Category: Gig Reviews


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.


‘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


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


Didirri Didn’t Disappoint

On a frosty autumn night, in a suitably trendy street in Fitzroy, Melbourne, a melancholy riff floated down between the cobblestones and caressed the rugged-up passersby. It hovered between shop fronts and dodged the beeping, wailing traffic before trailing back to a small pub within which it was listened to in adoration by the hundred or so people lucky enough to be there. Yes, it was a very lucky night for those who were listening to the blessed music of Didirri.

The band that describes their musical style in the four words of ‘don’t folk with me’ certainly did not disappoint. The three-piece band from regional Melbourne, Didirri, recently played a series of shows every Wednesday from the 1-29 April, ably supported by Jordan Clay and the Skeleton Band, at the laid back Evelyn.

The Evelyn was a prime location for this local band, with dimly lit chandeliers scattered haphazardly upon the ceiling, red curtains covering the back of the stage and stripped-back brick walls creating an intimate setting. Draped languidly upon the couches surrounding the stage, and scattered around the bar lay the audience members; the picture of patience, they lounged placidly while waiting for the main performance.

The opening act, Jordan Clay and the Skeleton Band harked from Werribee, with Clay, Josh, RJ and Benny playing folk rock ballads with sorrowful lyrics, such as

Couldn’t be much more far from you

Down rosy cheeks stream the tears

That make me wonder why

Sung in Clay’s husky timbre, these lyrics were not only reminiscent of popular blues ballads yet also contained the rhythm and swing of later eras. Furthermore, his warm crooning style complemented the sparse base, while the analogue piano created a rustic, natural aesthetic.

Leading the band, Clay also adopted the same down-to-earth air, atypical to what is expected of a solo artist. “Other people probably say something intelligent,” he remarked while tuning his guitar, “I’ve got nothing.

While his music may not have held the full attention of all the audience members who calmly awaited Didirri, Clay’s self-depreciating smile and witty names for his guitars, Billy the Base among others, certainly piqued their interests and was a welcome introduction to the night. Finishing their set with a solo from Clay, the band were given a raucous round of applause and ushered off of the stage with more than a couple pledges of lovesick adoration*. Soon after, succeeding a small interval during which many more people were ushered into the cosy venue from outside, Didirri were warmly welcomed onto the stage.

“It’s like a bedroom on stage!” The front man, Daniel O’Keefe announced when he walked, alone, onto the platform. He stopped and seemed to think before following up with the question, “What bedroom has a hundred people and these bright lights?”

Beginning with a solo song from the vocalist, the audience stayed sitting on their seats and couches, yet visibly were seen to lean forward where before they had lounged, to listen intently when before had only listened amicably. He proceeded to clearly interact with the audience, asking “Should I invite the rest of me up here?” and subsequently doing just that at the crowds encouragement, claps and screams.

Their music had roots based heavily in hillbilly, where folk music was first popularized. Their own musical style is self-described as alternative-folk which is a much more famous genre now than it has ever been before. Even though Didirri played many acoustic-inspired songs and pieces, O’Keefe played the electric guitar adding moments of intense reverb, while Elijah Maddern played repetitive hooks on the drums and Josh Milgate kept the groove constant on the bass.

Not all of their songs had such a groove though, with lyrics including:

I knew God would remember my face

Merciful God

Please remember my face

O’Keefe performed these lyrics soulfully, his voice sliding up and down from one note to another, before softly ending his notes on a sigh. Indeed, this bittersweet tone was a motif through out their performance, with even the happiest of songs seeming to imply the possibility of sadness. Some of the more mellow pieces, with lighter playing, slower rhythms and lack of a heavy drum beat, would contain unique finger-picking of the guitar that was played morosely, creating hooks that were all the more memorable for their quiet refrain.

Whatever the mood, it definitely appealed to their audience of alternatively dressed hipsters, of whom many seemed friends of the performers. For example, when O’Keefe mentioned that his next song was the ‘dumpling song’, an echo was heard within the crowd before some of the young men in the front shouted with vigor “Yes! The Dumpling Song!”

It was nearly midnight when the band announced their last song, “Strange. Introduced as a song “about caring for someone but not loving them,” it ended the show on a sorrowful note, but perhaps that was how Didirri intended to be remembered; as a band that captures the listeners’ heartstrings and doesn’t let go until the very end.

