Sunday, March 30, 2008

Gigs update 2008/03/30

New additions to the upcoming gigs page, including Regurgitator, Tylea, Princess One Point Five and Pseudo Play-Doh.

Unfortunately, there's also been a couple of removals. First of all, due to a prior engagement, I won't be able to go to The Eels upcoming show in Brisbane. Although, I haven't alltogether ruled out going to see them in Sydney :-)

The second unfortunate bit of news is that The Mountain Goats have had to cancel their Australian tour. Here's hoping they will be back out later this year.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Angie Hart at The Troubadour

On Saturday night, we headed into the Valley to catch Angie Hart playing at The Troubadour.

As was mentioned previously, seeing someone perform at The Troubadour is very much like having a band play in your living room. There are plenty of couches and soft cube seats available if you're there early enough. The decor inside is very retro - I think I even recognise one of the prints on the wall as a picture from my parents house. There are a lot of lamp shades and a cozy orange glow about the place!

First up tonight was Edward Guglielmino. (And here I am complaining about how often my surname gets mispronounced! For the record, and in case I forget, it's Goog-lee-el-Me-no with emphasis on the caps). He played acoustic guitar and was supported by one of the guys from behind the bar (Tim, I think his name was) on electric guitar, ukulele, and backing vocals. Edward's voice and delivery reminded me a bit of Jens Lekman, and Kate thought there was a bit of Jeff Buckley in there as well. He sang and played very sincerely, and as a result, we were captivated by his set. Unfortunately, the (somewhat appropriately named) "Very Tacky" EP he had on sale at the gig doesn't do him justice. Hopefully another recording will be forthcoming.

Next up was Emma Dean, who I understand is another local. For some reason, the name sounded very familiar but I still can't put my finger on why that is. She played piano (and violin for one song) and was supported by a guitarist (whose name escapes me now). For a long time at the start of her set, I couldn't get past the fact that her voice sounded very much like Missy Higgins. The style of music was more along the lines of Sarah Blasko, but I had trouble getting into it until the last two songs of the set. I can't exactly remember anymore now what made them stand out for me, but I do remember that I liked them the most.

Angie Hart was the third and final act for the evening. Back in the day, I never got past Frente's popular songs and into the rest of their material, so I'm not really sure how Angie Hart's solo work compares to it. I imagine the solo work is quite a bit darker, as was my impression of the album when I picked it up a couple of months ago. As a guide, I find at times that it's reminiscent of Sally Seltman (aka New Buffalo) or Tylea.

Tonight, she was backed by two other musicians; one on electric guitar (and who looked a lot like Nick Cave!) and the other who switched between guitars and keyboard. During the set, she came across very confidently, seemingly being sure of every word that came out of her mouth, both when singing and talking between songs. I thought she looked a little awkward not having an instrument to lean on as she sang, but that probably added to the confident appearance. Her set consisted of what I believe to be songs mostly from her recent album, Grounded Bird. Unfortunately I don't know the album well enough to list many memorable songs, however, one absolute standout was the beautifully sung Kiwi. She finished off the night with Bizarre Love Triangle, which I'm sure made the night for the Frente fans in the audience.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Friday night at the Brisbane Jazz Club

A last minute decision saw us spending Friday night at the Brisbane Jazz Club last week. If you've never been there, and like anything along the lines of jazz, blues, soul, funk, latin, swing, and a lot more, I can definetly recommend a night out there. It's located right next to the Holman Street Ferry Terminal at Kangaroo Point, and the way the stage is setup, you get a lovely view of the river and Riverside/Eagle Street Pier as the backdrop to the performers. There is also an area outside on the river that you can go down to, to take in more of the city as you listen to the music.

In the past, they've had some problems with noise complaints, similar to those that the Valley has had to deal with in the last 10 years. Once again, it was a case of people wanting to move to the area, presumably to be close to the "action", but not wanting to put up with the by-products of the scene, eg, the extra noise. As a result, the club has had to survive on a limited liquor licence combined with forced accoustic sets or shutting up the venue entirely while acts perform. However, with the help of fundraising last year, they have since installed air conditioning, which has allowed the acts to play later into the evening, and makes it much more pleasant inside (especially during the summer months).

The bill for Friday night was Pseudo Playdoh, supported by the Paul Young Trio. Paul Young is the drummer of this piano/bass/drums trio, and a very talented one at that. Their set consisted of a number of standard jazz tunes along with a few originals. I remember thinking that their renditions of Bye Bye Blackbird and Nutville (at least I think that was the song - don't quote me on it though!) had a nice touch added to them while staying true to the originals.

Pseudo Playdoh (great name for a band!) started the set by handing out small tubs of Playdoh to the audience, presumably to keep our hands busy while their music kept our ears busy! It's the best gimmick I've seen at a gig for a long time and it certainly added to the fun factor of the night.

The band describe their style as experimental jazz & funk, which is pretty spot on. Their sets consisted of a number of arranged original pieces as well as a few forays into improvisation. It's been a long time since I've had the opportunity to engage in experimental improvisation, and seeing the way the band members worked off each other, communicating only through body language and their instruments, it reminded me of how much I used to like doing it. They're obviously either good at it or were working from a few known structures, because what came out of it was pretty good!

I can't comment on much of the rest of the two sets (as we were a bit distracted by wine and using the Playdoh to sculpt the band members with their instruments) except to say that it was a very enjoyable evening.

