R.I.P The Lansdowne Hotel, and Why That Shithole Made Me A Better Person

“Oi, fuck mate, what’s happening tonight?”

“Nah man, I’m absolutely fucked, got no clue”

“Lanny?”

“Fuckin’ Lanny”

The amount of times this conversation has passed between mates and myself runs into the hundreds. We had just left high school, and were loaded with dumb, naive views of how the world and society operated. Getting drunk every night seemed like a feasible option. Punk bands who’s imaginations stretched to minute and a half diatribes felt like genius. Our jobs in retail left us with little to no option but to opt for the cheapest morsels of food. For us, The Lansdowne was able to deliver all of that, and so much more.

Located halfway between the boiling commercial cesspit of the city and faux hippie-laden, over-priced Newtown, The Lanny was a bastion of hope for a bunch of kids who wanted the simple things from life. I say was because, as of yesterday, the historic venue has been sold and will be replaced with a fucking performance arts school. The same place where I, and thousands of others, have stumbled out of after an incredible night of eardrum-excavating rock ‘n’ roll, is being replaced with some NIDA-lite shit.

Now, I’m not going to pretend that the Lansdowne’s history begins and ends with my experiences within it – it’s been one of the biggest champions of rock and roll music in Sydney for a looooong fucking time, and I’m simply one of the many teenagers who have happened through its doors, from its early days in the 1920’s, to the glory days in the 80’s and 90’s. But wasn’t there for that, and this article isn’t about how great the Lansdowne was back in the day when the The Hard-Ons played every second week. I wish I was there, but alas, I wasn’t, and therefore, it feels wrong to come at this obituary from a point of view that isn’t my own.

The first time I stepped inside the Lansdowne, sliding across piss-stained floors, eased past slouching couches, and sidling up to the protracted, splintered bar, it was approximately two weeks after my 18th Birthday. One of my favourite locals Step-Panther were playing a free show, to celebrate the re-opening of the venue after a 2013 fire severely damaged the hotel – I was absolutely fucking pumped. Step-Panther??? At the pub??? Free??? What does that even mean? What the fuck was I about to witness? SOMEONE GET ME A BUCKET, I’M GONNA SPEW!

Actually, the result, especially upon reflection, was pretty void. Step-Panther played well, but there was almost no-one at this show. The Lansdowne cavern remained black and hollow – my best mate and I drank heartily with the band, and it was an exciting time, one of many opportunities I’ve had to split a drink and share my appreciation for my favourite bands after a show. But when the hangover subsided, there didn’t feel like there was any real reason to head back to the corner of George St and City Rd. I returned to more traditional 18 year old activities – Goon of Fortune and unsuccessfully hitting on girls.

About four months later, a guy called Simon Parsons e-mailed me asking if I’d like to DJ at the Lansdowne. He was starting a brand new Thursday night called The Mess Up, and Yes, I’m Leaving and HANNAHBAND were playing. Fuck, of course I was gonna DJ! I rocked up, but the place had completely changed from the abandoned crypt it was before. There were more people there, there was a sense of community, and the whole room felt charged. Maybe it’s looking back through a mirror of nostalgia, but there was definitely a sense of rejuvenation in the saggy bricks that night.

The year that followed from there was the best year of my life, only rivalled by my first year of existence during which people loved me simply because I was a cute-as-fuck baby and I could shit myself at any point without fear of repercussion. Every week, without fail, I was at the Lansdowne. By myself, with mates, it didn’t matter – I was fucking there. There was always a show on, and it was almost always good. From the splashy slackjaw of Unity Floors, to the paranoid vitriol of Constant Mongrel, to the down and out gruel pop of Mope City, there was always something interesting gracing the stages of The Lansdowne that was ripe for discovery. If any band, either local or interstate, asked advice on somewhere to play, the Lanny was the first venue to escape my lips. I was addicted to this shithole.

Soon enough, major draw cards began to befall the crumbling venue – Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, Straight Arrows, Palms, TV Colours and The Ocean Party all played incredible sets there. SPOD and Richard in Your Mind played an insane double bill. A bleeding foot stopped a Peep Tempel show, whilst nudity spurred on a Gooch Palms one. Vibrancy, diversity and discovery soon became standard practice at Sydney’s favourite pub. It was an incredible few months that culminated in the MATES Festival in late January 2015. Every single one of my favourite bands in Australia played a series of blistering shows that showered The Lansdowne in sweat and beer. That day still sticks in my head as one of the most brilliant things that has happened to me – an absolute treat!

Then, The Lansdowne bit the hand that was shovelling delicious canapes down its throat with fervour. They let go of their booker Jo, essentially believing that, well, now the people are here, they’ll just keep coming. The gravy train won’t ever stop! Fuck, these kids, they love it here at the Lansdowne! We can hike up the prices a few cents here and there, and no one will notice (believe me, there was outcry when the jugs went from $10 to $10.50). As for booking a pub, how hard can it be? The day they got rid of their booking team was the last day I went to the Lansdowne.

