Friday, March 2, 2012

March 2012 gigs

53.Clits, Bum Creek, Mole House, The Bendigo, 1/3/2012
According to the punk trajectory, Clits strike me as the kind of band that formed, then learned their instruments.  There's 1 boy singing and playing guitars, & 2 girls on drums and bass.Sparse songs, three chords, lyrics seemingly about themselves. The lead singer doesn't seem to to have the best voice tonight, but if he uses his vocals sparingly, he's got the potential to use his charisma and the presence to make it work. Their last song was their best, with some sweet indie guitar sounds.
Bum Creek has 2 people knob twiching with keyboards and includes a drummer.  They're creating atmospherics new noises. It's not something I'd chooose to watch, but rather just let it become the surroundings. Hardly acessible, but still refreshing.
Mole House are a 3 piece indie pop group- guitar, bass, drums, with two singers- boy/girl who were launching their 7" tonight.  It was slow and spacious, but I felt they  just didn't have the songs. Especially when compared to the other gig I'd been to that evening....

54.Jackals, Tyson Slithers and the Phat Chicks, The Tote 1/3/2012

The audience tonight seem to consist of many young guys say early 20's wearing hats, sporting that Australian grazier look meets punk attitude. This seems to me to be a scene looking for something darker, and deeper in their sounds.
4 piece Jackals have wild, raw, noisy, bluesy, gritty sound that's played loud, featuring clarinet and unusual guitar, with a body the width of a fretboard. Ordinarily I don't go for clarinet and unusual guitars, but the sounds they produce are compelling.  It's that sound that foreigners remark on- that makes Australian music seem exotic. It may seem like an overstatement, but I think their sound is devastatingly good. Catch them if you can.
Tyson Slithers and the Phat Chicks, have a guitar, bass & drums in addition to a spooky sounding organ. Gothic sounding, blues influenced with guitar twang.  Slithers is one of those story telling singers that looks so young but howls convincingly. I would suggest he shave his head, wear a  blue singlet, and sunglasses to shake off that fresh faced  - middle class- undergrad look. After all, image in this scene is something to be played with go on Tyson, do it.

55. Bad Aches, Bits of Shit, Midnight Woolf, The Tote  2/3/2012
3 piece all boy garage punk group Bad Aches sounded punchy but during the course of the performance it seemed they wanted to punch on, with lead singer grunting, and spitting at the drummer.  Fortunately the others laughed it off. Not their tightest set, but still awright! Bits Of Shit do it again: play the same punk set, wear their uniform, but chiefly they entertain. The lead singers stage antics are just too hilarious, as he's spitting out the lyrics, his eyes are watering, and there's slobber down his face. I love these guys, I love their music and unlike the first band, instead of fightin' they was a kissin' - literally. Making up for having a faux fight of course. Midnight Wolf are another fine band who do bluesy rock and roll, with blistering duelling guitars and they consistently deliver a good show. But Raoul tells the audience they get back what they put in. All these bands were supporting headliners Ouch! My Face, band we didn't get to see.

54 'Crystal Ballroom' featuring Ash Wednesday, Little Murders, Mick Harvey with Phill Calvert, Ron Rude, Angela Howard, The Ears, St Kilda Bowling Club 3/3/2012
Ash Wednesday and friends and a photographer
Wikipedia says Ash Wednesday is an Australian musician, who played in JAB, the Models and Einst├╝rzende Neubauten. And he played for the Crystal Ballroom reunion show, masterminded [I'm told by a guy called Rusty Teluk & executed by many others]. This was fitting given the band he was in, JAB, played the show that started it all in the Wintergarden room in the Crystal Ballroom AKA the Seaview Ballroom, AKA the Seaview Hotel AKA the Ballroom. For those unaware, this was a music venue in St Kilda in the late 70's, early 80's that was home to the punk and post punk movement in Melbourne. It attracted outsiders of all varieties, and I'm told the atmosphere was electric. Like most good venues, it had it's heyday, then closed in the mid 80's. Now, the location building has revereted back to it's original name: The George.
Little Murders and 2 photographers

From here, there's not much to review, since I was in awe of this event - really just being in the presence of these rockers, rule breakers and pack of outsiders who were almost my parents age.
Ash Wednesday was the second act on, and played electro synth pop, which had knob twitching sounds and beats.  He was backed up by another keyboardist and at times, had some backing singers. His songs were catchy and at times left field and I got the impression that what he's doing now or even if he's doing songs from back then,  he's still ahead of his time.See him this Wednesday at Bar Open.
Angela Howard

