Live Review: The Fuzz CD Launch @ Amplifier

The Fuzz ‘100’ Demons CD Launch
w/Kill Devil Hills, The Volcanics, Schvendes, The Arachnids, One Horse Town
Amplifier Bar
Friday 21st October, 2005
Review/Photos By Dylan McArdle

I love CD launches, they are great in that they bring together all sorts of weird and wonderful people – from the casual observer to the hardcore fan (and everyone in-between). There’s always so much more atmosphere and anticipation (towards the end of the night) that isn’t there in a regular gig. Friday night’s “100 Demons” CD Launch event from The Fuzz was no exception.

I’ve been looking forward to this launch since I saw the “larger than life” posters advertising this event some weeks ago. Having six bands on the bill and two stages, I can’t remember a bigger launch in Perth this year. I’ve been particularly interested in The Fuzz since they played excellent support sets to the touring Peabody at the beginning of this month.

The night kicked of with ONE HORSE TOWN performing an admirable job off filling the tough opening spot. Unashamedly, I’m a BIG fan of this band so I have nothing but praise for their performance. I guess having seen them quite a few times lately meant there were no real surprises in their set, though they did finish with a new track. The only real noticeable change is that Ronan is experimenting more and more with his keyboards as heard when they played “Information”. It was nice to see the small crowd that turned up early show some appreciation towards the end of the set.

With the bands playing back-to-back it was straight inside to here THE ARACHNIDS. With a “let’s rock” and an “oh yeah!” these guys turned up the volume to 11 and played they only way they know -fast and furious. This threesome have impressed me before with their combination of pure rock and roll with a hint of classic blues thrown in the mix. The lead singer has quite a deep voice which adds to the bluesy rhythm they bash out. In amongst all the fast paced tuned the guys managed to throw an slow on in for good measure. It was a shame more people were around to witness this performance.

I suppose the good reason why more people weren’t inside was that a large-ish crowd had built up to witness a very different style of music in the form of SCHVENDES. It’s hard to really pin-point why style of music these guys play, but let’s just say it’s unique an interesting. The small stage that was setup as you walk in was fairly cramped for a band that has a keyboard and a violin player. We went from one powerful performance to another, but this time it was the sultry vocals of Rachael Dease that sends shivers down my spine. It felt a bit weird seeing people dance to their music as I guess I just wanted to stand their and soak up all the atmosphere that echoed from the stage. “Small Mercies” is a track that highlight all that is good with Dease’s voice. I do like the drummers use of different type of drumsticks too, switching from simple percussion to that 50’s big-band sound.

The wild change in musical genres continued, with THE VOLCANICS taking centre stage. Along the lines of The Arachnids, they are loud and electrifying and I have never seen them put in a poor performance. Frontman John Phatouros is crazy and unpredictable in his delivery at the helm of the show and he makes the rest of the band look rather tame in comparison. He’s always jumping or headbanging or throwing the microphone stand around (which seems to be his favourite prop of choice). Once again, John gave an over eager photographer his marching orders mid way through the set. While some may label them as predictable, I don’t think I’ve seem them play since the “Light the Fuse” launches, so it was good to hear the familiar rocking tunes being belted out in the way only The Volcanics can do.

I think The KILL DEVIL HILLS must have the largest and loyalist following of any Perth band and as such it was a fight to get close to the small stage out back to witness them play. There was hardly an inch of free space of the stage left with all the members of the band and different instruments. I felt like I was at a country dance, because everyone was alive an on their feet. Time is often tight when there’s a large number of bands on the bill, and I think the Kill Devil Hills could have kept going on and on for much longer, much to the crowd’s delight. Not once but twice did the lights go out and the music stop at the clock approached midnight. The band gave into the wishes of the crowd and played what was almost an encore and with all the jumping and feet tapping it was a fitting finish to a popular and well received set.

