Sunday, February 23, 2014


Corner Hotel, 16/02/14

Looking a little lost on the not-enormous stage of the Corner, Summer Flake transfixes the small but growing crowd. The trio, lead by the spectral (and Spector-al) voice and imaginative guitar work of Stephanie Crase, push deceptively smart yet slackly delivered pop. Sounding like a vaguely impatient Low, the chunky chording, and deadpan rhythms provide a perfect, solid base for Crase’s subtly engaging confessionals, and coalesce to give a fantastic opening set.

Moving from the fluid lead lines and observations to the urban intensity of Love of Diagrams, the resolutely 90s sounds continue. Antonia Sellbach's rhythmic bass never strays from lockstep with Monica Fikerle's thrilling drumming. New material like Story Up and the closing Forever, taken from their forthcoming Steve Albini-produced album, boast rich vocal harmonies and a fierce cacophony of guitar that echo the rawness of early My Bloody Valentine, but sounds like no one else. After ten years in the game, they still sound like the best is yet to come.

As the crowd closes in around the stage, The Stickmen arrive, with singer Aldous Kelly looking more like Hank Williams in a check shirt and beige fedora, than the Tasmanian post-punk pioneer he’s known as; a look that enhances his distant, transfixed gaze. Musically however, the band is as phenomenally tight as they’ve ever been.

Driven by the powerhouse drumming of Ianto Kelly, the quartet blast through the high points of the two albums whose vinyl release we’re here to celebrate. The songs reek of the cold air and dark streets of a small city; Paradise, Shoot to Kill, Night and a re-imagined Creep Inside seethe with vicious energy that only enhances their themes. Kelly slurs the vocals, plays with timing and seems simultaneously lazier yet more unhinged. High point of their debut album, Strangeworld is as stunning as ever, its atmosphere more powerful for the turntable scrapes of Matt Greeves, whose controlled chaos is perfectly matched to the veering tempos and sudden dynamic shifts of the rhythm section.

The peerless, Without a Clue follows and melds mercilessly into the instrumental 7000 which itself segues like a hurricane into Who Said it Should Be Good, a sequence that proves the band can play with a comfortable strength rather than the manic desperation that fuelled these songs' first outings. The whole stunning set and rapturous responses acts as further evidence that the beatification of the Stickmen won’t be ending anytime soon.

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