Saturday, July 2, 2011

July 2011 gigs

100. Smoke Signal & Krakatoa The Old Bar 1/7/2011
From what I hear, Smoke Signal are a new band, made up from people in other bands. The lead singer multi tasks on the synth and barks into the mic using what appears to be all his power reserves. There’s a phat guitar sound, it gets a bit foot to the floor and I’m thinking this is a boys band. Later I’m told that sound is defined as stoner rock. Then the unexpected: during their second last song I witness atmospheric Enya moments but before you get stuck into that comfortable lull, they build and build it – and it’s a return to rocking out. Although only new, an area of strength is their ability create contrast within their set. Krakatoa are a three piece instrumental group, featuring a Yahama organ, drums, and a guy on the ground looking serious twisting knobs and so forth. It’s almost like listening to the soundtrack of a nature documentary. In their serious moments, it sounds a little bit churchy thanks to the organ, and at times, the vibe it created felt like I was at a recital rather than a gig. So it’s not exactly ‘TGIF’ stuff, but makes a change from everything else out there.

101. Murdered Birds and Bits of Shit The Tote Front Bar 2/7/2011
When I first saw Pops and the Murdered Birds, they were a four piece. This afternoon, they’ve shed their pedal player, and another member to present as a duo ‘Murdered Birds’– guitar and mando. Don’t let the size of this act put you off. They’ve still got the same intensity, and raw punk spirit, but they play country brothers style music. Bits of Shit are a 4 piece rock band who also possess a raw punk rock spirit. Guitar, bass and drums, then a ludicrous screamy singer, in a no sleeved denim jacket - the rear of which reads “Bits of Shit… Melbourne”. Props to the lead singer who performs manically. Crazy eyes, pointing fingers, air boxing, gratuitous rock posturing, hand puppets, jump lead nunchukkas, 3 mics for one mouth, spitting whiskey up to shower down beneath him. It’s all in the name of putting on an entertaining performance. The age range of the players in the band seems broad spanning, but they’ve got something that ties it all together- a sense of fun. They’re serious about their sound, but don’t take themselves too seriously. They play the Marquis tomorrow and have the 5pm Saturday residency at The Tote for the month. Next week they play with the so-called “best band in Melbourne”, Total Control.


102. Terry McCarthy Special and Bits of Shit, Marquis of Lorne 3/7/2011
The Terry McCarthy Special filled the time with their slow grooves that were interrupted by polka, country and reggae. They're probably great guys but it's not for me. Bits of Shit did more of the same as yesterday, only in a different space. I'm still laughing and I still like them.

103. The Decoys The Standard 3/7/2011
Rockabilly & pop 4 piece are tonight a 3 piece. They garnered support from their friends at the front, but struggled to hold the attention of the rest of the room. They're probably great guys but it's not for me.

104. Lashes to Lashes Bar Open 3/7/2011
Keyboard playing singer with huge voice channeling all of her might and emotion into the art of performance, crazy make up, lace top with a band. A little bit Tori Amos, a little bit Gaga… and then there was a band attached. Good to see the young ones having a go. They're probably great kids but it's not for me.

105. Matt Bailey, Jimmy Tait, Graveyard Train Old Bar 6/7/2011
Although I was present, I didn't witness too much of this gig, except to say it was a full house around 9ish. Matt Bailey and Jimmy Tait are both wintry acts, introspective, thoughful, vulnerable but not for me in my state of mind. My Irish friends are leaving town but before they do I wanted them to experience a North Melbourne 'novelty' band who cut their teeth in these Fitzroy spaces to go on to sell out the Corner, play festivals, surprising and delighting audiences everywhere.... Graveyard train: a bunch of guys, each play an instrument, guitar, banjo, washboard, double bass, chains and a hammer plus one drummer from Brothers Grimm. Playing songs about death, ghosts, ghouls and so on, in a country fashion. They're part bush band, part mens choir, really upbeat, have some good slow songs. By description - it doesn't sound that great, but they're charming and ludicrous. It's sing-along - boozing music, perfect for a Sunday night. I hope they go onto do great things and write awesome songs- because they seem like nice, humble people, but just in case, go out and witness it before the novelty fanfare fades.

Hear Jimmy Tait

106. Los Dominados Idgaff 8/7/2011
A 4 piece rock and pop band featuring songs with downbeat sensibilities eg., love turned bad, love unrequited, and so on. Although some songs don’t seem fully formed, others really work. Beneath the thematic murk, this band has a sense of fun. Helen Cattanach, leads the band scream singing and wailing: A show of what kind of front woman she is, revealing how under-utilised she is as the bassist in Spencer P Jones’ Escape Committee. This evening she played, guitar, and drums on the final number. They might not set your world on fire, but there’s something good, honest and real about this act.

