her excellent track ‘Wasted Pilots’, but also snagged the pop award for the same song.
In an unfortunate yet sweet set of circumstances, The Grates’ pair Patience Hodgson and John Patterson were unable to accept their award in the rock category as they had to put their infant child to bed, while The Vernons not only won the regional gong for ‘To The Sky’, but also the hearts of a packed room with an acceptance speech including the words “My parents will be filthy they didn’t come tonight.”
The excellent The Medics deservedly picked up an award in the Indigenous category for their track ‘Wake Up’, with singer Kahl Wallis giving thanks in poetry form, while country rock ‘n’ rollers Halfway nabbed gongs in the country category and for song of the year for ‘Dulcify’.
With live performances from Yarwah, Halfway, Sahara Beck, MKO, Airling, Katie Noonan + cln, Blank Realm (who were, by far, the outstanding live performers of the evening) and We All Want To, the Queensland Music Awards for 2015 proved to be another celebration of everything that’s great about music in the state, with every nominee deserving of being a winner.
A special mention has to go to host Fred Leone, who not only performed with his excellent band Yarwah and helped introduce the #notON campaign aimed at stamping out violence against women, but was a constant source of hilarity throughout.
“I’m getting on towards middle age for a black fella,” he said, at one stage, to awkward laughter. “I’m 36 and we die around 50.” At another point he had the room in stitches while, after listening to Sarah Howells talk about and thank her dressmaker for a bit longer than was perhaps necessary, he uttered the immortal words “And I would like to thank Trade Secret at Chermside for these pants – $30.” What a dude.
Full list of winners:
SCHOOLS (GRADE 6 – 12)
Song Title: ‘Days Of Doom’
Writers: Saskia van Iperen, Alistair Marsden
Song Title: ‘Wasted Pilots’
Writers: Hannah Shepherd, Tom Iansek, Graham Ritchie
Song Title: ‘Holiday Home’
Writers: Patience Hodgson, John Patterson
Song Title: ‘Bearing The Crown’
Writers: Leanne Tennant
Song Title: ‘Dulcify’
Writers: John Busby, Chris Dale, Ben Johnson, Elwin Hawtin, Luke Peacock, John Willsteed
Song Title: ‘None the Wiser’
Writers: Joel Alexander, Terry Cassels, Paul Watson, Paul Donehue, Jeremie Nagabbo, Mikael Strand, Nick Torpy, Billie Weston
Song Title: ‘Live Like I’m Dying’
Writers: Steph Linsdell
Song Title: ‘Enfants du Chemin’ (Children of the Road)
Writers: Pauline Maudy, Greta Kelly, Jordan Stamos, John Robertson, Stephen Cuttriss, Chloe Ann Williamson
Song Title: ‘Closing Time’
Writers: Kylie Southwell
Song Title: ‘Short Term Plan’
Writers: Michelle Oxenham
Guards of May
Song Title: ‘Numbers’
Writers: James Harden, Keita Neralic, Richie Harvey, Damian Saloman, Levi Russell
Song Title: ‘Hungry Crocodile Chomp’
Writers: Carolyn Simpson
The Kite String Tangle
Song Title: ‘Arcadia’
Writers: Daniel M Harley
Song Title: ‘Wake Up’
Writers: Kahl Wallace, Jhindu Lawrie, Andrew Thomson, Charles Thomas
Song Title: ‘To The Sky’
Writers: James K Nikiforides, Jonathan K Nyst
THE BOQ PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD – MOST POPULAR FEMALE
THE BOQ PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD – MOST POPULAR MALE
THE BOQ PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD – MOST POPULAR GROUP
The Amity Affliction
SONG OF THE YEAR
Song Title: ‘Dulcify’
Writers: John Busby, Chris Dale, Ben Johnson, Elwin Hawtin, Luke Peacock, John Willsteed
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Album: Hungry Ghost
SUPER cell storms and flash flooding be damned; when Brisbane wants to enjoy some quality rock, there ain’t no weather going to get in our way.
While a freak afternoon downpour may have put the dampeners on many a punter’s Saturday night plans, a sold-out Triffid hosted a triumphant triplet of bands, each of which is doing great things for Australian music right now.
