Category Archives: Gigs

Gig Review – Arcade Fire

Artist: Arcade Fire
Venue: Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Victoria, Australia (in the somewhat elite seated section – not that we sat down)
Date: Wednesday, 21 January, 2014
Who?: The amorphous ensemble from up Quebec way with a huge indie/crossover following, a big equipment haulage budget, and a welcome desire to dazzle.
Crowd?: Thousands of adoring folks with about 30% beards and lots of skinny jeans.
Best Bits: The aforementioned razzle dazzle, human bobblehead costumes, about three absolute killer tracks.
Could be Better: Heavier basslines, better mix (percussion was too muted), perhaps less cowbell.
Dream Venue: At a festival where they had to tighten up the setlist
Dream Lineup: I’m thinking Echo & the Bunnymen, Bright Eyes… and reformed Canadian gag-popsters Corkie and the Juice Pigs:


Worth a Second Look?: At a festival, yes. At this price solo, nah, probably not.
Give us a look: OK, here’s 67 mins of action (Win wore the same jacket last night)

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Gig Review – Ben Caplan & the Casual Smokers

Artist: Ben Caplan & the Casual Smokers
Venue: Northcote Social Club, Northcote, Victoria, Australia
Date: Friday, 3 January, 2014
Who?: A facially hirsute Canadian with a huge gravelly voice, strumming stuff and occasionally bashing keys backed by violin, stand-up bass and drums.
Crowd?: A couple of hundred appreciative inner-city types (and one annoying couple who eventually got asked to leave).
Best Bits: The astounding voice- sure there is a Tom Waits aspect, but the lungs are bigger, the melodies more eagerly pursued. The whole gypsy/folk vibe sans pretense.
Could be Better: I was keen on hearing his Fairytale of New York cover.
Dream Venue: A riverboat, a galleon, a medieval marketplace
Dream Lineup: With fellow Canadian Serena Ryder, the also gravelly Ben Weaver… and the cast of Fiddler on the Roof.
Worth a Second Look?: Absolutely.  If you’re in Sydney catch him on Wednesday.
Give us a look:

Gig Review – Mudhoney

Attending my first gig in ages inspired me to blow the dust off the blog-machine…

Artist: Mudhoney
Venue: Corner Hotel, Richmond, Victoria, Australia
Date: Friday, 27 July, 2012
Who?: Seattle rockgods proving that age shall not tame.
Crowd?: The place was full of blokes of my vintage or older (i.e. into their 5th decade).  I think I may have spied one or two of the XX chromosomed gender, but it was mainly dudes relieving the joys of grunge.  This made for a chatter-lite night (as did the volume levels).  There was a fair preponderance of what I have tagged “nano moshing” – namely a barely discernible bounce on the heels and slight nodding of the head while not spilling any beer and definitely not bumping any of the other portly gentlemen in the vicinity. My sight lines were wonderfully devoid of raised “smart” phones.  We’re clearly old enough to remember actually watching a gig and recording it in our actual memory.
Best Bits: Mark Arm’s indestructible voice, that fantastic bass sound (from the Aussie no less) and the interplay with the lead guitar.  The memories of just how good grungy rock can be. “Touch me I’m sick”
Could be Better: I could be younger.  I could remember to bring earplugs
Dream Venue: The Punters Club, The Old Greek Theatre, The Evelyn before the refurb of the mid-90s
Dream Lineup: Taking a ‘stages of life’ view, perhaps The Stooges, The Datsuns and whatever young band is now rocking out in this fashion but whom I haven’t being paying enough attention to notice (they just don’t play them much on talk radio!)
Worth a Second Look?: Hell yeah.  Once my ears recover (and my liver). The band may now look like a quartet of dads from a Northcote primary school working bee, but they know how to construct a pure wall of sound.
Give us a look:

Back in the day

In 2010

Gig Review – Dirty York

Very surprisingly I’ve been to two live musical events within a week.

