My Disco, The Hoodlum Shouts and Sparktak @ ANU Bar, Canberra (24/11/2010)


A funky mural greeted punters as they walked into the ANU Bar on Wednesday night to check out indie rock/punk band My Disco. Supported by two Canberra locals, the Melbourne band rustled up quite a large audience for a weeknight and have a surprising array of merchandise for a fairly unknown band.

The colourful mural turned out to be a partition, separating the main bar/pool area from the stage and immediate viewing pit. A new setup for the ANU Bar, and one that should not be repeated. The effect of the band being so close to the audience, with no space to soak up any of the sound, was that the music was deafening and at times off-putting.

Canberra duo Spartak started the night off with their unusual brand of sound. Using the term ‘music’ loosely, improvisation and computer technics are the two main selling points of the band, and while some people understand the nature of such music, I unfortuntately am not one of those people.

Playing around with two laptops, a guitar and a drum kit, the duo use different beats and sounds to loop together melodies that end up being one long song with sections and range of volume. Experimental, to say the least, Spartak was an unusual choice to start the night off, but being a local band worked in their favour, with some fans and friends in the audience cheering them on.

Throughout the night, the amount of skinny leg jeans, cardigans and bad haircuts grew drastically, making apparent the impact and influence of ‘hipster-indie’ culture in the nation’s capital.

The Hoodlum Shouts, Canberra’s popular indie/hardcore band, mix rock, emo, punk and hardcore, plus a few other influences, to create a intense style of music. Performing to a larger, ever-growing audience, the four piece seemed uneasy at first, but got into the swing of things after a few songs.

At one point a didjeridoo made an appearance, blending well with the distorted guitar and strong drums. A side note; the drummer is a brilliant musician, tight and understanding of the role he plays in making the music happen. Switching between rock ballads and punk anthems, The Hoodlum Shouts kept their fans happy and dealt with the deafening feedback with the grace of a band more seasoned.

I’ve said it a few times in reviews, and I will reiterate: It is NEVER a good idea to play a harmonica into a microphone. Never. Particularly when you clearly cannot play it properly. Aside from that misjudgement, The Hoodlum Shouts are honing their performing skills nicely, and might soon be ready to try their luck in bigger venues around the country.

About 20 minutes and a number of rounds of pool later, My Disco eventually took to the stage. The audience by now had grown considerably, crowded into the small part of the bar near the stage.

Described as a whole range of genre’s, including indie-rock, post punk, minimalist and dance, My Disco is a tough band to generalise. They use simple, raw chords and layer with hard drumming and a killer bass. An interesting tidbit is that the bassist is the lead singer, a nice change from the usual lead guitar/singer label.

Matching outfits of white t-shirts and black jeans made the band seem synchronised even though at times, their music was not. A few bum notes, not to mention the feedback and close proximity of speakers to the audience did detract from their whole performance. However, set-up issues aren’t their problem, and at times the sound problems punctuated their punk ethics nicely.

As a whole, My Disco rounded out a good night of showcasing Aussie talent, and with a better venue they probably could’ve shown off more than they let on.