Wednesday, May 12, 2010

7th - 8th - Jess Harlen & Groovin' The Moo Festival

Jess Harlen, a young lady from Melbourne, a back up vocalist for Blue King Brown and a recently signed artist to the new independent soul label Plethora Records. February saw the release of her solo album Neon Heartache, sending her to Sydney on Thursday night and up yo the Blue Mountains on Friday night, to promote her album.
I haven't heard a female vocalist perform at The Gearins in Katoomba for a long time. Unfortunately, the turn out was unfortunate but that's to be expected. Those that were there, loved it. I'm eager to see what Plethora Records will offer, if Harlen is anything to go by, then Plethora is going to be a mighty force.
Neon Heartache includes production by Plutonic Lab. His sound has an organic sound that is unique for an instrumental production, a sounds that comes to him naturally. The track 'I Go' is a perfect example of his ability to strip back and deliver strong, heart felt production that can support a female vocalist beautifully.
I then saw Muph and Plutonic on Saturday at Groovin' The Moo Festival in Maitland. Where they played to a young crowd, full of girls in short, shorts and guys with no shirts, singing along word for word to Muph's lyrics. I wasn't there for long but I did catch Lisa Mitchell and Illy too. I know what your thinking, a bit of a poor effort, especially when the festival had 21 acts including Silverchair. But you will just have to trust me when I say, I heard as many as I could. Groovin' the Moo festival had a fun vibe, I found the staff to be really helpful and the variety of artists, ideal for the size and age range of the crowd.
All in all, an awesome weekend.

Images from Myspace.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sun 25th April - Re-Up #2 @ The Sandringham Hotel

Do you remember what I said about Melbourne having loads of hip hop acts under the one roof for heaps cheap?

Well Sydney had something similar... Thanks to LookUp who put on the annual Anzac Day hip hop festival – Re-Up 2. The day featured Def Wish Cast, Thundamentals, Dialectrix, That’s Them, Class A, Nikkita, Swarmy, Daily Meds, DJ’s 2Buck, Ology, Psyke One and Mathmatics. An MC Battle (that was hilarious), beat making competition, a sketch battle and the price? Only $18 pre-sale, so I take it back, Sydney city does have alright deals now and then.

The highlight of my night was Def Wish Cast. I haven’t seen them perform in what feels like years, so I made sure to stick around for the headliner. An Aus hip hop act that’s been doing their thing for years, the name Def Wish Cast seems to have stuck but their music isn’t familiar with the newer crowd. They are incredibly ‘Aussie’, and really epitomise where the scene begun. In my opinion they are technically brilliant and impressive, if they could be bothered, they have the potential to still be at the top of the scene.

However, maybe not, the sound of Aussie hip hop is changing and a gig like Re-Up 2 – with it range of new and old performers – made me realise how a ‘feminine’ energy is shaping the sound of hip hop in Australia. Obviously I’m speaking generally by looking at the chart toppers, bgoing off the past few years, in such a short amount of time it’s grown and changed so much. Who really knows where it’s heading next, Aussie Hip Hop has an interesting ride ahead of itself.

There is a great blog about Def Wish Cast, that I encourage anyone who finds Aussie hip hop intriguing to read.

Image taken from Def Wish Cast facebook

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sat 17th April - Kalib Kweli + Jean Grae @ The Espy

I do love Sydney with all my heart but it sure is expensive in comparison to Melbourne. Having spent a week in Victoria’s capital I discovered that a small pizza with oregano, olives, tomato, capsicum etc costs $2.50 and more importantly a really good coffee is only $2.50! You can also see loads of hip hop acts under the one roof including Lotek, Nikkita, Class A, A-Love, Mantra, Jean Grae and Talib Kweli for $50 as I did at the Espy in St Kilda on Saturday.

Before I get carried away, I’ll stay on the subject of music. I would like to start by saying that Mantra is fantastic, I’m yet to listen to his album but the songs I have heard, I’ve loved. He has an unbelievable ability to rhyme while building a story in the minds of the listener. This young man has some serious skills, an MC you must see live to get a true sense of how dark and fanatic he is.

I imagined I would rant and rave for blog pages after seeing Talib Kweli live, but to be totally honest I can’t remember much of his set. There were awesome moments but now he is just a distant Melbourne memory. What I can remember is Jean Grae who left a lasting impression. Her horrid wig aside, I was blown away by her sexy flow, full voice and her intimidating presence. The people I spoke to about the Tablib Kweli and Jean Grae tour either in Melbourne or Sydney talked about how amazing Jean Grae was live and how happy they were to have had the opportunity to see her perform. Poor Talib Kweli, not only was he up-staged by his lady friend but his personal laptop and phone were stolen back stage. Who am I trying to kid? There is nothing poor about this fellow, he is one of the hip hop scenes finest who stalked the thief on twitter until the guy returned his things.

I could have seen Jean Grae perform earlier that week for free, because that’s what happens in cities like Melbourne. International acts play free gigs for fans, but I didn’t go, even after advice from Sydneysiders, too many things to do in Melbourne with not enough time. I would not say I prefer Melbourne’s music scene over Sydney’s but I guess in a way, Sydney is similar to Talib Kweli, an old faithful, good at what they do, selling out massive shows but you’re still left with the unnerving memory of something better.

