Live Reivew: Next Big Thing 2007 – Regional Semi Final

NBT Regional Semi Final
Fri 27th July 2007
Review By Rohan Hewson

Firstly, Desert Radio played first and I missed them, so refer to the state final review the next night where I did. I’m assuming they were as good on Friday as on Saturday, ie: great.

Ashleigh Rodier came all the way from Carnarvon, and unusually for the regional semi, was the only soloist of the night. Apparently a multi-instrumentalist, although the only instrument she played was a guitar… why is it always a guitar? She’s forgiven though, because the songs were good; especially ‘The Last’. Most of the songs were surprisingly personal, coming from a small town where most people know each other. Soloists don’t tend to win this competition, but it doesn’t mean she wasn’t good.

Next up, last year’s grand finalists Bartlett, now with the oldest lead guitarist I’ve ever seen, apparently named ‘Boink’. By the third song, ‘The Footy Song’, it was fairly obvious they wouldn’t win, purely because Perth judges / audiences wouldn’t get the very, VERY rural vibe. However, I’m a country kid myself, and I grew up listening to the Angels and Choirboys, so I liked it anyway. Loud, simple, pub rock that couldn’t have come from anywhere else but the bush. By this stage, Mojo’s was absolutely packed… all the bands’ friends and family together made it quite hard to get to the bar, or anywhere else.

I thought the Spring Collection, from still-apparently-regional Mandurah, were called ‘the Scream Collection’ until I read their correct name on a time sheet, largely due to their fans. Mojo’s was suddenly flooded with black hoodies and teenage screams for their set, which was intensely annoying. Despite this, however, their set was quite enjoyable; the singer’s Bob Log-style microphone helmet should win the ‘best gimmick of the competition’ prize, if such a thing existed. And the music wasn’t too bad either; there was a bit of modern emo-punk style in there to please the kids, but the bluesy Bob Log influence didn’t stop at the helmet. They won the night, and probably deserved to.

The last two bands, Cody Robson from Broome and Aron’s Crusade from Albany, were fairly similar. When Cody Robson started playing, I spent the first song trying to see around the crowd to find the other guitarist; surprisingly, there wasn’t one. Just one guitar and drums, but the two of them got plenty of sound out of them. Aron’s Crusade had the ‘Albany sound’ about them, ie: they sounded plenty like the Waifs. Two acoustic guitars, and strangely, a drummer who looked like he’d be more at home in a punk band. Neither of them placed, but were a nice cruisy way to wind down the night.

Live Reivew: Next Big Thing 2007 – Metro Semi Final 1

Next Big Thing Competition – Metro Semi 1
Amplifier Bar
Friday 20th July 2007
Review by Rohan Hewson

Firstly… I didn’t see The Bullet Holes, and they didn’t place, and I barely saw The Wilderness and neither did they. I’ll be diplomatic and say I heard good things about them, though.

Druid Lee Roth were hopefully the joke band of the competition… I have to hope. Five-sixths of the band were bringing back 80’s new wave / post-punk… ahh, whatever it is, and they were fairly good. Unfortunately, the singer (who did nothing but sing, dance and dodgy audience participation) seemed to be bringing back Madchester. Anyone with eyes could see there’s a crowd, there are girls in it and some of them are dancing – we don’t need it pointed out. Maybe it’s a kind of art that’s too subtle for me to grasp, but I just thought… is he on E?

The Disguise impressed me a whole lot more than in their heat, maybe because I was paying attention this time. They played… well, guitar rock, with less keyboards than some of the other bands. Simple explanations are good sometimes. They were good, too. At this point the cheap beer started to kick in, so the Disguise, the Remedials and the Chemist kinda drifted into each other. The Chemist were only a three piece, but still managed to have quite a full sound, which is probably how they came second. Those three bands were an hour of ultimately inoffensive music… nothing bad, some quite good, but then I didn’t remember much an hour later.

And then, the Harlequin League played last and won the night. As in their heat, they were never really in doubt – a cut above any other band in the comp so far. That said, they possibly don’t need to win, as they’re going to get big with or without the NBT. They’ll be deserving winners, though.

