A new year, a whole new bunch of bands to see.
1. Mildlife, Mez Medallion, Yah Yahs 4/1/2013
From what I can remember Mildlife are a 4 piece band, that play what could be described as electro indie pop [think animal collective with layers and textures]. Their songs were complex and I also recall a sax solo, and I found it hard to like but good on the guys for doing something they believe in.
Mez Medallion on the other hand were a 3 piece, playing highly catchy pop music, with some reverb drenched guitar, highly repetitive bass lines and blissful synth. This was pop music for the dancefloor, and I'd make an effort to catch Mez Medallion again.
2. Lisa Miller, Labour In Vain, 6/1/2013
Lisa Miller and I have history, but she doesn't know about it. I love her soft, clear voice and over time her songs have grown on me, so it was a great surprise to catch her at Labour in Vain backed by a guy playing double bass, and Shane O'Mara on guitar [who bought with him 4 guitars -including a Danelectro 12 string, an Eastwood Airline, A red resonator and numerous pedals to the 5 o'clock gig]. Some people might say it's all very boring, but it totally suited the surroundings and the time of the day. The band members are such great musicians and they add so much to the songs, I think they're a great unit.
3. Cuntz, Bits of Shit, Jackals, Old Bar, 5/1/2013
Jackals were the first band I caught, they've got a new extra singer with powerful lungs, a guitar and black hair, who seems to have the ability to unleash a great amount of angst on stage. The only problem was it's hard to know what the angst is about. More light and shade would add to the power of the growl. Otherwise everything seemed to be going well for them. Bits of Shit had some sound problems due to their antics, but it seemed to be a highly charged performance for such a hot night. Then, something else happened and all the sudden they were leaving the stage. The lead singer of Cuntz has commanding presence and the band have that stripped back punk thing going on. I caught one song only but then I had to leave as it was time to throw up. Welcome to 2013.
4. Kim Salmon, The Standard 9/1/2013
Kim Salmon proves his a class act as he works between this downright dirty guitar stylings to jazz chords for his blue eyed soul. Absolutely brilliant in a raw kind of way.
5. The Kremlings, Bad Vision, The Old Bar 12/1/2013
Kremlings are a punk band with the right amount of music nerds, chesty Bonds and bad manners to seem convincing. Bad Vision are a garage band to launched their 7" this night.
6. Los Coronas, The Toff, 15/1/2013
Spanish party surf band that are excellent, and keep the crowd dancing at all times. I couldn't get into it, but the crowd sure could.
7. ESG, RRR 16/1/2013
Drums! The drummer of ESG has me transfixed with her solid beats.Thought that was a drum machine? No that's a real drummer. With style, class and talent, she could never let me down! I could never be disappointed by her ability. For me, she was the focal point of this group that also featured a lead singer, an awesome backing singer, a bassist and a percussionist: three of which were original members. This was a great show and what a bunch of inspirational musicians.
8. Kim Salmon, The Standard 16/1/2013
Australian rock legend plays small band room, with looming beer garden.
9. Atolls, The Old Bar, 16/1/2013
A good pop rock trio from the School of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. This time, it's their bassist.
10.UV Race, Hunx and his Punx, The Tote, 20/1/2013
The UV Race bounce along with their up tempo set. Topless Marcus loses his Sarong, and we cop blue dax all set but that's OK, because despite what critics say, UV Race are noisy, raucous and fun. Hunx and his Punx arrive in their full regalia and my oh my what a splendid outfit they are. Girl group style songs, so catchy, so poppy and charming. Ace drums, garage guitars, amazing backing vocals: Shannon's low growl and her soaring vocals. And Hunx, what a guy: instead of telling stage dancers to "Fuck off!" he does it so eloquently and tells all stage dancers must stage dive off. What a guy! I love his band, who by the way can really put on a show. Best gig of the year to date! Lovers Lane is a highlight.
11. Norman Blake and Joe Pernice, Northcote Social Club, 22/1/2013
Singer songwriters join together for one evening, and play acoustic guitars on stage to an audience who spent their youth loving Teenage Fanclub and admiring Scud Mountain Boys and The Pernice Brothers. Doesn't sound like my cuppa, but these are pop singer/songwriters and they can really write a song, sing grouse harmonies, muck up but bring it all back to the song. You really can't take that away from them. There were so magic moments here, and Joe Pernice was really outstanding.
