Sunday, 1 December 2013

Bellusira @ Spectrum w/supports

DATE: 29/11/13

Like rats escaping a sinking pirate galleon, we poured out of the sandstone and marble prison in droves, determined to make it to the comfort of our happy place in order to wash the stink of the weeks drudging work from our corporate tainted bodies. The early deserters chose to disappear into the subterranean train mines of Moria while the stragglers opted to seek out the refuge of the nearest watering hole. My journey required a bit of backtracking as I had received a raven from Westfield Keep informing me of my protégés early parole. I swam against the current of escapees like a salmon ready to release its spawn onto the gravel beds of Pitt Street. I narrowly avoided the grasp of a few strategically placed grizzlies along the river bank and crossed the keeps foreboding portcullis where I received two banana smoothies for the steep price of a golden dragon. My protégés eyes opened wide as I bestowed her with the arctic gift and she rewarded me with her knowledge of a shortcut to our destination. She guided me around the Minotaur’s stone labyrinth, through the hobo scented Sherwood Forest and into the quirky mayhem of Oxford Street. We arrive at Spectrum nightclub without delay and ascend the booze hazard stairs into the bite size venue for a night of fem heavy rock.

It’s always nice to see a crowd show up for the first band as it is sadly viewed as taboo these days to arrive before the headliner hits the stage. I posted a rather scathing review of Sydney alternative rock/grunge act WE WITHOUT a few weeks ago and I was curious to see how much of my criticism came down to the mixing on the night. Their set was heralded by a choir of bomb sirens overlapped by a vocal sample akin to the one used in Metallica’s “One”. From the first note I noticed a definite improvement and even began tapping my foot along to the opening track. The mix was good except for the samples which couldn’t be heard for the entire duration of the set. Vocalist Chad Kemp demonstrates a naturally lax tone to his voice on the bands EP but every note seemed to be a monumental effort for him to reach during the live performance. Regardless of this, his natural mic skills and comfort on stage made him a decent driving force for the band. His vocals are a mixture of Chris Cornell (Soundgarden) and Scott Stapp (Creed) and suit the nineties style, hard rock music to a “T”. Rick Thomas was having a blast on stage as he grinded away at his bass whilst singing along to himself. Guitarists Cameron Roberts and Rob Chapple provided polar opposite sounds which layered into an effective wall of Breed 77 style distortion and flange fuelled, icy solos. There was a lot of static from Chapple’s guitar whilst idle but this didn’t seem to affect the sound during the performance. Percussionist Adam Ruggeri is an equal opportunity drummer, applying liberal amounts of poundage to every piece of his kit. Each song announced its influences as the performance progressed; Soundgarden, Queens Of The Stone Age, Powderfinger and even “Road House Blues” by The Doors. Kemp announced mid set that it was “National Australian Band Shirt Day” and that they were willing to supply some to anyone in the room not wearing one……… available from the merch stand. Cheeky bastard. He then jumped offstage and brilliantly used a megaphone from within the crowd mid verse which I’ll admit, brought a smile to my face. The set ended with an ample cover of Ou Est Le Swimming Pool’s “I Just Dance The Way I Feel” which drew the biggest crowd reaction of their show. Much, much better performance from We Without this time around.

The venue was filling up and the boys in the room were being outnumbered by the ladies at a ratio of nine to one.  Sydney fem fronted, punk rock foursome BONNEY READ were donning matching, sleeveless denim vests and were ready to annihilate the claustrophobic, nightmare inducing room. After a rather lengthy set up, the extremely alluring group kicked off to a great reception. Jess Cooper, who wore a scowl for the duration of the sound check, pulled out an incredibly feisty, husky and pitch perfect voice which I really didn’t expect from her. Her visage, a sanctuary of piercings and obsidian eyeliner, projected an element of cool rarely seen in front women these days. Strategically placed winks were liberally thrown out into the vagina heavy horde whilst her eyebrows rivalled The Rocks and seemed to be able to portray whole sentences without ever uttering a word. The voice in itself screamed of Joan Jett with a dollop of country vixen and fit the music like a jigsaw puzzle piece; nothing else would have worked. The mix caused the trio of guitars to sound weak in the beginning and wasn’t remedied until after they had played most of their show. Bassist Jeremy Goldfinch wielded his fringe like a weapon, ferociously slicing any piece of air foolish enough to get in front of him. Kat Ayala bounced around like an eight week old puppy on ecstasy. Her guitar work was fast and gritty yet polished like a brass door knob. The onstage chemistry of Ayala and Goldfinch was phenomenal with a photo albums worth of smiles being shared between them. Coopers guitar was hollow to my ears and desperately needed a lot more body to it in order to maximise the potential of their live show. Astrid Holz drummed like an ADHD kid who had swapped her Ritalin for glucose based placebos; she just wouldn’t sit still. She bounced around like Pamela Anderson’s tits on the set of Baywatch and was beaming the whole set. The three girls in the band utilized their massively contrasting vocal range to create incredible harmonies which sent tingles throughout the spines filling the room. The final three songs were noticeably stronger than the first half of the set which didn’t matter in the slightest as it was still loaded with fast-paced and accessible jukebox anthems.

