Monday, December 7, 2009


Friday, May 23, 2008 
The Afterdark

A minute or so into the opening set the six-foot square projection of the St Kilda/Collingwood game over the band's head is switched off. The Afterdark is a curious place; full of sweet kids with scarves and dyed hair with oddly rough security and an atmosphere of bohemia on a budget. It works, and works perfectly for tonight's bands.
Harriet lead singer Lena channels dreams, slouched against the wall at the back of the small stage eyes closed, singing in a broken voice and thrumming dissonant chords. Sounding like Karen Dalton with half her guitar strings missing, Harriet succeed in creating a trance-like state with occasional simple yet arresting dynamic changes. Closing song Howl is breathtaking in it's intensity and fragile delivery. It's all a revelation after the automatic polish given to so many bands when they put on a 'performance'.
Usually going by the name of Orphan's Project, but tonight opting for Fuck You Astronomy the drum/guitar duo push an anti-folk feel to their short and punchy tunes. Able to switch from hilarious ('I want a girl who fucks like the girl in Bad Santa' - Our Sweet Song) to oddly moving (Superglue) in a matter of seconds they have a charm that lets them get away with anything. Singer Will is a completely fascinating figure, seemingly obsessed with curious sex, disabilities and physical deformities he injects humour and pathos into everything he touches. If there is anyone who should be opening for Kimya Dawson next month it should be these two. Tracks like Upfield Line and My Little Amputee will be highlights of their forthcoming cassette release (with code for free mp3 download!). Ace!

'These ain't our smash hits,' grins non-drumming drummer Martin King, 'we're usually a band.' Missing a member mean Psuche Ensemble opt to be experimental noise-merchants tonight. Occasional songs arise from lush and brutal soundscapes like icebergs in a thawing sea. Fire is an ear-clearing exercise in sine-wave squelching, squeaky shrill voices abruptly shifting dynamics. Using affected vocals, accordion, bowed saw, electronics, ukulele, clarinet and bass the Ensemble sound best when they break things right down and let their songwriting skills shine, though clearly they're experienced at making and destroying atmospheres. The songs featured from their forthcoming album are bravely odd, beautiful, severe, poetic and more open, warmer and more engaging than Coco Rosie - with whom there are stylistic similarities - could ever hope to be. Amazing stuff.

Organiser and Woollen Kit frontman Tom Hardisty has a genre-be-damned attitude toward music. The only links between his songs tonight are the instrumentation of guitar and drums, and his C86/Stephen Pastel-esque vocal style. This is a great thing live as you never know what is coming next; Felt-ish indie balladry, country swagger, brief bursts of noise rock or a smooth Velvets chug. Opening with the title track of tonight's launched album, the gloriously packaged Cupcake Kiss, the interplay between the drums and guitar hold your attention even if his vocals aren't your cup of tea. Playing Zombies and the cross-the-finish-line thrill of closing track I Wonder About Animals indicate there is a talent here that should be getting more attention that it currently is. Indeed the whole night shows that getting off the beaten track of more popular venues is a fantastically rewarding experience.

No comments:

Post a Comment