Sunday, January 3, 2010


Saturday, August 09, 2008 
The Tote

There is a refreshingly unprofessional air about the bands playing tonight. Not that there aren't prodigiously talented people playing, but that no one is struggling for perfection or over-valuing musicianship, all the stories that are being told tonight rely on personality, originality and, as befitting any event organised by Guy Blackman, individuality.
The Twerps initially appear as though they're another band who heard The Pastels and thought 'I can do that'; cue melodic four-note basslines, lazy guitars, one-beat drums and some out of tune vocals. Several songs in though, the band reveal themselves as a throughly exciting proposition. Their willfully low-fi nature will alienate some, but there are absolute gems of songs here. The Twerps manage to make their touchstones their own, particularly via the lead guitar curlicues from guitarist Julia which befits their unassuming broken logic wonderfully. A real discovery, and a band destined for tiny, wonderful things.

Bringing a whole different flavour to the night is Beaches, a group who tonight justify the slow-swelling hype by resolutely kicking arse for the entirety of their set. Seeming comfortable on stage, even with three guitars blaring, the members listen to each other and know when to step back. Most of the stepping back is done for the galvanising Antonia Sellbach whose lead guitar lines are the icing on the cake of Sterolab-esque rock that the band push. Occasional vocal interjections give the songs a shot in the arm and it's those songs, most particularly The Rip and Ramblin' that linger longest. Bring on the album.

Guy Blackman and his band are, in keeping with the mood, on a more informal form tonight. Again his guileless charm permeates through the room, most notably on the revealing (yes it seems there are still layers left of the Blackman psyche to reveal) It Hurts Me To Sing, which almost suits it's falling-apart ending, an addition most songs have tonight. A warmly chugging Gayle, the funny and engaging Stay On The Beat about gay nightclubs in Tokyo and a never-more-haunting I Love Myself For You prove the highlights.

Adelaide's Hit The Jackpot are the focus tonight and don't disappoint with their arresting simplicity that sears in a way befitting music made in relatively isolated places. With the basics mastered and a lot to say HTJ kick off with album-opener King of the Pool and instantly it's the desperate yelps of singer/bassist Jess Thomas that arrest the listener, allowing a glimpse of the raw emotion not quite buried under the layers of repetition. This song alone is reason to pick up the Soul Money Gang Vibe CD they launch tonight, along with set closer Winter Coat which again sees Thomas launch into her tympanic-membrane shattering register. In between these two high points the band drift through numbing and sometimes moving relentless indie rock, echoing the drone of Beaches and the cassette-tape quality of The Twerps. Vocalist and guitarist Kynan Lawlor is a tousle-haired anti-charisma frontman with his downbeat vocals, friendly banter and resigned stance; and therefore, just perfect.

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