Live Review: Next Big Thing Heat 6

Next Big Thing Competition Heat 6
The Bakery
Friday 29th June 2007
Review By Rohan Hewson

Generals And Majors got the difficult first slot on this NBT heat, on a cold and wet night, which meant they played to the judges and about 10 other people. I didn’t see them, but I guess they must have been OK – they came second, and any band named after an XTC song is all right by me. So I’ll see them at the semi.

Bottle Rockets were next. They were all right, but obviously very new, with a few awkward patches in their songs here and there. When the acoustic guitar player picked up a second electric one instead for a song, it became obvious they could use a bass player. The mix of two electric guitars and some very basic drumming needed a whole lot more low end than what it had.

Upton Pilots continued the aeronautical theme, and also the really new band theme. They were more of a full band than Bottle Rockets, but suffered from the same problem: songs that sound like they’ve been written a week ago and played four times. Fortunately, that’s an easier problem to fix than rubbish songs. Once these bands have been playing for a while and figure out their sound, they should be pretty good – I think they call that ‘potential’. I’d pick both these bands to do well in next year’s NBT, if they’re still together then.

Natasha Bouchard played the kind of music you hear on Channel 31 at 2am, Chelsea Lights played the kind of music you hear at the Amplifier Bar at 2am. They were fairly boring, so enough about them.

They played either side of Will Stoker and the Embers, who deservedly won the night. They started out with two keyboards, with their players sitting down. I was thinking ‘some kind of Whitlams band?’. The Whitlams comparison lasted about half a song, and by the end of the set Will had played keyboard, clarinet, harmonica, guitar and sung. Trying to put a genre on what they played would be pointless, so I’ll just say: go and see them. They’re manic, and very good, too.

The Roast were a whole pile of fun. God knows what an eight piece funk band was doing in this comp, but it got people dancing. Not indie-dancing, either – but real shimmying on the floor. I think it’s safe to say that they provided the only trombone solo of the whole NBT competition. We could use more bands with three-piece horn sections.

Anyway… Will Stoker and the Embers go through to the semis along with Generals and Majors, and a heap of other bands from the other heats. See ya there.

Live Revew: The Nordeens

The Nordeens/ The Order Of The Black Werewolf / The Gary’s / Russian Winters
Hyde Park hotel
Friday 25th May
Review by Leo Abbs

I turned up half way through the Russian Winters’ acoustic set. Featuring two members of Team Jedi, a few people have suggested it’s Team Jedi two. A little off the mark as Kris Dimatroff (better known as Dima) is on lead vocals and guitar, whilst in Jedi he was on drums.

I couldn’t actually see the band, or for the matter, hear much bar a bit of vocals. They played without a drums, so perhaps it’s best I save judgement for when I get to see the full band play.

‘You guys suck!’ called a guy in the audience early in the next band, The Gary’s set..
‘hi Wayne!’ The lead singer said of The Gary’s into his mic.
‘I said, you guys SUCK!’ said Wayne
‘We may suck, but you paid 5 bucks, so you suck more!’ replied the vocalist.

Tonight was apparently The Gary’s first show. Also featuring members of a pervious Perth ban (the guitarist and bassist from Punk band White Trash, who were around about ten years ago) The Garys impressed this reviewer. They were hilarious, and had some catchy rock songs with at least four of the tunes mentioning Gary. Who’s Gary? Anyway, a band to check out.

Beside being known as a cunt of a reviewer for Xpress, Mike Wafer used to play in a popular punk band Love Camp 7. Best known for piss funny songs, they broke up when Wafer moved to Melbourne. When he came back to Perth 2 years later, he formed Whitechapel, who never reached the popularity of LC7 and dissolved in 2006. Tonight was the second performance of his new band, The Order of the Black Werewolf.

While both previous bands dabbled in surf guitar, The Werewolf have got a more full on surf rock sound. With long instrumental passages, they sounded interesting, until vocalist Wafer opened his mouth. His vocals sounded terrible tonight. It would be easy to write this whole band off on hearing him sing, but we’ll go easy on the fact that tonight’s gig was only their second. However, bassist (also of Love Camp and Whitechapel) Anthony is still one of the funniest men I’ve ever seen play in a band.