As for the rest, it's all a blur now, but Little Murders did their classic power pop which features a good guitar player. Mick Harvey[ex Boys Next Door, Birthday Party, Crime and the City Solution, Bad Seeds, Wallbangers and artist in own right] Phill Calvert [ex Birthday Party & Blue Ruin], Ron Rude, Angela Howard played 6 unreleased Rowland S Howard songs, and surley Harvey  refused to accept a complimentary introduction. The Ears were the last band we caught, as sadly we had to leave. But they were better than I expected, with  a frontman you just can't ignore.
This gig was an awesome experience, and it was a highlight to have it at St Kilda Bowls Club with it's old cupboards, pie warmer, BBQ, St Kilda crowd, gold curtains, and cheap drinks. Since I'm too young to really know what went on back in the day, it was pretty good to be part of this event, even if I was a face in the crowd. Although it'll never be the same as it was, it was ace to see the generation before you rockin' out and getting into this odd music: a reminder that live music culture is a tradition in Melbourne.
Mick Harvey, Ron Rude and Phill Calvert [behind Mick Harvey]

55.  Sounds of Polynesia, Sydney Road street party, Brunswick Music festival 4/3/2012
I assume this was held at the community stage at the Sydney Road Street festival because this was a community group from the Cook Islands. Polynesian percussion and strings- an assortment of unusual instruments making beautiful sounds, and singing too. This was different, and I loved this, even if the dancing girl in a grass skirt moving her hips, was still in Primary School.

56. Lower Plenty Post Office Hotel 4/3/2012
A band with 3 vocalists performing sweet, sweet indie pop that experiences a welcome identity crisis with scrappy moments, two guitars sounding like they're playing different songs at the same time.  It takes the sheen off the pop, and makes the whole thing sound a whole lot more interesting.

57.Spencer P Jones & The Black Lips The Tote 6/3/2012
An unorthodox state of affairs: there's a full house at the Tote on a Tuesday night, and the normally folded armed Melbourne crowd are moving to the sounds. The Black Lips play with their brand of atmospheric poppy garage, girl group styled rock'n'roll. There's a lot of fans singing along, and getting into it. It could have to do with the pummelled drums, or the soaring guitar. Soundwise they're likeable. Unfortunately I got to the stage too late to secure a good viewing spot, so I could only see some guy with a painted face wearing a Beanie intermittently. I didn't know what instrument he played, but I didn't care either because the band sounded so tight. The standout moments were lead guitar parts, especially on Dumpster Diving, and that exotic 60's guitar sound. Melbourne rocker Spencer P Jones played support doing a selection of his songs, accompanied only by his guitar, and mentioned he'd given up drinking before knocking back a Tequila. Not his best performance as he seemed to struggle with the singing but still mighty fine.

Skimming the surface: that's what it's called when you see 3 gigs in a night. It's good because you get a clear idea of what a bands doing, however it's not so good because it can lead to premature decision making and uneccessary harsh judgements.

58. Southpaw and Daydream Arcade, The Evelyn, 7/3/2012
 Southpaw does dense textured indie pop, has three guitars, one bass, and drums. 2 of the members sung.  Their final song was about being boys of Old Fitzroy, which induced a cynical reaction since Fitzroy of today is hardly Old Fitzroy. It's not my bag but they can play.
Daydream Arcade have scored the residency for the month. They're, young , there's lots of them and they seem to have oodles of energy for their brand of electro disco influenced rock pop. When it comes to Disco I like it full of garish style and wit, so I was really hoping for this to shine through. Instead,  I felt the band lacked this, but I can really hear how this sound fits in with what's played on JJJ. Good on the kids for having a crack, but for me it didn't appeal. All the best to them.

59.Hinterlandt and Ash Wednesday Bar Open 7/3/2012

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday has a music and light show

Hinterlandt is a guy with a guitar, loop pedals, a wooden recorder, a horn, a xylophone, a stylophone, and a mic who veers between ambient, relaxing sounds, and loudness, using his voice, synthetic beats, metal guitar. Some may think it's boring but I think it's exciting because you don't know what's gonna happen next. It's all about sounds not songs and the sound makes up the set.
I saw Ash Wednesday do his work circa 1983 for the Ballroom reunion on the weekend. It was electro pop, on the edge of experimentalism.  Tonight he did his current material and his 2012 work is experimentalism; it's electro noise that's somehow both serene and terrifying. Perhaps it had to do with the projections and the white mask he wore. I don't understand it, but I dig there's a space and an audience for this avant garde music.

