Is there anything as quintessentially Melbourne as Cherry Bar? Situated in ACDC Lane, a laneway off a laneway, everything from its grungy interior to its notice at the door proclaiming, “No suits. No sporting apparel”, just screams Melbourne. Cherry Bar is pure Melbourne and pure rock. Everything about it grabs you by the throat and blasts rock music straight into your ears. And the best part about it? It’s usually free entry. Cherry Bar hosts free live music so often that it feels like a betrayal when you show up and find there’s a cover charge.

Cherry Bar is exactly the type of venue where you would expect to hear a band called Diva Demolition, and certainly the band looks the part. Diva Demolition are carefully crafted to let you know they’re a rock band before they even hit the stage. They look like an angry female-centric rock band (my absolute favourite kind), so it surprised me that they frequently play Mt Isa, because I have some pretty strong ideas, that are in no way based on ever having been there, of what Mt Isa is like and the kind of people that frequent the pubs up that way. Hint: not the kind of people that favour angry female-centric rock bands.

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Once they hit the stage though, things became a little clearer. Diva Demolition are pure Aussie Rock.   A little bland for my taste (Aussie Rock not really being my thing), it was clear why Mt Isa has embraced them, and why the rest of Australia could very easily do the same. With the sparse crowd and playing a free gig on a Sunday night, you could be forgiven for expecting a band that’s decent, but not quite ‘there’ yet. Diva Demolition, by contrast, are polished and professional, sounding more like a band that should be playing Festival Hall, or at the very least, The Corner Hotel.

Kylie Cowling has a great voice, and easily holds her own onstage, but it’s impossible not to look at Sherree Newton. The woman fairly oozes charisma. She is a showwoman (totally not a word, but absolutely should be) who looks like she was born to be onstage. She is over-the-top and completely entertaining without being even the slightest bit unnatural. The two women are the core of the band, with two men (or ‘toy boys’, as Sherree and Kylie call them) fading into the background, seemlessly filling out the band’s sound without really drawing attention to themselves.

Their new single, Rock the Zombie, is out now and you can find their full length album on iTunes and Spotify, or actual real-life retailers if you prefer actual CDs.

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words: Claire Watt
photos: Mandy Campbell

I didn’t know what to expect from Echuca’s Winter Blues Fest. Firstly, I’d never really been to Echuca. Secondly, everything I know about blues I learned from repeated viewing of The Blues Brothers and one, mostly repressed viewing of Blues Brothers 2000 (try as I might, I simply can’t get that scene of Elwood standing outside the prison waiting for Jake to show up out of my head). To be honest, I mostly went for the promise of the mulled wine that Mandy was making.

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We expected to go see as many acts as possible over the course of the weekend and bring you a number of reviews, but to be honest, I just don’t think that goes to the heart of the festival. Certainly, there are stand out acts – 19 Twenty and Benny Walker were personal favourites of mine and I was disappointed that I only got to catch Walker for a couple of songs before I had to bid Echuca farewell – but mostly it’s the atmosphere. Despite the fact that the acts play a number of venues around town, the Winter Blues Fest feels a lot like a camping trip where you sit around the campfire drinking while a mate plays guitar. Except on a larger scale. It’s a relaxed weekend, where people from many walks of life wander about at a leisurely pace, stopping for awhile to have a drink and watch a few songs before moving on to the next venue, the next drink, the next musician. Some folks dress up, many dance, all let their guard down and happily share space with strangers.

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Logistically there were some issues. Some venues that featured outdoor gigs were a little close together, so it was difficult to watch one act without being distracted by another just next to it. It was hardly the end of the world though, as the musicians played a number of times at various venues over the course of the weekend, so it was easy enough to catch them elsewhere. It was mildly disappointing that it took a long time to get served at most of the bars and the cost of the beer was inflated for the duration of the weekend – however if you’re used to paying premium prices at venues or festivals around Melbourne it is only a small irritant. I definitely spent less money than I anticipated, and staying in the caravan park helped keep the costs down. The only other thing we felt a bit miffed about was the performer who looked like he was a bit cute in his promo shots – we quickly realised that the arty black and white shots were really hiding a bit of a dork and, frankly, we really should have known.