First up is Brisbane’s own The Belligerents who kick the night into gear and show how much they have come into themselves in the past couple of years. Their penultimate song – and recent single – ‘In My Way’ is a major step forward musically for the band, while Jim Griffin’s space-rock guitar takes their sound to a new, stratospheric level.
Melbourne six-piece Lurch & Chief have got to be one of the most exciting new(-ish) bands in Australia at the moment. Fill the superlative jar up to the brim and let it overflow all down your shirt and fill it up again; these guys are bloody brilliant. The juxtaposition between the towering monster vocals of Hayden Somerville and Lilibeth Hall’s more poised approach is a joy to behold, as Somerville throws his arms and hair around the stage and Hall remains the epitome of cool in the centre. New tracks from their upcoming EP sit well next to the more well-known ‘We Are The Same’ and even their cover of Chris Isaak’s god-awful ‘Wicked Game’ comes off wonderfully.
Kingswood are another band flying high right now, with a new album earning rave reviews, a national tour almost in the can and their biggest home-town shows to date just behind them. After a fitting rock ‘n’ roll delay, the lavishly-maned quartet waste no time getting among the riffs with a hard-hitting opening trio of ‘She’s My Baby’, ‘All Too Much’ and ‘Sucker Punch’, in a blistering opening. Referring to the audience as “beautiful people”, frontman Fergus Linacre teases with the words “and I don’t say the beautiful thing every night”.
Perhaps, though, the real star of Kingswood is guitarist Alex Laska; his driving riffs and soaring solos are the standout feature of this international-quality band, although the four parts are as essential to the make-up of the band as each other. Their top-level song-writing on the recently-released Microscopic Wars is probably best epitomised by ‘I Can Feel That You Don’t Love Me’; a song that opts for groovy sleaze over rockin’ riffs, their ‘Nightclubbing’ if you like. ‘Tremors’ and ‘Eye of the Storm’ go down well with an audience getting into the occasion, while the titanic ‘Ohio’ provokes such a mass sing-along that Linacre hardly needs to bother.
Sometimes you’re lucky to get one band on a bill firing on all cylinders, but this gig provided three. Sometimes it never rains but it pours.
Foundry: noun (plural foundries). A workshop or factory for casting metal.
Whether it was sculpted in sound/moulded in music/forged in the fires of rock ‘n’ roll (that’s my bad foundry puns exhausted), the newest and most promising live music venue in Brisbane has risen from the ashes (not literally) of the old Prince Consort Backpackers on Wickham Street in Fortitude Valley. It was Friday’s official launch party that gave people a chance to check out a new and potentially important part of their social lives. Thankfully, expectations were exceeded.
The first and most important thing to note about the Foundry is that it’s not just another bar with a stage. Besides the live music area and room for 300 punters, there’s a deck overlooking the Elephant pub, pool tables, arcade games, a creative hub of offices and studios, a spacious green room and accommodation for travelling artists. For those of us who care, it’s good to know that there’s a sustainable plan in place to ensure the Foundry remains an ongoing concern for the long-term, but for everyone else, it’s just good to know there’s a pretty cool new joint in which to chuck back some brews and see some bands on a Friday night. This particular Friday night would feature White Lodge, SPOD and Velociraptor.
With the words “Congratulations, Brisbane. I’m back!” SPOD bounded onto the stage and began with a rant at White Lodge’s “rookie mistake” of leaving their pedals onstage and unguarded, before dishing out bags of pork crackle to eager punters. Appropriately introducing ‘Deadshits’ as being “for all you guys up the back having chats like cunts,” the Sydneysider made it obvious he’s in fine, fighting form, before taking a swing at Andrew WK by pointing out his second song ‘Makin’ Party’ was written in 1996, five years before ‘Party Hard’. Other tidbits of wisdom from the mouth of the man include “Robert Downey Jr’s face is like my arse: perfect,” before Jeremy Neale joined in the offbeat brilliance on ‘Couple of Drinks’ and lyrics were forgotten on his closing track. Brilliant.
I was recently chatting with a mate about the consistent quality of acts booked at the weekly Trainspotters gigs at the Grand Central Hotel in Brisbane city, and the exchange contained a sentence along the lines of “Whoever is booking the bands really knows their shit and should be bought a pint.” It turns out that shit-knower is Patrick Balfe, who will be filling the same role for the Foundry as part of a three-man leadership team with building manager Brett Gibson and venue manager (and impressively-moustachioed Velociraptor geetar-guy) Corey Herekiuha. All signs point to promising.
