Category: Gig Reviews

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Snarky Puppy Blows the Roof Off The Forum

If you have seen my earlier reviews, you will know that I am a massive fan of US jazz fusion supergroup Snarky Puppy. Too many times in previous years have I seen them headline the Melbourne International Jazz Festival or tour their latest album, and been unable to attend due to my age. But this year, I vowed to see them, at last an adult. Within a minute of receiving the email that Snarky Puppy had announced a new concert in Melbourne, I had the ticket booking page bookmarked to my laptop, and the opening time for tickets added to my phone’s calendar. I was not going to miss out this time!

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Gang of Youths – 170 Russell, Melbourne (20.04.2016)

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From the beginning, they had us hooked.

Front man David Le’aupepe had the crowd from the first “shake of his ass”. His innate ability to make the crowd believe every word that he sang drew you in from the first second. Gang of Youths has always had a unique sound that focused heavily on its lyrical prowess. Yet, the band’s intimate performance expanded this connection with listeners even further.

The release of their debut album ‘The Positions’, which graced fans just over two years ago, was, lyrically, based on the life of Le’aupepe. The record examines the struggles of his wife’s battle with cancer, furthermore details their eventual separation. His hurt and his passion, his love and his fight come through the music the band produces. The front man’s ability to draw on his experiences and communicate them so well within his performance allowed him to make everyone in the room not only believe every word he spoke, but to also relate to it. The band’s ability to connect with its audience is extraordinary – from the beginning they had us all hooked. Read more …

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Review – Trivium @ 170 Russell

There was anything but ‘Silence’ at Trivium’s second, and sold out, Melbourne Show on Wednesday night. The Silence in the Snow tour brought two blistering local acts along for the ride in Orsome Welles and Orpheus Omega.

Trivium are no strangers in Melbourne, this tour being their 4th visit in 5 years. Having been to all of these gigs, I have seen it all. A Trivium crowdreaffirms all the aesthetic stereotypes of your typical metalheads. Standing a comfortable 6-foot from the ground, I was still one of the shortest in the room of 800-odd people, 90% of whom were colossal, bald, tattooed 25-45-year-old men decked out in all black. A complete surprise. Read more …

SummerFest headliners Kingswood

LIVE REVIEW: Kingswood/Dorsal Fins, Monash SummerFest

Wednesday 23 March, Monash University Clayton Campus, SummerFest

I felt slightly disconcerted when I entered the ‘Soundshell.’ Small pockets of people milled about, lounging on inflatable sea creatures. Most groups had considerable distance between each other and not much chatter. It hardly seemed like the setting for a good show.

There seemed to be two tribes here; bearded men wearing AC/DC t shirts and alternative types with canvas shoes. They were not mixing. In the fifteen minutes between gates opening and the first act the atmosphere was growing markedly more awkward. Despite a couple of DJs pumping out tracks, there seemed to be little energy in the air.

Which is why Dorsal Fins were such a delight when they hit the stage. Any trace of the queasy pre-show atmosphere disappeared extremely quickly. This is a band who plays with genuine joy, and this joy is translated straight back into the audience. Everything they do lives on the premise of fun, and these songs contain a swagger and attitude that oozes an irresistible personality. Cliques no longer matter when a band like this is playing; I can imagine grandmothers having as good a time here as emos. Even the AC/DC shirts made their way to the front of the stage. Dorsal Fins make it feel harder not to dance.

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Brungas Band

I want to go to the beach with Brungas Band

I’ve wanted to review this band for a while but have been tossing up whether I want to keep them a secret or not. If my Facebook stalking is correct, the band of four met in school and has been playing the Melbourne scene since 2014.

 

I first saw them last year when they supported indie-folk band Mango Retreat’s EP launch at The Worker’s Club in Fitzroy. I remember thinking that the lead singer had a really strong voice, but it wasn’t until I saw them play at the Penny Black in Brunswick and more recently at the Arcadia Hotel in South Yarra, that I took a real liking to the Brunga’s sound.

 

Brungas Band is named after the band’s bassist Alex Brunga. They are a group of good-looking young guys with an indie-surf-rock sound, and hot, original lyrics and melodies to boogie to. Their stage presence is also on point- the lead singer even took his shirt off at one of their shows (sadly I missed that one).

