Wednesday, October 6, 2010

June gigs 2010

91.    Oh Mercy! Inpress 1/6/2010

Oh Mercy duo played a stripped back set at Inpress for a Coopers presented gig. No free grog, but they have sweet, well crafted pop songs. Talented writers. Decent, yet self deprecating performers.

92.    Woolen Kits, Royal Headache and King Kahn & the BBQ show, The Corner, 2/6/2010.

Woollen Kits do indie clunk really well on a small stage to intimate audiences, but this did not transfer well on the large stage in front of the hipster crowd at The Corner. Too loud, they drowned in the fuzz and their magic was lost. Royal Headache frontman had energy to punch the sky with. Pacing back and forward he sang, sped up pop songs with a band who had their rock posturing well practiced. Not amazing, but not that bad. The venue was packed for the coolest mish mash of rock fans in town. Crowds from The Arthouse, The Gem, Yah Yahs, The Marquis, The Old Bar, PBS,  Off The Hip, The Melbourne Music Club, Pony, The Brunswick set  and beyond… Young and old were all represented! KK & BBQ set performance opened to a backing crowd of Queens we are the Champions. The curtains opened to reveal the topless, gold caped Arish alongside the Octopus headed BBQ. It was a sterling introduction. Together they played mindless garage rock with lashings of surf guitar, doo wop and other stuff. They were fun, but they weren’t deep singing about poo. But the problem with a big introduction is that the band needs to go to the next level to raise the bar. There probably wasn’t much room to increase the excitement factor. Although one song ran into the next, there was a marked lack of energy in the outer regions of the crowd. What followed the climax was the anti-climax. Melbourne audiences are known for their conservatism and this frustrated Arish who implored them to dance. They wouldn’t so he asked for audience participation with singing. This did not work. The crowd thinned out towards the end. But they were entertaining and played an encore.

93.    Geoffrey O’Connor, Belles will Ring and Parades, The East Brunswick Club 4/6/2010.

I thought Geoffrey O’Connor meant just that, but it included a blonde Jessica Says. Fortunately they make a great duo, they’re both so delicate with an indie nerd sensibility it works! But his songs really shone when he was joined on stage by a drummer and bassist. That kid can write!

Belles Will Ring looked the part; great cowboy shirts, good looking, rock posturing, good maraca action. Missing one key ingredient: good songs. It’s not often I’d walk out after 3 songs, but they didn’t have the pull to keep this audience member standing for any longer.

So Parades turned out to be a very pleasant surprise – not simply because the other band was so bad. They had Interesting beats, great guitar moments, really good vocals and effects. Good songs, good build ups, good lengths to their songs, a horn player. They didn’t look as beautiful as the other band but what they lacked in model appearances, they compensated with substance. I was suitably impressed and I’d see them again.

94.    The Sweethearts Soul A Go Go 5/6/10

Can I count this as a gig? The Sweethearts is a gigantic girl group/band who played at Soul A Go Go. All girls are 16, and they played a number of soul covers. I expected I’d hate this completely but they were good in the entertaining sense.

95.    Alex Burn’s Adventures in Paradise Café in Federation Square 6/6/10

Adventures in Paradise are  a 3 piece band, consisting of double bass, guitar and lapsteel. They play covers and are delightful. I expected to hate it, but

Alex Burns is an awesome lap steel guitar player and I just adored it. My only criticism is that his British Blues voice does not suit the softness of Hawaiian music at all.

96.    Litchfield Hallstars Clare Castle 6/6/2010

Their last gig. Sing-along songs, mandolin, violin, lagerphone, squeezebox, double bass. Could have been good but they were out of tune.

