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The decision to see a band play live, as opposed to listening to a CD, is always an adventure. Sometimes we are disappointed by a live performance, and other times, the experience far exceeds our expectations. In my personal experience, last Friday night was a mixture of both.

Heading to the Beetle Bar to review the Earcandy #2 gig, I was curious to see how  the night would pan out. I had made a decision earlier that day not to pre-listen to any of the bands that would be playing that night, because I wanted to experience each artist without any bias.

Walking into the bar, both my boyfriend and I were in a pretty average mood after a hectic work week, and felt like nothing more than curling up in a doona and sleeping for a long, long time. But then something crazy happened. Something enticing, mind triggering and powerful.

Columbus.

This little punk band consisting of three cheeky, rambling local boys instantly turned our mood around – and considering I’m generally not a fan of punk at all, I think that’s possibly one of the biggest compliments I could give a band.

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Putting aside my personal tastes, I opened myself up to the band; their stage presence, their sound, their personalities… I switched off my brain, and let myself just feel.  Watching Columbus play really brings out the 15 year old punk-loving teen in you. They spend their whole set jumping around, making inappropriate jokes, laughing with the audience and grinning like little kids. While walking around taking photos, drummer Daniel Seymour looked over and grinned at me with a face that just radiated excitement. To put it in simple terms, he looked stoked to be there beating down on his drum kit, and that kind of emotion easily transfers to their audience members. Bass player Ben Paynter also had great energy, leaping all around the stage and jokingly smacking his band mates on the ass.

Vocalist and guitarist Alex Moses also was enjoyable to watch. In the simplest terms, he’s just so damn likeable! Whether screaming a giant“FUCK YEAH! Let’s do this!” before launching into a song, or telling road trip stories of the time they crashed Daniels’ dad’s car (“So now we’re broke AND shit”), Moses has a special way of engaging with the audience.

At one point a friend yelled out “Take your pants off!” to which Moses fired back, “I would but I’d feel really bad… with my small sized penis,” sending the audience into a fit of laughter. Their humour is school-boyish a lot of the time, but that seems to work just fine for the crowd.

IMG_8515 copyAside from all the jokes however, Columbus set proved itself to be a great balance between teenage musings and the ups and downs of adulthood. With tongue-in-cheek songs about indie bands, and the problems of a 9-5 job, the band kept us all laughing, dancing and yelling for the entire set.

Sharing with us the story behind their track ‘Going under’, Moses explained that the song was written just before his shoulder reconstruction. Not one to linger on seriousness for too long though he quickly added – “You know, coz I’m a sheltered white kid”. Laughing, we listen in as his gravelly punk voice fills the bar; the lyrics perfectly conveying the anxieties he faces.

Tomorrow’s got me down,

I’m going under the knife, for the first time in my life

Breathe out, breathe in

I promise, you won’t feel a thing

Breathe out, breathe in

Going under, for the first time again

Following on from the seriousness of ‘Going Under’, the band showed their humorous side once more by taking the piss out of themselves and certain other genres of musicians. Rambling along in his million-mile-an-hour excitement, Moses called out to the crowd: “This next song’s called ‘I wish I was in an indie band’, coz indie bands always get lots of people to their shows, and we’re really just jealous of how beautiful they are – to put it politely!”

Their music clearly showed influences of Blink 182, although their sound has also been described as a mixture of ‘Living with Lions’ and ‘Green Day’. As previously mentioned, I’m not always the biggest fan of noisy punk, so it was nice to hear the heavy guitar and drum patterns broken down with some melodic, rhythmic interludes.

Following on from Columbus were 4 other dynamic and intriguing bands; Mjootmn, Anti-Thesis, Love Hate Rebellion and Flannelette. 

