Words by Nath Luke, photo by Bella Luke
Lennox Groove found itself in Sydney last night and checked out Songkick to see what was doing live. Sweater Curse at the Vanguard, hell yea! Sweaties have been one of our favorite bands for years and we are very proud to say we had them play at the Lennox Hotel twice back in the glory days of 2018.
Sweater Curse came on and immediately trigged a hectic guitar avalanche with Chris Langenberg on lead guitar attacking his offset Fender in a jagged lurch across the stage, looking about 7 foot tall. On the other side of the stage the inimitably cool Monica Sottile joined on bass. Centre stage the absolute force that is Rei Sakaki on drums. The band launched into an hour of indie rock bliss.
Watching the show I thought, what makes Sweater Curse so special? Here we have three strong artists in their own right that have somehow come together and gelled, probably against all odds. If I knew what this “somehow” was I would go and start a super band factory, but it is the unknown essence, “the mojo” that every great band like Sweater Curse has and every band seeks.
Sweater Curse has two amazing front persons in Chris and Monica who both are simultaneously the dominant front person of the band. Chris is a passionate gifted guitarist, an obvious expert in tone and effects with great artistry combined with a super honest vocal delivery. Monica has one of the most unique rock vocals I have ever heard, a beautiful mid tone that just reverberates in your chest like the bass line from the woofers. Her energy on stage connects strongly with the audience.
Each of these artists could easily be imagined fronting their own band. Together it should not work but it does. It is like a vegemite and cheese sandwich, on their own each of these condiments is epic, but they somehow also work perfectly together. There is a level of connection and understanding between the two that is palpable, they have old rock souls, like two seasoned pros that have played a 1000 shows just so comfortably working off one another to bring an experience to the audience which is pure entertainment. Watching them last night I was reminded of David Byrne and Tina Weamouth playing “Heaven” together on the film Stop Making Sense. It is a combination of their own unique energies on stage which make the experience so enjoyable.
But something else takes this band to the next level. Is Rei the very best drummer I have ever seen live? I can't think of another. A super powerful style with a big use of the deeper tones on his kit to give the band a driving earthy beat. His is pure steeze on the drums with a reserved polished intensity. He is just a pleasure to watch. That your eye is consistently drawn past the two super star fronts to Rei is a testament to that. One lovely thing about a 3 piece is that there is no one standing in the road of your view of the drummer. No doubt he brings this three piece together wrench tight and catapults it to the top level.
Over the last few years the band’s songwriting has also become world class. Chris tells us that whilst the band members initially brought individually created tracks and ideas to the table for the band to work on that more recently the trio has begun to get away to intense songwriting sessions where the tracks are a far more collaborative and shared result. No doubt this is working with their new EP being a cohesive and super creative, strong body of work. We are so keen to hear more from the band.
This show at the Vanguard was part of the band’s touring of their EP "Push/Pull" which you should definitely wrap your ears around (and your mitts around the limited edition vinyl!). But more importantly if you have not seen this band live … do you even like live music?! Catch them TONIGHT 1 May at the Cambridge in Newcastle and tomorrow Sunday 2 May at La La Las in Wollongong, for the last two shows of their tour.
By Zoe Sounness
The most recent show I attended was March of this year, Voiid at the Marly Bar in Newtown. Anji, rolled her eyes back into her head as she chanted out each syllable, showing her tonsils to those in the front row. Antonia had a serious, solemn expression in the way that most bass players do, her fingertips plucking each string with ease. Kate’s holographic star stickers that were splattered all over the body of her black Jazzmaster caught the flashing stage lights as she swung it across the stage. As Jas’ drumming synced up with my own adrenalised heartbeat, members of the crowd were belting each other in the mosh, feet stomping in time with the bass drum. I left the venue completely drenched in sweat, spit and Toohey’s New.
Now picture this. It’s been an eight month drought of no shows, let alone getting sweaty in a mosh with your friends. A guy at the infamous Oxford Art Factory shows you to your seat. For myself and I’m imagining for many others, a seated show unheard of for Sydney’s underground music community. A candle in a little glass jar adjacent to a laminated QR code, for bar service of course, rests on a side table next to each pair of chairs. On Friday night, I was lucky enough to see Babe Rainbow spread peace and love (without spreading Coronavirus).
The first set to break the lengthy drought of gig-less weekends was that of Sam Windley, from the very same Central Coast as myself. Sam’s vocals are extremely reminiscent of those belonging to Stella Donnelly and Julia Jacklin. Her soft-toned voice was gorgeously led by an acoustic guitar and an egg shaker taped to her right foot. A short, yet sweet set was intertwined with pieces of a conversation between herself and the audience.
“I wrote most of my songs in a really weird tuning. So when I play at shows, I can either tune really quickly and sit in silence, or I can take forever to tune and have a kind of blabber going… I always go with the endless tuning and endless blabber.” Sam has recently released her newest single, Neighbours in the Morning and you can listen to it here [ https://open.spotify.com/track/3yFbaJHXoHSxrTEHOpjSV8?si=SqJitlIDRBW5gG3efnxjzw ].
After much anticipation, Angus, Miles, Elliot and Jack silently strode onstage and picked up their instruments with no real sense of urgency, just as if they were beginning a practice run of their set. One by one, they each started jamming along with each other whilst the crowd was eager to hear which song they would perform first. With a bottle of VB in my hand, I watched the hippies start to dance.