Artist: Dirty York
Venue: Rainbow Hotel, Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia
Date: Friday, 10 February, 2012
Who?: Melbourne’s premier Southern Rock perpetrators.
Crowd?: Typically thick around the waist, follicly challenged (but with considerably facial hair), raucous and appreciative, a complete lack of hipsters.
Best Bits: The riffs, the voice, the energy and good humour, and a clear passion for an underrepresented sound these days (i.e. LZ + BC), and that the band completely fit the bill (i.e. they nailed the skinny hipped, long and languid look).
Could be Better: in a bigger room (so the drummer could really bash out)
Dream Venue: Sunbury 1973
Dream Lineup: Motorhead, Billy Thorpe, Lynard Skynard.
Worth a Second Look?: Absolutely.
Give us a Look:

Gig Review – Pugsley Buzzard

I’ve decided to spice up the blog a little by also sharing my views on any live musical shows I might encounter.  I’ll try and build a complex system that allows comparisons so that my end of year rankings are more reliable!

Artist: Pugsley Buzzard and his Trio
Venue: East Brunswick Club, Brunswick, Victoria, Australia
Date: Sunday, 5 February (afternoon show), 2012
Who?: Some bloke from up Sydney way peddling boogie barrelhouse piano blues. Think Tom Waits meets Dr.John.
Crowd?: It was all about quality (i.e. there weren’t more than 25 people there), and our table of 32-40 year olds lowered the average age very considerably.
Best Bits: The swagger, the voice, the tuba (!), the love and respect for the classic sounds of New Orleans, the Truckstop Honeymoon cover.
Could be Better: One or two less solos (that’s you Mr.Drummer!), better miking on tuba, a little more banter
Dream Venue: Your local bar, a juke-joint (whatever that is), somewhere dark, dingy and bourbon-soaked (but without hipsters or singlet wearers)
Dream Lineup: Probably not Tom Waits.  Maybe Chuck E.Weiss, Truckstop Honeymoon, Serena Ryder… and then Sharon Jones to get us all dancing.
Worth a Second Look?: For sure.  He’s playing a residency around the corner (Grumpy’s Green) Wednesdays in March.  I’ll get down to one or two nights.
Give us a look:

Remembering my favourite gigs of 2011

As is par for the course around here of late, I have been tardy in declaring my top gigs from 2011 (to go with my 2010 and 2009 lists):

#5 Foo Fighters and Tenacious D at Sydney Football Stadium, December 8 – simply because stadium rock was such a novelty (and because we were undercover for the persistent rain).  Grohl and co certainly can work a crowd!

#4 Michelle Shocked at Joe’s Pub, New York City, May 29 – captivating dinner and show set up with Michelle revisiting The Texas Campfire Tapes and showcasing some new stuff in a hilarious fashion:

#3 Bright Eyes, Wild Flag & Superchunk Radio City Music Hall, New York City, March 8 – A spectacular show with great supports.

#2 Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears at Bowery Ballroom, New York City, March 26 – So much fun, such a big surprise. Sweaty and groovy and all that…

#1 Bettye Lavette at Cafe Carlyle, New York City, May 25 – this is one of the gigs of my life time. In a fancy piano bar with this compelling chanteuse but metres away.  Her voice and emotion was compelling.

So what were your favourite live outings?

Looking back on the gigs of 2010

As I did this time last year, here’s my list of favourite gigs from the year that was 2010:

#5 Emiliana Torrini at the Forum, Melbourne, January 3 – the jungle-drum beating Icelander made me smile all night…

#4 Justin Townes Earle at Corner Hotel, Melbourne, April 16 – he didn’t blow me away as much as on debut in 2009, but his bluegrassy brilliance was still a joy

#3 Dinosaur Jr followed by Pavement at Golden Plains Festival, Meredith Amphitheatre, March 6 – it was a miserable festival weatherwise, but this pairing of acts on the first night gladdened my heart (also of note was the performance of Nashville Pussy the following afternoon)

#2 The Pixies at Festival Hall, Melbourne, March 19 – Playing the Doolittle album in order with a great visual show (perhaps to hide their increasing girth). Again, not as exciting as seeing them for the first time a couple of years ago, but still a great night.

#1 Pavement & Gersey at Palace, Melbourne, March 12 – a dream pairing and both acts were in stand out form. Made me feel a good 15 years younger…

March was certainly a great music month, while the rest of the year was less impressive.

What were your favourite live outings?