12. Leather Towel, Lower Plenty, Bed Wettin' Bad Boys, The Curtin, 25/1/2013
Leather Towel feature at least two members from Record store Wooly Bully, and a member from Ausmuteants/Frowning Clouds. Described as short, sharp and fast garage punk style songs, I guess it must be mentioned the drummer looks like he's not breaking a sweat, but doing some really fancy sounding beats. Lower Plenty are soundwise the opposite to Leather Towel. Sweet, melodic, three vocalists, harmonies, softness and they do it well. Then there's Sydney's Bed Wettin' Bad Boys. I had very high hopes after hearing their new album-which is full of great songs in fact: anthemic songs, slightly sloppy pop songs. So catchy: yes they could be songs for this generation. So on the recording, the songs stack up, but unfortunately the live show didn't this time. I expected them to be sloppy, just like their recordings, so that came as no surprise. Maybe the show fell flat because it just didn't appear as if the guys were having any fun whatsoever. Then there was some implied Sydney versus Melbourne rivalry and then they finished. Even they agreed on stage, that it wasn't their best gig. I'm no hippy, but all this amounted to the projection of bad vibes.
13. Drunk Mums, Mesa Cosa, The Tote, 26/1/2013
The Cobra Bar at the Tote: quite possibly the last place you want to play if you're in the band. It's hard for your audience to see you, the angles are sharp in the room, and tonight something went horribly wrong. Drunk Mums had all the energy you could have hoped for, but then it seemed they lost a guitar, a vocal mic, a bass string was broken. Finally when instruments could be amplified, there was a horrible feedback noise piercing the ear drums. Yet without the sound of half of the band, it degenerated into a tweeny mess of boys play fighting each other on stage. One friend referred to them as "Drunk Mummas Boys". Mesa Cosa witnessed all of this, and I'm absolutely sure they thought they could handle the elements. Wrong! For some technical reason, the bass dropped out, the lead guitar and two vocal mics. Mesa Cosa tried to rectify this but trying their hardest, screaming at the top of their lungs, getting up to stage antics, but it all boils down to the fact that sometimes you need good sound to have a good gig. So this did not feel like a gig at all, I had no fun, and we didn't even catch more than 2 full songs, even though we stayed for the duration of both bands. It just went to show when the shit goes down, Drunk Mums aren't the most resiliant of bands, but Mesa Cosa will probably always come through, but Dear Old Tote: Please fix this PA, sound, or electrical problem post haste because it ain't fair on bands nor punters.
14. The Kave Inn, The Breadmakers, Yah Yahs, 27/1/2013
The Kave Inn feature Melbourne garage rock faces, they dress up in animal print, with bone adornment, vintage instruments and they play 60's style garage rock. And they're bloody good at at it. It turns out that their guitarist/lead singer is the guitarist in The Breadmakers. The Breadmakers do that brand of R & B, both original and covers, they've been doing it for 20 years and they're pros: in the good way. Totally solid band in every which way you could imagine. This was without question, the best gig of the weekend.
15. Bangin' Aussie BBQ Day featuring Thee Oh Sees, Hunx and his Punx, Woods, Dick Diver and Scott Drakula, Schoolhouse Studios, 28/1/2013
We missed Scott Drakula because it seems the event started near on time, and the wait in the queue was about a 30 minute one. We met some great people, but I felt sorry for the many behind me, who may be waiting longer. Schoolhouse Studios is a former Catholic Church, turned Steiner School. Before it turns into fancy apartments for rich people, it's currently an artspace. The Gig was held on the basketball court.
Dick Diver played their soft indie pop with, epic soft rock moments, and the occasional stabby guitar. It was a nice way to ease into the day which turned out to be hotter than we could imagine.
I was only able to catch a bit of Woods who were a surprise addition to the line up, and in the moments I caught them, it sounded a bit like a jam band. But they turned up the intensity on the day.
My favourite act, was of course Hunx and his Punx because they're so good, with their excellent songs, stage presence, charm, musical abilities and they're fun too!...
And finally Thee Oh Sees played with their epic set, setting a pace, bringing it back, speeding it up and so on. Tough times for the drummer and bassist. But the crowd enjoyed it on this hot summer afternoon. Despite the queue and the toilets, this was a really good event with a good line up and at a cool location and that's why there's a chance I'll remember this gig.