brisbane - The I-94 Bar
Brian Mann and Mick Medew trading licks in Thirroul. Shona Ross photo.
Gonna break that rule about not reviewing I-94 Bar gigs, as the second of this two-night engagement was badged thus. If you can’t write about things you like, what’s the point? It’s the ethos of why we do this e-zine thing.
So let’s be up front and say that Mick Medew is a good mate and his band, The Mesmerisers, are lovely people. In customary evangelical spirit, I’m unashamedly going to tell you that if you love rock and roll then you have to see them - in their native Brisbane or on one of their few forays outside of Queensland.
The first leg of this two-night weekend stand was a support to the mighty Sunnyboys, opening a bill shared with the mercurial Ups & Downs. The venue was the magic Anita’s Theatre in Thirroul, an hour-and-a-bit south of Sydney. The second was a Sydney show at the increasingly familiar stamping ground of Marrickville Bowling Club. The Mesmerisers are making the road trip a family affair with partners and two offspring in tow.
If there's one recent (i.e. it came out in late 2009 and is still being spun) Australian album that merits robbing a bank, mugging your neighbour or running down to Cash Converters and pawning your partner so you can purchase a copy, it's "Living With You Is Killing Me" by Brisbane band HITS.
2017 was a great year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Velvet Underground & Nico and "Forever Changes", the 40th of "(I’m) Stranded" and the 25th of something great (and local) which came out in 1992 that was more than likely one of Ed Kuepper’s. And speaking of Mr Kuepper, let’s launch into this Top Ten the Barman asked me to do.
I’ll just prattle on about live shows I’ve seen as they’re probably more entertaining than my thoughts on Cosey Fanni Tutti’s autobiography "Art Sex Music" which isn’t rock & roll enough or director Kriv Stenders’s recent feature documentary on the Go-Betweens which is probably too wimpy for readers in I-94 Land.
Fair enough - they’re not everyone’s cup of tea – especially if you prefer coffee.
1.-7. THE AINTS 2017 AUSTRALIAN TOUR OF THE EAST COAST
Apparently the best way to describe someone who follows Ed Kuepper’s shows from town to town is to call them an Edhead. In 1976, Saints fans were known as Kuepper Troopers as it was understood that even in those early days it was Ed’s band - up until 1978, at least.
So fast-forward to 2017, The Aints awake after a 25-year hiatus and decide to tour through the most of the country’s capital cities doing Saints material from ’73-’78.
2017...the year that was...and yes I have Sinatra's ''It Was a Very Good Year'' going through my head. Actually, it had its ups and downs but I'll focus only on the ultra good, in no particular chronology.
My musical year started with a performance with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra as my backing band at The Tivoli. in Brisbane. We played my most recent album “Lost Cities” in its entirety, as well as a selection of material I did for the “Last Cab to Darwin” soundtrack, plus earlier solo and Laughing Clowns tunes. “Ghost Gum” and “Collapse Board” were real high points for me.
Richard Davis conducted and made the transition from the garage to the concert hall for me not only possible but an enjoyable experience. Robert Davidson did the orchestral arrangements and brought the songs to life in a context I'd often dreamed about doing but hadn't actually heard.
Richard Wenn put the whole thing together. It would not have happened without him. His enthusiasm for bypassing the “greatest hits” approach and general tenacity made it work. Thank you, Richard.
We did the show again in Cairns a little while later, this time with a slightly trimmed-back orchestra (even flat-stacking them, there are only so many orchestral musicians that fit into the back of my ute.)
This was also great and quite different due to the smaller orchestra. The whole thing has been a great learning curve for me. Thanks, one and all.
The next thing I went on to do was what was announced as my last ‘’Solo and By Request'' tour, this time taking in all those out of the way and rural places I don't get to that often. The idea for these shows started in 2013.
In no special order:
1. The Damned at The Triffid, Brisbane, March 15
A school night: Wednesday. The Mesmerisers go on at 7.30pm to a packed house. We carve, the crowd makes us feel like they are there to see us. The Damned 's tour manager remarks that he has never encountered a support band being granted a bottle of Gordon's gin as part of their drink rider: another milestone ticked.