Actually, that’s not entirely true – I went there one more time. The band that the owners had picked for the night was absolutely fucking atrocious. Whereas a Friday night at the Lansdowne usually provided a band like Day Ravies, Alex Cameron or Donny Benet, this headline band was stirring up some absolutely abominable tropical pop shit. I learnt two things that night – that I hate tropical pop music, and that booking venues is incredibly hard. But Jo, Simon, and the rest of the crew behind the Lansdowne bookings did their jobs with jaw-dropping gusto, enthusiasm and knowledge. They knew the ins and outs of Australian music, who played a good show and who played terribly. They knew that to keep a band happy, you actually needed to pay them, which they did gratuitously. They knew that free entry only brings in so much – that maintaining high quality lineups was what brought the savages, not the door charge. And most of all, they knew their audience, and their venue: the average punter who wanted to go to the pub and see some great fucking music. The extent to which they provided all of this is disembowelling.

People don’t seem to appreciate how great pub venues are – they allow bands to play without pretension. The worst show can be a learning curve, whilst the best show can cover the walls and floor with a thick layer of sweat and grime. A casual night can turn into the inspiration for someone in the audience starting a band, who in turn get their first show playing a support slot on the same stage that sparked the discussion in the first place. It’s this aspect that venues like The John Curtin and The Tote achieve so well in Melbourne, and probably explain why there’s such a healthy band scene down there. The bookers actually interact with the local rock groups, and reflect that in the awesome bookings that go on there. Who knew that booking a pub with rock bands requires a knowledge of rock music? It’s a self-fucking-perpetuating force!

Don’t get me wrong, Sydney still has plenty of great venues: Blackwire Records is Ground Zero for punk, experimental and amateur music, and I urge anyone who hasn’t been there to attend immediately. The Vic, The Marly Bar and Waywards are also great venues in Newtown, and GoodGod and Brighton still provide some fairly decent rock shows every now and then.

But in terms of a central pub that wore disgusting on its sleeve, The Lansdowne was unrivalled; a mess of putrid, shit covered bathrooms, smoke-choked beer gardens and chicken-schnitzel that was suspiciously cheap and delicious, this place had it all. From the gorgeous, burned out aesthetic, to the pungent aromas that coated each room, to the sprawl who littered the pavement for lung cancer injections, it was the final bastion of pub rock in central Sydney, and now, it’s gone. It sucks, it really fucking does, but I’m glad that it burned bright for the time it did, and that I was able to slot into the rite of passage that so many teenagers before me have. Even when those welcoming doors have shut, it’ll be nice to remember the constant year of fantastic shows that accompanied me growing up a bit, and realising I wasn’t the hot piece of shit that I thought I was. The Lansdowne is pretty much solely responsible for easing my transition from know-it-all, acne-splashed wanker fresh from high school, to the wide-eyed dipshit who’s finally learnt to shut up and enjoy the good music and people that Sydney has to offer.

Now grab ya 40, and tip one out for the best pub that was.

Advertisements

Top 5 Records: TV Colours

This world is ruled by facts. Gravity exists, Tony Abbott is a fuckwit, and TV Colours is the closest thing to perfection that we’ll get. In terms of classic albums, their “Purple Skies, Toxic River” record doesn’t just stand amongst the best of them – it flat out shames other records that we considered the best. It’s a riveting combination of a well-executed concept, high velocity guitar pulverisation, and the catchiest and most original songs of the decade, tied down with an authenticity that would make Billy Corgan cream. TV Colours is a band that means a great, great deal to me, and it feels impossible to truly communicate their significance. But I’ll try – here, listen to this.

If ever there was a record that could encapsulate the times that Australian society is living through currently, “Purple Skies…” is it. The way that Robin and co. so easily mouth everything that you’ve wanted to scream into your bedroom mirror is flawless. People will be talking about this album, and this band, for decades to come. The Drones’ ‘Havilah’, The Birthday Party’s ‘Junkyard’, and TV Colours’ ‘Purple Skies, Toxic River’: perfect music to suit the perfect time. If you haven’t gotten yourself a copy yet, make like Donny Bradman, and get bowled over quick smart here.

TV Colours are making their way down Sydney way to headline Bad Day Out II with one of their legendary live shows. Also on the bill are Donny Benet, Bearhug, Unity Floors, Dreamtime, and a shit tonne of others. It all goes down at Petersham Bowling Club on Saturday 24th of Jan. Tix here.

To prepare the masses for the onslaught of terrific coming their way, and to get in the #Straya mood, I asked Robin from TV Colours to tell me about his Top 5 Australian albums. Thanks, and I’ll see you in the pit.

Top 5 Records – Robin From TV Colours’ Favourite Australian Albums

AC/DC – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

I really loved ACDC when I was younger, I still do I guess, I think, to not, would be un-Australian right? And its Australia Day. 
That late 90’s was such a gross time for pop culture and ROCK! music and it had such an effect on me that I didn’t really listen to guitar orientated music at all. I snuck into this ACDC show in Canberra in the Summer of 2001, it was pretty Detroit Rock City, and anyway, I sort of look back at it as this completely defining moment where I completely 
changed into a BONE-afied rock DOG, suddenly Dr Dre 2001 was gone and I had Jailbreak instead, it was actually one of the first times I really listening to music in a retrospective nature, and 
y’know, that’s a massive gateway to allot  of music, I guess it seems kind of obvious these days especially with every song ever recorded being pretty easily accessed for free, but back then I basically just listened to just what-was-out -at -the- time sort of thing.

