LIVE: Regurgitator, live at ANU Bar, Canberra (14-08-11)

Disasteradio played before Regurgitator last night (I missed Super Best Friends as the very first support), and he was interesting to say the very least. The set was very energetic, and filled with nothing but passion for his music, which from what I could tell was made solely with a laptop, some synths, and maybe a sampler. He was leaping all over the stage while what can be described as this blindingly cheery, synth-orientated, dance music erupted out of the speakers. It was a very full on set, and for just one guy on stage, he managed to hold everyone’s attention, which is no mean feat. Ultimately I couldn’t fault his stage presence or playing, however the music didn’t seem to have the highs and lows I feel it needs to build up the tension properly. It just felt like one big sugar rush of dance, but it was entertaining at any rate.

Next up were Regurgitator, who certainly know how to work a crowd. Their playing was exceptional, and for a band that can write some songs with serious meaning, they seemed to come in just wanting to have a bit of fun. Which considering their style of music is a brilliant attitude to have, and in terms of atmosphere, it really paid off (plus the skeleton suits were really quite cool).

The band flicked between old favourites and newer material, pleasing older fans in the crowd, which in general seemed to respond quite well for a Sunday night! For anyone unfamiliar, Regurgitator seem to have this knack of crafting short, fun songs – whether they’re guitar-based or bring in a bit of synth, they always seem to have this brilliant groove to them that manages to get people moving.

I feel Regurgitator encapsulate the kind of Australian band that’s been touring and making music for years, yet still only really gets half the recognition it deserves. Which is a shame, but it’s a testament to the passion they have for what they’re doing that they’re still out there, selling tickets for $30, and playing shows to whoever will come out and see them. They played for well over an hour, and although they didn’t bring out “Destroy This Town” or “Love and Paranoia” (two of my favourites), their set was nonetheless full of energy and it was infectious. Regurgitator have still got quite a few dates left on their Annual Sail tour, so if you can, go out and see them.

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TOUR: Stonefest 2011

This morning the lineup for one of Canberra’s biggest music festivals was released: Stonefest! Stonefest has been around for 43 years, is held annually on University of Canberra grounds, and is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

This year the festival will be spread across three stages, and it’s going to be massive: The Superstage, UC Refectory Stage, and Zierholz stage.

Here’s the lineup, listed under each stage, and ordered by playing times (thanks to Frontier Touring for that info)! You could almost plan your day off this already!

THE SUPERSTAGE

The Vines
The Grates
Jebediah
Josh Pyke
Jonathan Boulet
Stonefield
Redcoats
Crash the Curb
triple j Unearthed winner
Changeovers: Purple Sneakers DJs

UC REFECTORY STAGE

The Aston Shuffle LIVE
Tonite Only
Flight Facilities
Illy
360
Pez
Diafrix
Sampology (AV/DJ Set)
D’Opus and Roshambo
Dept of Defiance
Changeovers: Jemist

ZIERHOLZ STAGE

Ball Park Music
Lanie Lane
Big Scary
Hunting Grounds
Owl Eyes
The Snowdroppers
The Bedroom Philosopher
Velociraptor
Fun Machine
Vacant Field

+ SILENT PARTY

hosted by The Hump Day Project
featuring
Pang! DJs
Strangeways DJs
Architect DJs
PARTY BY JAKE DJs
Swim Team DJs
MUM DJs
M.I.T.

Stonefest is an 18+ event, and is held on Saturday the 29th of October.

Ticket prices are as follows:

Student Offer: $61.40 + booking fee (Valid student ID required)
General admission: $88.00 + booking fee
VIP: $165.00 + booking fee

Pre-sale tickets are go from 2pm AEST, Monday the 15th of August, for 24 hours or until allocation is exhausted. Sign up for the pre-sale over at Frontier Touring.
General public tickets go on sale at 9am, Friday the 19th of August. Tickets are being sold through Ticketek.

LIVE: The Streetlight Parade, live at The Phoenix, Canberra (04-08-11)

Two gigs in as many nights? I know, I need to slow down right.

Last night I adventured down to The Phoenix in Canberra with some friends who were keen to catch The Streetlight Parade (I caught the end of the previous band, and missed Crash The Curb afterwards). They were on second and were met with rapturous applause and a few screams (well, it was rapturous compared to the size of the room alright? It’s a small club). Their welcome was well deserved, because they certainly put on a great little show.

