Tag Archives: brisbane

Live review: Local Natives + New Gods + Texture Like Sun – The Zoo, Brisbane – 19th May 2013

Local Natives have been wowing fans up and down the country of late, and hot on the heels of their second album Hummingbird, they’re in town with the aim of doing the same to Brisbane. Drawing favourable comparisons to Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear, the quartet are well-known for their multiple harmonies and classy song-writing. The Zoo’s stage awaits their talents.

First up for tonight’s gig is Melbourne indie-folk duo Texture Like Sun, who provide an understated but increasingly attention-grabbing performance with a series of ominously-haunting piano melodies and soaring vocals. Their song ‘One Great Prize’ is a good starting point for checking these guys out, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Texture Like Sun
Texture Like Sun

The second support for tonight is Melbourne indie-rock quintet New Gods, who will possibly forever be described as featuring former members of Little Red; that once omnipotent but ultimately substance-free band of pop-lite not-quite-pretty boys who released a couple of chart-bothering tunes a couple of years ago. I immediately have flashbacks of a tragic night at The Hi-Fi in Brisbane, watching baying hordes of over-privileged teenage girls try to levitate their virginities in the general direction of any or all of the relatively unskilled band members, as the objects of their affections alternate between blushing under the swell of pheromone-fuelled adulation and jostling each other for a slice of the limelight and pick of the skirts.

Thankfully, New Gods aren’t like any of that – for the most part – and as I write a quick note by which to remember their set, a satisfying rhythm falls across the paper: “The little boys from Little Red… have become men and learned to shred.” While elements of dreamy pop inevitably slip into their set from time to time, they are at their best when guitarists Adrian Beltrame and Dominic Byrne let rip with the riffs, which they do really well; although writing a song about Bill Hicks and throwing your guitar gently and politely to the ground with an “I’ll-fix-it-later” look on your face doth not a rock star make. Next time, I want to be picking shards of your fretboard out of my eyeballs (with bleeding fingers) for a month, if you please.

New Gods
New Gods

And so: California’s Local Natives. When Hummingbird came out earlier in the year, I was quick to hassle people in relation to its greatness, claiming it to be one of the albums of 2013 already; and I stand by that. Top-notch tuneage seeps from every pore of that record – it’s a exquisitely crafted piece of work that will still sound great when we’re all just a bump in the graveyard grass. Alas, this is a review of a live show, not an album.

I was recently chatting to a friend about seeing Wild Beasts at Laneway Festival in 2010, and how totally disappointed we were with their show, especially considering they had just released such a top album in Two Dancers. It was tame in almost every sense of the word; all the right songs were there, played to perfection, but where was the performance? Every ‘T’ was crossed and ‘I’ dotted in terms of how the songs sounded, but where was the heart? Where was the soul? The audience engagement? It was as fun as being in your bedroom with their record playing in the background, and a couple of hundred random people along for the ride. The same could be said for tonight’s show.

Local Natives
Local Natives

“Hello, how are you? This is our last night in Australia, and we have a lot of songs for you tonight,” offers Kelsey Acer to a half-filled Zoo, before the band kick into ‘You & I’, with plenty of exaggerated arm-swinging on the down strum, and a range of well-practised facial expressions to show just how serious this band takes itself. As with Wild Beasts, the songs are all there; and are replicated in a note-perfect manner, including ‘Ceilings’, ‘Mt. Washington’, ‘Airplanes’, ‘Colombia’, and the sublime ‘Heavy Feet’, but despite unquestionably great musicianship and a fine range of facial hair, there’s something missing from this show that leaves me feeling – dare I say it – bored.

A mid-set cover of Talking Heads’ ‘Warning Sign’ provides some relief from the earnestness, and when it’s time for an encore The Zoo’s audience doesn’t exactly put up a fight to get the band back on-stage. Watching them pick up their instruments and strike up another couple of indifferent chords is enough for me, and I’m down the stairs to freedom in a matter of seconds. Disappointing.

Live review: The Bronx + DZ Deathrays + Spitfireliar – The Hi-Fi, Brisbane – 7th May 2013

IMG_3532

It’s Tuesday night in West End and The Hi-Fi is heaving. Not long after the doors are opened, it’s nigh-on impossible to get near the bar, the area in front of the stage is rapidly becoming an elbow-room-free zone, and the steps linking the two are filled with lines of people who always seem to be fighting the current. It’s time for this Brisbane audience to drain their beers and ready their eardrums – The Bronx don’t do things softly.

After a quick and heavy set by local lads Spitfireliar, including their song ‘I Want To Eat Natalie Portman’s Poo’, Brisbane thrash duo made-good DZ Deathrays take to the stage. It is immediately clear that Shane Parsons and Simon Ridley have become one hell of a musically tight pairing; made possible by the almost constant touring across North America, Europe, and Australia of late. What’s also clear as their set progresses is how much of a monster shredder Parsons now is; those local music fans who still consider DZ an offshoot of Velociraptor must realise that there was no way an indie-pop band was ever going to contain this guy’s riffs. ‘Cops Capacity’, ‘No Sleep’, ‘The Mess Up’, and a finale of ‘Dollar Chills’ sound great, and a couple of new (unnamed) songs are trialled with plenty of screamo gusto.

