Monday, January 30, 2012


If you've been a reader of mine for any time longer than a few months, you're probably aware of my rather angry approach to Byron Bay Blues Fest and how it considers Brisbane to be next door, so we don't get side shows.

That in itself makes this show announcement confusing. But there's so many aspects of it that confuses the heck out of me. But first, who is it?

Well, it's John Fogerty. Lead singer of a little band from a long time ago that was known as Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Years and years ago, Cosmos Factory by CCR was one of the first albums my dad every bought. To this day, it still sits on my shelf and gets played to death. CCR is just one of those bands with a unique sound (southern swamp rock) that you just know and recognize anywhere. And a lot of this is due to John Fogerty's voice. So unique, that he got sued for sounding too much like himself. I shit you not.

He won, but had to pay a tonne of royalties to play any CCR song. Which brings me to confusing point number 2: this tour is him playing a classic album in full. Some towns get Cosmos Factory, some towns get Green River. 

Brisbane, much to my disappointment, get Green River. But never fear, at the same time he'll play a lot of other CCR songs and even some of his classic solo hits, which he had a few of.

April 5th, Entertainment Centre.
The big problem for me, is that there are 3 other shows I'm desperate to see that day: Sublime (with Rome), Taking Back Sunday and the G3 guitar tour. CHRIST. Which one?!

One Sentence Album Reviews (#20)

Ahhh! So close to the end of my 2011 list. A few more CDs and I'm moving on to the 2012 collection.

Howling Bells - The Loudest Engine (2011): another indie album from the ex-pats with beautifully haunting female vocals 3.7/5

The Subways - Money and Celebrity (2011): a very up-beat pop/grunge/punk album, with a beat great for jogging. It's very fun 4.6/5

Blink 182 - Neighborhoods (2011): After realizing it's not immature-joke punk, it's an album that grows on you. Reminds me of Boxcar Racer 3.7/5

Tori Amos - Night Of Hunters (2011): A very orchestral, almost cinematic album full of Tori's beautiful voice 4.7/5

The Smith Street Band - No One Gets Lost Anymore (2011): a masterclass in writing hella-emotional and catchy sing-a-long folk-punk 4.5/5

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - ST (2011): Surprising album that shows why he is a great songwriter. he's still got it 4.8/5

The Jezabels - Prisoner (2011): Obviously schooled in the Nick Cave style, this has dark lyrical content & a sound of great 80s post-punk 4.4/5

New Found Glory - Radiosurgery (2011): at their age can they still make pop-punk songs about teenage stuff? The answer: yes 3.8/5

Into It. Over It. - Proper (2011): Another one of those pop-punk albums that sound similar. Just can't get into it, I'm kind of over it 2.9/5

Tom Waits - Bad As Me (2011): Tom's most pop album yet? He still throws in so many random instruments and sounds though 4.5/5

Raein - Sulla Linea D'orizzonte Tra Questa Mia Vita e Quella Di Tutti (2011): Italian (real)screamo band's free album reminds me of how good scramz can be sometimes, without being extreme 3.8/5

No Anchor - Real Pain Supernova (2011): Imagine the bass from Fugazi being doubled up (2 basses!), lengthened and made into sludge metal 4/5

Bridge and Tunnel - Rebuilding Year (2011): it borders between orgcore and post-hardcore, but fuck genres, it's a rad punk album 4/5

Tony Sly - Sad Bear (2011): As far as former punks doing alt-country-folk goes, this is not that good. 2.5/5

Bush - The Sea Of Memories (2011): There's glimpses of their former past in there, but I still blame Gwen Stefani for making Gavin too happy 2.6/5

Samiam - Trips (2011): a good punk rock album that makes me think "this is what I want Alkaline Trio to always sound like" 4/5

Kasabian - Velociraptor (2011): Their stoner-indie-rock has lost a lot of its electronic edge to have a very brit-rock (even Beatles) sound 4/5

VA - (Ahk-toong Bay-bi) Covered (2011): Great covers by amazing artists celebrating U2's classic album. This is 100x better than the original 4.6/5