IMG_8543Unfortunately I didn’t connect as well with the second band Mjootmn, the ‘destroyers of shit music’ (as their tshirts would claim), although I couldn’t fault their energy or cohesion as a band. As I watched this beefy raggedy-haired man in overalls bent over his guitar slaying away, all I could think of was the hilariousness of what I was watching. I felt like I was in a 90’s slasher film watching a band who’d just stepped out of a cornfield and onto the stage. I have to say that I was kind of turned off the band early on when I saw the lead singer randomly put his hand down his pants for a scratch and jackhammer away… so as mentioned, I didn’t really get the best vibe!  That said, the crowd really loved Mjootmn and they definitely gave a great performance.

IMG_8584 copyAnti-Thesis were also a really interesting band to watch – it always intrigues me when I see a duo of drums and guitar. These guys have been described as ‘noisy as fuck grunge art-rock’ and I’d have to agree! Mental guitar thrashing and murderous drumming along with their unpredictability, ensured that the band gave their fans a hardcore set they could throw themselves into. I watched a man circling around the front of stage, battling the urge to power himself into a full blown mosh, while a couple (who had been quite happily moshing around near front of stage) suddenly poured beer all over themselves as they danced around.  It was one of the stranger moments of the night!

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I was really looking forward to seeing Love Hate Rebellion as I had recently seen 2 of the band members (Ariana and Rachel, who play bass and keyboard/guitar) in their other band The Boys, and had been really impressed by their talent and energy. I have to admit that I probably loved watching them even more in Love Hate Rebellion; there was just something mysterious about the band that made them intriguing to watch. With his jet black hair, leather pants, piercing blue eyes and vocals that seemed to scream at me, ‘come with me on a journey through time and space…’, lead vocalist/guitarist Jimmy Sky made me feel as though I’d been transported to a forest of voodoo rock with Vince Noir.

Okay, so you’ve probably gathered by now I have a pretty vivid imagination, but hey, that’s okay. On a serious note though, I loved the way that the set was strangely,  both epic and gentle. One moment I was caught in an intense battle of guitar rock, and the next all was quiet but for the haunting repetition of piano notes breaking the silence. As Sky’s fingers slid frantically up and down his guitar we heard the force of Ariana’s screams breaking through the darkness, her sister Rachel alternating between her guitar and the keys.

I particularly loved the track ‘Better’, which has a great toe-tapping vibe to it with a sound that is reminiscent of Placebo crossed with the vocals of Brandon Flowers (The Killers). The lyrics are personal and almost a little surprising coming from a male singer, but I think this is perhaps what makes them so interesting.

I’m going pro

Anorexia,

I’m going to be better

Higher than everyone

I will be thinner

Much more beautiful

I’m going pro

I will be beautiful

I’m going pro

So I can be beautiful

We hear these self-aspirations all the time, and I think the battle between positivity and negativity surrounding our bodies is one which we can all relate to . The vocals are both thoughtful and powerful, and it’s one of my favourite tracks from them.

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The final act for the night was the aptly named Flannelette – and yes, they had their flannelette’s on. They came on right as I had to leave, but I did catch enough of the beginning of their set to know that they had a shitload of character. I caught the guys encouraging the crowd to ‘cheers’ drinks with them to their bassist Dave, and pretty much interacting with everyone as though they were right down there in the crowd rather than on the stage. It was a laid-back type of interaction that made me feel proud to be Australian. And you couldn’t get more Australian than the political outburst from lead vocalist Scramble during the beginning of their set.

“This song is about Campbell Newman. Fuck you Campbell Newman!”

cambell newmanI had to laugh, not only because of the random outburst I’d just witnessed, but also because I’d just come back from the bathroom where I’d seen a similar outburst scrawled on the toilet door. It would appear haters of C.Newman congregate in the same area!

One thing that I noticed during the night, which I think is really important to mention, is what great energy the entire gig produced. All the bands were cohesive with a great stage presence, and even thought not all the bands catered to my personal tastes, I didn’t feel like any of the acts lazily plodded along – as some bands can fall into the trap of doing.  I was really impressed with Earcandy #2, and if the crowd was anything to go by, they can’t wait to do it all again soon!

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