Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Scribbled notes from a bus-ride.

I'm on the excruciating one-hour bus ride home after a day at uni, lucky I have my Ipod on me otherwise my selection of music would be the either 'Sweet Home Alabama' repeatedly on 101.7fm from the bus's radio or the electro-house beats radiating from some dudes head phones behind me. Today is Wednesday- Wednesdays at my uni are the days when bands come at lunchtime and play in our small bar. Over the last 4 semesters bands have been entertaining us in-between lectures for free (woo woo thanks to the Union!) We have had Mercy Arms, Ghostwood, Operator Please (they had the biggest crowd turn up on record), Dash and Will, Nathan Hudson, Luke Steel, Cuthbert and The Nightwalkers, Lover, Children Collide, Expatriate and last week Magic Dirt played, summoning an enthusiastic crowd who moshed to their new and old tunes. 1 in the afternoon is way too early for me to get dancing or into the mood to mosh so I just skimmed the sidelines of the bar and tapped my foot and nodded my head from a safe distance. Today Andy Bull played before Little Red at my uni bar and his style has obvious funk influences and he had the soul vibe going on too. His voice is presented in a high register which makes him sound different to what I expected but he was backed with a drummer, bassist and 3-piece brass band comprised of a saxophonist, trumpeter and trombone-player which was quite impressive. He's not my usual taste and right now I'm listening to his recorded tracks but I don't think it entirely gives him enough credit because the band live were very entertaining and I enjoyed his set quite a bit. Following him were Little Red who were pretty relaxed but seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely whilst they were draped with leis that were randomly being handed out around campus. My foot didn't stop tapping the whole time and I actually enjoyed them more in the relaxed setting of my university bar more than when they supported Vampire Weekend a few weeks back.

Andy Bull

Yesterday I turned up to Oxford Art Factory at 5pm and joined the long queue of people to see Death Cab For Cutie for a Myspace live show that was broadcasted across the internet all over the world. Like lemmings me all streamed into the gallery to access the main room via the back entrance adjacent to the bathrooms and as my friend and I shuffled closer and closer towards the door with the current three people in front of us were halted and told that the main room was now at full capacity and we had to sit in the gallery and watch through the window or view Death Cab on the projector. A wave a disappointment came over me and I didn't know whether to be angry or deflated. But my friend Peter was persistent to get in so he and I both said to the guard that we needed to leave the gallery to head into the bathrooms..which we did, but a few minutes later we waltzed right into the main room and another security guard just let us through! So I felt like I hadn't wasted my time and felt a bit naughty for 'sneaking' in..but knowing me if my friend hadn't lead the way I would have been a big push-over and would have sat in the gallery fuming. Take that..I still got through to the main room!!

•Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin- this Missouri band have been around for a few years but I melt to their pop tunes such as 'Oregon Girl'.
•I've had some of Sparkadia's new tunes stuck in my head this week.
•'Young Bride' by Midlake. Mmmm!
•My friend sent me this's about music nerds and I think he was trying to hint that I have some connection to this comic:
•I spotted some street art in Sydney the other day! In Omnibus Lane right near Ultimo Tafe some amazing people have decorated the walls.

Street Art in Omnibus Ln

•MGMT tickets sold out in well-under a minute! Booohoo.
•My camera batteries decided to die on me during Death Cab For Cutie and kept flashing "BATTERY DEPLETED".
...I don't have much negative to say this week :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Levity Blog #3: Big parties and big red carpets.

