written by Chris Familton
Under the banner Sing Along 2011 this was a night that celebrated a bunch of musicians who for the most part began creating music in the 90s. Duncan Mitchell, one half of Grand Tango Fandango opened the night with a solo acoustic set of songs that fell somewhere amidst the sound of Paul Kelly and Evan Dando. They were high on pop melodicism yet had a muscularity about them that begged for a full band setting.
With a clever two stage setup at opposite ends of the Annandale there was no waiting between sets, all one had to do was turn around as the next act kicked off. The appropriately named Bosom were first up on the smaller stage and played a fun set of playful punk, garage and electro-rock songs. Front-woman Wiz is the undeniable focal point of the band with her shock of platinum hair and larger than life stage presence. The first reaction to Bosom was amusement but their energy and urgent riffing soon became infectiously irresistible.
Sounds Like Sunset brought the 90s post rock and shoegaze vibe to the evening with a wall of sound that at first felt like an assault but once the sound guy wrestled the sonics into submission it was an all-enveloping, surging wave of frequencies and rhythms that got right inside your body. The band seemed downbeat, even apologetic – perhaps as their guitarist was leaving the band to relocate to India the following day. In stark contrast Greg Atkinson (Big Heavy Stuff) returned us to the acoustic world with a solid but uninspiring set of songs. After the joyous overload of Sounds Like Sunset it may have been an adjustment issue but the quiet, stark songs drifted up towards the Annandale’s flaky ceiling rather than into your head. A tender version of Hibernate did highlight Atkinson’s impressive way with a song though.
Further took things up another notch with a defiant set that showed the evolution from noiseniks to sound sculptors. The Fugazi like aggression is still there but their palette has been expanded to take in all kinds of influences from Sonic Youth to power pop surges. Further are still one of the best live bands in Sydney. Jamie Hutchings has some mic issues to battle before starting his set but he more than made up for it with his distinctive storytelling in songs that blended dissonance with traditional songwriting. His guitar playing stood out with some ragged soloing harking back to his Bluebottle Kiss days. The crowd responded enthusiastically to Hutchings set, acknowledging one of Australia’s great unheralded songwriters.
David McCormack knows how to lighten up a room full of serious music with his playful and casual approach that is nearly as much about the humour as it is about the music. With the impressive Polaroids around him his sharp pop songs like Living Under the Flight Path… sounded fantastic. It would have been wrong to follow with another acoustic act so instead things were accelerated with Peabody laying waste at the other end of the room. Unashamedly rock n roll and defiantly confident they cut a swathe through their set amid a sea of flailing arms and guitars. Small stage, killer band and a crowd imbibing beer made for a Peabody set that felt like one of their best you’ll see and hear.
The final honours went to Screamfeeder – headliners of a sort – who played a professional set of songs from across their career. Their brand of indie rock felt strangely familiar even when some of the songs were fresh to these ears. It felt a tad nostalgic, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing but after six hours of constant music it was hard to drum up energy – especially after Peabody’s set. Credit should go to the organiser John Ferrinda for an exceptional night of music showcasing some of Australia’s indie acts.
this review was first published in The Drum Media.
Click HERE to see more photos from the show.