Glenn Musto is one of the best pop songwriters around town, and has been concentrating on his acoustic act, College Fall in recent times. Tonight it was a reunion of sorts for his other band, The Nordeens. It’s been a while since they’ve played, as drummer Ant is now living in Bendigo.

When it comes to comparing Musto’s two bands, then College Fall would be his day job, while The Nordeens would be like going to the pub with his mates. A 3 piece that is on the heavier side of pop, they’re angsty at times with out being dreadfully emo. The Nordeens are perfect for Friday night at the Hydey.

Their set that ran through their ‘How To Forget (you)’ EP, with the catchy Alison Ashley opening proceedings plus other live favourites such as ‘Caroline, I don’t deserve you’. It felt like it was 2004.

Finishing with their last single ‘So Long’ and not playing one of those predictable encores that bands so often do, they left us wanting more, but it’s better to wait for the next gig. Hopefully the wait is shorter than two years.

Live Review: Blackjack Festival

Blackjack Festival
Thursday 05 April 2007
Claremont Showgrounds
Review by Susan Cowling

Festival goers weren’t going to let inclement weather stop them going mad at this one, especially given the headliners.

Children Collide were a bit of a surprise package with raw bass lines and harsh jangly guitar but with a seriously catchy tune. These guys have just flown in from a mini UK and US tour for their own mini Oz tour. I can’t wait for the full version.

Birds of Tokyo were in fine voice, but upstaged by Children Collide. The heavens opened up at the beginning of their set, but it didn’t stop the hardcore fans from bopping along.

Fans of the Vines have changed much, fanatical and screaming at every opportunity. The set was disorganised and a little lazy; some of their equipment failed and …the lead singer…seemed more than a little confused (nothing new really). The band seemed really appreciative of the crowds support and rewarded them with a set heavy with “Highly Evolved” songs.

Eskimo Joe attracted their average fan- stale, lifeless and colourless. No- to be fair- the band put on a great set; tight, with most of their hits. No matter how many times those naughty little indie kids yelled out for “Sweater” and “RSPCA Love Song”, it just wasn’t going to happen. Great production values, mellowed sound, played to an appreciative local crowd during a golden sunset.

The sun had finally departed when the 11 piece Gnarls Barkley ran on stage and assumed “the position.” Right off we were in for an event with all members decked out in punkesque red tartan school uniforms, and a four piece strong section, in what main man, Cee-Lo Green called, the “School of Rock.”

They opened with a Pink Floyd cover- ‘Another Brick in the Wall Part II, which got the whole crow singing along. Green tried hard to fir up the crowd for a bit of dancing and zaniness, however, this was not a Gnarls Barkley crowd, and not really the best forum for the band. The crowd gave a semblance of interest, but didn’t truly appreciate the effort, and were just waiting for the main event. There is no questioning their showmanship, energy and musical skill- I thought they were bloody fantastic and it annoyed me that they weren’t as high up on the bill as they should have been.

The Living End seemed comfortable in their slot of being the last act before the Pixies. Where most bands would perhaps quail and falter, the Living End saw it as a challenge to rock as hard as they could. And the crowd loved them for it. They did their characteristic rockabilly, bass slapping/standing, trading on the hits of old. Front man Chris Cheeney seemed a bit conflicted- in awe of and excited to perform before the Pixies, yet not really wanting to be in Perth, (no matter how many times he said they loved Perth, he couldn’t quite get that smirk off him face). The music was tight and tested by time with most of the crowd favourites getting an airing

For such a small mosh pit area, a surprisingly large number of people can squish their way in. Everyone wanted a piece of the Pixies, and went wild as soon as they caught a glimpse of Kim Deal, Joey Santiago, David Lovering and Charles Tompson IV/Black Francis/Frank Black. There was a noticeable coolness between Black and Deal, though thankfully no spats, guitar throwing and dramatic stage break-ups like the Pixies of old.

Whilst much of their set was fairly mellow and slowed down considerably from their typical frantic thrash, the music was as intense as ever. All the favourites from Debaser, Wave of Mutilation, Silver, La La Love You, to Caribou were played for the salivating, and at times, close to tears, crowd. The crowd sung along to every song, swayed to the beat and danced when they could. After the beautiful and climatic end all of the Pixies walked across the stage to thank their adoring fans. As another punter said, you really understood that it was the (for many) first and (most likely) last time- but at least we got to say goodbye.

