The Powerline Sneakers at The Day By The Green. Noni Dowling photo.
Well hello fellow I-94 Bar abusers! I took my skinny white bum down to Melbourne on the Friday morning – a 5am bus from the Farmhouse here in Dimboola, only a lazy 1000ks there and back - but folks, if they rock, I will travel. And A Day by the Green, the next day, was well worth it. Some call this long-running mini-festival “a day on the green”…well, it is held in St Kilda, after all.
They had a fabulous line-up, led by Melbourne rock royalty in John Nolan (ex- Powder Monkeys), in his most awesome band, The Powerline Sneakers. Also on the bill: River of Snakes, The Pro Tools, Seedy Jeezus , Cold Harbour, The Fiction, Me Graines and a couple of other bands that I missed (my bad.) I’ll be early next time.
SO FUCK DID IT RAIN. LET’S JUST GET THAT OUT OF THE WAY. Inside the dry setting of The St Kilda Sports Club, there were about 150 punters there when I made my grand entrance. No-one noticed, of course, because The Me Graines were pumping out a fine set of tunes, with a new drummer and a couple of well-chosen covers. They were right on the money - a $20 entry fee – and I got my money’s worth right there. And it’s only gonna get better.
There’s no long history for this band apart from the collective curriculum vitae of the Melbourne people involved and the obvious fact they have an affinity for each other’s playing. It was recorded in a suburban shed on an oppressively hot day in 2014. It also grooves and rocks like the proverbial.
There are no Volumes 1-9 or even an 11. The Heartbrokers are Van Walker (Tasmanian-born singer-songwriter) on guitar and vocals, bassist Cal Walker, drummer Ash Davies, roots-rocker Jeff Lang and rockabilly-country pianist Ezra Lee. Plus friends like Jack Howard (sax).
Names can confuse and so can genres. Just as they toy with their title, these guys confound pigeonholing with their broad range. More (early) Seger than (doomed) Thunders but maybe a little Petty in terms of borrowing some sounds from Americana, The Heartbrokers defy categorisation other than good, old-fashioned, boogie and blues-based rock and roll.
Shayne Carter first emerged on the New Zealand rock scene in the ’80s with his high school punk band Bored Games and their “Who Colonel Mustard “ EP, which was one of the first releases on Flying Nun Records.
Part of the original “Dunedin Sound" scene, Carter went on to become a major player in the Flying Nun independent rock story as the singer-songwriter and guitarist in outfits such as Straitjacket Fits, Doublehappys and Dimmer.
Carter is Melbourne-bound for three shows in February - hist first since 2016 when he and his band played a searing three-night residency at the Yarra.
Regarded as one of New Zealand’s greatest alternative rock figures, Carter has carved out a distinctive and innovative body of work that places him in the top pantheon of that country’s best songwriters.
His band Straitjacket Fits - a group that became well known to Australian audiences in the ‘90s - produced a blend of rock dissonance and melody that became hugely influential; predating both the shoe gazer movement and the angular rock of bands like Radiohead and others of a similar ilk that followed in Straitjacket Fits' wake.