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Against the Grain Festival

Fortitude Valley – 3 November 2018

This year was Against the Grain’s 3rd year, a truly boutique festival in a landscape of festivals being incorporated and going big, and often going broke. The choices of venues (The Brightside, The Valley Drive-In and The Foundry) and proximity were excellent choices and while I’m sure there were things going on behind the scenes, the experience seemed very seamless from an attendee’s point of view.

Created by Chris Langenberg, the third instalment of this festival sees him joined by Brodie Popple to create a festival experience that could really only happen in Fortitude Valley with the proximity of venues. The line up was thematic, covering no wave to dream-pop/shoegaze, for lovers of a distorted or jangly guitar with melody, this year’s line up was stellar.

The day was one of the first stinkers of the Brisbane hot season (let’s face it we really don’t have a summer or a winter here) and the thought of traipsing up and down with 8 kilos of camera equipment the block from Warner Street to The Foundry in Wickham Street was a bit daunting. Thankfully it was shaded, and a cool breeze kicked in for the afternoon.

A video production company had set up in the courtyard and invited me to capture some stills of the 2 bands they were interviewing, Blonde Tongue and Eliza and the Delusionals.

I caught Blonde Tongue’s set, it was nice to listen to some dream pop in the airconditioning. Blonde Tongue posted on their Facebook that they had not played a gig in about 3 years, no one could tell, they sounded great, and The Brightside’s acoustics kept their sound clear and unmuddied.

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Blonde Tongue – Photo Bec Harbour

Next up at The Valley Drive-In was Concrete Surfers, guitar-driven and danceable – although no-one was dancing just yet, the heat was still present. Then it was off to The Foundry for Sleepclub, another dream pop entry for the festival, there was a sizeable crowd for them. It was also my first encounter with the helium balloons used as decoration (please don’t).

It was then back to The Valley Drive-In for Eliza and the Delusionals. They supplied a giant slice of fun fuzzy guitar pop. Then it was quickly inside The Brightside to catch the first few songs by Candy, then back over to catch Pool Shop, who I was very keen to see after catching their Big Sound performances. Pool Shop has lovely whimsical music sung by Jaimee Fryer of Major Leagues, that will make you smile and nod your head along.

After Pool Shop, I stopped in for a food break at Blute’s in the Brunswick Street Mall. Blute’s has one of the best bar snack menus I have come across (go the fried mozzarella sticks and the Dorito crumbed popcorn chicken, you will not be disappointed). Then it was back to The Valley Drive-In for Sweater Curse.

Sweater Curse is one of my favourite Brisbane bands, and the Against the Grain festival is only here because of their guitarist Chris Langenberg’s vision and hard work, along with this years co-conspirator Brodie Popple. I had caught Sweater Curse the previous weekend supporting Horror My Friend on tour (which explains why Chris was hard to get hold of – he is a super busy person with a tour AND organising a festival). Sweater Curse is an amalgam of no wave influences as well as shoegaze to form their own beautiful noise. The recently released “Mon’s Song” is an already established crowd favourite as well as “Can’t See You Anymore”.

First Beige is anything but beige, on entering The Brightside there were people jumping around everywhere to their dance-inflected sounds. This is a band that looks like they are playing hard but having a really good time, the crowd are on board with this and were dancing hard and having a great time. It was then off to The Foundry to catch Totally Mild.

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Totally Mild – Photo Bec Harbour

Totally Mild were having sound issues, but once they were sorted they launched into their sweet dream pop sounds. After Totally Mild, it was back to The Brightside for the tail end of Maddy Jane.

The crowd was packed in at The Valley Drive-In ready for City Calm Down. The last time I saw City Calm Down was at Splendour in the Grass in 2016, they played late afternoon and did a fantastic cover of David Bowie’s Let’s Dance (which was very apt for that time). The crowd sang along with favourites such as Pleasure & Consequence, lead singer Jack Bourkes ability to draw the crowd into the moment evident with the sea of outstretched arms across the D barrier.

Then the secret, not so secret, after party act, Raave Tapes at The Foundry. Thank you for booking these guys, they are my new favourite thing right now. Raave Tapes are from Newcastle, like several of the bands on the line up (there was even a joke made that Newcastle was a suburb of Brisbane). From K Bye to Suds, they played everything that made you want to dance, they are an amazing and entertaining live act. About halfway through their set, they pulled Chris Langenberg and Brodie Popple up to do a song with them. Raave Tapes were a great end to a great festival.

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Raave Tapes – Photo Bec Harbour

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Horror My Friend

The Brightside – 27 October 2018

I received an email letting me know that the venue had changed for Horror My Friend, and I wondered what had happened to the Bloodhound Bar. It turns out that they have had noise complaints from surrounding residents. Sigh. I’m trying not to rant about people moving into entertainment precincts to live when the venues have been there all along.