Live Review – Pahlemik Cd Launch

Pahlemik Cd Launch
Hyde Park Hotel
Sat 27th January 2007
Review by Rohan Hewson

I walked in to this gig halfway through The High Impedance’s set. The Hydey was pretty packed, so I couldn’t get to the front, and I didn’t really want to. The sound coming from the front was a loud electronic buzzing, with only occasional snippets of guitar giving away that it wasn’t just a malfunctioning amp, a la Metal Machine Music. Surprisingly, they weren’t far and away the weirdest band of the night. Meanwhile, I just watched the donation jar fill up… instead of having a set door charge, Pahelemik had a jar which people threw gold coins into. It seemed to work pretty well, because that jar was mighty full by the end of the night.

Cease played next, with the first actual music of the gig. What they played could be considered one song, because nobody clapped until the end and the room didn’t go silent for half an hour, but the set could be divided up into three or four different movements that were almost different songs. There’s only two people in this band, a drummer and a guitarist, and no vocals. The guitarist wore a bizarre outfit that looked like the most lurid-coloured rags he could find in a Good Sammy’s, and a belt with ‘Cease’ written on it – come to think of it, that’s probably the only way of figuring out who they were, because I don’t think he ever said a word the entire set. He also spent half the set standing on an amp, facing the drummer or out the window. As for the music… it was like ‘Molten Universe’ by Kyuss, but played a whole lot slower. It may sound dodgy, but at the Hydey this kind of stuff seems to work. I liked it, anyway. This is what stoned noise music should be like… actually tuneful. I’ve seen this band a few times now and they’re growing on me.

Abe Sada were the third strange band of the night. They have three bass guitars, one double bass, and nothing else – again, no singing. The first half of the set sounded like my head when I was coming into Adelaide on the Indian Pacific on a cold July morning a couple of years ago, with a filthy red wine hangover. Maybe that’s a bit of a Pitchfork-esque description, but that’s what it reminded me of. Then things sped up a bit, with occasional bursts of feedback and energy. They sounded much more interesting than you’d expect from nothing but basses.

Noise Etiquette were the first band to have singers, and they had a couple. They were either a metal or a punk band, depending on who was singing, growling or screaming in the particular bar. Apart from that they were pretty similar to any number of other bands I’ve seen at the Hydey, but the alternating between singers kept it fresh. And just a quick word on the house music; the last song I ever expected to hear on the PA straight after Noise Etiquette finished was ‘The New Matthew’ by Custard. Still, I guess nothing was really normal tonight.

The Kids consisted of two drum kits (the first time in a while I’ve seen that), an old Rhodes piano and a guitar. Pete Guazzelli (late of Harry Smith) sang while playing one set of the drums. They had well structured songs and vocals you could hear, which was something of a novelty for the night. They were good, too.

I read Pahlemik described as ‘weirdcore’ in Xpress, which I suppose fits them as well as anything. They played some kind of punk I was too drunk to even think of a sub-genre for, and they were the tightest band of the night by a long way. Strangely, there seemed to be less crowd for them than for the Kids, immediately beforehand. Maybe they just went up the back to protect their hearing.

Anyway, Pahlemik played a fine, faultless set which I was too drunk at the time to describe further. I’d certainly recommend them, though.

Live Review: The Fault Cd Launch

THE FAULT – Prologue / Epilogue EP Launch
Amplifier Bar
Fri 13th October 2006
Review By Rohan Hewson

Last year’s Next Big Thing winners the Fault have finally got around to releasing their debut EP, and they launched it at a big two stage, six band show at the Amplifier on Friday the 13th (so, cue a few Halloween-style costumes).

Fear of Comedy and The Preytells played first, with a bit of Jeff Strong in between, on a small stage out in the beer garden. Unfortunately I missed them, due to the insanely early start times. I’ve seen a bit of that at the Amps lately… 8.15 is very early to start a gig that goes past midnight.

Anyway, the next band up was Bus #56, and they didn’t disappoint; they’re always fun. A bit like the Red Hot Chili Peppers (OK, not THAT much like them, but the same funky rock sound). A great party band, and there were a few people on the dance floor getting groovy – obviously the last couple of bands warmed up the crowd pretty well.