107. Fever Artiste The Grace Darling 8/7/2011
They’re young, they’re cute, they’ve got a look. Tonight, 5 piece, Fever Artiste are launching their EP Miami Girls. I've never heard of them, but strangely I have. Dare I say it: they emanate the vibe of boys from the ‘burbs. And they aim to look and sound like younger copies of The Strokes meets one member of The Hives. But it must be said their songs aren’t as good as their influences. Neither is their stagecraft: the onstage hip flask swigging lead singer renders false, and his dramatic freeze frames seem contrived, ineffective and lazy. But what I like about this is they’re young kinds having a go. What I’d really like to see is that they find their own way musically.

108. Bits of Shit The Tote 9/7/2011
Bits of Shit are fast becoming my favourite band in town. Tonight it was more of the same minus the jumpleads, except this time they had a lagerphone, and a large hand painted sign indicating their clubhouse rules. Bless!

109. Super Wild Horses and Ty Segall The Tote 9/7/2011
Garage: it’s a word that bandied about so much, and it was the theme tonight, drawing in the DIY garage rock kid crowd: hipsters, music nerds and a few oldies. Super Wild Horses are Super cool DIY garage rock chicks that screech to the minimal sound of guitar and drums. Ty Segall was the talk of the town – very cool three piece from San Francisco – featuring a lady drummer and the bassist from Wavves?[well that’s what some guy said], and the 23 year old Ty Segall song writing, performer. Sold out and so many tall young people made it hard to see, but it didn’t really matter, because Ty Segall has a cool sound, oh so now, with good songs, making this cynic sit up and take notice. The live experience proved Ty Segall lives up to the hype.

Listen to Ty Segall in psych mode

110. BJ Morriszonkle The Old Bar 11/7/2011
Never before have I witnessed the outlandish audacity that is BJ Morriszonkle in the Melbourne music scene. The first song I caught was a gaudy, garish theme park-esque tune circa 1900, blaring from what seems to be his complete sound system. BJ Morriszonkle is a one man band featuring keys, sound effects, drums. Tonight his set was full of contrast ranging from drama, mystery, and downright horror, showtunes, through to perfect adult contemporary pop introspection. He’s got a playful approach to song conventions, and his songs are so well constructed, teamed with his crooning voice, they really take flight. He finishes the set with a delightful tip toe through romanticism. If I need someone to write a score, I’d pick him in a flash. BJ Morriszonkle is the perfect act to see if you need you’re musically bored. He’s playing next Monday July 18th and the 25th for free at The Old Bar.

111. Bits of Shit The Tote 16/7/2011
Consistently ridiculous, but still good it was yet more fun with BOS and this time they had a plush rodent toy which got its fair share of lovin’.

112. Juju's birthday Shindig The Bendigo 16/7/2011
A private birthday party themed on The Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo saw a cavalcade of local music scene stars come out and cover the album. The house band AKA The Rhinestone Allstars: featured Peter and Andy Baylor, Steve Wood, Timothy Deane on keys, Lucky Oceans on Pedal, Patrick Bourke on Bass and more. The stage was filled with music and lyrics strewn everywhere, this was a band that apparently hadn’t rehearsed together, and pulled it together on the night with star singers who came up and sang a song. This included Tim Rodgers, Dave Larkin, Ben Salter and more! And it was all for a lady named Juju. As a gig, it was a unique evening, but what seemed to be apparent, is the caliber of the talent seemed to intimidate some of the singers on the bill. The best performances were those artists who failed to succumb their fears, and just let the songs take over.
The highlights were:
Suzannah Espie - just another shining example how she’s got real talent, real sass and that she’s just oh so able!
Kill Devil Hills had an awesome fiddle player and the pedal and fiddle combination – what can I say? It kills me.
When called up onto the stage, the Peter Baylor asked the crowd to “peel” Joel Silbersher “off the floor”. He made his own way up to the stage complete with drunken swagger, told the audience that he could do it, then then proceeded to tear it up on ‘Life in Prison’. As soon as the microphone was in front of his mouth and he was awash with spotlight he owned it.
A special mention goes out to Sam Wass and Ben Blakeney who sang the Louvin brothers classic The Christian life, and the Peter Baylor and Lucky Oceans combination - just as pedal/fiddle kills me, guitar and pedal is bloody beautiful.

113. Andrew Rice and Michael McManus, Marquis of Lorne 17/7/2011
Guitar playing duo playing Guttersnipes songs acoustically. Not my bag at all, but there were an audience of appreciators.

