4ZZZ Radiothon @ Black Bear Lodge, 24.08.2012

It’s the first of two nights of 4ZZZ’s annual Radiothon, tonight at Black Bear Lodge, tomorrow at The Bridge Club in the city.

The first/last time I saw Tight Slip I was fairly dismissive of them as being yet another Brisbane post punk band, influenced by the same acts as all the others and not really adding much to the crowded scene of the last few years. Second time around I like them a whole lot better. They’ve grown into a much more confident band and the songs sound all the better for it.

The more I see Sky Needle, the more I like them. The first time you see them you’re going to be taken aback by the homemade instruments more than anything else, say the music. It takes a you a few times before its impact becomes a natural sight. When that happens you realise that they’re one of the best bands in Brisbane at the moment. It sounds like “outsider” music on those first couple of occasions but listening to them play tonight they sound like a band that’s a hair’s breadth away from being mainstream. You consider whether you could see them playing on a much bigger stage and the answer is “Yes”. “Yes. Why not?”. Maybe it’s because my first festival experience was Glastonbury when it had two stages, when the Sunday was World Music and the line-up was more eclectic and a whole lot less mainstream but I’m tired of seeing the same landfill indie Australian bands, the same Brisbane bands who have got where they are based on the people they’re connected to and know exploiting their positions to get the all the glamorous opportunities. It’s always reassuring to find bands in Brisbane that have some artistic intent and aim higher than a sound that’ll get them played on triple j.

Tonight Sarah Chadwick playing solo reminds me a bit of J Mascis and Kurt Vile. She has that similar drawl when she sings. I’m not sure if her solo venture means the end of Batrider but they were always a good band and one that I enjoyed seeing. The quiet songs she plays tonight are ok but struggle slightly in the less than quiet confines of the venue. It makes me miss her more raucous singing with her old band.

When I saw Holy Balm at one of the Deadshits nights they annoyed me before they had even played a single note, due to setting up their gear and then disappearing for ages. The night was already far behind time and with more bands to come, so couldn’t fathom why you’d make little effort to start even when you were already running late. I know it’s not a very rock ‘n’ roll viewpoint but the older you get the less appealing being at a venue and seeing bands play into the early hours of the morning becomes. It’s strange seeing the outrage from the Australian music community anytime a change to opening hours is proposed. When it became a cause celebre in Brisbane a few years ago, I did start writing a post about it, disagreeing with just about everything that was being said and saying that, if anything, it needed to be even earlier than was being suggested. One day I will get around to finishing that post, but for now I will point out an ever increasing observation on my behalf; bands never want to play first on a bill and play to a tiny audience, but increasingly they also don’t want to play last and play to the minority of the crowd who haven’t already gone home.

Having said all that, by the time Holy Balm play tonight the place is packed, having been half empty up until just before they play. It takes me completely by surprise so I end up away from the front and unable to find a spot with much of an angle of the stage and the players. To be honest, I don’t really get the appeal of Holy Balm, although, I guess, musically they’re not my thing. Headlining band Bitch Perfect are a lot more my thing. Simple songs, jangly guitars and strong melodies will always be a winner in my book. The only annoyance is that they all play with their eyes shut, which is rarely good for a set of photos, although in this case they’re not too bad.

The diversity of the acts playing the first night of Radiothon is it’s greatest strength; a good balance of Brisbane and non-Brisbane acts and the reassurance that under the ever-dominating and ever-depressing Brisbane Music Industry, there are wonderfully interesting acts making exciting music on their own terms. The second night of Radiothon looks even better than the first, so it’s a real shame that I can’t make it.

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