The Scientists – Pissed On Another Planet

I am basically highjacking this whole thing to tell stories about myself, buuut, yknow, I feel like half the reasons I end up loving albums is because of the nostalgia. Anyway when I was 19 I basically drove around in my first car listening to this non-stop, it was awesome.

I know everyone blabbers on about ‘Blood Red River’, which is great, WHATEVER, but I really do love their power pop stuff.  I miss my first car, 1986 Honda Civic, silver,  roaring down the highway, nothing to lose, I was free. My second car just got stolen, had it for 8 years, couldn’t give a fuck, see ya later.

The Eastern Dark – Where Are All The Single Girls?

Geez, I’m really clutching at straws here, is this even an album? Was the Scientists even an album? I hate Australian music, ha ha, JUST JOKING I LOVE IT. Buuuut anyway when I was about 17 I was reading my copy of Rolling Stone (such a cool dude) and it put me onto buy this compilation called Do The Pop.

Anyway so it was this compilation of all these Australian garage and punk bands through the late 70’s and the 80’s, and it just introduced me to all those sort of really important Australian bands from back then, The Saints, Radio Birdman, The Scientists, Hard Ons ayyynd of course The Eastern Dark. And of everything on that album I think I loved Johnny and Dee Dee the most, I just remember it as being one of those early instances in which I realised that punk and pop could mix pretty well, before that my only impression of that was that band Blink 182 ,  fuuuuuuck them, well, sort of, I have a very small appreciation for them, very very small, but only because of nostalgic reasons, sometimes I feel like a dog chasing my own tail.

Assassins 88 – Go Go Second Chance Virgin

Myyyyyyyeah look, I was in this band, but the only reason I was in this band is because I loved them so much, I never actually made it onto any of their recordings or anything, I was just a hired GUN guitar player for them live, well I wasn’t even hired I just sort of demanded I be in the band.

It was one of the first times I looked at Canberra and saw a current band I really liked, I guess one of the first times I realised that you didn’t have to live in a big city to make great music, I know that sounds stupid, and it was a stupid attitude, but I definitely felt that way for a while.

Eddy Current Suppression Ring – Primary Colours

I saw Eddy Current at this place called the Roxy in Melbourne on June 7th 2007, at 8:30. And, yeah, it was such a revelation, the songs were so simple.

It felt like every other gig I went to back then was just that sort of spiky post punk angular guitars (woo!) stuff y’know, , NOT THAT THERE WAS ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT. I dunno, in a time when everything seemed so complicated seeing something so simple and so effective was really inspiring.

Gig Review: The Blurst of Times Festival

Saturday 25th October @ The Factory Theatre

Simpsons quote. Straight from the go, you’re off to a good start mates. Add to that fact that almost every great guitar act in our country is on a Blurst of Time bill, and you’ve got every cat and their air guitar whizzing to buy a fucking ticket. I mean, people of ‘Straya, what more do you want? The government’s fucked (with the grand exception of Bill ‘Shortball’ Shorten), we’re paying through the nose for uni, and to top it all off, I’ve had a bad sinus infection all week. Really shitty stuff. So a day of DZ Deathrays and beer in Marrickville was basically the only cure, short of going on a bender with Bill Murray (a boy can dream).

Hockey Dad began the day with a short ‘n’ sweet set of feel good surf rock tunes. If you haven’t heard of these blokes, get around them, because they’ve got #nextbigthing written all over their peachy mugs. Zach’s got a voice like an angel, and Billy smashes his drums like he’s on a blitzkrieg, Lleyton Hewitt headband dripping with sweat by the end. A few muck-ups, but the smiles and lack of pretention from these blokes meant that their set was a loud, and thoroughly enjoyable, as good as watching Happy Gilmore the first time round.

Black Zeros followed, but unfortunately, sound issues fumbled their performance. The songs are tight, but performance was unsure, as lead woman Joe Jackson had trouble hearing herself. I mean, “Ride” and “That Boy” are fucking sick, but the dwindling between songs so early in the day made it hard for punters to stick around, and enjoy the usual Black Zeros carnival. Outside, Babaganouj were killing it, an amalgamation of Brissy indie-pop mixed with damn solid 90’s nerd-rock. Think of the dorky pop of Weezer, Superchunk and Kim Deal, thrown together with amazing songs like “Bluff” and “Love Loath Love You”. They had heads nodding along like the crowd were a bunch of bobble-heads. It was down-to-earth euphoric rock, something I’m not sure even existed until this point.

