|The first band I saw in 2012 - The Whipped Cream Chargers supporting Hanni El Khatib|
|Hanni El Khatib|
On paper Hanni El Khatib sounds interesting: Californian with a Palestinian/Filipino background who plays guitar and sings [garage and doo wop I was told], backed by a drummer. But the live experience was a let down. It was really just a guy with a guitar singing with a drummer which was far less interesting than other acts of the same ilk. A lack of energy from the artist and the crowd, meant I lacked attention span.
2. Facetime, The Tote 3/1/2012
5 Young kids playing shoegaze with twangy guitars, all squeezed into the Tote front bar attracts an intersted crowd of youngsters. They're supporting The Murlocs.
3. Chris Russell's Chicken Walk The Standard 4/1/2012
|Chris Russell's Chicken Walk|
4. No Zu, The Sand Pebbles, The Old Bar 5/1/2012
Percussion, loads of it. A sassy vocalist who bounces her vocals around. Jazzy horn sounds. Keys filling in the gaps. No Zu are a high energy, youthful, positive vibe party or outdoor summer festival type of band. There's lots of members all working towards creating that feel. They've got good arrangements, and although it's not really my bag, I can say No Zu are a good band, effectively spreading the message: that semi-circle area at the front of the stage where no-one usually stands is occupied by dancers.
Although they've existed since 2001, I've never seen The Sand Pebbles. But after experiencing them, I'd say they're a twangy poppy sounding band with 2 singers and 3 guitars that play different sounds, creating texture, and giving their sound some depth. They're a tight 5 piece and I can see why they've got a good reputation.
5.Wally Corker's Drunk Arsed Band, Jemma & The Wise Young Ambitious Men, The Tote 8/1/2012
Wally Corker’s Drunk Arsed band a rollickin’ good front bar band playing rootsy rock. Jemma is a singer with a pure and honest voice [well suited to country] & has personality to boot which matches her sense of humour. She’s backed by a talented band. Together they play country standards in the front bar.
6. Bad Taste, Mesa Cosa, The Workers Club 9/1/2012
7. The Bluebottles, Meet Me At Mikes, 9/1/2012
8. The Murlocs, The Tote 10/1/2012
I’m reading this book and I learned that in the 1950’s, white boys playing R & B was called rock and roll. In the 1960’s, white boys playing R & B in their garages across small town USA, was called garage rock. So in 2012, garage rock is all the rage, a style done by so many before. Geelong band, The Murlocs continue the tradition. They play garage rock like you’ve heard it before, but their sound is instantly appealing, and the powerful vocal attack of the lead singer/harp player absolutely tears through songs. Go and see the Murlocs. They’re young, they’re good at what they do. They play the Tuesday residency at The Tote, and it’s free in January.
9. Bleeding Knees Club, Fed Square 12/1/2012
Cute 3 piece garage style band from Brisbane, with a very smiley drummer. They have a bunch of soundalike songs, with a couple of big hits that the crowd knows and loves. But to have maximum impact, they need to be blast your head off loud. And they weren't. If I was a teenager, I would have loved this, but having been exposed to other bands of a similar sound with better songs, and better presence, BKC just like a watered down, teen pop extravaganza - and that's great for teens.
10.Hammocks and Honey, Cant, Buffalo Club 13/1/2012
|Hammocks and Honey|
|Cant - Photo by G. Tippett|
Brooklyn's Cant start off with electro funk fusion vibes meets indie introspection, not afraid to turn it up and rock out. Then it moves to more indie balladry that relies on light and shade, that eventually build up into epic songs. Loudness, vocals effects, beyond genre exploration. On paper, it's all very interesting. The crowd nods their heads in approval of the cerebral indie sounds, but I find it very underwhelming. Now for the Buffalo Club: what a place! A Grand Lodge Hall for men, based on The Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes (RAOB). The website says in the 1950's it became an over 25's dance club, but this finished up by the 1970's. An excellent intimate venue, with flavoured water for teetotallers, little booth seating and tiled tables for intimate chats, mirror ball, a picture of the Queen, and flags that demonstrate the RAOB's reach. Best intimate venue in Melbourne CBD.
11. Stella Angelico, Fitzroy Gardens, Melbourne, 14/1/2012
|Stella Angelico wears gold pants better than anyone I know|
Stella Angelico is a soulful torch singer with style and sass. I don't know where her conviction comes from but it's spot on, even if she is playing in the park, in broad daylight in front of children. Call it professionalism. If you thought the current scene in Melbourne lacks this think again!
