Live Review: Husky and The Trouble With Templeton – Oxford Art Factory (03.05.2012)

Brisbane-based The Trouble With Templeton are on stage at Oxford Art Factory, enchanting the audience with their laidback acoustic style. The lead singer is quite the conversationalist, as is evident between each song when he addresses the crowd.

He said he’s enjoyed his stay in Sydney so far and thanks us for having him but it would have been great to see more appreciation for the band – people stand in a semi-circle around the stage and leave a huge gap at the front, instead of moving right up to the barrier. Conversations can be heard over the lead singer and this is a trend that unfortunately continues for the rest of the night.

Towards the end of the set, the lead singer, playing an acoustic guitar and the keyboard player are joined by an electric guitarist. It’s what their sound needed from the start of the set, at times the singer’s voice was too loud for the quiet instruments on stage. The keyboard player provides some beautiful harmonies when she sings and the last three songs of the set are definitely the
strongest. They leave the stage after thanking the crowd many times, a band obviously in love with performing and sharing their music with new people.

Husky walk out to applause and jump into their beautiful keyboard-driven melodies. They don’t just play music, they create a surreal atmosphere that can take you within their lyrics and the imagery they give you.

‘Forever So’ builds its intensity with a driving drum beat and the melody on the keyboards. At times the music is so overwhelming I find myself with goosebumps and tears in my eyes, unable to take notes about what’s happening on stage.

‘Hundred Dollar Suit’ and ‘The Woods’ have long intros and are both deceiving – they sound as though they’ll be slow ballads but both pick up tempo towards the end.

Lead singer Husky Gawenda banters with the crowd, saying they love being in Sydney which prompts an audience member to say “Yeah, it’s fucking sick!”. He mentions walking back to the hotel after sound-check which prompts a female audience member to ask “Which one?”. He replies “I’ll tell you later,” and makes everyone laugh.

Their cover of INXS’s ‘Need You Tonight’ sounded amazing on triple j’s ‘Like A Version’ a couple of weeks ago but seeing them play it live is almost an experience in itself. The slowed-down tempo, the soulful harmonies and beautiful keyboard melody make this song tonight’s stand out, that is, until they cover Leonard Cohen.

They engage the audience and encourage them to sing the chorus of ‘Lover Lover Lover’ back to them, something that would probably work better when your audience aren’t too cool for school. It’s disappointing to still have people talking over the music and to see people starting to shuffle out before the encore.

For those of us who stayed, we were rewarded with more of the same melodies, imagery and harmonies that made this gig so special. Husky have found their strength in emotionally attaching with their audience and there’s no doubt this gig will be remembered as one of the highlights of 2012.

Live Review: Stonefield, The Delta Riggs, and Kingswood – The Standard (27.04.2012)

Kingswood are the first band on stage and they set the ‘70s rock feel early in the night.  Lead singer Fergus Linacre is full of energy as he walks through the crowd and lands on the drum kit at the end of the set. Their music is loud and unrelenting and Linacre is an excellent frontman, encouraging more movement and enthusiasm from the crowd.

Second band The Delta Riggs start with gusto but run into some feedback early in the set. They deal with it well and once it stops it isn’t a problem for the rest of the night. A cover of LCD Soundsystem’s song ‘Daft Punk is Playing at My House’ comes as a surprise but they make it their own with a harmonica solo at the end.

They’re comfortable on stage and have a real presence, joking with the crowd and each other between songs. The lead singer starts to introduce a song but the guitarist cuts him off before he gets a chance, playing over him.

Rock ‘n’ Roll is alive at The Standard with The Delta Riggs on stage, as they continue through their set with long guitar solos and raw energy. The lead singer jumps on the bass drum and leans towards the drummer in the last song and they end their set having given it their all.

Stonefield arrive on stage to whistles from the crowd and unleash their rocking riffs on us. They move comfortably through the first few songs, giving us a preview of new tracks to look out for. Their age and appearance is something that needs to be mentioned. They’re all young, beautiful and very small in stature. But this has no effect on their music, look away for a moment and you could be listening a rock band who have been together for 20 years playing. They’re technically amazing, and any lead singer who can drum simultaneously deserves credit.

There’s no front woman per se but the guitarist and bassist seem to battle for attention on stage and provide the soul in every song. The bass line drives each song and compliments the drum line perfectly. The sound is clear for the whole set and completely free of feedback. They introduce a “lovey-dovey” song and encourage us to hug the person next to us. With an introduction like that, you’d expect a ballad but the heavy guitar and fast riffs present in their other songs are still there.

Singles ‘Black Water Rising’ and ‘Bad Reality’ receive big welcomes from the crowd but covers of Steppenwolf’s ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ and Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’ get the biggest reaction.

Lead singer/drummer Amy Findlay moves to the front of the stage for the encore and while the band wasn’t lacking in stage presence without a frontwoman, her addition to the front of the stage is welcomed.

