Wednesday, October 6, 2010

July gigs 2010

123. Archer & The Johnny’s The Tote 3/7/2010

There is no information about Archer on the internet. I knew nothing about him. On stage he had an acoustic guitar, attached to string, he wore brown high pants and his shirt sleeves were rolled up. He had glistening eyes, a booming voice and a theatrical stage presence as he belted out old timey styled music with Australian infusion. Everything about him was so perfectly placed! It was if he stepped off the set of Pioneertown and onto the stage!  Was he an actor? IT seemed a little contrived in the style of CW Stoneking. If he was I guess it didn’t really matter. His performance craft was so polished and the crowd yelled for more!

The Johnny’s – I only went because Amanda and Graham implored me to come, then they didn’t arrive, or couldn’t get in. I was the last payer through the door. It was described to me as cowboy rockers. They donned Cowboy Hats, but it was rock music. The sound of Aussie pub rock. Blistering guitars, driving powerful drumming, good songs, good vocalists. This was the best I’ve seen Spencer P Jones, since he played the worst gig of last year. The band was tight, the lead guitarist was amazing. They played as a BAND not a group of loose individuals. They played with energy and intensity.  This gig was excellent, and I’d say it was one of the best I’ve seen this year. The crowd loved it, and the forty plus set were so excited they even attempted to relive the mosh. It’s enough to make me want to go out and get their back catalogue. Excellent stuff from aging rockstars.

124.Sarah Carroll, Suzannah Espie, Chris Altmann & Matt Walker The Rainbow 4/7/2010

4 stars in their own right, playing a 2 hour set at The Rainbow. It was excellence on stage. Suzannah Espie sings with all the conviction in the world, Matt Walker plays with blues sensibility running through his insides, Chris Altmann and Sarah Carroll, they’re pretty bloody good too. I was transfixed by this gig. By far the gig of the night. But I had to leave early since I had to go to dinner at The Standard.

125. Waz E James The Standard  4/7/2010

It was  a cousins get together on the night of our dead grandfathers birthday so it was  a time for family. Waz E James were late, so we ate. I caught the beginning and the end. They play easy laid back country music, perfect for Sunday. I really enjoyed them and hope to see a proper set soon.

126. Mojo Juju & The Death Rattles The Old Bar  4/7/2010

Mojo has this jazzy thing going on. It’s a little mysterious but it’s full of soul. She played solo with a vintage looking guitar in hand. She howls into the mic. She’s a powerful performer and marches to the beat of her own drum.

The Death Rattles had a double bass, banjo, guitar drums and a lead singer that moved awkwardly. The instruments suggested something else, but what we got was a Cordrazine meets Anthony singer crooning, then aggressively shouting into the mic. Think 30’s styled jazz mixed with pop and a little folk.  I found it a bit wishy washy, but it’s just the first night of their residency.

127. Shannon Bourne The Standard 7/7/2010

Atmospheric, moody slide guitar. Perfect for a Wednesday evening. Shannon added vocals. I can’t say I’m a fan of rolling your eyes into the back of your head whilst singing, but he sounded good. I met Ella and Luke. Joined by Cassie so we headed off..

128. Little John Bluegrass Sessions The Marquis of Lorne 7/7/2010

This was the best I’ve ever seen Little John. I felt compelled to see him after I  walked out a few months ago in an effort to go to The Standard to see Charles Jenkins, leaving behind an audience of 1. He was accompanied by Greg on Mandolin and fiddle. He sounded good. My compadres enjoyed it, and by the end Peter Ewing joined him. Good Wednesday night country music with old an timey feel. Met with Bess and Coral. Coral is playing next Tuesday night in a rockabilly duo. I said I’d be there! Cassie and Ella said they’d be there too!

129. The Peep Tempel Bar Open 8/7/2010

I went to catch The Peep Tempel to see if they were as good as the first time. The equation is so simple with them. Solid drums, awesome guitar, veins popping out of their necks, screaming into the mic, The Peep Tempel are simply good.

 130. The Original Snakeskins Builders Arms 9/7/2010

6pm gigs. I love it. Knock off work, straight to the pub and a band’s playing. The Original Snakeskins play folky blues tunes. Some are their own, others are covers. Guitar, harmonica vocals and a guy wearing an Icehouse jacket [A man of colours] cracking a whip during one song. Actually it was funny because he accidently cracked the whip on himself. It was hilarious, but as a band, they weren’t that great but the slot is excellent for winding down the working week.

131. Rat vs Possum & Richard in Your Mind Northcote Social Club 9/7/2010

Rat vs Possum – electronic, experimental, lyric lacking interesting soundscapes varied tempos.  They’re good at the slow build ups but ultimately they lack a central focus; a hook and it becomes all about ambiance. Some might call it boring. Richard in your mind are 5 indie looking nerds from Sydney who play sweet pop and hip hop in the style of Morris Minor and the Majors. They’re a little bit delightful but that may have had a lot to do with the lays and the holiday backdrop. Nah they were alright.