Sticking around on the outside stage, where a bunch of menacing clouds grumbled with menace, High-tails came and conquered with a slew of tight indie rock. High-tails seemed in more of a rock mood, as their songs boomed with a bit more bravado and oomph than usual. “Bending Over Backwards” and a cover of Cake’s “Never There” highlighted a band that knew how to marry pop sensibilities and rock with success. A divorce doesn’t seem likely in the near future, and there’s a strong hint at an LP coming out next year.

Step-Panther, (another band, another hyphen) hobbled unassumingly onto the stage. Just three blokes – a guitar, bass and a drumkit. And yet, these three guys turned an ordinary set up into one of the most impressive displays of musicianship to have been blazed into my skull in recent memory. Starting with debut LP cut “Never Again”, frontman Stephen Bourke was immediately sprawled on the floor, abusing his guitar like it was an Ike and Tina Turner situation all over again. Whiplash guitar ricocheted throughout the small domain of The Factory Theatre, and anyone within earshot perked up like a Chihuahua being mass-fed caffeine. Daniel Radburn is beating the shit out of the drum kit like he’s a 12 year old with the house to himself and a bright and sparkly National Geographic laying bare like the temptresses they are. And Zach, of Hockey Dad @fame, well, he was just looking good. Their set was a fiery ball-tearer, with a couple props to old schoolers like “Fight Like A Knight”, but mainly focusing on their new, gobsmackingly good record, ‘Strange But Nice’ (review here).

It was a party set through and through, a contorted mixture of thrash punk and pop knowledge, covered in gnatty noise and a genuine love, and ability, to rock the fuck out. For every awkward inner-teen out there, Step-Panther is the band you want to familiarise yourself with. They’re almost like a modern and local version of Bleach-era Nirvana, ruthless and primal, and Stephen Bourke makes for a picturesque Kurt Cobain, with his shoulder-connected-to-neck  solos being a sight worthy of the Bucket List. New singles “Nowhere”, “It Came From the Heart” and “User Friendly” were a shredder’s haven, and a reminder that Step-Panther are some of the last heartfelt headbangers in Sydney, possibly even Aus. Make sure you get down to their album launch (with Bearhug and Point Being!) at Goodgod on November 21st.

After exhilaration-incarnate, it felt like nothing could possibly match a Step-Panther show. Obviously, it’s been a while since I went to a SPOD show, and I’ve forgotten how one-of-a-kind this man, nay, GOD, is. Where Step-Panther are one of the ultimate rock bands, SPOD is the ultimate party band. I feel like that needs to be repeated -SPOD IS THE ULTIMATE PARTY BAND! NEVER MISS A SHOW FROM THIS GUY! EVER! EVER! EVER!

Armed with a battalion of all-black, sunnies-inside security guards (Steve’s #1 & #2, and old mate Nathan Wood) who never dropped their demeanour of seriousness and professionalism (sic), SPOD tore The Factory Theatre a new arsehole. Beginning with the song of our generation, “Deadshits”, SPOD’s set soon become something that people will talk about centuries from now, in hushed whispers, in case the legend himself blazes down from the heavens to destroy all human life with his hard-partying ways. To put it bluntly, the set was compromised entirely of legends. From young pup/legend Dom O’Connor being literally picked up and thrown around SPOD like a stripper on a pole during “Letz Dance”, to Dion Ford (Australia’s greatest guitarist/legend) coming onstage to crank out Oz’s favourite pub rock tune “Couple Of Drinks”, to old mate/legend Jules (of Rice is Nice one of the greatest labels to adorn our fair country) getting her waltz on to the finale and every pervert’s funky favourite “Electric Hips”. And I’d be lying to you if I said that getting on stage with pretty much every living legend the Australian music industry has seen for a singalong of “Boys Night” wasn’t one of the Top 5 Moments of my life. I entered the Factory a boy, and left a man, thanks to SPOD. The man is a saint.

After a sweat, party-filled few hours, it was time for Blank Realm, one of the main acts on the bill. After the release of their flawless pop record “Grassed Inn” earlier this year (review here), Blank Realm was a band that I physically could not withhold myself from seeing. Whilst the beginning of the set was marred by sound issues, primarily the bass thudding over the top of other instruments, things were abruptly fixed so that it was all Blank Realm awesomeness, all the time. Their set seemed to compromise of only a few songs, mostly of their latest album, but that’s hardly a complaint. My body was instantly entranced into twisting into an amalgamation of shapes I had no clue I was capable of. Maybe I was just trying to mimic the movements of the band themselves, in which they moved with poetic energy, jumping and grooving with artistic beauty. It was strange, and timelessly wonderful. Getting to see stuff like “Reach You On the Phone”, “Go Easy” and a sped-up “Falling Down the Stairs” (#songoftheyear) is something no ones forgetting any time soon. Summarisation: 2014 – year of the keytar. Never change, Blank Realm, never change.

