New Melbourne kool thangs, BATZ, took to the stage at The Last Chance Rock & Roll Bar last Friday to launch their new single to their newest camp of fans. Having wowed crowds with their Kingswood support in recent months, the joint was 100% sold out with punters wanting to catch a glimpse of their new local favourites. The BATZ legends themselves were in attendance early to support their supports, which is always inspiring to see, and the opening acts didn’t disappoint. Dada Ono and China Beach held their own and we’re keen to see them again real soon.

BATZ took the stage to a full to the brim band room, choked with smoke from an overzealous smoke wizard. They played a tight yet energetic set, proving that their time touring with fellow Melburnites Kingswood was very well spent. The new single, Gameshow Queen, is a beauty even if there was an unintentional false start on the night. Lead singer, Christina Aubry, may have given herself away by saying that she had had a little too much to drink in celebration and simultaneously asking for more shots for the rest of the band.

Aubry is the total package for what any punter wants in a lead vocalist. Punchy, raw, take-no-shit and and channeling Chrissy Amphlett, she is quite the focal point for a band that is all round kicking arse/goals and even if she wanted to share the limelight with the 4 other members of the band, your eyes can’t help but be held in awe of her stage presence.

Asking the crowd what they’d like to hear for an encore, they were responded to with resounding applause for the new song, which is fronting their highly anticipated 2nd EP, due out soon. We’re keen to hear more from these guys, and look forward to sharing more of their adventures and an interview with you soon.

 


photos: Stephen Boxshall

Melbourne’s iconic Cherry Rock festival was held again this year, for the 11th year. Held at Cherry Bar in AC/DC lane, it’s a seething mess of bodies, booze and bloody good times. Held in May each year, the weather is always unpredictable and this year offered more of the same. The rain mostly held off, but the high concrete horizons don’t let in much sun so the cold and damp sets in pretty easily. Being an inside/outside festival has its pluses though – if the cold is biting you can head inside for the next set in not too long. And by the time the indoor set is finished, you’re almost gagging for that cool air again.

This year the festival was headlined by NZ stalwarts Shihad as well as Brant Bjork, Dwarves and Nashville Pussy from the US. Ably supported by Indonesian stoner rockers Mooner and Kelompok Penerbang Roket as well as Sweden’s Bottlecap and Spain’s Bala and a swag of Aussies that are well known to the Cherry crowd.

It was a bit of a buzz for me personally to see Nick Oliveri with Dwarves – as a fan of Queens of the Stone Age, it was the first time I’d had a chance to see Oliveri perform in the flesh. He was thrilling on bass, if a little daunting. And his bandmate in Blag Dahlia was so in your face it was verging on uncomfortable to be shooting so close to the stage.

Brant Bjork and his fuzzy desert rock tunes were welcome refuge in the middle of the day. It was nice to bliss out a little before the senses were assaulted with the addition of fellow desert rock icon Sean Wheeler. He was a showman from the first, and brought some real energy to a cruisy set from Bjork.

But my highlights for the day were the chicks. Amyl and the Sniffers are a local Melbourne outfit with a mullety/sharpie/bogan vibe that gives no fucks at all what you think of their VB t-shirts. Frontwoman Amy is shouty and loud and brash and totally commandeering. She held the familiar Cherry crowd in the palm of her hand while simultaneously spitting them out with a spray of her beer. 

My other highlight was Bala from Spain. A two piece, all female wall of sound. Flinging hair, shouting lyrics, freaking loud guitar and smashing drums. It was a killer set and I was quite blown away by how much noise came out of just two people.

Cherry Rock, I salute you and all your messy glory. You’re a Melbourne institution and while I was pretty crook this year and it was a little harder to enjoy you, I was thrilled to be able to witness your shenanigans once more.


* gallery shot for AMNplify and you can see the full gallery here: Cherry Rock 2017

Sixteen years ago, the DoneUndone team were dancing to Magic Dirt’s ‘Dirty Jeans’ on a Thursday night at Goo – Metro’s alternative night. By then, Magic Dirt had already been around for almost ten years. These days, Goo, and even Metro itself, have fallen by the wayside, but Adalita Srsen, Magic Dirt’s awesomely talented and completely unique lead singer, is still going strong.

With two solo albums already under her belt, she’s currently working on a third, but took a little time away from recording to answer a few questions for us.


DU: If we lived in a world where information was not so easily accessible, what is the one thing that you would actually want people to know about you?
AS: I’m a pretty private person but one thing I would definitely want aspiring musicians to know about me is that I taught myself how to play guitar, how to write a song and how to sing. I have never taken a single lesson. And I write all of my own songs and wrote 99% of Magic Dirt’s songs.

