Tag Archives: brisbane

Richie Ramone: 1, 2, 3, 4…

richie ramone

THE Ramones kickstarted punk, inspired a generation of kids to pick up guitars, and shook the rock establishment to its core.

Now, forty years after the New York band sang about beating on the brat with a baseball bat, drummer Richie Ramone is keeping their spirit alive with his own blistering punk-rock shows. Ramone touches down in Australia in late April for a run of east coast gigs with promises to play rock ‘n’ roll as loud as it should be.

“I’ll play some of the material from my last record and the one coming out.” Richie says. “Also songs I played with the Ramones back in the day, then I’ll play some Ramones classics. It’s a really good set, you know? It’s a complete Ramones set. In 2013 I played ANZ Stadium with Aerosmith. I had a good time and it’s beautiful over there. I’m really looking forward to this trip.”

In 1983, the then-unknown 26 year-old joined the legendary band just after the release of ‘Subterranean Jungle’, the quartet’s seventh studio album.

“I just happened to be in the right place at the right time,” Richie says. “Somebody told me they were auditioning drummers, they gave them my name and that’s how it worked. I didn’t know them beforehand, and they called me and I just did the audition like any other audition. It was an amazing thing that I ended up in one of the greatest bands of all time. Right away we hit it off. Joey took me under his wing.”

His song-writing and vocals provided a much-needed new dimension to the band, and Richie went on to appear in over 500 shows. Singer Joey Ramone is quoted as saying Richie “saved the band” when he joined.

“The last two or three records, the last two especially, before ‘Too Tough to Die’ were probably not great records,” Richie says. “When you get a new person in the band, it changes the blood and energises the band. ‘Too Tough to Die’ came out in 1983 and did that. They accepted [my songs]. A good song is a good song, you know? Johnny didn’t want me to have more than one or two songs if he didn’t make the numbers, but they accepted it.”

Dysfunction was allegedly rife within the Ramones, including constant tension between guitarist Johnny and singer Joey, mental illness, drug abuse, and betrayal.

“All of it was exaggerated,” Richie says. “They were one of the most professional bands. We worked, you know? But it’s also like a family that’s together a lot; there’s weird shit going on. But when it came time to play a show, we were all together; we made sure of that. But they wanted to break up many times, I think, but I don’t know what caused them to stop [in the end].”

Since departing the band in 1987, Richie has had an eclectic career in music, including composing classical suites and releasing his debut solo album, ‘Entitled’, in 2013. A follow-up is in the works and is set for release this year.

“I’m my own artist now,” he says. “I have the last name and the Ramones taught me a lot. They gave me direction and taught me about how to respect the fans, and I carry that with me, but I’m my own artist, not the Ramones. I can’t be the Ramones. [The new album] is a fucking really great record and I’m really excited about it. I’ve got a Depeche Mode song [‘Enjoy the Silence’] on there, which I really like. I’ll be playing one or two songs from it when I get out there. I don’t like playing a lot of new songs when I’m on tour, so it’ll be only one or two.”

The death of drummer Tommy Ramone in 2014 meant that no founding members of the Ramones are still around, but the spirit of the band is as strong as ever, helped by the ubiquitous Ramones T-shirt and logo.

“There are a lot of new fans,” Richie says. “The thing I see is parents bringing their kids. There’s a fourth generation Ramones thing happening now. Parents want to introduce their kids to good rock ‘n’ roll. There’s tons of fans all over; we’ve got people coming to shows from 65 to 16. But it works. And they’re all wearing the T-shirt [laughs].”