But the Brightside stepped up, which shows the community between the smaller venues in the Valley. The Brightside, being a repurposed church, has excellent acoustics and every band that plays there sounds great.

First up was Future Haunts, I saw them for the first time at the Hidden Lanes Festival and was impressed, at the Brightside they looked and sounded great.

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Future Haunts – photo by Bec Harbour

Sweater Curse is the support band that has been with Horror My Friend for their national tour. Sweater Curse has a strong loyal following in Brisbane – I saw them at BIG SOUND, they seemed to have so much more distortion (in a very good way) in their set than at BIG SOUND.

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Sweater Curse – photo by Bec Harbour

Horror My Friend piqued my interest as my 2 biggest musical obsessions, Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine are listed on their Triple J unearthed page as major influences. Plus they are on Poison City Records, who along with Milk! Records have been producing and recording some fantastic talent. The boys from Adelaide put on a great show, and I left the gig with my ears ringing, moving through established stuff and newer stuff.

I highly recommend all 3 bands on this bill – they all had solid sets, got the crowd up and going and sounded great.

Hidden Lanes Festival

Fortitude Valley – Saturday 13 October 2018

Let’s not beat around the bush, it was a really wet weekend in Brisbane on the weekend of the inaugural Hidden Lanes Festival. As I gathered my wet weather gear and went to the Valley, I thought that this little festival might just be washed out.

Hidden Lanes Festival had put out some smart messages in the days leading up to the event, once the weather decided to be uncooperative, letting festival goers know that all the music would be undercover and go ahead, the rummage sale would move to The Zoo and the masterclasses were being held indoors. Armed with that information, a good-sized crowd crammed themselves into every sheltered spot on the festival map.

The Hidden Lanes Festival was created to celebrate the laneways of Fortitude Valley, Winn Lane, Bakery Lane, Lucky Lane, Little Valley and newly renovated California Lane.

Winn Lane has been a favoured destination for me since it’s close to The Zoo, Tym’s Guitars, and has Ben’s Burgers in it. Recently they have been hosting pop-up shops, my favourite being the beautiful plant shop Max and Mort who was holding a sale that day as part of the festival.

Bakery Lane has some fantastic food outlets, with the best-named bakery I’ve come across – Cakes and Shit. Lucky Lane is really a service lane that leads through to California Lane – let’s hope they develop this lane to complement the other bigger lanes and Little Valley gets its name from the restaurant at the head of the lane and is also a service lane.

California Lane is the newest laneway to be opened to the public, it is clean and white (despite the rain). California Lane was named in honour of the California Cafe (see the little mini-museum at the location). The refurbishment of the lane space has allowed the restaurants and cafes on Brunswick Street to extend their seating to the decks created out the back.

The music put on by the festival was eclectic and fitting for the small stages placed in each of the main laneways. Normally I would tear around a festival and try to see as much as possible, today not so much. I mapped out where I wanted to be, in an attempt to keep me and my camera dry.

My first stop was The Zoo, to check out the rummage sale and the band that was playing at the same time. The rummage sale was busy, the band had lots of their friends up watching them, it was an ok alliance of market and music.

My next stop was off to see Anouk and Ben Ely in California Lane. This father-daughter duo need to do more gigs, Anouk Ely has a great voice and Ben Ely supports her talent as well as showcasing his own not insignificant ability. The shops that have opened in California Lane were also open showing off their new spaces and wares as well as the artists quarter on the deck at California Lane and exhibition in Reverend’s Fine Coffee and Bar.

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Anouk and Ben Ely – Photo Bec Harbour

The next hour or so before the rain really decided to belt down were spent visiting the different laneways and seeing what festival goers were doing, most were enjoying the live music under umbrellas and ponchos. When the rain bucketed down I beat a hasty retreat to Blutes in the Brunswick Mall as they do have the best bar snacks in the Valley.

After the mini-downpour ended, I went across to Tym’s Guitars to see Whalehouse. This band is my favourite thing that I saw all day. Despite being cold, wet and my camera beginning to fail under the soggy circumstances, it was a bright happy half hour of songs about the sea and the beach. Awesome Devo cover too.

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Whalehouse at Tyms Guitars – Photo Bec Harbour

The fashion shows had moved inside to Laruche and there was very little room to move here. I decided to catch the tail end of the Harry J Hart Trio at The Zoo, then went over to Bakery Lane to watch San Mei and Shag Rock then over to California Lane to catch the end of Minor Premiers. The drizzle still persisted but so did the dedicated crowds.