132.  Romance, The Once Overs, Richie 1250 and The Brides of Christ and The Exotics play The Stone Love 5th Birthday Bash at The Arthouse 10/7/2010.

Smelling of thin BBQ beef sausages, I caught only moments of Romance, Nathan Hollywoods Electronic outfit. What can I say? Stark, disciplined electronic music made by humans, not robots. The Once overs are a garage band with energy to boot. They’re a bit funny, constantly laughing at themselves and the audience. The Brides of Christ is an all-star line up fronted by Richie 1250. Each of the members are in better bands, but together they do white people playing trashy blues rock. The Exotics headlined for a reason. They’re good and they’re fun. The lead singer came out wearing a turban and wayfarers and they were accompanied by a snazzy bassist and Bennie from Bennie from the Flybynighters. Lady drummer totally rocks and they bought the uncrowded house down. The Exotics could be described as Cramps admirers with Aussie twang. Loads of fun.

133. Bullet and Matt Joe Gow and The Dead Leaves Yah Yahs 11/7/2010

Bullet were surprisingly good. Country twang featuring heart melting lap steel. And a great guitar player too. Would have been perfect at The Standard. Wrong venue, and the place was empty. Matt Joe Gow was also a lot better than I imagined. Country styles with heart racing pace. His best song was his most introspective.

134. Cash Savage and The Last Drinks The Death Rattles The Old Bar 11/7/2010

Only caught the last moment of Cash Savage who was on fire. Shame to miss it. The Death Rattles – better than last week, but still not my thing. The place was heaving but it was probably due to the Unicorns win rather than the band.

135. Jacob S Harris and Coral Farrow The Old Bar 13/7/2010

Jacob is a singer songwriter, guitar in hand with a  country and folk influence who played with a drummer. Coral is a singer-songwriter, guitar in hand with a country, folk and rockabilly flavor. Both are young-ish and good. They just need a little more time in the incubator to develop their confidence and find their sound. A good Tuesday night out.

136.  Luke Sinclair and Tracy McNeil The Standard 14/7/2010

Can I count this as a gig because I just saw a couple of songs? Maybe. Luke Sinclair and Tracy McNeil[intendeds] sing duets with a distinctly country feel Luke plays guitar and Tracy sings. Luke’s from the country. Tracy’s from Canada. Did I like it? Ok for background music but it didn't engage me.

137. The Wilson Pickers The East 16/7/2010

Half the band are from QLD. The other half are from Melbourne. When they get together, they play tunes together. They’ve got a strong bluegrass influence but draw from 70’s country rock, some blues and a bit of pop. Guitar, Dobro, harmonica, fiddle, mandolin and banjo. They’re a lot of fun and although the expression on their faces don’t show it, they don’t seem to take themselves too seriously. The crowd of 30-40 somethings loved it, especially the hoedown styled songs! Very Entertaining.

138. Batrider, The Dacios & The Drones 17/7/2010

Batrider sound straight out of 1990’s indie, with their grunge aesthetic. Three piece – guitar bass and drums. The lead singer snarls in an Aussie rock way, and I liked them  until I got bored. Their range is limited. The Dacio’s are a five piece, but it’s fair to say The Dacio’s is Linda Dacio. Her voice booms as she tears through her songs. Amazing vocals accompanied by straight up and down rock and roll. Desperation and despair underpin the performance of The Drones. Gareth Liddiard spits out lyrics with all the conviction that can be mustered. Peter Luscombe plays killer guitar. Bassist rarely acknowledges the audience, but it’s only because she’s playing in so tightly with Mike Noga on drums. The Drones play as a band. They’re together and they’re awesome. Totally enthralling and they give 101% for this promotional gig. It’s plain to see why they’re such a popular band. Authenticity is one word used to describe them and it’s apt.

139. The Cherrywood Guns and Joshua Seymour The Marquis of Lorne 18/7/2010

I billed it as early Cash style rockabilly. What we got were three unwashed boys with poor sound. Percussion consists of a snare placed on a milk crate, played with brushes. There’s an upright double bass. The lead singer of The Cherrywood guns can sing. There’s no denying that.  What he can’t do is banter with charm or charisma. Instead he opens his mouth, says something he thinks is wise, cool or ironic, then puts his audience off. They’ve got catchy songs, but this was a lesson in the craft of amplification and the need for a band to be reasonably organized and  good sound.  The snare overpowered the guitar and bass. Fortunately Joshua Seymour on Mandolin had a moment in the spotlight, sang songs with the band, then on his own. He was good. One to watch.

140. School of Radiant Living Yah Yahs 18/7/2010

To me these chicks are the coolest girls in the world. They play miserable indie pop and draw me in completely. The weather was conducive to the sound. Yes it was bleak, and I find they’re a cool band, rather than a great band. But you gotta admire them. They do what they do with style. Amy on lead vocals was sweet.

141. Van Walker, Jordie Lane, Downhills Home “Welcome to Gippsland” Northcote Social Club 18/7/2010

Van Walker commands the attention of the audience, doing his singer/songwriter story teller thing on stage. He seems to have done it a million times, but still remains engaging.