Their energy and ability for performing is evident from start to finish and it is refreshing to watch a band who clearly love what they do. They finish with the aforementioned cover of ‘Whole Lotta Love’ and manage to bring a new edge to a song that is already near perfect.

Live Review: Tumbleweed, The Treatment, and Cabins – The Annandale (14.04.2012)

Cabins were the first band on stage at The Annandale and as more people shuffled in, the better they seemed to play. They’re a band doing the rounds of small Sydney venues and their work has started to pay off. 

Their sexy cover of Edwyn Collins’s ‘Never Met a Girl Like You Before’ just keeps getting better. They have a definite stage presence that has improved along with their confidence as a band, showing that they’re worthy of more attention. 

Though crowd banter still isn’t their strength, the fact they’re addressing the crowd throughout the show is a nice change from the first time I saw them. They finish the set with their hit ‘Catcher In The Rye’ that has most moving and some dancing. 

The Treatment are next to play and are loud from the start.
The lead singer urges the crowd to move closer to listen and promises the band doesn’t bite. They’re incredibly comfortable on stage and continue their assault on our ears for the whole set, with a long list of rocking tracks.

Their style is consistent but it would be worth them mixing it up with a slow track here and there, if for no other reason but to give our ears a break. After a set of rock and roll, they shuffle off stage and leave an almost full Annandale Hotel behind.

Tumbleweed arrive on stage and are welcomed by a rowdy crowd, with many wearing flannelette. Lead singer Richie Lewis starts to dance and only stops between songs for the rest of the set. Long hair is being swung around everywhere and the first few rows of the crowd can be seen pogoing up and down during ‘Sundial (Mary Jane)’.

The first part of the set goes quickly without a break between songs, until they introduce a new one. It’s clear that most are here for their hits, with one guy saying “What the fuck, I’d rather hear an old song!” and another calling out for ‘Acid Rain!’ at every chance he got.

Lewis keeps moving around the stage and jumps up on the drum kit during a long solo. The band’s passion for playing live is clear and it’s resonating with the crowd, evident from the number of people crowd surfing.

It’s a rough gig, with one guy almost losing his pants while crowd surfing and another falling over twice, once on his face. That said, there’s no aggression, everyone is getting into the stoner rock vibe.

‘Daddy Long Legs’ is the obvious stand out of this set, with an extended solo and many jumping the whole way through. Showing no signs of slowing, Tumbleweed thrash through another four songs. Lewis mentions their first experiences playing in Sydney at The Lansdowne and says “We should try and relive our past glories for as long as they can last.”

They walk off stage, leaving us with ringing ears and a sense of nostalgia.

Live Review: Underground Lovers and The Laurels – Oxford Art Factory (17.02.2012)

The Laurels use their shoe gaze style and long guitar solos to create a psychedelic atmosphere and it’s easy to get lost in. They win over a gradually filling Oxford Art Factory with their dreamy vocals and clear enthusiasm.

It’s hard to stay focused with their dreamy sound making your mind drift and lose concentration through their set. They achieve a well-blended sound by making each song move slowly into the next so there are no chances to be brought back to earth in a silent moment. The Laurels are obviously comfortable with their sound and with each other on stage and I look forward to seeing them play again.

Underground Lovers walk out and are greeted by an almost full Oxford Art Factory, a crowd made up of old and new fans delighted to see them. Though not everyone is excited – the girl asleep on the lounge next to me might have gone too hard too early to be able to enjoy their show properly.

The sound at Oxford Art Factory can’t be faulted at any stage of the night; they achieved a perfect mix for every instrument on stage and that results in an engaged and happy crowd.

The visual effects they used throughout the show, a video flickering between a girl’s face and a snow scene, fits their slow building tracks well. They rely on that slow build with each song but often don’t get to a climax. It’s the last few songs of the set that stand out and have the crowd dancing pushing to move closer to the stage. Despite being able to hear people’s conversations over two of the songs in their encore, Underground Lovers played a fun and smooth set, showing us they’re still great performers and a band worth going to see live.

Live Review: The Drums and Cults – Metro Theatre (08.02.2011)

It’s usually a bad sign when you can hear people’s conversations over the band that’s playing. And, disappointingly, this was the case for most of Cults’ set. This was a band who don’t look comfortable playing together and who aren’t sure of what to do with themselves on stage.

Lead singer Madeleine Filon doesn’t move at all while she sings, preferring to stay in front of the microphone at all times. She doesn’t address the crowd either, that’s left to Brian Oblivion. They don’t make much of an effort to connect with their audience and when they close with ‘Oh My God’, it comes as a relief.

The Drums walk out late but they’re quickly forgiven for this as they jump, quite literally, into their set. Telling us they love playing sideshows because they can play what they want, they launch into ‘Best Friend’ from their self-titled debut, a surprisingly upbeat song about a friend dying.