Image taken from facebook

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sat 27th Mar - DJ Kentaro @ The Forum

"Kentaro is best known as a phenomenal turntablist and former DMC World Champion...
Kentaro enters your musical consciousness so that you can enter his." - Myspace

I couldn't leave the dance floor, I was continuously interested to see what he had coming up next, starting with some ambient, dark, world, breaks into reggae, trance, drum and bass, rock, dubstep back to reggae then a little hip hop mash up - but don't hold me to that order.
He was so enthusiastic with his sweet little face looking up at the crowd from concentration to anticipation, nodding to himself like he was thinking 'this next track is going to be good', then back into his crazy scratching zone, that i will never understand.
I personally was taken on his journey through 'step'- I can't really explain what I mean by the word step you'll just get me or you won't, it's kinda why there is a step in dubstep or the two-step - its just a step thing, and he kept in continuous through the whole set. The lighting was amazing, it had that dark moody vibe that took you back to why people feel in love with the DJ.

The forum isn't my favorite venue and I think its because I don't like the location but the capacity is just right Iv never felt to overwhelmed by the crowd. The audience was pretty good, apart from the few old drum and bass heads who have grown up, got themselves jobs and kids and their girlfriends let them out for the night but they've had one to many jimmy and cokes. I'm so cruel! I'm just holding a little resentment to the man dancing behind me who waked me him the head - twice, knocking out my earring. But then again... hit me in the head once - sham on you, hit me in the head twice - shame on me for standing near you. I got over it, but my ear hasn't.

Moving right along... Kentaro was supported by True VibeNation a young hip hop crew who are making themselves know round Sydney and DIZZ1 whose DJ set I regretfully missed initially. It must have been good too, DIZZ1 saying so himself "it was one of the best sets I've ever played" seeing as he has toured national and internationally, a producer in his own right and one of Sydney's top DJs it does suck I missed it.

Please check out this clip of DJ Kentaro on YouTube performing live in Japan so you get an idea of what some DJ's ie. Girl Talk are missing, once again...I'm so cruel! I love that Girl Talk is a biomedical engineer - a true nerd at heart - and good on him for working his way around a massive law suit but Ill let you be the guide...

DJ Kentaro - Enter the Newground Live encore

Girl Talk - Roskilde Festival 2008

Image from DJ Kentaro myspace

Monday, March 22, 2010

Fri 22nd Mar - Nikita & Class A @ Doctor Pong + Idea Idea

You know the cliche term 'ladies night' well I think I actually had one Friday night. Nikkita and Class A did a set at Doctor Pong in Darlinghurst then at a warehouse party in St Peter Idea Idea performed to enthusiastic party goers.

Idea Idea are so cool... they're really just so cool, fantastic live production with vocals additions by Lanie Lane. Lane has a real softness and ease with such length to her voice that oozes prettiness. I was really impressed by their performance at last year's High and Dry Festival so I was pleased when I had the opportunity to see them again this weekend. I have nothing but nice things to say about Idea Idea, if they have any down sides I haven't seen them especially when they have an instrumental interlude including a Billy Jean rendition. All I did was stand by myself and listen occasionally turning to a friend to say something along the lines of 'how awesome' always receiving a reply with a big grin and a nodding head.

I had never been to Doctor Pong before so it was nice to get to a new venue and on that note the venue was nice. The sound a bit iffy and the bathrooms enough to make you go insane with the crazy mirror on mirror action - to a stranger's amusement I walked straight into a mirror in the desperate search for a cubicle. Nikkita and Class A are so talented and gorgeous, with their voices now gelling well together they have just the right amount of confidence. Enough to get themselves up on a usually male dominated stage but not too much that you want to shut them up. In fact they could have just kept on rapping without a doubt from the audience, if only they hadn't been locked into such a short set. The ladies saying so themselves, that rehearsal and gig are kept short with Class A living in Melbourne and Nikkita here in Sydney. They played another gig on Saturday night at Platform 3 the hip hop festival that runs yearly at CarriageWorks but again only a short set. I'm looking forward to seeing them support Talib Kweli in Melbourne during April and I'm also looking forward to Class A's album release later in the year.

The Beautiful Class A's film clip for her track 'Fitzroy' can be viewed by clicking the link below.

You Tube - Class A - Fitzroy

You can get a taste of what Nikkita is all about on her myspace

As for Idea Idea I have no way of tracking them down but you can listen to the lovely Miss Lanie Lane on her myspace

Image from Nikkita myspace

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fri 12th Mar - Svelt @ The Civic Underground

played the Civic Underground for the release of their self-titled album with special guests Sub Based Snarl, El Gusto, The Abyss, Hobo Bordeaux and Anklepants. Svelt is a five piece dub, psychedelic, touching on drum and bass, Sydney outfit. It includes Jesse Ricketson, Duncan Ford, Aden Wessels, James Nichols, Emily Collin and guest vocalist Rappaport.

