The Gate: August 14 – Guineafowl, Alps, Karoshi

I promise this blog hasn’t just been relegated to being a PR device for The Gate … really, I promise! But bear with me while my schedule settles down… and I indulge myself in posting another reminder about our next gig.

Really excited about this Saturday’s gig. We’ve got local rising stars Guineafowl headlining, along with the one and only Alps of Newcastle/New South Wales/The World and downtempo/glitch-pop maestro Karoshi. I’m really pleased to have such a diverse set of music represented here, and I think there’s going to be something great for everyone to discover.

This will all be happening this Saturday and costs a $10 donation at the door, all of which goes to support the artists after costs. If you’re keen to come along, make sure you reserve your spot on the doorlist!

By the way, thanks to everyone who got along to last month’s show with Betty Airs, Border Thieves and Yae!Tiger. Was an amazing night, and you owe it to yourselves to catch all of those bands at a show soon. Gem has posted some photos of the night which will give you a feel for what went down.

Why?, Seekae, Kyu @ Annandale Hotel

Why? live at the Annandale
Photo credit: Wayne from Oceans Never Listen

I’ve been mulling over this show for a week now, attempting to ensure that the gobsmacked proclamations of “best show this year” weren’t just hyperbole caused by fresh memories. But there we have it – a week has passed and I’m still pretty sure that this night was one of the best gigs I attended this year.

I’ve been a huge fan of Why? since their tune “The Hollows” off the then-forthcoming Alopecia dropped on the web in early 2008. The combination of hip-hop with dramatic, nuanced indie rock sucked me in and I quickly explored their back catalogue and began thrashing Alopecia out upon its release onwards. The album’s never got old since, and it’s use of space and fascinating arrangements, instrumentation and tone has made it something that’s continuously yielded rich rewards. The recently-released Eskimo Snow is a slightly more conventional direction in that’s it’s more song-driven, but still relies on frontman Yoni Wolf’s twisted lyricisms and bizarre compositional approaches.

Back to the show. Expectations couldn’t have been higher: aside from all of the fanatacism built from the countless repeats of the aforementioned albums, both of the supports (Kyu and Seekae) have a strong building reputation in Sydney.

Kyu opened the evening. The duo first appeared Sydney’s radar for a lot of people when their excellent tune “Sunny In Splodges” was included on the highly recommended New Weird Australia compilation. Their sound is an abstract combination of understated minimalistic songwriting, loops, vocal effects, keyboards and the odd floor tom. I’d seen the band once before and was eager to catch them again.

The set began with them beginning more strongly than the previous time I caught them, but a few technical glitches and a crowd with a wavering attention span had the set wobbling its way through the second half. At their best, they’re entrancing. At their worst, they’re can find themselves in danger of being a little too twee and a little too gimicky. The performance confirmed for me that the group’s talent is unquestionably brilliant, but the actual execution still needs some fine-tuning. This being said – a pub is probably not the best place to see them and I look forward to catching them in a different location, which I suspect will yield better impressions.

The crowd’s anticipation for Seekae was apparent, made only more evident by delays in the soundcheck for the set. This was my first time catching the trio live, and I was blown away: this is definitely one of Sydney’s most exciting emerging groups at present and I absolutely can’t wait to see where they go. Their sound is a combination of atmospheric electronica, post-rock and hip-hop with the sound being fresh and absolutely immersive. It was great to see Ivan from the also-brilliant Ghoul make a number of appearances on guitar and vocals.

Not much more needs to be said - see this band if you get a chance. I predict great things for them if they continue on their current trajectory, and having them completely win the crowd over like they did is no simple feat and confirms that everyone was pulled in by their work. Jonny wondered if the band had won the night and I feared that the evening might have already peaked. It was a damn close race, but Why? took the cake.

When you listen to a Why? album from a musical point of view, you’re enveloped in arrangements that are detailed, unique, engrossing and frequently gorgeous. Much of the beauty is contained within the interlocking parts, the exceptional mixing and the impact of the rhythms. How much is a five piece going to be able to actually get that across live?

As it turns out – near flawlessly. The band executes the songs like a finely tuned machine, yet delivered just the right amount of unhingedness and vigour that’s needed to actually make a show out of the performance. Yoni doesn’t drop a beat as he works his way through lyrical acrobatics and stalks the stage. His brother, Josiah, bounces on his kit like a possessed bobblehead effortlessly dropping rock solid grooves, while the remaining members on bass, guitar and keys make all of that intricacy on the album look like a piece of cake. Incredible – and then some. The explosions of fuzz bass on “These Few Presidents”? Devastating. The plaintive emotion of “Blackest Purse”? Tear jerking. The badassery of “Sky For Shoeing Horses”? I couldn’t stop grinning.

