Goat + King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard + ORB @ Triffid, 08.12.2015

Tuesday brings the fourth day of Gigmas.

Although Triffid annoyingly never advertise their set times, checking on each band’s Facebook page I’m able to get the start times for the three bands playing tonight.  There are a lot of terribly named Australian bands and also a lot of bands that take on names that they obviously didn’t Google and you which leave you wondering (a) why they choose that name; and (b) how they get away with it.  Sure there’s no ‘The’ at the front but calling yourself ORB just doesn’t seem to be part of a sensible business plan.  At least they’re not as bad as Melbourne’s The Steve Miller Band, for who I’m guessing the Cease and Desist letter is in the post.  ORB sounded like they’re trying to move into the space left by Wolfmother.

The terribly named King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard (who possibly might be issuing a cease and desist letter to Brisbane band Wizard Lizard at some point in time) were the main drawcard for me, having never seen them.  To say that they’re phenomenally good would be a gross understatement.  They’re so much better than Tame Impala were a few weeks earlier, then again they’re better than Tame Impala full stop.  If you’d never experienced them before, for the amount of hype they’ve received over the last few years you would have thought that Tame Impala would be this good.  Although they’re coming under this psychedelic tag, it’s surprising how prog it is really, with lots of what used to get called ‘widdly widdly’ guitar.  Although I try to keep abreast of Brisbane shows, I can’t recall them playing here before but I’m guessing they must have at some point, I just might have been away/overseas or something.  Then again I might have ignored them for having such a terrible name.  The room is really packed for them so either they’ve built up this following on the back of other Brisbane shows or they haven’t played here much and everyone wants to see them.  It gets a bit awkward after King Gizzard have played as the room really thins out for the headlining Goat.  It looks like about a third of the punters decided they’d seen what they came to see and not to stick around for the final band of the night.

Having talked about band names and how some bands get away with the lack of originality, the question for Goat is how they get away without any accusations for cultural appropriation regarding the way they dress.  Elements of African and Indian traditional dress are obvious despite being a band from Sweden.  They’re good though, obviously not King Gizzard good, although without a photo pit it’s a frustrating photo opportunity.  I’m too out to the side to get the photos I would have liked and there’s too many people in the way to get any more central.  Four days in and Gigmas is really making the start of December a feast of live music.

Thurston Moore Band @ Woolly Mammoth, 07.12.2015

It’s a Monday night and the third day of Gigmas (having had the Sunday night off, although I’m sure I could have found a show to go to, especially given all the Meredith sideshows in town at the moment).

Gold Class are the single supporting act tonight and although I saw them on the Friday night, I would have liked to have caught them again, and perhaps gotten some better photos than a few days earlier.  They had an especially early start time of 7:45pm, and having been told to meet the promoter’s rep at 8:30pm, I didn’t get to Woolly Mammoth until after they’d finished playing.  The promoter’s rep was a no show so I probably could have come early and seen and photographed Gold Class again.

It’s that rarity of events in Brisbane, an early headline show, one that starts at 8:45pm and is all done by 10:15pm.  The Monday night probably explains why but it’s a refreshing change and there should be more of this playing at sensible times for people who have jobs to go to in the morning.  Woolly Mammoth is reasonably full for a Monday night and given it was $70 and he wasn’t going to play any Sonic Youth songs.

Truth be told and I’m a bit of a fair-weather Sonic Youth fan.  I think I always found them too clever for their own good, and for all the interesting sounding guitars, never felt that they had the songs to match.  I think they were always a bit too high art, too discordant for me.  I have a few of their albums and enjoy them enough from time-to-time without ever having become besotted by them, like so many of my peers, and have seen them numerous times at various festivals down the years, sometimes appearing to be better than other times.  When they’ve been good, they’ve been very good, but there’s often been an inconsistency to their shows.  Obviously the festival situation probably has had a major impact on this and I’ve never seen them play a headline show, and now probably never will.

Having said all that, this Thurston Moore show was really excellent, easily one of the best gigs in this week of madness. I can’t explain why it resonated so much when his previous band have often left me non-plussed.

