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.