Outside, a new and unruly beast was unfolding in the form of Velociraptor, fleshed out with a rare appearance from original members Shane and Simon of DZ Deathrays. Banshee cries were the first thing I really noticed from the set, followed by a ruckus on par with a football riot. Bodies flew everywhere, and it honestly felt like a tsunami of rock music had arrived. Whereas Velociraptor are garage-pop on record, the raw energy of earlier recordings was in sure-fire play during the set. As guitars reigned supreme, and the multi-limbed juggernaut of rock ‘n’ roll heaved on headbangers like “Cynthia”, “The Walk On By”,”Cool, Baby, Cool” and the anthemic “Ramona”, it was like an alternate ending from Jurassic Park, where the T-Rex doesn’t show up, and the kids aren’t so lucky. As the final chords rang out, and Jeremy Neale stood poised, with fist raised triumphantly above his lolling head, grin planted firmly on his mug, it was ultimately obvious that Velociraptor had fucking won.

After a truly sweeping performance, TV Colours graced the stage for a very different, but similarly affecting, display of amazing. TV Colours released the best album of last year, and they wilfully proved it. They had walls of sound at their disposal, tearing through songs like “The Neighbourhood” and “Lost Highway” with a virtuosity and newfound, dare I say it, professionalism. Their fury was there, but it was more controlled, funnelled into the seething audience of bobbing heads. It doesn’t seem far-fetched to believe that “Purple Skies, Toxic River” will be mentioned in the same breath as “Primary Colours”, or “Havilah” in the future. It’s a modern masterpiece, and seeing a band as talented and great as that dominate a stage is a pleasure as always. If you haven’t seen TV Colours rip through “Bad Dreams” or “Beverly” and let your jaw drop to the floor in utter amazement, you haven’t lived.

Die! Die! Die! seemed like a bit of a left-field choice for the day, the only Kiwi band on the bill. But they had a new orgasmic album to show off, and you’d have to be a total dillweed to miss out on these guys bombastically destroying expectations. Die! Die! Die! are one of the few punk bands left that can completely blow you away every single time you see them, pounding expectations to the ground as dangerously as frontman Andrew Wilson behaves on stage. Perched precariously on a stack of amps, Wilson cradles the microphone and bellows “A.T.T.I.T.U.D” with a conviction that belies belief. A song over seven years old, Wilson only needed to jump into the crowd and be assaulted by eager punters willing to scream the celebrated chorus, for the epiphany to click that Die! Die! Die! will never die. They’ll forever live on in a myth of wholesome awesome, a preservation of smart punk rock that shames anything that tries to come near it. The members are performers and musicians that have no contemporaries, lambasting temples of a bygone era.

 

To watch Die! Die! Die! in action is a sincere honour, a pinnacle of what humans can do when they really, really, really wanna tear the world a new arsehole. Although new tracks “Get Hit” and “She’s  Clear” shook The Factory to its hinges, it was old timers like “Wasted Lands” and “Ashtray! Ashtray!” that forced the crowd into a hurricane frenzy, centred on the eye-of-the-storm, Andrew Wilson. It can not be overstated how pivotal to your existence it is that you, dear reader, go and see Die! Die! Die! in action.

Cruising to a nice little backstage loft, watching DZ Deathrays side of stage was a set that will be ingrained into my memory for a fair while (Blurst of Times seems to be full of those, hey). After a lengthy UK tour, the duo added an extra guitar and a moustache to Simon’s head for their extraordinary set of euphoric rock. However, there was something a else about the performance. No, DZ were fairly perfect, they didn’t fuck up, and were rockstars to an inch. But that was the issue – these guys should be headlining stadiums, blowing out eardrums worldwide. The fact that they came back to Australia to dwindle with the mere mortals…I mean, how are you meant to react to something like that?

Watching with swollen eyes, every onlooker became enraptured with DZ’s sweaty thrusts of pummelling songs, mainly drawn from the pool of talent that is their sophomore “Black Rat”. Every song was a debilitating lesson in how to be a motherfucking rockstar, from classics like “The Mess Up”, to the slow-burning epic “Northern Lights” and a finale of epic proportions in “Gina Works At Hearts”. Watching DZ is a heart-in-mouth experience, where you want to vomit, cry and mosh all at the same time, where fist-pumping and deranged shouting is par for the course.

After a sincerely great fucking day, Hard-Ons finish the night with a heated dosage of their signature metal/punk/thrash expertise. For those who are unfamiliar, The Hard-Ons are a classic band of Australian lore, as integral to our musical landscape as Radio Birdman, The Saints and The Scientists. Getting to lose my Hard-Ons virginity was something I can only ever be thankful for. They swung through songs with riffs sent straight from another dimension, reaching into the bowels of my brain and throttling the joy factor. There weren’t as many punters there as the Hard-Ons probably required, but really that just gave the more dedicated few room to move and stand in awe of the wicked trio, and insane musicianship of Australia’s coolest band.Ray Ahn proved to those there that all you need to be in one of Australia’s most loved bands is a working pair of footy shorts, a flowing man of hair, and a certificate from Shredding School.

