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

As chicks, it’s pretty safe to say that we are drawn to chicks being grouse and playing music while they are doing it. Whilst I was originally drawn to The Kills via The Dead Weather via Jack White, I can now say that The Kills are my current musical obsession. Currently in Oz for Splendour in the Grass, showcasing their new album Ash & Ice, us Melburnians were pretty lucky to score a sideshow at the Forum, and I was able to see them for the first time.

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© Stephen Boxshall/Rag and Bone Photography

The connection that Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince have with each other is palpable. At one point, when Mosshart played “That Love” solo after the encore break, Hince gave her a shoulder squeeze in support and encouragement, and it was truly touching in its simple and wordless way. From where we stood it was hard to tell if Mosshart was emotional or perhaps nervous to perform the song on her own, but she did amazingly and really, the emotion in the room was unmistakeable.

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© Stephen Boxshall/Rag and Bone Photography

Besides their connection with each other and the way in which that translates through their music, their energy and vibrancy was out of control. Mosshart throws her mane of (currently red) hair around like a banshee possessed, not skipping a note or becoming breathless with the exertion, which is a feat in itself. Well, to me, considering I get puffed putting the bins out. As for Hince, I’ve not seen a guitarist treat his guitar with equal parts reverence and disdain in that way for a long time. Reverence for the way he could make his music shine and reverberate in the hearts and souls of the 2000 punters in the room, but a complete disdain for the fact that he can’t get ENOUGH NOISE out of it. He slaps it and twists his arms around the fretboard trying to coax just that bit more. A highlight for me was the way he used the mic stand to wring extra punch and extra grind on those strings.

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© Stephen Boxshall/Rag and Bone Photography

Playing crowd favourites from their back catalogue such as “No Wow” and “Future Starts Slow” and teaming them with new singles “Doing It To Death”, “Heart Of A Dog” and others that are sure to become classics (“Siberian Nights” is my *faaaaaaavourite*), The Kills really did kill it here in Melbourne Town, and there was not a single soul in that crowd that weren’t warmed through on one of our coldest nights.

words: Mandy Campbell
images: Stephen Boxshall
(images captured at the 3RRR event)

It isn’t exactly a revelation to say that music can invoke strong emotions. It can lift your mood when you’re feeling down, or keep you down when you’re already there – self-indulgently wallowing in misery and heartache, Bridget Jones style.  And sometimes it can hit just the right note to bring you completely undone, even if just for the duration of a single song. Here are four that have done just that for me.

Me and a Gun – Tori Amos
I wasn’t a big fan of Tori Amos in the early 2000s, mostly because I’d only really heard Cornflake Girl and Professional Widow, and while I’ve since come around to Cornflake Girl, I didn’t like either back then. Then someone at work put on Tales of a Librarian and I was forced to rethink my I-don’t-like-Tori-Amos stance. I had her copy the CD for me and listened to it on my Discman at the gym. Distracting myself from the fact that my I-don’t-really-like-running stance had definitely not changed, I focused on the music and actually heard the lyrics to Me and a Gun for the first time. Based on Amos’ experience of being raped at knifepoint, the juxtaposition of random, innocuous thoughts and brutal description of physical reality is jarring, and the desperate optimism of the repeated line, “I haven’t seen Barbados, so I must get out of this…” is devastating. I found myself in tears on the treadmill, and the discomfort of running had nothing to with it.

Anniversary of an Uninteresting Event – Deftones
The self-titled fourth album from Deftones was always a bit middle-of-the-road for me. I like the songs, there is an overall cohesiveness to the album, but I just don’t love it. It doesn’t have the raw energy of Adrenaline or Around the Fur, and never quite hits the heights of the brilliant White Pony. This song, however, always stood out for me. The opening bars instantly evoke for me a last dance, a couple’s final few moments before they part forever; imagery so strong that, even having never experienced what I see in my mind’s eye, I still feel the emotion of it every single time. It makes me simultaneously yearn for a life never lived, and wish that I could create something that would affect someone as strongly as this song affects me.

Rearview Mirror – Pearl Jam
Vs. was the first Pearl Jam album I ever owned, and I listened to it on repeat, amazed by songs that spoke to my teen angst in a way that was completely new to me. I loved Rearview Mirror from the first listen, but it didn’t truly resonate with me until five years later. I was 19 and at a nightclub that I went to every Saturday night. It was a time when a lot of things had changed for me, mostly for the better. I had left behind people I had little in common with, who I didn’t like and who didn’t like me, and instead made real friends who had similar interests to mine. I had left high school for university and discovered a freedom to make my own choices. Suddenly the meaning of the lyrics hit me, and so did all the negative feelings that I had moved on from but never actually dealt with. “Saw things so much clearer/once you/were in my/rearview mirror”.

