Cabins, Belles Will Ring, Lanie Lane, Magnetic Heads, The Cairos @ OAF, Sydney (19/03/2011)
Generally brand endorsed music events are just thinly veiled exercises in product pimping. However any apprehension I had of being bombarded by ads was quickly dispelled when I was greeted by OAF*’s bare brick walls. Thankfully free of a potential barrage of Jim Beam posters. There wasn’t even an MC to hurry the bands along and enforce a strict timetable of proceedings. The merch was displayed on a bare trestle table, manned by various band members, making the vibe less corporate and more bootleg.
With five bands on the lineup the night started early. Too early it seemed, with only a smattering of punters showing up to watch Brisbane natives The Cairos. The near empty room didn’t deter the band from letting loose with an energetic set. Singer Alistar Richardson led the charge with his stellar vocal range evident in “Shane” and “Listening Party”, jumping from polished 1960s pop to a half strangled scream.
The Magnetic Heads were next up and with six members they crowded the small stage. Jonathan Desmond Millar’s wry and nonchalant drawl makes it easy to compare the band to a whole gamut of 1980s predecessors including The Go-Betweens, Split Endz, Simple Minds or The Smiths. But its quickly apparent that the band isn’t one to mooch off of others, each song is incredibly well crafted. Their songs veer away from traditional song structure; long progressive builds are interspersed with unexpected flourishes of tambourine and upbeat jangly keyboard. These rapid tempo changes aren’t jarring to the ear; they sound smooth, polished but most importantly incredibly fresh and exciting.
Lanie Lane sauntered on stage in a leopard print leotard, high waist jeans and an quiff. Lane has the rockabilly look down to a tee. Her music on the other hand doesn’t just stick to the one genre as the set skipped between jazz, blues and poppier numbers. Announcing to the now sizable crowd that she just quit her day job as a florist, its apparent that Lane’s got the goods to back up her decision, with punters twisting in time to Bang Bang, Betty Baby, Hoochie Coochie Man.
Belles Will Ring, didn’t bother introducing themselves, instead they served up a solid set full of new material including Come North With Me Baby, Wow, Deepwater and The Coldest Heart, which is a departure from upbeat love songs of old like Park Benches. Lingering lead guitar, solid bass lines, sedate singing and the occasional flute created a darker ambience to match the introspective lyrics. Even though the songs are moody and evoke feelings distance and space, the band played with enthusiasm and vigour.
The crowd tapered off during the interlude, but Cabins shook any sense of music fatigue from the remining punters with hammering kick-drum beats. The consistent heavy beats in Hounds and Mary are trance like and the brooding vocals swim through the layers of off kilter guitar, causing the listener to feel in equal parts hypnotic and manic. Foes & Thieves and Oceanic Blues are more pared back and are driven by Leroy Bressington’s softly yearning vocals. Making it a more sedate, but nonetheless pleasing way to finish off the evening.
The bootleg tour succeeded in not succumbing to corporate shenanigans but showcased five cracking bands, which deserve to be hyped.