Fuck, so I gotta summarise this experience, right? Paragraph after paragraph of praising the shit out of all the bands I managed to cram into a day, and I gotta come up with something witty AND all-encompassing? I think I’ll stick with the words of everyone’s hero Dom O’Connor, who described Blurst as “… a house party”. And indeed it was – you had mates crammed next to each other, love pouring from every socket, and some of the best bands this country has ever seen playing enormously tight and friendly sets. Although clashes prevented sets from Bloods, Bearhug, Donny Benet and a few others from leaking into my pupils, and Low Life cancelled last minute, and a few sound issues tore away from otherwise perfect shows, The Blurst of Times made an excellent debut in Sydney. From booking the best and loudest, to having minimal deadshit attendance, and relatively cheap drinks and food, Blurst of Times has gone down as one hell of a festival.

Gig Review: Straight Arrows + The Gooch Palms + TV Colours

Saturday 28 June @ The Fishbowl, Newcastle

You’re fucking kidding me, right? Three of Australia’s greatest bands in one house party? You’re fucking joking, right? That shit doesn’t exist in reality, does it? And yet, after a week of coughing up my lungs, and too much Codral, I found myself in Newy for the first time in my life, with a crudely drawn cock on one hand, and a sixie of South Korea’s finest brew in the other.

TV Colours are already blasting through a set off their debut album, with killer cuts like ‘Beverly’ ringing out onto the otherwise quiet Newcastle streets. These songs are Husker Du shredded down to Canberra size, and let loose in the Australian landscape. There’s probably nothing more beautiful than watching Robin and co. deliver with such confidence. Having seen TV Colours a half dozen times, its insane to see how the band has developed from being kind of sloppy and withdrawn, to being a hurricane of guitar shredding and explosiveness. In Newcastle, with only a hundred people in witness, TV Colours executed one of their best sets. As ‘Dark Days Against the Fade’ and ‘Bad Dreams’ rounded out the set, it’d be fair to say that everyone was fairly fucking stoked to see TV Colours play one of their finest shows.

After ‘Purple Skies, Toxic River’ had finished, Newy’s finest hit the stages. Kat and Leroy, aka The Gooch Palms are well-documented as one of Australia’s greatest current bands to see live. There will be sweat, there will be nudity, and there will be a cover of Twisted Sister’s ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’.

The Goochies fuckin’ rule, and they were in top form. Sure, there were a couple technical issues, but that’s to be expected when you’re in a thronging crowd at a house party, in a city where there isn’t a million amazing gigs every week. When a show comes along this good, Newcastle folk don’t hold back, and they show no mercy. Neither did Leroy-a couple songs in, and his signature nudity was proudly on display, and his sweaty arse covered the faces of the front row. ‘Hunter Street Mall’, ‘You’ and ‘We Get By’ were taken and happily ravaged by the hometown crowd, and with this advantage,  the usual Gooch Palms shenanigans went into hyperspeed.

Finally, the house party hits its finale-Straight Arrows. Sydney’s finest wasted no time in laying waste to the crowd’s depleted energy. Straight Arrows don’t give a shit if you’re running low on fumes, you are going to party, and you are going to party hard. Although the toilet paper was limited this time around, the good times were still in full swing, as Straight Arrows tore through songs harder than Ivan Milat tore into naive backpackers. With cuts off both their debut and sophomore getting the sweaty, adoring treatment, Straight Arrows pulverised eyes and ears in the Fishbowl, ensuring that more people went home deaf and happy than not. The set, which included favourites like ‘Magic Sceptre’, ‘Something Happens’ and recent gut-churner, foot-stomper ‘Petrified’, managed to pulverise all five senses, and occasionally the sixth one.

I left the Fishbowl, drenched in a stench on par with a skunk dipped in rancid feces, and with a Dinosar Jr. t-shirt wetter than a nun at a porn shoot, to sleep in a Mini Cooper in the streets of Newcastle. Sure, my back was more cramped than an 80 year old arthritis patient, and sure, I froze my nipples off. But the fact that I had just witnessed three of Australia’s best bands at a house party in bloody Newcastle. Fuckin’ ripper of a Saturday night, if I don’t say so myself.

Mixtape(s): Hand Games + Peking Tapes Summer Mixtape

Today, not one, but TWO brand new mixtapes. If you’re of the ‘Fuck Triple J’ mindset and are in the midst of organising a coup of the Triple J Hottest 100, then get amongst these indie gems.

Hand Games Mix #18 January

The first thing that will strike you about the new, flawless Hand Games mixtape is the cute as fuck cover. Jesus Christ, all other cute things may as well go kill themselves in an orgy of blood. Because there is fucking nothing, repeat fucking nothing, that is goddamn cuter than a pink baby elephant hoarding doughnuts. Seriously, cat videos of the internet, throw in the towel, your reign as ‘Cute Internet Thing’ is over.

But onto the music, the main attraction of this deliciously amazing playlist. Due to this playlist, Blank Realm’s ‘Falling Down the Stairs’ has become my favourite song of the month. And regular bands that appear on Soundly Sounds ScotDrakula, Royal Headache and Snowy Nasdaq are here as well with some truly orgasm-inducing tracks.

As usual, the pop and electronica contingent in Hand Games is very strong, with Elizabeth Rose, Safia, Noah Slee and Hubert Clark Jr. making solid cases as to why the electro-pop format is winning hearts and minds everywhere.

