LIVE REVIEW: Gary Clark Jr. @ Annandale Hotel, Sydney (28/09/12)

by Chris Familton

Doc Holliday Takes the Shotgun had the opening honours and proceeded to rip up the memo that says the support band has to battle shitty sound, a disinterested sparse crowd and not upstage the main act. The singer and bassist spent the set lurching madly around the stage and dancefloor looking vaguely menacing between cheesy grins. Their sound sat somewhere between the early deconstructed blues of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The Gun Club and straight up rock and cowpunk and they play it well. All the components were there in terms of musicality and attitude and they looked like they were having a barrel of fun.

Mildura’s Jackson Firebird have been circling the blues and rock scenes for a few years now and as you’d expect they’re a well oiled machine, though not at the expense of a playful live show. The duo kicked out their boogie jams with a very short set, the highlight of which was drummer Dale Hudak pounding out primitive beats on his bottle bin while Brendan Harvey carved hip shaking riffs from his guitar. The crowd quite rightfully went nuts for them, calling for an encore that never came.

Gary Clark Jr. looked every inch the star even before he played a note, sauntering onstage with a coy smile, bling necklace and wide brimmed hat. Clark and his understated band eased into the set, building the tension and mood before Clark unleashed the first of his many solos of the night. What quickly became apparent is the range that he covers in his playing. From straight up rock n roll to psychedelic electric blues and memphis soul the guy can do it all – and seemingly with ease. Between songs there was little banter yet when he closed his eyes, dropped his shoulder and let his fingers do the talking the results were sublime. When he dropped the tempo for the magical Please Come Home, complete with audience screams and yelps, he showed he can also coax tender and fragile tones from his instrument. The biggest cheer came with the tough groove of single Bright Lights late in the set before an encore that included a wonderful acoustic solo spot. Clark showed he is the real deal and an exceptional guitarist with a voice that contrasts and complements his playing perfectly. This was a show that justified the hype.

this review was first published in Drum Media

Two to Tango: A panel discussion on musicians and venues

photo by Chris Familton

Last night at Sydney’s Annandale Hotel a panel of musicians, venue owner/bookers and industry people was convened to discuss the state of the live scene in Sydney and in particular the relationship between musicians and venues.

The genesis of the discussion was a FasterLouder opinion piece by musician Brendan Maclean detailing his frustrations with The Sandringham Hotel when news came to light about their current financial problems. The Annandale’s Matt Rule took Maclean to task via an open letter online which resulted in the two meeting in person (mediated by FasterLouder) to clear the air and discuss some of the points raised.

The panelists were the host Jay Katz (musician/DJ), The Doctor (Triple J), Matt Rule (The Annandale), Brendan Maclean (musician, actor), Urthboy (musician), Siobhan Poynton (MusicNSW), Dave Rennick (Dappled Cities), Tony Gosden (Jam Music/ The Beresford).

Much of the discussion revolved around the importance of the relationship between bands and venues and the need to treat it as a business partnership between the two parties. Siobhan Poynton made some very pertinent comments about the need for both musician and venue to create a worksheet detailing all facets of the performance from arrival times, the payment deal in terms of dollars vs expected crowd and who will pay them and when to avoid any confusion and miscommunication. She also pointed out the roles MusicNSW can play in assisting new bands to understand the machinations of the live music scene and the types of funding available to musicians.

The musicians on the panel stressed the need for acts to do their research before approaching potential venues and to make sure they were being realistic about the crowd they could pull and clear on how they could promote the event to ensure they had a good audience and the venue would get numbers through the door and to the bar. Rule and Tony Gosden both made additional comments on the importance of the approach bands take when it comes to talking with venues and the shared responsibility for promoting gigs.

In response to a question from the audience Rule gave an insight into some of the battles the Annandale (and many other venues) face from external factors such as residents and councils and the often crippling costs that go with defending their business that is contributing economically and culturally to Sydney. Urthboy backed up those comments by reminding the audience of the cultural significance of a venue like the Annandale to a large number of people that have experienced life-changing music and forged friendships and relationships within its brick walls. He also made an important point that ‘supporting’ the live music scene shouldn’t be seen as a charitable act. It should be part of one’s life and social experience and the quality of the music should engender passion for it in the hearts and minds of music fans.

Hopefully this event was a kickstart for more dialogue on the issues raised and most importantly continued action by the Sydney live music scene from the musicians, the venues, the media, local government and the people who are passionate about hearing and seeing musicians performing on stage.

photo by Chris Familton
photo by Chris Familton

NEWS: Attend a panel discussion on live music in NSW

In response to the continued loss of live music venues in Sydney some proactive heads have got together and organised Two to Tango, a panel discussion on the topic, to be held at The Annandale Hotel tomorrow night (Wed 5th Sept) at 7pm.

Presented by The Annandale Hotel and Music NSW, the event comes in the wake of the (successful) struggle for The Annandale to stay afloat, the financial woes of The Sando and the passionate online debate around those venues and the live scene in general.

Entry is free and the discussion will be followed by a Q&A and live music from The Fabergettes, Little Lovers, and Annie Mckinnon. Anyone who is passionate about local live music in Sydney should get along and get involved in the important debate surrounding the livelihood of live musicians and the venues that host them.

Two to Tango panelists:

Jay Katz (musician/DJ) HOST
The Doctor (Triple J)
Matt Rule (The Annandale)
Brendan Maclean (musician, actor)
Urthboy (musician)
Siobhan Poynton (MusicNSW)
Dave Rennick (Dappled Cities)
Tony Gosden (Jam Music/ The Beresford)