Monday, December 7, 2009


Wednesday, May 28, 2008 
Revolver Upstairs

Unexpected revelations are the order of the evening here tonight. First up is Twin City Radio, a band who instantly knock you flat with the sense that they are going to be totally, utterly, massive. The ingredients are all there; the talent, the ambition, the sense of something not that unusual but different enough to stand out, and a charismatic frontman. Pushing a tightly-reined melodramatic edge to their smart and heavy songs, it's easy to see that industry people will see dollar signs and audiences will swell, should that be the way they want to go. Tracks like Stitches and the closing Longitude seem ready-made for radio and the band deliver them with a maturity and a sense of humour that belies their youth. Granted, vocalist Gustav Gustavenson has overblown lyrics at times (And in the winter of our historical experiment / There is a signal tracing through the northern firmament - Distance), but they are delivered in a totally charming and convincing way; he knows what these words mean, and the Van Morrison-esque understated intensity seals the deal. It's hard to believe it was only their fourth gig. Were this Sydney, they'd already be signed and have a fervent following of kids in Muse t-shirts.

Matching them for upward mobility are Skipping Girl Vinegar. A real rarity in this day and age - genuine songwriting skills and sensitivity without a hint of the smugness that so many Aussie rock bands and solo artists seem to resort to. Mark Lang is a gifted songwriter of the Paul Kelly vein, and his admitting to being on an unfortunate mixture of pseudoephedrine and red wine may be the reason the ballads are lent a weight and space tonight, taking them from good to room-silencing. Smartly-dressed bassist Sare Lang pushes the songs with her high-necked riffs and is on form tonight. From irresistibly rousing opener Wandered via future JJJ-fave Sift The Noise to the glorious Sinking the band don't miss a beat. Mark these words - 2008 will be their year.

Following these guys would be a tough act in anyone's book, and indeed the only level on which The Seabellies can match SGV is hype. The three-quarter-full room thins as the band come on stage and they soon give reason for it. The Heart Heart Heart Out Tour on which they're on seems to have tired them, as the songs, which are perfectly fine, are discharged in an almost disinterested way. Each of the six band members wear tight black jeans and Chucks (bar keyboardist Stephanie Setz) and have nicely sculptured hair, unsurprisingly their songs show a similar lack of freshness or individuality. Clearly they would love to rip drama from the stage a la Arcade Fire, but the multitude of instruments they use seem to only be there for texture; arrangement is not their strong suit. The Los Campesinos!-like charge to Day Of The Bees really should work - it should be tearing up the place - but is delivered with so little conviction it too falls flat. The colder electro Song We Don't Speak Of suits their stylised detachment far better. The songs are fun, but the heart heart heart is out out out.

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