“Sydney! Oh yeah, this is a good one. This is a good show” mumbles Yoni with barely-suppressed glee a couple of songs in. I don’t know if he announces a bad show when they’re having one, but it seems the band are really feeding off the crowd. I can’t quite pick where the crowd is coming from. Certainly there’s been some hip-hop crossover judging from the hands in the air floating to the beat, perhaps with some people migrating from the old cLOUDDEAD days (Yoni’s old group). For many I’m sure there’s been the discovery via Internet (like myself). There’s a weird yobbo dynamic present as any time a verse is sung containing some of Yoni’s more twisted lyrical imagery (see: “The Hollows”, “The Vowels, Pt. 2″) the crowd launches into it by positively yelling it back. I wonder if that was a lasting impression of Australia for the group.

The extensive work of the band’s front-of-house sound engineer has to be noted. The guy put the icing on the cake by ensuring that many of the details present in the album were represented by adding delays, reverbs and compression to the mix live. As a result, he spent the entire set riding the effect busses and adding immense amount of detail through - it’s the kind of detail that’s not often seen for a show with an audience size of the Annandale’s capacity. It gave the set exactly the polish it needed and I thought it lent additional distinction to the band’s performance.

Was it the best gig I saw of ’09? It’s a tough call – there were many great, great gigs this year, and it’s hard to pin it on one show – but it definitely came close. I’m hugely glad I went and if you get an opportunity to see this band, don’t pass it up. It’s one hell of a show.

Why? Live at Annandale, Sydney 16/12/2009 Setlist

  1. These Hands
  2. The Vowels, Part 2
  3. Rubber Traits
  4. Against Me
  5. Good Friday
  6. These Few Presidents
  7. January Twentysomething
  8. Sky For Shoeing Horses / Twenty-Eight
  9. Blackest Purse
  10. The Fall of Mr Fifths
  11. Yo Yo Bye Bye
  12. By Torpedo Or Chrohn’s
  13. Simeon’s Dilemma
  14. The Hollows

Parades live @ Save FBi (World Bar) / Dead Nationale single

Last week I visited the World Bar to check out the FBi Radio fundraising event, one of the many that had been organised to save the ailing station (who, by the way, are in the clear for now). The evening was a varied, wild and frequently bizarre affair with sets by a number of Sydney mainstays including The Paper Scissors, Richard In Your Mind, Fait Accompli and others.

Easily the best set (for me), however, was a short, almost unnoticed set right at the start of the evening from Parades (I’ve raved about them before). Let me tell you – this is going to be a great band to watch emerge in the months to come. Their live sound is impeccable, managing to succeed at being both energetic and intricate. Their songwriting appears to only be getting more sophisticated, and generally their sound is moving in a larger, more expansive direction that suits itself well to a live setting.

If you haven’t checked out the new single “Dead Nationale” (hearted by many), make sure you do so at the below link.

Ensure you see them live soon – in particular make a note in your calendar for August 6th where they’ll be appearing at the Oxford Art Factory with Seekae, Megastick Fanfare, Ghoul and Bearhug. Quite a lineup!

Listen

Mountains in the Sky, Qua, Ohana @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney

I just got back from a double headlining album launch featuring Mountains in the Sky and Qua. Whoa. Seriously mind-boggling – most of it anyway.

The event was unusual in that the “double headlining” term was taken more literally than usual and actually featured both acts sharing the same set, taking turns to present material from their new albums and occasionally sharing the stage in free-for-all jams. The format worked really well I thought, although it tended to give a rather ramshackle, unpredictable edge to the proceedings. Sometimes it worked to stellar degrees, other times it came within millimetres of falling to pieces.

Apologies about the page full of photos. I hate having to scroll through pages of pics like this, but unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to incorporate anything more sophisticated for viewing photo collections on this blog.

I don’t have any pretensions of being a great photographer – the shots are pretty mediocre in my opinion, but I hope you enjoy them all the same.

~~~

The evening was kicked off by Ohana, who I’d been eagerly looking forward to see since hearing rave reviews from Jonny at Polaroids of Androids. The band kind of sounds like a combination of noise rock and math rock – perhaps if A Place To Bury Strangers and Battles got together and had a baby – or perhaps not. Regardless, I thought they were fantastic.

Ohana

Ohana

Ohana

~~~

The proceedings continued with a bizarre introduction to the set by this gentleman, who got the crowd into the spirit of things with a speed-rap medley. He later returned with an Eddie Vedder impersonation.