Richie Ramone plays:

Thursday 28th April 2016
Great Northern Hotel – Byron Bay NSW

Friday 29th April 2016
Wooly Mammoth – Brisbane QLD

Saturday 30th April 2016
Social Club – Sydney NSW

Sunday 1st May 2016
Cherry Rock, Melbourne VIC

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Record review: Violent Soho – Waco (2016, LP)

violent soho waco

Possible reactions to the news Violent Soho have called their new album after a Texan town famous for a religious cult siege include (a) Oh FFS, they’re going for the American market, it’s going to be too polished, (b) Please don’t let them be turning into U2, or simply (c) Hell fuck yeah, a new Violent Soho album. Thankfully a first listen reveals the band to be the same Mansfield scruffs they have always been, and most certainly not prepared to switch from XXXX to Budweiser just yet. After the all-conquering success of 2013’s Hungry Ghost, the quartet must have wondered whether sticking with the tried-and-trusted alt-rock formula or trying something different was the right move, and it’s the former policy that has won out here. Shout-along anthems (‘Viceroy’, ‘Like Soda’, ‘Holy Cave’), drug references (‘How to Taste’) and huge grunge-y riffs (just about everything else) are the ingredients long-term fans know and love, while there are changes of pace in slow-burning closer ‘Low’ and Foos-esque ‘Evergreen’. It took eight months for singer-guitarist Luke Boerdam to write the 11 tracks here, and he has kept his subject matter as close-to-home as always: boredom, drinking and smoking with friends, and the expectations of modern life are tackled with honesty and heart. It’s been a long, hard road for Violent Soho to get where they are today, but if Hungry Ghost was their breakthrough, Waco will be the album that cements their place as one of Australia’s best rock bands.


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Live review: Sufjan Stevens + Ngaiire – QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane – 4/3/16

sufjan stevens brisbane

QPAC Concert Hall – seemingly as tall as it is long and with 1800 seats – is a bloody big venue and needs some big noises to make it feel full.

It’s clear within seconds that Sydney’s Ngaiire, supporting Sufjan Stevens on this tour, is a singer who is more than up to the task. Diminutive in size, but certainly not in vocal ability, the Papua New Guinea-born artist will surely have won many new fans with this over-too-soon 30-minute set. ‘Fall Into My Arms’ is an early highlight, while single ‘Once’ and ‘I Can’t Hear God Anymore’ are moments of unbridled joy. What a bright future she surely has.

The Sufjan Stevens Show in 2016 is essentially a two-part drama: an intense trip of 14 tracks from across the 40 year-old’s career with all the electronic trimmings, followed by a stripped-down, semi-encore of a further handful of songs that brings it all home with intimacy and charm.

The opening trio of ‘Redford (For Yia-Yia and Pappou)’, ‘Death With Dignity’ and ‘Should Have Known Better’ have the audience in raptures as a searingly-vivid light show evokes the feeling of being in a particularly garish (and particularly loud) church or cult meeting. The five-piece band go about their task with a near-telepathic sense of communication, as the mood of a piece can lift or drop depending on a look or the slightest gesture.

‘Drawn to the Blood’, ‘Eugene’, ‘Carrie & Lowell’ and ‘Blue Bucket of Gold’ from 2015’s all-conquering Carrie & Lowell make appearances before the band disappear and reappear after deafening calls for more.

sufjan stevens ngaiire brisbane

Now, dressed in fairly ridiculous orange t-shirt and cargo pants, Stevens is more laidback and chats to the audience, including labelling his banjo a “strange instrument”. The closing section of the show is, in many ways, more rewarding for the gig-goer, as it provides a chance to see the musicians’ true skills at work in a stripped-down and more measured setting.

Songs including ‘The Dress Looks Nice on You’ and ‘John Wayne Gacy, Jr.’ are worked through, before obvious closer ‘Chicago’ sees Ngaiire return to the stage for a grand finish.