Shellac + Crooked Fiddle Band @ Triffid, 05.12.2015

The second day of Gigmas takes me to Triffid for Shellac. Famously Shellac never have a guest list, something I learnt last time they played in Brisbane with a show at The Zoo. It’s not so much the buying the ticket that’s ever the issue with bands I want to see, it’s more that I always want to photograph them. Although I saw them at The Zoo it was without a camera, something that I regret a bit as it isn’t ever day a band like Shellac played at The Zoo.

In the days leading up to the show I was undecided about whether I was going to go but made the happy mistake of listening to their latest album, 2014’s Dude Incredible and decided that I just had to go. Triffid being a camera friendly venue (so far), I also decided that I’d risk taking my camera and didn’t have any trouble at the door.

At $45, it’s a bargain, even more so in these times when Australian triple j landfill indie bands have started charging more than that for their shows. Another bonus is that there’s no extra charge for buying on the door.

I get there ridiculously early, as unlike other venues, Triffid don’t generally announce their set times. I went based on times for Future Island a few weeks back only to find I’m there about an hour before the support band. It’s long enough to get some food, which I’m sure is part of Triffid’s evil business plan in not publishing set times. It’s a strange mix of people – a combination of Brisbane’s indie rock scene holding counsel, people in Santa hats out on their work Xmas parties and the people in black and band t shirts who are obviously there for Shellac. I had hoped that the Brisbane indie crowd and the Xmas party people would surprise me by all being there to see Shellac but I don’t think it happened.

The Crooked Fiddle Band are a strange choice of support although probably one that works.

I make an amateur error when photographing the support band in that I change the camera setting to ISO 2000 to try to get some photos of the band’s drummer, who’s hiding at the back of the stage in the dark, and completely forget I’ve done this until I’ve moved away from the front after photographing a few of Shellac’s songs. As a result, the photos are nowhere near as detailed as I would have wanted. It would have also been better with a photo pit but there’s always next time and third time lucky.

Gold Class + Per Purpose + Pleasure Symbols @ The Foundry, 04.12.2015

The first day of Gigmas continues with Gold Class at The Foundry, which is basically the after show from the 4ZZZ Birthday party at the Old Museum.  By the time I get here, I’ve already missed the opening 100%  but get to see the rest of the night’s bands.

The last time I saw GC was at Ric’s for BigSound.  It must be so dispiriting to be awarded a showcase and then find yourself playing at the tiny room that is Ric’s, even more so if you’re a Brisbane act and know what venues you potentially could be playing in.  Sadly Ric’s isn’t the place it was when I first moved to Brisbane.  I always felt it was a goldmine waiting to happen but needed some changes in layout and (in the later days) in attitude.  Some of those things happened when it was taken over, it’s just a shame that essentially it was take over by the wrong people.

The problem with holding BigSound showcases at Ric’s is that the place is always packed, and it doesn’t exactly take many people for that to happen, so unless you were there most of the night, you didn’t get in.  I did manage to squeeze myself in to see a tiny bit of Gold Class but only for a song or so.  Photographing in Ric’s isn’t fun at the best of times (despite the massive lighting rig they have), and it becomes a bit of a lost cause.  I had hoped to finally see Goon Sax when they had their showcase there, but I was nowhere near getting into the beer garden, let alone the building, and it was the same with Jaala.

4ZZZ’s 40th Birthday Party @ The Old Museum, 04.12.2015

We’re into the last month of the year and a run of shows that I’m calling Gigmas.  Thanks largely to all the Meredith sideshows happening in Brisbane, it’s a crazy nine shows in nine days, just like the good old days at Rave.  It makes such a refreshing change to get some festival sideshows, given how music fans in Brisbane normally gets treated.

Today, on the first day of Gigmas, it all kicks off with 4ZZZ’s 40th birthday party at the Old Museum, featuring sets by Cured Pink, Xero, Monster Zoku Onsumb, Gentle Ben & His Sensitive Side, Velociraptor, Blank Realm, and The Leftovers.

It’s that most wonderful of occasions, an early gig, with a 6pm start, the last band starting at 9pm and everything done by 10pm.  Given the occasion, the bands playing and the relative cheapness of the night ($20 I think), it’s surprising that it’s not a lot busier that it is.  I think it’s one of those events that ebbs and flows, with people popping in for a bit before heading off elsewhere, with the Friday night outdoor markets also providing a distraction away from the bands.  It’s ideal for me, however, as it’s only a short walk down the road from work.

