Category Archives: gig

The Bawdies (with The Happy Endings): East Brunswick Club, 5 December 2008

The BawdiesI promised to start blogging again after the end of exams, but it hasn’t really worked out, has it? I mean, I’ve written three posts since then. Hopefully, the blogging lethargy will wear off soon, and to that end here is another post.

Last Friday, I went with some friends, who had just returned from the Queenscliff Music Festival, to the East Brunswick Club. We went to see The Bawdies, a Japanese rock band they had seen at the festival. The band was co-touring with The Basics and supported by The Happy Endings, both local acts. 

Firstly, The Happy Endings were very good. I always appreciate decent support acts because I never go to gigs expecting much from or knowing much about them, so when they are good, it comes as a pleasant bonus. I also picked up that some of their songs sounded very similar to other artists, among them Foo Fighters, The Killers and Jet— although whether the band was influenced by these artists or if it were just coincidence or over-analysis on my part is debatable (not that anybody would really care to debate it…).

The Bawdies were absolutely fantastic. Their music was unpretentious, simple, old school rock’n’roll. They looked like a Japanese version of The Beatles and their enthusiasm and joy gushed out of them (as did a fair amount of perspiration, given the fact they were clad in suits and ties). Although their music was not groundbreaking (many of their songs were 12 bar blues or followed progressions such as 1-6-2-5), they certainly did not lack instrumental skill (evidenced in Jim’s brilliant guitar playing) and delivered greatly as performers, entertaining the audience and really getting them pumped.

dsc01065Definitely my favourite of The Bawdies (and not to imply that the other members weren’t great!) was Jim, whose massive toothy grin and childlike, ecstatic manner was very entertaining; as was his showmanship, which included energetic guitar solos combined with the appropriate “rock god” posturing or kneeling into the adoring crowd, his floppy hair flapping around. 

All in all, they were very enjoyable to listen to and although I would recommend checking out their songs on last.fm and their Myspace page, the entire power of their performance only comes across live. Before seeing them, I had listened to some of their songs online and liked them, but it was only when I saw them live that I was blown away.

They were also very fun to talk to after the show, as I talked to them while I obtained their autographs on my souvenir poster. It turned out that most of them knew about as much English as I did Japanese, which made for an amusing exchange of what little I remember of that language– gems such as “どうぞよろしく” (“pleased to meet you”), “子の音楽はとても楽しいです” (“This music is very fun!”) and “ボーヂーズが大すきいです” (“I love The Bawdies”). However, they were very friendly and only too happy to oblige when asked for a photograph (which I will upload when Cheryl puts them on!!!)

Unfortunately, I didn’t stay to see The Basics but was informed they were nothing special. Apologies to that band if they in fact were, however it was a very fun night indeed.  I will be sure to see The Bawdies again next time they’re in Melbourne (barring a death in the family, namely my own). 4.5 stars.

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Filed under 4.5 stars, gig, review

Cat Empire (with Blue King Brown, The Beautiful Girls, Ash Grunwald): Sidney Myer Music Bowl, 4 Feb 2008

When I saw the tickets advertised in the Sun the day they came out, I just knew I had to go. Unfortunately, it took a while to organise people and buy the tickets, so we ended up with Reserved Row S tickets (which I guess were pretty good). Only managed to catch the last 10 or so minutes of Ash Grunwald‘s act, due to the lengthy line and the fact we only arrived half an hour or so before gates opened. Though not a fan of his music, his enthusiam (and obvious skill) was good to see.

Shortly after, The Beautiful Girls started playing. I was quite disappointed (having heard good things about them) and went off to purchase a souvlaki. Their music was entirely bland and unoriginal, consisting of very little more than a couple of basic chords and dull bass lines– what one might expect of a high school band. The next act more than made up for the disappointment of The Beautiful Girls. Blue King Brown were fantastic as usual (this being the fourth time I’d seen them). A fantastic synthesis of many musically talented individuals, through whose music came an incredible sense of rhythm and fun. Especially impressive was the percussion section- the drummer and percussionist had an incredible sense of rhythm. They did a fantastic job of priming the crowd for the main item.

The Cat Empire were amazing. The talented musicianship, intense rhythms, catchy melodies and the pervading sense of a good time communicated through their albums pales in comparison to what is delivered by a live show. Although there was a focus on songs from the newest album So Many Nights, it was fantastic to see they did not neglect their earlier crowd-pleasing masterpieces. Unfortunately (but obviously), they played their worst-ever song No Longer There (the flaccidity of which is incomprehensible compared to their otherwise excellent body of work). Extended improvisations from the Empire Horns (Ross Irwin and Kieran Conrau on trumpet and trombone respectively), the virtuostic Ollie McGill on keys and drummer Will Brown were a fantastic addition to the well-known studio-recorded tracks. Highlights of the show included the four dancers during Sly and the two dancers (featuring guest guitarist and percussionist) during Two Shoes, which was a visual treat. The night was powerfully ended by the encores: new track The Darkness and all-time favourite The Chariot (which we were to sing/hum/whistle for the rest of the night). A fantastic night out, supported by amazingly talented Blue King Brown and others. Much more than well worth the $65 ticket price!!

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Filed under 5 stars, gig, review

Barons of Tang (with Sex on Toast): Bar Open, 22 August 2008

Here’s another review. I was thinking about what to review: a book, an album, a movie? Then I decided to add a slightly local feel to the blog by reviewing a gig I went to a few weeks ago at a place called Bar Open in Brunswick Street.

I might actually start by talking about the place itself. It’s an interesting joint: a bar with strange artwork on the walls (see left) with a small bit out the back and an upstairs room with a bunch of couches which is where the music is. It has a good atmosphere and best of all, entry is free! So we got to hear two bands for the price of none!

The Barons of Tang are described on the Bar Open website as:

the pioneers of what has been dubbed gypsy “deathcore” which is a crazy mash up traditional Eastern European, Latin, rockabilly and tango sounds, outrageously bastardized by hard hitting guitar riffs, double kick blast beats and massive horn arrangements

 

The music was really good and drew an interesting crowd. Mixing gypsy melodies with dancable beats drew out the very best of Melbourne’s hidden creatures: black-clad figures doing interpretive dance, some interesting hair colours and a man with a massive pirate hat (who also danced). Somebody (can’t remember who) recently told me that the saxophone has no place in a gypsy band, but if they’d seen Barons of Tang, they would have been forced to eat their words! In fact, the harshness of the saxophone went very well with the fast rhythms and hard beats. Visit their myspace to check out their songs, especially my favourite, Tango For Billy.

They were supported by a band of lanky teenagers who called themselves Sex on Toast (see left; photo from gig). These fellows played an interesting variety of music, always fun. I ever so slightly envied the keyboardist, who had a tshirt that said “*picture of keyboard* ADDICT”. It was good music, suitably fast and noisy- the sound of people having a good time and using their music for fun, not boredom (in contrast, to, say: “All right people, we’re taking the second movement again slowly! Strings: watch the conductor!”). They describe their music as “combining cartoonish screaming and jump cuts, free improvisation and killer metal riffs, fused with the finest doo-wop harmonies… fun, often whimsical”.

The two bands were a good combination for a good night out and a great way to celebrate my birthday. I definitely recommend the venue as it often has great bands playing (for free!) as well as cult movie nights, etc… Also, if you ever see either Barons of Tang or Sex on Toast around, you would be well advised to give them a shot. Easily the best entertainment-to-cost ratio I’ve ever had the good fortune to… (what verb would go here?). 4 Stars.

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Filed under 4 stars, gig, review