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.

For Scenestr

Live review: TV on the Radio + Kirin J Callinan – the Tivoli, Brisbane – 10/6/15

tv on the radio brisbane

AHHH, the summer of 2008.

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.

For Scenestr

Live review: Ed Sheeran + Jamie Lawson + Conrad Sewell – Brisbane River Stage – 20/3/15

ed sheeran

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.

For Music Feeds

Live review: Kingswood + Lurch & Chief + The Belligerents – The Triffid, Brisbane – 21/3/15

kingswood brisbane

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.

For Scenestr

Live review: Velociraptor + SPOD + White Lodge – The Foundry Official Launch, Brisbane – 6/3/15

the foundry brisbane

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.

For Scenestr

Report, Setlist: Foo Fighters begin their Australian tour in Brisbane

foo fighters brisbane

“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.

Setlist

Something from Nothing
The Pretender
Learn to Fly
Breakout
My Hero
Big Me
Congregation
Walk
Cold Day in the Sun
In The Clear
Arlandria
Monkey Wrench
Skin and Bones
Wheels
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
Outside
These Days
Generator
This Is A Call
Everlong

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

For FasterLouder

Live review: St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Brisbane – 31/1/15

perfect pussy brisbane laneway

Perfect Pussy

“It’s so hot; how can you live like this?”

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.

jungle laneway brisbane

Jungle

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.

For Scenestr

Live review: The Rolling Stones – Brisbane Entertainment Centre – 18/11/14

the rolling stones brisbane

“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.

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Live review: BIGSOUND Live – Brisbane – 10/9/14

kingswood

PERHAPS it’s appropriate that the first song I hear at BIGSOUND Live 2014 is ‘Get On Your Horse’ by The Furrs at Oh Hello! It’s an appropriately-named kickstart to another night of top drawer Australian music across a multitude of stages and hidey-holes in the Valley.

After that start, the trek to the Zoo is punctuated by a short stop at the Press Club to catch All Our Exes Live In Texas; the folky Sydney quartet sounding like perhaps the most elegant act on show anywhere here tonight.

You wouldn’t call Steve Smyth an elegant performer, but he’s all the better for it. The impressively-moustachioed Sydneysider’s sweat sprays off in fountains as he throws his Gibson and himself around the Zoo’s stage, with new song ‘Shake It’ being a particular highlight among many great tracks.

Over at the Brightside, Adelaide’s Bad//Dreems show why they’re one of the most hyped acts of this year’s BIGSOUND, as they power through a rip-roaring set of songs from their EP and upcoming debut album. A cover of The Replacements’ ‘Bastards of Young’ is the perfect setup to closer ‘Dumb Ideas’, as the quartet steal the show for tonight.

bad//dreems

Following Bad//Dreems is another hyped act, the Britpop-heavy DMA’s, who finish with their sing-along epic ‘Delete’ to a massive response. At the same time, in the darkened cavern of Alhambra Lounge, Melburnians Lurch & Chief are making an unholy racket in all the best ways, with ‘We Are The Same’ being the standout.

At the Rev in Warner Street, a much more chilled vibe is apparent, as Melbourne’s Martha Brown – aka Banoffee – is going solo with a set of cool r ‘n’ b and synth numbers in an enticingly air-conditioned environment.

Every BIGSOUND night needs a big finish, and this time it’s provided by Kingswood. The Melbourne rockers are flying high, having just released their excellent debut album Microscopic Wars. Despite teasing a few bars of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and playing the intro to QOTSA’s ‘Feel Good Hit of the Summer’ after calling for the BIGSOUND delegates to “get your hands in the air”, it’s their own ‘Ohio’ that provides the massive close. What a night.

For Scenestr

Live review: Band of Skulls + Apes – The Hi-Fi, Brisbane – 21/6/14

band of skulls

“IT’S the last night of our world tour,” says Band of Skulls frontman Russell Marsden, a couple of songs into his band’s set at The Hi-Fi. “And we’ve got nothing to lose”.

