Category Archives: Uncategorized

foals @ oxford art factory 23.01.2013

As a band known for their performance on stage, Foals didn’t disappoint last night at the Oxford Art Factory. It was the second of an exclusive two night run of Big Day out sideshows and a return to the more modestly sized venues that Foals’ music started off at – compared to the arena tours that they’ve embarked on as of late. On a stage that was just large enough to fit all the equipment, they were clearly enjoying themselves as they comfortably jammed to a string of fan favourites. Everyone sang along enthusiastically to Olympic Airways and Miami Blood as the lead singer could be heard telling everyone to ‘up the BPM’ in between songs. The night was not complete without its fair share of stage dives, crowd surfing, and at a point which the lead singer performed from atop the bar, much to everyone’s delight.

Sydney was also treated to three new songs from their yet to be released album Holy Fire, with the fans already singing back the lyrics to My Number and Providence. My first impression was they were headed towards a heavier, even ‘hard rock’ sound, but still managing to retain the distinctive dance-punk sound that they pioneered two albums ago, the first taste leaving everyone eager as ever to hear their upcoming album.

Setlist:
Prelude
Total Life Forever
Olympic Airways
Miami
Blue Blood
My Number
Balloons
Providence
Spanish Sahara
Red Socks Pugie
Electric Bloom

Encore:
Inhaler
Two Steps, Twice

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sigur ros @ urbanscapes 2012, padang astaka, petaling jaya, malaysia 25.11.2012

After a day of relentless heat and humidity, the refreshing rain proved to be the perfect setting for Sigur Ros’ final show of the year. Perhaps out of place, they were one of the only international bands playing at the Urbanscapes festival, which from the outset appeared to be dominated by urban acts. Many of their fans in the audience had travelled from all over the country (and even further) to see them.

As the band came on stage to pick up their instruments, I felt I could finally stop holding my breath. The glockenspiel’s ethereal tune revealed an unanticipated beauty as they launched into the staple opener for this year’s tour, I Gaer, from 2004 album Hvarf-Heim with Jonsi’s distinctive voice overlaying the band. The backing brass, strings and choir worked well in adapting Sigur Ros’ epic songs for a live setting. And it was smiles all around for the band – especially Jonsi’s delight hearing the audience enthusiastically singing along to Med Bloonasir without any prompting.

Each sound that emanated from the stage seemed to be played in a meticulous fashion. As I was standing closer to the left side of the stage, I got a really good view of Orri, who played the drums with conviction – especially during Brennistein, introduced as a new song which had not yet been recorded. It was drastically different to the more ambient Sigur Ros sound in recent years. If similar to anything they’d done before, it would be the more post-rock sound of Von. The harsh, almost metal sound of the guitar and drums contrasted so well with the vocals.

This was followed by Varud, the only song from Valtari to be played. It sounded more beautiful than on the album, with the live strings and choir which really brought out the dynamics of the album, especially as the song reached its climax. Their final song for the evening was Popplagid, from ( ). Also used as the closer for the 2008 tour, it was still amazing to be in the moment as they slowly built up the song, as the stage lights flickered with the drum beats. The whole experience was quite visceral. At times I felt as though they had captured and held the audience’s attention effortlessly – both sonically and visually, the background landscapes and patterns moving in sync with the music.

Setlist:

Í Gær
Glósóli
Svefn-g-englar
Sæglópur
Hoppípolla
Með Blóðnasir
Olsen Olsen
Festival
Varúð
Brennisteinn
Popplagið

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my brightest diamond @ sydney opera house 27.05.2012

Following her success with Australian audiences at the 2010 edition of Vivid, Shara Worden took to the stage with her long-time drummer, backed by what was billed as a string ensemble, but in fact, was a mini-orchestra, with woodwind and the all-important brass trumpets, bringing to life, her latest album All Things Will Unwind. 

Dressed in a costume consistent with the theme of the album, and slightly reminiscent of a children’s tv show presenter (not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course), complete with coloured wool balls (see below), she emerged with a large bunch of orange helium filled balloons, breaking into the opening song off her latest We Added It Up. The ensemble did a great job backing Shara’s heavenly voice, especially the brass and woodwind. The heartfelt Escape Routes, Shara explained, was written the last time she was on tour was inspired by a conversation she had with Laurie Anderson. The assistance of certain props, including a bob-the-builder-esque hard hat (filled with ‘snow’), a porcelain mask which was used for the transformation to Be Brave, and numerous loose balloons helped sustain the audience’s imagination as she performed songs from her latest album. She was clearly enjoying herself, jiggling around in between songs, and playfully exchanging words with the musicians on stage. At a point, she even attempted an Australian accent, which was quite amusing because it was more than likely that no one in the audience would speak with such a twang. 