60.  Wally Corkers Drunk Arsed Band, The Bluebottles, Old Bar 7/3/2012
To me, Wally Corker's Drunk Arsed band sounds like a loose style of Memphis rock'n'roll revisionism. It's fun, sometimes raucous, and although nothing really new, I like it.
All suited in matching outfits, The Bluebottles are a surf party band that got a broad cross section of people dancing on a Wednesday night.  Again, it was nothing new but it was entertaining and the standout song was the melancholic "Red Roses for a Blue Lady", which seemed like the soundtrack of a nursing home.

61. Geneva Jacuzzi, Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Phoenix Public House, 10/3/2012
Geneva Jacuzzi has a dance style that is mime-esque meets Kate Bush. Her sound  is 80's electro beats but believe it or not I can't really remember since it all happened Friday. What I mostly remember is the dance, the dance, the dance. And she's good at that Friday night work drinks type of dance, but I didn't feel it upheld the entire set, even if it was comedy.
Age hasn't been kind to Pink [nor to me either] but let's face it, on his first tour to Australia, Pink could have been a lo fi indie pop pin up boy. Tonight he was dressed in a green and white stripey tight tee, and pyjama pants and donning a short fringe bob, Ariel Pink looks like an ugly 13 year old girl.  This time he's accompanied by a 4 member/6 piece band. So the looks have faded but the ability to produce catchy lo fi rich pop tunes padded with delightful harmonies hasn't. If anything, it's grown. He sings with desperation, to the point where he looks a little crazy, or has ADD, and he's reading the lyrics from loose sheets of paper. Many were here for tonights rendition of Round and Round which was very messy but to me everything else was great and his songs have depth.  Ariel Pink is the bedroom artist weirdo who made it out of the bedroom and into the hearts of  indie hipsters with his highly irresistable pop hooks. During his encore, he was joined by Aussie players who at times seemed as though they had no idea what Pink was doing, nor what he was about to do. And that is the charm of Ariel Pink: no-one really knows what he's going to do next.

62. Tyrone and Lesley, Bosko and Honey, Ralph Shaw, Benny Chong, The Nukes,  Melbourne Ukulele Festival, Trades Hall, 11/3/2012
Tyrone and Lesley are from Brisbane. One plays double bass, the other plays Uke and they both have a sense of humour. Bosko and Honey are a very cute couple from far north Queensland. Their sound is soft and  melodic. Bosko does the majority of the singing and Honey is a Japanese lady who was bought up on rock and punk and she demonstrated this on stage, whilst both were playing Uke. She did this on a song called Tuck Me In, and it was hilarious.Ralph Shaw is from Northern England and entertains in an old school kinda way: that's old school in a 1940's kinda way. He tells stories, and  is funny and I imagined for a moment what it was like to be my nana or pop, letting the the show take hold. He referenced Australians George Formby and The Inkspots and also pointed to his book he was selling. Benny Chong is a Hawaiian jazz Ukelele player and played jazz including some painful looking chords, accompanied by a double bassist from Melbourne that impressed audiences greatly. The bassist was Ben Robertson and he looked like a poindexter but not only could he play, he could perform and both recieved a standing ovation. The Nukes are a 3 piece Uke troupe from NZ and play pop and rock original songs and were understandably put off having to follow a standing ovation. The Melbourne Ukelele festival is in it's third year and continues to put on an interesting line up of oddballs and fun entertaining shows. Although it wasn't Golden Plains, I enjoyed this gig and finally cracked the code on just who are the Uke kook crowd: they're teachers.

To go and see:

63. The UV Race, Jager Erickson, Roky Erickson, Corner Hotel 13/3/2012
Popfrenzy tour artwork 2012

The UV Race play their brand of clunky, goofy, party, punk styled pop, and stars their frontman, who tonight is sporting an old mans flat cap amongst his other attire. When the cap is taken off, it reveals severe hat hair. Appearances aside,  I don't have a bad thing to say about this band because I like their brash sounds, funny lyrics and vibes they emanate. I would wear the T-shirt "I Love The UV Race", unlike the people I was with who were last seen heading in the direction of the beer garden.