Red carpets..they have so much appeal. Celebrities, musicians, actors, models and the VIP of the entertainment industry pose on the crimson walkway and I'm sure many people dream of stepping foot onto it to share some of the limelight with their idols. I've been on a red carpet once..back in july last year, my friend and I made sure we turned up fashionably late because it would have been embarrassing for us to walk on the red carpet while there were photographers and important people around us. The main reason: because we were neither musicians, journalists, actors, models or any form of celebrity. We were there to see Starky play their penultimate show. We shyly approached Crystal Bar in Martin Place with wobbling heels and goose-bumped skin, shuffling on the red carpet to an audience of none, apart from the door girls and guys who checked us off the list and pointed us towards Ray Ban's 70th Birthday Party. We entered the party and dropped off our coats and instantly recognised some faces, a Red Rider, Joel Edgerton, James Matheson, Gareth Moody, Saskia Burmeister, Rai Thistlewaite amongst the room of fellow celebrities. We nibbled on the amazing canapes, ate quality battered chips and calamari out of cute chinese noodle boxes and sipped on a few glasses of bubbly to shy away our red faces. By the time the bubbly had us under the influence Starky came on stage, delivering an energetic performance along with their single "Hey Bang Bang" which was nominated for and ARIA award in the category of "Breakthrough Artist 2006". My friend and I left soon after Starky finished performing, deciding that we had a fulfilling night and our timidness wouldn't have helped us mingle with the Ray Ban party crowd. But I was young and naïve! I'd certainly stick around, sipping more bubbly and mingling if the opportunity were to arise again.

That opportunity nearly arose again when this year after a few beers with a friend he asked me to be his date to a music awards event. As you can imagine I was very excited to be asked to attend such an event with familiar faces of artists who I avidly listen to and regularly hear about. I also saw it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and didn't want to appear overly enthusiastic with the invite so I didn't nag him too much for details. I called my so-called 'date' on the afternoon of the event to check the time of arrival thinking the award was to be presented that night..he then informed me it had already been held that morning and that he had "forgotten" to tell me the details of the event. Ouch. For your information his band didn't win the award anyway..

The next big red carpet event for the music industry is the ARIA awards with industry insiders paying $395-$495 for tickets which includes a three-course meal, unlimited alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks (or until too drunk to be served), red-carpet entry and passes to the after-party. I can imagine many people would be itching to attend for the experience and to rub shoulders with some of the ARIA contenders such as The Presets, Gyroscope and Cut Copy..some people itching enough that they are going to pay $445 for industry gold tickets- some of my friends who work in the music industry are going to empty their pockets and their piggy banks to go. But i wonder how much of a strain it is for some independent musicians to cough up a few hundred to fund their attendance. Most indepedent musicians have day-jobs to pay and maintain the equipment they need for their band, touring and recording and it doesn't come cheap either. 2007 AMP music award winners The Mess Hall know all about that when they confessed that during the recording of their latest album, Devil's Elbow, they were living on tinned food as well as the dole- not exactly living the luxury life. Still it's all about the experience isn't it? But I would certainly drink up $445 worth of alcohol if I were to attend and see Connie Mitchell in a plastic dress again doing her robotic dance moves/poses..mind you, I wouldn't be drinking in celebration. Nevertheless I can imagine it would be a fun and unforgettable night. Is it an easy prediction to say that Faker will be nominated for their single 'This Heart Attack'? After the exhaustive radio play they have had it is inevitable that they will at least get a nomination.

•MGMT and Wolf Parade have announced their hitting our shores later this year!
•'The Gardner' by The Tallest Man On Earth and trying to sing with his Swedish accent after a few too many vodka-lemon-limes.
•The Boat People- charming Brisbane pop band with sweet tunes and sweet cardigans.

•4am RAGE with death metal/hardcore artists with weird growling vocals, weird eyeliner, weird hair and weird piercings. Weird.
•'Shake It' by Metro Station- Hurt me before I have to hear those whinging vocals again that sound like those boys have just hit puberty..they aim to lure in teenage girls with these lyrics: "I'll take you home if you don't leave me at the front door/ Your body's cold, but girl we're getting so warm/And I was thinking of ways that I could get inside ". Ewwww.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Blog #2 for Levity: Splendorous!