For The AU Review

Record review: Big Bad Echo – It Takes A Big Dog To Weigh A Tonne (2016, EP)

big bad echo it takes a big dog to weigh a tonne

Convention, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing, if the excellent seven-track debut EP from Brisbane-via-Rockhampton quintet Big Bad Echo is anything to go by. It’s for this reason it’s such a refreshingly-eclectic release: fuzz-rock, cacophonous drones, spoken-word monologues, off-kilter psychedelia, and a catchy lead single combine to make a record that throws up one high-quality surprise after another. ‘Cannon Fire’ and ‘Half Polyester Sheets’ provide an opening 11 minutes of pounding layers of noise fit for any late-night road trip, while vocalist Mick Reddy recalls Jim Morrison at his most shamanistic. ‘Ice Breaker’ is the obvious single, although its repetitive rumblings and ruminations are far from radio-friendly and all the better for it. “All I ever wanted is to fall at your feet” Reddy sings, amid an outpouring of angst, urgency and reverb. ‘Two Crows Flying’ takes a turn for the weird, as a dismal vocal fights for space with searing guitars and a sinister synth, and closer ‘Blink Your Eyes’ mashes all the aforementioned elements into the type of six-minute, Herculean beast of a track that leaves instruments and musicians alike bruised and broken. Witnessing a band marching triumphantly to the sound of their own – somewhat peculiar – drum makes you hope they can make an album, as all the evidence Big Bad Echo have offered thus far points to something big, and certainly not bad.

For The Brag

Live review: Fatboy Slim + Erick Morillo + Nick Galea – Brisbane Riverstage – 25/1/16

fatboy slim brisbane riverstage 2016

A near sell-out crowd witnessed a bonafide EDM legend’s triumphant return to Brisbane on a balmy Australia Day Eve, as the man sometimes known as Norman Cook proved he’s still the master of his craft.

An opening run-out for local talent Nick Galea was followed by a two-hour set from Erick Morillo as dusk closed around the natural amphitheatre of the Riverstage. “If you’re having a good time, make some motherfucking noise,” the Colombian-American demanded, to massive cheers. “If you’re having a good time and you’re gonna have sex tonight, make some motherfucking noise,” came next, to a much less confident response.

After only a few minutes turnaround, Cook appeared on stage at 8:30pm, and attacked his audience with a non-stop assault of sound for 90 minutes. Such is the length and breadth of appeal of Cook’s career that it could almost be divided into eras, and elements of every one of them got a run out and were met with a similar positive response.

‘Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat’ and ‘Renegade Master’ kicked off proceedings, and as Cook moved through a relentless run of his many tracks and remixes, he also found plenty of time to pay homage to his musical heroes, with excerpts of Iggy Pop, Marvin Gaye, the White Stripes, Talking Heads and of course, the Chemical Brothers thrown in for good measure. A couple of well-appreciated Bowie tributes were nice touches, including mashing ‘Rebel Rebel’ into the mix, and the light show would have worried every epilepsy sufferer from Southbank to the Valley.

The only way to finish was, of course, his signature tune, ‘The Rockafeller Skank’. As the vast, happy audience poured out of the Riverstage, Fatboy Slim had to be given major credit for raising a valid question: when was the last time so many happy Brisbanites came together and danced their socks off on a Monday night?

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Live review: Rise Against + Clowns + Outright – Brisbane Riverstage – 4/12/15

rise against brisbane riverstage

“This is the sign that it’s been a great gig,” says Tim McIlrath, holding aloft a rancid, steaming trainer which has just landed next to him. Like with everything the Rise Against frontman says or does at Brisbane’s Riverstage on Friday night (4th December), a deafening roar is hurtled stage-wards from a ferocious audience. And after this comment, the shoes keep coming.

Every great gig need to start with great supports, though, and tonight’s show is lucky to have two of them. Melbourne hardcore outfit Outright are first to force the dials into the red with an intense early set. Singer Jelena Goluza will have undoubtedly won her band new fans with an impressively brutal vocal onslaught over a 25-minute set and a passionate speech about domestic violence before the track ‘A City Silent’. Fantastic work Jelena; the music world needs more of you.

Next up is Melbourne’s hardcore/punk gang Clowns, whose frontman Stevie Williams finds himself with a ripped shirt as early as the first song after getting among the audience at front-and-centre. The quartet are typically energetic and charming over a furious 30 minutes; in turn mounting monitors and amps, demanding that some dude “delete his fucking Tinder” and get off his phone, playing monster riff after monster riff, and finally, posing for a photo with their audience. These guys have got to be near the top of the pile in terms of what Australia can offer the genre right now.