It’s my first time at the Old Museum for ages, Owen Pallet might have been the last show I saw here, or maybe it was that infamous Middle East show.  The lighting isn’t great, especially in Studio 2, but it’s probably better than the Owen Pallet show, when he played in near darkness.  I think it was one of the very few occasions when I didn’t feel comfortable sending Rave photos from the show.

Band of the night goes to Gentle Ben & His Sensitive side, who are as good as ever.  It’s probably about time they recorded a new album though (and the same applies to Sixfthick, Gentle Ben’s other band).

Tame Impala + Mini Mansions + Koi Child @ Riverstage, 21.11.2015

Three albums in and why Tame Impala are so well liked is still a mystery to me.  I say that as someone who bought the first couple of albums to try to work out; it reminds me of when I bought the Wolfmother album to try to understand what that fuss was all about.  I guess it’s funny how Australia keeps producing these retro bands, The Vines, Jet, Wolfmother, Tame Impala, and so on, although at least/somehow Tame Impala have made it past one album before everyone was embarrassed that they ever liked them.  As with their first two albums, Tame Impala’s 2015 release, Currents, make it into most of the music publications’ top albums of the year in the weeks after this show.

It’s not just the albums though, having seen Tame Impala play live a bunch of times, they’re just a boring live band.  Requesting to photograph tonight’s show is another case of me looking for them to impress on me why they’re so popular and how they’ve managed to sell out The Riverstage.  A few weeks later I finally get to see King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard, and they’re amazing, so much better a live band than Tame Impala, and, given all the hype, what I would expect Tame Impala to be if I had only read about them but never actually heard them.  Is it just that the Lennon-style vocals appealing to all those bearded, middle-aged, male rock critics who are tied to rock music’s set-in-stone canon?

At least being the Riverstage, it’s an early show, possibly too early as I need to be there to meet at 5:45pm to photograph Koi Child.  As mentioned above, the show is a sell out but whereas normally photographers get to stay for the show, this time we just get our three songs before being escorted out the venue.  In those first three songs, Tame Impala fail to impress.  Would it, could it have been any difference if I’d got to see the entire set?

My Disco + 100% + Cured Pink @ Crowbar, 20.11.2015

Traditionally you expect the lights to get better as a gig goes on, in a similar fashion to the sound improving for the headline act.  Tonight is one of those nights where the lighting goes in reverse and is best for the opening band.  Cured Pink have a couple of the band being lit, 100% have one person and My Disco play in total darkness, the only light coming from a projector connected to a laptop that shines rotating 3D geometric shapes, as seen on the cover of their 2015 album, ‘Severe’, onto the bass drum cover.

Very occasionally this spills over to shine some light on to the drummer but the other two members of the band play in darkness.  It’s time like this that the LEDs on the guitar effect foot pedals becomes the dominant lighting for most of the stage.  The last time I photographed a band that played in such little light was My Disco when they played at The Zoo a few years back…

And they play late…

A late show, poor lighting, terrible photos and not the best of nights.

Future Islands + Curse Ov Dialect @ Triffid, 16.11.2015

I was never sold on that Future Islands appearance on Letterman, I didn’t get the hype about either them or the performance.  That perception changed when they played at Laneway earlier this year, when they were one of the standout acts of the day.  I think sometimes (maybe often) TV appearances just don’t translate into what a band is actually like when you see them in the flesh.  Singer Samuel T. Herring really gave it his all in his performance, despite playing on a typically hot and humid summer day and it was fantastic to photograph.  I really like the photos I got of their set and was keen to repeat the experience when they played a headlining show at Triffid.

Curse Ov Dialect are the sole support act.  I always wondered what happened to them.  I don’t think I’ve seen anything about them since that time, all those years ago, when they played at one of the 4ZZZ Market Days.

Although it’s a Monday night, and a rare Monday night show, the show is a sell out.  I didn’t expect that, assuming that the hype about Future Islands would have died down by now, and they didn’t seem like the sort of band that had a massive, long-term following.  It’s not as good as the Laneway experience as the Triffid lighting isn’t the best, with Herring plunging into darkness anytime he moves to the front of the stage.  At least there’s a proper photo pit, generally Triffid don’t put up barrier and you have to photograph from the crowd.