The Damned play for two-and-a-half hours - brilliantly. They are a big hit with the audience - and with Captain Sensible back in the band, they could hardly miss.
2. Perfect Match
Now I do know where she comes from: Banyo. I’ve got a Date with a Banyo girl, tonight.
3. Died Pretty, Radio Birdman and The Mesmerisers at The Tivoli Theatre, Brisbane, June 23
The crowd have all turned up early and turn on to us straight away. Died Pretty get better every time I see them. They always were a fantastic band.
4. Perfect Purchase
My Zoom H5 portable recording device does everything i wanted it to.
5. Gap Farmers Markets, Brisbane, June 25
Andrew Ross and Co sure know how to put on a festival . We go on before dusk. I wear my sunglasses for half the set. Michael again chooses the right shirt for the occasion.
The Top 10 People I Love In RocknRoll That Make Me Love People In RocknRoll (2017 Edition)
1. Shannon Cannon
Shannon is an A1 World Class Top Shelf Human. She is somehow simultaneously all ticker, all smarts, all love, all staunchness, all practicality and logic yet all compassion and instinct. That kinda mix just don't happen often.
From her borderline illegal and harmful practical jokes on idiots she works with to her endless efforts and love to rehabilitate her dear daschund Bruce to walk again against all odds and massive financial hurdles, she is a wave crossing the full spectrum of traits of inspiring people.
Shannon takes this all into her music, I've seen it get pummelled outta her on stage playing bass like a war machine, I've seen it in the drive and focus with which she has forged Juliette Seizure and the Tremor Dolls (incidentally the majority of which are honourable mentions for this top 10), and I've seen it in the difficult, taxing and uncomfortable work she does/has done to earn money to fund music. I've seen it in the minimal twitch of her eye in place of a fist to the cock that she chose to use to respond to a dear and misguided friend of mine's amazement at her wearing a Dictators shirt ("a chick! Wearing a Dictators shirt!"). Shannon is the real deal whatever the hell that means to any of us.
Honourable Mention: Tremor Doll Graeme Cole (happiest man in rocknroll) and of course Bruce.
1. Big Bongin’ Baby
Gutterball Pete is perhaps the only person currently alive who can vomit during the middle of a guitar solo and not fluff a single note. He’s a character – an amalgam of Nikki Sudden, Ronnie Wood and Peter Perrett in style and grace. The affectionately –named Bongers have played around town for over 25 years and like the Saints, failed the Academy of Music’s Battle of the Bands.
2. The Double – "Dawn of the Double" LP (In the Red ITR-295)
Drummer Jim White and guitarist Emmett Kelly playing Bo Diddley for three quarters of an hour in E over two sides of an LP. This is probably too avant for the fans of rock ‘n’ roll and too in the pocket for the rockist set. I don’t think rockists know what that term even means but I’ll leave it in here anyway.
3. Kitchen’s Floor – "Battle of Brisbane" (bruit direct disques Br-d 19)
Whether they’re blissfully unaware or overtly conscious of the fact they’re carrying this anger and sense of punk that goes back to Brisbane’s day one is probably pointless and not worth fretting about right now.
Hot on the heels of the Perth show and a day after the Sydney gig, there's a Brisbane benefit for Lime Spiders vocalist Mick Blood happening in Brisbane.
"Bloodstock" is being held at Roma Street's Beetle Bar on Sunday, September 28th from 1pm and features the talents of friends and former bandmates.
You can catch Screamin' Stevie, Dr. Bombay, The Busymen, The Counterfeit Umbrellas, The Pretty Fingers, Hill 60, Team Utopia and Brisbane's own Burlesque beauty, Miss Red Devotchkin, from 1pm.
Tickets are available at the door for $10. All proceeds will go directly to Mick's Support Act fund.
Mick is recovering in a Newcastle hospital after a pub altercation left him with brain damage.