Florence + the Machine - Ceremonials (2011): Bringing opera and soul music to the indie hipsters since 2007, now to the pop-music world 3.5/5

VA - Come As You Are: A 20th Anniversary Tribute to Nirvana's 'Nevermind' (2011): My favourite tribute so far, includes a quirky mewithoutYou cover 4.5/5

The Black Keys - El Camino (2011): hard to believe it's 2 guys making such a sonically rich album; finally taking blues-roots mainstream 4.8/5

Snow Patrol - Fallen Empires (2011): the ultimate Greys Anatomy soundtrack now channels the Postal Service with more electronica 2.8/5

Los Campesinos! - Hello Sadness (2011): Lyrically dark & depressing twee-pop that makes you lonely and happy at the same time 4/5
Johnny Foreigner - Vs Everything (2011): punkier, less produced Los Campesinos! I listened to the 2 back-to-back and didn't notice a change 3.8/5

The Dear Hunter - The Color Spectrum (Complete) (2011): Epical prog-indie journey representing all colours. Misses sometimes, overall good 4.3/5

H2O - Don't Forget Your Roots (2011): A cover album of classic hardcore/punk songs, made kind of soft and pop-punky by H2O. 3.6/5

Spank Rock - Everything Is Boring And Everyone Is A Fucking Liar (2011): Okay beats under some less thank okay rapping 3/5

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones - The Magic Of Youth (2011): Who said ska is dead? Not these guys. They've still got it 4.5/5

Guthrie - ST (2011): my dad, the old blues loving soul that he is, loves the dirty modern blues of this album. So do I 4.4/5

Coldplay - Mylo Xyloto (2011): Every Coldplay album is radio pop, with one song I really love. This album breaks that mold. Not one good song 2.4/5

VA-ZZ Top:A Tribute From Friends(2011):Some good covers, even Coheed sounding 80's rock. But it has Nickelback ruining my fav song: Legs 3/5
Pangea - Living Dummy (2011): a garage rock record that sounds like it was lost from the 60's 3.8/5

Pianos Become The Teeth - The Lack Long After (2011): soundds like a dirtier/more falsetto Touche Amore. Very similar styles 3.5/5

Thursday, January 19, 2012

San Cisco

San Cisco is an indie band from Perth that obviously has their pulse on what the audience is digging right now. And that is that dreamy-surf-pop, with the male/female vocals and a very retro-beach feel. Because that's exactly what they are.

But unlike 75% of the music that paragraph just described, I really like San Cisco. There's something less pretentious about their music (at least to me). And you know, any band that makes it out of Perth has got to be good. It's hard competition over there, in the most isolated city in the world. 

They'll be coming through Brisbane on February 17th to Alhambra. 18+. If you want to check out some of their music, for free, before hand, head to their Triple J Unearthed site.

Free Music Friday 36! The father-bonding edition

My dad is the man to thank for all of my music tastes. He has influenced me over the years. And the thing he's big on is blues inspired rock. And zydeco, which may be where I got my ska love from.

I got a CD the other day that I just had to make him listen to. They're called Guthrie. And don't even think I'm going to post a picture of them, because it's a Google nightmare. So many musicians in the world with the name Guthrie.

What Guthrie, an Australian two-piece, do is make real raw and gritty blues-rock. It's almost downright dirty. These boys from Tasmania play the blues-rock you'd expect to come out of the dirty south of America, not Australia. There's a bit of lewd subject matter, but that suits them perfectly. You can draw many parallels to the White Stripes, Mess Hall and the Black Keys (all two-piece blues-ish inspired bands), but Guthrie just makes it heaver and dirtier. Which, if you look at a lot of what I blog, appeals to me.

So head on over to their Triple J Unearthed site and get all the free music of theirs that you can handle. I'd recommend a nice jug of whiskey to go with it.

