LIVE REVIEW: No Age @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney

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No Age

No Age, Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, Arse, Basic Human
Oxford Art Factory
February 14th, 2019

Almost ten years to the day that No Age last played Sydney, at the 2009 Laneway Festival, the Los Angeles duo return on the back of their critically acclaimed album of last year, Snares Like A Haircut. 

A fine four-band lineup had been put together for the evening and all four local acts impressed. Basic Human kicked things off with their primitive punk rock, built on a relentless rhythm section and topped off with the endlessly pacing singer’s half-sung, mostly shouted vocals. They were catchy and a good balance of noise, attitude and humour, with each song introduced as “This is a love song”, given it was Valentine’s Day.

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ARSE

Arse have to be one of the best named bands to come out of Sydney in a long while and you kind of expected great things from them before they’d even played a note. Collared shirts, tight trousers, swagger and volume. The trio started with a gloriously mangled take on Advance Australia Fair before unleashing distorted bass, guitar sounds pulled from a metal album and minimal post-hardcore drumming. It was like Cosmic Psychos cutting all kinds of Jesus Lizard angles with the noise punk dial on 11. They topped it off with a Revolting Cocks’ish lurch and stagger through John Paul Young’s Love Is In The Air.

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Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys

Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys played a Surry Hills gig with No Age back on that 2009 tour and here they were again, essentially still doing the same thing but seeming much more comfortable in their musical skin as a band. The songs rolled and tumbled with less consternation and more flow. Plenty of tracks from their 2017 album Rot were played including the super catchy pop song Plastic Tears, Away and Expanded Horizons and on stage and with volume it showed how well they’ve shaped their Replacements meets melodic garage punk sound over two albums.

No Age still do what they’ve always done, from those early days at The Smell in LA to their latest album, they’ve always found inventive ways to dig noise and melody from the single construct of drums, a guitar and a couple of mics. They still seem a relaxed pair, chatting with the audience, exchanging jokes about old songs being new, unravelling the mystery of Vegemite and talking up the observed ease of living as a vegan in Sydney. 

Their dynamic is basic but with the subtle interplay of Randy Randall’s guitar effects, Dean Spunt’s punk breakbeats and other avant garde interjections like the experimental ambient typewriter chatter of Snares Like A Haircut, their songs rarely end up regressing into same-sameness. One quickly forgets they’re a two-piece when the full throttle wall of Dinosaur Jr sound bursts forth. It’s a clever blend of energy and inventiveness, equally directed at the mind and the feet of the audience and Randall seemed equally lost in a sea of hair and leg kicks as he wrestled all kinds of sounds from his guitar. When they dialled back the frenzy on the song Send Me they sounded like a lost Flying Nun band – beautifully wasted, wistful and melancholic.

Spunt and Randall left us with perhaps their finest song, Teen Creeps, with its Sonic Youth chug and shoegaze wash of guitar, a cathartic way to send the audience back out into the night, fully vibed on No Age’s dissonant sonic hypnosis.

Chris Familton

NEWS: NO AGE new album due end Sept…

Following their Weirdo Rippers and Nouns LPs, Dean Spunt and Randy Randall (aka No Age) will release their newie Everything in Between at the end of September. In the words of the Sub Pop marketing dept…

And Everything in Between is a bold step in their creative evolution. It is a culmination of reflecting upon life’s ruptures and triumphs; the process of moving through these moments banged and bruised, yet better off for the wear and tear. They’ve pushed themselves in challenging and different directions, deconstructing their weird-out pop songs while still maintaining their original aesthetic and intent. Everything in Between sees No Age expand on the emotional force at the core of their catchy song-writing through tone, structure, noise, and samples. And, it’s their best record yet.

TRACKLISTING

Life Prowler

Glitter

Fever Dreaming

Depletion

Common Heat

Skinned

Katerpillar

Valley Hump Crash

Sorts

Dusted

Positive Amputation

Shred and Transcend

Chem Trails

REVIEW: ST JEROME’S LANEWAY FESTIVAL 08/02/2009

Jack Ladder
Jack Ladder

Jack Ladder was the first full set we got to early in the day and it was a nice relief from the early afternoon sun to descend into the Basement venue to check out his indie rock ‘n’ soul sound. Ladder finally got going after some guitar issues and proceeded to play a set from his recent Love is Gone album. With the Pivot rhythm section (who played on the record) backing him, the songs were true to the CD versions and after a tentative start he gradually got warmed up and relaxed into a great 40 minutes of music, highlights of which included ‘Best Kept Secret’ and ‘Mother (Bird Is The Word)’.

Wandering between stages to get our bearings we came across Yves Klein Blue. Sporting a rather pretentious moniker they came across as a fairly down to earth rock band with touches of ska and polka that brought to mind comparisons to the Clash, especially in frontman Michael Tomlinson’s mannerisms and look. Confident and engaging, they caught attention and injected some early afternoon energy into the still arriving crowd.

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A band trading on hype and not necessarily reputation is always going to struggle to win over skeptics and Tame Impala’s main stage set had a strong audience of curious onlookers. The sound on the stage didn’t do them any favours as it was frustratingly quiet, especially for a band that trades in pysch stoner rock that counts volume as ones of its key ingredients. By the end of their set their fans were still there but the attention of many others had wandered.