The Concert was definitely worth seeing live as it was not only a performance that flowed incredibly well, but it was also a superb introduction to the incredible talent of local Melbournians. If you haven’t head of Didirri then it is to your detriment but wipe away those tears still lingering on your cheeks, there is hope. They will be playing a couple more shows in early June at The Tote in Collingwood and The Northcote Social Club. In the meantime, satiate your withdrawals by following them on sound cloud:

3 ½ out of 5 cool beans.

*This could be due to the authors artistic licence but if you want to double-check if they’re THAT good then please wander over to their aesthetically friendly Facebook page:


Northlane at The Chelsea Heights Hotel (May 1, 2015)

Urban Spread presents
with guests Hellions and Storm The Sky
9:00pm, Fri 1st May 2015
Chelsea Heights Hotel, Victoria


Northlane brought their high-energy live show to Melbourne’s outer-south-east suburbs in an epic of an intimate show at ‘The Heights’ for a crowd of die-hard fans on Friday night. The Sydney-based, beard-wearing hardcore heroes laid the smackdown with their highly-technical and uniquely progressive brand of metalcore. With them were fellow Aussie rockers Hellions and Storm The Sky.

To clarify a few things for those unfamiliar with the genre. Screaming is an incredibly passionate vocal style that stresses the vocal chords to produce a loud and I guess ‘raspy’ sound that helps convey very powerful emotions. The sub-genre ‘metalcore’ is an often high-speed, high-intensity, heavy sub-genre (often stereotyped as ‘screamo’ due the proliferation of screamed vocals) in which elements of hardcore punk meet heavy metal. Also note that I am writing this review as a long-time fan of the band, and my fandom will bleed nicely into this hopefully informative review.

The event was put on by up-and-coming promotion company Urban Spread, purportedly specialising in party-style gigs for the outer suburbs, inspired by the gig scene of the 70’s and early-80’s that saw Midnight Oil and AC/DC tour the suburbs on weeknights for the working class. This was evident.

Enter The Chelsea Heights Hotel. A staple venue in the town of the same name, the nightclub section (billed as The Heights) immediately struck me. It was a large, neon-lit, three-platform room with a bar, stool seating, VIP area and double-disco-ball-sporting dancefloor (comparable to Melbourne’s Billboards club, though larger, cleaner and ventilated properly). Alcohol was also very reasonably priced. I have no qualms with the venue, other than that it was only just over half-full.

It is at this point I want to acknowledge the mixing. At metalcore shows, mixing is more important than anywhere because with the incorrect mixing of performances, the intricacies of the bands’ instrumentation quickly becomes a blob of white noise due to the heavy nature of their music. I’ve seen great mixing and pitiful mixing in my 100-odd of metalcore shows and this show was truly stellar. Perfect mixing allowed people in any area of the room to hear with clarity. This was a true standout show for this very small, but substantial reason.

Despite the fact that many—if not most—of these metallers made the road trip from around Victoria to attend, cheap alcohol made the event feel, look and smell like a party… Okay, so that summarises most rock shows, but this one differs in a very distinct way: the galvanised fandom.

UNFD (pronounced Unified) is a Melbourne-based promotion company, management service and record label with a cult following. Though, I see it as a community. Some of Australia’s best hardcore bands are signed to this label including the likes of The Amity Affliction, In Hearts Wake, Deez Nuts and the bands of tonight’s bill. The company recently held its own festival in rural-eastern Victoria, aptly named UNIFY, sporting a line-up of bands exclusively of the UNFD bands. From this, the supporter base for the label and the bands was manifested. A true sense of community is held amongst fans of these bands and I felt that at this show, as with all the others. Seemingly angry music can often be the happiest and these Aussie bands typify this.

The lights dim.

The youthful six-piece Storm The Sky take to the stage with gusto, splicing brutal and ‘chuggy’ verses screamed by their first vocalist Daniel Breen with highly-complicated and inspiringly-melodic choruses sung by heart-throb Will Jarratt (who had a cheer-squad of his own on the barrier). A brilliant set was diminished only by the poor turnout and almost empty moshpit.

With the bar set high, chaotically grungy and heavy is the best way to describe the set played by rap-metal-punk-core band Hellions. The band is gaining traction as part of the aforementioned UNFD brand and their set was laced with high energy songs, and mellow, humorous banter in between. There was this one guy setting off fireworks somewhere in the room. They were lengthily-dispersed, but louder than the bands and made for some interesting, well-spirited jokes made by Hellions vocalist Dre Faivre. I was not a fan of this band before their set. After, I was turned.