2011: Best of Photos

2011 was a big year for me in photography. I got my first SLR at the end of 2010 and up to July 2011 I only was able to take band photos in little venues after sweet talking the bouncers. By the end of 2011 I had photographed two massive festivals of international bands, broken 1 lens mid-Future of the Left gig, broken 1 camera mid-Soundwave Counter-Revolution festival, had photos printed in a magazine (in Canberra of all places) and been able to get up close with so many bands I loved.

It's been fun. I would like to thank Alternative Music Hub and Tone Deaf for allowing me to occasionally photograph for them. 2012 will see me dragging my camera wherever possible and hopefully being able to take some more larger bands/festival photos. If you're reading this and you want me to take photos for your publication/band/etc, please hit me up on

Now that's all done, here's my favourite live music photos I took last year. This list has been impossible to make as I keep changing my mind and I tried to only limit it to 1 photo per show.

20. The Chariot, Sun Distortion Studios, April 20

This gig was absolutely insane. Despite being a small room with one small bulb from the roof making for horrible lighting, the band was so crazy that most photos turned out. Even this one of the bass player being carried out the door while still playing.

19. The Damned Things, Soundwave Counter-Revolution, Riverstage, September 24

Although not an action shot, I just really enjoy this picture of Damned Things/Every Time I Die lead singer Keith Buckley walking off stage. (See the full gallery here)

18. The Walkmen, Harvest Festival, Riverstage, November 19

I had been waiting the better part of a decade to see the Walkmen. This picture of the lead singer looking suave and slightly 1950s is everything I had ever imagined about this band. (See the full gallery here)

17. The Grates, Tivoli, October 28

Patience, the energetic lead singer, is generally the focus of attention in the Grates live show. However, in this picture, John shows he can still get his boogie on. (See the full gallery here)

16. Alesana, Soundwave Counter-Revolution, Riverstage, September 24

I may not be the biggest fan of their music, but their live show was sure fun to watch. Even though my camera was minutes away from breaking, this shot of the guitarist mid-dance at the back of the stage managed to capture some of the action. (See the full gallery here)

15. Army of Champions, the Jubilee, November 17

It was the first time I had seen, let alone heard of, this band and I fell in love. This picture captures all of them singing/shouting at once, in the Against Me! punk vibe they put out.

14. Man Overboard, The Globe, September 3

Whenever I watch a punk show, it's always my goal to get a picture of a guitar jump. It's bloody hard and very rarely works out. This shot was taken just as I put the flash on my camera and before I even had it set up properly and it needed a lot of post-editing to not be dark. The post-editing gave it a very old-school film feel I think. (See the full gallery here)

13. Raein, Sun Distortion Studios, December 31

This was one of the last photos I took in 2011, of the Italian screamo band playing the last Sun Distortion Studios show. The whole energy of the set was intense, with almost everyone in the band screaming into any microphone that was near them and just jumping around like madmen. Was a great way to see out 2011.

12. Periphery, the Zoo, July 29

The first gig I shot for any reason apart from for fun. Although I had to jostle with the crowd a lot to get shots, they were just fun to photograph. Every shot I took had them in different poses and it was really hard to pick a single photo for the best of list! (See the full gallery here)

11. Nuclear Summer, Sun Distortion Studios, December 31

Nuclear Summer will go down as one of my favourite local bands in 2011. This shot shows basically everyone you see regularly at gigs in Brisbane just getting into the song as well.

10. The National, Harvest Festival, Riverstage, November 19

The lighting, the mist, the composition... I think it really just goes hand in hand with the style of music that is the National. (See the full gallery here)

9. La Dispute, the Zoo, January 25

Adam Vass screaming into the mike. This was my favourite photo for the first half of the year.
8. Architecture in Helsinki, the Tivoli, September 25

I couldn't take my eyes or lens off the front man of Architecture in Helsinki. I think of this picture as the hipster music version of Egon from Ghostbusters. (See the full gallery here)

7. Every Time I Die, HiFi, September 23

The second Keith Buckley picture of the top 10. He's just such an an enigmatic front man, you can't help to take a lot of photos of him. This photo was part of a set of photos I took of him just tossing the microphone around in between singing. (See the full gallery here)

6. Trash Talk, Step Inn, February 25

This was taken the night before Soundwave festival, in a special flood benefit fundraiser in the small band room of the Step Inn. Trash Talk, as always, were absolutely nuts on stage and barely kept still. This photo made the countdown purely for the expression of the guy on the side of stage. That's what everyone feels like after watching the insanity and non-stop movement of the Trash Talk live show.