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AMISTAT LAUNCH ALBUM PARLEY AT THE NORTHCOTE, MELBOURNE

AMISTAT launched their album Parley at the Northcote Social Club in Melbourne last Friday night to a crowd mesmerized by the German twin duo’s folk/pop sound.

Josef and Jan Prasil, the German twins behind Amistat, opened with Presence, the first song on their new album. The audience was still, silent and in complete awe of the twins’ on-stage connection felt by everyone inside the Northcote.

Josef and Jan brought a unique and synergized sound to the stage. The eerie folk/pop sound of Parley with influences from Passenger and the Tallest Man on Earth is perfect for car chills, music for the house, and a night drinking by a fire. 

Nameless Depth, Parley, and Vada were my personal favourites but the whole album is definitely worth a listen. If you’re into folk and indie music, do yourself a favour and check out Amistat!

You can still see Amistat live:

Saturday 19th March – Grace Emily, Adelaide, SA 

Saturday 2nd April – Odd Fellow – Fremantle, WA

Sunday 3rd April – Four5Nine – Perth, WA

SUPPORTING Amistat was Oliver’s Army from SA and Ben Whiting from NSW who were each deserving of their own shows. These acts were certainly more than just another “support” act.

Oliver’s Army performed first, playing tracks from his album Nothing Ever Really Stays the Same. Ryan Oliver played without a band and still nailed each song. With sounds similar to Darren Middleton and Bandito Folk, the audience sat on the floor, relaxed, and enjoyed the raw quality of his voice and the sweet sound of his harmonica.

Liquor Store and Ryan’s cover of Tom West’s I drank all the rum were highlights. A special mention to the guys who came on stage to sing some melodies for Liquor Store and a shout out to Tom who wrote I drank all the rum because he was dumped on Christmas Eve over text message. Poor Tom.

Ben Whiting played next and blew away the audience with a voice to rival the likes of Vance Joy, Matt Corby, and Passenger. His indie-folk sound was compelling and got the crowd on their feet. Wildflower and Private Island, also the title of his upcoming EP, were popular with the crowd.

Ben is known throughout Melbourne for busking and last night played with a full band. David Knight, also a solo artist, played keyboard, Victor Salamandra from Columbia on the drums, and his cousin Billy Donaldson on guitar- all great musicians and worth a mention.

Keep an eye out for Ben’s EP launch later this year

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Amistat- photo by @jasmin_elise

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ART VS. SCIENCE at 170 Russell (12 March 2016)

Off the back of a dynamic new album in -Off the Edge of the Earth an Into Forever, Forever-, Sydney alternative dance three-piece Art vs Science are now roaming the country, dazzling crowds and setting the pace for live Australian music in 2016. Alongside them where a variety of local acts and electronic songstress KLP. 

Timothy Neville and Elias Valbe went to see the dynamic trio and their touring pals last Friday. Read more …

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Unify: A Heavy Music Gathering 2016

Unify: A Heavy Music Gathering is Australia’s premier metal and hardcore showcase. And in light of the fall of Soundwave, Unify is now the only major festival of its type taking place.

This two-day BYO boutique camping event entered its second year this weekend, selling out 5000 tickets. Sporting the likes of Aussies Parkway Drive, In Hearts Wake and Tonight Alive on the top end of the lineup, the festival featured  international acts for the first time this year, with pop-punk heroes Neck Deep and State Champs appearing.

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Calling all aspiring Djs, It’s Yourshot!

Yourshot gives aspiring djs and curious enthusiasts the chance to compete for the prize of playing at Stereosonic, meeting Tiesto, and kick starting their career in the Industry.

If you haven’t heard about Yourshot, plainly, you have now, and there’s no going back!

Sponsored by Pioneer, Redbull, Alize, Agwa and Alcatel One Touch. It’s big game, high stakes and much to fight for by contestants.

What’s better than playing your favorite tunes, on an overly powerful, world class sound system, on industry standard equipment, with a crazy light show behind you, including a huge 2 meter LED screen to all your friends, drunk and hyped out of their minds?

Nothing.

Topped off with the incentive to play at Stereosonic, liaison with people in the industry, and meet like minded, music loving friends for life?

Even if you’ve never touched decks before in your life, look at a dj controller and think ‘I’ve never been inside a spaceship before, what does this even do!?!’ not to worry. The awesome supportive team have your back, emotionally and technically, providing six weeks of training from the best in the Industry to make sure you have Your shot.