3 Libras – A Perfect Circle
I first heard this song when Mer de Noms was released in 2000, and it immediately became a favourite. “Difficult not to feel a little bit…disappointed…passed over” – that lyric really got me. How could it not? What 20 year old woman wouldn’t feel just a little bit of heartache at those words? But about five years ago, at home alone, three quarters of the way through a bottle of wine, it felt as though the song had actually been written for me. Working at a job I hated and being rejected for everything else I applied for, in love with yet another boy who didn’t feel the same, a song about being overlooked, a song that repeated over and over the words that were at the very heart of myself at that time – “You don’t see me” – was enough to completely break me. Fun fact: it is possible to sing this song while sobbing.

Featured Image by MJM Photographie used under a Creative Commons Licence

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

Music and politics have gone hand in hand since the birth of time. I grew up listening to Joan Baez and Bob Dylan – their passionate anti-war prose being my first political education. I remember being a small human, maybe around 10 or 12, and having a conversation with my mother about why people chose to go to war, and why some chose to go to jail rather than be conscripted. I had socialist and progressive values from a young age which fiercely continued into my adult years. Pussy Riot, Midnight Oil, The Beatles/John Lennon, Muse, Rage Against the Machine – all of these artists have been poster children for rebellion and resistance at some stage.

As a teen and adult my musical choices were fairly anti-establishment. I cheered when Pearl Jam took on Ticketmaster and then George Dubya. I fist pump when some of my favourite artists proclaim their disdain for American gun culture. I celebrate the fact that most of my musical choices seem to align with my leftie leanings, and I guess that’s part of  being a rebellious misfit  – it can be hard to find voices in mainstream media that so closely mirror your own thoughts.

And then sometimes I get completely jolted off-side when I hear the political leanings of bands and individuals whom I respect and admire.

During the shocking and horrific attacks on Paris in November 2015, and specifically on the Eagles of Death Metal gig at Le Bataclan, I watched in fervent horror as I saw people who could have been me or any of my friends running for their lives. Blood stained. Injured. Desperate. In the short time since, EODM have given a couple of official interviews. The first of which was recorded for VICE and was completely heart wrenching to watch. I had to watch it over several sittings. Their pain and suffering was absolutely palpable. And as I had met and chatted with both Jesse Hughes and Dave Catching during their last Australian tour, it felt personal. I wanted to reach through my screen and console them, with every inch of my beating heart.

And then the second interview. Given exclusively to French television station iTélé, Hughes passionately and tearfully called for greater access to guns and increased gun ownership, claiming that had everyone in that auditorium that night had a gun on them the death toll would have been far lower, and the siege ended far more quickly.

“Did your French gun control stop a single fucking person from dying at the Bataclan? And if anyone can answer yes, I’d like to hear it, because I don’t think so. I think the only thing that stopped it was some of the bravest men that I’ve ever seen in my life charging head-first into the face of death with their firearms.

“I know people will disagree with me, but it just seems like God made men and women, and that night guns made them equal,” he said. “And I hate it that it’s that way. I think the only way that my mind has been changed is that maybe that until nobody has guns everybody has to have them.

“Because I’ve never seen anyone that’s ever had one dead, and I want everyone to have access to them, and I saw people die that maybe could have lived, I don’t know.”

To say I was absolutely gobsmacked by the sheer hypocrisy and irony of his interview is a massive understatement.

I am not naïve enough to think every artist I am interested in musically holds the same core values as I do. I had seen photos of Hughes on his Instagram feed where he supported gun culture, and given that he lives in the desert I didn’t think it much of a stretch. I had read that he was a Trump supporter – I took that with a grain of salt because *surely* anyone with half a brain in their head doesn’t support that clown. And I’ve met Hughes. He has more than half a brain in his head. He is a deeply compassionate and considerate man. So knowing that about him, I was shocked to my core to hear him mimic the words of the NRA and the right-wing conservative movement. I thought a lot of the rhetoric was a joke that he was playing on us all. He calls himself The Devil, he loves and lives with a porn star (Tuesday Cross), he is a rock’n’roll badass. Was he taking the piss?

Turns out he wasn’t. Recently he has published more politically charged imagery and words on his Instagram feed. And now all I can do is shake my head and feel saddened that our values are so polar opposite. Being the politically motivated woman that I am, the temptation to sell my ticket to their upcoming Melbourne gig is sky high, and I’m finding that choosing between two passions is a tough line for me to draw in the sand.

words and photo: Mandy Campbell