LIVE: Dead Letter Circus, live at Zierholz UC, Canberra (24-05-12)

Dead Letter Circus

Dead Letter Circus were set to open Zierholz when they passed through Canberra late last year. Since that plan fell through and the venue hadn’t opened, it only seems fitting that they’re back to play the newly opened bar this time around on their Sleepwalker tour.

Melbourne band Twelve Foot Ninja kicked the night off at 8.30, for what was a respectably-sized crowd. With a strong reputation for explosive live performances, they didn’t disappoint. They also set themselves apart stylistically, with what could only be described as a mix between heavy, gritty prog, and funky guitar jams. Despite the crowd seeming a little lukewarm at the time, they did a great job of warming everyone up.

Texan’s Fair to Midland were up next, and they certainly threw themselves straight into things. Vocalist Darroh Sudderth flung himself across the stage, with his eccentric and entertaining stage presence holding the crowd’s attention through most of the set. Their music was grandiose in scale, and that translated well, but it felt like Sudderth’s vocal levels were all over the place. It also could have been the acoustics of the venue that affected their sound, but that said it’s a small complaint in comparison to the performance they gave. “Musical Chairs” and “Dance of the Manatee” sounded particularly great, and they proved themselves to be a band to keep a very close eye on.

Dead Letter Circus took to the stage, this time without guitarist Rob Maric. In his place was Clint Vincent of Australian band Melodyssey, who filled in superbly, nailing every delay-filled riff they brought out. They ran through plenty of fan favourites like “Reaction”, “Next In Line”, and “Disconnect and Apply”, and for the most part, it was a brilliant set list. Kim Benzie’s voice soared as usual, and bassist Stewart Hill took to the stage with such energy that it felt as if he was stealing the show on more than a few occasions. We got a drum solo from Luke Williams, and they also ran through their latest single, “Wake Up” – which sounded significantly more impressive live than it does recorded. It was slightly disappointing that they didn’t close the night with “This Is The Warning”, but when the rest of the set was so tight, it was hard to care too much.

Dead Letter Circus are consistently excellent live, and it’s rewarding them in more ways than one. With a solid fan-base and regular rotation on triple j, they’re showing everyone else just what it takes to succeed. Aspiring musicians: watch carefully, and learn how to captivate an audience. Dead Letter Circus have nailed it.

TOUR: All Our Friends At Night 2011

Once again, All Our Friends At Night is returning to Canberra, bringing with it a small selection of Parklife artists! Which is very exciting, especially after the recent announcement that there will be no Parklife 2011 sideshows.

Check out the line up below. It looks like it’s going to be a pretty amazing night!

MSTRKRFT
Example
Wolfgang Gartner
Nero

Plus local acts:
Offtapia
Peking Duk
Cheese

8PM FRIDAY 23 SEPTEMBER 2011
UC REFECTORY, University of Canberra

Tickets on sale 9AM MONDAY 22 AUGUST 2011
18+ event
Tickets available from http://www.moshtix.com.au/​event.aspx?id=49336&ref=mo​shtix&skin
1st release: $69.95 (BF inc) 2nd release: $79.95 (BF inc)

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.

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.