Jeff Strong played some more out in the beer garden, on after Bus #56 finished. It was a little bit quieter than inside, being just him and his acoustic guitar and harmonica for most songs. He invited a few others up for one song, singing hard-to-hear backing vocals through the one microphone, and then finished when the band inside started. It was a nice way to run the night, with there being continuous music.

The Silents were somewhat less memorable… the sounded like they’d been listening to their dad’s old Beatles albums, and a few of their older brother’s Sonic Youth albums, and using that as their style. They were good enough at it, but nothing of their set really stuck in my head… I walked off after they finished humming ‘Orange Skies’ for the next half an hour. And yes, I know that isn’t a Silents song. They’ve got the potential to be quite good, though.

The Fault were the band everyone had come to see, and there were quite a few people there too – about 400 was the count, apparently. They played the five songs from their new (and very nice) EP, and a whole heap of other material that didn’t make it on. There’s nothing any worse about those songs… it bodes quite well for their next release. There was a mini-stage invasion during ‘Dr Mafesto‘, with about a dozen crazy drunk fans dancing on the stage around the band. It’s a wonder nothing got knocked over or broken… luckily no Friday 13th curse was around though. The song finished, the crazies got down, and the music went on, ending with keyboardist Akemi getting down off stage and the singer James’ dad playing keyboard to ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’ by the Beatles.

There wasn’t much hidden away tonight, though… there was plenty of love in the room for them. And good on ’em too… hopefully they’ll be launching another CD before too long.

Live Review: Little Birdy Single Launch

Little Birdy Cd Launch
Amplifier Bar
Saturday 16th September
Review and Photos by Dylan McArdle

Promoted as a single launch for the tune ‘Come on, Come on’ the gig was more of a preview of little birdy’s up coming album.

Jeff Strong opened proceedings in what can be a tough spot, especially when you give the impression you’re just going to be a boring, time-filler act. But Jeff showed he had charisma and personality and was actually entertaining. The acoustic, folky sounds of Jeff were upbeat and he was lively in between songs. He was also joined by two backing vocalists (his band members?), Matt Delahunty and Jeff’s girlfriend for a couple of songs.

One Horse Town
filled the middle spot tonight and for the recent Australian tour. It’s evident of the community spirit in Perth music, where, when it comes to choosing a band to take on tour, that you think highly enough of your mates to take them with you. Tonight, they hardly put a foot wrong.

As well as demonstrating the best tracks from their recently released album, OHT showed they have some new material up their sleeves and added a couple of new tracks into the set. Sascha’s baritone guitar playing impressed and Ronan Charles plays the keyboard quite unlike anyone else, including using his feet at times. While ‘Havana’ may have got a WAM song contest nomination it is the song ‘Holiday’ that iwas the icing on the cake to a fast passed, lively set. OHT were sure to have won some new fans with that performance.

It’s been a few years since this reviewer seen the Little Birdy play live and I was impressed by their new sound. The Live line-up with Fergus on Keyboards, was well utilised tonight with the keys playing a more dominant role, leaving the new songs sounding more poppy and less country influenced. And Katie Steele may be diminutive in size, but she sure packs a big punch on stage.

The new single ‘Come On Come On’, played early in the set was an example of this new sound and it’s certainly very catchy. Katie was playing the guitar less and that gave her the freedom to move around on stage more.

There was a range of tunes tonight early tracks like ‘Relapse’ through to first album cuts, to new songs off their yet-to-be-released second album ‘Hollywood’. They also covered Gyroscope’s ‘Beware Wolf’, describing the Gyro boys as ‘one of their favourite bands’. The cover sounded darker and more sultry than the original, showing the number of different styles of sound the Birdy crew can play.

Katie had the crowd eating out of her hand all night, or as it was, waving their hands in the air on cue. To finish off, they walked off stage and came back for an oh-so predictable encore. Though it was worth it, with the band getting stuck into ‘Beautiful to Me’ and finishing off by doing of a version of ‘Six Months in a Leaky Boat’ in a way that Split Enz would be proud.