5. Jim Ward, Alhambra, August 13

If I was to give an award for the worst lighting in a venue to take photos in, it would be Alhambra. One spot light and a mirror behind the performer. But I managed to get this shot with the lights above the bar reflected beautifully in the mirror. Artistic almost. (See the full gallery here)

4. AC4, The Zoo, April 7

I was lucky enough to see Dennis Lyxzen (lead singer of Refused/International Noise Conspiracy) twice this year in different forms. Dennis is renowned for his stage performane, and at the Zoo in his hardcore band AC4 he showed us all why. Despite only landing in Australia a few hours earlier, he danced like a mad man and finished writhing on the floor while still singing.
3. Touche Amore, Old Museum, September 8

I got to take most of my pictures on stage, which is rare for me in such a large venue. I was singing along the whole time and this whole band photo, with Jeremy screaming, was turned into a poster for my friend Jess who's hand is sticking out in the crowd. (See the full gallery here)

2. Flaming Lips, Harvest Festival, Riverstage, November 19

Anyone who has seen a Flaming Lips show will know about how insane it is. The photo pit was packed and I took about 400 photos just of the first 3 songs of these guys. So much was going on it was so hard to keep up with the action. This is a shot of Wayne just as he unleashed streamers from his blow gun, with more streamers in the background and all of the photographers trying to get a good angle. (See the full gallery here)

1. Fucked Up, Alhambra, December 9

What you can't see is the fact that I'm singing like a manic into the microphone while taking this photo.

Bomb the Music Industry

I've harped on and on about this band before and not just because of this awesome fan-made music video:

Or because every release they've ever done is available for free download on their website.

Or because they follow the Fugazi DIY method, cheap all-ages shows.

That all adds up, but I love them because of their goddamn fun punk and ska. Just listening to them makes you think a show would be ridiculous amounts of fun.

But that DIY methodology meant that there was probably no chance of them coming over. And then today I heard some news that made me go straight out and change my underpants twice over, because I was just that goddamn excited. Heck, as I type this now I'm smiling like a fool. 

Yes, they are coming down under. And playing with the Smith St Band. In what basically amounts to a small room. Between the Walls. On the 1st of March. I'm so goddamn excited about this. I've got goosebumps right now. I went to buy tickets the second this got announced, but they're not out yet. But never fear, I've been checking every 30 minutes or so.

I can't wait. I'll be there, probably camera in hand and still skanking like an idiot.

Mountain Goats

Regular emo music doesn't make me sad, unlike a lot of my friends. But for some reason, the down-to-earth honest folk music of The Mountain Goats does a thing on me. His real lyrics always touch me deep emotionally.

That song made me cry for most of 2005. The addition of sock puppets makes it even more depressing.

Despite being mildly obsessed with the Mountain Goats for a year or two in my early 20s, I never actually got around to seeing them. But (come on, you knew there'd be a but and a seque into announcing a tour) they'll be playing the Zoo May 4. Come cry with me.

Bluesfest third announcement; Chuck assumes the fetal position and spends the rest of the night crying

I've been avoiding posting too much about Bluesfest, because it just makes me sad. I can't make the festival down in Byron, and because of their "Brisbane=Byron" stance (THEY ARE NOT EVEN IN THE SAME FUCKING STATE) we get zero sideshows. Most years, there's a few bands/acts (*cough*cough* Bob Dylan) that makes me incredibly upset. But this year it's basically the whole lineup. I don't want to rehash, so just go look here.