As the R, I, S and E are unveiled from beneath their drapes and the steam begins to rise from a heaving crowd in front of the barrier, an obviously up-for-it band get to business with ‘The Great Die-Off’, ‘The Good Left Undone’ and ‘Satellite’ as an opening salvo, with a few hundred metres already run by guitarist Zach Blair and bassist Joe Principe, as they switch position and stances repeatedly. A testosterone-heavy crowd laps up everything coming from the stage and shows its appreciation with the aforementioned soaring shoes, pinging plastic bottles, and a cacophony of tone-deaf vocal accompaniment fit for a footy match.

‘Prayer of the Refugee’ receives a huge response, as does a towering ‘Ready to Fall’, and while McIlrath’s solo section, including ‘Swing Life Away’, takes the sting out of proceedings for a while, a massive finish is assured with ‘Savior’. Rise Against loves Australia and Australia loves them back is the takeaway from this evening.

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Live review: AC/DC + The Hives + Kingswood – Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre – 12/11/15

AC/DC brisbane 2015

IT’S been a long five years since the AC/DC train rolled through Australia on the Black Ice tour, so it’s not surprising that seemingly every rock fan in Brisbane has descended on QSAC, armed to the teeth and ready for battle with flashing devil horns and the blackest of black T-shirts, ready to see if the Rock or Bust show can top that triumphant memory.

The great thing about AC/DC shows up to now is that fans know exactly what they’re going to get: two-ish hours of straight-up, world class rock ‘n’ roll with duckwalks and inflatable cartoon groupies thrown in for good measure. This time, though, something is different: rhythm linchpin Malcolm Young and long-serving drummer Phil Rudd are no longer with the band; the former now suffers from dementia and the latter found himself under house arrest. Replacing them are Malcolm’s nephew Stevie Young on guitar and drumming veteran Chris Slade; both have served time with the band previously. So, are the new/old boys up to the task?

Kingswood are the first to step up and warm the audience’s eardrums, and they do so with hard-rocking aplomb. Opening with ‘She’s My Baby’, the Melbourne quartet immediately sound massive, and as the cool-as-funk synths of ‘I Can Feel That You Don’t Love Me’ slice the dusk air, it feels like they’re making this look and sound easy. Frontman Fergus Linacre’s towering vocals during closer ‘Ohio’ sound right at home in a stadium.

Everyone’s favourite Swedish garage rockers are next, and it’s great to see that after 20 years in the business, the Hives are still throwing themselves around stages with as much hyperactivity as they did after breaking big in the early 2000s. With his trademark high kicks, microphone swinging and crowd baiting, frontman ‘Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist covers several kilometres around the stage, issuing unintelligible demands and declaring his love for Brisbane. ‘Walk Idiot Walk’, ‘Die Alright’, ‘Tick Tick Boom’ and the “song about me being an asshole”, ‘Main Offender’, still sound great, and by the time they’re finished with ‘Hate to Say I Told You So’, the air is thick with anticipation and the smell of a thousand upturned rum and cokes.

After the traditional animated opening, this time featuring an asteroid Angus, AC/DC kick into the title track from Rock or Bust, and any concerns over the absence of certain tried-and-trusted band members fade. Immediately sounding, and more importantly, feeling, like the AC/DC we know and love, the band is tight and heavy. Slade is a powerhouse behind the kit and Stevie Young plays as closely to his uncle’s sound as probably anybody could.

‘Shoot to Thrill’ is followed by ‘Hell Ain’t A Bad Place to Be’ and ‘Back in Black’, at which stage, despite singer Brian Johnson’s top form and bassist Cliff Williams’s solid display as ever, it becomes the Angus Young show for the rest of the gig. He is basically the frontman of AC/DC after all, and whether he’s duckwalking, pointing to the audience, shredding like a maniac or throwing himself around the floor like a child having a seizure, the six-string legend has thousands of people eating out of his hand at every move.