The awe-inspiring vocal of Marcus Bridge’s screamed intro to ‘Quantum Flux’ echoed beside the deafening cries of fans delivering the opening line to Northlane’s quintessential track. Northlane had arrived.

Marcus Bridge performing with Northlane in 2014 (Photo: Talia Farber Photography)

Marcus Bridge performing with Northlane in 2014 (Photo: Talia Farber Photography)

Mic-man Marcus Bridge is a recent addition to the band, replacing the recently departed and beloved original vocalist Adrian Fitipaldes. Unlike previous singer changes in the world of music, fans of Northlane never hesitated to throw all of their support for this guy. I witnessed this at UNIFY where fans took to social media after the set, bearing the hashtag #marcusfuckingbridge. Previously, it took Marcus half a set to reach his stride. This is because Adrian laid vocals on the band’s two albums, whereas Marcus has only released one single with the band: Rot. Tonight however, Marcus Bridge gave the performance of a lifetime, surpassing the expectations of fans everywhere. Looks of excitement and pride struck the faces of strangers looking at each other in the crowd, acknowledging this bloke’s pure talent.

The mosh was brutal. Though spread openly due to the abundance of space, a beautiful and friendly congregation of tie-die coloured moshers birthed an awesome sea of flailing arms, legs and heads – dancing the only way they know how for the band. Those who fell over were picked up by everyone in the vicinity, those who were in danger were escorted out by friendly fans and a clear way was made for the one guy who left with a potentially broken nose (dripping like a tap) and one hell of a cheeky grin.

I was fortunate enough to see the majority of the show in front of lead guitarist Jon Deiley. Simply put, the guy is an octopus. His feet control 6 adjacent guitar preset switchboards constantly throughout all songs and breaks. He would have hit those switches more than I hit keys in this article. His hands take control of a seven-string guitar of which he plays in note-for-note perfection. I was mesmerised for the entirety of the set. Particularly interesting were his frighteningly eerie facial expressions, wide almost menacing eyes peering through his fringe at seemingly nothing. It was all very cool.

Northlane's Jon Deiley in 2015 (Photo: Scott Daniel Cooper)

Northlane’s Jon Deiley in 2015 (Photo: Scott Daniel Cooper)

When Bridge signalled the beginning to ‘Rot’ (the only song he has released with the band) the place erupted. It was without a doubt the most exciting of all the songs played by the band. Vocal melodies to-and-fro like a river with the unnerving chiming of guitars overwhelming the tone of the song.

The focus was very heavily on songs from their Singularity (2013) album, constituting 8 of the band’s 14-song set. As an older fan, some more Discoveries (2012) tracks would have made for a more well-rounded set, however the band’s current setlist did all their releases enough justice to keep even the most stubborn fan content.

The band closed the set with an oldie: ‘Dispossession’. The opening lick of the song is the calm-before-the-storm because when the song kicks in, the bass drop sends fans into a frenzy. The song is laced with brutal breakdowns and djent-esque verses (‘djent’ being an onomatopoeia for the sound made by the specific palm-muting technique on guitar). I was (happily) bruised by the end of the first chorus.

“Cast aside the fear of reality, face the fucking world!” — the lyrics accompanying the breakdown of ‘Dispossession’

Fans calmly left the venue with hoarse voices, weakened leg muscles, sweaty hair and wide grins.

Of the five times I’ve seen the band, this was indisputably the best form I’ve ever seen these 5 guys in. I already can’t wait to see them tour the new album after July.


Northlane’s latest full offering Singularity is available on the web and at most good music stores.
Their new single Rot is online on all mediums. A new album is pitted for release in July.


Set times

9:30 – 10:00    Storm The Sky
10:30 – 11:00  Hellions
11:30 – 12:30  Northlane


Northlane Setlist

Quantum Flux
Nameless (previously unreleased, ambient interlude)
Dream Awake



I was not sponsored or paid to write anything in this article.

The photos in this article were not from last night’s show.

