Monday, December 6, 2010

"There are others, others just like me - it has come to this" - My Disco, Hi Fi Bar and Ballroom, 03/12/2010 - "Little Joy" album launch

I first encountered this wonderful Melbourne trio last year, when they supported Texan powerhouse ...Trail of Dead at their two sold-out shows at the Corner Hotel. At the time I had mixed feelings about them - while their songs were very catchy at times and showed undeniable talent, I just couldn't get over how damn repetitive they were. I believe I said to a friend, describing the song "An Even Sun", something along the lines of "That isn't a song, that's one riff being played for 8 minutes". And a very boring 8 minutes it was! However, I revisted those shows through the Fan Made Recordings blog and found the band growing on me a lot. I picked up a copy of their third album a few weeks ago, and that was definitely all I needed to attend this. On a very warm Friday evening, My Disco took to the stage at the Hi Fi Bar and Ballroom, a venue which I was surprised they booked; I didn't think they had that large a fanbase. But obviously they do these days; there was quite a respectable crowd who enjoyed watching them play their new album from start to finish. I'm one of those people who believes a strong support bill is a vital part of any gig, and with Robin Fox, KES Band and Marco Fusinato warming the stage before My Disco, that criteria was certainly fulfilled tonight!

I arrived at the venue a bit late, due to having to meet my friend Chris at Etihad Stadium, where a much bigger concert was taking place! This was to pick up his old recording gear (see previous post). By the time I descended the stairs to the Hi Fi basement, it was already about 8:50; I'd been under the impression that Marco Fusinato would start at 8:30 so I assumed I'd missed him. Then after a few minutes I realised that what looked like Fusinato's typical setup was remaining intact at the front of the stage, and sure enough he soon headed out to assault our eardrums, in the nicest possible way, with his typical glitch guitar barrage. I said in a review of the last time I saw him that I don't particularly care for his style of noise music and unfortunately, he did nothing to change that opinion on this occasion. It's not that I don't like noise, in fact I find some of it very enjoyable, but in my opinion it's very hard to get much enjoyment out of a guy sitting down, manipulating muted notes and some feedback with a table full of pedals, in a random abstract fashion. It's not terrible to watch and listen to, but I wouldn't go out of my way to see him if he played his own show. Oh well, it takes all kinds I guess.

Up next were a very recent discovery of mine, Karl E Scullin's KES Band. I first saw this group only two nights prior to this at the Corner Hotel, and enjoyed them immensely. On this occasion they were playing in "big band" mode, which essentially amounted to them having an extra guitarist and a harmonicist who occasionally played a percussion block thing. Like I said, I'd really enjoyed them at the Corner Hotel and tonight was no exception, as they delighted the room with a set of slow-burning post-rock-based tunes. There is one criticism I do have of this band, and that is that they don't do endings very well - quite a few of their songs, especially the instrumental pieces which appeared sporadically throughout the set, just seemed to be getting going before abruptly being cut off. I'm not saying that bands should stick to a verse-chorus-verse formula, quite the opposite, but some of the songs just ended at a seemingly arbitrary point in the song, which I found quite frustrating. That being said, I WILL go out of my way to see them again, as they're a talented lot, and maybe this won't bother me after a few viewings.

The familiar hiss of a smoke machine soon could be heard, and a large bearded fellow made his way to a laptop on the side of the stage, and then the whole room went silent as a bright green laser beam illuminated the room. Of course, it was time for Robin Fox. I stated in a review a few months ago that a Fox live performance is a truly amazing spectacle and he certainly delivered another beauty tonight, as glitchy pops, clicks and noisy static were accompanied in perfect synchronicity by the movements of his laser. Something I did notice about halfway through the set, which disappointed me a little, is that some of the "musical" ideas that cropped up during the set were pieces that I had definitely heard before at his previous outings, with laser movements to match. This leads me to wonder exactly how much of his set is actually played "live" and how much was a playback of pre-recorded bits and pieces. I know it's unavoidable for some acts, but I personally find it a little disappointing when a band or musician is obviously not "playing" what is coming out of the speakers. But I don't know anything about how Fox's music works, so I won't go jumping to such conclusions as he really is a joy to watch and listen to (but mainly watch haha). It was pretty frustrating during his set that some sections of the crowd continued to carry on lively conversation, which could quite clearly be heard during the more quieter moments, and at one point I think I may have heard someone have the balls to yell out "Hurry up!" As Bill Hicks once said, "See, the fact that you don't get it or like it is fine. The fact that you want to ruin it for everybody else, that's why you're a cocksucker!"It's perfectly understandable for someone not to like someone making such abstract music as Fox, but if you insist on being in the room during his performance, and quite close to the front of the venue at that, just shut up and let him do his thing, and let those people who are enjoying it do so in the proper fashion. This kind of disrespect really annoys me at gigs, and I if I were ever in a band, I don't mind admitting I'd probably do a Roger Waters and yell at them to STFU. Anyway.

Liam Andrews, Ben Andrews and Rohan Rebeiro made their way onstage at a little after 11, to much applause from the now-sizeable crowd. Ben began the set with a few gentle strums on his Travis Bean guitar, suggesting that maybe the set would open with Sun Bear. However, this proved to be just a little warmup, as he soon picked up the pace for the predictable opener Closer. I'd suspected that tonight the band would play the new album from start to finish, as they did an intimate Melbourne gig earlier in the year (albeit with a slightly different order), and as the set wore on, it became clear that this was exactly what they were going to do. I'd been wondering whether I'd perhaps find myself a little bored during their gig like I did last year because of the whole repetition thing. However, there was absolutely no danger of that happening on this occasion - I think it's because I'm now used to what they sound like, and of course with the set consisting entirely of their new album, it was material I was very familiar with. Also, the band were putting a whole lot of energy into their set, especially Ben who was constantly thrashing his head up and down. Rohan Rebeiro was also incredible on the drumkit, delivering some truly dazzling fill work during the midsections of many songs. A real highlight of the set came during Sunray - the lights went completely out and of course, Robin Fox made his way back to the stage to deliver more perfectly accompanied laser brilliance. The band were really in top form tonight, just delivering a solid no-nonsense set, Little Joy translating brilliantly to the live format. It shows the talent of these musicians when you realise that most of their songs are based on very few riffs, yet through subtle clever variations and expansion, they can really deliver a great performance. This was particularly evident during an epic version of Rivers; while I wasn't timing I am pretty sure that this performance may have stretched out to about 15 minutes! With the final groove of A Turreted Berg, the band finally wound down, with Liam saying a simple "Thank you", which incidentally were the ONLY words he spoke all night. Applause and cheers for the band to do an encore went on long after the band departed the stage, even over the house music, but it was clear that the night had come to its end. What a talented bunch this band is.

SETLIST: (Little Joy from start to finish)
Sun Bear
(with Robin Fox laser show)
Lil' Joy
With Age
Rivers (extended)
A Turreted Berg