Crazy dude doing Eddie Vedder

~~~

Enter Qua (aka Cornel Wilczek), who invites you into his mysterious domain:

Qua

His ambient stuff that opened the set was insanely good (“All Breath, No Body” off the new album) … a very cool opener for the set. I’ve heard that Silver Red is more along the lines of this, so I’m looking forward to getting my hands on it.

Qua's percussion guy

Qua band

Qua and percussion guy

Cornel

Cornel

Really enjoyed Qua’s set – his use of various touch-based controllers added a nice touch (haha geddit?) to his set, and the tunes came across really nicely. A particular highlight was “Lapsang Souchong” off the new album (Q&A) which nearly blow the roof off the Oxford.

~~~

Mountains in the Sky (aka John Lee) was also brilliant, with really solid material and a great live feel. I’m really looking forward to hearing his new album Electron Suite, which is now sitting on my desk and awaiting consumption.

John Lee / Mountains in the Sky

MitS

MitS drummer

John

John

John

 

 

~~~

Despite the excellence of most of the performance, unfortunately the set kind of crashed and burned disappointingly towards the end. Whether caused by alcohol or exhaustion, the last three tunes didn’t really things on a high note. John and Cornel both limped through their final solo tunes, and the combined closer that saw half the audience join the band on stage didn’t quite match some of the set’s earlier peaks., though it was certainly memorable in the mayhem that ensued.

Not to matter – both artists offered an excellent showcase of their material, and brought a great party atmosphere with them.

Sydney Festival 2009 Lineup Announced

I’m pretty psyched about the upcoming Sydney Festival – there’s a lot of fantastic talent that I’ve been eagerly awaiting an announcement of an Australian tour, but pleasantly I don’t feel overwhelmed by there being too much goodness either. Last year was almost exhausting, especially considering the frantic rush trying to decide which acts I wanted to prioritise in the meagre 5 days they gave us before tickets went on sale.

The full lineup can be viewed over here, but here’s a quick overview of the acts that have got me particularly excited.

  • Matthew Herbert + Big Band
    For reals – Herbert’s eccentric productions brought to life with a huge brass section, married with his own electronic constructions. I presume his wife and collaborator Dani Siciliano will be present to provide vocals.
  • Camille
    I really liked her last album…
  • Bon Iver
    The organizers have generously allowed for multiple Speigeltent performances AND a (presumably) much more elaborate City Recital Hall performance.
  • St Vincent
    If you haven’t heard Marry Me yet, you owe it to yourself to check it out… this will be a show and a half.
  • The Bug (headlining Hyper-dub)
    His latest album London Zoo is DECIMATING. Quite a remarkable fusion of dubstep, hip-hop, ragga and hip-hop.
  • Four Tet
    Loved his set at Hyde Park Barracks a couple of years ago – am not sure if I’d do this as well as his Laneway performance, but we’ll see.
  • Daedelus (fronting Mad Racket)
    Can’t wait to see his set at Laneway – and will seriously consider catching this sideshow. Really enjoying Love To Make Music To. Expect a post on it soon.
  • The Bays
    All I really know about these guys is that they do entirely improvised sets, and that they feature drummer/programmer Andy Gangadeen. They’re going to be setting their performance to the movie Run Lola Run. You can download sets of their past shows from their website here.

Meshuggah – Live @ UNSW Roundhouse

Meshuggah 080

I’m really enjoying being a music blogger at the moment – I love the blogging community, making awesome musical discoveries, getting to see bands emerge and do their thing and I always find amusement in watching the industry plays its little games… yes, I’ve been enjoying pretty much everything except actually making blog posts, which kind of invalidates my status as a music blogger.

This I plan to remedy, as I’ve had a lot of posts stored up for some time that are just waiting to be written, and now is a good a time as any to get this blog back on track with some real content.

~~~

First up, a gig report. This is going to be mostly photos, as I’m pretty sure my lack of knowledge in the realm of math metal is going to be made evident if I talk to much.

Yep, math metal. A bit of a departure from the usual scope of this blog, but I’ve been enjoying Meshuggah’s ObZen album ever since it came out earlier in the year. It’s a very technical, full-forced, frequently harsh and grating but ultimately very well-crafted album which plays out over its 9 tracks with barely a rest. It’s quite a ride.

The show tonight was much the same – hard hitting, very intense but well executed. I enjoyed it a lot, though the show’s rather brief 60 minutes set time seemed to leave a lot of fans wanting more. I feel the band can be a little overly technical at times, at frequently turn their trademark dissonant polyrhythms into something of a cliché, but that’s what the fans came to see if the gleeful response from the crowd was anything to go by.

Meshuggah 096

Meshuggah 091

Meshuggah 088

The band seemed to enjoy the reception they received. The Roundhouse – barn that it is – looked pretty full.

