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Posts Tagged ‘the zoo’

I made a promise to myself midway through last year to see more live hip-hop. However I think I failed that one, as I don’t recall seeing any after Splendour in the Grass. It’s a shame too, because this gig cemented once again how entertaining live hip-hop can be.

I entered The Zoo – slightly damp thanks to Brisbane’s sudden downpour – to what I initially thought was only house music. I figured out though, as the guy behind the laptop thanked the sparse audience, that it was an act called Tigermoth. Clearly not the most engaging set I’ve witnessed.

Not long after Tigermoth’s exit, a series of projections appeared on the back wall – a velociraptor, John Howard, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The images changed between celebrities, political figures and various pop culture references before two figures in mop-like full body costumes appeared onstage. Think a cross between Cousin It and Bigfoot. I considered how brave the duo must be to wear such outfits in a notoriously sauna-like venue, even on a relatively cool night. The idea of performing in the outfits added a sense if intrigue but ended up detracting from the performance after a little while. After a few songs though it was revealed that one of the mops was Quan Yeamons (the other was Emilie Goegan) before launching into a cover of Regurgitator’s ‘All Fake Everything’. Despite having seen Regurgitator perform this song just a few months ago, it was certainly interesting to see it performed in such a different context. I think it may have even worked better with Disaster as neither member was focusing on playing music and could put all of their energy into the rap. Not to mention the fact that Yeamons and Goegan bounce off each other so well, not only interacting with the audience while they are onstage but interacting with each other.

Next up was American rapper Lakutis, delivering a short set of roughly 20 minutes before the headliners were to appear onstage. Lakutis has an enjoyable arrogance about him – you’re drawn in unable to look away, but at the same time cringing to yourself at just how ridiculous it all seems. With songs like ‘Lakutis in the House’ and ‘I’m better than Everyone’ it’s easy to not take him too seriously, but still appreciate his skills and charisma.

Das Racist took to the stage in full swing. The Brooklyn three-piece opened their set with ‘Who’s That? Brooown!’ from their debut album Shut Up, Dude. The crowd approached slowly to the front of the stage, the venue sadly only about half full. By the time the much better known ‘Brand New Dance’ from their latest offering Relax started, everyone seemed to ease into the show a lot more comfortably. The group hilariously introduced most songs with ‘We’re gonna do a couple more American rap songs for you,’ and kept the crowd entertained with stories about their first encounter with cricket. Their energy that is so well captured on record translated well live, with each MC being an incredible enigmatic performer in his own right. ‘Michael Jackson’ was the clear pick of the night, gaining the first real roar of applause from the crowd all night. The group exited the stage saying, ‘We’re gonna pretend to do an encore and we’ll be right back’. Keeping their promise, they came back with an encore of ‘Rainbow in the Dark’ which pleased older fans but left many wondering where ‘Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell’ was.  This was only a small let down at the end of an extremely enjoyable night though, and hopefully the start of more live hip-hop for me in 2012.

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Acts Seen:

Imaginary Cities, Boy in a Box, Emma Louise, World’s End Press, Evil Eddie, The Jungle Giants, Little Scout, DZ Deathrays, Jonathan Boulet, San Cisco, Oscar and Martin, The Adults, Eagle and the Worm, Seals

I went into Big Sound Live with one goal – to only see bands I had never seen live before. The thing with this showcase is that it can be so easy to go see the acts you know will be good (Ball Park Music, Velociraptor, The Cairos, The Paper Scissors, Inland Sea etc etc) but for me that seems to kind of defeat the whole purpose. Isn’t the whole idea to help punters discover new local bands and showcase local emerging artists? I mostly succeeded, I had seen a bit of Little Scout earlier this year at Belle and Sebastian and I heard a bit of World’s End Press at Splendour in the Grass but for the most part I saw a lot of acts I had never seen before, or even heard of before.

Highlights:

World’s End Press – I stayed around to catch their whole set and it was well worth it. A genre I can only describe as retro electro, they’re very 80s complete with the loud shirts and bad awesome dancing. Lots of synths and grooving basslines. I compared them to a more subdued !!! (Chk Chk Chk) – well worth seeing again.

Oscar and Martin – I’m still trying to work out how I would describe these guys, because pop or RnB simply don’t cover it. They had two of the most amazing voices I’ve heard in a while and a really unique approach to their music.

Lowlights:

While there weren’t exactly any acts that I would say that I would never see ago, I felt a little let down by Emma Louise. With the amount of hype she’s had over the last couple of months, perhaps I had just set my standards too high. Or maybe it was an off night or a bad venue to see her in or the crowd was just too loud. It could have been anything, but I wasn’t blown away and I’m struggling to even remember anything about her set.

The Venues:

I managed to make it to every venue available for the event – Electric Playground, Bakery Lane, Black Bear Lodge, Ric’s, Tempo Hotel, Woodland, The Aviary and the Zoo.

It was actually my first time to Black Bear Lodge and I was quite impressed! I never thought the atmosphere of the Troubadour (RIP) could be matched, but Black Bear Lodge could even be an improvement. Lots of seating at the back and just generally a more open feel, I’m excited to return to this venue at some point.

