360, Coin Banks, Metro Theatre: 25 Apr

360
Photo credit: Averie Harvey
Rapper 360’s confidence was evident in the Super Store that was his merch stand: patched denim vests, hats and hoodies at inflated prices were sold to tatted-up fans hoping to buy into some of his ‘fuck you’ swagger.

Support act Coin Banks warmed up the stage with his high-energy pop culture-fuelled rhymes. His tracks with R&B goddess Thandiwe Phoenix seemed a little wasted on 150 people. The pair had a chemistry that brought Banks’ lyrics to life, particularly in Circles where they chased each other around the stage as Thandiwe’s soulful vocals “360’d” the Metro.

360’s Run Alone made a clear floor pack-out with people, all spilled drinks and intensity. He acknowledged the half-cut crowd and made them feel entitled to be “getting loose” on ANZAC Day, then kicked it old school and played some tracks off his mixed tapes, from a time where he was super aggressive and offensive – making it evident the compromise of creative control to release a commercial album.

However, for a live show he proved he hasn’t lost the love for the foundations of hip hop. A freestyle rap over classic track, Shutterbug brought forth that renowned social commentary with razor-sharp rhymes. His DJ, Matty, had killer execution on the decks, and deafening but clean bass lines. In an endearing sense he appeared to be 360’s number one fan.

360 played the role of Godfather as one-by-one four amateur rappers came out to do a verse. This amped up the crowd to climax, the Metro resembling a scene from Eminem’s Eight Mile.

360’s bad boy attitude was ratified by a strong performance with a genuine affinity to his lyrics; a sentimental tendency to close his eyes and tap into their birthplace. This rapper means business and transported the crux of hip hop and its community through a powerful set.

Music in the Mac: Plan B’s and Community Spirit, Apr 2015

What a tumultuous week in music; Thursday night was a hard act to follow with the Hey Horze EP launch ( refer to previous blog post) but just like the shitty weather so too was a Friday night full of disappointment after Picton’s Gig in the Gardens was cancelled due to ‘ducks’ being the only ones keen to brave the weather. So, I was off to Barenz to see (apparently) James Englund…or not.  An artist no-show resulted in one of the best displays of community spirit possible: a customer eating his dinner overheard the said ‘no show’, so off he goes to coyly gets his guitar out of the car. I was clearly the only one who imagined some of my favourite rock gods rolling over in their six-foot-under resting grounds as patrons bopped along to The Eagle Rock. Now I’m pretty sure ‘old mate’ had been waiting for that moment his whole life, conveniently packing his guitar into his jalopy should the opportunity for a impromptu gig arise, he was like the Superman of the entertainment world.

I am told by a valid source (a Mac Tav staff member) that Jon Stevens‘ solo gig on Saturday night was a hormonal panty throwing affair, in which I’d expect nothing less but that his chilled acoustic set allowed those distinctive pipes to reign supreme.

Stay tuned to todays Facebook post for gigs over the weekend.

RocknRoll, HMC xx

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Hey Horze EP Launch, Brighton Up Bar: 16 Apr

Six-piece genre defying rockers Hey Horze lit up Brighton Up Bar last night with the launch of their new EP, Feardom. The cozy death trap venue resembling a Bollywood half-way house: adorned in cheap lighting and retro sparkly fittings.

Lead singer Lauren Azar appeared nervous before the set and then like the 90’s rock chick that she is, turned it on and gave a stellar theatrical performance. The Doors had a pervasive influence throughout our first taste of Feardom.

Standout songs were Pretty Baby with a roaming stage delivery, yearning for lost love, an unapologetic exposure of insecurities and relishing relationship drama; The Man in which guitarist Brendan (Berbs) took creative control for the intro, whisking us through this retrograde psychedelic journey, The Man has clean but radical ebbs and flows and of course the lead single The State of Us – in which big bass lines display Azar’s fluidness at moving those pipes to work within any musical undercurrent. She wasn’t shy of sassy-ness, interjecting her own intro to tell the crowd at the back to “Shut the Fuck Up”. Feardom? I think maybe FEMDOM!

