Best gigs of 2011

Here’s a totally subjective list of the top five gigs I went to in 2011. Enjoy

5. Ball Park Music @ The Gaelic Club

In July I went to Sydney for two weeks of PR work experience, Thai food and gigs. I spent most of my trip realising just how much of a stereotypical Melburnian I am (wearing black, eating from lane ways and being obsessed with decent coffee don’t bode so well in Sydney) and sizing up our rival city’s live music scene.

Towards the end of my trip I got sick, but luckily one of the friends I made convinced me to see Ball Park Music launch It’s Nice to be Alive. Having written them off as just another sunny Brisbane band, I was completely blown away by their shambolic and fun live show. I’ve seen them since and  was not disappointed.

4. Harvest Festival @ Werribee Mansion 

Life Music Media

With the cancellation of Soundwave Counter Revolution many were expecting Harvest The Gathering to fail. However with a killer line-up and a relaxed atmosphere it showed how one day festivals should be done. Unless you wanted to eat, drink or use the bathrooms that is.

Much has been said about the queuing situation and the lack of beer and it did put a dampener on what would have been an amazing festival. But with bands like The National, The Flaming Lips, Mogwai and Portishead on the bill, the music made up for the terrible organisation.

3. Will Sheff @ The Toff

It’s no secret that I’m a massive fan of both Okkervil River and The Toff and Will Sheff’s solo show totally exceeded my expectations. With excellent support from Mike Noga and Jimmy Stewart there wasn’t a fault the entire night. Except for perhaps Mike Noga’s hangover.

The songs from I Am Very Far really shone without the layered instrumentation that bogs down the entire album, revealing the great tracks that lie underneath. We were also treated to some older tracks such as Happy Hearts and The President’s Dead, which has seem largely forgotton since its muse left the White House.

2. Pulp @ Festival Hall

The Vine

Reunion shows are often quick cash-grabs that leave the audience unsatisfied. But there was none of this to be had when Pulp played Festival Hall after almost fifteen years since their last Australia visit.

Their intelligent brand of britpop is just as relevant as ever and despite the lack of new material, the band played as though they still had something to prove.The set was largely made of their greatest hits with surprises such as Like a Friend and Party Hard thrown in for good measure and it was perfect. In fact this would have been the best gig of the year if it wasn’t for a certain festival in country Victoria.

1.Meredith Music Festival

Meredith Music Festival combines all the things a festival should have: no clashes, acts that play in a mixtape-esque order and a very, very relaxed BYO policy.

With bands ranging from the hilarious Viking hair metal of Barbarion to the 1920’s stylings of Frank Fairfield there was literally something for everyone provided their tastes extended beyond the top 40. The lack of clashes meant that there were no difficult decisions in picking bands to see and most importantly we got to see Grinderman go out on a high. While the secret act turned out to be DJs it was the only downer in an otherwise perfect weekend.

A Couple of Covers

Pulp frontman and total DILF Jarvis Cocker has recorded a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Avalanche with Boyz Noize and Erol Alkan. The lyrics are taken straight from Cohen’s song and no one does spoken word quite like Jarvis, however the electronic beats get a bit repetitive. I can see die-hard Leonard Cohen fans hating this one with a passion.

Although I was born in the 90s, I missed out on most of the great music. So instead Pavement and Nirvana, I got Hanson and the Spice Girls. On of the other tracks I was heavily into was Blue (Da Ba Dee) by Eiffel 65. Please tell me I wasn’t the only one who aruged about whether the lyrics were “If I was green I  would die.”

Yellow Ostrich have done an excellent cover of this song and have turned the trashy Europop into Animal Collective style indie. A bit of a novelty cover, sure, but it’s very well executed.

Pulp @ Festival Hall 29/07/11

While we didn’t get to meet up in the year 2000, Pulp’s reunion show at Festival Hall was well worth the wait.

Bells Will Ring knew all too well who everyone was there to see and seemed apologetic they were up on stage. While there jangly indie was pleasant it was also largely forgettable. In a smaller venue, in different circumstances they could be fantastic, but it felt like they weren’t trying hard enough to keep the audience’s attention.

This, however was not a problem Pulp had. In fact the moment roadies started to set up, anticipation had began to build within the almost capacity crowd. A sheer curtain did very little to hide the giant neon sign on stage, nor the screen made to look like a fireplace. Green laser writing which varied from the predictable “Hello Melbourne” to the ridiculous and brilliant swimming dolphin was the first sign that we were going to be in for a hell of a show.

From the opening notes of Do You Remember The First Time it was clear this was no ordinary reunion show. The band played as if they had to win the crowd over all over again and there was no sign of the mediocrity we’ve come to associate with this type of tour.

Jarvis Cocker is every bit the unlikely sex symbol he was 13 years ago, with every hip thrust causing the kind of swooning you’d be likely to see at the height of Beatlemania. With the rest of the band hovering towards the back of the stage, he threw chocolate to the audience, passed around champagne and danced like the world’s coolest creepy uncle. Joyriders and Bad Cover Version started things off well but it wasn’t until Disco 2000 provided a mid-set sing along that crowd really got moving. Sorted For Es and Wizz was the perfect comedown song, even if the rave culture it was inspired by was left in nineties.