Both bands had their sets recorded tonight, so I'm looking forward to hopefully getting my hands on some of their music in the near future.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Gigs update 2008/03/13

New additions to the upcoming gigs page, including Eels(!), British India, and Ed Keuper.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Valley Walk of Fame

Last week, I heard about the unveiling of a new Walk of Fame in Fortitude Valley to celebrate Brisbane's music history. I obviously missed the announcement last year, and hence my opportunity to take part in the voting for who the first 10 plaques would be awarded to. I am happy to say though, that they went to a number of well deserved groups.

Included in the initial 10 are The Saints and The Go-Betweens, who were pioneers of the Brisbane music scene in the late 70s/early 80s, and Powderfinger and Regurgitator who woke the city up in the 90s and proved that you no longer had to leave Brisbane in order to continue to be successful in the industry. I am especially stoked to see Custard up there as well, who have a special place in my heart for helping to expand my own musical horizons and introducing me to a number of other local and Australian musicians throughout the late 90s.

Some of the other, more well known, acts are The Bee Gees, Savage Garden, and Keith Urban (who, I was surprised to learn, grew up in Caboolture). Rounding out the ten are Blowhard and Railroad Gin.

Here's a selection of the pics I took when we were in the Valley on the weekend:

If you want to go looking for them, they're at the top of the Brunswick Street mall, in the middle of the street.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Nice quote about The Alley

From this week's time off:

[Venue booker, Belynda-Jane] Hemmling used to hang at the Alley before working there, and says its attraction was “It felt like seeing a band with close friends in your own living room.”

That's almost exactly what it was like (only I don't get charged for beers in my own living room ;-) )!! I think, however, that it's a better description of what The Troubadour is like. To me, The Alley was a cross between The Troubadour and The Zoo. In a good way!

Gigs update 2008/03/08

I've updated my gigs page with a few bands/musicians I plan to catch in the next couple of months. Iron & Wine, Angie Hart, Grand Salvo are probabilities and The Panics are a maybe.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Sonic Youth @ Fowler's Live - Daydream Nation tour 2008 (Friday, 22nd February)

Friday week ago, we flew into Adelaide to catch Sonic Youth on their Daydream Nation tour.

After taking a detour to the shops to get a jacket for the unexpectedly cool weather, we found the venue and went inside. Well, outside to be exact. The venue consisted of a small-ish bar on the side of a lane way. The lane was blocked off and the stage was setup at the end of it.

The support act was an Australian band called The Scientists. They played a loud and solid set of rock-noise-blues, which I think suited the job well. I could easily imagine myself getting into them a lot more.

During the break after the support it started to rain a bit. Not too heavily, but enough to cause a lot of the crowd to head into the bar. Lucky for us, we got the idea to head to the bar before the rain started :-)

Not long after the rain stopped, Sonic Youth made their way to the stage, and true to their words broke into the opening of Teenage Riot. Unfortunately we weren't in the best position in terms of sound, and it was a bit muddy and not as loud as I was expecting. This was more obvious after spending some of the time during the support standing next to the sound desk. Unfortunately, that was also a major throroughfare for people wanting to get to the front the stage or to the bar, and it quickly got tiring having to constantly move out of the way for said people.

Even after taking into account that we weren't in the best position for sound, the start of the set was a bit of an anti-climax for me. I got the impression that they were going through the motions a bit and not really getting into it themselves.

Silver Rocket was a bit of an improvement, but they really started to shine when they went into The Sprawl and 'Cross The Breeze. From there, the set got better and better. Maybe it was just a false start, but they all seemed much more into it as the night went on.

Notable highlights included Eric's Trip, Providence (I was wondering how they were going to perform this soundscape live, and it worked very well) and the brilliant dis-chord in Candle (much more pronounced than what I'm used to hearing it on the album).

Coincidentally, the rain started up again as they started Rain King! Hardly anyone moved inside this time, ourselves included. I was lucky that the jumper I bought had a hood on it, and we used one of the street presses to keep Kate's head dry :-)

Kate was a reluctant audience member heading into the gig as their music isn't normally what she's into, but even she was bopping up and down with me to Kissability! Another convert maybe?

True to the album, they did all three parts of Trilogy. Part III of was another song I was wondering about how it would translate live, and after hearing them complete the set with it, I have a whole new appreciation of it! I get the feeling that they may have used it in the past as an encore, but on this night they went straight into it. Finally, after the extended outro, the band bid their farewells and went off stage.

It wasn't until I listened to the album again before going to the gig that I appreciated how well it hangs together as an entire piece. I've felt that Sonic Youth have a hit and miss affair with consistency across entire albums, but Daydream Nation sticks out in my head as one that I could listen as a whole just as easy as (or even easier than) listening to the songs in isolation. The gig reinforced that feeling I had, in that as much as I like other albums more, such as Washing Machine and A Thousand Leaves, I couldn't imagine them being played live from start to end.

The other thing I really noticed tonight was how little the music has dated. Considering the usual images of music in the eighties, you could be forgiven thinking that this 20 year old album was released much more recently.

After the obligatory three minute disappearance from the stage and to chants of "Adelaide loves Youth", the band came back on to play Incinerate and two more songs (one sung by Kim and the other by Lee), which I think were also from Rather Ripped. It was good to hear the new songs alongside Daydream Nation, once again showing how little the album appears to have aged.

After a slightly longer break, they returned for one last song. One of the songs that stood out in my head from the last time I saw them play was Drunk Butterfly, and to my pleasant surprise, this was the song they finished the night with. It was a fitting way to end the gig given how much of Adelaide's finest brews were available at the venue :-)