Normally third announcements are just filler, local bands and for-contractual-reasons late announcements, but fucking hell, this Bluesfest third announcement is just rubbing salt in my already open and bleeding wound.

Ziggy Marley.
Richard Clapton.
John Fogerty.

JOHN FUCKING FOGERTY. That voice so distinct that you can recognize a Creedence Clearwater Revival song anywhere. The voice so unique and amazing he got sued for sounding too much like himself. Bloody hell Bluesfest. I hate you.

Hoodoo Gurus

I unashamedly love 80's Australian rock. Maybe it's part of my upbringing, but if you go through my record shelf you'll see lots of 7", 12" and casettes of great Australian pub rock bands of my dad's youth. A lot of it are Hoodoo Guru's 7" singles too. There's something about them I just love.

And it's not just their great fashion style.

Recently they've been still doing the pub-rock circuit, so it was with surprise that I saw an announcement today for them playing a very large Brisbane venue, the Tivoli. And then looking at the lineup, it's because it's going to be the ultimate retro-garage rock tour!

Brisbane's date includes the Sonics and that band best known for their catchy song in Kill Bill, the's. It's a good line up, but I feel we miss out on the retro vibe, with some other cities getting the Hard-ons, Royal Headache, Died Pretty and members of Radio Birdman! And if you don't know most of the bands I'm talking about, you probably think classic Australian rock is just about Cold Chisel, nothing else. If that's the case, I pity you.

April 20, The Tivoli.

Brisbane almost gets a Laneway sideshow... almost

Brisbane's not very well known for getting sideshows for music festivals. So when Laneyway was announced, I was 50-50 on going. There's a few bands I really want to see, but not enough to justify a whole festival expense. We never get sideshows though.

Then today, at rather short notice, a sort-of-Brisbane sideshow got announced. For the Drums, one of the bands I really wanted to see.

When I say "sort-of" I mean Byron Bay. Only a few hours drive away. It's January 29, at the Northern. I'm thinking it's a good reason to cram my car full of hipsters and go for a drive though.

Holly Throsby

It sucks when you hear a tour and the first thing you go is "oh man, the Captain would love to go with that to me!" and then you realize the Captain passed away earlier this year. Well damn. Holly Throsby was definitely one of those acts that he'd go with me to see. Because you see, the Captain had a love of all things female singer-songwriters.

Well, on less depressing news, this will be a beautiful gig. For a handy sum of about $20, you can go see Holly at the old Troubadour, better known now as the Black Bear Lodge. It's on the 29th of March and I really can't imagine a better place in Brisbane suited for her.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Exploited

Not long after I first moved in with Clus, he had me listening to all sorts of punk music I didn't know much of. One of the bands he showed me, which I've become slightly obsessed with, is the Exploited.

Formed by a former Scottish soldier in the early 80s, they've spent 30+ years playing hardcore punk  like the 80's never disappeared. Mohawks, stage diving, blood, fighting, riots, police and loud angry music is what epitomises their style. I bloody love it. Think of all of the punk show scenes in SLC Punk. That's what the Exploited is about.

Expect me to have a mohawk come April 26 at the HiFi.

Chuck's teen years: the tour

If you were ever a passenger in my car in my teenage years, especially in summer, you would've listened to one of three albums: Taking Back Sunday's Tell All Your Friends, New Found Glory's Sticks and Stones and Bouncing Souls How I Spent My Summer Vacation.

The other day a tour was announced featuring all but Bouncing Souls. The little 16 year old in front of me jumped for joy. In fact, as I type this, I'm wearing my Taking Back Sunday shirt I bought at a show in Chicago circa 2002.

(I came way too close to getting lyrics from that song tattooed on me when I was about 18)

Sure, their first albums hold a special place in my heart, but over the last decade both of the bands have put out such strong and quality albums. If you want to relive your teen years with me, come to the Tivoli on April 5, but only if you're over 18.