Tonight is the kind of night that breeds those similar feelings in band and punter alike. It’s Saturday, it’s Brisbane’s West End, it’s raining and the night is young. The need to be responsible is more than 36 hours away, and with a little help from this English rock trio, we’re aiming to fit a hell of a lot in.

Ballarat’s Apes are up first as the venue fills with anticipation and beer farts. Kicking into gear mid-set, the quartet make their mark with an excellent finishing brace of new single ‘Pull The Trigger’ and ‘Helluva Time’.

Marsden, bassist Emma Richardson and drummer Matt Hayward look and sound like they mean business from the off. Lean, mean and tour-tight, the Band of Skulls trio appear up for it and then some; opening with ‘Asleep At The Wheel’ from new album Himalayan, and following on with the title track and ‘You’re Not Pretty But You Got It Going On’ from Sweet Sour. ‘I Know What I Am’ gets the first big sing-along moment, and arms flail and flap in efforts to grab plectrums tossed audience-ways by Marsden. “Don’t worry, we have plenty,” he assures the most frantic, which makes no difference whatsoever.

A stripped-back ‘Nightmares’ threatens to explode into life but never does, providing a poised mid-set highlight and a final ‘Hollywood Bowl’ leaves an audience beaten and bruised yet baying for more, as stomping feet threaten to knock the smell of stale beer out of the Hi-Fi’s carpet once and for all.

A final trio of ‘Sweet Sour’, which Marsden dedicates to the crew, ‘Light Of The Morning’ and ‘Death By Diamonds And Pearls’ is a strong finish and the perfect way to mark the conclusion of one of the best rock performances to grace Brisbane this reviewer has experienced in recent months.

For The AU Review

Live review: Arctic Monkeys + Pond – Brisbane Entertainment Centre – 7/5/14

arctic monkeys brisbane

Alex, Alexxx, ALEXXXX! These words could just about sum up the Arctic Monkeys’ gig at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, such was the fervour reverberating around the arena for the band’s singer, Alex Turner. The 28 year-old has an oddly powerful hold over his audience – boy and girl alike – as he struts and poses throughout, and the result is the loudest screaming this reviewer has ever heard in the venue. More on that in a second.

The opening band for tonight is Perth’s always-excellent Pond. “Alex will be here soon; until then you’re stuck with us,” says frontman Nick Allbrook, but it’s a situation everyone’s happy with. Psychedelic rock rarely makes an appearance in a venue of this size, and it’s a great sight to behold to see the quintet brilliantly jam through their best-known tracks. They’re a band that can make a set seem like a perfectly ramshackle fuck-around while still being tight as hell, in only the best possible way.

With a backdrop of the huge glowing letters A and M and a retina-destroying light show, Arctic Monkeys arrive to deafening screams from every corner of what must be an almost sold-out venue. As they start with ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ and move through ‘Snap Out Of It’, ‘Arabella’ and ‘Brianstorm’, it’s clear the band are tour-tight and focussed, and all eyes are on Turner as he moves from one side of the stage to the other, soaking up the adulation, shaking his hips, and showing how far charisma can take someone who uses it cleverly.

The first big, big moment comes at the start of ‘Don’t Sit Down Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’; a song that remains the band’s best, before Turner asks the audience “why do you only call me when you’re high, Brisbane?” Recent supports The Orwells claimed that every aspect of the band’s performance is mapped out, including ad-libs, and there is a feeling that that may be the case, but if it works this well it doesn’t really matter.

After an initial finisher of ‘505’ and despite sound problems in the encore during ‘R U Mine?’, which ended up being played twice, there was a very large group of satisfied people dispersing into the Brisbane night after this show.