Boy Wonder at NEXT for Radio Monash

Photoset: Boy Wonder at NEXT! 19/03/15‏

Boy Wonder are a Pop Punk band from the South Eastern suburbs of Melbourne.
Expect a beautiful blend of melody, gleeful breakdowns and beards in the energetic six piece!For fans of : Blink 182, Underoath, Taylor Swift (Not even kidding) .
Boy Wonder will be playing a Green Day tribute set at Bang! on the 18th of April, with supporting acts Coastline, Gateway To The Sky  and Blindeye. Come down and party!
Bombay Bicycle Club Concert 4

Bombay Bicycle Club at the Forum, Melbourne


A Familiar Kind Of Fix

Bombay Bicycle Club at the Forum Melbourne, Thursday 26th September

Coming off the back of the festival circuit following the release of their new album, Luna, Bombay Bicycle Club didn’t seem any worse for wear after their lengthy stage tour. “We’re so glad to have a crowd to ourselves again”, proclaimed a high-spirited Jack Steadman, vocalist and frontman.

Bombay Bicycle Club Concert 1

Steadman’s musical versatility shines live

Presiding over the enraptured audience of the Forum, the Roman decor an elegant background for the at ease and on point Londoners. To label the group with a specific genre would be a daunting task; over the course of three albums the band has experimented with folk, indie rock and world music. Their latest release doesn’t seem like an evolution, but a cumulative experience of how diverse this band’s tastes can be. And that comes across especially so live, with the band blending between songs such as the electronic synth pop hit Carry Me and the eastern world music influenced Feel, BBC’s performances feel confident and effortless. The crowd responding accordingly to the mood dictated to them, BBC conducted a journey through tracks ranging from their debut album to their latest release, with their well-know debut singles still holding a fresh feeling to this day. That can only speak for the showmanship and confidence that a quality group can pull off.


“We promise it won’t be as long before we’re back again, this time”

-Jack Steadman


The opening sets by guests East and City Calm Down, though sometimes hit or miss, were enjoyable and vaguely interesting. East, a female headed neo-rock outfit, took stems from the likes of classic and grunge rockers while embracing the modern rock femme fatale such as the likes of Paramore or The Hundred In The Hands. Sometimes East felt slightly unsure of itself, but overall carried out an enjoyable gig, yet not entirely memorable. Following up on this were four piece electronic group, City Calm Down. Strands of Bryan Ferry, The Cure and New Order were thoroughly apparent in the band’s songwriting. And that’s not a bad thing. The band pulled it off with a nostalgic feeling that was entirely pleasurable. Definitely a highlight and one to watch.

Bombay Bicycle Club concert 3

BBC’s live performances portray a confident and playful group

Overall, it’s good to see BBC’s hectic festival circuit hadn’t left a noticeable strain on the band. The crowd seemed to be in the groups’s hands, singing the lyrics with ease to almost every song. And BBC responded in turn putting on a show filled with energy and sincerity. “It’s been a couple of years since we’ve played here, Melbourne,” frontman Jack Steadman smiled to an adoring crowd, “We promise it won’t be as long before we’re back again, this time.”

Bombay Bicycle Club Concert 2

In the midst of a high energy show, a low-key number brought about an intimate moment between band and crowd


Photos courtesy of Gabriela Degwitz (



St Jerome’s Laneway Festival 2014


This is the first in a (hopefully) series of gig/album/festival/night out reviews for you denizens of Radio Monash. We are back in the criticism game. Before we start: yes, I know this is an extremely late review, but we have had some issues with our website we have wanted to sort out before we started uploading new content.

Fuck, I’m going to miss Run the Jewels… a night at the Mercat had left me a broken, hungover man. The fear of missing Killer Mike and EL-P’s performance throws me out of bed and onto a train full of op-shop party shirts, high-waisted jean shorts and tinnies of Koppaberg… there is no doubt where I am going, I am going to Foot-as-grey, for the 11th iteration of St Jerome’s Laneway Festival.

I want to catch Run The Jewels so much I skip my pho, and head straight into the festival towards the gorgeous Red Bull Future classic stage. And let me tell you what, it was the right decision to make. With its focus on individual delivery, hip-hop needs a sense of enthusiasm and energy to come off well – and I have never seen two guys so hyped up to be rapping to a bunch of sweaty white guys at two in the afternoon. Flying through their eponymous album (and announcing a second to come this year), these guys seem to be having the time of their lives, even inviting a rabid fan, Chuckie, onstage giving him his 30 seconds of fame before he couldn’t take the hint to leave and had to be escorted offstage. Chuckie, you are a total flog. Over a tinnie of pale ale, I wonder if they were put on too early, but they set a great mood for the rest of the day.