Newer track ‘Play Ball’ sits perfectly among the Back In Black-era songs, ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ earns the first of many boob flashes of the evening, ‘Thunderstruck’ receives an earth-shaking response and ‘High Voltage’ sees Brian Johnson calling Malcolm Young’s name and hearing it yelled back at him in glorious harmony. It’s after ‘Have a Drink on Me’ and ‘TNT’ that inflatable Rosie makes an appearance, which leads into an extended, fiery version of ‘Let There Be Rock’ and an encore of ‘Highway to Hell’ and ‘For Those About To Rock (We Salute You), complete with trademark cannon salute and fireworks.

It seemed difficult to imagine how AC/DC could have topped the spectacle of the Black Ice tour, but with Rock or Bust, they’ve done it. To think of what they’ve accomplished having lost a founding guitarist and established drummer is remarkable, and this show is the evidence. Whether there will be another tour is hard to call, but if tonight’s gig was anything to go by, Angus and the boys can do just about anything they want to.

SETLIST

Rock or Bust
Shoot to Thrill
Hell Ain’t A Bad Place to Be
Back in Black
Play Ball
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Thunderstruck
High Voltage
Rock ‘n’ Roll Train
Hells Bells
Baptism by Fire
You Shook Me All Night Long
Sin City
Shot Down in Flames
Have a Drink on Me
TNT
Whole Lotta Rosie
Let There Be Rock

Encore:
Highway to Hell
For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)

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Lavazza Italian Film Festival Opening Night – Palace Barracks, Brisbane – 1/10/15

se dio vuole

FROCKS were thrown on, champagne and espresso coffee thrown back, and giftbags hungrily snapped up at the opening night of the Italian Film Festival at Palace Barracks cinema on Thursday (1st October).

A four-screen showing of box office hit Se Dio Vuole (God Willing) entertained a large crowd of Brisbane’s cinephiles, on an occasion when everybody in attendance got into the Mediterranean spirit, whatever their origin.

An introduction by Masterchef contestant Georgia Barnes was followed by a screening of the comedy drama, in which a respected but arrogant senior surgeon and atheist (Marco Giallini) is devastated to learn his only son (Enrico Oetiker) intends to become a priest. Determined to bring down the young father, Don Pietro (Alessandro Gassman), who he believes has brainwashed his son, he goes undercover while his family falls apart around him. The question is will he manage to block what he sees as the worst path his son could take, or see the light himself?

A funny, quirky, and at times politically-incorrect film, Se Dio Vuole provides a light-hearted look at the generation gap, religion and family in modern Italy.

Satisfied by our movie experience, all that was left was to polish off the rest of the Italian-style wine, beer and ice-cream to the sounds of the in-house band, for 2015’s Italian Film Festival to be declared well and truly open.

The Lavazza Italian Film Festival runs until October 18.

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Live review: Meg Mac – Max Watt’s House of Music, Brisbane – 2/10/15

Meg Mac, Brisbane

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.

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Live review: BIGSOUND Live – Fortitude Valley, Brisbane – 9th and 10th September 2015

Wednesday 9th

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.

Jack the Stripper Bigsound
Jack the Stripper

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.

Big White Bigsound
Big White

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.

Green Buzzard Bigsound
Green Buzzard

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.

Pearls Bigsound
Pearls

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.

Ella Thompson Bigsound
Ella Thompson

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.

Gold Class Bigsound
Gold Class

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.

Cosmic Psychos Bigsound
Cosmic Psychos

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.

Le Pie Bigsound
Le Pie

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.

Thursday 10th

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’.

I Know Leopard Bigsound
I Know Leopard

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.

Dorsal Fins Bigsound
Dorsal Fins

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.

Dumbsaint Bigsound
Dumbsaint

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.

Jonny Telafone Bigsound
Jonny Telafone

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.

Baro Bigsound
Baro

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.

Us the Band Bigsound
Us the Band

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.

Skegss Bigsound
Skegss

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.

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Live review: HOLY HOLY + Fractures + Big Bad Echo – The Zoo, Brisbane – 22/8/15

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.

big bad echo

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.

fractures

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).

holy holy brisbane

‘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.

