51. Legends of Motorsport and Digger and the Pussycats @yahYahs Thursday 1st April, 2010.
Loud rock played by boys with loyal following. Legends – seen them before so many times. Digger and the Pussycats are a two piece – guitar and drums. Nothing to write home about, except the crowd were a classically rock bunch and Yah Yahs was packed.
52. Ron Hawkins [Lowest of The Low] At Retreat Hotel, Brunswick Sunday 4th April 2010
Free. Played with Mick Thomas, and that killer guitar player from WPA and Que Paso, along with accordion guy and drummer from WPA. Sold songs. Pub pop-rock anthemic qualities. Audience mostly over 40. But it was pretty decent.
53. James McCann and Jacky Winter Old Bar Tuesday 6th April 2010
James McCann played alongside Rui Periera for Rui’s art opening. They played a long slow guitar jam full of dramatic peaks and lows. McCann then played an assortment of new songs. It borders on guitar wank but what I like about McCann is he always brings something different to the fore. It’s about the timing and the gaps, the desolate noise versus the trad singer/songwriter stuff. For me, he’s more than just another singer songwriter. He challenges the listener, does something that’s wholly his own, and his storytelling is from within. I think he’s a true artist. His articulation is what makes him unique and I admire him for it.
Jacky Winter AKA Phil Gionfriddo is a good singer. His vocal style is nasal and sometimes strained but it’s part of his charm. His songs are steady pop songs and I enjoyed his set. My gig buddies were bored beyond belief with both artists.
54. Sean Simmons at Builders Arms Sunday 11th April 2010.
After not seeing many bands this week I thought I should make up for it. Sean Simmons, of The Spoils played a solo room to a friend, bar staff and Matt, Greg and I. He’s a crooner with a dark sensibility, toe tapping his tambourine and has a swag of good love songs. We caught his first set and I liked him.
55. Unknown indie hipster two piece at Union Club Hotel Sunday 11th April 2010.
A guitarist/singer dressed like a man of the sea, accompanied by a scrawny teenager banging on drums. Not the greatest, but they were young and did have a couple of decent songs.
56. Lilith Lane at Marquis of Lorne Sunday 11th April 2010.
After all the talk, I wanted to see Lilith. Turns out I spoke to her earlier on in the week about her 1973 Toyota Corona. She loves her car. I love her car too. Singer/Songwriter accompanied by Bill MacDonald and Dan Luscombe and at times, the Ukeladies. I didn’t love her, but she had a great song about how she likes a man’s man. Who can’t relate to that? On a separate note, I was stuck in clucky corner.
57. Spencer P Jones at YahYahs Sunday 11th April 2010.
Yah Yahs was dead post record fair which could have been a bad sign. Spencer topped my worst gigs ever list of 2009. But one thing must be mentioned, Spencer P Jones does things with a certain brilliance. When he’s good he’s brilliant. When he’s bad, he’s brilliantly bad. His banter was brilliantly horrible, but every now and again, when he’s playing, there’s great songs, excellent catchy guitar bits. He’s really not a likable guy in the slightest, and you can’t help but feel sorry for the ever tolerant and ever rotating membership of the Escape Committee. Once in a while the positive brilliance shines through and you can understand their patience.
58. Jackie Winter, Howl at the Moon and Buried Horses at The Old Bar Sunday 11th April 2010.
Winter started with A-Z a beautiful song, and played a good set full of good songs, his own and some covers. He is a gifted songwriter. Howl At The Moon are a 4 piece, who are 3 years old, fronted by Katie, a chick who can really howl. She’s got a great voice, but where Winter had all the songs, Howl at the Moon really lacked in this dept. It’s a shame because they’ve otherwise got all the ingredients to be a good band. Buried Horses have the songs – well part of them. They’re great at conveying pent up moodiness in the flow of their songs, but lack a couple of things: melody and soul. The Screaming works, but it needs to be balanced out by other parts to a song. Normally singing would temper the aggression but there was no melodic hook. The squealing guitars were highly appealing, and to this end, they’re on the right track. They’re Birthday Party esque, but their young [probably older than the members of the BP]. I think they just need a little bit of maturity to give them the conviction required to deliver the songs truly. Give them 6 years and see where they are.
59. Monty Sparrow & Jane Dust & the Giant Hoopees Bar Open Thursday 15th April 2010.
Monty Sparrow weren’t the best band. Their songs had no real hooks. I love Jane Dust but the sound was terrible. Dare I say it – the vocals were too loud on both bands. Doobie licks were fun, but I couldn’t stay long.