Rushing up to catch my friend at the Moreland St stage, I catch the end of post-punk revivalist grrrls Savages. The energy and excitement of RTJ is really highlighted by the uninspired act of Patti and Robert Smith’s love children. Maybe it’s the sun, but they just don’t seem into it at all.

For this very Australian weather, we feel somewhat obliged to catch the very Australian band Dick Diver at the amphitheatre of the River Stage (sidenote: the festival setting was pretty on point for all stages except the Dean Turner Stage which felt pretty cramped). They play lovely inoffensive dolewave, providing some sense of escapism to the over-pressured Gen-Y crowd, who presumably would like to be sitting in their underwear smoking bongs in an inner north sharehouse all day rather than working unpaid internships. But all in all an enjoyable set, and personal grumbles aside (Dick Diver distracts Al Mofort from releasing more music with Total Control Or Straightjacket Nation) it’s great to see these guys succeeding.

For more fun fun in the sun sun, we catch the end of Kiwis Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Not much has changed since they were here for Meredith – nice psych-ey jams to roast in the sun to (next year more shade please) with a Cascade Pale Ale in hand (MB’s next year please)

At this point I retire to sit under the bridge with some hot wings (props to Laneway for giving us decent food instead of your usual festival fare) to watch the stream of people attempting to sneak into the festival – the Chinese restaurant back entrance of the past has been replaced with the train line jump. The security kept it mainly under wraps. My highlight of the festival nearly went to seeing the guy who made intense eye contact with the guard for 30 seconds before doing the (short-lived) mad dash.

The brutal sun was the downfall of Mount Kimbie as well, with the sun sucking energy, and providing too harsh of an environment for this reviewer. Shade is found, festival buddies are made – they force me to write ‘too many bitties’ in my notes for the act (miss u Joc). With a set leaning towards more recent material, the crowd lapped it up, collectively losing their proverbial when King Krule came on stage then on top of the crowd, with the energy retaining for a droning, heavy rendition of Fields off their debut album Crooks and Lovers.

Earl Sweatshirt seems to outwardly dislike the audience, with much antagonising but it plays well in part of the Odd Future shtick. His set was mostly a whirlwind of verses from the guest-heavy Doris, with the obligatory Earl from his debut mixtape – setting the crowd off into a total frenzy. He might seem like a prick but goddamnit, this kid can rap. Last sighted Heinekin in hand with some randoms in a Footscray Apartment, living the dream.

Maybe because it was because I had listened to Float On five times in a row in the morning, or maybe it was because he had cracked the shits because of the blown out speakers that shortened his set by around 15 minutes, but there was a vibe that Detroit party boy Danny Brown he just didn’t want to be there, and he was putting on his jester act because he felt obligated to. His set lacked anything from side A of old, disregarding the darker side of his person. But hey, it’s a festival – his party game is strong and you cannot compete with how infectious he is live.

Cue a mad rush back down to catch the ambient rave of Four Tet, which could be summed up in one smiley  :’)

Nobody does an ambient rave like Kieran Hebden and he was a perfect way to finish off the day.

All in all, Laneway was a success – the people putting the festival know what they are doing, they know their audience, so there is well curated grounds, food, drink and lineup. It is possibly the only one day festival where the fact it’s a festival won’t stop me from going.

Review – James Maine

Photography-Aaron Webber

Mad Props: Great food and great drinks. Good festival grounds, great linneup, No Bogans!!!

Pick up your game: Five dollar bottles of water are bullshit, especially on a 36 degree day, some minor sound issue

Would I Return: If there was a good lineup, without a doubt. I was pleasantly surprised by the whole experience.


Toro Y Moi / Washed Out (09/02/12)

Remember that guy you used to jam with in high school? Still see him all that much? Yeah, me neither. Chaz Bundick and Ernest Greene (aka Toro Y Moi and Washed Out), on the other hand, have been friends since high school in Columbia, South Carolina, and this has continued to the point where not only are they touring the same festival, but playing joint sideshows. Strange? Perhaps, but it means that the punters get massive bang for not much buck, which in a society that demands value, I suppose can’t be a bad thing.

As it was, we trouped down to the Hi-Fi a few days after Laneway, with sufficient ciders under our belts and an optimistic view of the future, and joined the queue of baby hipsters with similar looks on their faces to ours. Once inside, we fought our way to the middle and set ourselves up behind a couple of guys who weren’t too much taller than us – which was the best we were going to get in the situation.