One of the great things about using the McWhirters Parking garage was the change of clothes waiting for me there. It’s amazing what a pair of dry socks and shirt can do for you. While my camera and phone batteries recharged, I uploaded to social media and checked the laneway Instagram sites.

A coffee to warm up then I was off back to The Zoo for Future Haunts and The Moving Stills warming up the early birds. Both of these bands are why you should always check out the support acts. Second great cover of the day by Moving Stills of the Ladyhawke song, My Delirium.

Most of the crowd at The Zoo were there for the Delta Riggs who have a loyal following in Brisbane. I can certainly see why; they put on a good show and have a lot of showmanship.

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Delta Riggs at the Zoo – Photo Bec Harbour

I really hope that the Hidden Lanes Festival goes ahead again next year with better weather. If the aim of the festival was to showcase what is unique and great about Fortitude Valley, the organisers got it so right, music, local artists, local designers and local businesses.

Gallery

Australian Women in Music Awards

Brisbane Powerhouse – Wednesday 10th October 2018

It’s not often that you can say that standing in the foyer of the Brisbane Powerhouse looking confused will actually pay off and get you an opportunity. It did for me. I was attending the forum “The future is female and digital” and had forgotten to contact the organisers to get permission to bring my camera in, so was wondering who to ask. A woman came up to me and asked if I knew that the forum was downstairs. I did but needed to speak with someone about getting my camera into the forum. She looked really familiar.

So a chance meeting with the founding director of the Australian Women in Music Awards, Vicki Gordon had me a media pass for the forum and a phone number of her PR manager Belinda to see about getting another pass for the red carpet and the media room that evening during the awards. A big thank you to both of you for allowing me the chance to be involved.

The awards recognised not only women in the public view but many of the unsung heroes behind the scenes as well, some of whom had never received any recognition for their work until now. The awards also recognise up and coming artists, indigenous artists and teachers of music who begin many of these artists on their journey.

APRA AMCOS Songwriter Award – WINNER – Gordi (Sophie Payten)

 

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Gordi – AWMA 2018 – Photo Bec Harbour

 

SHEBAH Music Leadership Award – WINNER – Jen Cloher

Canon Australia Music Photographer Award – WINNER – Wendy McDougall

 

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Wendy McDougall AWMA 2018 – Photo Bec Harbour

 

SSI Diversity in Music Award – WINNER – Mission Songs Project

AWMA Studio Production Award – WINNER – Anna Laverty

Spotify Creative Leadership Award – WINNER – Zoe Hauptmann

 

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Zoe Hauptmann AWMA 2018 – Photo Bec Harbour

 

CICADA International Breakthrough Artist Award – TIED WINNERS – Camp Cope and Amy Shark

Twitter Australia Artistic Excellence Award – WINNER – Ngaiire

 

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Ngaiire AWMA 2018 – Photo Bec Harbour

 

Canon Australia Film-maker Award – WINNER – Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore

 

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Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore (right) AWMA 2018 – Photo Bec Harbour

 

AWMA Live Production Award – WINNER – Robyn Jelleff

 

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Robyn Jelleff (right) AWMA 2018 – Photo Bec Harbour

 

The Calile Hotel Musical Excellence Award – TIED WINNERS – Lydia Davies and Nerida Tyson-Chew

QUT Creative Industries Faculty Educator Award – WINNER – Dr Anita Collins

CAAMA Auriel Andrew Memorial Award – WINNER – Deborah Cheetham AO

Industry Observer Lifetime Achievement Award – WINNERS – Renée Geyer, Patricia ‘Little Patty’ Amphlett, Margret RoadKnight

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L-R Little Patty, unknown, Di Farmer MP, Margret RoadKnight

A big congratulations to all of those who won, who were nominated and who attended in support of someone else. There were performances by artists such as Kate Cebrano, Katie Noonan and Adalita during the night, wrapping with a reformed Do Re Mi.

 

 

 

WAAX – VB Hard Yards

4 October 2018 – The Foundry

I’m all about supporting up and coming bands (4 nights of hauling arse around the valley for BIG SOUND is a demonstration of commitment). VB hard Yards is offering up and coming bands an opportunity to play and tour and gain exposure around Australia and paying for them to do it. The ballot ticketing system, while slightly annoying is clearly to get people in to listen to the up and coming bands and it worked – the Foundry was pretty full at 8pm when I arrived.

Being Jane Lane, are named after the best show that MTV ever did (and they do a ripping cover of the theme song) and a solid pop-punk band from Brisbane. I saw them last when they supported Horace Bones at the Bloodhound Bar (a sadly underattended gig). I have never seen a group of people up on stage just having so much fun and they brought this to Hard Yards.

