Live Review: Children Collide – The Annandale (29.12.12)

Children Collide played an intimate show at The Annandale Hotel in Sydney to finish off an eventful and turbulent 2012.

The first time I saw Children Collide on their own headline tour was at The Annandale, in 2008. They’d supported many bands around Australia in the lead up to that show and managed to sell The Annandale out that night. Fast forward four years and things have changed. The band have released two studio albums since then, they’ve enlisted a new drummer and Johnny Mackay has relocated to New York City.

This gig didn’t sell out. It’s unclear whether the timing of the gig is wrong, being between Christmas and the New Year, or if the band haven’t won over many new fans with most recent album Monument. It’s bizarre to see them in such a small space and still be able to move to the front row easily.

Children Collide were late on stage, making the crowd unsettled. They opened with old track ‘Terrible Lizard’ and moved into new track ‘The Flat Earth’. There were a few problems with sound in the first few songs, there’s a bad mix and the bass is muddy. Although, this could be because I was standing right next to the bass amps, in front of bass player Heath Crawley.

Lead singer Johnny Mackay didn’t address the crowd between the first few songs and rushed through them; old favourite ‘Skeleton Dance’ was without its final solo and chorus, and newer single ‘Sword to A Gunfight’ was also cut short.

‘Across The Earth’ saw the crowd become a lot more aminated and Mackay crowd surfed, still playing the guitar solo. Things got a bit rough with ‘Prussian Blue’, but when you’ve seen them a few times, you come to expect these things to happen and no one was hurt.

Songs from Monument are generally well-received but it’s the tracks from The Long Now that really had people going crazy tonight. The singalong and crowd participation in ‘Farewell Rocketship’ is always the most fun and jumping around to ‘Chosen Armies’ and ‘Social Currency’ has become a standard at a Children Collide gig. We were finally introduced to new drummer Mitch McGregor – the drummer from Dardanelles, who replaced Ryan Caesar in early 2012 – within the last three songs of the set.

They finished up with an energetic version of ‘Jelly Legs’ and the usual set closer ‘Fire Engine’. There was no point waiting for an encore, they never play them, and everyone shuffles out after the band throw themselves and their instruments around and walk off stage.

They put on a great show at The Annandale, as they always do, but I can’t help being a little disappointed that this gig wasn’t sold out. They haven’t lost their talent or performing ability but they may be slowly starting to lose the ability to win new fans or wow their old ones.

Live Review: Deep Sea Arcade and The Preatures – The Metro (30.11.2012)

The Preatures come on stage to a welcoming all-ages crowd at The Metro. From the very start of their set, they show enthusiasm and appreciation to be supporting Deep Sea Arcade. They play to an almost full venue but most people are sitting down on the steps.

Despite their interaction with each other, evident ease while playing and a whole lot of talent and sexiness, their set drags a little because of the poor mix and problems with the sound. The bass is much too heavy for their music and it drowns the vocals out.

About halfway through the set, singer/guitarist Gideon Bensen puts down his guitar to strut around the stage and sing. He looks a little like Alex Turner from The Arctic Monkeys, both in hair-style and stage presence.
The Preatures finish their set with a slow song but the poor sound means that Isabella Manfredi‘s voice isn’t as loud as it should be and somewhat overshadowed by the guitars.

Deep Sea Arcade come on stage a little late and they too fall prey to dodgy sound. All through the first three or four songs, they have a roadie moving around on stage, checking cables and unplugging amps. Singer Nic McKenzie can’t be heard well and there is a bit of feedback coming from the guitars.

It is incredibly disappointing for this to happen to such a talented band. It’s not clear whether it’s because of the poor sound, or if there’s something else going on but they seem to move quickly through their set and only stop briefly between songs to take a photo of the crowd – asking them to look like zombies.

‘Steam’ gets a huge reception and the sound improves which is a huge relief. Things improve from here, the set no longer feels rushed and there’s no more feedback. ‘Lonely In Your Arms’ is also a success and has the front part of the crowd jumping around.

New song ‘Black Cat’ sounds great, a lot heavier than what we’ve heard from Outlands and it features a Wolfmother/Led Zeppelin-esque riff. The diehard fans at the front seem to know it but the rest of us nod our heads politely.

‘Girls’ sounds perfect and it’s such a relief that they managed to fix the sound up for at least half of the set. McKenzie invites everyone to the after party at Club 77 – perhaps not realising that at least 50% of the gig attendees are under age. Album-opener ‘Outlands’ closes the set and the band shuffle off.

