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Gig Review: 10 Years Of Future Classic Feat. Flume + Flight Facilities + Seekae + Hayden James + Touch Sensitive

Future-Classic-Vivid

With some of the biggest names in Australian electronic music signed to their label, Future Classic have built quite the empire for themselves over the past decade. As their name suggests, they’ve been pretty strategic with the artists they’ve recruited – they’ve got a signature sound with a large amount of cred and influence on the Australian music scene. So really, they would expect no less than to host their 10th anniversary celebration on the peninsula of the Sydney Opera House with evening views of Vivid lights in the harbour and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The Friday night show kicked off super early for the day job workers of Sydney, with Touch Sensitive on stage at 4:10pm. It’s a shame that more people couldn’t make it out to see the Sydney producer rock out on the bass to hits like Teen Idols and Pizza Guy. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, producers that play a ‘real instrument’ on stage along to their electronic tracks have a sort of performance X-factor that makes them stand out.

Then Hayden James hit the decks and showed off his subtle rhythm pad hits and moulded the crowd with his music. They danced, they swayed, they jumped to the beats he put out – it was almost as if everyone forgot where they were for a second and were just taken away. He even got Touch Sensitive back on stage for some smooth bass beats.

Seekae were probably the most unusual sounding artists of the night, with strange rhythmic drum beats and atmospheric sounds that floated across the harbour. It was a nice break to warm up for the headlining acts to come, providing a chilled vibe at the event.

Flight-Facilities-Owl-Eyes

Flight Facilities feat. Owl Eyes on vocals

There was an immediate atmosphere change when Flight Facilities blasted onto the stage with an encompassing set. True to form, they viewed their performance as an aeroplane flight, from lift off to landing with voice overs to match. Owl Eyes provided shimmering vocals, and there were even guest appearances from The Presets‘ Julian on keys and Kurt Kristen on vocals for “Sunshine”. But one of their most exciting surprises on the night was a cover of “Another World” by The Chemical Brothers which fit so seamlessly into their set that it easily could have been written by them.

Flume-tropical

Flume rocking the tropical look on stage.

Finally, Flume, the leader of the Future Classic pack, graced the stage, and quite frankly it was like being in the presence of music royalty. Since 2012 when he first dropped his iconic self-titled album, he has been incredibly influential in bringing Australian electronic acts to the international stage, so seeing him on a home stage is few and far between and a very special experience.

Highlights included hearing a new track from his What So Not project (with such a dirty beat that I for one can’t wait till he drops the recorded version of this), a guest performance from Collarbones‘ Marcus Whale in a new track, and hearing Miike Snow‘s Andrew Wyatt perform their latest track together.

But it was clear that Flume is one of the greats not just because of his songwriting and producing but for his ability to work a crowd – he had people dancing from start to finish, with crazed fans shouting out “Flume is the king!” He ended with his remix tribute to Lorde’s “Tennis Court” and it almost seemed like an anti-climax because with so many hits he could have kept the party going long afterwards.

The night was an important celebration of Future Classic’s influence on electronic music in Australia – but was also just a whole lot of fun! However, it did bring to light the lack of female producers signed by the label – over the two nights there was only one female act (George Maple) which is such a shame with so much talent up and coming. Nonetheless, a great night and an incredible setting for such influential music talent in Australia.

By Erin Rooney

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Simple Determination and Serendipity – Gig Review: Brontë Horder + Cuzn @ Foundry 616

Bronte Horder Gig Review

Foundry 616 was lit by candlelight on Monday night for Brontë Horder‘s The Eleventh Hour EP launch, lighting the jovial faces of family, friends and fans who had come to support Brontë in her determined mission – to pursue her passion for music, and share it with the world.

After putting plans to live in Paris on hold for a Sony recording deal, Brontë wrote the new EP about the tiresome process of being held on a string for over a year by a record company capable of making her dreams soar. As an act of defiance, she sent it to Sony and finally they agreed to record the title track in their studios, so success was certainly in the air!