Washed Out, with a full (and attractive) backing band, raised the ethereal-meter to 11, with a swelling, euphoric set that made me wonder whether there wasn’t in fact a small measure of acid in the ciders from earlier. The crowd began to sway, to the point you could be forgiven for thinking that a reasonably strong breeze had somehow made it down the stairs into the Hi-Fi dungeon, and all seemed right in the world.

After Washed Out left the stage and we took a quick toilet break, it was time for the confused-sounding Toro Y Moi (Is it French? Spanish? Frenish? Spinach?) to take the stage. And the stage was indeed taken. Bundick and band managed to have the entire room jumping around with abandon. It takes something pretty special to be able to do that without any special lighting or effects – they simply did what they did, without the aid of anything but their amplifiers. The only drawback from the whole thing was Bundick’s suggestion towards the end that they may not return for a while now – I can only hope he was lying (or that someone makes him an offer he’d be stupid to refuse).

Overall, though, the two acts were superb. We walked out elated, exhausted, and completely satisfied, and I’m looking up that guy I used to jam with on Facebook as we speak.


Laneway Festival (04/02/2012)

Strolling down for another day at the Footscray Community Arts Centre, it’s a beautiful day to be spending at ‘that bloody hipster festival’ A.K.A. Laneway Festival. Despite not being in the laneway that it’s name sprang from, the festival grows from strength to strength each year, this year promising more of the same.

First up are Tinpan Orange, with an absolutely lovely brand of folk, but it’s too hot at the carpark so the decision is made to get some shade and just enjoy the lovely background music. After a quick inspection of the market stalls, which only really have op-shop-esque vintage gear, at five times the price of an actual op-shop, it’s time to catch more bands.

DZ Deathrays rule. Let that never be denied, ever. They play a ripper set, blasting through first single from their debut album, No Sleep, as well as classics Gebbie Street, House Party and Cops/Capacity. The only problems were the heat of the stage caused some electrical problems during the opener, and that the crowd was the least responsive bunch of hipsters I’ve ever seen. (Not helped by the horrible set-time of 12:40, in 27 degree heat, who thought that was a good idea?)

EMA has probably received a phone call from the 90’s at some point, they’d like their reverb back. She’d better not give it back, as she was a standout. Accompanied by a band who steals the title of most musical I.T. department from Hot Chip quite easily, her set covered nearly all of her brilliant debut, The Grey Ship being the early highlight of the day. Unfortunately, she was also a victim of the crowd that were just too cool to get into it. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE KIDS THESE DAYS?

Givers had no such problem with getting the crowd into it. Their brand of MPP-era Animal Collective/Vampire Weekend pop had the front row jumping about like nobody’s business. They were genuinely happy to have made it down and apart from having one of their stacks of speakers drop out mid-set, they put on a very good value entertainment.

The Active Child/Laura Marling clash had a lot of people gnashing their teeth and wailing to the heavens, “O Lord, Why have thou forsaken me?”, but on the day, the choice was a lot easier. Active Child, whilst having a very beautiful aesthetic on record, the aesthetic doesn’t translate well live and comes across as slightly dull. Laura Marling is all class, her warm brand of folk making for lovely listening.

Wandering back down to catch Portugal. The Man with friends, I ask if anyone actually knows much about them. “Not really,” was the consensus. By the end of the set, we were all impressed, witnessing a veteran-like performance of psychedelic rock and roll. The Laneway booklet says they’ve done over 800 shows and with such anthemic hits like Got It All, there’s no chance they’ll be slowing down anytime.

Cults were really, really bad. The mixing was all wrong, Madeline Follin wasn’t hitting any notes and it just seemed really dull. After they opened with Abducted and The Curse, I’d had enough and decided to get some dumplings. I sat side of stage whilst trying to eat a Vietnamese salad and rice with chopsticks (I’m really glad nobody I knew saw me trying to do that) and listened to Anna Calvi for three songs, who, whilst not to my personal taste, wasn’t incredibly boring like Cults, actually showing the calibre of how you should be playing live on your debut Australian tour. Also, Calvi knew how to shred. Awesome.

Wandering back up to the Dean Turner stage, the warmth of Feist’s How Come You Never Go There, her experience of playing live compared to a lot of the buzz bands on this year’s line-up shows, playing an up-tempo set of just great songs. With Comfort Me and The Bad In Each Other standing admirably against older songs like Mushaboom and I Feel It All, Feist is a lovely addition before the party to come.

