Monday, May 21, 2007

Rock and roll is not a specator sport, baby

Hands down, that is the best line I’ve ever heard at a gig. This week was bookended by two local bands that couldn’t be more disparate.

13th May 2007
Architecture in Helsinki
w Muscles
Prince of Wales

AIH from the Car Park Festival, 2005

The week began with Architecture in Helsinki at the Prince supported by Muscles and Soft Tigers. Part of the appeal of live gigs is checking out the punters, figuring out what tribe they belong to, making outlandish assumptions about what they might do during the day or what other bands they might listen to. In keeping with AIH’s art school cred, the Prince was decorated with the cardigan/specs/kooky nerd look – male and female youths alike.

We arrived late due to an extremely long wait for dinner - an hour and a half for a shellfish stirfry and bad attitude from the staff. Steer clear of Claypots St Kilda until they get their service and kitchen up to speed with their newly expanded premises.

I really tried, but I just didn’t get Muscles: one man, a machine and a mike. It was all LOUD shouting and LOUD beats and NO dynamics – just a steady stream of LOUD. Louis had just been to see him the week before and Freddy reckoned there might be some influence of The Streets. I guess I need some melody and form in my sounds so I personally didn’t find Muscles particularly compelling.

Fans of Architecture in Helsinki would say that their mashed up sounds of horns, machines, vocals and random percussion is creative and fresh. I’ve not had an easy relationship with this band, when I saw them a couple of years ago at the Carpark Festival, I had to retire to the bar with a hotdog. Their music seemed too random and a bit amateurish and their mish-mash sounds were divergent rather than cohesive.

Since this time, they have lost a couple of brass players and gained a funk influence that provides a stronger framework for their hodge podge noodlings. Drawing largely from their current EP _Heart in Races_ and their previous album _In Case We Die_, it was interesting to hear how they have developed and the addition of a decent bass line is just enough to make their songs more listenable. I was pleasantly surprised (fellow carpark fest attendees mike and mel, I know. But it’s true, they were actually kinda ok).

However, diehard fan Freddy found their new sound too different to what had brought him to the band and seemed disappointed. It’s a shame: Freddy is a Bostonian who is returning soon to the US after a year in Melbourne and had been hanging out to see AIH in their home town. Although most people responded well to their new material, at one point, Kellie Sutherland had to say (paraphrased), “I know we’re in Melbourne, but get up and have a dance”.


18th May 2007
w Hell City Glamour, The Shine
Corner Hotel

Which brings us to Airbourne, The Shine and Hell City Glamour capping off the week at the Corner Hotel. None of these bands had to ask the crowd to dance – the punters were going absolutely bananas.

We caught the tail end of Hell City Glamour, whose lead singer provides the post title quickly followed by The Shine, an entertaining, rollicking, slightly glam in a bogan kinda way outfit. They announced their imminent support for the next instalment of Wrestlerock, the perfect indicator of their loud, fun, noisy RAWK.

But nothing compares to Airbourne. Don’t go for the music, there's nothing too imaginative or progressive in this department. Go for the intense, no bull, LOUD AS HELL show. Joel O’Keefe and the boys are dynamic and intensely strong performers, with O’Keefe pouring shots into the mouths of rabid punters at the front in between crowd surfing while striking his guitar all the way to the bar and back.

With all the dramatic lights, giant amps, frenzied guitar waving and head banging, it felt like at a stadium gig had been transplanted into the humble Corner Hotel. The gig was just as much fun for atmosphere as there was a wide range of testosterone present, from the original AC/DC fans right down to the younger, flannel-clad, uni crowd. And what a delicious pleasure to note the array of Metallica, Poison, Slayer and Motley Crue tees dotted amongst the punters. Like Dr B, I was cursing myself the whole night for forgetting my camera.

See them for the atmosphere, see it to revisit your (lost?) youth, live vicariously through the kids letting out their aggression in the mosh - just make sure you see them!