To open the night, English artist Cuzn (AKA Richard Soward) brought his big, folky sound to the stage with Gibson guitar and floor tambourine. His melodies and demeanour were incredibly warm, while his lyrics described London life, love and his experience of moving to Sydney. Interestingly enough, Brontë and him had met while she was walking through the London Underground and he was busking, and as luck would have it, when she needed to find a support act, he had moved to Sydney.

 

Then Brontë graced the stage as her fans cheered uproariously. She was exceptionally confident and defiant about her situation with Sony – almost to the point of wondering if she had said too much at times.

Bronte Horder Foundry 616

Most striking about her sound was her soaring voice – mostly pop-y, sometimes jazz-y, always honest. Amongst all the indie rock and electronic music in the Australian music scene lately it was refreshing to hear raw vocals and piano, and her style somewhat brought to mind Sara Bareilles at times.

As much of the room was filled with her family and friends, she loosened up and started to open up about the meaning behind her songs. Particularly resonant were clever songs like “Numbered Days” and “I’m in Love With a Stranger” about love that might have been and love that would be one day.

When she talked about her new EP, The Eleventh Hour, she ran through the negative emotions that she experienced with Sony when it felt like they were stringing her along. But one of my favourite songs from the night was “Serendipity”, which talked about one positive thing to come out of this – meeting her boyfriend.

 

Brontë Horder is a musical force to be reckoned with – talented, determined, and unashamedly herself, making her an artist to watch and behold as she continues writing, and hopefully gets the recognition she deserves.

You can listen to the rest of her new EP here:

By Erin Rooney

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This is what music should be about – Gig Review: Gang of Youths @ Frankie’s Pizza

Gang of Youths

Gang of Youths have all the makings of a memorable band: they’ve got great personality, discipline and friendship, but most of all they play straight up music with heart.

Their new album The Positions is curious and unique in concept alone – detailing the emotional reactions and experiences lead singer and guitarist David Le’aupepe had over the course of a four year relationship with a woman who had terminal cancer. So truly, the free album launch party they held at Frankie’s Pizza on Sunday evening was an absolute privilege to attend.

Frankie’s Pizza is the Sydney hub of grunge: it’s a smokey hole in the wall with decent pizza, alcohol served in plastic mugs, band posters from decades ago, and a whole lot of punk rock cred – so it gave a true hard rock feel to the night. It meant that Gang of Youths could easily transition from an indie rock mellow sound to a heavier sound that appears in tracks like “Radioface”:

David’s vocals very much brought to mind The National – emotional and coarse, yet warm and inviting. He exuded calm confidence throughout the set despite the raw content of his songs, which was on show particularly during “Magnolia” – a defiant song about a failed drunk suicide attempt.

And as with any great album launch, Gang of Youths had organised a special guest – fellow Sydney artist Montaigne – to help them sing “Benevolence Riots“. And you know how we feel about Aussies supporting Aussies. It’s always a winner.

Gang of Youths and Montaigne

The band’s gratitude for how far they’ve come made the whole venue feel like it was filled with a fan family, with Dave running to hug everyone in the crowd that he could. It was a special gig, because it could be one of the last of that size they ever play.

To catch Gang of Youths live, grab your tickets to The Positions Tour this May/June before they run out!

By Erin Rooney

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Gig Review: Mansionair + Grace + Slum Sociable @ Newtown Social Club

Mansionair Newtown Social Club

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, perhaps for some time: Newtown Social Club is my favourite live venue in Sydney. Some may find this controversial, but to me there is nothing controversial about the venue always delivering an intimate show with on-point mixing and a relaxed yet enthused crowd. Not to mention the opportunity to chat with the band members (and with it, the opportunity to fan-girl). On Monday night, each act provided a variety of sounds and styles, which made for a well-rounded evening.

Slum Sociable played a mixed set – they had an unusual sound that began very polished, which drew the crowd in quickly. The best thing about these Melbourne dudes was how relaxed and laid back they were on stage, and how naturally their music came across. While they only have one single out at the moment (“Anyway”), they had a lot of catchy tracks in their set which I personally can’t wait to hear recorded.