97.    Van and Cal Walker The Standard 6/6/2010

Doing what they do. Cal had to leave by the second set to play with Go Go Sapien at The Retreat. Van stayed on and played and played and played…

98.    Store Bought Cool, Jimmy Tait & Plague Doctor The Old Bar 9/6/2010

Store Bought Cool weren’t precisely that. They had a clunky drummer,fiddle, guitars and happy vocalist singing darker edged songs. The fiddle player performed with energy and bought depth to the band. But I felt it was a difficult marriage: happy vocalist singing darker edged songs.Good moments but overall it didn’t work for me. Jimmy Tait’s songs take a slower pace. The result is more space to fill songs, especially with Retallick’s onstage vulnerability. Retallick possesses a melodic voice which packs a punch. Excellent music if it suits your mood. They deliver what their press release promises. Retallick remained on stage for Plague Doctor delivering girl vocals offsetting boy vocals. Richie gave me a long history, but the short one is this: they were a band, lost some members, were put on hold, gained some members and are a new band. Plague Doctor are entertaining, mostly because of its commanding frontman[who performs ludicrous lyrics with amazing conviction], but also because they have good songs. They remind me of Nick Cave, a little Smiths, a touch of the Cramps, and then they’ve got their own thing going on. At one stage they were performing a song about the end of the world and sang about Robots taking over. Another moment they were singing about science fiction, and shredding trash literature, distributing it in the air like tickertape. Bluesy, rocky but also very off the wall and funny. I’d definitely see them again!

100.Los Impenetrables Bebida 10/6/2010

I went to this following the reopening of the Tote, with its old school rock crowd: the who’s who of the Melbourne music underbelly in 2010. I’d planned to see The Eagle and The Worm, but got sick of being a scenester, I fled. Perhaps afraid of the social interactions, opting for the comfort of a cover band. Los Impenetrables were clunky but highly enjoyable and threw in a number of country tunes. I just adored them and so too did the old lady and what looked like her niece. Matt enjoyed them too, comparing them to Pink Martini – maybe a boring album, but very good ambiance music. Afterwards I thanked the band, and told them my friend was a convert. I was asked are you? I said “Of Course!

101.Ceasar Cisco The Rainbow 11/6/2010.

White man blues. Absolutely awful.

102. Jody Galvin and The Tenderhearts The Caringbush 13/6/2010

Jody Galvin’s comedic brand of pop country. Monica Weightman-less, but fortunately accompanied by Garrett Costigan on pedal steel. Cassie remarked on bass players pint holder.

103. Collard Greens and Gravy The Rainbow  13/6/2010

Decent white-man blues with a dirty growl. Good background music attracting a middle-aged blues audience. All it needs is a bowl of gumbo.

104. Chelsea Drugstore Labour in Vain  13/6/2010

Alt country, did covers, featured a pedal steel and suitable Sunday arvo music.

105. Adventures in Paradise Bertha Brown  13/6/2010

Great venue, but the crowd of transients are there for anything but the music. This time, Adventures in Paradise included a ukulele player, and garish Hawaiian shirts. By gosh I just adore this band. Great musos playing that old time Hawaiian music.

106. Mini Bikes The Standard 13/6/2010

So this is Marcel Borrack’s band but just who is Marcel Borrack? Cassie and I didn’t know, but it seems everybody else does. I just adored their alt-country meets pop music. So easy to listen to, perfect with a beer, and just fine tunes, including Marcel Borrack’s continuing lead breaks. I adored this group.

107. Peep Tempel & Toot Toot Toots The Old Bar  13/6/2010

On this day we did country, blues, alt country, Hawaiian and more alt country meets pop. So it was only natural we listen to rock to end the evening. Peep Tempel are a two piece bluesy rock outfit who quite simply rock. I didn’t think I ‘d like them but their performance was mesmerising. They had bogan intensity and covered a Lobby Llloyd track.  Nice work Peep Tempel. Toot Toot Toots were a party band. They had shouty songs, encouraging sing along,  a horn section, go-go dancers. Their best songs were their jug styled country songs that made you want to slap your thigh to the beat. They were good and especially good for the night, given that Monday is a Queens Birthday Holiday.