I can’t fault them for not jumping around there or seeming energetic, ’cause the stage there looks pretty restricting, but they definitely looked like they were enjoying themselves. Their style of rock was filled with lots of catchy guitar hooks and giant choruses, and they really know how to write a good melody or two. Imagine these light, quick guitar fills that really flesh out the songs and hold it all together. Keeping it simple, it’s memorable, joyful indie rock at it’s best. And it was so good that the crowd kept them up there for an encore – an encore of a song they’d already performed. No one cared though, because the song was cool as hell, and the band clearly were having fun. That kind of attitude is infectious when it comes to performing.

I’m looking forward to seeing these guys move up and up in the Canberra scene, and hopefully make it bigger as well. They seem to have the song-writing skills to get there.

Grab some of their free music over here.

LIVE: Kaiser Chiefs, live at the UC Refectory, Canberra (03-08-11)

It was always going to be an interesting night. Only being familiar with singles from all three acts on the night meant that, in a sense, I was going in blind (or deaf). Which was kind of exciting.

In comparison to the Chief’s Sydney and Melbourne sideshows, which I’m sure will sell out, Canberra’s reception for the international band seemed a little lukewarm at first. Word from one of the event organisers, before doors opened, was that around 600 tickets were sold, and my friend and I (who both arrived an hour before doors to get a good spot) were the only ones there for quite a while. Which surprised me, to be honest. But we were the first ones in, so I can’t complain.

First up were Stonefield, and they showed everyone exactly why they’re starting to make waves in Australian music. Although they didn’t appeal to me stylistically, there’s no doubt that their playing was tight. Their brand of early rock was huge and expansive, filling the Refectory, and they did a good job of getting people excited, especially considering their job was to support Kaiser Chiefs. Vocally, all four girls had lots of talent, and I think if they continue playing that well, along with solid touring, they’ll develop a very strong fanbase.

Next up were Papa Vs. Pretty. These guys have been getting a fair bit of support from triple j lately, and their live show is a good indication of why. Thomas Rawle’s voice really shone on single “Heavy Harm”, and from then onwards, their set seemed to get better and better. They manage to move musically between lighter, melodically diverse moments, to harder, crashing rock, in mere moments, and there was no doubt that they put all of their energy into the set. Unfortunately, whether it was my position in the crowd, or the sound set up, it felt as if the music wasn’t very clear during a few points. Ultimately though the band played well, and like Stonefield, have the potential to get much bigger. While I think Stonefield are more likely to satisfy a niche audience in comparison to Papa Vs. Pretty, both bands were excellent as supports.

By this time the Refectory was actually looking quite full, which was a nice feeling. Canberra doesn’t get many international acts visiting, so I feel it’s important that when they do come out, we encourage them to come back. The compulsory chants started, and then we got a couple of minutes of some pre-recorded jam playing while lights flashed. It was pretty exciting, even if it was a less conventional way to see a band come on stage.

Starting off with “Everyday I Love You Less And Less”, the band wasted no time in launching into a series of some of their most popular hits. Despite this, the mosh was surprisingly tame for the whole night, which was actually quite nice. Second row and not being pushed around? Sounds good to me.

Frontman Ricky held the band’s performance together in terms of stage presence. Leaping all over the place, he proved to be a gigantic ball of energy throughout the course of their set. Seriously, solar power? Wind power? Screw it, just get this guy on a treadmill and we’ll be fine. Drummer Nick Hodgson also put a huge amount of energy into his playing, however both guitarists looked a little bored. That said, I can’t fault the band’s playing one bit at all. I probably only knew just over half of their set, but what I knew sounded spot on.

On top of that, the band (and Ricky in particular) definitely know how to engage a crowd. Standing on the barrier a few times and encouraging everyone to sing along during certain moments (which there were plenty of), the band really showed everyone why they are big enough to tour internationally – whether or not you love their music, they really are entertaining.

Their set consisted of every single I knew (and one I’d forgotten I knew), with the notable exception of “Na Na Na Na Naa”. I also heard new songs from The Future Is Medieval that I liked, so all in all they really know how to please a crowd and balance out their material, which becomes an important skill to have when you’ve written four albums.

It’s a shame some of the other band members didn’t seem so enthusiastic, but maybe that’s their playing style. Kaiser Chiefs brought down the Refectory with their infectious rock, and I hope their show encourages more bands to do the same, because it was a great night at a venue with lots of potential.

Some of the photos courtesy of Nick Beecher.