You’ve been on the music scene since the early nineties – in this time, when careers seem to be short, what do you credit for your longevity?
I think just the sheer joy of writing music has kept me going. Magic Dirt was a not just a band but a close knit group of friends who loved what we did and loved each other so that absolutely was pivotal to our longevity. And I guess I still have songs in me and people want to hear them – my fans are pretty amazing and have been deeply loyal for many years. Also I think somehow I’ve been able to work in various other projects just because I guess I’m who I am and unique in my own way so I can bring my special brand of creativity to a lot of different projects. And I say yes a lot!

There’s a lot of talk about the music industry in general being a 
difficult place for women – have you experienced this yourself?
I haven’t personally no. I’ve had my fair share of dickheads yelling stupid stuff out at shows but I always take care of that very quickly. In regards to gender, I don’t feel particularly attached to mine. I feel quite androgynous. And ultimately I just view myself as a creature, a being, in this case, a human so I don’t really think about my gender until I’m reminded. But I have zero tolerance for discrimination, aggression, hostility or disrespect towards anyone at any time, regardless of why. Using gender as an excuse for bad behaviour is just that. An excuse.

I heard Courtney Barnett say the other day that you and Magic Dirt are an inspiration to her. How do you feel about being a role model for the next generation of women in the music industry?
I love it! I love Courtney and what I love most about her is that she’s just done it her way and been herself the whole time. She hasn’t changed for anyone and that’s great. I feel like I’ve been myself too and that makes me happy. I love if I can inspire men and women alike. If I can do it, anyone can!

© Stephen Boxshall/Rag and Bone Photography

Following on from that, what advice do you have for women starting out in the industry?
Stand up for your art. Follow your instinct. Surround yourself with supportive people. Follow your heart but keep an eye on your money. Say what you want to say. Life is too short to not do what you really want to do. And if you ruffle feathers along the way then it means you’re not pleasing everyone but it’s not about pleasing everyone. It’s about making YOUR art YOUR way. Stay focused on that. And most importantly, fuck the rules.

Are there any up and coming artists, women or otherwise, that you think our readers should really check out?
Dark Fair, a two piece band from Melbourne. Absolutely amazing band, I can’t believe they’re not huge yet but I reckon they will be. They are working on their debut album as we speak. Don’t forget their name!

Part of our focus at DoneUndone is on Melbourne’s live music scene. What’s your favourite Melbourne venue to play at?
I love so many. The Tote Hotel is a perennial favourite and a spiritual home of mine. The Prince Of Wales in St Kilda – it’s such a great rock n roll room. The Corner Hotel is a great room for sweaty, sold out rock shows. The Northcote Social Club has a great stage and P.A. and for really big shows The Palais is always lovely. Outside of Melbourne really love playing The Bridge in Castlemaine, Karova Lounge in Ballarat and The Barwon Club in Geelong.

© Stephen Boxshall/Rag and Bone Photography

Do you have a favourite pub in Melbourne, not necessarily to play at, but just that you think has a great atmosphere and is a great place to hang out?
Ah so many. The Tote, The Old Bar, Labour In Vain, The Retreat Hotel are all cool. The Gem is great with it’s cool Americana vibe. The Cornish Arms has an awesome vegan menu. The Gasometer has the roof that opens up. So many to choose from!

You’re working on a new album at the moment – is there anything you’d like to tell us about it?
Yes! I’m recording at the moment. It’s going to be a big project, the songs are pretty epic and intense in feel. There are lots of layers, arrangements, ideas and parts to get down so I think it will take a little longer than I expected. But I’m really excited, it’s going to be a good one. I’m hoping to have it out this year.

Despite being incredibly busy, Adalita actually apologised to us for the time it took to get back to us – which really wasn’t long at all. Fair to say, we here at DoneUndone are even more in love than we were before. 


words and interview: Claire Watt
lead image: Warwick Baker
live images: Stephen Boxshall

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.

Last Thursday night at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre saw two amazing artists take the stage: folk-pop chanteuse Jenny Lewis in support of the genre-trekking Ryan Adams. On the bill for Splendour In The Grass, both artists were touring their sideshow together due to their natural affinity and history as collaborators (Adams produced Lewis’ gem of a pop album, The Voyager, released last year). For fans of the two artists, the night promised to be special.

But then a cluster of douchebags had to go and ruin it, for both artist and audience. I’m a regular concert goer in Sydney, seeing forty or so concerts a year, and this featured a crowd so staggeringly tone-deaf that I was still seething over it days later.