Lead singer Jonathan Pierce causes mass hysteria when he takes off his jacket and throws it into the crowd, making everyone in the first three rows scream and lunge for it. The best thing about watching this band is their infectious energy and obvious love of performing. Pierce even tells us that tonight is: “Absolutely the best night of their new year,” a comment easy to believe after seeing the response they’re getting from this crowd.

Single ‘Money’ is played early and gets a huge reception, with the crowd almost drowning Pierce’s voice singing the catchy hook “But I don’t have any money,” and it’s impossible to stand still or wipe the smile from my face while they play it. This is an early standout and highlight until they play ‘Let’s Go Surfing’. It’s amazing that this somewhat simple, happy song gets the reaction it does. Watching Pierce bend towards the crowd and hearing everyone sing “Down, down baby, down by the rollercoaster. Sweet, sweet baby, I’ll never let you go,” along with him is the height of the set.

The biggest disappointment was turning around and noticing that the top level of The Metro was almost empty after ‘Let’s Go Surfing’. Those who left early missed out, since The Drums gave their all until the very end of the show. It will be hard to find a band more committed to having fun and pleasing their audience.

Live Review: Stone Parade, Freestate, and Is it Her – The Gaelic (03.02.2012)

The Gaelic looks full when I enter but there’s a lot of room at the front, close to the stage. The crowd are hanging back through Sydney band Is It Her’s set which is disappointing, since this band are energetic and look like they’re having fun. Even their rocking cover of The Killers’ ‘Mr Brightside’ wasn’t enough to get everyone dancing, sadly only one person runs to the front.

Freestate are on next, and they make it clear from the start they’re a band that want to capture and keep a crowd’s attention. Lead singer Drew Kario is at the edge of the stage for most of the set and uses the space well, moving to stand with the bass player and guitarist during their solos.
They’re the loudest band of the night and incredibly passionate but the one thing they lack is contrast. To someone who doesn’t know their music well, each song sounds too similar to the one before. Technically they’re perfect together, but some experimenting with different song-writing styles could help them become more interesting.

Stone Parade launch into their first song and are tight from the start. Lead singer Greg Byrne urges people “Move down the front, there’s heaps of room!” but sadly, it’ll take more than that to move them. Even when Byrne tries to start a sing along, the crowd participation is disappointing. It’s no fault of the band’s though, it’s a shame people are too cool for a bit of fun.

The set goes smoothly, something that can be attributed to the sound quality at The Gaelic and the band’s clear love of performing. They look comfortable together, play with passion without it looking forced and move naturally around the stage.

Byrne uses a tambourine during the guitar solos, and since you can’t hear it, it appears to just be something for him to do. He grabs an acoustic guitar for a new song and warns us it’s the first time he’s played one live – an unnecessary warning, since there’s no sign of any nerves when he starts to play.

The band appeared on Sunrise on Sunday morning, Byrne wanted us to catch them performing ‘Mr Spaceman’, but I can say with confidence that not many people here would have gotten up that early.

They finish with crowd-pleaser ‘Somebody Will Miss You’ and have one more attempt at achieving crowd participation. They’re more successful at getting us to clap this time and we leave on a high, having watched a rocking Sydney band play a great set.

Live Review: Metronomy – Manning Bar (05/01/2012)

It’s a sign of good things to come when the two people next to you are having a dance off before the band starts. A few more follow their lead and don’t stop until Metronomy arrive on stage.

The band are their usual well-dressed selves and walk on stage to ‘The English Riveria’. The title track from the 2011 album is the perfect preview to ‘We Broke Free’ which gives us a chance to warm up before they launch into a set full of hits to make us dance.

‘Back On The Motorway’ is played early to a huge reception and is followed by ‘Holiday’. Joseph Mount’s vocals are lost at times during these tracks but are recovered for what seems to be the second half of the set, after they get the instrumental jams out of the way.

The energy they bring to stage is contagious and every hit they play reaches a new level of fun. The head-shaking, hip-popping dance combinations on the dance floor shows the band have connected and everyone is feeding off each other’s enthusiasm.

Popular singles ‘The Bay’ and ‘The Look’ are met with applause but it’s older hits ‘Heartbreaker’ and ‘A Thing For Me’ that really get everyone dancing. They introduce an acoustic guitar before ‘The Bay’ and ‘Mount’ assures us they haven’t become “twats” for needing it. He encourages us to boo before they bring it back for ‘Everything Goes My Way’, the song that sees drummer Anna Prior on lead vocals.

The band wrap up with ‘Some Written’ before playing ‘On Dancefloors’ and an electrifying version of ‘Radio Ladio’ for their encore. Bass guitar player Gbenga Adelekan is the one making the crowd move and with his encouragement, there are people fist pumping their way through the last chorus of “R A. D I. O… L A. D I. O…”

Metronomy’s performance at Manning Bar confirmed the hype surrounding ‘The English Riveria’ last year. They used their eccentricity to their advantage and delivered an unforgettable show.