Live review: The Foundry Re-Launch – Fortitude Valley, Brisbane – 20/8/15

the foundry brisbane

‘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.

Orphans Orphans
Orphans Orphans
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.

Palms
Palms
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.

Dune Rats
Dune Rats
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.

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World Press Photo Opening Night – Brisbane Powerhouse – 7/8/15

THE 58th annual World Press Photo exhibition opened on Friday (7th August) at Brisbane Powerhouse, with another world-class collection of photos to inspire and challenge.

With winners drawn in eight categories from 5,692 photographers in 131 countries, the exhibition provides an opportunity to see some of the world’s best photojournalism of recent months.

The full range of categories includes contemporary issues, daily life, general news, long-term projects, nature, portraits, sports and spot news.

The prestigious World Press Photo of the Year prize went to Dane Mads Nissen, for his touching photo of a gay Russian couple in an intimate embrace in St. Petersburg. Sexual minorities face constant legal and social discrimination in Russia, where being a member of the LGBT community can mean harassment and violence may be a part of everyday life.

Included in the sports section is a shot of the tragic moment Australian cricketer Philip Hughes lay prone seconds after being struck by the cricket ball which killed him, and a lighter moment is provided by a wonderful shot of a father lifting his infant son high enough to see over a fence to catch some Wimbledon tennis action.

An introduction from Brisbane Powerhouse’s Chairman, David Conry, an inspiring speech by Australian First Prize Winner Raphaela Rosella, and wonderful Mediterranean music by locals Mzaza made for an opening evening of appropriate decorum for an event Brisbane is lucky to host.

Get along and check it out.

World Press Photo runs from August 7th-30th at Brisbane Powerhouse, New Farm. Entry is free.

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Film review: Last Cab to Darwin (Australia, 2015)

last cab to darwin

BRISBANE’S finest and trendiest film buffs were present on the red carpet for the city’s premiere of the new film by director Jeremy Sims, Last Cab to Darwin, on Sunday night (12th July).

With Sims and star Michael Caton present at Dendy Portside in Hamilton, there was a buzz in the air to welcome what looked on paper to be a promising new addition to Australian film.

In a brief introduction to a packed house, Caton and Sims discussed making the film, with Caton joking about the quality of motor homes the actors and crew stayed in during their seven weeks on the road. “If you dropped the soap in the shower there was no way to pick it up,” he admitted, to peals of laughter.

Sims acknowledged the long process of getting the film funded and made, before Caton cajoled the audience with “If you enjoy the film tell your friends, and if you don’t, shut up!” Cue lots more laughter.

He needn’t have worried, though, as Last Cab to Darwin is an absolute corker of a movie, and can proudly take its place among the pinnacles of Australian film.

Michael Caton, Jeremy Sims (L-R)
Michael Caton, Jeremy Sims (L-R)
Caton plays Rex, a Broken Hill taxi driver, who, having been told he has stomach cancer and has but three months to live, sets off on an epic cross-country trip to Darwin to take advantage of the Northern Territory’s euthanasia laws. In doing so, he leaves behind his sometime-lover and Indigenous neighbour, Polly (the wonderful Ningali Lawford-Wolf), and his mates, who like him, have never left town.

A touching story, told with humour, compassion and tact; Last Cab to Darwin is based on real-life Broken Hill man Max Bell, who was diagnosed with cancer in the 1990s.

Along the way, Rex not only confronts his fears about death, love, loneliness and family, but meets a range of characters who play a part in his choice of final destination and help him decide if what he is doing is right. Mark Coles Smith is exceptional in his role as Tilly, an Oodnagatta native who dreams of being a professional footy player but battles demons of his own, while Emma Hamilton is superb in her role as an English nurse who has a soft spot for Rex, and screen legend Jacki Weaver plays the Darwin doctor at the end of the line.