So it's all happening!
Gone are the days that you play a bass guitar given to you as a kid with your parents hopes it will become a healthier hobby then video games - times are changing sorry Mum and Dad the video game nerd has he's own ideas.
Air Synthesizer anyone?
No, yes, maybe? If you are like me and the answer is no, allow me to try and explain...
It manipulates sound with an (approx) 20 cm invisible radius that is controlled by touch ie. x, y, z - the closer you bring your hand towards the air synth through z and towards y the pitch and tone is effected, this works on both a vertical and horizontal axis. So to the audience it looks like Aden is wiggling his hand in the air above his equipment and creating a effected sound...some how. Aden is using this air synth in Svelt along a chaos pad, ipod touch and various other 'stuff' to create an effectively organic electronic sound.
And it really just begins there, James to the uneducated eye looks like he's playing keys and/or synth, true but not quite that simple. He also has a variety of electronic tools creating sound. I can't really explain it anymore then that because I simply just don't know. Aden showed me the air synthesizer, a table full of equipment and tried to explain what he does but most of it went over my head.
So now add all that ridiculousness over an electric guitarist with his own effects pedals along with a drummer and a decent serve of vocals and you have baked yourself a Svelt cake. Personally I needed a few glasses of water to help wash it all down and I'm still trying to digest. So if you're a big bass eater Svelt is probably the cake for you.

They are all part of a new electronic band craze, new not because they haven't been doing this for years or because electronic music hasn't been done before, but because electronic generated bands are becoming a mainstream reality of the future. Technology is now constant and unavoidable with generations X and Y the digital leaping pad for future generations that are going to be technology dependent consumers. Bye bye analog, bye bye acoustic and hello science!
Have you got a problem with how music is losing its natural, basic, fundamental in Western Culture? Well you're probably 90 years to late. You would have to set your time machine some where around the 1920's just before Joseph Schillinger composed 'First Airphonic Suite for Theremin and Orchestra' because it's been spiraling out of control since. But perhaps you would be happy there until the 60's anyway, when people actually had the money to start making music technology accessible. Music and science what a great combo!

Svelt are a unique band with heaps of potential ready to explode out of their music nerd minds. To put it simply - with all else aside, Svelt are making tunes to get your groove onto, so check them out.

Image from Svelt myspace

Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday 5th MAR - Zeahorse @ World Bar and Captin Kickarse and the Awesomes @ Stucco's party


It's Friday again but this time for me it's an Exhibition at Gallery Red on Glebe Point Rd, a 20's themed 21st in Surry Hills then a party at Stucco in Newtown and I was very impressed with how much I got for a five dollar Stucco entry fee. This included a belly dance performance by Kael, a Mick Stuart collective jam of crazy good musician, Yen and Captin Kickarse and the Awesomes. But apparently that wasn't enough music for the one night so I made the mission over to Kings Cross to see Zeahorse who have a 2am residence at World Bar on Friday nights during March.

My night was filled with all kinds of goodness, from seeing new friends and catching up with old friends. I ran around like a crazy lady but my craziness came mainly from public transport. Don't get me wrong I'm a public transport fan! I was lost when Sydney buses went on strike recently I stood on Enmore Rd thinking "really..?" consequently finding myself very late that day. But friday night was bad for bus transport and I even did my unthinkable... catch a taxi. Usually I choose walking several blocks or waiting for the bus over sitting at a red light and paying for it. But Sydney leaves you with no other choice when getting from Newtown to Kings Cross at 1am.

Captin Kickarse and The Awseomes are awesome to say the very least, a three piece instrumental band - including Hugh Munro on bass and Phill McCourt on guitar. The drummer Alex O'Tool stole the show for me as I haven't seen a drummer with his style for a long while. Granted i don't get to many rock or punk gigs these days so maybe his playing was simply mediocre but something tells me O'Tool is hardly average. As for their sound? It features heavily on the fast and technical. Their myspace states "The Captain is influenced purely by the dark caverns of the mind, the rich nothingness which envelopes and pulls into the void." In a nut shell Captin Kickarse are pretty good!

I left Stucco early so I could make it to see Zeahorse. A four piece young Sydney act, currently touring with their freshly released eight track EP. If Captin Kickarse are 'the dark caverns of the mind' then Zeahorse are more like cadbury purple and sherbert orange being fantasized by a hallucinating mind, sit that mind in a garage to simplify for a few days and bingo. Distorted, tight, loud, punk rock sound easy to follow but with detailed elements adding to a creative sound that is their own. I enjoyed them, not only are they all adorable but they know they have that 'something', their confidence is the kind - I feel - is essential for a live act, it gives the audience the reassurance that the gig is unique and personal.

Sample some Zeahorse tunes on their myspace


Where can you see Captin Kickass and the Awesomes? Keep posted on their myspace

Captin Kickarse and the Awesomes

Belly Dancing with Kael anyone? Well It's actually ladies only, sorry boys..

Thursdays 7 - 8pm
Corner of Vincent and Sydnam Rd Marrickville

Image from Zeahorse myspace.