Mere Noise Meltdown 2011 @ Woodland, 03.12.2011

Out of all the people putting out music in Brisbane, Mere Noise is by far and away my favourite label and has been the whole time I’ve lived in Brisbane. Mere Noise might have a much smaller roster of active bands than some of Brisbane’s more glamorous, bigger and well connected labels but those bands but are a lot closer to representing the true sound of Brisbane and time-after-time their Meltdown mini-festivals have shown themselves to be one of the highlights of the year and a must-attend.

In true street press fashion, I manage to miss the first few bands of the night but get there to catch most of Texas Tea’s set, and get to witness one of the rare occasions where they play with a full band, as well as hear all the new songs from their forthcoming third album that make up most of their allotted time, including their first ever cha-cha-cha ending song.  I think I read on Facebook that they’ve been recording so fingers crossed for a 2012 release, although prior experience has shown they like to take their time.

Practice makes perfect and latest Mere Noise signings Tiny Migrants have come on in leaps and bounds since I last saw them here at Woodland  supporting Ty Segall back in July.  At the time I said they reminded me a bit of early B52s, despite not having any keyboards but that was a bit of an unfair comparison and they’re a lot more garage-y and more surf influenced than that, more 60s Nuggets than 70s New Wave, although there are times, especially when Jacinta and Julien both sing that the B52’s comparison comes into play.

After sets from The Dangermen (who I haven’t seen for an age and who  didn’t realise were still together) and No Anchor (the usual loud, brutal and straight to the point 30 minutes you expect from them), I finally get to experience the Standing 8 Counts.  I don’t know why, but based on the way Mere Noise supremos Pete and Ben have also spoken about the band (they were before my time), I had always assumed that they were a Pete and Ben band, a precursor to Vegas Kings.  Having lived with this assumption for years, it’s a complete surprise to find myself confronted by a complete bunch of strangers.  After all the anticipation they’re not what I expected, it’s very loose and jammy and just a bit drunk.  The last song they play is so loose and jammed out that it’s hardly even there.

The Keep On Dancin’s further cement their place as my favourite Brisbane bands of 2011 before the obligatory Mere Noise Meltdown, killer rock ‘n’ soul revue from The Horrortones ramps up the tempo , this time with added Elton John in the form of  cover of Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting, and Undead Apes launch their second album with another set of no nonsense, two minute punk tunes.

Hits are always an amazing band to photograph and as last time I saw them at Woodland (Flavours Of Scuzz) they’re in top form.  As last time (and maybe times before that) there’s a photographer who crosses the boundary between the “stage” (not that there is one) and the audience.  I’m not sure who he is, I presume he’s a friend of the band, but I always think that it’s a bit of a no-go area for photographers.  Photographing from the side of the stage, even behind the amps or drums is fine but when you’re essentially on stage with the musicians, an active part of the show that the audience is seeing and you’re sticking your camera lens in people’s faces from point blank range, to me at least, it’s over-stepping a boundary.

Although Guitar Wolf are headlining, they’re one of those Japanese Ramones tribute type-bands, similar to Mach Pelican, that are much loved in Australia but that I just don’t see the attraction of.  Or at least didn’t get.  A few weeks after this year’s Meltdown I start reading Simon Renolyds’ Retromania and it covers the Japanese musical ideology of bands needing to completely immerse themselves into the bands of yesteryear and master everything about them, not just the music, but the fashion, the haircuts, as he puts it “their lack of emphasis on originality and the obsession with details”.  Although the lighting has been less than ideal all night, Guitar Wolf play under the reddest lights imagine able.  The photos at the top of the post (and the one that got published) was a stroke of good fortune in accidentally piggy-backing on someone else’s flash going off (hence the less than great exposure).  It’s another late starting show at Woodland, with Guitar Wolf not starting until 12:30am, so I only stay for five or six songs before heading for home via the joys of a Saturday night taxi rank in the Valley.

Far too many photos from the night, too many that I really liked (despite the difficult conditions) and wanted to show.  I was debating about splitting the post into two but decided that you can have everything in one photo bomb.

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