Saturday, 23 November 2013
Jericco @ The Bald Faced Stag w/ Supports
VENUE: THE BALD FACED STAG
SUPPORT: FAR AWAY STABLES, VELOCET, MERCURY SKY
“Whip crack went his whippy tail” perfectly described the thunder storms overhead which brought with them an unwanted humidity to Leichhardt’s Bald Faced Stag hotel. The venue was already infamous for housing tropical warmth temperatures and the weather intensified it tenfold on this most ominous of nights. It was muggier than a porcelain beverage receptacle being held at gunpoint in a Hell’s Kitchen back alley. Fat John Mayer manned the fort, serving hydrating amber fluids to the parched and weary. We fuelled up and attempted to migrate through customs but we were promptly arrested by a small snag. My amnesia prone offsider had purchased tickets for the festivities online but had forgotten to pay her phone bill and couldn’t access her emails to prove that we had already paid for admission. Luckily Gandalf tattooed our wrists with an adorable obsidian crab and suppressed the urge to scream “YOU SHALL NOT PASS”.
Sydney prog rock quintet Mercury Sky sadly opened the night to a single fan. Stragglers did eventually mosey in mid opening track which instantly reminded me of Karnivool’s lung busting anthem “New day”. Drummer Kieran Berry had my attention from the opening thud of the snare drum. The sheer enjoyment he was experiencing onstage was radiating from his Cheshire Cat grin. Bassist Mattheus Aditirtono’s luscious black mane was a perfect replica of Liu Kang’s puffy locks and his digits danced across the steel cables with the same grace as his bicycle kick. The atmospheric melodies created onstage were briefly reminiscent of the heartbreaking rock sonnets of Arizona’s Jimmy Eat World. Unfortunately this was all purely confined to the first few tracks as the band seemed to fall to pieces before my eyes. The overall sound became a cluttered mess once the programming was introduced into the fold. I’m not sure if it was out of time or if it was simply a poor choice to begin with but it completely shifted the dynamic of the band from Hyundai i30 to Mumbai train wreck. Mercury Sky now sounded like a horrible 30 Seconds To Mars/Faith No More/R.E.M. hybrid. The second guitar was completely lost in the mix, vocalist Kay Thatch’s whiney, nasally vocals only seemed to agitate the cesspool more and the banter between the band was cringe inducing. This band has a lot of work to do in order to grab the attention of more punters. It’s simply too ambitious for the musicians involved.
The room is still relatively empty as Sydney foetuses Velocet marinate my ears with a stimulating spin on prog rock. It’s impossible not to see the similarities between vocalist Andrew Butler and Julian Calablancas of The Strokes. He looks the part, his eyes graze the ceiling and he exudes a godlike level of cool on stage. Add a dash of Craig Nicholls from The Vines and that’s your front man in a nutshell. The instrumentation is catchy and seeps an abundant level of influences from its pores. Arctic Monkeys, Radiohead, Cog and The Butterfly Effect are but a few that I managed to extract before I was lost in the sea of uncapped potential before me. For a band so young, they possess a level of stage readiness that would make most bands broil with envy. The toms didn’t seem to be mic’d which caused the band to lose so much of the oomf their live performance needed but what they didn’t know didn’t hinder their performance in the slightest. Velocet paid homage to Queens Of The Stone Age with a solid rendition of “No One Knows”. While they didn’t break any ground in doing so, Butler did manage to nail the droning stoner rock tones of Josh Homme. The stand out track for me was “Up Against It” which raised many ears in the room with its acutely noted intro; wispy, disjointed body and Butler’s appropriately lax vocals. These prodigies still have a fair way to go but that is something that will come with the experience gained from regular gigging and I plan to be there for every show.
There seemed to be a recurring theme of filthy fringes tonight which continued with Sydney radio friendly alternative rock act Far Away Stables. The room was still quite empty and once again I found myself watching a drummer having the time of his life. Cam Bury was frantically bashing away at the shiny cymbals and sheep skins in front of him. Stables music is akin to Goo Goo Dolls but with definitive pop punk influences such as Simple Plan. Brandan Sheargold’s reminded me of a whinier version of Gregg Alexander from New Radicals. The band weren’t bad, they were just the musical version of Jason Statham. They know what they do well and they do it to death. Their take on Skrillex’s “Cinema” was a nice change of pace which worked tremendously well for the style molesting my eardrums at the time. An act of good faith took a turn for the worse at the conclusion of their set when a drum stick hit someone’s Mum in the front row, hilariously causing someone in the room to enjoy the band less than I did.
We quickly drowned our livers with a refreshing Caribbean concoction of spiced rum and ginger beer which instantly fended off the dampness in the air. Hastily entering the cavern of noise once again, we were greeted with around 100 punters who seemed to appear out of nowhere; moist with anticipation for Melbourne party rock monstrosities, Jericco. I had somehow avoided seeing these guys for the last 5 years and the infectious moistness drew me to the giddy mob by the stage. Jericco make their presence known with an aural battering ram which send the fans rabid. The sound production and lightshow left the opening bands in the dust within the opening seconds of the show. Diehard fans sing along with charismatic front man Brent McCormick’s unavoidable vocal hooks. The musicianship is uniquely laden with Middle Eastern influences and is instantly memorable. McCormick surveys the crowd with his crazy, rapey eyes and entrusts the horde with the microphone duties during the second song for some intense call and response participation. The result had me grinning from ear to ear and I found myself dancing while taking notes. Every member of this band knew their place and even though McCormick was the focal point for most, he managed to direct the attention of the zombies to every other member of the band. Bassist Roy Amar is a fucking beast on stage, utilizing all six strings on his bass with military precision. Drummer Aiden King almost looked asleep behind his kit but his arms flailing around like an inflatable car yard advertising man suggested differently. Guitarists Jordan Nagle and Adam Hompas stomped around their corners of the stage and sung along to the anthems on show well away from the nearest microphone. This is a band who love what they do and it shows with every second that they are on stage. A trio of gentleman in the crowd who my offsider has officially dubbed “The Stag Hags”, stripped down to their suspenders and zebra pants and led the crowd in some horrendous and often confusing chants between songs. The masses were rowdy and couldn’t get enough of the strangely arousing Melbournites. McCormick broke the set up with the gorgeous acoustic track “Moonlight Highlights” off the debut album. Once again he offered his worshippers microphone duties which The Stag Hags humorously shat all over before McCormick relinquished their rights on the vocal projector. His comedic timing is another major pulling card for the band which he delivers throughout the song in spades. The track “Beautiful In Danger” draws one of the biggest crowd reactions as Amar swaps his bass for an “Oud” which was a completely alien instrument to me before the show. The Middle Eastern lute a perfect accompaniment to Jerrico’s already Arabic flavoured sound. Karnivool and Tool influences rang clear throughout the set as my smile intensified with each passing moment. At one point I even found myself clapping along to the songs. This may not seem like much but I am a fierce advocate of not doing this as I have seen it throw off too many bands in the past. McCormick utilized every section of available stage and the crowd were eating out of the palm of his hand which is why the set seemed to end so abruptly to an overwhelmingly disappointed audience. The chants of “One More Song” filled the room which were promptly shut down by a visibly exhausted McCormick who politely declined by mouthing the words “Fuck Off” from the side of the stage. We left the venue like kids full of sugar. Every participant in the night’s events fidgety with wonderment from the show they’d just witnessed.
These phenomenal entertainers will be back in Sydney THIS THURSDAY (28/11/13) at Beach Road Hotel in Bondi. Don’t be a dick, Sydney! Support live music.