Live review: The Jezabels + Gang of Youths – The Tivoli, Brisbane – 6/5/14

the Jezabels Brisbane

SYDNEY’S The Jezabels have been making headlines in the music press recently for two reasons: getting involved in a somewhat exaggerated spat with music critics on the subject of their work credentials and putting on great live shows. So, given that singer Hayley Mary was recently quoted as saying music writers need to “fucking get a real job”, it’s with mixed expectations that I pass through the doors of The Tivoli to catch their show.

Let’s get this straight from the off: this critic remains a big fan of the band and its music, despite the fact this would make me diabolically uncool in certain circles. The Jezabels continue to shrug off their detractors and make simple and great pop music, and they seem to be comfortable with the fact they’re pretty uncool at the same time. Which kind of makes them cool.

Tonight’s gig begins with the excellent Gang of Youths, who are much-improved performance-wise and song-wise since the last time they played this venue supporting Cloud Control in August. ‘Evangelists’ is a stand-out, and the only thing lacking for the band is more time to jam; these guys deserve to be big, and probably will be.

Nick Kaloper, Sam Lockwood and Heather Shannon take to the dimly lit stage of a now-packed house and receive a monumental cheer, before Mary herself strides on dressed in glittery black top and black pants and ups the volume several fold. The band begin in measured fashion with the title track and opening number of new album The Brink. Mary’s voice is what makes The Jezabels better than most similar pop bands; it soars, chills and soothes at different points and at the drop of a hat, while the rest of the band are clinically precise.

‘Endless Summer’ is next, and the audience is in Mary’s hands at this point, followed shortly after by ‘Time To Dance’, which a Jezabels audience doesn’t really do; it’s more of a stand-gawping kind of deal. Mary spins, shuffles and raises her left hand to the roof during the more majestic moments, and while the rest of the band stay fairly static, there’s enough to keep things interesting throughout ‘Look of Love’ and early track ‘Hurt Me’.

‘Beat to Beat’ is a mid-set highlight as Mary stretches her vocal range and gets out into the audience to high-five some fans at front-and-centre, with further big responses for ‘The End’ and ‘Disco Biscuit Love’.

So, what’s the somewhat confused lesson this critic learned from tonight’s gig? It’s this: fuck the critics. Nice work, Jezabels.

Live review: Queens Of The Stone Age/Nine Inch Nails + Brody Dalle – Brisbane Entertainment Centre – 17/3/14

Nine Inch Nails Brisbane

Brody Dalle and her band took to the stage at 7pm just as equal amounts of Queens Of The Stone Age and Nine Inch Nails fans were wondering which band would be first in this outstanding double bill. After a quick 30-minute set of punk rock guitars, that fantastically throaty rock voice and a song dedication to a naked biker spotted earlier in the day, Dalle had the growing crowd’s ears warmed up nicely.

It didn’t take long before everything became clear, as the dark presence of NIN’s Trent Reznor emerged in a haze of purple lighting and he and his band started into ‘Somewhat Damaged’ and ‘Me, I’m Not’. The ominous and sleazy ‘Piggy’ was a highlight, as was ‘Terrible Lie’, during which Reznor – adopting a primal and menacing stance at the microphone – carried off an intensely brutal vocal before throwing his guitar to the air and letting it crash to the stage. Drenched in green light, the band finished with ‘Hurt’, as lighters were raised skyward throughout the audience.

A quick turnaround later, and QOTSA strolled onstage, and by second song ‘No One Knows’ the entire audience was eating out of Josh Homme’s hand. In a groove-laden set, including ‘You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire’, ‘Smooth Sailing’, ‘If I Had A Tail’ and ‘Fairweather Friends’, the band provided a looser and more relaxed vibe to what came before, with Homme at one point telling security guards “don’t worry about the fucking kids; stop trying to tell us what to do” as a few harmless crowd-surfers were pounced upon. An extended jam at the end of ‘Make It Wit Chu’ was a highlight, and an encore including ‘The Vampyre Of Time And Memory’ rounded out an evening of top-drawer music.