It’s perhaps appropriate, then, that Velociraptor themselves be the band to headline. I count nine members onstage (I think), and all their usual charm and energy is present, as Jeremy Neale leads them through ‘In the Springtime’, ‘Robocop’ and ‘Sleep With the Fishes’, or “the hits”, as he refers to them. Although it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen them – they have a guy on guitar I don’t recognise, who looks like he’s never shaved – they’ve lost none of their rabid zeal, despite key members having things like running a new bar to worry about.
The thing is, though, this event isn’t really about the music; it’s about the venue, and the Foundry has all the ingredients to be up there with the best small live music joints in Brisbane. Get among its Facebook events page and go see for yourself.
BY NOW you’ve seen all the headlines, heard the gossip and checked out the grainy Instagram footage.
So let’s cut to the chase here: this gig will forever be remembered as the one in which Johnny Depp popped his pirate-y headband around the curtain and joined Marilyn Manson for his Sidewave encore.
The 51 year-old – in the country to shoot the fifth instalment of the Pirates of the Caribbean film series – already made an appearance at this week’s Foo Fighters gig, and while he may have given a Brisbane audience much more than they could have hoped for, it’s shock rocker Manson who should be most grateful to the actor for putting some much needed shine on an otherwise lethargic and forgetful performance.
After a short opening set from Swedish rockers Deathstars and an impressive flurry of intricate, classical-tinged metal tracks from Finnish cello-toting titans Apocalyptica – the latter earning huge cheers from a pumped audience – the lights dim and dark rumblings get the hardcore at front-and-centre excited.
Manson skulks onto the stage with hair looking like he’s been bombing his car down the freeway with his head out the window, as his band open with recent single ‘Deep Six’. While a slow opening building to some sort of release might be expected from Manson, all we mostly get are mumbled vocals and the view of the Pale Emperor’s back throughout ‘Disposable Teens’ and ‘mOBSCENE’, as the exalted one seems happy to let his band do most of the work, while he sits back and presumably saves himself for the main event at Soundwave. When he does find it appropriate to put some effort into his vocals he sounds great, but these moments are unfortunately few and far between. Muttering ‘Brisbane, Brisbane, Brisbane’ and pausing like you’re trying to think of something to say about the city between songs isn’t that cool either. Marilyn, we don’t expect some anecdote about how you love the beach at Southbank; we just want to see you play like you mean it, man.
‘Sweet Dreams’ sounds great because it’s simply a damn great song and it’d take someone even more apathetic than Manson to stuff it up, while laidback newer track ‘Third Day of a Seven Day Binge’ at least takes less effort to sound like it’s meant to. An encore – featuring the aforementioned pirate-y one – of ‘The Beautiful People’ is enough to finally get the audience excited as every camera phone in the room suddenly makes an elevated appearance, and while it’s this little episode that will make history, it doesn’t tell the true story of this gig. Manson used to look and sound dangerous, but now he’s just another bored middle-aged guy at a rock concert, albeit one who happens to be holding the microphone.
“TONIGHT is the 20th anniversary of the first time Foo Fighters ever played an Australian club gig,” announced Dave Grohl, part-way into his band’s memorable first stop on their Sonic Highways tour – their first show Down Under in four years. “I’d like to thank you all personally for sticking around with us for the last 20 years and for coming out tonight.”
The tens of thousands of fans who turned up at Suncorp Stadium needed no encouragement from anyone to get into the spirit of the gig, and Grohl and co. more than delivered in return, playing two and a half hours of material spanning their entire career, peppered with an appropriate amount of F-bombs, audience banter and classic rock covers.
A subdued open with ‘Something From Nothing’ and ‘The Pretender’ allowed the band to warm up, with notable grins visible on the faces of Grohl and guitarist Pat Smear, before ‘Learn to Fly’ upped the ante and work rate. “We’re going to play until they fucking kick us off the stage,” announced Grohl, which wasn’t strictly true in the end, but it was exactly what the audience wanted to hear. The 46 year-old frontman couldn’t supress a satisfied giggle during the mass sing-along in ‘Breakout’, before he dedicated ‘My Hero’ to “all the old Foo Fighters fans” and then took a second to talk to the crowd about the band’s last visit to these parts.