It was quite possible that many punters could have ended their night on that (high) note, but quickly we were reminded why we were here tonight, and that was to witness THE FUZZ launch their fourth release ‘100 Demons’. Once again (as with the other bands on the main stage) it was a return to simple but powerful formula that is rock ‘n’ roll. Although not all eyes were on stage (as two girls were madly pashing away much to the delight of a number of young men), those who keep their eyes and ears pointed forward witnessed a performance worthy of a CD launch. It was a night where female vocalists came to the fore, and Abbe May is certainly amongst the cream of the crop. She gave 110% percent with her vocals, she jumped up and down the stage like a woman possessed and she drunk beer than punters gave her. Some bands look out of place on a larger stage or you know that they’ll never reach the giddy heights of a CD launch again, but The Fuzz looked right at home in front of the big crowd. As I have said before, this four piece actually look like they’re enjoying every minute of being in the limelight and that was the case once again tonight. If the first forty or so minutes of the set didn’t blow you away with the power and guts of the band, the “come back for more” encore (that they squeezed in before the 1am finish) just left enough of a taste in my mind to want to see The Fuzz again.

This was a launch of epic proportions and with the year fastly drawing to a close, it will take a lot to top a night like this.


Live Review: Ash Grunwald

Ash Grunwald
The Ravenswood Hotel
Sunday 23 October 2005
Review by Susan Clark

A Sunday Session – it’s the great Aussie tradition that brings together hot summer days, cheap cold beer, music and friends.

This week at the Ravenswood (The Ravo) saw Ash Grunwald take the stage to supply the music with the weather perfect for the occasion. And what a great combination it was, with the crowd all sitting in the beer garden, on the banks of the Murray River, listening to some Delta blues.

The gig started early- 6pm- Andrew Winton was first up in support. Winton is more of a traditional blues player with his amazing grungy and powerful voice; he managed to hit those all important high and low notes, and kept a sense of humour about it. The crowd really warmed up to Winton’s acoustic slide, and as a reward he covered Aka Daka’s version of ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’ to roaring approval. ACDC is a pretty safe bet with the surf and thong clad Ravo crowd.

2005 has been a stellar year for Grunwald– everything has just fallen into his lap. His debut album, ‘I Don’t Believe’ bagged Album of the Year at the 2005 Australian Blues Awards in February. In May he scored the chair to present JJJ’s Roots ‘n’ All program. More recently he was acknowledged by the mainstream with an Aria nomination (in the Best Blues and Roots category). Other nominees included The Beautiful Girls, Jeff Lang, The Waifs and Mia Dyson- pretty stiff competition.

But that didn’t hold Grunwald back tonight. Sitting on his bass drum, Grunwald pulled out a beautiful Dobro guitar and quietly plucked away. The crowd paused to listen, and then abandoned their conversations- how Johnno’s ute had a more powerful engine in the 70s than Stew’s piece of crap he brought brand new the other week- and the girls comparing truckers caps, flannies and the colour of their supermarket bought thongs (I’m not joking)!

All the critical acclaim and awards heaped upon Grunwald is warranted. He is an amazing talent, and is a generous stage performer- he fed off the audience. It was a stompin’ old night. It was delta blues with a whomping beat.
Between each song Grunwald would talk to the audience, goading us, bantering with us, loving us. And we all loved him back.

He played for an hour and a half and still had the crowd screaming for more. We were lucky, he came back to the stage for an encore. Grunwald apologised if at all he seemed a little distracted tonight. He’d been hoping for a phone call that didn’t come; The call to tell him who’d won the Aria tonight.

“Who needs a stinking ARIA when I’ve got such a lovely audience,” he crooned.

Live Review: The Hives @ Metros

The Hives
Metro City
Monday 24th October 2005
Review by Susan Clark

Metro City must have gotten busted recently for having under-aged patrons on premises because they were really strict with ID tonight. Still, my friend and I felt slightly flattered for being asked for ID- it’s a rare thing now-a-days.