If you're anywhere close to my age, you'll probably know all of the words to this song:

So why am I posting about a two-hit pop-music wonder from the 90s? Well, they're touring Australia. Not only that, they've already sold out two shows (one in Melbourne and one in Sydney). Amazing huh? Based off this news, I imagine there aren't many more tickets left for the Brisbane show a the HiFi on March 8, or at the Coolangatta Hotel on March 9. Both are 18+, because no one under the age of 18 will know who they are.

More Brisbane Soundwave goodness

Given ticket sales across this festival season, I'd say Soundwave is by far the most popular one, being the only festival so far to sell out in the Brisbane/South-East Queensland area.

Sideshow #1
Going hand in hand with this is more sideshows in our fine part of the country! Two more have been announced for Brisbane. The first one features a punk band that seems to be on our shores every year but always puts on a good show to a large crowd. It's Unwritten Law, supported by Zebrahead and Royal Republic at the HiFi, February 28.

Sideshow #2
The other one is for music fans about 20 years younger than the Unwritten Law crowd. I'm not a big fan of this show, but I'm sure some of my readers may be interested. It's A Day to Remember, The Used and You Me At Six. This show is All Ages at the Eatons Hill Hotel on February 27.

In actual Soundwave festival news, the crazy metal band Dragonforce has had to pull out due to recording rescheduling. They've been replaced with two bands I know very little about: Switchfoot and Paradise Lost.

Small news

This is a collection of music news that isn't large enough to warrant a whole dedicated post to itself.

Death Grips
The Death Grips show at the Zoo, one week from today, has been cancelled. Not sure why.

La Dispute
I'm not the only one in Brisbane that likes this band I guess, they've added a third Brisbane show to their tour, which is a second AA show. February 21 at Between the Walls.

Trapped Under Ice
I haven't listened to them much, hence no big blog post, but the 90's hardcore-sounding Americans, Trapped Under Ice, are coming to start mosh pits through out Australia. March 1, Snitch (X and Y) 18+, March 2, Between the Walls AA. 

Good Australian folk music
I've talked about the Beards before, a folk comedy (I consider it more truth though) band that sings every song about facial hair. They are great fun and I suggest you get to the Zoo on March 30th to see them. It's only $15.

Good Brisbane punk music
One of my favourite local punk/ska/whatever they want band is the Black Market. They're playing a punk show at the Zoo this Saturday (the 21st) for $10. Can't think of any reason not to go to this.

Good Australian rock music
A few years ago, Children Collide were one of my favourite Australian bands. Although not hearing much from them lately, it turns out they are still going, recording a new album, releasing a new single and touring to support it.

March 16, Elsewhere Bar, Gold Coast
March 17, the Zoo.

Bah, copycats
Spin magazine, who've been music reviewing for a long time, have decided to do the same thing I do. Twitter reviews. If you want to read my reviews, nestled between whatever else I post, check out my Twitter.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Reunions et al

Last week I was musing on Twitter about the rumours of two of my favourite bands reforming.  I said that as much as I'd like to see either At the Drive-In or Refused reunite, I'd be afraid. They both left on amazing albums and have built a legacy and a legend that is way bigger than they ever were as bands. If they came back, like most reunions, it would shatter everything they once were about.

Well today both of them were announced as reuniting for Coachella. Just look at this line up:

I'm already looking up tickets to California just to attend. The Refused press release hints at it being a one-off show only. At the Drive-In's new website hints to something bigger. The thing about both bands though, is that they were known for outlandish small venue shows and showmanship. Having seen various members of both bands randomly throughout the year, I can vouch for this (AC4, Jim Ward, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez).

I want to see them, but goodness I hope it's short lived and doesn't undersell their value like the Pixies did.

Time will tell...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Free Music Friday 35!

Today's free music friday is inspired by Adam Collins, the rad dude who drums, amongst other things, for a band named Japan For. He asked me the other day for some new ska recommendations. I must admit, I was stuck for a while.

Ska is my favourite genre. Well it was, but it's taken a back seat lately for no apparent reason. Sure I still listen to it, but I don't go and actively search for it like I used to. Luckily he rekindled my yearning for it, in conjunction with the radio station 4ZZZ.

