Live Review: Fortitude Valley Sept 8-9
A noted British expat who shall remain nameless - fuck it, it was Everett True - recently took exception to the â€œmighty big industry bun-festâ€ that is BIGSOUND based on the selection criteria for showcased artists. Specifically, True thought it a bit much that bands wishing to be paraded before the industry's biggest wigs should be able to list their recent media achievements (ie. radio play, write-ups in rags like this one), their current support team (managers, agents, etc) and their tour schedule (pretty self-explanatory).
Now, does that really sound that hard to you? Is the ability to write up a CV or make friends with someone who can do it for you - one of those pesky managers or agents, perhaps - too much to ask in return for an audience with the Gudinskis of this world? Is obscurity such a virtue that the chance to ply your wares in front of Brisbane's most passionate industry types isn't worth the time it takes to fill out a form?
I've got nothing but respect for Mr True, but I just can't convince myself that those of us who turned out to see the likes of The Medics and Dubmarine thought we were about to discover the next cog in the corporate wheel; or that those artists who have reaped commercial rewards from these types of showcases - take, for instance, Artisan's killer Wednesday night lineup of Hungry Kids Of Hungary, Dan Kelly's Dream Band, Washington and The Gin Club - have been in any way harmed by the experience. If you're in a Brisbane band on the make, take a look at a group like Ballpark Music - who packed out The Club House on Thursday night and made the absolute most of it - and start thinking about how you'd fill out that application next year. It might not be as fun as writing up a rider, but it sure couldn't hurt.
Knowing that NZ five-piece The Checks have been headhunted for support slots by the likes of REM and Oasis, I was pleased to discover that their polished, high-energy rock sounds aren't just a product of the studio - The Checks well and truly deliver live as well.
Frontman Ed Knowles led a dense half hour set, displaying vocal and sartorial muscle as he (clad in singlet and vest) and band pumped out a succession of extremely tight tracks. Lead guitarist Sven Pettersen impressed with his cool-hand riffs and solos, skilfully making use of myriad effects pedals to achieve the studio sound, an ability especially well showcased in tracks like 'Crows' and 'Ballroom Baby'.
Rhythm guitarist Callum Martin deserves special mention for his consummately understated arrangements and rich harmonies. Although there was more foot-tapping than all out rug-cutting going on, The Checks made a clear impression at The Troubadour on Thursday night. A brief stroll up the mall and down Ann Street brought me to Bakery Lane, a name reminiscent of a fairy tale, appropriate, really, for the exaggerated childlike outfits worn by Dubmarine.
As I wound my way to the blind alley venue I felt a little like Little Red Riding Hood, which I suppose would make the Big Bad Wolf Dubmarine's inimitable Kazman, whose vocal acrobatics are far more impressive than the Wolf's impersonation of grandma. The alleyway swelled to near capacity with 300 plus bodies keen to have a taste of what Kazman described to me post-gig as â€œmodern Australian musicâ€. The band opened with a couple of tracks from their pending debut album, 'Depth Of Sound', and while these early offerings were met with some characteristic chin-stroking from the largely uninitiated audience, it wasn't long before the full on sound assault that is the 'Dub Sub' prevailed, and by the time they busted out 'Chip', indie kids in skinny jeans were pulling moves they didn't know they had in them.