At the Climax of the six weeks, after training and careful song selection. There’s a two day marathon weekend were the chosen contestants get their chance to show their skills. The music, the Djs, and the overall energy will blow you away. For a ten dollar ticket price, even for a day out to enjoy some great music, it’s total value.

This year was mind-blowing. There was so much talent in the pool of Djs this year and with performance from A-Tonez, who was one of the trainers, scratching, and absolutely, straight up killed it with a multi genred steam pot. Honourable mentions to the winner this year Sami Kabaha, running the Trap & Hip Hop. Runner up, Ian Alexander, pumping the Electro, Trap and renege breaks, and Wild Card winner, Will Hall, boasting with a Minimistic Futuristic House set.

Any aspiring, up and coming djs out there, this is no joke. I highly recommend registering next year in June. It’s an experience and adventure like no other you need to add to your to do list.

Featuring me, critically evaluting the spectacle 99.9% of the rest of the time was spent dancing

Featuring me, critically evaluting the spectacle 99.9% of the rest of the time was spent dancing

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The ‘Golden’ Gordons

Walking into the Espy on a Tuesday, with my dear Zio on our man-date. Conflicted feelings swelled in our souls as we confused Astor Theatre movie dates; missing Scarface. But all was not lost, the night would take a sudden turn. The Gordons, my dear brothers from Caulfield whom I had wasted much time with before tutorials, were setting up in good humour, getting ready to rock the people attending the fabulous Espy on a Tuesday night.

 

Little did they know I had my notebook, prepared and ready critique their performance in my usual fashion. I have habit of doing this even when I don’t plan to, and even without the notebook, musicians will understand.

 

Opening with Red Hot Chilli Pepper covers, I was already very excited and impressed. There was a synergy between the band members. It was clearly evident right from the get-go they had shared more than a few jam sessions. This wasn’t all that impressed me, they had put some serious thought into the tone and sound that they wanted to produce – their signature. The guitars sounded absolutely fantastic in their respected ranges. The rhythm, a funky grudge with a pleasant melodic undertone, the other strung to sequel like an angel orgasm-ing at the movement of his mere fingertips.
If that doesn’t sound appealing enough, the synergy between the guitarists playing off each other during breaks and solos was incredible. And there was plenty of them, showing off this talent and synergy that only comes with liberal, regular practice, tight bonds and trust; which gives the band a professional entertainment dynamic. Stage presence was nothing short of fantastic.

 

The original songs they played afterwards can be described as a positive groove; surfy, featuring funky grunge guitar riffs. Rory starts busting out Rhymes with the flow of an actual rap god, bringing a renege edge and even mellow vibes. Despite the mellow vibes at times, I always felt a sense of optimism, testament to the energy from the stage, the instrumentals, and the passion emanating from the positivity of songs themselves.

 

Between their sets, they were even so kind to give me a shout out. How lovely.

 

What really brought out the funk was the bass. It’s always refreshing to see a really good bass guitarist, playing slap as well. Yes, The bass guitarist plays Slap. Good Slap Bass. SLAPPP BASSS!! This final combination was like God playing Mortal Kombat, selecting his dream-team. Whether it happened though spontaneously smashing his controller, that controls the destiny of the universe, and delivering a crazy combo, or was simply planned.  We shall never know.

 

We shall never know if such an almighty controller exists, but guess what? The Gordons Exist, and you haven’t heard of them, and you need to take a moment in your day to acknowledge their existence. Go check them out if you get a chance.

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‘Time to open eyes’ — Enter Shikari at The Forum (22/05/15)

Enter Shikari with special guests Hands Like Houses and Hellions (18+)
The Forum, Melbourne
22nd May 2015

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Admittedly, I am a very new fan of Enter Shikari and had no idea what to expect, having only caught onto them before the release of their latest offering The Mindsweep this year. The show put on by the British electronica/hardcore genre-crossing quartet Enter Shikari can only be described as breathtaking—figuratively and literally.