Photo by Victoria de Fruita
But who could blame them? They're here for Roky Erickson, the reputed psychedelic wildman whose story is well known. His band arrives on stage first, playing Bo Didley. Then like a  mountain man escaped from the wilds dressed in dad jeans, a short black sleeved shirt and blue suede shoes. Then he sings along.. Bo Didley... No smoke machine could begin to emulate the raw emotive power he projects in voice and presence.  I'd heard on the grapevine that in previous gigs, from time to time Roky tended to stop in the middle of songs. His backing band really did keep things moving, filling the gaps, and acted as carers as well as musicans. Many complained the band lacked the soul and the drive to back him effectively, and ended up sounding smaltzy.  But like the audience they looked up to Roky, all with hope that he'd get through the songs and you could see it in their eyes.
look into the eyes of the guitarist... pic by Victoria de Fruita

And this was the set list:

  1. Bo Didley is a Headhunter
  2. Cold Night for Alligators
  3. Goodbye Sweet Dreams
  4. Stand for the Fire Demon
  5. Bermuda
  6. Splash 1
  7. Creature with the Atom Brain
  8. Don't Slander Me
  9. John Lawman
  10. Two Headed Dog
  11. Don't Shake Me Lucifer
  12. Night of the Vampire
  13. Bloody Hammer
  14. Reverbnation
  15. The Wind and More
  16. You're Gonna Miss Me was the encore. 
This was a rare gig for Melbourne, and although it wasn't great, Roky delivered against the odds and based on sheer talent he was awesome.

64. Bad Vision, Murlocs, Bluebottles, The Old Bar 14/3/2012
Bad Vision burst onto to the stage, the frontman singing "You got class baby!" Although it's their first gig ever, and although I've never seen them before I already like them. Simple and short and catchy songs, driving beat, spunk, good guitar moments, energy [although it waned 3/4 through the set and returns on the last song] this is a good 4 piece rock band that you can have fun to. Murlocs look younger than ever tonight, but they sound so good,  then lead singers shrill voice cuts through it all. The person next to me said "they sound like an old band, but they've nailed it". I concur.  Bluebottles did their very fun surf music which elicited wild dancing in the crowd. Not a busy night for the bar, but a good night for bands, and a great night for the crowd.

65. Creative Rebellion Youths, Trades Hall 17/3/2012
Tonight’s showcase of the future of rap and spoken word is opened by Abe Ape, an orator, spiritual guide. He tells us that music has one language, and that’s sound and that we are the future coming from the past.
 The first act on stage is Achol from the Uprising Rebels, a reggae artist playing without his band. He’s got a guitar and essentially what he’s doing is playing folk songs about freedom, politicians and social injustice. 

Tanzanian rapper John Junior raps to a backing track, and tells us his migration story  through rap. He possesses a social political awareness, and  dedicates a song to anyone who has ever had a dream. It may sound corny, but beyond the bounds of the mostly white middle class music scene,  there’s not too much of a difference going on. This kid has a hope for a bigger cause, music is an escape from reality, and helps keep him sane.
Abe Apeintroduces the next act, telling us that hip hop is not about cars or girls but about creativity, faith, compassion and passion. 

Ahmet comes on next, missing a wisdom tooth, he raps about his dad who died when he was 6, and his mother who brewed alcohol in Sudan to send the kids to school. He sang a song for the little Sudanese girl Ayen Chol who died from the dog attack, a song for Sudan, and a song about how life is beautiful in Dinka, Arabic, Swahili and in English.

Sleepy eyed Franco is described as the South Eastern suburbs finest, and he raps about keeping the third eye open. By the end of his short set, he’s asking us to throw our hands in the air if we like hip hop, joined by many on stage.

Next, the spoken word set get up, commenced by  Michelle Dabrowski, who works with loops. 
Rachael, another poet with an Indian background [family background Goa, but she’s from Bangalore] tells her story of working as a telemarketer in a call centre and the racist attitudes encountered there.

Tairio Mavondo comes up next and has a highly stylized delivery, sounding very Ursula Rucker and very cool.She’s telling us about being assumed a migrant because her skin is black.

A female accapella singer Achai, does Bob Marley and Alicia Keys but has the richness of Lauryn Hill.

Da Hypnotist graces the stage next. He’s all the way from Noble Park and tells us hip hop is his life. He’s joined by his mate FreeJay who during his own set freestyles about breakfast, his afro and Polynesia. And he asks “Mr DJ: drop that beat!”
Although it wasn’t a well attended gig, and it started an hour and 15 minutes late, it was an important gig to go to. These kids travelled all the way from the outer suburbs to tell us middle class inner city types what it’s all about, and I reckon they’re onto something.  It's a reminder that most people from Melbourne are from the suburbs, and this was the sound of the voices from the pockets of diversity that exists in Melbourne. From this vantage point, the future doesn’t look so bleak.