Bloodstock on Facebook
Members of this early ‘80s Brisbane band went on to Subsonic Barflies and Splatterheads. Taking their cue from American hardcore, Death of a Nun put down these tracks as demos in 1984-85 and Swashbuckling Hobo has exhumed them - or, in the label’s own words, “reached deep beyond the S-bend”.
This single is very much of its time - an era of repression and extreme prejudice against any music that vaguely resembled punk (whatever that is) and “Brisbane” reflects that. It's two-paced (like the Gabba wicket used to be) and would have passed for sophisticated songwriting in the scene of the time. My guess is that somebody was listening to Minutemen.
Brisbane’s legendary RAZAR will reform for a one-off show on October 14, celebrating that city’s punk rock history.
The Triffid is the venue for “Return To White Chairs Vol 2”, the second instalment in reunion gigs for the punk and counterculture music loving crowd that met and drank at the infamous Elizabeth Street bar in Brisbane City between 1977-‘87. RAZAR will be joined by Ipswich darlings The Toy Watches as the main support.
A massive undercard that spans punk, new wave and rockabilly genres and includes old timers The Horny Toads, Scrap Metal, Public Execution, The 5 Hanks, Vacant Rooms and The Chrysalids. Contemporary Brisbane bands Dr Bombay, Dangerous Folk, The Bollocks and Cultured Few will fill out the bill, which is raising funds for the Growing Nepal Foundation.
Hailing from the sleepy Brisbane suburb of Mt Gravatt in the mid ‘70s, RAZAR began as a high school garage band, comprising 18-year-old Greg Wackley on drums, his 16-year-old brother Robert Wackley on bass, vocalist Marty Burke and Steven Mee (both 16) on guitar.
Bass player, gig facilitator and festival roustabout, Kylie Lovejoy, is considered rock royalty in her hometown of Brisbane, Australia. She recently made headlines around the world with the unexpected and dramatic arrival of her son Phoenix, who arrived three months premature while Lovejoy was holidaying in Hawaii with her partner Brendan Wright and brother, renowned record producer, Jeff Lovejoy.
Baby Phoenix Koa Wright Lovejoy was born at 26 weeks gestation and weighed just 1115 grams (2.75 pounds) at birth.
Idyllic location aside, the delicate nature of such a premature birth has placed Kylie in a position of financial hardship with Phoenix needing round-the-clock care in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Honolulu until he has reached full term age.
Kylie will be residing in Hawaii for at least three months, until Phoenix is strong enough to fly home to Australia. Whilst some of the extensive medical expenses look likely to end up being covered by the US version of Medicare, the family must still meet the costs of Kylie's living expenses whilst she is staying in Hawaii. She currently has no income and is wading through a mountain of insurance company red-tape.
A group of Kylie and Brendan's friends and supporters have banded together to help raise funds for little Phoenix and his family in a loving attempt to meet these expenses.
A crowd-funding page (http://www.youcaring.com/kylie-lovejoy-and-family-382944) has been set up for immediate donations, and a benefit concert has been organized at The Triffid in Brisbane's Newstead for Sunday October 11, from midday.
The Year Was 1975... Platform shoes, hot pants, flares and long hair were the height of fashion, HJ Holdens were selling like hotcakes, and a little community radio station by the name of 4ZZZ was born in Brisbane....
Seminal Brisbane radio station 4ZZZ FM turns 40 this December and to celebrate they're hosting a month-long party! One such shindig will be held at iconic Brisbane live music venue The Zoo on Saturday December 19th and will feature a revised version of ground-breaking Australian rock band, Buffalo.
Frontman Dave Tice has frequently been dubbed The Godfather of Australian Stoner Rock for his work with ultra-heavy ‘70s band Buffalo and he’s now re-visiting his revered outfit’s legacy with a series of select shows.
Tice has assembled a new line-up under the banner 'Buffalo Revisited' to focus on the earliest of the original band’s five albums. Tice will be joined by Vince Cuscuna (guitar), Steve Lorkin (bass) and Murray Shepherd (drums). All of them are veterans of a host of underground Sydney bands.