114. Kim Salmon The Standard 17/7/2011
Australian rock legend traverses through his broad and deep catalogue, crossing genres and periods to deliver at times an abrasive performance that will not lull you into slumber. If you’re a fan, you should come and witness this and bring your $$$ to buy a CD directly from the artist.

115. Mikelangelo and the Tin Star, Old Bar 17/7/2011
After avoiding the $7.00 cover charge for 2 weeks, a decision is made to enter. I’d seen Mikelangelo before – it was a tad tedious – see Dias De Los Muertos last year. Background: Mikelangelo is kind of like a corny Nudie Suit-esque wearing, quiff sporting big guy with a little bit Elvis swagger and showy banter. Yes he looks the part, and relies heavily on his personality to charm. But The Tin Star are a solid band, enhancing the entire act. Felix on guitar is an excellent addition, and his exciting talent means the focus is shared. This changes the dynamic catapulting Mikelangelo from me-centric slightly anxious performer on stage, to one simple thing: A very good party band.

116. Boomgates, My Disco and Tumbleweed, Thornbury Theatre 21/7/2011
Boomgates do that boy girl indie pop thing, updated for the DIY arty punk set [since the band features members from the Twerps, ECSR, Dick Diver, etc]. There's a lot to like about their accessible and infectious sound, but it's not amazing: just good for the moment. My Disco have a squealing guitar, precision drumming, and bass so loud you can feel your eardrums dislodging. Together they play austere and arty post punk thing, sometimes with with tribal rhythms. It's so loud, it's at time captivating. But in sum, it's the soundtrack to killing a monkey and my ears hurt just as much afterwards due to the post gig Tinitus. Something strange happened at this gig. There seemed to be two separate audiences: people to see Boomgates and My Disco, and people to see Tumbleweed. The former tended to be younger and hipster esque. The latter were old dudes from the 'burbs who had the night off from their commitments.Interestingly as one audience disappeared, it was replaced by the other. Tumbleweed were a 90's Wollongong band of long haired dudes who played stoner rock. In 2011 they still do the same thing, except there's less hair involved. They put a lot into their performance, played well together, they played the hits for their fans, and no doubt, pleasing them.

Here's some tips for any bands that may be involved in a radio outside broadcast:

Know who your audience is and know where you're broadcasting to - make sure you're briefed beforehand
If there are silences, fill the gaps by talking but...
Don't talk over the top of each other.


Say the name of the station & repeat
Say the name of your band & repeat just in case listeners didn't get it before

117. Ali E Builders Arms 23/7/2011
Cool blonde rock chick who played guitar and sang, reminiscent of an Adalita thing.

118. Bits of Shit The Tote 23/7/2011
BOS are consistently Bits of Shit, and this time the singer threw stinky boots at the audience and used Catholic paraphernalia – the collection thing and the cross as his novel props.

119. Wrong Turn, Swedish Magazines, Harvest Smoke Yah Yahs 23/7/2011
Harvest Smoke launched their album and told the audience to “buy our album motherfuckas”. Despite the banter, they put in a good performance as did their supports.

120. BJ Morriszonkle, The Gooch Palms, Delaney Davidson with Chet and Reverend Beatman Northcote Social Club 28/7/2011
With keys, drums and effects, BJ Morriszonkle did his kooky carnival meets B-Grade horror one man band thing, seemingly slightly unnerved by the crowd, but nonetheless, he was still good. I don’t think he’s self consciously odd, he’s just odd.

The Gooch Palms are a two piece hailing from Sydney, who do what appears to be performance punk. It’s a boy/girl act with a hint of comedy but it’s clear they’re serious about trying to get into your head and shake the complacency and conservatism out of their audience. This is demonstrated by a number of things:
Costume: the male singer/guitarist wore double denim consisting of a sleeveless denim vest & skin tight cut offs.
Nudity: Fortuntely his cut-offs were stretchy, and he was able to show the audience he had balls. He flashed his arse again, and again, showing us the degree to which the hair covers his privates.
Mic Technique: He did mic tricks: hitting his head, sticking it in his pants and sucking it like a cock, he scratched the mic up and down his chest which seemed to be an accidental act of self mutilation: there were bloody scratches.
Eye Contact: Jumping up, and landing on his knees, he switched from crazy eyes to happy face in the same lyric.
Refreshment: Then the lead singer, breaks into the audience, spits beer out onto those closest to the stage, a few times.

Their best song was the one gal sung; an all out punky garage pop song. I left feeling a good band doesn’t have to rely on gimmicks. Instead they rely on their sound. But although the Gooch Palms are slightly terrifying and gimmicked to the hilt, you gotta admire their sense of fun.