Hey Horze kicked ass in what was a refreshing set and premiere of an EP sporting old school grunge, theatrics and an all-round well-oiled machine.

All photo credit: Jess Drew, music photographer @jessliveshere

All photo credit: Jess Drew, music photographer @jessliveshere

HH 4 rocking out headbanging HH 3 Lauren Colour HH2 Lauren HH #1

Music in the Mac – Illuminarte (Picton Harvest Festival) and Sol Brews: Apr 2015

Listen here to this mornings Innaugral ‘Mac Music’ segment by HMC Music on C91.3’s Fresh Breakfast.

Hay barrels and what resembled a  makeshift shed, housed an array of diverse artists at the inaugural Illuminarte Festival in good ol’ Picton town.

20-year-old Missy Lancaster showed us she’s been paying attention to what’s getting noticed: a mix of indie and pop sounds paired with the conflict of small-town gratitude and dreams of grandeur . A dark version of Lorde’s Royals the perfect track to express these feelings.

Menangle Street was rife with buskers ranging from the 12 to 60. Some fab, and some drab: but that’s what the days all about – ‘harvesting’ self-expression.

A busker who should have had a spot on the stage was recent 20-year-old Conservatorium of Music graduate Annika-j: her voice angelic over a minimal acoustic technique.  A pared back version of Outkast’s Heya stopped me in my tracks as I walked to get a caffeine hit.

The question lingered as another choice of performer from the street had a shot on stage that was rather cringe-worthy; refer to the above justification of harvesting self-expression.

Alas, as the day progressed the Wollondilly area wasn’t short of delivering on music finesse. 23-year-old Country Music Academy graduate Jemma Beech fitted on that stage as if she should have had a rocking chair and a piece of wheat dangling off her lip.

Her gracious presence, with a beaming smile was infectious. She covered some classics from Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash to Slim Dusty; but it was her original called The Other side of me that really blew me away. It came from her soul, and clearly a place of pain, beautifully raw and honest… showcasing her vocal range and her ability to pair that voice with what it takes to genuinely connect with the audience.

I spoke with Jemma after her set and asked her of the inspiration behind The Other Side of Me, I’m told of a drive from Foster to Tamworth (where the school was based) an open road and some weighty life issues weighing her down – but this beautiful open road and a new beginning at the academy allowing her to get to ‘the other side of her’… it was refreshing to hear music come from a place, an honest place and a place that has allowed her to express herself the best way she knows how – as a simple country girl with a gracious attitude and what’s sure to be a bright future ahead.

Last stop was Sol Brews at Macarthur Grange Brewery to see local favourite on the gig scene Luke Koteras. I walked in as the sun was setting and he was playing a smashing cover of Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah, in what felt like an awesome ‘industrial beer vortex’, I grabbed a pale ale (winning) and thought Hallelujah to be almost an omen.

**Stay tuned to HMC Music Facebook page for next weeks gig guide

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David Gray, 8 April: State Theatre

The State Theatre was the most fitting of venues to house this avant-garde genius. David Gray’s minimalistic vibe seemed contradictory as he had an eight-piece band, but it was easy to see why he’d chosen the members, each of them moving between classical instruments with skills as broad as the years lived between them. He alluded to their musical repertoire’s getting them their jobs by declaring “hard times in the music business right now.”

As he played My Oh My, the beginning of the song was narrated with bellows of improvisational theatre. Gray seemed to ascend upwards, soul-shaking sounds, flying spit and sweat backlit making it look like a musical exorcism.

A back-up singer danced like Elaine from Seinfeld, adding another nonsensical dimension to the “theatre rehearsal” vibe, yet no one seemed to notice, as they weren’t listening with their eyes.