It’s almost eleven o’clock by the time Los Angeles quintet The Bronx take to the stage to the boom of a spaghetti western track that sounds like it could be a tune by their alter egos Mariachi El Bronx. If you were choosing a traditional frontman’s look, it wouldn’t be that of singer Matt Caughthran, but the day he realised he has a voice powerful enough to topple regimes must have been a momentously life-changing occasion. As ‘White Tar’ sends the audience into a frenzy, Caughthran announces “Brisbane is the favourite town of the motherfuckin’ Bronx; the first place we ever touched down in Australia,” before scolding the audience for not selling out the venue, climbing along the railing, crowd-surfing back to the stage, catching a random hurled garment with his forehead, before finally announcing “We have come home to Brisbane, make some noise motherfuckers!”

‘Too Many Devils’ is introduced as being “for all the chicas,” before Caughthran kindly informs the by-now sweaty and elated crowd that “after tonight you will be born again, and everything else will pale in comparison to seeing The Bronx.” ‘Six Days A Week’ and a massive ‘Youth Wasted’ sound fantastic, as the energy level doesn’t let up despite the obvious expenditure on stage.

Unlike many hardcore and punk bands, The Bronx have a backbone of solid musicianship, talent, and top tunes; they come across as the type of band who could be just as successful as a calypso/bluegrass/sea-shanty/whatever group if they set their minds to it. For now, their rock show will do just nicely. What a great night.

Kings Konekted: “A lot of things dictated who stood where and by whose side”

kings koneketed

Brisbane hip-hop collective Kings Konekted are about to launch their new EP The Campaign, and it’s set to be a real landmark release for the group. DJ/producer Stricknine and MC Culprit explain how much it means.

“It feels great to have it finished,” says Stricknine. “It was all done at Class A Records and it was an absolute pleasure working with producer Trem.”

“We always love recording,” explains Culprit. “We would do it every day if we could. When writing we usually start with a beat first, and we can ponder on that for days or weeks, and from there we’ll either decide if it needs a theme or a message, and Dontez might write some verses to it. Generally the writing process starts with the beat, and the beat dictates where the writing of the track is going to go for us. It might all three of us or just two of us working at any one time. Dontez really controls the boards; the computers and the programming. I don’t do any of the computer work, but once we load the beat in we work out the layout of the song, and whoever is going to rap first does their part. The choruses tend to get done at the end, after we get our verses out over the beat and have a listen. If there’s something that’s going back and forth then the process changes a bit where we might switch things around to make sure we get it out effectively.”

Serbian/Australian Culprit and Indigenous Australian/Italian Dontez forged their friendship and musical bond from a young age, growing up in the crime-infested streets of the western suburbs of Brisbane, before joining forces with elder statesmen Strickine, Prowla, and Trem to make The Campaign.

“There was a lot of segregation in what we call the 4300 postcode area,” says Culprit. “It’s a working class area and unfortunately there’s a bit of crime. You could call it a low socio-economic environment if you wish, and a lot of things in the lifestyle – things like graffiti, things like music, things like sport – dictated who stood where and by whose side. And unfortunately fights are pretty common out there. But most cities across the world – wherever you go – have riff-raff; it just happens to be a bit more common in that area, and we bring it all to the table. It’s not a negative view or a positive view; we’re not saying it’s good that there’s fighting or it’s bad that there’s fighting, we just want it to be known. It’s our life, our story, and what we’ve seen, so we want to portray that. But it’s each to their own. We don’t think you have to come from that sort of background to be a hip-hop artist.

The Campaign is the group’s first release since 2009’s Trails To The Underlair, but fans won’t have to wait as long for the next, with a full-length album planned for late 2013.

“It’s going to be called Corrupted Citizens,” says Culprit. “We wanted to put out the EP as a taster to give something to the fans and to thank them for waiting so long as we’ve been working on this since 2009. But that’s not to say the quality on the EP isn’t as good as what the album will be.”

When asked about what the local hip-hop scene and what could improve it, Stricknine is quick off the mark.

“More Kings Konekted!” he says. “Nah, the scene in Brisbane has its moments. There’s plenty of stuff out there that would make me want to go and see it. But there’s a lot of stuff out there that’s labelled as hip-hop that isn’t. We try to make music that can be recognised as hip-hop the world over, so someone in New York can listen to it and know what it is, not just someone from Australia. Some hip-hop artists are together for only a couple of years and put out an album, and it shows in their music, whereas we started in 2007 or 2008 and the guys were together for about ten years before that.”

‘THE CAMPAIGN’ IS OUT APRIL 19th FROM WWW.CLASSARECORDS.COM