“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, there was a young Foo Fighters band that used to come over and play this really fucking fun show called the Big Day Out,” he recalled. “One time my friend Taylor Hawkins and I thought we would peruse the city of the Gold Coast on our scooters with fucking motorised pedals. On the way back there was a traffic jam. We saw some checkpoint and thought, how bad can it be? Well, ladies and gentlemen, they threw my ass in jail that night. But I learned a lesson: even when you’re think you’re okay on your moped with fucking motorised pedals, they’re going to get you. So when you come back you have to tick that box; you have to explain you were drunk on a vehicle with fucking motorised pedals and that’s why you’re a convicted felon. So tonight, I’m going to dedicate this next song to the hardworking police force of the Gold Coast for teaching me a lesson: don’t spend more on your suit than your fine in court.”
Cue early track ‘Big Me’. The middle section of the set saw the band decamp to the extended part of the stage, where they proceeded to make the year of one particular uber-fan. After covers of The Faces’ ‘Stay With Me’ and AC/DC’s ‘Let There Be Rock’, and despite Hawkins’ best efforts to kick the band into Queen’s ‘Under Pressure’, Grohl halts proceedings, points to one sign-bearing audience member and announces the next song – ‘Tom Sawyer’ by Rush – as being for “the guy with the braces who made the sign on his computer”, before adding “even though nobody likes that fucking song”.
Building to a climax with ‘All My Life’, ‘These Days’ and the enduring ‘This is a Call’, the band seemed genuinely grateful for the love Brisbane showed them tonight, and with the final words “We don’t ever say goodbye, we say this…” before striking the first chords of ‘Everlong’, Grohl sent the majority of the audience into a beer-throwing frenzy.
Something from Nothing
Learn to Fly
Cold Day in the Sun
In The Clear
Skin and Bones
Times Like These
Stay With Me (The Faces cover)
Let There Be Rock (AC/DC cover)
Tom Sawyer (Rush cover)
Under Pressure (Queen + David Bowie cover)
All My Life
This Is A Call
Foo Fighters Tour Dates:
Feb 26, 2015 ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Feb 28, 2015 Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
Mar 02, 2015 Derwent Entertainment Centre, Tasmania
Mar 04, 2015 Coopers Stadium, Adelaide
Mar 08, 2015 nib Stadium, Perth
These are some of the first words Benjamin Booker mutters into his microphone as he takes to the stage at yet another talent-packed and heatstroke-inducing St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival. And he’s from New Orleans…
It’s an appropriate question from the 25 year-old singer-songwriter, as rivers of sweat run from every pore on every square inch of every dancing punters’ skin under the punishing Queensland sun. But since when did a few rays and humidity stop Brisbane having a party?
Particularly perfect party-starters are New York’s Perfect Pussy (try saying that after a few ales); the noisy five-piece charge through a blistering set of shouty punk and hardcore. Singer Meredith Graves may look fairly angelic in her all-white get-up, but once her brutal vocals and flailing arms get going, you realise she is a force to be reckoned with. The juxtaposition of her meek “thank-yous” and ferocious vocal performances is truly a wonderful thing.
Leeds likely lads Eagulls are plying their own brand of guitar noise over at the Good Better Best stage, although theirs is more of the post-punk variety. The harsh afternoon heat hasn’t stopped Brisbane’s music fans from turning out early in large numbers, and the quintet go over well.
Back at the Mistletone stage, Connan Mockasin is one of a few artists who will experience sound problems today, although the New Zealander takes it in his stride, seating himself on a monitor and pulling off some of the most laid-back licks on show today. His woozy psychedelia is perfect for hot days and stiff drinks, which is pretty damn appropriate.
At the Never Let It Rest stage, American singer Raury’s sound is the first of the day to go beyond big and into massive territory; the Atlanta native’s final song ‘God’s Whisper’ being the finest on show so far, as his band mates’ hats fly from their heads, are replaced and fly off again as they bounce around the stage.
Next is South Australian ball of energy Tkay Maidza, who is, quite simply, an infectious delight throughout her entire set. The teen rapper has justified all the hype surrounding her over the past year, and if she keeps pulling out performances that make audiences want to move as much as this, surely world domination isn’t just a pipe dream. ‘Switch Lanes’ is a highlight, as is the ridiculous ‘Brontosaurus’, but it’s Maidza’s I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing-but-fuck-it grin that makes her the most fun to watch.