It was obvious the White Ladder classics were what everyone had come to hear, as when a mix of tracks off his new album was played, the energy lowered. Completely aware of this he layered the classics with his instinctive, natural vigour, bringing something new to something old.

After a few funny anecdotes from “life on the road”, Gray hunched over his piano and like an eccentric, morbid Count Dracula bobbed his head and roared out The Other Side.

The crowd was encouraged to get up and dance, the back-up singer’s dance moves spreading to the theatre’s floor as hundreds of people sporadically kicked one leg whilst doing the thumbs-up.

Sail Away broke the jovial energy and had a room full of closed eyes and hands on hearts. Gray’s performance, with nuanced transitions, that piercing range and notable sound, reeked of longing and heartbreak.

Photo by Rohan Anderson

Photo by Rohan Anderson

Northeast Party House: Oxford Art Factory, 27 Mar

At Oxford Art Factory on Friday night not even a pair of latex-clad dancers blowing leaves across the floor could diffuse the testosterone that a few hipsters had created, the disappointingly futile scuffle probably caused by nothing more than who had the ‘loudest shirt’.

The hostile energy that a few ‘heroes’ created thankfully quickly shifted into celebration.

Six-piece Northeast Party House rocked their synthesised beats while lead singer Zac Hamilton-Reeves prompted the crowd to jump around like a salmon – his signature move. You And I changed the tune as the yearning and echoed sounds forced the crowd to slow down. Big percussive dru mbeats washed over the lead guitarist, who seemed to have a post-coital glow about him.

It wasn’t too long before the Neanderthal-heavy crowd became themselves

Photo by Munya Chawora

Photo by Munya Chawora

again as popular track, Sick Boy, (fittingly) made the audience take a step back: spilled beers and disorganised circle pits filled the floor as an irritating wind-back and the sound of metal grinding finished it off. However, redemption was granted as the band played a fairly apt version of “one of their favourite Aussie bands”, The VinesGet Free. Similarly apt was their version of Covered In Chrome by Violent Soho which followed, a perfect choice for them.

The Haunted really showcased the six-piece’s craft and synchronicity. As they played facing one another, you could feel the energy that surrounded them, and it was a moment of taking them seriously. A sold out show was well deserved – but why dancers that looked like black sperm were in our peripheral view remained an unaddressed distraction.

It would only be fair to end the set with Youth Allowance, an anthem with a message of tween complacency and entitlement. Fist-pumps demonstrated the dwellers’ enthusiasm playing to the parody.

KELE, 20 Mar – Oxford Art Factory

The first vision of Kele on stage was the perfect precursor to the show’s theme of the artist as a soul-saving preacher man, habitually throwing his hands up and down as pseudo crowd cleansing. A gold cross dangled from his neck as he contorted his tongue and face muscles to command the vocal range that is what makes his craft so unique. When he pulled his chords back slowly, it was reggae; when the beat picked up he was a British rapper; when he broke it down he sampled his voice as if it were that recognisable sample of “Ha ha” from Gorillaz’s Feel Good Inc. At times it looked like he was about to vomit on the mic, an interesting notion with respect to the lovesick lyrics, the mic taking the form of his beloved.

His third track, Like We Used To, reverberated through the ridiculously laid out venue that is Oxford Art Facotry. It was reminiscent of the rave scene from Trainspotting: dark, industrial yet nostalgic… like all of Kele’s lyrics.

The transitions between tracks were seamless yet illusive as many of the beats and frequencies still don’t seem to make sense when all put together. His ability to weave in and out of genres is as physical as it is musical, his rhythm bafflingly fluid. Then it was back to ‘church’ for Doubt, where he broke down some improv beats that gave the track a trip-hop feel.

Kele remained true to his promise of a ‘solo’ performance by only playing one Bloc Party track, One More Chance. This deserves noting because all too often artist’s solo projects merely play their band’s back catalogue.

Last track, Rise, was one last installment of faith. Motivational captions flickered on the screen jamming self-worth down your throat, a little sickening even for Kele who dry-retched over his beloved mic once more while irritating ‘90s dance music floated the message out.