The New Zealand band the D4 provided support and came on wearing St Pepper jackets, tight black leather pants, and a tonne of sweat and spit. After supporting the Hives throughout most of their European/World tour, the band were as tight as those black leather pants. They played some old favourites plus newbies from the latest album. The D4 have all the best traits of pub rock- dirty, smutty and sweaty.

Straight up, we knew the Hives weren’t just going to play music, they were providing an experience. Clad in signature black with white dinner jacket and neck tie, the Hives started with lots of jumping, kicking and a wall of sound. Howlin´ Pelle Almqvist took on the persona of a mid western (USA) preacher, prowling the stage addressing us ‘brothers and sisters.’

“You wont be leaving tonight, brothers and sisters because we have you hypnotised. Because we are the Hives.”

Almqvist then said some pretty funny shit about us all tearing off out clothes and writhing around in our sweaty nakedness in the mosh pit- but my memory is shot, so no direct quote.

The band was all excited. It was the very last date of their world tour to promote Tyrannosaurus Hives. And why end it Perth? Apparently, brothers and sisters, the Hives like to experience new things, and they love to experience places they’ve never been before…hmmm.

They played all the favourites, including Knock Knock, The Hives-Introduce the Metric System in Time, A Get Together to Tear It Apart, plus the big hit Hate to Say I Told You So.

It was an interesting mix of people tonight. The teeny-boppers were out in force with their neck plunging shirts and immaculate make-up. But then some pretty hardcore punks turned up- the type that never wash and look infected with something.

After an hour of thrashing it out, brothers and sisters, the Hives left the stage. But after the audience nearly tore down the rafters with their stomping and screams, the Hives came back for what we all mistook to be an encore.

Almqvist sauntered up to the microphone and looked over the sweating, salivating mass, and who were very nearly naked. They were going to do something pretty exciting, brothers and sisters. The Hives were going to do something they’ve never done before, and played old songs, songs they don’t play too much, or not at all. At anytime it could’ve all collapsed into a heap. They cranked it up and played material off their debut album, Barely Legal, the entire track listing of Veni Vidi Vicious, and lots of random mayhem.

Almqvist gave it his all and screamed, kicked, swivelled and strutted his way through the extra hour. By the end, the band were pretty rooted and looked about to melt into sweaty puddles or collapse from heat exhaustion.

After a two hour set, the Tyrannosaurus Hives Experience packed it in. Oh my lordy, if you weren’t part of the faithful at the beginning, you were converted to the cause by the end!

Live Review: The Floors cd launch

The Floors Cd Launch
Swan Basement
Thursday 20 October 2005
Review by Leo Abbs

Having your cd launch on a Thursday night is not the usual way to celebrate a release. It seemed bizarre to me but when I asked Rachel the Floors’ manager, she mentioned that industry people were more likely to come if there was little or no other gigs on, hence the reason for the choice of night. I’m not sure how many industry folk turned up but tonight there was a healthy crowd for the band.

The Floors also took the unusual step of not headlining the night, which kind of makes sense when it’s a weeknight. When they started the band took no time in getting into it, in fact the bass player appeared to be trying too hard to rock out.

The band had a varied sound at times, sometimes kind of 60’s blues rock, other times they would lean to a mixture of punk and rock’n’roll and other times they experimented giving the impression they were a progressive rock band. Lead by a top guitarist, the band definitely showed they could write and play catchy rock songs with kick ass solos – but they sounded better when they weren’t trying to be tricky and different.

While they put on an entertaining live show, they need to go out about their business rather than trying too much to get the crowd to dance. It’s hard to want to dance to music you don’t know – so until you’ve got a well-established release out, people aren’t likely to want to dance.

Quote of the night was: ‘We hate jazz. Self Indulgent Bullshit,’ which sounded a little ironic to me as it was said in the middle of a long period of improvisation.

With this there being only their second EP, I believe if they concentrate on writing a bucket load of songs they will deliver a solid album in the next year or two. If not they’ll have an interesting live show but without the important ingredient; A strong set of songs.