Pulp have always been the thinking-person’s Britpop band and tracks such as This Is Hardcore and the highly underrated Sunrise hold up as well at they did over a decade ago. The Different Class heavy set still sounded relevant even though most of the crowd were no longer young and poor.

I Spy is still as sinister as it was 13 years ago and we were more than happy to relive the first time Jarvis Cocker encounter a walk-in-wardrobe with Babies. The arrival of Common People signaled the end of the nearly two-hour set and Bridezilla’s Daisy Tully joined the band to play Russel Senior’s violin part (he was the only member not to make the Australian leg of the tour). It felt surreal to hear such an iconic song live and as predicted, it went off.

After a very short break, the band came back on stage to play what could be their final three songs in Melbourne. Party Hard got the crowd moving again and it was great to see This Is Hardcore era tracks get an airing in a Different Class heavy set. The rarely played Like A Friend was a surprise inclusion and pleased many of the die-hard Pulp fans. The moment we all knew had come arrived with Mis-shapes, the perfect closer to a near perfect set.

I can honestly saw it was one of the best, if not the best gig I have ever been to. Although the sound was too bass-heavy and the venue was more of a barn than anything ( Festival Hall really need to get their shit together), Pulp put on the kind of show that puts most young bands to shame. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait another 13 years for them to come back.

Tuesday Covers 14/06/2011

 

To say it’s been awhile since my last covers post is something of an understatement. But I’ll make it up to you. I promise.

The only Splendor Sideshow I’m going to this year will be Pulp. And there’s a 99% chance I’ll turn into a screaming fangirl at the mere sight of Jarvis Cocker. Seeing it’s the first time the band have come to Australia is almost 15 years, I thought I’d share a Nick Cave cover. It’s a little bit sleazy and a whole lot of amazing.

Nick Cave- Disco 2000 (Pulp cover).mp3

How good is the new Bon Iver album? Not that you need to me to tell you, because no doubt you’ve already heard it and swooned to your heart’s content. He’s also released some damn good covers over the years, including a version of Vashti Bunyan’s Train Song, which Feist and Ben Gibbard covered for Dark Was The Night. but really, I just have a soft spot for indie musicians who like cats.

Bon Iver-Train Song (Vashti Bunyan Cover).mp3

Splendour 2011 Line-up

I’ma let you finish but Splendour in the Grass had the best line up of ALL TIME!

Ahem.

After months of speculation the official Splendour line-up has been released and looks a bit like this:

KANYE WEST (Only Australian show)
JANE’S ADDICTION
THE HIVES
PULP
THE LIVING END
THE MARS VOLTA
REGINA SPEKTOR (Only show for 2011)
BLISS N ESO
PNAU
MOGWAI (Only Australian show)
DJ SHADOW
GLASVEGAS
THE GRATES
DEVENDRA BANHART
MODEST MOUSE
THE MIDDLE EAST
KAISER CHIEFS
JAMES BLAKE
KELE
THE VINES
ELBOW
ESKIMO JOE
NOAH AND THE WHALE
CHILDREN COLLIDE
THIEVERY CORPORATION
CUT COPY
ISOBEL CAMPBELL AND MARK LANEGAN
BLUEJUICE
THE KILLS
BLACK JOE LEWIS & THE HONEYBEARS (featuring THE RELATIVES)
ARCHITECTURE IN HELSINKI
FOSTER THE PEOPLE
THE PANICS
FRIENDLY FIRES
JEBEDIAH
THE VACCINES
GOMEZ
BOY AND BEAR
GOTYE
DOES IT OFFEND YOU YEAH?
CLOUD CONTROL
MONA
SPARKADIA
WARPAINT
MUSCLES (Live)
FITZ AND THE TANTRUMS
THE JEZEBELS
DRAPHT
BRITISH SEA POWER
TIM & JEAN
LEADER CHEETAH
GROUPLOVE
SEEKER LOVER KEEPER (Holly Throsby, Sally Seltmann, Sarah Blasko)
YELLE
KIMBRA
PHRASE
OH MERCY
DANANANANAYKROYD
THE BLACK SEEDS
MARQUES TOLIVER
THE HOLIDAYS
GHOUL
LIAM FINN
THE HERD
YOUNG THE GIANT
GUINEAFOWL
HUNGRY KIDS OF HUNGARY
JINJA SAFARI
WILD BEASTS
ILLY
CUT OFF YOUR HANDS
GARETH LIDDIARD
ALPINE
WORLD’S END PRESS
MOSMAN ALDER
LANIE LANE

Plus DJ sets

ASTON SHUFFLE
FLIGHT FACILITIES
D-CUP (WE NO SPEAK AMERICANO)
AJAX (MEGA JAM SET)
HOODRAT & DANGEROUS DAN
LIGHT YEAR
HOOPS
CASSIAN
WAX MOTIF
KATO
TONI TONI LEE
CHARLIE CHUX
TRANTER

Pretty good, right? Kanye would be mental, Regina Spektor would be lovely and Coldplay would magically cure insomnia.

I have one little gripe though: the price. I know running a festival is expensive. And I think it’s great that they include so many Australian bands as well as internationals. But $510 is a lot of money especially when a) you’re a uni student, b) there’s going to be a ton of horrible clashes and c) none of the bands made me squeal with excitement like a 15-year-old (If Guillemots were on this list, then yes, that’s exactly what would have happened).

For those of you who like what you see the tickets go on sale May 5.