No Anchor + Happy New Year + Keep On Dancin’s @ The Waiting Room, 21.10.2011

Every year work takes me down to Melbourne and rural Victoria for a three to four week in late August/early September. Every time I head down I check out the local street press (Inpress and The Beat) to see what shows are on and and try and get to see some of the Brisbane acts in Melbourne at the same time as me. The first weekend I’m down there I head out to see Ben Salter launch his album, supported by Harmony, at the Northocte Social Club. It’s been a long week and although I take my camera I feel too tired to take any photos and instead spend most of the evening sat in a dark corner at the back of the room. I had planned to go and see Velociraptor the following night as they were in town playing a number of shows over the weekend but the luxury of the Premier League, including a Newcastle match, on my serviced apartment’s Foxtel means that it doesnt happen. However, a week later not even the temptation of a comfy sofa and the chance at seeing some football can keep me away from heading out to see No Anchor, and a second support set from Harmony in a week, at the Old Bar.

Chatting to Alex from No Anchor at the gig, he fills me in on the band’s tour itinery, which included driving from Melbourne to Adelaide the following morning for a Sunday night show, before driving all the way back on the Monday morning for another show back in Melbourne. The band have driven down from Brisbane and then also have to drive all the way back. Having done a lot of driving in Australia, it’s not something I would envy doing and I’ve always been amazed at the distances people will drive here as if it’s nothing, especially bands on tour who don’t even have much in the way of luxury or being able to take their time on the drive and stop off or make scenic detours when it suites. Alex also tells me about their upcoming shows back in Brisbane, where they are going to be playing seven nights in a row at The Waiting Room, and I’m more than keen to get along to see them there. The final show with the Keep On Dancin’s was always going to be the pick of the shows for me. The downside of going to the last of the seven shows is that at the end of the night I was kicking myself for not going to more of the shows during the week. If I’d known in advance that the shows were finishing so early (by 10pm) I definitely would have gone to more of them. It’s ironic given my complaining about late shows in Brisbane that I just assume bands are going to play late into the night and miss out when there’s a bunch of earlier shows on offer.

It’s my first visit to The Waiting Room, at least the upstairs bit, having seen Velociraptor for the first time in the tiny downstairs room in early 2010. The Keep On Dancin’s start just as we arrive and one of the first things to notice is just how good the sound is; it’s loud but is really crisp and clean. The room itself is smaller than I imagined it would be. I don’t know what the capacity is but would guess that it’s probably about 80 people. There’s a healthy crowd in tonight and the room is swelteringly hot so it could get fairly uncomfortable in the middle of summer. From a photographic point of view, the room is better than I would have exepcted. Although it’s small and fairly dark, I really like how the “stage” has been formed by what I assume was once a separate room that has been opened out. It gives some separation between the audience and the musicians so that it feels more like a “proper” gig and less like a house party. It’s a perfect blend though as the intimacy, the BYO and the backyard for between band socialising and drinking help provide a relaxed house party atmosphere.

I think the last time I’d seen Happy New Year’s (another terribbly named Australian band) Elena was when she was playing with Gazzonga Attack at 4ZZZ’s Market Day at the RNA Showgounds. Her new band’s music is a lot difference from the punk-stylings of her old band and a lot more shoegazey. For a few songs it sounds really interesting and different but then it starts to sound a bit samey for the rest of the set. I guess that was always one of the drawbacks about shoegaze.

No Anchor are loud, really loud and the smallness of the room means there’s no let up in the volume even stood against the back wall. But as with the other bands on show tonight, it might be loud but it’s also perfectly crisp, with not a hint of distortion from from the speakers, something that’s a rarity in just about all of Brisbane’s venues. It’s easily the best I’ve heard the band sound and, as noted above, makes me wish I’d come to see more of the seven shows they’ve played here in the last week. I really regret not coming to the Wednesday night improv session. Although the band have played a different set each night, tonight is what i think i would have expected them to have played. Come the end of the year best-of lists, it’s great to see the band do so well, even getting an honourable mention from Forbes for being one of the best free (you pay what you want to download) albums of 2011. They’ll be another Brisbane band to keep on eye on during 2012.

Having really enjoyed the night, both the bands and the venue, plans are made on the way home to come back the following night to see Dreamtime, a band that had been recommended to me by a number of Brisbane’s better educated tastemakers, who are lauching their CD at the venue. The Saturday night brings another trip to West End and we make it all the way to the end of the road for a pre-gig curry before deciding that we’ve eaten far too much and need to go and lie down before we lapse into a curry coma. Despite being a couple hundred metres from the venue, we walk all the way back to the train station and get the train back home. It’s the most un-rock ‘n’ roll excuse in the history of poor excuses for not seeing a band, the only surprise is that I’ve never read it as an excuse for missing bands in a street press live review. At the time oif writing this (Jan 2012) I still haven’t seen Dreamtime: I probably should add it to my ever expanding list of New Year’s Resolutions as well as getting back to see more bands at The Waiting Room.

2 Responses to “No Anchor + Happy New Year + Keep On Dancin’s @ The Waiting Room, 21.10.2011”

  1. Cam says:

    You’re in luck. Dreamtime are playing at The Waiting Room this Friday (24th) with Ghost Notes and The Maryettas (Ryan & Jackson from Nikko).

    Also, thanks for the kind words about the venue.

  2. Justin says:

    It’s tempting for Friday night but I’ll probably be having to save my energy for photographing Soundwave on Saturday. I blame old age.

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