12. Sugar Mountain, The Forum Theatre, Melbourne, 14/1/2012
Sugar Mountain was a mini festival that took over Melbourne's most beautiful theatre; The Forum. Then the artists involved made it even more beautiful with projections, arty signage, installations and more.The music was programmed in such a way, where no act was alike, but there's was always something different on. And if you didn't like what you were seeing, you just had to wait 10-20 minutes for something else interesting was happening.
|Fox and Sui|
The first act I caught was Fox and Sui, a boy girl duo. The girl plays bass, and the boy plays synth and beats. They both look about 16, they've got delightfully innocent sounding vocals and are a really pleasurable act to witness.
|Have only one drummer|
Absolute Boys features reverby vocals and tinny, noisy guitar, from where I was sitting - the front row. Moving up to the top of the summit, it's a more coherent sounding act. Sparse vocals, tribal beats but the tinny guitar works so much better from afar.
Straight Arrows are out of tune, really loud and very messy and it all works in the right ways. That's because they're playing garage punk, and this slots into the line up well due to the contrast. The grit is refreshing amongst the sublime beauty of the place.
Julianna Barwick loops her vocals live using just her voice or some instruments, her parts are layered. It's like listening to madrigals ; but the 2012 version. It's high brow indie art. Worlds End Press are an all out gay dance party in Sydney in the 1980's dressed in 1990's gear from where I'm standing and it looks and sounds like a whole lot of fun.
|I couldn't catch Tune-Yards but I could catch the projection|
|Striking projections during Sun Araw & installation artist stage left.|
|San Francisco's Thee Oh Sees are not spring chickens|
|Prince Rama go from this|
|Some installation art|
|Projections during Shabazz Palaces|
|Projections behind Shabazz Palaces|
And now, a short break from the predominately white world of seeing bands in a pub, venue... These were live music performances at a community festival celebrating the lunar new year.
|Lunar New Year Nicholson Street Stage feat some poppy singer with Michael Jackson moves|
|A singing duo|
|A man plays guitar but makes it sound like some ancient stringed instrument|
|A colourful afternoon to celebrate Year of the Dragon 2012|
13. Spencer P Jones and The Escape Committee, Labour In Vain 15/1/2012
|It's unbelievable to think someone as good as SPJ plays free gigs in the front bar|
|But he does|
Spencer P Jones and The Escape Committee do it again: deliver really good pub rock songs with plenty of vinegar.
14. Dad Horse Experience, The Retreat 15/1/2012
German Banjo playing, pedal stomping[what looks like a Moog Taurus], singing one man band. Later 2 of 3 the Puta Madre Brothers joined him, and they became a 3 man band. Funny, dry banter in between songs.
15. Keith! Party Mesa Cosa, Workers Club, 16/1/2012
Keith! Party are a real life party act and they are over the top with their ridiculous rapping, streamer throwing, party popper popping, 90's club outfits, dancing members, singlets that say "I'd rather be wearing lace".... High energy, lots of audience involvement, loads of fun if you like like the worst of 1990's. Mesa Cosa also played another good set but in my mind, they were upstaged by unabashed exhuberence of Keith! Party.
16.Fraser A Gorman, The Murlocs, The Tote 17/1/2012
Fraser A Gorman is a country-ish singer with a Bob Dylan look, accompanied by twangin' guitar and fiddle/backing vocals. Good, young front bar music. The Murlocs seem to be heat affected, but that guy still has got a great voice, and it's exciting to see a good young band. Note to singer: keep your shirt on or wear singlet.
17. Full Ugly, Lower Plenty, Pop Singles Bar Open18/1/2012
Full Ugly are four boy tweens who play primitive indie pop. Lower Plenty shares the same name as one hell of a suburb. The band play introspective, gentle indie pop, with really good melodic guitar moments. A usually four piece band [but tonight there were only three] it features one guy from Deaf Wish and another guy from the UV Race/Total Control/North Wheel/Dick Diver, etc, they sell casettes for $5. Pop Singles are another sweet to listen to indie band with short songs.
18. Rich Davies The Old Bar 18/1/2012
Scottish sounding Rich Davies gives his all when singing his country-folkish songs.