108. Steph Brett, Kirsten Verwood & Plague Doctor The Old Bar 16/6/2010

Both Step Brett and Kirsten Verwood emanate vulnerability on stage, but the execution of their material was expressed in markedly different ways. Both talented singer/songwriters, the former gave a warm and inviting performance, and the latter gave a defensive performance. Steph Brett has a melodic, jazzy voice that wafts beautifully against her bluesy guitar. Entertaining, commanding, charming, she really does have an engaging presence that makes her personality likeable, and this matches her music ability. Contrast this to Kirsten Verwood who has a darker, melancholy sound. She’s got a great voice but her music does not take you on the journey that Brett does. Rather it stays in the one place, albeit, it’s a strong launching place it goes nowhere. This is exacerbated by the absence of likable on stage personality that Brett radiates. A little bit of maturity and a little less of the prima donna and I’m sure she’s got something worth more than a support act. It will just take a little bit of time. In any case, they were both supporting Plague Doctor. It was the second time I’d seen them and I was not let down. They are fun. They are funny. They’ve got great songs. Great musicians. Tim Molloy has a commanding stage presence. Sara Retallick is a brilliant offside and to me, the band can do great things.

109. Itchy Fingers and Wanda Jackson The Corner Hotel 18/6/2010

Following the live to air from the crazy fun of the Drab Doo Riffs, I should have been psyched to see almost legendary and the very influential Wanda Jackson. Itchy Fingers, a rockabilly band full of middle aged competent musicians played support. They were joined by Andrew King who played keyboard, and wore a matching keyboard yoke shirt.  Richie 1250 played the DJ support, as Rhonda and I got curry, and after the wait, itchy Fingers reappeared on stage along with pianist and MC/pianist Andrew King who introduced Wanda Jackson. She came out in a red fringed outfit, bright lippy, teased up black hair coated in hairspray and large diamonte earrings. Wanda is an image of glamour. But it’s not all about the look. The sound matters, and Wanda smashes through her songs. She’s still got her shrill voice, able to cut through songs. She worked through material chronologically [her crossover from country to rock; first number 1 – Fujiyama], as she did last time, sang some Elvis songs, and added new songs she’d recorded with Jack White [covers to be released in September]. I heard complaints that she was too straight laced, but she’s a performer, with a well drilled act. So what if it’s formatted? She’s engaging, the crowd loved her, especially her country music. The lady from Oklahoma, really impressed, leaving behind a crowd of adoring fans!

110. Silo Labour In Vain 20/6/2010

Prog rock with a lapstring guitar. Drumming by a closed eyes Michael Minutoli.

111. Heather Stewart and Brad Martin The Rainbow Hotel, 20/6/2010.

I’d met Coral and Charlotte at Labour In Vain, and they moved across to The Rainbow to see Van and Cal Walker. I came with them.  Brad Martin is a bearded and fiery hairy singer songwriter, and Heather Stewart is a fiddle player. As far as songs go they were pretty run of the mill, but Stewarts fiddle playing added another warm dimension to the songs, akin to switching a light on.  Really enjoyable and great for background music.

112. Alex Chilton Tribute Yah Yahs 20/6/2010.

The Chromenips kicked off the tribute with a cover of the Replacements song Alex Chilton. It was OK, but I guess, it was just a warm up for what was to come. It was a star studded line up of Melbourne musicians performing Alex Chilton and Big Star songs. Then came The Letter. Highlights: Spencer P Jones; James McCann  and Henry Wagons doing the more psychedelic trip esque and lyrically ludicrous songs. Jordie Lane did a cover of thirteen. Lowlight: Some guy [I’m not sure who] massacred I’m in Love with A girl.  Downhills Home did a nice job. Tim Rodgers did a funny song and accompanied it with equally cheesy dance moves on “what’s your sign girl?” Joel Silbersher and Liz Stringer performed with gusto. The Walkers did too.  Although there were breaks between songs, it was a well organized night, with excellent execution. A great and fun one-off event.

113. Ryan Sterling and the Sister City and Dom and the Deadbeats The Standard 23/6/2010

Ryan Sterling is a pop singer, and has a pop band with moments of country – this possibly has to do with the mandolin. Yes, the mandolin was a nice little touch, they make toe tapping music, but for me, there’s nothing to write home about, although they’re lyrically relevant, singing about being 31 today and 16 tomorrow. Dom and the Deadbeats have a catchy name, and do their brand of slow bluesy rock. To me it translates into white man blues and didn’t really catch me. Maybe they’d suit The Rainbow?