Live Review: Steve Parkin @ Rosemount

Steve Parkin and The Foreign Films
Rosemount Hotel
Saturday 22nd October 2005
Review and Photography by Dylan McArdle

On Saturday night I was lucky to witness a “special performance” from STEVE PARKIN and 3/5ths of The Foreign Films. Due to “unforeseen circumstances” there was no bass player or drummer. Instead we were “left” with Steve Parkin and Hugh Jennings on acoustic guitars and Glenn Young on electric guitar. The guys sat on stools on stage and so did most of the small number of punters at The Rosemount.

No bass or drums but never fear as an awesome yet intimate set was about to unfold. Steve compensated for the lack of instruments by putting 110% into his vocals. There seemed to be more “emphasis” on the words as opposed to on the CD. He played most of the best bits of Sandytown, including “The Maths”, “No Wonder You’re A Star”, “Picture of a Boy and A Girl” (which sounded really good) and (my favourite) “Goodbye Sandy”. It was quite lucky that no-one caught this reviewer singing along to some of these tracks from the bar.

Always the showman, Steve (and Hugh too) traded banter with some familiar faces in the crowd in between songs. After Glenn starting to play “House of the Rising Sun” by request, the trio decided a Beatles cover would be the way to go. A crowd suggestion of “Don’t Let Me Down” was sung in true fashion to the original to round a special set out.

Interview: John Reid (Fly By Night Club)

‘A standard gig day – it’s 12 hours’
John Reid, General Manager
Fly By Night Club

John Reid (Fly By Night Club)
Interview by Leo Abbs
Set in Central Fremantle, the Fly By Night club is a unique venue, one that musicians should be fortunate they have. Besides holding excellent shows for touring acts such as George, The Whitlams, Pete Murray and many larger local acts, there are other aspects to the club that the average pub doesn’t have.

With the flyby being a non-profit organisation allows opportunities for musicians to become involved in the running of the club and also access to the facilities such as the rehearsal rooms, booking one of the small rooms, the transit lounge as a venue and also access to any information about how to get a start in the music industry. Membership from both bands and the general public is how the venue survives. We should be grateful it does.

Leo Abbs stopped by on a weekday and asked General Manager,John Reid some questions about the venue and how he became involved in working at the club. In between phone calls and other people dropping in, it was an interesting chat and certainly gave the impression there’s a hard working and committed person behind the scenes of the club who deserves a lot of credit.

‘How long have you been working at the flyby nightclub for?
‘I’ve been working at the fly by nightclub now three years. When I first joined the fly by night I was hired as the events manager and now I’m the general manager. Within three months I was doing more than just booking bands, I was running the whole business. Taking care of sponsorship and membership, running the bar and booking bands.’

Besides John, there’s two other staff at the venue. A marketing manager who helps promotes the events that are run by the venue and a book keeper. The staff numbers are low because that’s all the venue can afford.

Working in such an industry, it means you don’t work the standard 40 hours..
‘ I wish I had a 9 – 5 Job! Well I don’t wish I had a 9 –5 job, it would just be better than an every day and night sort of work. I have a young family, (so) it makes it hard when I need to be here all weekend.
‘No it’s not a 40 hour week, you’re looking at whenever the venue is hired, you’re working.

With long work hours and not amazing pay, it all boils down to passion for John.
‘I’ve been working my ass off for three years for the love of it. It’s just basically to get the flyby back on track.’

Describing what he does in a week, there’s definitely more to this job than just running a business as the venue is a non-profit venue. The fact that staff work extra hours for no reward is an indication of the passion they have for music and the ideals of the venue. While John described the hours it suggested it was just part of the job, a job which he loved despite the long hours.

“On a typical gig day,you are opening the venue up at one or two for the sound engineer to come in. Then being at the venue until one or two the next day, when we are kicking the band out saying
‘thank you very much. I need to go to bed now’.

‘A standard gig day – it’s 12 hours.”