Caton, best known for his role as the lovable rogue Darryl Kerrigan in candidate-for-the-most-quotable-Aussie-movie-of-all-time The Castle, is a revelation in the lead role. Scenes which could have been brutal or harrowing are enriched with boyish charm and dry humour solely by his presence. He’s the type of actor who can say more with a flicker of his eyelids than many can in a series of lines, and this performance must be up there with his career best.

Music by Brisbane’s own Ed Kuepper and awe-inspiring wide shots of the inner-Australian landscape are the icing on this particular cinematic cake, meaning Last Cab to Darwin comes highly, highly recommended.

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Brisbane Arts Theatre: 1000 Not Out

brisbane arts theatre

BRISBANE Arts Theatre has been the home of many a cultural milestone in the River City’s history, but July brings a landmark more prominent than most: the company’s 1000th production.

British bedroom farce Noises Off fills the momentous slot on the theatre’s calendar, with a tale involving – somewhat fittingly – a touring theatre company’s efforts to bring a show to the stage.

Reaching 1000 productions gives staff and fans of the much-loved Petrie Terrace theatre a chance to reflect on its history, recognise its prominent place in Brisbane’s arts scene, and recall some of the famous thespians who have passed through the ranks.

After being founded in 1936 as Brisbane Amateur Theatres by Jean Trundle and Vic Hardgraves, the burgeoning company staged its first production, Tell Me the Truth. Plays were staged at Brisbane’s Albert Hall, a 600-capacity auditorium which was soon demolished to make way for what is now the Suncorp building. In 1951, the company changed its name to Brisbane Arts Theatre, and at the end of the decade the board of directors made an offer of £6,000 to purchase a second-hand junk shop on Petrie Terrace, converting it into a small theatre. With the help of £3,000 worth of renovations, the 144-seat auditorium opened on September 1st, 1961. The theatre company became the first in Brisbane to operate its own venue; one of many key firsts in Brisbane’s cultural heritage.

The theatre thrived until a fire gutted the building in 1964, but the hard work and dedication of volunteers and design skills of architect John Dalton combined to put it back together. When the theatre’s 50th anniversary was celebrated in 1986, artist Kevin Grealy was commissioned to create ceramic masks for a new facade concept; these remain a prominent feature of the theatre’s exterior today.

While thousands of actors of all ages and backgrounds have graced the Brisbane stage, it is testament to the company’s consistent eye for talent that so many thespians who have gone on to have professional careers have passed through its doors. Where to start with the list of well-known alumni?

An early visitor to the theatre was actor and celebrity chef Bernard King, who appeared in many productions before going on to host a cooking segment on Good Morning Australia and have his own programme, King’s Kitchen. Brisbane’s Carol Burns’ early appearances at the theatre gave her experience to use in tackling her role in Prisoner, for which she won a Logie. In a serendipitous move, Burns returned to the theatre in 2013 to direct Picnic at Hanging Rock. Steven Rooke is perhaps best known for his role as Terry in the 2006 film Footy Legends, while his television credits include All Saints, Home and Away, and Always Greener. Michael Caton, Judith McGrath and former premier of Queensland Wayne Goss have also made notable appearances.

The most well-known of the theatre’s former actors is of course Barry Otto; the Strictly Ballroom and Australia star began his performance career treading the Petrie Terrace boards before going on to do big things in film. He picked up an AFI Award for Best Supporting Actor in Strictly Ballroom and has recently worked with Baz Luhrmann for the third time on The Great Gatsby.

As an amateur and self-funded arts company, Brisbane Arts Theatre is – and always has been – a place to see the best of the up-and-coming talent Brisbane and South-East Queensland has to offer. The 1000th production, Noises Off, will be no different. A classic tale of love triangles, overindulgence and belly laughs, it is set to mark the occasion in grand style.

As Brisbane Arts Theatre powers forward in the 21st century as an iconic, thriving performing arts community, it still holds just as much of an essential place in the cultural fabric of Brisbane as it did when it opened in 1936. If you haven’t paid a visit in a while, maybe now is a good time to get reacquainted and join in the celebrations.

Noises Off runs from July 4 to August 15. Tickets from http://www.artstheatre.com.au/

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