Monday, November 16, 2009


Wednesday, December 05, 2007 
East Brunswick Club

Despite a scant crowd who refuse to occupy the front half of the venue, Skipping Girl Vinegar manage a dynamite set fueled by sleep deprivation and unerring songwriting nous. Frontman Mark Lang is rapidly proving himself to be a name to watch, in fact you can happily predict that 2008 will be their biggest year given their steady rise in 07 and tonight's preview of some of their debut album. Their unpolished tightness, energetic conviction and raffish charm works wonders in the room tonight, from the moment drummer Chris Helm kicks off opener Wandered, SKV rule the East Brunswick in a way later bands will be hard-pressed to match. Lang's lightness of touch belies an sureness that urges current single One Chance and future single Sift The Noise on, etching them in the minds of the slowly swelling crowd. Taking a brief break to plug their Postal Revolution movement (extolling the virtues of writing and receiving letters over texts and emails), we're then rounded into a campfire sing-along of River Road and pounded with the very rock tribute to the Corner Hotel, Getting Wasted. A smashing set, particularly given their combined 11 hours of sleep.

The quality level doesn't slip for Adelaide's latest up-and-comers Special Patrol. With a wry sense of humour and a batch of ace tunes off last year's critically heralded Handy Hints From The Undertaker album, their upbeat warmth offsets the tough slide riffs, sawing cello and wry lyrics which set them apart from other bands in this well-populated field. Hey Good Try is a remarkable tune and an unusual one to pick up as much JJJ play as it has with it's gentle, insistent chords and slow building sing-along choruses, it clearly wins them new fans tonight, as does The Secret Chord (David) a (sorely needed) pastiche of sorts of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. It's an intriguing track and signifies a sharply honed mind and dark humour at work. Closing track and new song Ordinary Life is another exceptional song with a pop/northern soul undercurrent, something always hard to resist. Clearly a band to catch.

If the ever-genial Old Man River could learn a thing or two from his support bands (and he could) it's a) how to write a song that is based around more than an extended vowel sound, repeated over some 'buoyant' major chords, b) The lesson of conciseness and c) how to be more than the sum of your obvious influences. With a backing band of competent session musos, Ohad Rein seems to love his job, and lets us know straight away with yet another revamp of the ever-appealing Sunshine; this time to a percussion-heavy funk workout with the first of many extended-psycho-jam-wigouts thrust in the middle of a breezy pop tune like a luke-warm flabby hot-dog in an fresh organic wholemeal bun. No sauce. For the most part the rest of the gig involves songs that have a scrabbley sustain-heavy guitar break (curiously all played without a pick) and those self-indulgent middle sections that allow the rest of the band to repeat a riff while the Old Man heads back to 1968. One notable omission to this brash generalisation is Wedding Song for which he and co-singer Megan Washington depart the stage and position themselves in the centre of the crowd to sing a pin-drop-quiet ode to Rein's wife; a highlight of the night. Soon enough it's back into effects-pedal territory and a sharp drop in interest. Table For Two may get all country-stomp and Trousers an extended dub interlude for no discernible reason but it's all very sub-Ben Harper feel-good fun and not a patch on his work with Nations By The River. Current radio and TV hit La leaves the crowd satisfied (you wouldn't go to an Old Man River show unless you wanted a mainline of Carefree Aussie Summer--) and happily singing along, something it's very easy to do to his songs, once he gets to the point.

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