60. Jason Isbell and Justin Townes Earle Corner Hotel Friday 16th April 2010.
I was so tired and not in the mood. Jason Isbell performs singer/songwriter style and moves into blue eyed soul. The guys from Muscle Shoals, but I really saw his true colours or true talent, playing guitar for Justin Townes Earl. I saw JTE last year at The Thornbury and wasn’t overly impressed, but this year, I felt he was there to entertain. He had stories and banter and he just wanted to have a good time, making sure his audience were there along for the wild ride. He played old timey country and hillbilly and it was lots of fun. He was accompanied by Isbell, who played guitar, and his ability was amazing. He even played slide using a wine glass. I absolutely loved this gig.
61. James Mccann The Caringbush Sunday 18th April 2010.
This started much later than anticipated due to a private function, but once it got started McCann was in fine form playing a mix of folky poppy songs. This was McCann at his singer/songwriter best. He was accompanied by a guitarist who confessed he was too drunk to play. I thought he did a decent job. As per usual Mccann did his guitar wig out which alienated him from his 6 strong audience. Afterwards, Matt and I got to talk to McCann.
62. Suzie Stapleton and band & Jack on Fire The Old Bar 18th April 2010.
Stapleton’s voice reminds me of Melissa Etheridge – really smokey and full. Jack on Fire had a new violinist and they were good. Their songs were decent, full of energy. Very enjoyable. Both bands played support for Buried Horses – their second week in their residency.
63. Oh Ye Denver Birds The Birmingham 22nd April, 2010.
Has it really happened? Have I outgrown indie pop rock? Oh Ye Dever Birds had all the ingredients; mesmerising rhythms; poppy bliss; ramshackle style; bizarre instruments.. Why couldn't I love it? Looking around the room, I was clearly the oldest person there. Perhaps I'm just too old for indie pop. Or perhaps, whilst their sound was decent, it just wasn't great, not entirely original, no major hooks. Oh Ye Denver Birds make a great background ambiance band for the indie pop with electro overtones set, but they had no major appeal except for a singer who didn't sing in a traditional sense, but made noises using his voice. It will be interesting to see how this band develops and what it develops into.
64. Actor Slash Model The Old Bar 24th April, 2010.
Indie pop in the style of Sonic Youth. It was never my cuppa and it still isn’t.
65. The Bats East Brunswick Club Sunday 25th April, 2010.
New Zealand indie pop circa late 80’s/90’s. This is my idea of easy listening music; jangly guitars, easy melodies. The only problem is that it’s easy to get bored with this set up. Fortunately the sweetness of sound made this difficult.
66. Los Impenetrables Builders Arms Friday 30th April 2010.
Arrived part way through their second set and they were fun. Fiddle, Accordian and acoustic bass. They claim to play a bit of Calypso, Rebetika, Mexican Rancheras, US fiddle country music and more, and they did. But it wasn’t a fusion mish mash. They were quite simply entertaining. All songs except one were covers of old music that most wouldn’t know anyway. Music enthusiasts who play for music appreciaters and others in the front bar. Perfect for Friday night drinks.
67. Graveyard Train; Town Bikes & Puta Madre Brothers Yah Yahs Friday 30th April 2010.
I was about the 6th last person to get through to door, arriving at 10pm. Those in queue were in shock! Yah Yahs was heaving. First act on: Graveyard Train doing their all male sing-along thing with chains and guitars and heaps of energy. They’re a band who’ve built up a following in this town with steady gigs and the crowd loved it, even singing along. Unfortunately friends couldn’t get in tonight.
The Town Bikes did a theatrical type performance complete with body building suits, dancing to what only can be described as 90’s aerobic music. I missed most of the set, but the crowd enjoyed it. My only suggestion was: they could improve their ending: I didn’t realize they had finished until sound guy Jeremy started coiling up the wires.
The crowd were here for PM Brothers who were probably surprised they attracted a full house. Tonight they were launching their new album cheese and balls, a record that had some big community radio attention. Some might call them theatrical, others gimmicky, but PM brothers are a lot of fun. Their 3 x 1 man bands on stage, playing together. They shift from Ennio Morricone style music landscape/slow build up atmospherics through to wailing surf guitar; energetic flamenco guitar and move to Mariachi style; three voices howling into mics. They hit their cymbals with guitars and do something a little different. Propped to the hilt they’ve got festive lights; mariachi styled costumes; a smoke machine; inflatable Cactus; 2 x feathered piñata.
With so much going on, it’s hard to pick a highlight; but then again it’s not. Crowds get used to the gimmicks so what transcended the gimmick stuff? The performance of Steph Brett; a quiet and bookish looking musician by day, but by night she transforms into an entertainer extraordinaire. She owns the stage. It doesn’t matter if notes are out because she knows how to captivate; something most front people can’t do. I can only describe it as an unrestrained soulful energy she unleashes only on stage.
By the end the crowd were screaming for more. I stopped counting the encores. But a skeletal horn section joined the band and Banda was all the rage. Even more fun. I was knackered by that stage and had to leave. By the very end it seemed they ran out of songs; for their very was song was La Cucuracha. Crowd loved it.