The next band on the bill utilized a piece of marketing genius that I have never seen before at a gig. Scantily clad promo girls patrolled the room handing out branded STELLAR ADDICTION G-Bangers to the audience; because if history has taught the world anything, it’s that sex sells. Imagine this; you’re about to get a glimpse of your lady’s bits and the last thing you witness are the words “Stellar Addiction” which will permanently be branded into your subconscious as a direct link to poon. The band used the start of their performance as an opportunity to launch the film clip for their new single “Second On Your Mind”. Technical difficulties delayed the proceedings and after what felt like an eternity, the band were ready to prove to the room why they deserved the main support slot. Stacy Abdila opened her gob………. HOLY FUCKING PIPES BATMAN! Think Paramore’s Hayley Williams and Kay Hanley of Letters To Cleo (the band that performs on the roof in the credits of 10 Things I Hate About You). She is a powerhouse of a front woman who oozes confidence and has a vocal range that could compete with the most accomplished of divas. The music is influenced by the punk rock bands of the turn of the millennium such as No Doubt, The Offspring and to a lesser extent Killing Heidi. Michael Giameos’ guitar solos were completely lost for the first half of the set but when the mix evened out, he demonstrated incredible musical fortitude. Session bassist David Rice never took his eyes of the frets of his instrument and hid at the back of the stage the whole set. Guitarist Goldwyn Tagud was an entertaining specimen; Geeing up the crowd by incorporating himself into it and leading the clapping from within. He wasn’t content with his half of the dais either, constantly swapping sides to be with Giameos and trying to give Rice some time in the spotlight. Tanya Carboni performed like a demon on the skins and brilliantly introduced a large amount of double kick into a style of music that normally shies away from it. The crowd were livid during the performance with a few adorably smitten couples swing dancing and dipping each other in the front row. Stand out track “The Promise” continued to satiate the appetite of the rabid fans with the incredibly humble Abdila shouting praises for all in attendance tonight. Stellar Addiction ended their set with a larger than life cover of Spice Girls “Wannabe”. It was everything a cover should be; they made it their own whilst respecting the original and it sent the already foaming throng of punters ballistic. Definitely a band to keep on your radar as they are destined for bigger things.

I first stumbled across Melbourne alternative rock Spartans BELLUSIRA when they opened for Sydney’s Breaking Orbit on their “Silence Seekers” tour earlier in the year. They were yet another band who I had put off watching for the last 8 years and kicked myself immediately after finally doing so. Everything about them is epic, gargantuan and sexually charged. The sound is crispier than a freshly fallen granny smith apple from the count in. Crystal Ignite has natural, effortless charisma and you can’t help but swoon over her. Her punchy, raspy and authoritative vocals are the envy of punk rock girls everywhere as they emulate and sometimes surpass the likes of Gwen Stefani (No Doubt) and the aforementioned Hayley Williams of Paramore. She commands the attention of the room in her candy striped top and constantly thanks the audience for coming. When easily excited bassist Mark Dalbeth isn’t lost in a daydream, he is winding up the dawdlers of the mob that Ignite somehow managed to overlook. The sound of his weapon is beefy and his on stage chemistry with his wife (Ignite) is incredible to watch. Chris Zoupa’s guitars were solid and chunky, forfeiting the need for a second guitarist. He wasn’t a slouch on his instrument either with his fingers bouncing off the strings like mallets off a xylophone. The tone was influenced by heavier bands Korn, Sevendust and a splash of Guns n Roses which slotted nicely into the slightly softer tones of Bellusira. In the interest of creating feng shui on stage, Dalbeth wore his bass as low as Mark Hoppus (Blink 182) while Zoupa had his guitar as high as Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine). Up the back of the stage, percussionist James Mileto had the impossible task of trying to compete with the trio of massively noticeable personalities in front of him. He constantly played off Dalbeth throughout the set, his kick frequently unifying with the bass to help create a solid pulse for the music. Bellusira pulled the most receptive crowd of the night because after ten years of playing together, they are more solid than a fibreless turd. The highlight of the set for me came from a moment when Ignite made a comment about lesbians, realised what came out of her mouth than apologetically said that she used to be one before she met her husband. The sheer smug look that blanketed Dalbeth’s face was comedy gold and was probably the proudest moment of his life. Ignite thanked the fans one more time before announcing that it would probably be their last Australian show for a while because they had been signed and were heading off to do bigger things. The final song of the set was an absolute corker which screamed of Dead Letter Circus and was a delicious way to end an epic night.

This was the first gig I’ve been to in a very long time where the first band were able to pull a crowd and every group stayed to watch each other play. All four bands killed it tonight and no one was out of place on the bill. It has helped restore a lot of my faith in the local music scene and the stability of it going forward.

Don’t be a dick, Sydney! Support the live music scene.

Joshua Towney

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