With his face covered in talcum powder tonight, Delaney Davidson is white guy who plays blues guitar using loop pedals, and sings into a harp mic. When others try to do this, I immediately turn away but when Davidson does it, I dig it. He is a one man band from Christchurch. Tonight he was playing with another one man band – The sacrilegious story-teller Reverend Beatman a Swiss man known for his many things like this, this & many other things. Having bought a suitcase of merch, Beatman entertained on guitar and drums with his ludicrous songs with equally ludicrous lyrics about incest or love lost, etc. But at heart he was a great storyteller who performed using his gravelly voice, his facial expressions, his instruments, and at times, he displayed some excellent mime work too. Tonight’s headliners were tag teaming, when DD did a song, Beatman sat patiently, smiling politely at the audience. When Beatman played a song, DD backed him up instrumentally. Nonetheless, the highlights were definitely when they worked together-particularly on Blue Suede Shoes, the mime. The other highlight was Beatman’s 10 year old son, blonde Chet, bleary eyed, and on stage singing a song. Was it cruel to wake him from slumber to perform on stage? Perhaps, but the kid is a natural. It was an enjoyable show. They play together Saturday 20th July at The Old Bar.

Photo by Greg Tippett of Uplate

121. Pulp, Festival Hall 30/7/2011
The last time Pulp played in Melbourne was the 27th of Sept 1998. I missed it, and ever since, I’d regretted it. Absolutely nothing was going to stop me from seeing Sheffield band, Pulp tonight. Upon arrival at Festival Hall, we were greeted by a packed venue and a queue for the bar that almost met the opposite side of the room. But then the light show started. It helped build anticipation to the point where it was annoying, there was P U L P in lights, smoke machines, strobe & laser lights. Tonight was a show and needless to say, I stood gawping… After all it’s Pulp.... What I loved about Pulp as a teenager was their unabashed epic brand of melodramatic pop, their ordinary tales & their twisted lyrics. Now, twice that age, this still holds true. In my mind, Pulp are great: if you don’t get the lyrics you can enjoy the songs, and if you don’t enjoy the songs, you can laugh along with the lyrics. After seeing them Jarvis is my Elvis. He had clever segues between banter to the next song. He had the moves, using his signature poses and funny silhouettes, he worked the stage, and demonstrated how to be the world’s coolest outsider. I loved this gig, loved it and can’t really comment any more, but here’s the set list.

1. Do you Remember The First Time?
2. Joyriders
3. Bad Cover Version
4. Pencil Skirt
5. Something Changed
6. Disco 2000
7. Sorted for E’s & Whizz
8. F.E.E.L.I.N.G. C.A.L.L.E.D. L.O.V.E.
9. I Spy
10. Babies
11. Underwear
12. This is Hardcore
13. The Fear
14. Sunrise
15. Bar Italia
16. Common People
17. Microphone
18. Party Hard
19. Misshapes

Pulp in 2011 Melbourne are Nick Banks, Jarvis Cocker, Candida Doyle, Steve MacKey, Mark Webber and another guy who’s name I did not catch – Isaacsson or something like that… And Daisy on the Violin or Viola.

122. Bits of Shit The Tote 30/7/2011
Bits of Shit do it again, this time with Binoculars. An entertaining punk band featuring the more mature Australian gent doing immature things, amplified.

123. Mark Lanegan Cherry Bar 31/7/2011
The first time I saw Mark Lanegan was a BDO in the 90’s, and he was singing in the Screaming Trees. Some over-zealous punter hit him in the eye with a 20 cent piece. He stormed off stage, never to return. They had just begun their set. So with a reputation that proceeds him, in 2011, Mark Lanegan looks like one mean Muthafucka straight out of prison, with his tattooed knuckles, thick neck, black baseball cap worn backwards, black western shirt, squinty beady eyes, and an overall surly look on his weathered face. But behind the fa├žade is a true talent who has depth and darkness and genuine beauty. His instrument? His voice. Even with initial amplification problems, he’s got a gravelly yet rich velvety voice took the audience to another place. Since it wasn’t loud, the audience adjusted, being quiet. No-one wanted to miss a second. When singing it’s as if he’s blocking out any disruptions: eyes closed. I admit I don’t really know any of his songs, and although I’ve got some of his recordings, in the flesh, this guy is awesome, and I envy those who have tickets to see him and ex Belle and Sebastian singer, Isobell Campbell this week at their two sold out shows. My song highlights tonight: The Beast in Me and On Jesus’ Program. He was accompanied by Jeff Fielder on guitar who took the liberty to photograph the audience after the show. Mark was doing what all artists should do: record signing.

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