Electric Playground was certainly an interesting choice of venue, but it seemed to work out okay. The sound was okay, the stage set up was okay, the scantily clad girls taking drink orders on the floor was a bit out of place but overall it’s an okay small venue. I don’t see it turning into a live music venue full time but it would be interesting to have the odd show here and there.

The only venue I was disappointed in was The Aviary. Absolutely no airflow, and beyond packed both times I went. I swear it was over capacity for Jonathan Boulet judging by the amount of people crammed into the stairwell between The Aviary and Birdees.

The Verdict:

It’s one of those ‘the more acts you see, the more you’ll enjoy it’ kind of events. It’s nice to be able to move around between different venues, and it’s nice to see members of local bands wandering around seeing other acts as well. I felt like I probably enjoyed last year a little bit more, but for the most part this year was very enjoyable and it was great to be able to see some bands I probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

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To celebrate a thousand issues and 20 years since its inception, local street press Rave Magazine put together a bit of a Brisbane all-star gig at the Zoo last night. Indie rockers Velociraptor opened the night to a fairly sparse crowd, sporting 11 of their 12 members tonight (well, 10 members for the first couple of songs as main frontman Jeremy Neale explained, “Lauren’s parking her car but we’ll have a keyboard player at any moment.”). There were a few moments where you had to wonder maybe six guitars in are too many guitars in one band, with some of the heavier moments sounding a little messy. Despite this, the group put on an exciting show, high in energy and enthusiasm.

Keeping in theme of bands with a ridiculous amount of members, folk-pop group Inland Sea were up next, opening their set with ‘Traitor’. Tonight they were down a few members, namely their string section which unfortunately impacted on their overall sound quite a bit. The strings add a much needed middle ground between ‘soft’ and ‘soaring’. It seemed like the group tried to make up for the lack of strings by simply being louder, instead coming across as overdone rather than enthusiastic. ‘All Fall Down’ was enjoyable, as it is simply a beautiful song (as is that whole EP actually), but for the most part the set failed to impress.

Highly anticipated, Dave McCormack of Custard fame took to the stage next. Custard, or any of McCormack’s other projects, have never really featured too heavily in any of my music adventures so I didn’t really know what to expect from the set. A few glitches with the synth/keyboard (which Seja Vogel from Sekiden/Regurgitator was helping out on) early in the set stalled things a little bit, but was a fairly seamless performance overall. McCormack proved that he’s still a mighty fine performer and enigmatic frontman.

Easily the most highly anticipated act of the night (apart from the ‘mystery’ headline act) was the Brisband Experience. Consisting of members from Hungary Kids of Hungary, Drawn from Bees, The Boat People, Rhubarb, the Blood Poets, Transport and as also Katie Noonan, the group performed some classic songs fromBrisbanebands. ‘Breath in Now’ by george was as beautiful as ever, with Katie Noonan showing that she still has an amazing voice. Rhubarb’s ‘Exerciser’ and the Go-Betweens ‘Streets of Your Town’ were both highlights that prompted some nice sing-a-longs. However the best moment of the set was easily the cover of Savage Garden’s ‘To the Moon and Back’, where Dan James of Drawn from Bees helped to turn a fairly corny song into something pretty awesome.

There were a lot of names thrown around as to who the mystery headline act could have been. Powderfinger, Robert Forster, Butterfingers, sixfthick and the Grates were a few rumours floating around. Most punters consistently guessed the act to be Regurgitator though, and there was a roar of applause as the trio walked onto the stage. Performing a classic hits style set, the ‘Gurge certainly made a spectacular comeback toBrisbane’s live music scene. Opening with ‘I Sucked a Lot of Cock to Get Where I am’ and then continuing on through favourites like ‘My Friend Robot’, ‘I Wanna be a Nudist’ and ‘The Drop’ there wasn’t a dull moment to the set. ‘Black Bugs’ transformed into a brief rendition of ‘Sweet Child O Mine’ and Seja Vogel came back to help out on synths for a few tracks, making ‘Polyester Girl’ a particular highlight. They closed their far too short set with ‘! (The Song Formerly Known As)’ and ‘Kung Foo Sing’, leaving most patrons on a trip down memory lane.

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Brisbane locals Cheap Fakes opened the night’s proceedings to a fairly sparse crowd. Combining jazz, funk, reggae and ska influences the music was highlighted by a strong horn section, and funky basslines, and accented by sharp guitar strokes. High in energy, they proved to be a great opening band and it’s a shame more people didn’t get to see them.

Next up was MC Tuka, the only artist officially listed, though he was joined on the stage by a DJ and another MC (both of whom I suspect may have been part of his hip hop outfit Thundamentals). Starting out with heavy beats and a winding bassline, the ever growing crowd started to show some enthusiasm. The sound quality of the beats was touch and go throughout the set, but the enthusiasm of the two MCs was enough to counteract that most of the time. It was entertaining in terms of energy and quality of rhymes but a little more experience and a little more thought into the actual performance would have benefitted them a lot.