Jordie Lane opens his set with his most popular song, and takes the audience on journey with more storytelling. His banter is cutesy, but somehow he gets away with it in his signature hat and old man garb. His observations are dark, stories are well crafted, but I had difficulty listening to his Western slant on Vietnamese culture.

Downhills Home – didn’t know what to expect. I’ve seen them a few times, and my reaction has ranged from kinda bored to very cruisy. Fortunately tonight’s performance was closer to the latter. They played songs from their Welcome to Gippsland concept album; interwoven short stories. Stand alone songs, but together they tell a greater story. They commenced with an instrumental featuring violin player. They had an all star line up including Van Walker, Jordie Lane, Liz Stringer, Laura Jean & Matt Walker. I’m shit at lyric listening but Downhills Home really had it together. They play beautifully, drawing the listener in with their good vibes. What’s apparent, when others sing McMahons songs is just how good a songwriter Sean McMahon actually is. As a band, they’re great at build ups, and rock out at the end of their tracks.   Liz and Matt did a couple of their own songs too.

The stage was dotted by tealights. Sound was excellent.  A good gig for such a cold and miserable night.

142. Little John, The Dacios and  Graveyard Train The Corner Hotel 23/7/2010

This was a different kind of gig tonight: a celebration of the Fitzroy sets introduction to a legendary band venue. Which gave you the sense that tonight was a victory for all who performed and supported these bands along the way. Graveyard train were launching their new album, and this was the first gig of theirs in ages. Suffice, this was sold out. The Corner Hotel, Friday night was sold out by locals who cut their teeth in the tiny venues up the road! I walked in to find Little John backed by his band. In the time since I started doing this [roughly a year] his act has gone from strength to strength. His built up confidence, and he’s finding his style. Although it’s clear he’s best when he channels Elvis through wooden, jerkish dance movements.

The Dacios – It was the second consecutive Saturday I saw this band. Linda is a dynamo. Although my gig compadres left me, I find her spellbinding and powerful as a performer. Bean on guitar is pretty awesome too. Actually they’re a tight act and sure they’re shouty, but their pulsating rhythms and simple rock songs made me nod my head in agreeance.

The Graveyard Train do Horror- Country. The horror comes from the lyrical themes and the guy playing chains and hammer. Their songs are drunken singalongs, and over time they’ve really built up a strong following. Country part comes from their range of instruments: Banjo, washboard, guitar chains and hammer, double bass, reinforcement drums and Dobro were the main instruments that night. There was a feeling they couldn’t believe they sold out The Corner. It was the biggest gig they’d ever played, declared singer Nick Finch.

They worked through new songs, but the dedicated few preferred their older songs! The crowd sang along, and the band prompted them to on their new songs. It made me think this band has the potential to become a novelty hitmaker. Shudder. They’ve had a strong run of airplay on community radio. They are a fun live band who put a lot of energy into their performance as a unified band. They’ve got a tour of Europe coming up. They got the Beat album of the week. Tonight was their moment, and they shared the stage with their supports and other guests on the scene.

143. Wash Winters Willies Away with Whisky VI The Tote 25/7/2010

  There was a reasonable flow to the evening, bringing out Melbourne’s alt country crowd. It was a good day for networking. My biggest problem was the lack of female talent on the bill. Although Tracy McNeil was the first act I caught. She had a sweet rounded country sound, but I didn’t actually catch too much.

Next up was Fergus and Adam as Roller one. They’re great because they just play their music, there’s loads of contemplative space, it’s really beautiful and seems genuine.

White Elephant did a laidback pop performance with tinges of country. They’ve got good songs that a listener can warm into.

Little John graced the stage next and delivered another excellent performance. This was confirmation that I think Little John has got what it takes. But it’s not alone-it’s the band that helps him get where he needs to be. They provide the fun, the howls and the confidence to do what he needs to do. The less droning he does, and the more shouting, and bit part singing he does works. His songs are fun but the band really create a raucous energy. Really exciting stuff. The best was the gospel, the rock’n’roll, and the atmospheric second last song.

Que Paso deliver what they do time and time again. Really competent musicianship on stage- two great guitarists. But I always leave, scratching my head- why did I stay around for that?

Clinkerfield, what can I say? Jimmy is a performer and he does it well. The crowd enjoyed it.  The room was packed.

Brothers Grimm. James tells the audience they’re fucked and the audience lap it up. I don’t understand.

144. Silver City Highway The Gem 30/7/2010

After work drinks was followed by Silver City Highway, a band I’d seen many times before but not in this configuration. Violin; Viola, Fergus and Adam and keyboards. It was stripped back and exposed a real beauty of Silver City Highway. Although Fergus struts around like he’s a confident guy, his voice exposes a vulnerability. Piano added a midnight jazz sound. Violin and Viola created depth, structure and intensity. I was totally engrossed. This was perhaps the best Silver City Highway performance I’ve seen.

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