After accidentally getting to the front of stage after Feist, The Horrors came on stage to rapturous applause. Primary Colours was my Year 12/first year of university album and I missed them on their last tour because I screwed around on getting tickets, so there was no way I was missing them this time. To my ecstatic delight, they did not disappoint, showing why they’re quickly becoming a lot of people’s favourite british band, nailing a best-of Primary Colours/Skying set. Mirror’s Image, Scarlet Fields and a 14 minute Moving Further away were all utterly mind-blowing.

I had seen M83 live at the Prince Bandroom the night before and was telling anyone who would listen to go see them today. They actually improved at Laneway, the few minor sound issues they had being fixed. The transcendent set was a master class in how to headline a festival, with Intro, Reunion, Kim & Jessie, Steve McQueen and Year One, One UFO all totally amazing. Sitting and Couleurs were the highlights of the festival, turning a 2000-strong crowd who were just too cool to care earlier in the day into a raving mass of people who just wanted to lose it all and not care. Marvellous.

This year’s Laneway wasn’t quite as strong as the past couple, but it was still more than worth the price of admission. If Laneway is still regarded as “that hipster festival” for as long as it lives, then long live the FCAC as the home of the hipsters. As long as Laneway festival continues to be over-18 and continues to aim for the best bands, not just the biggest, then it will continue to be the understated highlight on the summer festival schedule.


Tex Perkins at the Prince Bandroom 19th of August

When a new band rears its head, the first thing you’ll hear asked, often unfairly, is “Who do they sound like”? In the case of Tex Perkins and the Band of Gold (or, let’s face it, anything Perkins has done over the past decade) this is completely unneccessary. If you haven’t been hiding under an enormous rock then nobody needs to tell you that he’s gradually metamorphosing into the late Johnny Cash. The Band of Gold don’t disappoint. After touring the prison system with a series of Cash cover gigs the Tennessee Four have joined Tex once again, and Friday’s gig at the Prince bandroom was proof that they’ve done nothing but improve.

After a not-too-shabby set by the gorgeous Angie Hart (don’t pretend you don’t remember Frente!) and Blood Red Bird, Perkins humbly took to the stage and showed us what country is really SUPPOSED TO BE all about. Shunning his guitar for most of the night, Tex was joined by Rachael Tidd (June Carter?) in a magnificent series of duets before picking up his acoustic to finish off the set.

With the crowd responding almost reverently throughout most of the set, it’d be hard to say many were surprised;there was definitely an atmosphere of awe, with only one or two people doing anything other than cheer at the end of each song and stand almost dumbstruck while the band played.

The sound was perfect as Tex put his own stamp on classics by Guy Clark, Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard to name a few, and although there was almost a kind of surrealness in hearing country played at the Prince it was definitely pulled off with the usual Perkins flair. Just buy the album. Seriously. Why are you still reading?

Daniel Harrison


Devendra Banhart Live Review

(Prince Bandroom, July 29)

Before hitting Splendour in the Grass, Devendra Banhart and his four-piece band spent a night at the jam-packed Prince Bandroom last Friday. Clad in a battered leather jacket and skinny jeans, Banhart looked more like a guitar-rockin’, indie superstar rather than the folky, animal-loving hippy he was better known to be. Fortunately, his incomparable quirk and buckets of creative talent was still present that night. And his beard too, of course.

To kick off the evening, Banhart wooed the audience with his quavering croons on the doo-wop stomp ‘Shabop Shalom, Jane’. Superbly supported by his remarkably precise band, his captivating voice was not to be reckoned with as he plunged into crowd favourites ‘Angelika’ and ‘Baby’. Banhart’s affectionate charm and light-hearted banter was further welcomed with yelps and trills.

At one point in the night, the band had left to rest, leaving Banhart alone on stage to perform a miniature solo set. Armed with just his guitar, the stage lights dimmed as the leading man began with the achingly beautiful ‘The Body Breaks’. Not a sound escaped the masses and only after he sang his last line, the crowd finally broke into rapturous cheers. Followed by the incredibly enduring ‘At the Hop’, the hazy sways of ‘Bad Girl’ and the Jeff Buckley-chanelling ‘A Sight to Behold’, Banhart’s exquisite aura  had led someone to whisper, ‘This is so beautiful…I feel like I’m going to cry.’

