The Blackbear Lodge Brisbane – June 13, 2019 – words & pictures by Bec Harbour
Most people would be familiar with Ezekiel Ox from fronting funk metal band Mammal (who are on the line up for Dead of Winter festival this year). With a new EP Cheering Bombs from Deckchairs and touring Australia from top to bottom, the prolific Ezekiel Ox brand has a refreshing urgency not often heard in music right now, with the funk element making you want to dance right along to some hard rocking music.
Supporting band Born Lion from Sydney were first up, they were loud on their soundcheck, and they were loud during their set (thank fuck for earplugs). A hardcore influenced punk outfit, that would seem right at home in the 90’s, their blistering set should be taken in by more people (get there early to the gigs people – I can’t say it enough, there is a reason your band have chosen their support act – THEY like them).
Ezekiel Ox and band were up next and tore through the new music from the EP (check out the video for Meglomania in fact you can check out the whole new EP here) as well as some older stuff. Zeke was off the stage early on, interacting with the audience and making the most of the small space.
The band was tight, and the front man was charismatic and fully engaged with the small crowd. I highly recommend getting along and seeing them as they are another step up live from their recordings (Adelaide and Darwin still to go).
I first saw Charlie Collins at A More Perfect Union last year, supporting Gang of Youths. Charlie was wearing this jumpsuit which she told us needed a good wash, then played some of the most amazing country inflected music.
Support act Jaguar Jonze has been on my list to catch live, I have crossed paths with Deena, the amazing person behind the “Jonze” brand at industry events. Jaguar Jonze was the perfect starter for Charlie Collins with her own brand of alt-country.
Charlie Collins came with her band and played a rocking set that had an interlude where she played with just her accoustic and then some violin. The set culminated with her single from late last year ‘Mexico‘.
Charlie said at the start of her set that she hadn’t expected the amount of people that came. Charlie captured Brisbane peoples attention at A More Perfect Union, and kept their interest by making really great music. Don’t be surprised if you’re at a bigger venue next time you’re in town, Charlie Collins.
First things first – I owe this gig to the tenacity of my friend Scott who contacted War on Women and suggested that if they wanted a photographer for their Brisbane gig that I’d be a good one. War on Women were supporting Converge on their Australian tour after the Download festivals (come on bring this festival to Brisbane!).
War on Women released their album, Capture the Flag in April last year. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this band is another punk band singing angry love songs, they have strong feminist, political and societal commentary to share.
The band tore through a solid set with singer Shawna Potter engaging with her audience – leaping in at one point, quite a few had come primarily to catch War on Women. I was so caught up with the energy of their set that I found myself forgetting to take photos (a hallmark of a great gig for me). The front row of punters were screaming along to everything they played.
Listen to this bands lyrics, they have an important message to share. They also have a perfect platform to deliver this, through music. I hope they do more festivals where people can discover them, engage with their messages and make a change, even just in themselves.
I saw Tape/Off at the Valley Drive In during BIGSOUND 2018, all I could hear was a wall of sound coming from behind the Brightside, and I wanted to know more. I checked them out on their Triple J Unearthed and Facebook profiles later on and realised that their favourite bands included many of mine. I like a noisy band.
Tape/Off released ‘Broadcast Park’ last year just before BIGSOUND and the latest single ‘Vigorous Lover’ is a step away from their usual sound dynamic. Cnt Evn, Minor Premiers and Requin as supports were thematic choices with their own brands of quality noise.
Tape/Off played a solid set that included ‘Wake in Fright’, ‘Micronation’ and ‘Day In, Day Out’ and of course ‘Vigorous Lover’. ‘Vigorous Lover’ shows the melodic chops the band has and some clever lyric play: “She wanted a vigorous lover, that would go all night, I’m not such a vigorous lover, but I go alright…”
Get and see Tape/Off, especially if you like noise in abundance. The tour namesake single ‘Vigorous Lover’ shows a bit of a sardonic side through the lyrics and softer sound that you might not realise Tape/Off possess.
What do you get when you band 10 live music venues together to put some seriously great bands on? The Mountain Goat Valley Crawl is what! Spread across 3 blocks (so easy scramble distance between venues) and some of the best up and coming as well as established bands from Brisbane and beyond, this always promised to be a good night.
As I got my wristband, I realised that I had left my glasses at home (hurrah for living very close – boo for disorganisation and bad eyesight!) so had to scoot home again leaving me with minimal time to catch Perve Endings at The Foundry.
Perve Endings do great synth punk pop – a lot more punk than their Unearthed Profile would suggest, and a lot noisier than their recordings there too. They had a decent sized crowd for a 6.30 slot – the hard work they have been putting in (Voiid’s Sludge Session to name one) has paid off.