BRAND NEW/TOUR: Kaiser Chiefs – “Little Shocks”

It’s great too, because while their latest single “Little Shocks” may not have an instant hook like “Ruby”, it shows growth in the band, who are clearly willing to try something new.

The track sounds like a bit of a grower, but it’ll be very interesting to see where their new album goes stylistically. I hope it gets some solid rotation on triple j.

The band are coming over for Splendour, but they’re also playing a couple of sideshows with Papa Vs Pretty and Stonefield.

Wed 3 Aug – UC Refectory, Canberra, ACT – 18+
Fri 5 Aug – Palace Theatre, Melbourne, VIC – 18+
Sat 6 Aug – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW – All ages

There’s a pre-sale for Frontier Members from noon on the 6th of June, for 24 hours (or until the pre-sale allocation is gone). General tickets go on sale from 9am on the 9th of June.

A Splendour sideshow in Canberra? Wow. Well, there you go. Not that I’m complaining of course, seeing I live there. It’s just a bit surprising.

LIVE: Groovin’ The Moo, Canberra, 2011.

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Canberra leg of the Groovin’ The Moo festival.

Overall, it was a great day. Getting negative comments out of the way, there were a few jerks in the crowd, and a few sections reeked of weed, but what can you do right? The day was so much fun it was unbelievable, although it probably helped spending it with some great friends too. Over the day I saw a few full sets, and a few partial sets, but here’s what I took from it all.

The Jezabels:

Clearly these guys should’ve been billed much higher. Brilliant drumming, especially on the last track they played (not sure of the title). Their playing was incredibly tight, the singer has an amazing voice, and the crowd knew both of these things. The Jezabels have been climbing up the ranks of Aussie bands for a while now and it shows.

Sampology:

Saw part of his set, but it was really fun. Mixing visuals and sound, The Mighty Boosh remix he did of the Bouncy Castle crimp was brilliant. The Queen singalong was also spectacular.

Datarock:

Saw the first 5 odd minutes of their set and a bit at the end. They sounded really fun, wish I could’ve stayed longer. The saxophonist sounded brilliant.

Plus they had giant inflatable condoms on stage. Enough said.

The Go! Team:

Hadn’t heard much of their work beforehand, but they were really fun and energetic. Almost in a “I really want to dance to these guys” way. I loved how the band members regularly changed instruments too. Added a bit of variation and excitement into the set.

House of Pain:

Witnessed the end of their set, and saw everyone running over for “Jump Around”. It truly was a sight to behold. The whole crowd got involved.

Gyroscope:

The crowd was pretty lacklustre for the first half of their set, but they got them moving eventually. Very big, raw sound. At the time I was in line at the signing tent to meet Birds of Tokyo, but I could still see them. They put on a good show.

Gotye:

Disappointingly, from my spot as I was getting ready for Birds of Tokyo, I could only hear Gotye playing. Couldn’t see them. But they sounded great. Wally De Backer has an astounding voice. Everyone on stage worked together to recreate the tracks in a live environment. If I could go back in time, I’d make sure I saw their whole set.

Birds of Tokyo:

Not sure there’s much for me to say here. Amazing. Brilliant. They sounded great as usual, and their set was really engaging. Still one of my favourite live acts.

The Wombats:

Only knew a little of their material, but they were fun. Did a good job with the crowd I thought, and they sounded pretty close to their studio material from what I could tell.

Bliss N Eso:

I am unbelievably happy I watched these guys do their thing. I’m a fan of the singles I’ve heard from them, but still don’t have “Running On Air”. Might have to get it now.

Out of the whole festival, Bliss N Eso were one of the best acts playing. They know how to get a crowd going. They know how to perform well. They know how to interact with the audience. They know how to get people moving. They had a brilliant DJ. Everything about their show was great. If you have a chance to see them, do it.

Cut Copy:

By this time, I was well and truly freezing. But Cut Copy sounded good. It seemed like a lot of the crowd had left for Drapht, but they did a really good job of getting everyone going. I’m not the biggest fan of their pop, but some of it sounded pretty good. In terms of replicating their sound live, they were great. If you’re a fan, see them.

~

That was my day. It was brilliant, and I’m proud of GTM for making their festival all ages. One of the most frustrating things about being under 18 is missing out on a heap of amazing gigs. Thanks to GTM, everyone could see a brilliant line-up of musicians.

LIVE: Mind Over Matter, live at the ANU Bar, Canberra (07-04-11)

Coptic Soldier and Johnny Utah.

