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Father’s Day Gig Review: Bob Dylan

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As a break from the fast-paced, often fleeting world of new music, it is incredibly humbling to watch a master at work – particularly someone with a career as influential and long-spanning as Bob Dylan. And luckily for Sydney, the decorative walls of The State Theatre hosted a stunning performance from him on Friday.

At 73 years old, having actively created music for over 50 years, Dylan has had to adjust his style to suit his increasingly gravelly voice, emphasising the rhythm and texture of the songs rather than melody and articulation. This took some adjusting to – the audience had to lean closer to understand his murmured, coarse lyrics, and the arrangements of some of his more well-known songs bordered on experimental.

However once everyone had adjusted to this different sound, it was much easier to appreciate the performance. The common texture his voice provided added depth to the soothing slide guitar sound and dancing electric guitar riffs, particularly evident in his performances of “Simple Twist of Fate” and “Tangled up in Blue”. His almost ‘speak-singing’ style brought to mind Mark Knopfler’s approach for the Dire Straits.

But it was only when Dylan pulled out his harmonica that the audience truly revelled and were transported to the honky tonks of Nashville. Looking around, people closed their eyes and leant on each other to soak it in the country feel.

Bob Dylan at the State Theatre

Bob Dylan at the State Theatre

Leading up to his encore, the crowd got out of their chairs and broke down the feeling of a barrier between Dylan and the rest of the theatre, forming a small mosh in front of the stage. He left us with a playful rendition of “Blowing in the Wind” that rounded off the performance of new and old songs well.

Bob Dylan proved that he’s still got it after so many years of making such iconic music and took a new approach to his old songs and stories, pleasing the mixed crowd of fans new and old alike.

By Erin Rooney

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Gig Review: Peking Duk + L D R U + Yeo

Peking Duk Black and White
The last time I checked, Wednesday night was a school night. Yet somehow, Canberra DJs Peking Duk managed to transform the sleepiness of hump day into the hottest party in town at the Oxford Art Factory in Sydney earlier this week.

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Yeo under bright lights

Things were pretty energetic from the get-go. With a minimalism-inspired light show, Yeo showed charisma that made for a light and bright mood, and it’s this that made this electronic performance stand out just that little bit more. He had a controlled voice with just the right amount of effects, and a great rapport with the drummer that led to a tight performance, ending the set together with a triumphant fist bump. For a taste, take a listen to his track “KOBE”:

L D R U dj set

L D R U DJ set

In what seemed like a transition from an artsy gig to a dance party, L D R U stepped in to get people bouncing. He played some crowd-pleasers, and the room got moving, but eventually restlessness caught up with the audience as they shuffled around, ready for the main act. I’ve since stumbled across his impressive Flume remix – something worth getting in your ears immediately:

Introduced by the theme to Space Odyssey, Peking Duk made quite the entrance, shouting all sorts of profanities in preparation for what promised to be a wild (and sweaty) night. One needed only look at the amount of Peking Duk bucket hats in the audience to observe that this sold-out show was an audience of fans, and shirts were flying off backs by the minute.

Yeo partying up with Peking Duk

Yeo partying up with Peking Duk

The sheer diversity of tracks that they covered was particularly striking (songs from The Lion King, Miley Cyrus, The Isley Brothers, Drake and The Beatles all featured) – that, paired with the fact that the songs cut in and out as quickly as they’d begun. The pair would also frequently turn off the music altogether to remind the audience to “take their shirts off” and ask if they were “ready to party”. The whole show was incredibly interactive – people were constantly invited on stage to crowd surf, Yeo was invited back on for a song, and as a somewhat unexpected surprise (see: SAFIA social media over the past few months), lead singer of SAFIA Ben Woolner-Kirkham joined the stage for their new collaborative track (set to be released in two weeks!).

But the final song of the night, “High”, was the one that really blew the roof off. If you haven’t already, get amongst it:

Peking Duk are an unmissable DJ act – for those lucky enough to have tickets they will be partying up again at Oxford Art Factory tonight! For everyone else, keep an ear out for their new single with SAFIA that’s just around the corner…

By Erin Rooney

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Gig Review: Thumpers + Tales in Space + Billy Fox

Thumpers

Thumpers might seem like a strange name for a band, but it won’t after experiencing the syncopated, pounding rhythms they bring to their live shows. And this well-managed sound was certainly a pleasant surprise for the casual audience that made it down to Newtown Social Club on Thursday.

As the crowd gently trickled in, Billy Fox filled the room with swirling electronic notes that brought to mind San Francisco producer Tycho, combined with snappier vocals to lift the mood. His offbeat sense of humour matched a quirky sense of style, and managed to lighten up the quiet audience.

 

Tales in Space started to draw a larger audience with an intriguingly in-sync rhythm guitar section and bass line that made them seem almost like a parody band. But these guys meant business, pulling out all the stops with nicely placed indie rock harmonies and even a cosmic cover of George Michael’s sultry “Careless Whisper” (a riff like that sax line never goes astray, I can tell you).

 

UK act Thumpers followed and showed the audience just how much fun they could have, with great chemistry on stage between friends. In fact, there was so much going on that it made me stop and realise just how much it’s easy to miss in a recording. From getting the audience in on the action by clapping, to a complex patchwork of syncopated vocal rhythms, there was a lot being put into their sound and none of it was lost on stage. “Tame” was a standout track in this respect, creating an interesting weave of beats.

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“We’re used to having an eleven-piece ensemble on stage, but we couldn’t afford to fly them all out,” apologised lead vocalist Marcus Pepperell. But Newtown Social Club proved once again to be a space that facilitates effective mixing of the sound, allowing each member of the band to shine, and bringing out the particularly lovely backup vocals just enough. The final track “Unkinder (A Tougher Love)” got people moving and encouraged some (ahem, braver) members of the audience to dance like no one was watching.

 

Thumpers gave a spirited performance to a relaxed audience and revealed their rhythmic prowess. Check out their debut album Galore, out now.

By Erin Rooney