Judging from the similarly rapturous reactions both bands received, it was clear there was a big crossover appeal for fans of each, and while both were excellent and the gig was in no way a competition, Nine Inch Nails just about edged it.

Scott Owen of The Living End: “I guess we just get along as mates and respect each other”

living end

THE LIVING END have just played five Soundwave shows and will headline The Big Pineapple Music Festival next month; not bad for a band technically on a break. Upright bass player Scott Owen explains why the Melbourne trio doesn’t sit still for long.

“Soundwave was fantastic,” he says. “We didn’t know what to expect as it was all very last-minute; we only got added to the bill two weeks before the festival. It was unexpected, but you can’t complain about getting up in front of audiences like that. Everyone seemed to file in there early and there was a really respectable amount of people there. [Short notice] can work either way for us; sometimes we rehearse our arses off before a show and for one reason or another it’s difficult to pull it together, and then sometimes you just have to jump into the deep end without a chance to rehearse, and they can be the best gigs. We went for the middle ground and only had a couple of rehearsals in the week leading up to it, and left it at that; just enough to dust out the cobwebs a little bit, but not overthink it.”

The band will be the top-billed rock act at next month’s second Big Pineapple Music Festival, which also features Dead Letter Circus and Spiderbait.

“Because we’re at a stage right now where we don’t have a new record out, we’re just kind of getting up and trying to tailor our set – and this probably sounds wanky – to please everyone,” Owen says. “We figure with festivals you’re there for a good time, not a long time, so we just try to play things that we think people are going to know and things people can sing along to; I think that’s our job at a festival. We didn’t really think of doing [AC/DC’s] ‘Jailbreak’ until the day of the gig at Soundwave in Brisbane, but every now and then we’ll pull out a cover and it’s normally something that’s planned. We’ve got six albums, so there’s a lot of catalogue to choose from and it can be difficult to try to think of what will please everyone, but that’s why we tend to rely on the songs most people are going to know. It’s not our own show; people are there to see a bunch of bands, so we just try to offer a good time.”

This year marks two decades since the band formed in Melbourne, but Owen isn’t keen to make a fuss of the anniversary.

“We did a retrospective tour the year before last, where we went out and played all of our albums for seven nights in each city, and that was a good way to look back over everything,” he says. “I think we’re more into looking forward than looking back now, although the plan is to do nothing for pretty much the rest of the year, apart from a few gigs here and there, and then sometime next year we’ll get together again and start thinking about the next record. This is the first time we’ve all not lived in Melbourne. Over the last couple of years we’ve all moved in different directions; Chris [Cheney, singer-guitarist] is over in America, I live in Byron and Andy [Strachan, drums] is down the coast in Victoria. There’s a bit of a distance between us and we figured it’s a good opportunity to just chill out for a reasonable amount of time. Fortunately we’ve never had any major difficulties with each other and we’ve been lucky to continue to get people to want to watch us play. I guess we just get along as mates and respect each other, and just enjoy getting up onstage and playing together. I really don’t know how to read it any more deeply than that.”

The band’s sound includes elements of rockabilly, rock ‘n’ roll and punk; a formula that has worked well for the trio, although Owen’s ‘bass stunts’ – primarily standing on his instrument mid-performance – wasn’t always the polished party-piece it is today.

“When Chris and I were in high school we were only interested in’50s rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly,” he says. “Getting up on the bass was always part of the act; it was happening from day one. The funniest time was when Chris and I started playing; we were only about 16 or 17 years old when we started playing pubs around Melbourne. One of the very first times we played a proper pub – and we were still just doing rockabilly covers at the time – Chris climbed up on my bass to play a guitar solo and it all went horribly wrong and we ended up in a pile on the floor. It was devastating; we were thinking we could never get up onstage and show our faces again after such an epic fail. But we got over the hurdle. Luckily it hasn’t happened in front of an enormous audience.”

THE LIVING END PLAY THE BIG PINEAPPLE MUSIC FESTIVAL SATURDAY MAY 17.