Andy Bull receives a suitably colossal reception from an ecstatic crowd at the Never Let It Rest stage, just before Benjamin Booker gets his sweat on next door. Despite initial problems which force his rhythm section to jam while a pedal is fixed, the classy Louisianan remains unfazed, even while one confused and inebriated woman shouts “Where’s Agnes?” No lady, this is not Mac Demarco, and go drink some water FFS.
Back at the Mistletone stage, Norwegians Highasakite finish off with an epic sing-along to their single ‘Since Last Wednesday’, before a storm warning is announced under a heavy and ominous cloud. As English duo Royal Blood kick off and bassist/singer Mike Kerr asks a heaving audience “are you ready to get wet?” that’s exactly what happens; the sky briefly opens and a temporarily-concerning mass of sopping punters surges towards the gates, causing a crush. “If you push me any harder, this girl in front is going to end up pregnant,” announces one guy caught in the mass of bodies, and the band play on, unperturbed.
The rain clears and normality is restored, and Courtney Barnett takes to the stage in front of another huge audience. After kicking off with ‘Lance Jr.’, the Melbournian proceeds to shred with aplomb throughout her entire set; a fact that only increases anticipation for her debut album, set to be released in March.
Now comes perhaps one of the most anticipated moments of the day: Mac Demarco and his dear old mum. In a cheesy move, Agnes introduces her “talented and beautiful son”, before the man himself starts into ‘Salad Days’ with all the right amounts of quirk and whimsy. The almost God-like status he is afforded by a baying audience is puzzling, but it’s all silly good fun, so what the hell.
Future Islands draw somewhat less of a crowd than might have been expected if their slot didn’t clash with both Banks and Little Dragon, and while their synth-pop is tailor-made for a festival of this size, the majority of people present at their set are clearly only here for that song, which frontman Samuel T. Herring almost introduces with a sigh, as he says “Okay – let’s do it”. The crowd at the front at this point goes suitably mental, while the rest of us hope ‘Seasons (Waiting On You)’ doesn’t become the band’s ‘Creep’.
Now: shit gets real as English soul collective Jungle prove themselves to be a major highlight in the dark of the Never Let It Rest stage. An opening salvo of ‘Platoon’ and ‘Julia’ is enough to get every person present moving more than they have all day, before fourth track ‘The Heat’ whips the crowd into even more of a frenzy. ‘Accelerate’ is good, but ‘Busy Earnin’’ is great, and as this reviewer finds himself involuntarily shuffling past the probable brilliance of St. Vincent, ducking his head under the water tap before tumbling into a taxi with demands to be taken to the nearest vendor of pizza slices, he realises Laneway has defeated him for another year. Jolly good show, St. Jerome.
“We know you’ve waited a long time, cuz we ain’t been back for aaaaages!”
While no apology is needed for the unfortunate circumstances in which the Rolling Stones were forced to cancel their last Australian tour, it’s nice that Mick Jagger acknowledges the fact shortly after an explosive opening double-salvo of ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ and ‘It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)’. It’s also nice that he receives a response loud enough to probably kill every bird within a ten-mile radius.
Two songs in and it already feels that incredible amounts of energy have been expended by both band and audience. The lack of a support band hasn’t kept an arena-sized bunch of music fans of mostly advanced years from allowing themselves to be whipped up into a frenzy by Jagger, who almost can’t find enough parts of the stage in which to shake his bony hips and flail his arms like it’s 1969 all over again. Besides the prancing peacock frontman, ol’ Keef and Ronnie are looking mean and lean (and dressed mostly in green) as they puff on cigarettes and interchange licks. Charlie is the epitome of cool and reigns everything in. Touring members are sounding and looking hot. The knowledge that we’re witnessing a bunch of frail septuagenarians roll casually yet efficiently through their hits has been suspended from our minds and we are being drawn into the Stones’ world of swagger, mystery and comfortable trainers, if only for a couple of hours.
‘You Got Me Rocking’ is up next, followed by ‘Tumbling Dice’, after which Jagger gets playful, referring to the G20. “Everyone in Brisbane was so well behaved, I hear” he says, almost sneering. “Even Tony Abbott was well behaved” Cue boos. “No shirt-fronting for Abbott. He was in a Putin-free zone.”