‘Pay attention to the lyrics,’ Banhart said before he dived into outrageously obscure covers from exotic origins with one song that ran ‘I am a good sport / I am a sportsman’. However, it was none other than epic rocker ‘Seahorse’ that proved Banhart as a man with an undeniable stage presence. Shifting effortlessly from the serenading sounds of being ‘high, happy and free’ to the frantic rush of churning guitar strums, Banhart’s zest and dynamism was utterly infectious.

Whilst belting out ‘Long Haired Child’, Banhart’s sweeping arms started gesturing for a dance, as his voice shivered, ‘When my baby slips out my mama’s womb / We’re gonna enter a new life / Enter a new life, that’s for sure’. But it was none other than Spanish number ‘Carmencita’ that sent the band onstage and the crowd wild, gleefully chanting along ‘Lalalala…’

As the end of the night approached, Banhart began apologizing, ‘Sorry for not playing any new songs…’, but the crowd didn’t seem to mind. With his clever intermesh of soothing folk melodies and jamming guitar rock tunes, his musical greatness was present throughout the night nevertheless.

Banhart had ditched his leather jacket and guitar for the encore, and was now making full use of his liberated limbs. He basked in the freedom of his unconstrained body – his arms outstretched, his hips jerked, his lean figure squiggled. Closing off with ‘I Feel Like A Child’, Banhart’s sudden burst of peculiar bodily movements captured the essence of his demeanour and the night perfectly –  a loveable sense of eccentricism, and full of unstoppable vigour.


Yo Gabba Gabba Live!

The Palais Theatre, St Kilda VIC, June 11.

Modern music-going culture is something we usually attribute to the darkness of night; late nights spent drunkenly pounding the floor at The Corner or stomping the streets and alleyways of Fitzroy or Collingwood, cast under the vague smell of urine and the vague threat of drug addicts, in the attempt to realise some sort of aural nirvana supplied by some obscure musical prospect. As such, it was to my surprise to find myself venturing out into the oppressive morning light to catch the latest thing in music at The Palais… a kid’s stage show? Yep, DJ Lance Rock and the rest of the Yo Gabba Gabba gang were once again bringing simple musical joys to the kiddies of Australia with Yo Gabba Gabba Live!, a stage show based on the popular kid’s TV show, leading me to drag myself to the event with coffee in one hand (coffee being the strongest inebriate available at that time of day) and a borrowed (stolen?) toddler in the other.

It’s easy to see why Yo Gabba Gabba can be so popular with small children, parents and slightly stoned Arts students alike. The colourfully-suited crew alone are enough to engage even the most discerning of toddler, but to consider that aspect alone as a basis of merit would simply be far too shallow. While DJ Lance Rock has the hosting style of a seasoned theatre veteran after a stroke, his energy and ability to engage is undeniable. It was evident that the kids truly love him, and he was truly comfortable as he joined the audience during one musical number for high fives and brief hellos.

The musical numbers themselves are a genuine treat of upbeat but not overly-infectious songs that actually contain some lyrical merit beyond what the kids in the audience would understand. While some songs simply spruiked the joys of dancing, others encouraged love and acceptance of others who are ‘different’, and another of eating your vegetables. One song, while addressing one of the characters’ fear of the dark (Don’t be afraid / Don’t be afraid / I am right here, and I am with you / Don’t be afraid), actually goes some way to expressing the human condition; who can honestly say that they haven’t at one time just wanted someone to be there for them?

Like the TV programme, the live show was filled with special guests. Legendary beatboxer Biz Markie reprised his role from TV, leading some audience participation beatboxing and choosing a select few adorably-bad tots to beatbox one-on-one with him, an exclusive opportunity that will probably be cited on those kid’s resumes in fifteen years’ time once they recognise their brush with hip-hop royalty. Unexpected humour was provided by comedian Dave “Hughesy” Hughes, who awkwardly stumbled through the course of teaching the audience a brand new dance, and some inoffensive musical good times and indie cred was provided by Melbourne band Little Red, who engaged the youngsters and parents with last years’ hit, “Rock It”.

My one major criticism is the choice of The Palais as venue, as it pretty much rendered the opportunity to dance along impossible, but ultimately the Yo Gabba Gabba live show was an all-around enjoyable concert experience. If you have found this review on the Radio Monash website, then there is a good chance that you don’t have a child yourself, but I’d encourage you to forget your age and instead involve yourself with the beautiful simplicity of the show and the music that the Yo Gabba Gabba crew create. Essentially, that is what every fan is pursuing; the simple pleasure of enjoying music. And the odour of faeces here was still considerably less than that encountered during the average visit to The Tote.