You see, just the other day I was blaring 4ZZZ while driving around doing chores and they had a visting Sydney band do an acoustic set. And that set was awesome acoustic ska.

Further investigation, and hastily written notes on my hand while driving, lead me to find out this band was called Steppin' Razor, a punk-ska-reggae band from down south. And although they aren't as active these days, they have released every song they've ever done for free on their website. You can get it all by clicking right here.

If you're a fan of Rancid, Operation Ivy, Star Fucking Hipsters or anything of that vein, I don't see any reason why you wouldn't love this as well.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011: Best of gigs

2011 was my most musically productive year, in regards to gigs. Over the last 365 days I went to 64 gigs/festivals. This smashes my previous years by a long margin. I imagine the increase is due to my photography, but I like to think it was just a great year for live music in Australia!

There was the normal year starter of Future of the Left, followed by festivals in torrential rain, festivals in crazy heat, multiple trips to Melbourne and Sydney for shows, in-store performances, orchestras, flood-benefit shows, cover bands, friends' bands, classic bands playing arena shows, bands I've waited most of my life to see, my favourite band of all time and lots of new bands I'd never heard of before yet became instant fans. What a year.

Despite my bemoaning of the death of the festival, there were too many good ones for me to pass up this year. Most years I'll go to 2 or 3, but this year I went to 6, 2 of them as a photographer. Considering one of them was a 2 day festival (in torrential rain a few days before the floods), it was quite a tiring year.

With so many gigs (I think I saw 237 different sets), it's really hard to do a top 5, so I made an internal compromise and came up with my top 8 gigs of the year that was 2011.

8. Off With Their Heads/Against Me! (4 May, 2011 @ the HiFi)
If you've ever seen Against Me! live, you'll probably realise their inclusion in any best-gigs-of-the-year list is mandatory. Through an extended set you could just see them enjoying playing as much as we were enjoying watching. It's rare to get a synergy between a band and a crowd at a venue of a large size like the HiFi, but everyone in the band and the crowd had massive smiles on their face. Throw in a long set list full of classic songs designed to get the crowd pumping their fists and singing along, bring along another great international punk band in Off With Their Heads and you get a great night of punk rock.

(click here for the original review)

7. Sufjan Stevens (26 January, 2011 @ the Tivoli)
This was my first time seeing Sufjan. Although more of a fan of his acoustic-folk, I knew this set would lean towards his newer electronic stuff. I figured it was worth going just to see the few songs I really, really like. What it ended up being was an ethereal all-encompassing experience. Not just a gig, but a whole show. Sufjan conducted a light, laser and balloon show that added incredible depth to his music, allowing me to appreciate it at a new level. And he still played some of the folk classics.

(click here for the original review)

6. Melvins/Primus (3 March, 2011 @ the Palais Theatre, St Kilda)
No surprise this was going to be on my list. Primus is my favourite band, no matter what, and my trip to Melbourne was purely for this show. The venue was sitting only (heavily enforced by the ushers), but it was in ridiculously comfortable leather seats with plenty of room. Kim and I were right near the front of the upper balcony and we first watched an all-out aural assault by the Melvins with 2 drummers following a classic set of Primus, including a few new songs as well.

(click here for the original review)

5. The Chariot (20 April, 2011 @ Sun Distortion Studios)

Their first tour of Australia and they absolutely slaughtered the venue. The opening bands weren't really to my taste, but when the Chariot came on I no longer cared. The stage broke and was carried out in pieces. A yellow pages phone book was ripped in half and thrown in the air. The bass guitar broke a string, something I thought was nigh on impossible. The bass player was carried out of the venue still playing. Everything was destroyed in a full on noise-assault. It ended with everything in pieces and the band slumped to the floor and me wanting to see it all over again.