 

Grace brought the audience closer in towards the stage and enticed with her smokey melodies. While she seemed uncertain at first just singing, once she found her guitar in hand she became more comfortable, and rounded off a pleasant set.

When Mansionair came on, the most notable aspect of their performance was vocalist Jack Froggart’s well-supported silvery vocals. He cruised through their singles ‘Hold Me Down’ and ‘Second Night’ sensually, while drummer Alex Nicholls and guitarist Lachlan Bostock held the rhythm of each piece together. Effects on the mic made the sound effortless and brought to mind the beats of Glass Animals or the delicate sounds of producers like RUFUS.

The banter between band members and singing of ‘Happy Birthday’ to Alex (complete with cake) made the gig an intimate one, and made the band seem down to earth and approachable. Though the audience shouldn’t be fooled, Mansionair packs a punch live, and is an act to watch grow in the future.

For a taste of their sensuality, try listening to ‘Second Night’:

By Erin Rooney

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4 Reasons Gigs Should Always Be On An Island

The Wombats playing at the Channel V Island Party

On Wednesday, I headed to Channel V’s Island Party featuring one of my favourite angsty bands from high school – The Wombats (because let’s face it, who could ever resist their beautiful British accents). It was in every way a delightful experience, so I’ve prepared this list of four reasons why every gig should be on an island.

1. You feel like a VIP

First up, they gave us ALL lanyards. Lanyards. It’s pretty much a universal sign of exclusivity and self-importance, and to give everyone that experience at a gig where everyone got there just by winning tickets just makes everyone on board feel special. Plus they sent you onto the island on a little boat that you could only get onto…WITH A LANYARD.

The Wombats lanyards Channel V

 

2. It’s intimate as anything

For as much as I love gigs to death, I really can’t stand crowds. Maybe it’s just the Canberra girl in me, but I get sick of feeling sweaty bodies pushing against me in a mosh, and not being able to see anything (being short). But there’s only so many people you can fit on a floating pontoon in Sydney Harbour, which means less sweaty bodies and you actually feel like the band is performing to you rather than an infinite number of nameless people in the crowd.

3. The sound quality is better

There’s something about playing out into the open harbour to a small crowd that made everything sound less distorted, more fresh and clear. It was just music in its purest form and I really liked it.

4. The focus is all on the band

The reason everyone’s taken their little boat ride to this random little pontoon is for pretty much no other reason than to see the band and have a good time. And when The Wombats are serenading you with their greatest hits plus some new tunes to be released with their new flippin’ album in April, it’s pretty much impossible not to have a good time.

So the next time Channel V has an Island Party? You enter the competition dangnammit. Don’t miss The Wombats’ new album Glitterbug coming out April 26!

Also, check out “Greek Tragedy”, it’s a tune:

By Erin Rooney

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Best Moments of Sydney Laneway Festival

Laneway Festival Sydney

 

Happy Friday everyone! I have festival fever a bit at the moment, so couldn’t help but head along to Laneway Festival on the weekend and enjoy all the incredible acts it had to offer.

Besides being full of good-looking folk dressed in hipster attire, the bands were definitely a highlight – that and the food. Between Mary’s burgers and Messina gelato flavours designed specifically for the event, we were spoilt for choice.

But anyway, onto the musicians, who were amazing. Here are my top acts, with some definitely to watch:

1. Mansionair

I was very disappointed to find only two recordings by these very handsome (and talented) dudes online – but make no mistake, their set was one of the highlights of the day. Featuring beats nearly as dirty as Glass Animals’ and a vocalist definitely as silky smooth, they truly rocked their early and short set. I will certainly be heading along to one of their solo shows in the future. Check out this little ditty:

2. Tkay Maidza

While Tkay has come under some criticism for her releases thus far, I’ll bet the critics haven’t seen her live. At 18 years old she has a very youthful enthusiasm and vigour in her live performance style, and with the way she can amp up a crowd now, at her age, I honestly can’t wait to see what she’s like in two years or so.