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I’m no more knowledgeable about blues than I was to begin with. There were some acts that I would have recognised as blues without being told, but just as many that I would have put into a category closer to rock or folk if I’d seen them playing elsewhere. I am, though, a little less ambivalent towards the genre and when I return next year it will be as much for the music as the mulled wine (and maybe to catch another glimpse of the elusive couple of lumberjacks we admired from afar).

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(See the full gallery here: WINTER BLUES FEST GALLERY)


 

words: Claire Watt
photos: Mandy Campbell

Winter Blues Fest, 24th-26th July 2015 Echuca.
(All photos by Mandy Campbell.)

Click on thumbnails for full size images.

Let’s get this one thing out of the way to begin with: we here at DoneUndone LOVE Kingswood. Not in a creepy, stalky kind of way – well, maybe a little – but mostly we love their pure rock sound, and the fact that they all have beards. So this was never going to be a particularly impartial review. End disclaimer.

The Kingswood gig at Melbourne Public on the 7th of June was, unfortunately, part of their farewell tour prior to departing our shores for the US. And while we’re of course very happy for them, the show did nothing to make us any less sad to be bidding them goodbye.

A few things before we get to Kingswood…

We’d never been to Melbourne Public before, and we found it a little difficult to find. Hidden away behind the World Trade Centre, it’s in a lovely Docklands street that we didn’t even know existed. When we did find it we knew almost immediately that it was not our kind of pub. Light, high-ceilinged and with an ample bar and plenty of staff, it was not the slightly seedy, dimly lit kind of place that we feel most comfortable in. It felt more like a night club with carpet and too much light.

The light didn’t dim much when the support band came on, which made it feel a little less concert-like than I was expecting. Still, it didn’t seem to faze My Echo, who were certainly there to put on a show. I’ll confess – I hadn’t heard of My Echo before and I don’t know much about them. They did play one song that was familiar but whether because I’d heard them before or it was a cover, I honestly couldn’t say. They certainly weren’t lacking in fans though. While most of the crowd were obviously there to see Kingswood, there were definitely some My Echo fans in their midst.

My Echo

My Echo

Personally, I found them a little Living End-esque. Their stage manner was showy and a little theatrical, and I think their target audience is a little younger than I am. I wasn’t inspired to go out and buy their album but I’ve no doubt that many would have been. And I can’t say they didn’t put on a good show. They didn’t hit the mark for me but I can think of a lot worse ways to pass the time waiting for Kingswood!

My Echo

My Echo

Speaking of Kingswood…wow, what a show! Playing all but two songs off their ‘Microscopic Wars’ album and throwing a few from ‘Change of Heart’ into the mix, Kingswood had an energy that spread throughout the venue. ‘ICFTYDLM’ was clearly a crowd favourite, and got everyone singing along. Lead singer Fergus Linacre has an easy and natural onstage manner, and I really love the way he talks to the crowd rather than trying to perform for them in between songs.

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Kingswood

‘Eye of the Storm’ is a particular favourite of mine (I’m a sucker for a slow song) and the guys played it to perfection, just as they did all the others. ‘Chronos’ was a good, energetic song to finish on, leaving the crowd in high spirits. (And we’d love to know why the boys spell it ‘Kronos’ on the setlist, if anyone knows?) It’s always good when you go to see a band and they’re just as good live as they are on their album. It’s even better when, like Kingswood, they’re live performance leaves their brilliant album for dust.

Kingswood

Kingswood

So we have just one more thing to say – come back soon, Kingswood! We miss you already.

(See the full gallery here: KINGSWOOD GALLERY)


words: Claire Watt
photos: Mandy Campbell

 

Like takeaway, it seems Monday isn’t the best night for drinking, and our little quest to explore the bars and pubs of Lygon Street, Brunswick East, initially looked as though it might be a failure as the first two bars we reached turned out to be closed. Bar Idda and The Alderman stood darkened and inaccessible, neighbours united against our desire to drink, and I’ll admit that I considered giving up and going over to Fitzroy instead. Fortunately, we persevered, because just down the road…

THE LUXOR BAR

Is this jazz?

