The Twerps, Geoffrey O’Connor, Guy Blackman and Yuko Kono @ The Workers Club, Melbourne (27/04/2011)

Sitting amongst some of Australia’s finest indie labels, Chapter Music headed to Fitzroy’s Workers Club to showcase some of the talent their label holds. Resisting the urge to splurge on the fantastic releases at the stall set up by the bandroom entrance, a handful of punters made it for a relatively early start to see label-founder Guy Blackman, who is tonight joined by My Pal Foot Foot’s Yuko Kono.

Opening with Reunion Island, Blackman sticks to his piano for the duration of the set while Yuko switches between a twelve-string guitar, flute and melodica. Mixing beautifully with Blackman’s delicate piano, most songs played tonight- especially Private Time– remind of a mixture between Belle & Sebastian and the Juno soundtrack (though it may just be that Blackman is an older lookalike of Michael Cera). Using an English-then-Japanese song combination for most of the set, along with one instrumental flute piece, it’s easy to get caught up in the warmth and homeliness of the duo.

Geoffrey O’Connor follows Blackman and Yuko; his new band entirely unlike his other, more popular outfit The Crayon Fields. In solo mode, O’Connor is equal parts 80’s glam pop, karaoke and something else hilarious but compellingly interesting. Those who grew tired of Blackman’s set certainly weren’t now- O’Connor goes all out with his live show. Preprogrammed drums, a smoke machine and surprisingly effective laser show adds to the corny image of the set. Songs like Now and Then exemplify O’Connor’s change of heart- or, of genre- as synths come over the simple drum loop creating a live karaoke feel. At times it’s feels a bit too corny to be true, but O’Connor never fails to be interesting. His shy and awkward stage presence makes him the prefect man for this type of music; O’Connor pulling off cheesy 80s pop just as well as Blackman pulls off his cute indie pop.

The Twerps are up next, providing another shift in genres for the night. Disappointingly, the sound mix (which has been perfect until now) isn’t quite on for the garage pop outfit. Going one better (or worse) than their lo-fi self-titled EP, Marty Frawley’s vocals are too low to be audible in most songs. Having just returned from their six week tour of the US, the four piece sound as tight as ever but don’t quite meet the feeling set by the first two acts. Probably more suited to a sunny afternoon than a late midweek set, they run through their set with little fuss. Unable to turn off the projector used by O’Connor, it’s funny to see such a simple, no frills band as The Twerps backed by the same visuals as those of the relatively extravagant O’Connor. The sweeping purple and white visuals add something to an otherwise lackluster set.

Again resisting the smorgasbord of the latest local releases, the band room empties out for one last time. Having raised $370 for the Japanese Multicultural Relief Fund, tonight’s Chapter Music showcase is yet another success for the Worker’s Club’s fantastic ‘Released Series’.