3. Rustie

Without a doubt the most enjoyable live set of the day due to its danceability, Rustie just killed it. Laneway was very chilled for most of the day, but having the opportunity to let loose a bit and dance to someone who knew how to drop a beat made Rustie one of the best DJ acts I’ve ever seen.

4. Andy Bull

You can’t help but watch an Andy Bull set and just ask yourself “How? How does he sing that high?”. He’s always had a very androgynous voice, but the accuracy with which he can sing notes above what is normally humanly possible is pretty crazy. He always approaches his live performances with a sense of humour too, which always adds to the experience.

 

Have a happy weekend all! This Saturday I’m taking a break from watching indie acts and trying something completely new. Yep, I’m seeing One Direction. I’m not even ashamed.

 

By Erin Rooney

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Best 5 Acts From Byron Falls Fest

Misting-tunnel-falls

 

Falls Festival is like its own little world. It has its own unique fashions, routines and even language that develops – I guess that’s what happens when you drop a whole heap of young people in the wilderness for a week.

But at the end of the day, besides the freedom, sun and seemingly never-ending, carefree times, people make the often tumultuous road trip up for the incredible music on offer (or at least we did!).

I tried to make it along to as many acts as possible, on both the big and small stages, in between much-needed retreats from the heat to the beach in Byron Bay. Across the four days, here are my list of acts that really went above and beyond the expectations of putting on a good festival show.

 

1. Glass Animals

Most Triple J listeners would have heard Glass Animals’ hit song ‘Gooey’ last year, but what struck me most about their performance is the fact that they had enough great songs that they were able to play this in the middle of their set. Filled with dirty beats and slinky smooth, breathy notes, Glass Animals were an unexpected standout performance that had the crowd boogieing from start to finish. The lead singer, Dave Bayley, also wins the award for sexiest dance moves at Falls.

 

2. Bluejuice

If there’s one thing we’ll miss most about Bluejuice breaking up, it’s their live shows. Filled with raw energy and always surprises, it’s impossible to have a bad time at a Bluejuice concert. Falls was no exception as halfway through the performance they threw buckets of glow sticks out to the crowd, proclaiming: “Best 50 bucks we’ve ever spent”. Flocks of loyal fans packed into the stage tent and overflowed out across the grounds for this one, just to get a piece of their final burst of contagious energy.

 

3. SAFIA

Being a bit of a veteran at SAFIA gigs, I can safely say that this is the best I’ve ever seen them perform. Lead singer Ben has developed an electrifying stage presence that turned a fairly empty early afternoon tent into a crowded, thumping dance party. Dropping a new single and playing some old favourites like their ‘Cavalier’ cover and ‘Listen To Soul, Listen To Blues’, SAFIA had one of the most polished set lists at Falls.

 

4. Bullhorn

Bullhorn Falls Byron

In terms of best acts to dance to at the festival, Bullhorn probably takes the cake. See, it’s a seven horn band with drums and a truly badass MC over the top. So it’s fair to say they’ve got a pretty powerful sound. The personality of MC Roman Albert took this band from your run of the mill jazz band on the smaller stage to a full on visual and sound experience. I haven’t yet stumbled across a recording that does these guys justice, so definitely one to catch live!

 

5. Kingswood

What was particularly interesting about Kingswood was the fact that they were playing at the most difficult, heat exhaustion filled part of the day, and yet, the crowd suddenly found a burst of energy to shout along to them. As one of the only raw rock acts at the festival, they owned their sound and worked their fans hard. I remember distinctly lying on the grass with my friends in a sweaty, comatose state from the heat and sitting up for a moment all together to say “Wow. These guys are really good”. So Kingswood – sorry we were so sleepy during your set, because you truly did an incredible job.

 

It’s such an action-packed four days of entertainment that it feels like I’m going to need a while to recover! But festival-going is certainly now on my list of best ways to escape for summer, and I will be back one day. What a way to bring in the new year! As for now, I’m looking forward to another awesome year of Australian music. It’s gonna be epic.

 

By Erin Rooney