First there was the crew who shoved their way down to the front in the middle of Jenny Lewis’ opening act. We’re all used to the sneaky mid-set incursion. However, to top it off, two guys in the crew proceeded to scream a conversation at each other, literally attempting to talk louder than the amplified music. Perhaps they were working the kinks out of a stand-up routine because every second sentence was followed by a hyena bray of laughter that scraped my ear drums like a rusty knife. After ten minutes or so I politely asked the next Louis CK to keep it down, and credit to him, he actually responded and managed to contain himself for the remainder of the set. During the intermission, he tapped me on the shoulder. “Sorry mate, I’m just so excited to see Ryan Adams.”

Therein lays the irony. Because, for a crowd that was so excited to see a beloved artist, a vocal portion of them acted like complete dicks. First off, there was the ubiquitous cameraphone. The minute Ryan Adams took the stage, the leather clad guy beside me raised his camera, hit record, and held his elbow against the side of my head for two entire songs. This is more than a pet peeve for me, it’s endemic of a much larger problem: the inability for people to be present in the moment.

What is it about seeing live music that turns anyone with an Iphone into the next Werner Herzog? The question perplexes me. I can understand the occasional photograph; I’m guilty of that one myself (although most times the image quality is so poor I don’t know why I bothered). But to catalogue the concert with literally hundreds of photos (on a cheap consumer grade camera, like the woman in front of me did) or to incessantly record the set you are experiencing, here, in the now, baffles me. I’m beginning to think its analogous to why a dog pisses on a neighbour’s lawn: just to let everyone else know I was here.

Out of the billions of hours of grainy, shaky, head-obscured videos that have been taken at concerts since camera phones were invented, surely only a maximum of forty five minutes has been rewatched by the auteurs behind them. But even if these videos were rewatched countless times, I am at a loss to understand why the person recording is passing over the experience of actually being there, an experience that in this case they paid almost $100 for, for some horrible quality simulacrum. The so-called super fan, so excited to see Ryan Adams, is in reality only seeing the viewfinder or phone screen for much of the concert. Or, as Jeff Tweedy from Wilco said best: “You’re forfeiting your memories for an imperfect medium that will not replace your real life — or your memories. You’re letting go of something that no one else can have.”

Bands such as Wilco and The Black Crowes have recently taken a stand against camera phones, with pre-show announcements that cameras are not be used, and as a concert-goer, I applaud them. Whilst he has every reason to do so, Ryan Adams doesn’t. He instead relies on the decency of his audience. On this particular night, that courtesy was switched off.

To explain: Adams suffers from Ménière’s Disease, a disorder of the inner ear that causes spontaneous episodes of vertigo. It can be triggered by camera flashes or particular kinds of lights. Halfway through his Sydney gig, Adams paused, pointed out to the audience, and politely asked a particular woman with a camera to cover up its bright infra-red light, which he described as “like a Sith laser beam” to his brain, bringing on waves of dizziness. He even went so far as to explain why, describing his Ménière’s as a genetic condition that was “my problem, not yours”, but still gently asking for consideration. He added that people were free to take photos as much as they wanted, but if they could please avoid those actions that could trigger his nausea and vertigo.

Of course, the entitled and obnoxious members of the Enmore crowd would do no such thing. Only a few songs later, Adams called out the photographer for continuing to use the camera. “I’m dizzy as fuck. I’ll play two hours, I’ll finish the set, but I can’t believe you would do intentionally do something that makes another person ill.” Like a large portion of the audience, I too was disgusted. This is not the first time Adams has had this experience, and I doubt it will be the last.

For some members of today’s concert-going culture, there is little respect and even less common courtesy. Perhaps this lack of courtesy and the inability to be present are an outcome of the zeitgeist, where the “on-demand” culture cultivates a sense of entitlement that people get whatever they want when they want it, and where social media accentuates our narcissistic tendencies. Either way, there is a nasty streak that is revealed in the way some audience members disrespect the live experience. Artists are occasionally treated like dancing monkeys; case in point, the Enmore crowd’s repeated calls for certain songs to be played, to which Adams, who carefully curates his set lists, responded hilariously each time with the retort “Free will!” To a concert going veteran, the tone was easy to read: Just sit back and enjoy the show.

Those of us that did were rewarded with an incredible experience. Adam’s mercurial, majestic guitar work and muscular vocals were complemented by potent renditions of his older alt-country-influenced work, songs that were tinged with a vulnerability that lived up to the title of his first solo album, Heartbreaker. It’s just a shame certain members of the audience weren’t there to experience the majesty and the heartbreak.


words: Adam Daniel
photo: Wayne Massingham