Buffalo formed in Sydney in 1971. Largely unrecognized by commercial radio, Buffalo was one of the country’s first exponents of the style heavy metal, pre-dating other pioneering Australian hard rock and heavy metal acts, such as Coloured Balls, AC/DC, The Angels, Taste and Rose Tattoo.
Australian punk was never the widespread movement as it was in England, or parts of Europe, where for a time, it was mainstream. Unlike Australia. The Sex Pistols(unofficially) went to number-one with "God Save the Queen". The Clash , The Buzzcocks, The Jam and Stranglers consistently charted,alongside Elton John and Cliff Richard.
Kids in the UK sat glued to radio and listened to John Peel as a holy ritual. In the UK there was a certain set of circumstances that led to the rise of “Punk Rock” from the kids who saw Iggy, the Ramones, Patti Smith and Thunders live. Factor in brilliant (if accidental) marketers like Malcolm McLaren and their ilk. Mix in the fact that, in the grip of a serious economic recession, England was a depressing place. It all gave rise to a powerful and widespread movement.
This five-tracker snuck out digitally via Bandcamp six months ago and is now available as a physical CD. Somehow, having a tangible artefact available makes a release more “real”. It’s not on vinyl but it's still better than an MP3..
For those in the dark: Screamin Stevie makes garage-soul music that resonates in all the right places. A veteran of the ever-shifting outfit that was The Hekawis, he’s become something of an institution on the small but lively Brisbane underground scene. He's distinctive in an ever-present cape and camped behind a Vox organ with vocal stylings that are all his own. Stevie won’t win a spot in the church choir but that won’t matter to most of you. If he was based in Europe he'd be touring the cafe and provincial festival circuits all year-round.
It’s pretty bleeding obvious where Brisbane’s Dr Bombay is aiming. It’s that elusive but enviable sweet spot - right where melodic pop intersects with loud and fast rock and roll. Bullseyes are a rare thing but, more often than not, the Bombays land close to their target.
Sydney might be shrivelling up and Melbourne has so much going on that at times it appears to be eating itself, but Brisbane’s rock and roll scene remains viably focused, “owning” a few venues in and around the inner-city. It stays strong because it has a centre. Like many contemporaries, Dr Bombay is four (mostly old) guys getting together for a weekend blast without ambitions to conquer the world, but they sure have this pop-rock thing nailed.
No-nonsense gutter rock’s attack on society’s elites gets a little dirtier with this sterling 45 from Brisbane.
Old heads from Brisbane’s Chinese Burns (not to be confused with Sydney band Chinese Burns Unit) and The Standing 8 Count populate this band, which has been kicking around the River City (does anyone even call it that?) for four years. The eponymous record (vinyl and download) is its first output and came out in 2015.
If you know the members’ previous bands you know the postcode in which “Eyes Ninety” resides. There are elements of its predecessors but its music stands alone. Wanna label it? Let’s call it “swampy punk rock”.
One of the lesser-known musical pleasures in Australian over the last decade has been the quirky garage sound of the Hekawis, a fuzz-and-organ-driven combo prominent on the Brisbane and Melbourne underground music scenes. Churning out release after release, partly via the then prolific Courdroy label (who happened to own the country's sole vinyl pressing machine for a period in the '90s), the Hekawis pushed all the usual '50s and '60s buttons but came up with a sound unlike any other of their ilk.
Shoot me with a ball of my own shit if Brisbane-via-Melbourne-and-back-to-Brisbane's Hekawis weren't the best and most ignored garage rock band on the Australian continent. Irreverent, off-beat and driven by Screamin' Stevie's quirky keyboards and down-home vocals, they churned out a slew of inspired singles and albums while almost no-one was looking. Let's hope Screamin' Stevie's new band The Credit Union and their debut album don't suffer the same fate.
Some re-issues are blatant money-making efforts and others are a public service. Think of these two as the latter. They’re both on vinyl. No digital downloads.
Dismissing The Onyas as a sub-tropical, Johnny-come-lately version of the Cosmic Psychos does both bands a disservice. Both bands are still going (The Onyas sporadically) and share a member in John McKeering (aka Mad Macka). You might say him joining Cosmic Psychos was inevitable. Some have.