(click here for the original review, picture gallery and bonus video)

4. Modest Mouse (21 July, 2011 @ the Prince of Wales Bandroom, St Kilda)
I travelled to Melbourne just for this show. There was a fight in a mosh pit (what the fuck Melbourne indie fans?), there was no Johnny Marr, but it was still one of the best times I've seen Modest Mouse play. They played something off almost every album (fairly rare) even a few impromptu acoustic songs that Isaac has obviously forgotten most of the lyrics for... stopping to apologise at the second or third verse. The kicker for me though was the fact the encore saw them playing for an hour and a half longer than they were supposed to. Is there such a thing as too much Modest Mouse? No. Not at all.

3. Harvest Festival (Kevin Devine/This Town Needs Guns/The Holidays/The Walkmen/Mercury Rev/TV on the Radio/Clap Your Hands Say Yeah/Bright Eyes/Mogwai/The National/The Flaming Lips/Portishead) (19 November, 2011 @ the Riverstage)

Granted, any festival featuring the Flaming Lips will blow you away with their fully immersive spectacular. But this festival was enough to make me actually enjoy the whole day, instead of suffering through a day of mediocrity just to see one or two bands I really like. Harvest restored my faith in the music festival. It wasn't just about music, there was plenty other things to do that were actually interesting as well as plenty of art and installations. The grounds were laid out perfectly with no noise-pollution between stages and the bands were top-notch. I may have also cried when the Walkmen played The Rat. What a magnificent day it was. I wish all festivals were even half as good as this.

(click here for the photo gallery I shot of the day over at Tone Deaf)

2. The Mercy Beat/Trash Talk/H2O/The Bronx (25 February, 2011 @ Step Inn)

The night before the Soundwave festival and this was a hard-to-get-tickets-for flood fundraiser in the tiny-ass band room of the Step Inn. Originally supposed to be featuring Terror on the line-up, flight connections meant they missed out, but it didn't stop one of the greatest gigs I've ever been to. Trash Talk played an insane (as always) set, going all out with amazing energy. H2O showed why they are one of the best hardcore bands and featured guest spots by members of New Found Glory and Terror (who just showed up) and the Bronx wowed us all the way through to the wee hours of the morning, even playing a song they never play live: Strobe Life.

(click here for the original review and photo gallery)

1. DZ Deathrays/Fucked Up (9 December, 2011 @ Alhambra)

They put out one of the best albums of the year and then they came out on a stadium tour with the Foo Fighters. Luckily they threw this gig together quickly. Alhambra didn't know what hit it. Fucked Up played an awesome set that had security confused and saw Damian spend most of his time shirtless in the crowd with everyone going crazy (which of course is his normal routine, but it's still great to see). He even stopped the band and retrieved an evicted punter when security got a bit too over the top. It was full of great songs, DZ Deathrays were the secret opening band playing their first Australian show in god knows how long and Fucked Up were nice enough to stay behind afterwards and meet everyone. Of course there's a bit of fanboy-bias in this choice, but it was just an amazing night.

(click here for the original review and here for my Tumblr-based photo gallery)

2011: a retrospective

Now that 2011's all wrapped up with a loud, screaming bang, it's time to begin the slow process of churning out best of lists. The big one, the albums list, won't be out until February probably, due to the massive stack of CDs still sitting on my desk waiting to be reviewed. But keep an eye out, being a man that loves lists, statistics and all things music related, I'll be putting a lot of random best of lists together in the next 2 months.

Review: Pallisades/Quiet Steps/Nuclear Summer/Loma Prieta/Raien, Sun Distortion Studios, December 31 2011

I've had such a bad run of New Year Eve parties over the last few years that I decided to do something compeltely different: stay sober and watch some great bands play the last ever show at Sun Distortion Studios. There's been so many great shows there, but I probably won't miss it at all; probably because of the black-eye incident.

At least on NYE I got a good spot on the balcony area to photograph the bands without getting punched in the face. I can't really be bothered writing words for this, so here's some photos of what was a damn good night of scramz (and Quiet Steps) on NYE spent with some of my new friends I've made throughout this year.

Quiet Steps

Nuclear Summer

Loma Prieta