Meshuggah 078

Meshuggah 073

Meshuggah 053

Meshuggah 040

Laneway Festival line-up and locations announced

The Laneway Festival line-up has finally been released to the public as of midnight today, after much anticipation and some wackily fake rumours. It looks pretty decent, I think:

  • Four Tet
  • Stereolab
  • Daedelus
  • Pivot
  • No Age
  • The Drones
  • Tame Impala
  • Architecture In Helsinki
  • Girl Talk
  • Mountains In The Sky
  • Born Ruffians
  • El Guincho
  • The Hold Steady
  • Cut Off Your Hands
  • Jay Reatard
  • Buraka Som Sistema Dj/Mc Set
  • The Temper Trap
  • John Steel Singers
  • Canyons
  • Port O’brien
  • Holly Throsby
  • Tim Fite
  • Still Flyin

(I’ve re-ordered the line-up list according to my approximate priorities. Hey, this is my blog, so I can do that sort of thing!)

Despite rumours to the contrary, Laneway will once again be held at the same place in Circular Quay. While being by far the best one day festival I went to last year it was a little oversold in my opinion, so I’m hoping they don’t try and push it to its limits any further in terms of capacity.It’s also travelling to a new city – Perth – and moving to a new location in Brisbane. Full details follow:

  • BRISBANE
    Saturday, 31 January 2009
    Alexandria St off St Paul’s Terrace, Fortitude Valley
  • MELBOURNE
    Sunday, 1 February 2009
    Lonsdale St, Caledonian Lane and Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne
  • PERTH
    Friday, 6 February 2009
    Perth Cultural Centre, Northbridge
  • ADELAIDE
    Saturday, 7 February 2009
    Fowler’s Live, Northern Terrace
  • SYDNEY
    Sunday, 8 February 2009
    The Basement, Macquarie Park & Reiby Place, Circular Quay

Upcoming live shows

image
Joe Hardy: putting the “bed” back into “bedroom musician”

I don’t love banging on about my own music projects on my blog, but I’ll make an exception here as it’s something I’m pretty excited about…

I’ve been working on getting a live one-man show together, and I’m finally able to announce a couple of low-key warm-up dates that I’m doing. They’re both fundraising/charity music festivals that I’m really eager to support, and details are as follows:

  • FEVA’s “How Sweet the Sound” festival
    Line-up features many “G” bands including Gethsemane, Guava and my sometimes band-mate Greg Cooper
    27th September, doors open 4:30pm
    Tickets $25 and must be bought in advance
    http://feva.org/hsts
  • Re:Action Festival (Newtown)
    (The tentative line-up I’ve seen includes some pretty great Sydney bands – definitely worth staying tuned for the announcement)
    22nd November, doors open 4pm
    Ticket price TBA – will be provided through Moshtix
    http://www.reactionfestival.com/

Depending on how well the FEVA show goes, I’ll probably start looking at booking support slots around the place shortly. If you’re interested, e-mail me at joe*at*hardy*dot*id*dot*au.

I’m calling the show “guitronica”. This sophisticated word means that I use laptops, synths AND guitars (it’s all pretty high tech or something). The whole thing is un-sequenced and largely improvised, so expect mayhem. In test performances lullabies have been known to turn into storming rockers, and vice versa. You never know what you’re going to get. It could also just fall to pieces at any moment.

I haven’t made a recording of any of the tunes, with the exception of this demo that I did some time ago. Consider this your (very rough) taster:

WhoTheHell’s Blogger’s Delight

Having finally fired up my RSS reader yesterday, it’s nice to see plenty of cool stuff happening around the interwebs. For amusement, I think NIN having BSODs as part of their concert visuals takes the cake.

But for “hey, why hasn’t this been done earlier?” merits, I think Who The Bloody Hell Are They? gets special recognition. They’ve decided to have a nice little hoe-down for music bloggers, and it’s free no less:

I’m very excited about this, and I’m going to have a good go at getting there. Obviously other factors may intervene, but I’ll see how I go!

Four Tet

Anyone who’s around me at the moment knows that I’ve become a very big fan of Four Tet (aka Kieran Hebden). He’s got a unique, warm approach to electronically assembled music which is glitchy yet earthy at the same time. He uses strong beats with rather organic subtleties, and then layers upon layers of real instrument samples – everything from acoustic guitars to banjos to rubber duckies (!)

In particular, I’m becoming quite partial to Rounds, his third album, but Pause is an excellent listen as well. I’m yet to pick up his latest – Everything Ecstatic – but judging from the tracks he played live when I went to see him at Hyde Park Barracks a couple of months ago, it’s another solid release.

Speaking of Four Tet live, Kieran has released the mp3s for a recording that was done of his Melbourne show on his web site. Apparently they’ll only be online for a limited time, but I very much recommend you go check them out – it’s a great taste of what the guy’s into. Live, he’s very quirky and occasionally dips into what some people (including those that were with me at his live gig) would call ‘just noise’, but the tunes are there, and you’ll get a taste of the way he improvises live as well. Enjoy!