I Forget, Sorry! can be credited for really broadening my interest and faith in hip-hop. The Australian based collective create some brilliant, innovative music that deserves much more attention than it’s currently receiving. I’ve been a fan for quite a while, and recently I was lucky enough to catch a few of them live on Mind Over Matter’s Just Like Fireworks tour.

My friend and I arrived at the ANU Bar a bit before 7. The place didn’t look incredibly lively, but by the time the first supports took to the stage there were a few people wandering around. Unfortunately I think Illy playing a show the next night may have had a small effect on the turnout, but everyone looked like they enjoyed themselves throughout the night. Even if they’ve probably played to bigger crowds before.

If I’m blunt, I don’t remember a whole lot about some of the local supports. That’s not an insult to Canberra’s hip-hop scene (if there is one – I’m new here), it’s just they didn’t grab my attention and I was hanging out with a few mates. Although I do remember a duo called Domesticated Apes. Their songs got better towards the end of the night, although a few were hit and miss. Repeatedly saying “Sh*t C**ts” over and over didn’t do much for me to be honest.

I think it was about 9.30 or so before Coptic Soldier and Johnny Utah came on. To say the least, I was a little excited. Johnny Utah’s EP The Welcoming Party was a solid release, and I love Coptic’s acoustic stuff I’ve heard lately. At any rate, these guys have been a part of my hip-hop diet for almost a year now, and I was pumped to see them perform live. They did not disappoint.

Coptic Soldier and Johnny Utah (with Count Effectz DJ’ing)

That night was the first time Coptic and Johnny had performed live together, and I was incredibly impressed. The interplay between the two was great. Playing tracks they would normally perform individually, each knew the right moment to jump in and the right moment to hang back. As a result, the older songs sounded collaborative and fresh, but didn’t take anything away from the original.

The duo went through tracks from Johnny’s debut EP and Coptic’s The Sound of Wings. We even got to hear “I Hate Sleep” from The Sound of Wings 2, the acoustic release (which you should all buy by the way! – acoustic hip-hop sounds brilliant. I’ll have a review up soon). I was lucky enough to hear some of Johnny’s new songs too, which will hopefully feature on his debut album Handful of Gravel. They sounded brilliant, and I’m keen to hear the studio versions.

Coptic Soldier and Johnny Utah were a great support act, and despite the fact they didn’t have a live band like Mind Over Matter, they energy they put into the performance was amazing. Great songs performed by great musicians, with enough energy to get everyone pumped up. Count Effectz was DJ’ing for them and did a great job as well. Seeing these guys was a highlight of the night, and has only reinforced my belief that I Forget, Sorry! deserve more attention across Australia.

Mind Over Matter

Next up Mind Over Matter came on stage, and the crowd reacted incredibly well. I haven’t heard Just Like Fireworks yet, although I’ve heard good things about it. After seeing them live, I’m convinced I’ll enjoy it. The songs they played had amazing hooks and sing-a-long choruses (see “Be A Pirate”), and everyone really got into it.

The addition of a live band did the set wonders. Ernst Carter Jnr’s back-up vocals were amazing and added a whole new dimension to the songs. It really did sound great, and the live bass and drums gave the whole act more stage presence. Everyone had more to look at, and the way it all meshed together is a testament to their talents and preparation.

The general consensus from the media is that Mind Over Matter have really launched themselves into the Australian hip-hop scene with this album. Their live show reflects this in a way that you have to see to understand. I thought they were going to play longer, but I think noise restrictions came in or something. At any rate, they put on a great show, and for $10, I think everyone felt like they got more than their money’s worth.

Mind Over Matter

It’s a pity that brilliant artists like the ones that performed all night aren’t getting the recognition or airplay they deserve. I could go into a large rant about support of Australian musicians, but it’d detract from the review. Suffice to say, like Coptic and Johnny, Mind Over Matter put on an incredibly entertaining and engaging show. In my case, familiarity with the songs means that I personally enjoyed Coptic and Johnny a tiny bit more. In some cases familiarity can go a long way, but Mind Over Matter buck that trend. Despite the fact I knew only one or two songs they played, their show emphasised their talent as live artists, and these days that talent can be quite rare.

I Forget, Sorry! are a brilliant collective. Download the free mixtape I put together last year and give them a go.

Don’t forget to get over here and check out the rest of their dates. You should definitely head along.

LIVE: Guineafowl, live at Transit Bar, Canberra (03-03-11)

[Couldn’t get a photo I took on the night off my iPhone – it was playing up. So I’m using this press shot instead. It’s probably much cooler anyway.]