In case readers were wondering how someone becomes a manager of a place like the Fly By Night – it’s often the case of a lot of unpaid work, plus slogging it out in the music industry.

“Before I became entrenched in the fly by night, I was working in the retail side of the music industry and also playing in bands. From the band side of things, travelling regionally and playing in venues and trying to get gigs, I found it very hard to deal with licencees and their perception of what they required from bands. Basically it was more about selling alcohol than actually supporting local artists.

So when this job came up, I believed in what the fly by was about, it was a musician’s club, for musicians. So it was right down my path.
‘Great there’s a venue for musicians!’
A community organisation could be able to do what they want to do without any sort of agenda from the venue. So that’s what interested me in this job. “

Playing in bands is not the only prior experience Reid has. He also took an interest in their management style of the arts and decided to study in the area.

‘From being in bands and being ripped off by venues and all that sort of thing, I went and studied arts management at Edith Cowan university. I did their Bachelor of Arts in arts management, which was very beneficial in regard to the finanicial side of things, (and) the law side of things.

I also did the contemporary music course at Leederville TAFE which made me very interested in management. Basically, that course got me more involved in bands and especially, Prickle that’s where I met Rachel Pernie and Paul Ottway (members of Prickle – John’s previous band). ‘

The venue relies on income from membership which is available in two ways – the general membership and band membership.There are some perks for people who join the flyby – such as being able to book tables a bigger shows and chances to win tickets.Being a musicians club, it makes sense that they would help musos so they are happy to offer advice to members.

Bands can also become members, by taking out a band memberships. While a higher cost, this also allows them to have access to a rehearsal room, which they able to use to for free, when available.

To contact the Fly By Night Club

CD Review: One Horse Town

One Horse Town – Self Titled EP
Review by Sarah McCaskie

This ep is the debut release for the band One Horse Town. The first couple of bars from the first track, “car yard in a dusty hole”, caught my attention with the catchy guitar sounds. As the female vocals came in, I found myself interested in the different vocal sound, but I wasn’t entirely convinced.

As I listened on, I found tracks 1 and 2 (‘Out Of My Way’) to be repetitive and tiresome – in terms of song rhythm, lyrics and guitar work. “Travelling song” was slower paced, with slightly more melodic guitar and some variation in the vocals although I found the lyrics repetitive once more.

“The hub” reintroduced a punchier pace before the final track “Old horses” begun- a rambling, drifting kind of song filled with repeated lyrics “old horses must die” and vocals consistently ending on high notes.

I felt less harshly about this ep as I listened to it more and more but it still failed to excite me, to move me. The instrumentation was too simplistic and repetitive for it to be enjoyable for me, as were the lyrics.

CD Review: Josivac – If I Tell You A Story…

Josivac ‘If I tell you a story’
Review by Leo Abbs

After seeing Josivac play many times in the past few years, I was curious to see if their debut album ‘If I tell you a story’ was going to meet the usual standards that I have expected from the band.. Fortunately they have.

The album is a step up from their previous release, the Too Cold Ep. While that was more the sound of an acoustic band, the new disc finds them branching out to other genres. From pop tunes like ‘accident’ to the roots type material of ‘get up’ to the stripped back sounds of ‘Over You’ this is a release with a lot of variation. Having 2 singers also gives it more diversity on the vocal front. Novac comes off best when belting it out while Jodie sounds better when singing the softer, acoustic mellow material.

The lyrics make this album. The fact they can take a different approach to the usual ‘break up’ topic and also write beautiful, honest songs about friends (see‘my friend’ and Sara’) makes it an enjoyable album to sing along to and also one to soothe the bad days. The artwork with simple sketches beside each lyric is also very well done.

Sure, as any album goes there are weaknesses. The opening riff to ‘get up’ sounds like the guitarist Simon, is running through a scale and has a hit a bum note – and the vocals from Jodie occasionally don’t seem up to scratch (for example – good morning) but small faults aside this is a beautiful release.