And in terms of the darker, weirder shit that makes my pants bulge there’s The Babe Rainbow (awesome name), Home Travel, Emerse, and the spectacularly strange Romi. Seriously, check out Romi’s shit, it makes a one-eyed-purple people eater look like the squarest piece of shit.

HAND GAMES IS FREE, SO GET ON THAT SHIT!

Peking Tapes-Summer Lovin’ 2013

The next glance through the porthole to majestic perfection comes courtesy of Peking Tapes, and features a shit load of artists you’ve never heard of, but will thoroughly enjoy. The reason you’ll have never heard of these artists is because they’re all more underground than a mole who’s only into Neutral Milk Hotel demo tapes.

The shit on here is wondrous in so many ways, glorifying the alternative scene in Melbourne to dizzying heights. Every song on here always makes me feel jittery inside, and the fact that I’m only hearing about these artists now makes it all the better. With the exception of Snowy Nasdaq’s subtle ‘Fucking’, Wizard Oz’s stellar cover of TV Colours’ ‘Bad Dreams’ and the chameleonic Zombie Psychologist, I had no clue of any of these bands.

So surprise, fucking surprise, when I go through a compilation from one of the best tape labels in Australia, and discover a bunch of my new favourite artists. From the wholesome Clean-jangle of Big Tobacco, to the organ-driven dream pop of Cat Cat, to the disorientating math rock of  Pioneers of Good Science and the James-Mercer-on-heroin beauty of Coloured Clocks’ ‘Brick’, there is no point in this entire mixtape where the mind isn’t completely absorbed. This sort of musical genius is usually buried under layers and layers of in-the-know, but thanks to Peking Tapes, it has been uncovered for the likes of you and I to feast our greedy ears upon.

GET ON PEKING TAPES SUMMER LOVING, COS ITS BETTER THAN A HANDJOB FROM TOUCH SENSITIVE AND IT’S FREE!

Hand Games Mixtape #17: BEST OF 2013 (free download)

Oh shit, another best of 2013 thing from this pile of excrement. You see, you’re wrong there, because this is a best of 2013 thing from Hand Games, a service that actually knows how shit went down on 2013, and has a bit more of a broader reach than, say, Soundly Sounds.

There is not a single track on the best of mix that shouldn’t be there. From the internationally conquering Jagwar Ma, Courtney Barnett and Fascinator, to local heros like You Beauty and The Preatures. There’s a strong contingent of electronic wonder courtesy of D.D Dumbo, Oisima, Oscar Key Sung and Major Napier, whilst the tribal element is taken care of through Willow Beats and Savoir.

On the wild and loose front, there’s The Growl, Bad//Dreems and Peter Bibby, all bands with that desert spirit running through their veins. But for number 1, in agreement with this own shitty writer’s opinion, TV Colours gets the spot for best song of the year through the monstrous tune of ‘Beverly’.

Man, what a fucking great list right? Pity you can’t download all of that…oh wait, you can, holy shit, send me a link. ^….it’s up the top there, thank me later.

Hand Games November Mixtape (free download)

 

Ohhh, yeahhhh! Do you feel that? A warm burn between your thighs? A dizzying spell penetrating your mind? An engulfing of your body in giddying excitement? That’s the bubbly need to party! But what the fuck are you going to soundtrack your days on the dance floor with? Well, luckily for you, there’s a new Hand Games mix, and it’s better than watching whatever shenanigans Kim and Kanye are up to now.

The new playlist is fucking killer, chock-full of tracks that will make your eyeballs pop out of your skull. Firstly, one of the best tracks of one of the best Australian releases of the year, TV Colours’ ‘Bad Dreams’. Try not to dance/headbang to this one. You’ll go Clockwork Orange, post-lobotmy levels insane. After that, there’s ‘Paranoid Video’ from Total Control. Yep, you read that write…the Total Control. Y’know, one of the best Aussie bands to surface in recent history. Disturbing and mind-fucking, it’s impossible not to enjoy this one.

Now after the assault of the brain, one needs to slow down and make way for the next couple tracks. Some shuffling electronica from the likes of Alba, seductive minimalism from Circular Keys and R&B sex soundtracking from Tincture/Hazel Brown are all eye-opening. Then, you need to prepare yourself for the greatness of Oscar Key Sung, and the track ‘All I Could Do’, as well as Nakagin’s ‘Bloom’, a sultry, natural beauty.

Halfway through the playlist, and no signs of slowing down, as Primitive Motion announce they’re post-punk ways with ‘Home of the Lone Coast’, a really fucking tortured track that has a subdued Sisters of Mercy/Rowland S Howard vibe. Slightly more upbeat, but no less twisted is You Beauty’s new track ‘Menal Mondays’, a song that twists with a heart-attack drum beat, gnarled guitar splashes and foreshadowing bass.