66. All’s Good in The Wood; Spinning Rooms, Harmony, Hotel Wrecking City Traders, Bits of Shit, backyard parties in Collingwood,18/3/2012.
All’s Good In The Wood was backyard parties fiesta that was kicked off at The Anchor, then went to Broken Glass Records, TTDC, Gold Street and finished at Hotham Street. It occupied Collingwood and had a great line up including Jackals, Deep Heat and more.  Despite my best intention to see everything, I only saw acts at the last two houses.
Spinning Rooms, the rock outfit with an angry saxophone has a singer that delivers with desperate intensity. There’s a driving beat and the dudes at the front are going for it. There seemed to be some serious synergy going on since the backdrop was spinning washing line with a goon bag pegged being shared by the masses.
Harmony start and the lead singer declares it’s ballad time, and suggests everyone partner up since there’s plenty of room around the Hills Hoist.  Harmony of course are the three piece rock band with 3 female vocalists that harmonise loudly. The male lead singer screams melodically and the three female singers go for it soulfully. On the way to Hotham Street I overheard some local mortgagees talking about the noises and the singing coming from Harmony. It seemed they didn’t get it, but to me that spells that Harmony are on track.
After a day of backyard parties, the final house was Hotham Street.  Hotel Wrecking City Traders played but they’re not my cuppa. Bits of Shit are. Due to complaining neighbours Hotel Wrecking City Traders had to cut their set short. They weren’t as loud as they should be, but that was fine. After all, it this was someone’s backyard in a gentrified suburb. Bits of Shit started, and a bunch of boys and some girls pushed around the front, getting into the spirit of things. Tonight the lead singer seemed to have some liver attached to his helmet, and fork. He sang right at this one tall guy for what seemed almost the entire set. And although not loud enough Bits of Shit are mesmerizing but not in a polished kind of way. They actually are shit, but they’re good shit. At the end of the set, a guy without shoes was almost crying “I gotta go home, I’ve got so much glass in my feet”. I myself ended up having my head knocked against a wall twice and was smacked in the face once. But it’s a Bits of Shit gig, and would you expect anything less? Congratulations to the gig organizers who put on a cool event with good bands, great vibe and not too many dickheads.
You Tube footage of Bits of Shit here
 Event invite for more post event info

67. Name TBC Bar Open, 18/3/2012
Name TBC are a 4 piece poppy affair who in parts sound like their range of influences such as The Modern Lovers, Mexican surf, 90’s indie shoegaze. They’ve also got drums that sound so crisp as if they’re from a Phil Collins song. They’re a young band who are finding their way.

68. Nick Lowe, The Forum 22/3/202
Crisp, clear, charming, dark Nick Lowe wowed the audience at The Forum doing an assortment of songs from his back catalogue, and songs from his new album The Old Magic.His songs sound so sweet sounding, his execution is flawless, but the lyrical content can be confronting and brutaltly honest. You feel like you're really catching a genuine insight.
Bass: Reg Radford
Drums: Bobby Irwin
Guitar: Johnny Scott
Keys: Grant Watkins
to be continued....

69. Nick Lowe The Forum 23/3/2012
Same set as night before, with banter mixed up, but it was still good. 


70. Oh Pep! CERES 31/3/2012
A big folky group with a jazzy guitar playing vocalist, and a fiddle plus a couple of mandolins. Unfortunately their sound was blown away with the wind.

71. Low Tide, New War, Beaches, Royal Baths, The Tote 31/3/2012
Low Tide sound like a shoegaze/jangly pop group, and has gal reverb drenched vocals. It's so thick it's like  taking a bath in the haze, but it's still quite alright by me. New War creep around with their mysterious sounding songs that break out in restrained bursts. There's lots of space in their stark sounds with danceable early 80's beats. 
They've done it! They've outlived the hype. X years on, and Beaches are still babes on stage that have cool songs, and a set that really drives. Indie guitar textures, with great catchy guitar solos. It bubbles and soars.
The Royal Baths are a 4 piece, and play sloppy and out of tune. Which I don't necessarily mind  if there's good songs.  There's 2 singers, some blistering guitar moments and plenty of noise. The guitarist plays slide with a Bic lighter, which is perhaps the most interesting thing about this band. Sure they travelled from New York, but their songs aren't great and their delivery is boring. At the very best, The Royal Baths are a medicore band.