Unsurprisingly, they opened with a fan favourite, 'Supermoon' from their 2018 album Double Rainbow. Angus sang a slightly altered rendition of the song, repeating lines and skipping some out completely which made it an extremely engaging song to open the night with. After playing a few more of their most popular songs, the Byron Bay hippies leant into a cover that shocked the whole crowd. Angus grasped the microphone and spoke softly the opening lyrics to 'Pure Imagination' from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Somehow, this out of the blue choice to cover the song famously sang by Gene Wilder was very fitting to the mystical and magical vibe of the evening.
The band then performed their newest single, 'Zeitgeist', which was amazing to hear live. I caught up with the band after their show for a couple of quick questions that I was dying to ask.
What was the writing process like for Zeitgeist?
Elliot: “It was a slow process, but came together quickly. We were in Topanga Canyon in California when it first germinated and grew into a little seedling over there and then we had to go back home. But we went to Music Farm and finished it off and now it’s a crazy little thing!”
And you guys have your first ever 7” coming out through Flightless Records pretty soon?
Jack: “Oh yeah yeah yeah! Our first ever. It’s really cool, the B side is really good as well.”
Tell me about the setlist choices for tonight’s show
Angus: “It was kind of a pyramid scheme… Well we were at the place over the road and I got Elliot this darker, passionfruity sort of ale that he hadn’t had before and nearly vomited. Then we ripped off part of the docket and kind of tried to do what we did last time but made mistakes and tried to make it smoother. Did it feel flowy to you?”
It felt super flowy and good! What do you guys reckon of playing shows under COVID restrictions?
Angus: “Can I be totally honest? I LOVED it! So good, way more chill.”
[Jack then interrupted Angus and spoke up with a question for Elliot, as Elliot mentioned that he preferred normal shows]
Jack: This is going ON the record, Elliot, why do you like the normal shows better when these ones are so chill?
Elliot: There are way less still eyes, like a bit of a still-life painting and it freaks me out. But I like it for what it is.
How do you guys feel about playing a smaller venue this time around?
Miles: Smaller venues always sound better I love it.
Angus: Yes definitely they do sound better.
Jack: I reckon we prefer smaller venues, that’s what is kinda good right now, it forces us to play smaller places.
Angus: We come together more.
Elliot: We just like playing anywhere honestly.
This was definitely one of the most chilled out interviews I’ve ever done, it was an absolute pleasure to return to live music by seeing Babe Rainbow again. Thank you heaps again to the guys from Babe Rainbow for giving me their time and to Sam Windley for a beautiful opening set. You can stream Babe Rainbow’s newest single, Zeitgeist, here [ https://open.spotify.com/track/27is6BcJpIn5ytARWaUY7Y?si=q0pkWyggTPaYp15TV-PZzQ ]
Crisp beats permeate from the speakers, filling the confines of the Rumpus Room like a cup overflowing with wine. Thick base engulfs the dancefloor. On a superficial level, these bass lines appear to be mere sounds. Scratch deeper and it’s apparent they are so much more. Combined with synth and samples, they are the catalyst for intrinsic change.
I haven’t been to The Milk Factory in a long time. It is refreshing to make my way back to one of the most interesting and intimate venues in Brisbane. Phoebe Sinclair has been a quiet achiever this year, following the success of her single "Unfair", her latest single "OMG" is an infectious Pop bop which not only demonstrates her production integrity, but also the strength of her voice. I am excited to see how this translates live. I have forgotten how small the venue was as I make my way in to the small interior and order my first beer of the night.
With the Australian festival scene growing larger every year, St Jerome’s Laneway has become one of the biggest touring summer festivals. Not only attracting big international names to the line-up but also gaining a reputation of keeping an eye out for emerging local artists to join the diverse line-up. This year we see a new wave of up and coming artists like DVNA, First Beige and Sycco taking to the opening slots of the festival and still packing out crowds despite being so early.
Here comes the cowboy. Mac DeMarco has returned to the land Down Under for a summer tour. Known for his laid-back and lo-fi songs of love, family and cigarettes, the acclaimed ‘King of Indie’ brings with him a cheeky wit, a reverb-soaked guitar and a gap-toothed grin so big it splits his face each time he flashes it. Everyone here tonight is eager to see what antics will ensue as he brings fifth album, Here Comes the Cowboy to Australia.
Described as a travelling circus, Californian band The Growlers have returned for their biggest Australian tour, off the back of the release of their 6th studio album Natural Affair. They bust through a two-hour set, dancing and grooving along to hit after hit. The stage bursting with colour and the music bursting with flavours of surf rock, psychedelic, pop, rock and beat. The Growlers leave crowds in awe of their style, charisma and attitude, and this night is no exception.
Picture an oversized Australian barbeque. That’s how I felt at XXXX Presents. The event, held at Brisbane’s iconic XXXX Brewery channeled those vibrations, went down on Saturday as I walked in was greeted by a sea of baggy t-shirts, dusty old Vans shoes and golden XXXX hats on every second head.
“Brisbane!” Client Liaison vocalist Monty Morgan, dressed in a white suit jacket that beams under spotlights, bellows. “Welcome to the final show of our tour!”
With a tour based around one of the most influential discographies in Aussie rock, Grinspoon are back with a whirlwind of nostalgic anthems and a kicker of a line-up. “Chemical Hearts” being released 17 years ago, a whole generation of fans are buzzing to see the local legends, and not to mention the connivence of their tour stopping off at The Star in the heart of the Gold Coast - you’d be crazy not to go.
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