Everything Is In Line was definitely one of the highlights from the new album, which segued smoothly into Apples. Picking up her electric guitar, old favourites, Workhorse, Dragonfly and Inside a Boy were met with applause and recognition by the audience, as was the My Brightest Diamond version of Tainted Love. Following a short break, the night was concluded with an encore of  I Have Never Loved Someone, completing a short but sweet evening.

Setlist:

We Added It Up
Reaching Out to the Other Side
Escape Routes
Be Brave
She Does Not Brave the War
Everything Is in Line
Apples
High Low Middle
Workhorse
Dragonfly
Inside a Boy
Tainted Love

Encore:
I Have Never Loved Someone

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a celebration of steve reich at opera house 29.04.2012

Steve Reich’s brilliance was displayed in a three part extravaganza, in celebration of his work, proving as a reminder of how he is one of the most highly regarded contemporary musicians. Clapping Music was performed by none other than Steve Reich himself and a member of the Synergy Percussion. This was perfomed by one performer playing the rhythm pattern, and the other shifting the pattern by an eighth over time. Drumming, was organic in the sense that the primality of the beating of drums was used in highlighting what could’ve been the sound of raindrops making contact with the surface of leaf. The loudness varied in the pattern of a sine wave, fluctuating up and down, as the percussive sounds produced a rhythm. This was in contrast with the melodic variations for vibes strings pianos with the harmonic rhythms and repetitions creating almost a trance-inducing state to the listener.

Then came part two. Eighth Blackbird, the group consisting of a multi-wind-instrumentalist, violins, piano, and vibraphone, produced a mesmerising sound in Four Organs, reverberating across the Opera House. This was followed by a splendid solo performance by the wind-instrumentalist, who layered phrase upon phrase, alternating from the flute to the piccolo, and more impressively, played from memory. It was concluded rendition of Double Sextet that sent shivers down this listener’s spine. This piece was driven by the pianos and vibraphones, with Eighth Blackbird playing against a recording of themselves in their production of harmonies.

The evening was then completed with a performance of Music for 18 Musicians, consisting of 4 voices, a cello, violin, two clarinets, four pianos, xylophones, three marimbas, two xylophones and a vibraphone (unplugged), which steadily built up in sound over the entire venue. The harmonies and melodies interacted, almost as if in conversation, and were accentuated by the prominent sound of breath, creating pulses which were prominent throughout the entire evening. On conclusion of the hour-long piece, Steve Reich himself made a final appearance, graciously accepting the standing ovation, and greeting each musician on stage as the audience looked on in amazement at what they had just experienced.

PART 1: SYNERGY PERCUSSION 6.00pm – 7.00pm
1. Mallet Quartet – 14’
2. Drumming Part 1 – 14’
3. Variations for Vibes Strings Pianos – 25’ (Australian Premiere)

INTERVAL (20 mins)

PART 2: EIGHTH BLACKBIRD 7.20pm – 8.15pm
1. Four Organs – 20’
2. Vermont Counterpoint – 10’
3. Double Sextet – 22’

INTERVAL (20 mins)

PART 3: MUSIC FOR 18 MUSICIANS 8.40pm – 9.40pm
1. Music for 18 Musicians – 60’

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st vincent at factory theatre 12.03.12

Oscar + Martin were greatly improved since supporting Metronomy earlier in the year at Manning Bar.  Their blend of vocals, backed by beats worked, but not always, falling out of time at certain points, but still created enjoyable music as the openers.

Prancing on stage in high heels and short leather shorts, you can tell that St Vincent is a rock star. With the two backing keyboards/synths overlayed with Annie Clark’s precise guitaring, they channelled a hyper-real and at times quirky reality. Her range was demonstrated by pure loudness with a song resembling a garage rock number, Krokodil  where she thrashed through the crowd as well as a cover of She is Beyond Good and Evil, by 80s post-punk band The Pop Group. This was in stark contrast to the more mellow songs like Dilettante, which she said was written about New York City. St Vincent played a set full of songs from the 2011 album, Strange Mercy, as well as  2008’s Actor.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect about seeing St Vincent live, is the contradiction between her almost angelic, vulnerable appearance, and her suddenly breaking into a huge guitar solo. Or in tonight’s case, the theremin in Northern Lights. She ended the night perfectly by a quiet rendition of The Party, followed by an emphatic Your Lips Are Red. 