Mr. Laneous took to the stage, with full band in tow, commemorating the launch of their latest EP Scissors. They ran through their vast back catalogue of tracks, including a few re-worked versions of older songs. The set slanted more towards hip hop for the most part, but newer EP tracks were well received, such as the light-hearted ‘Keys’. ‘Slow Down, Pick up Truck’ was reminiscent of early Regurgitator, and as usual Laneous was a fairly charismatic frontman, his voice in top form. ‘Damn!?!! (I Don’t Know if I…)’ was funkier than the normal EP version, with a stronger drumbeat and ‘Oh She’ was absolutely gorgeous, featuring massive vocals from the whole band. There was a stunning guitar solo towards the end of the set that easily left most of the audience in awe. It’s a shame we don’t get to witness the backing musicians excel more often. ‘I Am Dog’ was of course the crowd favourite of the night. An overall impressive set that will surely cement Laneous and the Family Yah as one of the most unique bands in Brisbane at the moment.

 

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Local all girl four-piece Feathers kicked off the night’s proceedings with their retro sounding style that is a mix somewhere between 60s psychedelic and 90s grunge. Opening with ‘Wild House Mountain’, a hazy Velvet Underground influenced song, the girls eased the slowly growing crowd into the set. The vocal harmonies clashed more often than not, sometimes making them sound endearing (such as during ‘Early Morning’), but other times just sounded off. Their cover of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Play with Fire’ received a generous response from the small crowd, but generally lacked emotion or confidence from the band members. Feathers closed well though, with an almost surf rock style ‘Cruel For Love’, giving an energy that hadn’t been seen for most of the short set.

Gold Coast four-piece Oceanics took to the stage next, the only boys on the night’s bill. It’s almost impossible not to describe them as musically tight, and obviously very well rehearsed. The group was practically faultless in their performance, working really well with multiple tempo changes within songs. A natural energy spilled from the group and slowly worked its way through the few punters near the front of the stage. Their Brit-pop/Strokes influence was an energetic welcome from Feathers’ set, and the almost pop-punk style of ‘Romancer’ was extremely enjoyable. The unfortunate letdown was the choice of the two closing songs – both covers – ‘I Put a Spell on You’ and ‘Yellow Submarine’. Both songs are brave choices to cover, and while Oceanics pulled them in a unique style that worked quite well, they both seemed rather out of place.

By the time LA natives The Like took the stage, the Zoo was disappointingly still less than half full. Despite a jarred opening, where less than two bars in lead singer Z Berg’s guitar stopped working, the girls kept smiling and launched into ‘Catch Me if you Can’. Next up was the highly anticipated single ‘He’s Not a Boy’, which got everyone shuffling around the front of the stage with their best 60s style dance moves. “You’re not only great dancers, but you’re damn good looking!” Berg proclaimed before beginning ‘Release Me’, the title track from last year’s album. Most eyes remained on the enigmatic frontwoman for the majority of the set, particularly during the vocally impressive ‘Narcissus in a Red Dress’, but the rest of the band proved their talents too. Understated drumming and dreamy organ tones set a nice backdrop to the funky basslines and crisp, sharp guitar strokes. The four piece powered through the set, which mostly consisted of tracks from Release Me, keeping the energy high despite the normal heat of the Zoo and obvious jetlag. Their retro vocal harmonies were spot on, and tracks like ‘I Can See it in Your eyes’ and ‘Wishing He was Dead’ proved to be crowd favourites. The set closed with ‘In The End’, and the girls had barely run offstage before they were back again for the encore, a cover of ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’ by the Rolling Stones which left everyone wanting just a little bit more.

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A sold out crowd packed into the Zoo to see opening act Mikelangelo. Wooing the ladies and impressing the guys, Mikelangelo was suave and entertaining, keeping everyone’s attention throughout his set. Blending a wide range of styles suited perfectly to his unique crooning voice, Mikelangelo delivered a thoroughly enjoyable set.

Shortly after, the corset-clad singer who everyone came to see arrived on stage, bursting straight in with ‘Ampersand’ from her solo album Who Killed Amanda Palmer. Palmer performed a unique version of Jason Webley’s ‘Icarus’, as well as a few older Dresden Dolls songs, from their popular hit ‘Coin Operated Boy’ to ‘Mrs O’ and ‘Sex Changes’. The infamous anti-vegemite song even made an appearance, much to the crowd’s delight.

‘Oasis’ granted a enthusiastic sing-a-long from the crowd, and Palmer performed a wonderful rendition of ‘Runs in the Family’. Mikelangelo came back on stage for a few duets, including a cover of Nick Cave’s ‘Henry Lee’. Palmer’s crowd interaction was incredibly honest and relaxed, leaving you forgetting that there were another 500 odd people in the room. She even took a moment to read out a short story that her fiancé Neil Gaiman included in the accompanying book to her solo album.

Performance wise, Palmer was in fantastic shape. Her voice is sounding better than ever and her confidence brings her charming stage presence to life. The only downfall is that compared to on record, her live show can sound a little hollow. Fantastic production and textured instrumental arrangements feature heavily on her solo album, and last time I saw her perform Lyndon Chester and Zoë Keating backed on violin and cello, respectively. This lush sound was really missing from tonight.

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