This past week we have had creative people with instruments in hand arrive on our shores. These people have given live music in Australia that boost of excitement, with bands such as Sigur Ros, Band of Horses, Vampire Weekend, The Fratellis, Devo, Cold War Kids, Tokyo Police Club, Laura Marling and New Young Pony Club as a handful of the most anticipated bands to catch while they are down under. Most of these bands have also held side shows too and if you are like me and didn't get to road trip up to Byron Bay, the side shows were easier to fit around a busy schedule. Being a poor uni student I managed to see one of these side-shows on Monday at the Metro where Vampire Weekend charmed the pants off everyone, not literally though and I'm glad about it because I think it is rather distasteful when people throw their underwear on stage- reminiscent of Jason Mraz at The Forum 2006 when a woman and a man took off their hopefully unsoiled undergarments and catapulted it onto the stage. Jason was slightly amused but grossed out by it. I can just imagine the chaffing the man would have felt on the bus ride home..ewww.
Back to Vampire Weekend though..they were supported by Little Red who have received a great deal of praise for their short 60's pop and rock 'n' roll infused tunes off their debut album 'Listen To Little Red'. I have heard and read nothing but good news about these cats. The crowd at the Metro were very inviting when they came on stage and as soon as they began people were jittering and some were jiving as they played a musical-chairs-like game with their lead vocalists, rotating regularly and harmonising together. I didn't feel like I was in the 21st century, and I realised more suitable attire would have been a big polka dot dress, ponytail and scarf around my neck. I have seen Little Red before and it is hard to stand there without tapping a foot or two. Then Vampire Weekend graced the stage and the crowd erupted in excitement, cheering and wolf-whistling and they started with "Mansard Roof" which was a fun sing-a-long. Vampire Weekend have this boyish charisma that ooze out of them especially from the lead singer, Ezra Koenig, who shared multiple smiles all around and seemed delighted to be in Australia. It's hard for a few people to accept they are from New York since they seem like they hail from the UK but once Ezra greeted the audience with his American accent it was evident that they were not a British band at all. They cheerfully played through their entire debut album tracklist of afro-pop with three new tracks as well and their bassist was cheerful too, dancing as he played. It would have been next to impossible to not ingest the happy atmosphere and leave there feeling like they were as good live as they are on CD. As for the other Splendour side-shows I missed out on Sigur Ros which I heard was amazing and a friend of mine went to Band of Horses, informing me mid-set that he was close to tears because they were so impressive.

So now that it is post-Splendour the other festivals to look forward to in Australia are The Great Escape and Big Day Out. But I have heard some news from a little birdy..supposedly The Great Escape has been canned due to poor ticket sales. Ouch. The lineup was pretty impressive with Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band, Ladytron, Joan as Police Woman, The New Pornographers and We Are Scientists as the top international acts for this festival. It is disappointing that, if this is true, that another chance to see some great bands from overseas as well as some of the best locals bands will be sent back home. The Great Escape Festival also offered free camping with every ticket that was sold. This reminds me of Playground Weekender which did go ahead but had poor ticket sales, free tickets were being handed out desperately so people would show up. What has happened that has caused people to become disinterested in festivals like this but festivals such as Big Day Out still sell-out? It's a mystery to me.


•Bourke St Bakery- I visited there yesterday and bought a delightful strawberry and creme brulee tart, it contained real vanilla bean seeds and they were playing MGMT while I was ordering my dessert. Amazing food and great music playing while they are at work..I wish I worked there.
•Feist's 'The Reminder'- It's been out for a while but I love this album. I played it while I hosted a tea party and when I clean the house.
•Jack Ladder on "Good Day New York"- Jack had a chat to the female host before he performed "Love Is Gone", where the woman was short in comparison and with a strong American accent where Jack is tall and is a pretty quiet guy. The awkwardness of the conversation was enough to make me giggle but it's good to see the Hopetoun regular in the spotlight although I can imagine Kerry Anne wouldn't be calling him up for an appearance when he gets back.


•Ian Curtis' Gravestone-I know it's old news but I think it is ridiculous that someone stole his gravestone. I can just imagine the jerk showing his/her friends the prized-stolen-possession and getting punched for it.
•The 'shock' of one of The Veronicas nude photos that leaked on the net- It was evident from their first single that they aren't sugar coated and have no talent. Lame lame lame.
•I can't escape The Living End's new single "White Noise". It's on in the bus, on the tv, on in my brother's room. I used to love TLE, I even covered my school folder in a poster i made that represented the album cover of 'Modern Artillery', but I'm not connecting with their new music although everyone else seems to be. Perhaps I'm being uptight. Perhaps I have to remind myself that Chris Cheney is one of Australia's best guitarists and that TLE are really good live..
•As good as Vampire Weekend were I had to stand on my tippy-toes the whole time, stuck in a crevice behind the two tallest guys at the gig. I rocked side-to-side to get a view of the stage. Where is the gallantry?