Melbourne’s historic Forum Theatre hosted Enter Shikari last night along with Aussie supports Hands Like Houses and Hellions. This particular venue is absolutely gorgeous. The Greco-Roman decorated venue dates back to 1925 and has a rich, old charm about it. You enter the theatre feeling as though you are about to see Shakespeare or a comedy show… then you see the masses of keen punters sporting tattoos, tie dye t-shirts, eyeliner, ear plugs and the occasional ‘top-knot’.

The foyer’s mezzanine features the expected flock of twenty-somethings downing pre-show beers. Inside the hall, the roof is lit with gradient, dark blue light and scattered white LEDs, emulating the night sky. It really contributes to the atmosphere of the show and gives this indoor venue an outdoor feel.

Preceding the headliners were Hands Like Houses, a post-hardcore/alternative rock band from Canberra. An otherwise great set was rife with technical difficulties, namely the drums going mute as a result of the sound being run through the drummer’s iPad. Classic Apple. Instead of continuing the songs and roughing it like troopers, or even just getting a tech guy out there, singer Trenton Woodley (who has incredible pipes by the way) stopped the drummer in his tracks. The on-stage banter was awkward, yet hilarious. The band finished 10 minutes early.

Ten minutes before Enter Shikari took to the stage, a 1950’s-themed broadcast announcement (think any stereotype of American news in the 50’s) began informing ‘patrons and their families’ to have a ‘magical evening’. The announcer (pre-recorded) continued a minute-to-minute countdown while the electronica-style mix was interspersed, evidently created by the band’s DJ/programmer/synthesizer/singer Rou Reynolds. Fans raved with strangers as if we were all old mates.

“You have no idea what you’ve got yourself into!” Rou screams throughout the anthemic electronicore (electronica and hardcore) opening track The Appeal & The Mindsweep I. The recurring lyric motif was a stark warning to all punters in the crowd… this was going to be a big one.

Singer Rou Reynolds performing during 'Radiate'

Frontman Rou Reynolds performing during Radiate

The almost lunatic-like stage presence of multi-instrumentalist singer Rou Reynolds captivated fans from the get-go. His eerily low energy in the opening verse of the introductory track was met with fans bouncing and pushing and screaming the spoken-word poetry of Reynolds back at him in an almost deafening collective cry, myself included. Then the song kicked in. What is particularly interesting about this band is that one minute fans are raving like one would at a nightclub, and the next they’re moshing – violently flailing ones limbs in all directions in the most hostile of dance forms. The genre-crossing in this particular form is a marvel to behold.

In the closing stages one of the bands new songs, The Last Garrison, Reynolds mounted his synthesiser/sequencer and began teasing the electronic melody of the classic Juggernauts. “GARRISON! JUGGERNAUTS! MASHUP!” he cried before the stunned fans. The inventive remix of the two tracks was exciting to every single patron in the venue. The band used this to transition into ‘Juggernauts’. That’s one unique way of transitioning songs.

The setlist was a perfect balance between the band’s new album (which I believe to be the best album of the last 3 or so years) and their cult-followed back catalogue. Highlights included the dance-rave in Gandhi Mate, Ghandi and the crowd hysteria during fan favourite Sorry, You’re Not A Winner.

The setlist, caught by Instagram user @Fi_Bee

The setlist, caught by Instagram user @fi_bee

In an interesting turn of events, Enter Shikari opened the encore with what my cousin described as ‘punching fans right in the feels’. The tear-jerking Constellations is a slow, ambient, space-like ballad that is sombre lyrically and emotional (to say the least) musically. Lighters lit the entire hall. And as the song came to a close, the already teary frontman once again manned his synth/sequencer and launched a Constellations and Slipshod mashup transition.

The hyperbolic Slipshod (which comedically chronicles a poor dining experience) was the most ‘fun’ song of the set, in the sense that it was suspenseful, light then heavy, rave then mosh and most importantly, it is fucking hilarious. A must-listen for all curious about the band.

I was seriously gobsmacked by the crowd. In over one hundred gigs, I have seen few that draw a crowd this extreme. If music had a cult, this band would be its leader. These die-hards were so insane, so loud, so violent, so fun, so friendly. Each song was both a massive expression of passion and a fight for survival. As the band finished the final song ‘Sssnakepit’, fans beaten, tired and sore summoned all remaining strength to belt out the gang vocals that close the song, and the set.

“Come and join the party, leave anxieties behind, when the weight of all the world is pushing down” —Gang vocal on Sssnakepit