No Age

No Age are a couple of young gents from Los Angeles currently leading the charge for a small scene centred around a club called The Smell. They brought a refreshing pared down and deconstructed aesthetic to the festival in light of the number of acts keen to project an image or style as part of their musical act. No Age operate with drums, guitar, their voices and some effects pedals and they lived up to their two albums with a set high on short sharp outbursts and some nice melodically abrasive riffs that stuck in the brain.

One man that was bound to be a personality of the day was Jay Reatard. He hit the stage with the other two members of the band, suitably big haired and loud in both volume and colour in his pink screaming t-shirt and the even hotter pink pants of the bass player. Telling the large crowd that “All the other bands on the bill think they are so special, this shit is easy!” he launched into song after song of his trademark punk pop with its melodic hooks and buzzing guitars. Reatard energised the crowd with his Dinosaur Jr meets Ramones meets Kiwi pop sound. It was raw and primitive and it was like a blast of fresh air.
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Time constraints meant that a time share was needed between Four Tet and Stereolab. Outdoors and at a festival Four Tet seemed to take a while to warm to the crowd who, at the Red Bull Academy Stage, had been used to harder and more danceable beats through the day. His style is more for listening to and nodding one’s head and it took a good 15 minutes for everyone to settle into his vibe and hook into his wavelength. Just as they started to it was for us to head to Stereolab. They were well into their set on the main stage and were hitting that sweet spot of the indie krautrock sound that has become their trademark. Laetitia Sadier is the focal point of the band live and her sweet sing-song vocals were endearing. It was a nice break from the noise and the crush of bodies at the other more crowded stages.

The biggest response of the day was quite possibly for The Drones and their swaggering, staggering indie rock. The reality of what was happening with the bush fires down in VIC was brought home when Gareth Liddiard mentioned that Havilah, the place where they recorded the album of the same name, was most likely burnt to the ground. They seemed to take this as motivation to deliver a ragged and brutal performance of howling vocals and twisted, screeching guitars that encompassed all corners of their career from ‘Shark Fin Blues’ to the stomping ‘The Minotaur’. They were for my mind the most dynamic and invigorating band of the day.

The Drones
The Drones

Finishing up the main stage was Minnesota’s (and now New York’s) The Hold Steady. Perhaps viewed by some as the outsiders of the festival with their more rockist tendencies they quickly dispelled the myth before a small yet enthusiastic crowd. Craig Finn’s frontman quirks were amusing and entertaining in the way he comes over as the eternal nerd living out his rock dreams. The endearing thing is how convincing he is in the role, strutting like a Jagger librarian, pouting and gesturing wildly. It was an infectious performance with tracks like ‘Sequestered in Memphis’, ‘Party Pit’, ‘Chips Ahoy’ and ‘Stay Positive’ all creating an arms aloft party atmosphere and an almost perfect end to the day compared to the softer and lighter Feist performance that finished the festival in 2008.

Meanwhile, Girl Talk was over on the other main band stage. He had drawn a huge crowd, mainly of the younger and noticeably more drunken attendees that online forums have been blaming for the perceived change in mood of this year’s festival. There was a noticeably different atmosphere with many people seeming to care more about their look and getting drunk than appreciating the music which is, after all, what the Laneway Festival is or should be about.

NEWS: NO AGE + JAY REATARD shows…

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Those No Age boys from LA and Jay Reatard from Memphis will be doing two Australian club shows in Australia when they are over here for the Laneway Festival.

They will also be hitting New Zealand together for shows in Auckland and Wellington at two mighty fine small venues.

No Age put out a great record this year with Nouns and Jay’s Matador Singles 08 has been getting high praise and is sure to feature in many indie end of year lists.

  • Sydney – Thursday 29th Jan – The Gaelic Club
  • Melbourne – Friday 30th Jan – The Corner Hotel
  • Wellington – Tuesday 3rd Feb – The San Francisco Bath House
  • Auckland – Wednesday 4th Feb – Kings Arms Tavern

Tickets go on sale this Friday 28th November.

Here is the Jay Reatard video for Always Wanting More:

NEWS: ST JEROMES LANEWAY FESTIVAL 2009 – LINEUP

A nice little treat arrived in the inblx this morning in the shape of the first batch of acts coming for the Laneway Festival.

The lineup is as follows:

GIRL TALK, STEREOLAB, ARCHITECTURE IN HELSINKI, THE HOLD STEADY, THE DRONES, CUT OFF YOUR HANDS, FOUR TET, TAME IMPALA, EL GUINCHO, JAY REATARD, BURAKA SOM SISTEMA DJ/MC SET, THE TEMPER TRAP, NO AGE, JOHN STEEL SINGERS, CANYONS, PIVOT, PORT O’BRIEN, HOLLY THROSBY, BORN RUFFIANS, MOUNTAINS IN THE SKY, TIM FITE, STILL FLYIN , DAEDELUS…plus more to be announced.

Saturday, 31 January 2009 BRISBANE Alexandria St off St Paul’s Terrace, Fortitude Valley

Sunday, 1 February 2009 MELBOURNE Lonsdale St, Caledonian Lane and Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Friday, 6 February 2009 PERTH Perth Cultural Centre, Northbridge

Saturday, 7 February 2009 ADELAIDE Fowler’s Live, Northern Terrace

Sunday, 8 February 2009 SYDNEY The Basement, Macquarie Park & Reiby Place, Circular Quay

Tickets are onsale Monday, 27 October 2008 from Moshtix.

I’ll be particularly keen to check out No Age, Four Tet and Girl Talk.  Here is a teaser of what you can expect from No Age…