Big Scary, Geoffrey O’Connor, Mosman Alder @ OAF, Sydney (27/04/2012)
Cops cluster on street corners, eyes peeled. I try to not look suspicious as I double-check my shirt and pants. My mate also gives themselves a quick once over – ‘You reckon this is alright?’ The police are cracking down on Kings Cross tonight. Anyone in gang colors will be pulled up. We’re clueless to what colors are gang affiliated. Collectively we’re wearing 20 odd colours. We hope we aren’t supporting the local equivalent of the Sharks or Jets. Especially since we are on route to Big Scary’s first sold-out Sydney show.
Thankfully we don’t miss a note of Mosman Alder. A richly layered soundscape effortlessly emerges from the six strong band. There is almost an orchestral structure to the songs. They occupy a grand scale, yet are subtle with deftly delicate transitions in mood and instrumentation. The deep resonating vocals of Valdis Valodze seem to endlessly drift through the smoky air. However this isn’t a one-man show. Each band member has an equal chance to take the lead, creating drama with haunting piano or eerily sweet strings, before melding back into the textured backdrop of sound. Particular highlights include 25, Turkey 1933 and Raisin Heart.
Next up on stage is Geoffrey O’Connor, a four piece with heavy 1980’s influences. Their first song is catchy; the drum machine quirky, the vibe very Breakfast Club meets Weird Science. However the set soon slides in a mind numbing boredom, with a formulaic quality to each song. Their lack of musical depth is frustrating, but it is their stage presence that grinds my patience. If they intend to be ironic it would be like a reenactment of Spinal Tap – such is the level of pouting, posing and general pop star tartness. The standout is the bass player; in-between Zoolander poses at the keyboard, he wanders off stage with a look of panic. He has to rely on the lead singer of Mosman Alder to tune his bass. In his defense he proclaims ‘I’m not a musician I’m a pop star’. He isn’t alone in his broody looks, all members sighed dramatically throughout the set. It accumulates into a bizarre dramatization of song lyrics. Mr. G would have give them a High Distinction in drama.
Finally taking the stage is Big Scary. Their name is completely misleading at face value. As a two-piece they aren’t very big and their impish grins indicate that they aren’t too scary. But their sound is so big, board and lush; it’s spine tingling scary. Big Scary spend the next hour ripping their LP and EP’s to shreds. They clearly have many gigs under their belt as they’re astoundingly tight and swiftly move through the set list. They occasionally stop to chat. They are stoked about the sold out crowd and reminisce about their first Sydney show. ‘It was at a rotary club. I think a meat raffle was being called when we were playing – we didn’t win.’
The achingly tender vocals on Leaving home and Heartbreak is delightful. Then Jo Syme on drums announces ‘lets snap the fuck out of it’ and lets loose the heavy thrash of Purple and Tuesday is Rent day. Before rounding out the set with Gladiator, which prompts sections of the crowd to crone along. I reckon sold out shows will become the norm for wherever Big Scary tour next.