Setlist:

Surgeon
Cheerleader
Chloe in the Afternoon
Save Me From What I Want
Actor Out of Work
Dilettante
Black Rainbow
Cruel
Champagne Year
Neutered Fruit
Strange Mercy
Marrow
Krokodil
She is Beyond Good and Evil (The Pop Group cover)
Northern Lights
Year of the Tiger

Encore:
The Party
Your Lips Are Red

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laura marling at opera house 09.02.12

After seeing her at Laneway over the weekend, I simply couldn’t pass off another opportunity to witness the talent that is Laura Marling. Tonight at the Opera House, she played two entire sets with no support act, with the former being her latest album, A Creature I Don’t Know in its entirety. Backed by a band made up of drums, double-bass, banjo, a cello and keyboards noticeably different from the more folk-oriented album, they accentuated the impeccability of the songs as well as Laura’s flawless vocals from the heartfelt I Was Just a Card (which Laura mentioned was actually written whilst in Australia during her last tour), to a fierce version of The Beast. Sophia was met with the loudest applause, as well as the more upbeat All My Rage, where she sang, I’d leave my rage to the sea and the sun.

Following a short interval, Laura and her band were back again to play what were clearly crowd favourites including Ghosts and My Manic and I. She and the band were clearly enjoying themselves, and happy to be playing in one of the most beautiful live venues in the world, Laura treating everyone to some very amusing banter including interesting facts shared throughout the evening, for instance: that the inspiration for the song Alas I Cannot Swim came from an Iranian poem, or that the Queen is a frequent drinker of alcohol and also possesses a driving licence. When the band were introduced, the crowd was lucky enough to be further entertained by several doses of British humour. Sound wise, the acoustics in the Opera House enabled the dynamics to be very distinct throughout the entire set, especially during one of my highlights, Alpha Shallows. Laura also debuted an epic Andalucian-styled song for ‘pure self indulgence’ and purposes of ‘living life on the edge’ which was a real pleasure to hear.

For those who’ve not seen Laura Marling before, she explained that they didn’t do encores, as they think it should be something spontaneous (as do I), finishing off with the title track from the second album, I Speak Because I Can, and modestly and humbly left the stage to a standing ovation from a full house at the Opera House. For a country all the way in the Southern Hemisphere, Laura Marling tours very frequently, and I really hope it stays that way.

Setlist

The Muse
I Was Just a Card
Don’t Ask Me Why
Salinas
The Beast
Night After Night
My Friends
Rest in the Bed
Sophia
All My Rage

INTERVAL

Ghosts
My Manic and I
Alas I Cannot Swim
New Song (unknown title)
Goodbye England (Covered in Snow)
What He Wrote
Rambling Man
Alpha Shallows
Made by Maid
I Speak Because I Can

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on crystal castles

by: http://last.fm/user/Kewbs

“Alice and Ethan are quite an enigma
together. The band doesn’t do any interviews, they arrive and leave straight
away (most of the time), and don’t associate with many others. On stage it kind
of shows – the distorted vocals of certain songs with the other microphone; the
point is you aren’t meant to ~really~ understand what she’s saying I suppose…
(although I do since I’m a freak that knows all the lyrics). Then of course
there’s the normal microphone where you hear her wailing banshee screams in
songs such as Baptism, Alice Practice and the Reckless/Through The Hosiery
mash-up.
She even spoke/speaks into the distorted microphone saying “I love you”, “I want
you”, etc.. it’s kind of mesmerising for some.. but weird and strange for
others. At Falls she was saying “Happy New Year” + “Hello Falls Festival”, and
Field Day she was saying “I love you Sydney” freakishly whilst staring out into
the crowd. In earlier years she used to speak to the crowd normally, but going
deeper into the hype of the band and her persona she’s more ‘mysterious’
nowadays (heck, Alice isn’t even her real name!).
To me it’s all quite hypnotic.. and it’s really just meant to send people on an
electrifying chaotic trip each time. You either love it or you don’t!
:)”

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