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Fuck Soundwave lets stay for Big Way Out

big way out

Caught quite off-guard, I sat and listened from a balcony to this band called Big Way Out playing (I am going to make a huge call here) some of the best renditions of rock classics I’ve ever heard. Everything they did, they nailed! From Guns N Roses’ Paradise City to System of a Down’s Toxicity. Curious to see this noise I went down and watched them at a pub called The Brewery. Their energy was infectious and they were worthy of this microcosm of late-Soundwave dwellers that surrounded them. These revelers were contented like I was to gamble that what was happening in front of us would be hard to beat, so here we stayed for awhile.

The highlight of this set and the most pertinent to a weekend of what felt like an overkill of authority was when they played Killing In The Name Of as about twenty police officers watched on from a barricade… the shoe was on the other foot as the microcosm screamed and bounced “FUCK YOU I WON’T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME, FUCK YOU I WON’T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!!” It was musical anarchy and one of the best feelings for people who are judged on the way they dress and the music they listen to as being a threat to society.

Big Way Out brought their ‘A game’ to The Brewery, having a pre-show set at The Foo Fighters gig and then more shows over the Soundwave weekend their sweat-fuelled rock set was much appreciated.

It was highly impressive and you know why because Big Way Out wanted to fucking be there! Which is more than I can say for some of the indifferent shit I seen at Soundwave.

 

Lead singer Johnny from BWO

The Eagles – History of The Eagles Tour

History-of-the-Eagles
Last night’s History Of The Eagles tour was a lesson in music history, as what seemed to be a live documentary showed how this group spanning 42 years is still thriving.

The four-piece created an intimate space, reeling the audience in from the outset by casually playing atop of equipment trunks front of stage. Peaceful Easy Feeling seemed a fitting choice as Don Henley nursed his acoustic guitar and slapped it like a bongo, the light reflecting off the lacquer into a sea of dead silent faces.

As we were walked through the Eagles legacy the stage and band seemed to grow in increments; they were anything but predictable.

The first half of the show saw their slower tracks like Tequila Sunrise, The Best Of My Love and Take It To The Limit test the attention spans of the crowd.

An obvious testament to their success is an ability to share the limelight, with each member showcasing their personality and instrumental range to its full extent. However, it is Don Henley who is the recognisable voice and all-round instrumental genius, an entertainment tractor-beam. His voice seemed to boomerang through the stadium while he drummed as if the sticks were an extension of his body.

The second half had the packed arena on their feet, rewarding them for their studious attention, with classics like Heartache Tonight and Life In The Fast Lane. Then after some hilarious banter with a receptive crowd, it was time for Joe Walsh’s famously larrikin version of Life’s Been Good, keeping within the storytelling theme.

With a two-part encore making it a three-hour set there is no doubt as to how the Eagles have managed to maintain a reputation for musical finesse and a following that packs out arenas 42 years on.

I’ll never have to miss another gig!

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As a music lover, the hardest part for me can be getting in some down-time. Every night of the week another gig and another logistical weave spanning Sydney, Illawarra and sometimes even Canberra – if I’ve missed out on hometown tix. Not only that, but I also find myself torn between two or more artists playing on the same night: last week for example The Wombats clashed with Marilyn Manson ( a no-brainer for the biggest Manson fan ).

Well alas my fellow gig junkies, there is technology to remedy this!

myFRONTMAN is a newly-developed free app that allows us to live-stream gigs straight to our smart phones for a minimal fee. What I am most excited about is that I can get at least one night in my PJ’s and still feel like I am at the gig because I am watching it in real-time. That and I can walk out of a gig go to a pub and watch the remainder of ‘said’ clashing gig. This adds a completely new dimension to an issue that gets the better of my schedule at least a few times a week.

You can download myFRONTMAN on your smartphone by the end of this week. Check out their website for the full bio http://www.myfrontman.com

 

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