The Bonnie Doons were on at the Crowbar in my 7pm timeslot. I have almost seen them countless times, only to have a scheduling conflict – interestingly enough there was one with this line up for me too – Being Jane Lane at Blutes. If you like a laid back, almost reggae tinged sound (think surf-punk-coastal music) you will love these guys. I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of their set – get on their Unearthed page and have a listen.
Being Jane Lane were in full swing when I arrived at Blutes. By full swing, I mean going off. Blutes stage area is small and the band had spilled off the stage onto the floor area, merging with the audience. I saw them last supporting Horace Bones (I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again, a criminally under attended gig – RIP live music at the Bloodhound Bar) and missed them at VB Hardyards. I was trying to work out out where their lead singer Teigan was, she was in the crowd much to everyones delight.
After a quick dinner break, I went back to the The Foundry, where Tiny Castle was playing in the Back Room (AKA The Bowie Room). If you like bands like the Killers and City Calm Down, these guys are for you. It seemed that the audience was filled with friends and family (grandparents included). The Back Room at the Foundry has surprisingly good acoustics – it felt like we were at a house party in someone’s lounge room.
My must see for the night was Cry Club. Their recordings only give half the indication of the energy and noise that comes from a live show. Heather is the consummate front person – high energy and engages with every member of the audience. I love noise pop that I can dance to and Cry Club are a band delivers this in spades.
My first band at the Zoo for the night was Minor Premiers. This band sounds like they are from another time, like something off the early 90’s Merge Records roster. They had a bunch of loyal fans ready to go. I had been waiting to see them for some time and they did not disappoint. It was then off to Barbara to see Pool Shop.
I had popped into Barbara earlier to do a light reading – it seemed darker and more crowded when I went back. Barbara is not really geared for this type of live music (and frustrating sound issues as well as lack of lighting) and the punters were all squashed in, with more trying to get in. I took my shots and went outside to listen to the rest of their set. Pool Shop is one of my favourite Brisbane bands, fantastic shoegaze style, melodic power pop.
My biggest scheduling clash of the night was Raave Tapes and IV League. I went over to the Brightside to catch IV League first. IV League put out a solid beginning to their set (was hoping for Superstar – maybe I left before it?) then off to the Zoo for Raave Tapes.
I have been singing the praises of Raave Tapes to whoever will listen – I saw them live for the first time as the “surprise” band at the end of the Against the Grain festival. It seems that the rest of Brisbane has arrived – the line to get in was down to the convenience shop (thank you media wristband). It was already packed upstairs too. It was already heaving – Raave Tapes are a band that will make you have a good time, and all your friends as well. They invited a big pile of their friends up for their song “Corridor”, members of Bugs, Sweater Curse and Stumps and other randoms. The crowd loved every minute of it.
After that little bit of excitement, it was back to Blutes for the “surprise” gig of the night – Washington. New songs and old favourites were performed. It seemed that not everyone got the memo about Washington playing straight away – the line up at the door started well into the set.
Once again, Mountain Goat Valley Crawl put on a stunning array of talent. Because you can’t be everywhere at once, I missed Selfish Sons, Sleep Club and Requin – bands I really wanted to see. Stumps I missed due to utter confusion with the schedule (sorry guys – next time?). I’m looking forward to seeing some of these bands around this year.
The guys from Grain are getting very good at selected great acts for a great night out – Against the Grain festival was an eclectic line up of established and up and coming bands and their SILO nights are using the same formula.
The 4th instalment of the SILO nights grouped the very welcome return of Major Leagues with Grace Turner and Sacred Blue.
Grace Turner and her band are one of the hardest working acts around (or are at least stretching themselves thin) as they took off after their slot to play Grow Your Own festival. From Newcastle, the flow of bands from Newcastle playing in Brisbane is increasing and Brisbane is loving it. I also love that Grace plays a Flying V. Her brand of jangly indie pop was a great segue-way to from Sacred Blue to Major Leagues.
I have photographed Jaimee in her other project Pool Shop several times last year and was very much looking forward to seeing and photographing Major Leagues. Major Leagues are a happy power pop quartet (if you love stuff like Best Coast, Throwing Muses or Belly these guys are for you). The ease of style and not missing a beat (except when Vlada lost an earring!) made for a set that went all too quick (they are supporting Snail Mail so if you have tickets to that you are in for a treat).
All these artists have Bandcamp sites – check them out below:
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.
Blonde Tongues – Photo Bec Harbour
Eliza & the Delusionals – Photo Bec Harbour
DJ awesomeness – Photo Bec Harbour
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.
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).
Concrete Surfers – Photo Bec Harbour
Sleepclub – Photo Bec Harbour
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.
Eliza & the Delusionals – Photo Bec Harbour
Candy – Photo Bec Harbour
Pool Shop – Photo Bec Harbour
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”.
Sweater Curse – Photo Bec Harbour
Sweater Curse – Bec Harbour
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.
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.
City Calm Down – Photo Bec Harbour
City Calm Down – Photo Bec Harbour
City Calm Down – Photo Bec Harbour
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.