After those gloomy pearls, we head into the slacker rock territory, with two bands that regularly get mentioned here: Bitch Prefect and Food Court. BP’s ‘Shipped It’ actually has a bit of a Dischord vibe, like Fugazi got re-worked in Adelaide. Meanwhile, ‘By Your Side’, which I’ve posted about quite a bit before, rocks like a hurricane, fuzzy feel-good punk that is the cure for any melancholic work day.

Finally, we end this gem of a playlist with two tracks that take their queues from the recent downtempo electronica scenes that have been popping up all over the globe. Slum Sociable pout with a snaky, hissing track called ‘Watch Me Turn Colourful’, whilst Phondupe gets slinky and irresistible with the dripping-with-lust ‘Proxy’.

That’s all from this session of Hand Games Mixtapes. I’ve been your host, Ryan the Wanker. Enjoy this awesome Australian music with a complimentary side of Free Download. That’s right! This playlist can be all yours for nothing! FUCK YEAH!

October Playlist

It’s October. Who gives a fuck? You should, because that means you’ll get to check out a bunch of brand new tunes and a couple oldies that I can’t wrap my head around. Because it’s the month of Lucifer, it seems only natural to focus on the darker side side of things. There’s Hermitude’s ‘The Villan’, new stuff from Mind Spiders and sludgy punk awesomeness from Zig Zags and Boneyards. Oh, and where would society be without a little Pantera? But never fear, there’s still plenty of sweetness (no pun intended, fuck puns) with Cashmere Cat, Casiotone for the Painfull Alone, and Little May, as well as some brand new ones from Wildcat General Strike and Popstrangers. Fuck Yeah!

1. Casiotone for the Painfully Alone-Goodbye Parthenon

2. Mind Spiders-Make Make Make Make

3. TV Colours-Bad Dreams

4. The Stevens-Hindsight

5. Simian Mobile Disco-I Believe

6. Indian Summer-Foreign Formula

7. Cashmere Cat-Mirror Maru

8. Little May-Hide

9. Bus Vipers-Orby

10. Popstrangers-Rats in the Palm Trees

11. HAIM-My Song 5

12. Regurgitator-Fuck You Sweetness

13.Boneyards-Vega Chain

14. Pantera-Cowboys From Hell

15. Zig Zags-Who Can You Trust

16. Hermitude-The Villain

17. Bodhi-Imperfection

18. Panama-Always

19. Wildcat General Strike-Ida

20. Natural Child-The Jungle

New: Wizard Oz-Bad Dreams (TV Colours Cover)

I got into Melbourne dream-pop weirdo’s Wizard Oz a while ago on the release of their album “Flashing Lights’ (you can grab it for the price of happiness right here). Well, they’ve recently done a cover of one of my favourite bands of the moment, TV Colours, of the song ‘Bad Dreams’. Whilst the original is pretty intense and slides right into the listeners conscious with force (listen to it here), the Wizard Oz cover is relaxing and soothing. The cover provides is the Alice in Wonderland version to the originals Lethal Weapon, colourful and happy, rather than bleak and honest. All round, this is just a fantastic cover. Eat your heart out, Like A Version.

August Playlist

Some crazy shit has occured within the last couple of days. HSC Trials have started, I’ve coincidentally started looking for careers that accept an ATAR of an asterix, and the Big Day Out launched a pretty fucking spectacular lineup. Blur, finally! Also, DIIV, The Naked and Famous, Mudhoney, Cosmic Psychos, Toro Y Moi, and Dillon Francis, with DZ Deathrays, Tame Impala, Flume and Peking Duk bringing the local contingent to mindblowing. Should be swell. Well for a bombastic announcement, there has to be an equally bombastic playlist, right? Fuck that sounded a lot better in my head. Anyway, here’s a bunch of shit I’ve been jamming to recently that you could enjoy. Like the BDO lineup it’s pretty diverse. You’ve got slacker-soul from Hebronix, addictive punk-pop from FIDLAR, some wub-wub from Tornado Fight, and some Tool-esque steel fuckery from France’s Oyster Reluctance. Speaking of Europe, there’s Plastic Bertrand’s classic ode to fucking with people that don’t speak French, and as always, plenty of the local Aussie contingent. TV Colours and Hayden James have especially been rubbing me the right way the past month. Anyway, enjoy the shit.

1. FIDLAR-Awkward

2. TV Colours-Beverly

3. Tornado Fight-Alleycat (free download)

4. Hayden James-Permission to Love

5. Wave Racer-Stoopid (free download)

6. Jerome LOL-Tell U

7. Plastic Bertrand-Ce Plane Pour Moi

8. Hebronix-Wild Whim

9. Opposite Sex-La Rat

10. Fuzz-Loose Sultres

11. Palace Brothers-Come In

12. The Cannanes-A Bigger Splash

13. Bruff Superior-All Alone

14. Shiny Joe Ryan-The Old Man and The Sea (free download)

15. Chicks Who Love Guns-Pencil Neck

16. Ghost Wave-Hippy (free download)

17. Shark Week-Get High (free download)

18. Oyster Reluctance-I Still Trust

19. Sepultura-Roots Bloody Roots

20. Constant Mongrel-Complete