19.Judy Small and Peggy Seeger, Caravan Music Club 21/1/2012
One week ago I was smack bang in the middle of a youthful cutting edge festival in town. Tonight I'm smack bang in the middle of suburbia, at The Caravan Music Club; a gorgeous intimate venue in Oakleigh, that's an RSL with RSL drink prices. Tonight, it's hosting two women folk singers, one Australian, the other from England.
|Judy Small at Caravan|
Almost 60 and a Lesbian Judy Small performs mother songs, working songs, feminist songs, soldier songs, environmental songs.... All the time telling stories, it's folk music. Honest lyricism with poignant sentiments. Judy has school teacher pronunciation, and insists on Audience Participation. She's got an old lady voice, and plays the guitar. In between she regales us with funny banter.It's not generally my bag, but if you don't like the music, surely you'll like the person.
|Peggy reading poetry|
Peggy Seeger is a would be legend in folk music. So why is she playing the Caravan Club[a gorgeous, but small venue]? Well perhaps people aren't old enough to know who she is, or what she's about. Peggy Seeger from Washington DC via England, is a folk singer/songwriter and poet, comes from a family of respected musicians. Peggy Seeger is a folkie from the 1950's and 1960's, and performs songs to tell stories, or deliver a message, usually radical or socially conscientious.
|Peggy plays guitar|
She opened her set, with a traditional song The Mountaineers Courtship playing clawhammer Banjo. The crowd sangalong, and learned the punchline. This was followed by a union song that she played on guitar. The third song was an accapella song about unemployment by Aunt Molly Jackson. Next up was John Gilbert is the Boat, a deep singalong. Then she entered the realm of love song starting with the twang ladden traditional version of Henry Lee, Peggy played banjo. This was followed by the sweet love song with a punch: You Don't Know How Lucky You Are, taken from the Almost Commercially Viable album.
She performed classic Feminist-Mother song, Lady, What do You Do All Day? followed by a song she wrote for her son when she was angry, but proud of the person he was. Then we heard about a perception of progress in song. Vignettes, a death song treating life as a journey, songs about friends, it went on and Peggy switched instruments between piano, banjo and guitar. Throughout the set, Peggy told us about her life, touring with her husband, her civil union with her partner Irene later in life, her mother who died when she was 18, and at age 60 she wrote songs for the mother she never knew. She told us that "all humans have one basic job, save the planet". Graciously, she thanked her support, the sound guy and the audience, and finished the set with a small piece by Malcom X.
Peggy is a generous peformer that views the world a certain way, and shares her perceptions through song, and she educates and passes traditions on through song. Although she may have been formally educated in music, she possesses the ability to feel a song the way the uneducated music fan may feel it. So she relates musically and it's gives not a stuffy performance but a down to earth -relatable experience. Lyrically and ideologically, she is a radical, but that's simply because we live in conservative times. Folk music is music of the people; their stories. And for Peggy, well her songs could have been written 40 years ago or yesterday but they're relevant to today. Peggy may be 77, but she's living proof that just because you're old, doesn't mean you're past it, nor does it mean to stop caring. Peggy is an authentic folk singer, and has all the spirit and conviction that anyone can hope for, and this made for a highly memorable performance.
Come back to Melbourne again Peggy, the youth of today needs you to help teach and enrich our tomorrow. She said she wasn't coming back but the youth of today can read her website: http://www.peggyseeger.com/
20. Total Control, Thee Oh Sees, The Corner Hotel, 24/1/2012
It was a week ago since I saw this, and Thee Oh Sees are pretty good and fun. That's all I can say.
21. Gonesville, The Gem 27/1/2012
Kate Jacobson of Texas Tea joins Ben Salter to play cover songs from the catalogue of Magic 1278 in the front bar. Apt act for the situation.
21.5 Kitty Daisy and Lewis, PBS radio station, 28/1/2012
22. Sun God Replica 28/1/2012
|Photo by Greg Tippett 2012|
23. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Big Day Out 29/1/2012.
It was the 20th year anniversary of the Big Day Out, and the line up didn't seem to appeal to me. I am possibly too old, or too urban. I just wanted to see how King Gizzard would be recieved by the kids. Due to the heat [35 degrees], the tent was like a sauna, but some kids dug it. And why shouldn't they? Although it's mindless fun, it's still fun. Plus it's really energetic. KGLW are an exciting act to witness.
24. Unknown Vietnamese singer and band at Footscray Lunar celebrations 29/1/2012.
|Music is everywhere in Melbourne|