Something in the window of The Luxor Bar gave us the idea that it was a jazz bar. It might have been a sign, it might have been a poster; I might be a better writer if I was more observant and had a better memory. Is it a jazz bar? I don’t know. I don’t know much (anything) about jazz so I can’t tell you if the band that jumped up and started playing as soon as we walked in falls into the category or not. I can tell you that The Luxor, with its eclectic décor and fireplace, is a cosy place to have a few drinks on a cold Monday night.

Large and spacious, the front room of The Luxor features mismatched furniture that combines a Mediterranean feel with a touch of the Old West. Above the comfy armchairs by the fireplace is an arrangement of photographs for sale, while a wall of the back room offers patrons paintings to buy. The back room itself is sparsely furnished, leaving plenty of room for anyone wanting to utilise the pool table. Players can recline on one of the two daybeds while they await their turn – particularly advantageous for those who play as well as I do!

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Next down the road was The Alehouse, which is closed on a Monday night, so if you’re desperate to sample a range of ales on the worst day of the work week, avoid disappointment and find somewhere else. If you’d just be happy with some craft beers, however, continue down the road a little, until you come to…

EYDIE’S

Writers’ club anyone?

If you like your bars modern and chic, then Eydie’s isn’t for you. Also, you’re probably lost. This is Brunswick and Eydie’s is exactly the type of bar that Brunswick does best. From the vinyl records behind the bar to the sink set in an old sewing machine in the ladies bathroom, Eydie’s looks as though someone has decluttered an antique shop and started serving drinks in it.

It is the kind of place where you’d feel comfortable drinking alone, sipping a craft beer or glass of wine while armed with a book or something to write the next literary masterpiece on – a laptop would do, but an old typewriter would be a better fit. It also has spaces that can be booked that would be perfect for meetings for small groups; book clubs and writers’ groups come most immediately to mind.

Step out the back and you’ll find that Eydie’s also has a heated, mostly-covered courtyard that is cosy enough to make you feel as though you’re drinking in a friend’s backyard. Especially if you take the time to have a chat with the proud owner, who you’ll likely find behind the bar.

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By now we thought we were pretty lucky to find two places open on a Monday, so we were surprised when right next door to Eydie’s we came upon…

THE B.EAST

Mavis’s on a Monday

For chicks who cut their rock teeth on 90s alternative, stumbling into a bar that’s pumping out The Mavis’s is pretty damn exciting. I could try to claim that the follow up tracks from the Hoodoo Gurus and Hunters and Collectors were less so, but my singing along would probably prove me wrong.

Despite the Aussie tunes, sitting in The B.east reminded me strongly of a bar I used to frequent in small town Massachusetts, USA, during my much-despised time as a camp counsellor. The menu is reminiscent of an American diner, and for anyone who’s been to Misty’s Diner in either Prahran or Reservoir (side note: Misty’s is closed on a Monday in Reservoir – Mondays really are just the worst!) the burger challenge will be a familiar concept.

The music is loud and I am definitely celebrating my birthday there. Missed opportunity on the menu (Rocktails! – B.east  – you can absolutely use it) on the cocktails named after rock stars, but as far as food was concerned we were definitely tempted!

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By this time it was getting late and we knew that The Quarry was open across the road, so we decided that would be our last pub of the night…

THE QUARRY

Your basic local…minus the gambling.

While I don’t have an issue with gambling per se, I’m not a gambler myself, and I do have a romanticised notion of your local pub being the place where you have a chat with the bartender and not the place where you have your favourite machine. This is exactly what you can expect from The Quarry. With absolutely no frills, The Quarry is your basic sports-on-the-telly-couple-of-pool-tables-separate-bistro-for-meals local pub. With no pokies or even Keno, the signs out the front make it clear that Fox Sports is THE drawcard, and a number of televisions are tuned to different channels, each one showing sports. To top it all off, The Quarry offers takeaways, so when it’s time for them to close up you can grab a couple of six packs to take home and continue along on your merry way.

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All in all our Monday night drinks didn’t turn out to be quite the snore fest we had originally anticipated. So if you’re a shift worker or you just want to escape your own four walls on a Monday night, you’re sure to find something to suit your tastes on Lygon Street in Brunswick East.


words: Claire Watt
photos: Mandy Campbell