For more photos from the night go to:

Live Reviews: Mo Wilson/The Panda Band

Mo Wilson/MF Truckload of Hope/Roly Skender and The Tonics
Swan Basement
1st Sept 2006
Review by Leo Abbs

The sad side of local music shows is sometimes, the best shows are played to a crowd of very little. Tonight was one of those occasions. While each band may argue they weren’t at their best, it was more the combination of the three bands which complimented each other’s style while all being unique, that made the night tops.

Roly skender’s band was absolutely fantastic tonight. For a band that I’ve never seen before, they sounded shit hot. Some very talented musicians putting their own stamp on some rock with country/bluesy edge – it was hard to pinpoint the sound, but not hard to stand there and say wow.

Being more familiar with Mo Wilson’s work, it was great to see the band again. One of those bands, that can fit in on many lineups, they looked most at home in a bill like tonight. A member down, Luke, who was on tour with Karnivool (he’s their sound guy) they played a stripped back set with no guitar.

If you really like piano driven music, that isn’t shit like Ben Folds, more like Nick Cave, check them out. And freo people take note – this may be the first band to write a song about White Gum Valley, not wandin Valley, but ‘the Crows of White gum Walley’.

Panda Band Cd Launch – The Fly By Night
Saturday 2nd September 2006

Insomnia struck me all week, so when I managed to fall asleep on sat night i was relieved, but frustrating enough, i was woken by an sms at around 10.30, so after that I headed to the Fly By Night, to see if i could catch The Panda Band.

I managed to get their after the door person had packed up, so it’s cost me nothing and walked into the sounds of ‘Eyelashes’, one of the few panda songs I know. They sounded in fine form – anyone should for their cd launch – but there was fuck all people there considering the reputation of this group, and the hype they’ve had. For a band like that to launch their cd to less than 150 payers is very surprising.

Maybe they hadn’t put in the marketing effort, or they shouldn’t have booked Freo, but that’s a small turn out in my eyes. Especially when I saw a local metal gig at Freo Metro’s farewelling Seraphim pull more people on a friday night recently.

So basically, more people need to go out.

Photo by Frog Delacroix –

Live Review: Trees without Knees last show

Trees Without Knees, Burgers Of Beef, ZX Specky, The Doozers
Thursday 24th August 2006
Review by Rohan Hewson

Lamefest: it was billed as a celebration of all things lame, and when it became known that the Trees Without Knees were breaking up, it became their farewell gig too. Well, in the spirit of lameness, I wore a colour-blind outfit to Mojo’s, and then managed to completely miss the Doozers… hey, sorry for being LAME, but that’s just how it goes sometimes.

ZX Specky play the kind of straight up punk Frenzal Rhomb don’t have the balls to any more… the highlight was probably the song ‘Morning Birds Fuck Off!’, which anyone in the crowd who’d ever experienced a monster hangover or drinking session could relate to. Oh, and their drummer played shirtless.

The Burgers of Beef played a pretty bog standard set. Of course, for the Burgers, ‘bog standard’ meant I was grinning like a loon by the end of the set… songs about the tooth fairy or vengeful DJ’s will do that. They can always be relied upon to brighten up a gig, even though frontman Chad was just about passing out from what he described as bird flu. At least he made it to the end of the set… that’s all that matters.

Trees Without Knees played their last set to about 20 people, and missing a guitarist. It’s always a shame seeing a perfectly good band split up, and doubly so when they play to an empty house. Most of the crowd were their friends, though. They didn’t go out with as much of a bang as they could have, due to playing as a three piece; however, they still got a decent round of applause for each song… that’s what friends are for.

Their music could be described as quirky alt-rock, influenced by bands like Pavement and the Fauves, changing tempo or key up to half a dozen times per song. They played some songs off their recent EP ‘Let Me Tell You A Tale’, and also some older material, notably ‘Trench Life’. I’d never heard the song before, but some of their mates (half of Roleystone, from what I heard) kept on calling out for it. They eventually played it last, and singer Andrew invited half the crowd up on stage to sing it… instead of him.

Naturally they were all so boozed they couldn’t tell one end of a microphone from the other, and it ended up sounding rather messy. I’m sure they thought it was special though, and that is what it’s all about. And they recorded a decent CD, which is more than many bands in Perth better than them ever get to do. Adios, Trees Without Knees… you will be missed.