114. Minibikes and The Level Spirits The Retreat 24/6/2010

Following ‘A Drink for Julia’ at The Tote, I met up with Cassie and Ness to see for sure if The Minibikes were any good. Turns out they are. Highly enjoyable. Good songs. But we still don’t know who Marcel Borrack is. The Level Spirits – I knew nothing about them, but later recalled singer Molly works at The Gem. They had a double bass which is a plus, a middle aged quiffed man playing guitar and a hot panted lead singer. I stayed for two songs before I knew it was time to leave.

115 The Twerps and Beaches Workers Club 25/6/2010

Rats! I missed School Of Radiant Living, but I got my fix of indie guitar bliss, first with The Twerps. Young kids, playing jangly distorted indie pop with fuzzy guitar licks. Cute, twee, lead singer hidden behind his bobbed hair. I liked them. They were followed by indie darlings and all girl group Beaches. Beaches have infectious guitar moments, and excellent build ups. I liked it, even if I was surrounded by people almost half my age!

116. If these hands could separate the Sky The Old Bar 26/6/2010

Indie bland that failed to hold my attention.

117. Van and Cal Walker with Liz Stringer on Banjo Labour in Vain 27/6/2010

After community cup Cassie and I managed to catch the second set. On a cold winters night, Van and Cal Walker did what they did to a very receptive audience at LIV with Liz Stringer on Banjo. A really good set. Possibly the best I’ve seen them play and it’s all due to the other factors: the crowd; the night; the audience.

118. Go Go Sapien Yah Yahs 27/6/2010

Go Go Sapien are a funny band. They have a different outfit, more ludicrous each time I see them. Tonight it was white with silver and black sequins. Their lyrics are funny, ludicrous and  they’ve got some good songs. Emily makes an excellent centre for the band. Love the weird sci-fi sounds. Here we met Marcus who just arrived from Canada today. He liked live music, so I took him up to the Old Bar, whilst Cassie called it a night.

119. Yis and Toot Toot Toots The Old Bar 26/6/2010

Yis played blistering indie rock in the style of Sonic Youth. They’re not quite there but their last song was very strong. One to watch. Toot Toot Toots have a hint of ludicrous-ness about them which I don’t find endearing. I left and wished Marcus a nice time in Australia.

120. Matt Grimm and Eaten by Dogs The Old Bar 29/6/2010

Matt Grimm did a bluesy countrified solo set. Followed by adoring fans, he has a booming voice with a strong American accent. But his banter is possibly the most charming thing about him. He talked about his love for his brother and his mates. Eaten by Dogs play to the slow, cold Tuesday night pace. A three piece that focuses on the singer. They didn't capture me, possibly because their songs just did not ring true. The night was made good with the presence of Cassie and Annie. Made even better after meeting Jessie, Madi and Sabrina. It was Sabrina's 21st birthday. They’d eaten bogan burgers at the Napier, and then went to the Labour to drink dark ales in order to win Drones Tix! They’re girls after my own heart.

121. The Bowers Duo The Standard 30/6/2010

The girls who I went with  have a thing for a guy called Liam?

122. Sunny the Masogopher, Mass Suicide Cult & Plague Doctor The Old Bar 30/6/2010

Here’s something else. Sunny does tricks. He was backed by his band Loveless Marriage featuring Sara Retallick, but mainly he did tricks; he claimed it was Magician meets Philosopher hence Masogopher. It was novel and fun, and I still wonder how he made it all happen. Mass Cult Suicide do straight up rock, and have a girl guitarist who can play awesome licks. I still didn’t really love it. Plague Doctor on the other hand rock my world. Although the mix was too loud for the PA system, for me, Plague Doctor have it all. They’re funny, have great songs, excellent stage presence, and they bought it home for me.

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