As everyone starts to move out of The Metro and on to George Street, I notice a girl chasing someone who grabbed one of the setlists. She slips over on someone’s spilled drink and goes flying – but shows no lack of determination and gets straight back up and starts running again.

Deep Sea Arcade played well together and managed to play all of their hits, it’s just a huge shame that the quality of the sound wasn’t up there with the quality of the band itself.

Live Review: The Paper Kites and Art of Sleeping (12.10.2012)

Oxford Art Factory is jammed early, with their general well-dressed, impolite clientele.
All through this show, I am surprised by how many groups of people think it appropriate to have loud conversations, sit on stairs and use flash photography to take group shots while the bands are playing.

All of these factors distract people from whoever is on stage, an unfair part of playing a small venue.
Sydney band Art of Sleepingstart their set with strong vocals and good sound, a quality to be highly praised. The drummer pounds away at his kit, at times sounding similar to the drummer in band-of-the-moment Alt-J, driving the beat hard over the melodies.

Art of Sleeping give me a few of those “Oh they sound like…” moments throughout, ranging from Matt Corby to Mumford and Sons. This isn’t to say they’re unoriginal, rather their music is of that same quality and can evoke feeling and emotion from those listening.

A couple of unoriginal tracks filled up their set time – a Van She cover that the singer confesses he’s forgotten the words to a couple of times and a great cover of Neil Young‘s ‘Cowgirl in the Sand’.
Overall, Art of Sleeping were the perfect band to set the mood for the night.

The Paper Kites string up some lanterns on stage, to really set the scene for their music. I can’t help but be reminded of very early Angus and Julia Stone gigs by these decorations, and their influence can be heard when the music starts.

They amble through the first few songs, that get cheers with the opening chords. They start to tell a story about song ‘Leopold Street’, which is a sad song with a sad story to match. When the singer tells the crowd it’s a sad story, someone in the crowd yells “Woo!”. The singer replies with “No” and says it happened the last time they played too, something he doesn’t understand.

The band are very relaxed and play well with each other. They create a very meditative atmosphere – so much so I almost fall asleep standing up – but this is stopped by the large group of people behind me who decide it’s a good time to pose for a group photo. The music coming from the stage is quiet and requires attention to be able to appreciate it, as well as consderation from the crowd so they are heard. It’s unfair they don’t receive this consideration throughout their set, as they do deserve it.

The Paper Kites‘ music can take you deep into thought and can make you travel through your own mind. Something that should be true of most acoustic, quiet bands’ music. They round out the night with a cover of Fleetwood Mac‘s ‘Dreams’ – unfortunately in the wrong key due to the misplacement of a capo.
The set was full of beautiful and relaxing moments and was very enjoyable for this reason. I can’t help but hope that next time, the crowd can appreciate the music they are there to see more.

Live Review: Velociraptor and Palms – Goodgod Small Club (04.10.2012)

Goodgod Small Club is packed early on and it’s great to see people watching the support acts. Even when the support act is Palms, who seem to be supporting everyone in Sydney. It’s the fourth time I’ve seen them this year and to their credit they are improving as a live act.

They engage with the crowd, they all play well and they’re incredibly enthusiastic. These are elements that should make a band enjoyable to watch, but for some reason they’re just not. Their set lags a little, especially when they sell one of their songs as ‘the depressing one’.

They throw in a cheeky snippet from ‘Farewell Rocketship’ by Children Collide at the end of one their songs, which livened it up a bit. On stage they’re natural performers, they joke with each other between songs and use the space they have to their advantage. I give credit where it’s due, there’s just something about them that I don’t enjoy.

Velociraptor come on stage while ‘Girls on Film’ by Duran Duran is playing and start dancing. When a band is having an awesome time together on stage before even picking up an instrument, you know you’re in for a good show.

They scream, jump and cause havoc from start to finish. They swap instruments, change positions and move around into the crowd so effortlessly and quickly that it’s hard to keep track of who has gone where. The tambourine player loves walking through the crowd and does so every chance he gets.

Single ‘Riot’, is the second song on the setlist and it brings the crowd to the edge of the stage. The people in the front don’t stop moving and dance with each member as they walk into the crowd.

Their non-stop energy is reminiscent of The Hives – the music is fast and heavy and each song is over in about two minutes. They’d almost pass as The Ramones, especially with their skinny black jeans and the drummer’s bowl cut hairdo.

‘Sleep With The Fishes’ and ‘Hey Suzanne’ are standout songs, mainly because they’re the only songs that are recognisable within the noise they create.

Velociraptor were chaotic, energetic and so much fun, it was hard not to smile when it was so obvious just how good a time they were having.