The always-outstanding Mick Taylor joins in the fun to run through ‘Silver Train’ and ‘Bitch’; the former taking a few seconds to start, while Jagger confesses they are “trying to remember the arrangement.”
A punchy 1-2 of ‘Paint It Black’ and ‘Honky Tonk Women’ takes the fervour up a notch before Jagger introduces the band and leaves the stage to let Richards take lead vocal on ‘You Got The Silver’, ‘Before They Make Me Run’ and ‘Happy’. “All you up the back there – I’m thinking of you,” he mocks, in his trademark whisky-soaked voice; the voice that gives rise to the argument that he might be the best vocalist on stage tonight, just as there exists the strong argument that Mick Taylor is the best guitarist present. Not that it really matters, anyway.
An extended version of ‘Midnight Rambler’ sees just about all band members do a circuit of the tongue-shaped extended stage, and ‘Miss You’ allows bassist Darryl Jones to unleash his incredibly funky fills. ‘Gimme Shelter’ and ‘Start Me Up’ keep the hits a-comin’, then Jagger cranks his inner dandy up to 11 as he comes back onto the stage draped in huge red feather cape for ‘Sympathy For The Devil’, and ‘Brown Sugar’ gives back-up singers Lisa Fischer and Bernard Fowler the chance to strut their stuff.
And now, the obligatory encore. Huge kudos to the guys and gals of Vibrancy, the Choir of the Cuskelly College of Music, for their perfectly-executed take on ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’, although their choral careers might have just peaked – sorry guys, it’s all downhill from here. Closer ‘Satisfaction’ does the job, and multiple bows and a spot of fighting over tossed plectrums and drumsticks later, and the night is complete. Not bad for a bunch of guys labelled as has-beens as far back as the early seventies.
FOR the second night in a row, Oh Hello! is the place to be to kick off BIGSOUND Live, as Brisbane quintet WAAX bring an early dose of bluesy psych-rock with plenty of big riffs and bite to get the evening started. Frontwoman Marie DeVita has just the right amounts of snarl and throaty vocals combined with a slightly unhinged stage presence to make her one of the most engaging singers on show over the two nights.
One of those fantastic BIGSOUND Live surprises comes next, as Dunedin trio Males come close to obliterating the eardrums of everyone packed into Ric’s Bar, with an outstanding show of powerhouse, sweat-drenched drumming from Paul ‘Pipsy’ McMillan being worth the ticket price alone. This band deserves mountains of attention.
What happens next at Black Bear Lodge is a much more serene affair, with Melbourne’s Fraser A. Gorman knocking out mellow moods with plenty of boyish charm and big grins. His proclamation of “I hope everyone’s going to hit the tubs tonight super hard, because I fucking am” gets a big response.
Over at The Rev, Adelaide’s Jimblah is putting everything into his performance despite a fairly static audience, and next door at The Brightside Tkay Maidza has drawn just about every industry figure to her show; the diminutive South Australian opening with ‘Arm Up’, complete with searing synths.
With times running over at The Elephant, a vast horde of Holy Holy fans are treated to the last few songs of electro-poppers Coach Bombay, including their final track ‘Girls’, before the Brisbane lads themselves take to the stage after a quick changeover and instantly bring a touch of class to proceedings with the opening duo of ‘History’ and ‘If I Were You’.
The small number of punters packed into the Underdog to see Flyying Colours can consider themselves lucky, as the Melbourne psych-rock/shoegaze quartet put on a fantastically absorbing and colourful show, complete with colourful language on the subject of Peter Garrett’s abilities as a member of parliament. Their latest single ‘Not Today’ is well worth checking out, based on this performance.
Despite having been away from the spotlight for what seems like a long time, Brisbane’s Art of Sleeping sound like a band on top form. Frontman Caleb Hodges assures the large gathering that they have been working on new material, although the band’s ‘old’ material still sounds fresh.
To finish off the night, it had to be Melbourne’s The Bennies at the New Globe Theatre. Frontman Anty had been prancing around the Valley in gold spandex trousers all night, before taking to the stage and bringing the party vibes in abundance. After expressing his disappointment with the music industry for not having yet been offered any cocaine, he leaps around the stage shouting “let’s take cocaine and pingers and go fucking apeshit!” Good idea, Anty. Well played, everyone.