I’m beginning to feel like I’m stalking WAAX (really I’m not) this being the third gig in as many weeks that I have been to where they play. I was looking forward to actually seeing them (looking at you Eatons Hill Hotel) and seeing them in a smaller venue than the Riverstage. Singer Marie has a funny effect on super tall bearded men, they must elbow their way to the front to hold their phones up in homage.

WAAX are ready to take off – they won’t be playing these small venues for much longer. As I previously mentioned in my review for the Brisbane Festival Closing Party, they have a killer single lined up (if they work out what to call it). They are ready. The set was solid and the crowd was amped (possibly on VB). Aside from the giant bearded individuals, there were lots of happy faces in the crowd singing along. Sooooo WAAX… do you have a gig next week for me to go to so I can make it 4 for 4?

 

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WAAX, VB Hard Yards @thefoundry –  photo Bec Harbour – no bearded giants in the way

 

Clowns at the Foundry

30 September 2018

Let’s just start by saying that I was reaallllyy excited about this gig – I had seen Clowns before at the Crowbar and was impressed by their energy – they run a tight ship onstage that runs really close to the reef without wrecking itself.

When I heard that they were supported by Voiid, I was even more keen to get to this gig. Voiid impressed me during Big Sound – I regretted not seeing them earlier so I could get a round 2 in.

Let’s talk about the first support act – Semantics. They did not look like they were going to sound. Their first song told me they had their credentials to be at this gig straight, a noisy piece of fuzz-pop, that continued through their set.

Voiid were fantastic, better than at Big Sound (fatigue on the night may have contributed there). They were energetic, loud and I’m trying to think of a better word than sassy as that’s what an old white man might write about a group of young women in a band. I wrote in their BigSound review that they sounded like Sleater Kinney, L7 and Kathleen Hanna mashed together and they have harnessed the same primal roar as these artists.

Clowns were there to promote their new album, Freezing in the Sun. They played stuff from their new album as well as some oldies from their back catalogue. What relentless touring and clever promotion will do – when they played their singles “Freezing in the Sun” and “I Shaved My Legs For You” the crowd roared along. A Clowns live performance never disappoints, lead singer Stevie poured every ounce of energy into every song, backed by great musicians holding the chaos together.  I will definitely catch them again next time they are in town.

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Clowns @ the Foundry – photos by Bec Harbour
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Clowns @ the Foundry – photos by Bec Harbour
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Clowns @ the Foundry – photos by Bec Harbour
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Clowns @ the Foundry – photos by Bec Harbour
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Clowns @ the Foundry – photos by Bec Harbour

Brisbane Festival Closing Party: Violent Soho, Meg Mac, Methyl Ethel and WAAX.

Saturday 29 September

Usually, end of festival gigs are one recent band and a pile of bands from the past (I’m looking at you Boom Crash Opera) that are not really relevant or conducive to getting the crowds in. Whoever did the booking for the Brisbane Festival Closing Party outdid themselves and should be still patting themselves on the back for such a great line up.

I got through the gate just before WAAX went on, if you have read my previous review of Wolf Alice from the day before, I was particularly keen to see WAAX having missed them at that gig. WAAX is fast becoming my favourite band to see live. They played a new song that they weren’t sure if they were going to call “Fuck You”. Just do it guys, Australians love a song with a swear word in it – aside from that it’s a great noisy piece of pop-rock-punk.

Methyl Ethel had been touted as the band to see in the lineup with new music coming. They came across as shy kids that can play their arses off and get a crowd going. It did start to rain during their set and I was too busy trying to poncho up and keep my camera from getting wet to check in on any of their set list, or to work out which was new and which was old stuff. Interestingly enough I have not been in a crowd that was so well prepared for rain (even at Splendour in the Grass where it is always a more than 50/50 chance of rain).

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Meg Mac played as dusk set in. Perfect timing, I had not paid much attention to Meg Mac, thinking that she was another Sarah Blasko or Missy Higgins. Nothing could be further from the reality. I can say that I am a convert and enjoyed every minute of Meg’s set, I am particularly sad that you are retiring the Like a Version cover of Tame Impala’s “Let It Happen” (actually better than the original). I went home and downloaded your album.

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There was a fireworks interlude while Violent Soho tried to soundcheck (futile). The crowd was starting to push forward in anticipation. Violent Soho was everything that they always are, played a tight set and the crowd went off (wheelie bin mosh pit adventure, anyone?). To close their set, Bernard Fanning joined them for a cover of “These Days”.

Brisbane Festival 2019, you have big shoes to fill and hopefully, you can replicate such a bloody great line up like this year.