On Thursday night, after much adventuring (I found Canberra’s Casino!), I found my way to Transit Bar with the help of my iPhone and some kind bouncers. Walking down some stairs, I handed over $12 to the nice lady at the door – Guineafowl would be more than worth it, I thought. I was right.

I met a friend there, and we then proceeded to make our way into the crowd. We weren’t up the very front, but the stage was small, and from past experience I think the sound would have been better where we were anyway. It wasn’t crowded in an uncomfortable way, but it was nicely packed. There was a solid reception for the band on the third last stop of their tour, and rightly so! Although not incredibly well known in the independent scene (yet!), Guineafowl have begun to earn their metaphorical indie chops with national airplay on triple j and by getting nominations for 2 SMAC Awards. The SMAC Awards are run by FBi Radio in recognition of Sydney’s artists and cultural events, and Guineafowl took out Best Sydney Song for “In Our Circles”!

At about 10.30 the band hit the stage, and they burst through about nine songs over the night. Which is quite a respectable effort for a band launching their debut EP (Hello Anxiety), which only has five tracks itself. Some of the newer unrecorded material sounds absolutely brilliant, especially the song they closed with (can’t remember it’s name unfortunately). It was good to see some of the initially unenthusiastic watchers participate in “Botanist”, the penultimate song in the set, because hand-clapping has never sounded so good – or felt so fun. “In Our Circles” sounded great, and all throughout the night the band were jumping up and down without sacrificing any musicianship (a skill some bands are lacking in). Unfortunately Sam (lead vocals) broke a couple of guitar strings during the first song, but the band recovered – in fact I don’t think they faltered at all – and it was as if nothing had happened.

The band played a solid set, and I think they’ll have definitely won some new fans over. Keep an eye out – if Guineafowl tour near you, rush out and see them.

All in all it was a great night. We got to chat with a few of the band members, and they were really nice. I picked up their EP and a t-shirt, so look out for a review in the near future (of the EP obviously, but the shirt is quite nice too).

If you’re quick you can grab “In Our Circles” for free here!

LIVE: Grafton Primary, live at The UC Refectory, Canberra (11-02-11)

Last Friday I got a chance to see Australian dance act Grafton Primary at the University of Canberra’s Refectory.

We arrived at about 9 o’clock, hoping to get in early and nab a good spot. To my dismay, it wasn’t necessary for two reasons. Firstly, various DJ’s had been booked to play until Grafton came on – their set time started around 11:30. Secondly, there were no more than 30 odd people in attendance, and with a venue the size of the Refectory, the crowd seemed even smaller and scattered around the room.

Luckily, my friend convinced the organisers to give us a pass out, and we left for the pub. Returning two hours later, we only missed the first song or two of Grafton’s set, and the crowd hadn’t grown too much, but I can say this – the band were cool enough to put on a show for us anyway. I always imagined that for some it could be hard to play to such varying crowd sizes, and it could be hard to get excited about playing in what looks like an empty room, but Grafton Primary did it, and they did it fairly well.

Being unfamiliar with most of the set material, I will say some of the songs sounded very samey – but that happens to me when I see some artists live with no prior knowledge. Sometimes it all kind of blends in. Though they did “All Stars” as an “encore”, which was nice to be able to sing along to something I knew.

The three of them put in a solid effort (although I was disappointed I didn’t see the keytar from the “Relativity” clip), and for such a small show, I was pleased they got an excited response from a few listeners up the front in the crowd. It’s always good to see people showing their appreciation and enthusiasm for a band, and Grafton certainly seemed to enjoy the people who sang along and got into it all. Time will tell whether their sound evolves into something more, or if they sit on what they have now. At any rate, it’s good fun, and their dance-floor electro style no doubt hits it’s target market right on the head. I have an underlying feeling that if it isn’t happening already, that the Australian public will soon become tired of a band like Grafton – not because Grafton are bad, they’re not, but because there seem to be a flood of bands like this around doing this thing already. Nothing reaches out and grabs me as a listener and demands my attention, or says “look at me – I do this exceptionally well”.

It was a fun gig, and Grafton play music which has a lot of appeal. Unfortunately, to get the exposure they probably want, they either need to move out more creatively, or somehow refine their style to reach that upper echelon of dance and pop music.

It’ll be interesting to see where they go, but they’re clearly a band determined to stick around – which is always a promising sign.