The Brisbane Sound

A few weeks ago it was Brisbane Sounds; this time around it was The Brisbane Sound, as in the definitive article.

As part of the exhibition, there was a series of three concerts; I went to the second one, curated by Robert Forster.

Although the exhibition was celebrating the indie and experimental music scenes and the art scene in Brisbane during the post-punk years of 1978 to 1983, the concert was a mix of the bands/artists of the day (The Apartments and Robert Forster) and the slightly more recent (Adults Today and Trevor Ludlow And The Hellraisers, who have their roots in the mid-1990s Brisbane scene).

I always enjoy photographing Robert Forster.  In addition to being part of arguably Brisbane’s if not Australia’s greatest band, The Go-Betweens, who, through the UK weekly music press of the late 1980s and early 1990s, were one of the non-mainstream Australian bands that I knew long before moving here, which obviously makes him an important part of Brisbane’s music scene, he’s also amazingly photogenic, with a steely look and the air of a wise professor.

Robert Forster

I played around with this shot to mix some additional layers and over-sharpen the image – there’s a picture of Michael Stipe that I saw a while ago (and for the life of me can’t find now) where a similar effect has been used and it makes him look like he’s been carved from rock; that was what I wanted for this shot and I think it works well.  It would have been better without all the smoke from the smoke machine but that was a running theme throughout all the photos from the night…

Adele Pickvance

I’d never seen the name ‘Adults Today’ before I put in to cover this gig.  I looked it up on myspace and found out it was a mid-1990s band containing the original Sensitive Side (Gentle Ben’s band) – Nick Naughton, Dylan McCormack and Trevor Ludlow – but with Glenn Thompson (Go-Betweens drummer in their later incarnation) on vocals/guitar.  As you’d expect from the line-up it was really great stuff, with a slightly country tinged pop that Brisbane does so well.

Glenn Thompson

Nick Naughton

The last act of the evening were The Apartments, another Brisbane band that left the city in the late 1970s to seek fame and fortune overseas, in this case in New York, although they also seem to have had a quite big following in France.

Peter Milton Walsh

Peter Milton Walsh

Jeff Crawley

This was the third time that I had seen them after the Pig City warm-up gig at The Troubadour last year and Pig City itself but probably the longest set that I’d seen them play. In a way, I think I preferred the shorter set that left you wanting more; although there are some really great songs – I’ve always considered them a slightly sombre, more jazzy, late-night-with-a-glass-of-red-wine version of The Go-Betweens – they seemed to lose some momentum as the set went on. 

In retrospect, I think might just have been me flagging and becoming increasingly irritated by the art crowd scenesters (the guest list for the night seemed huge…), who stood at the back of the room and talked so loudly that you struggled to hear Peter Milton Walsh explaining the stories behinds the songs in the between song interludes.  In fact, I’ve heard that a woman was overheard complaining in the toliets that she was becoming hoarse due to having to talk so loudly to make herself heard over the noise of the band.  How do you respond to that?  Sadly it seems that he’s still unappreciated in his own city 30 years later.

More photos on flickr.

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