Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes : Modern Ruin

Posted by Beat Magazine on 8/2/17.

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 The soft Bluebelle opens the album, its piano melody layered by Frank Carter’s flowery vocals lull you into a peaceful state of mind. Just as you get comfortable Lullaby yanks you right out of that tranquil reverie, kicking off with a catchy guitar riff as Carter’s raw vocals mesmerise, reminding you how much of a powerful impact he truly has on British rock today.

Snake Eyes reinforces his ferocity, beginning with ‘Here I lay, my stomach burning, body in pain while the room keeps turning,’ and then in the chorus he becomes more aggressive. Vampires project a sassy vibe as Carter’s devil-may-care attitude is juxtaposed effectively with his soaring choruses, and it’s evident just how diverse the band’s sound is.

Acid Veins is delivered raw but flows smoothly before the chorus once again showcases the band’s signature rough, rock sound. Modern Ruinadds the cherry on top of a firecracker album with its chaotic guitar streaks and Carter’s gritty vocals. It’s clear why this is the title track– it is infused with a frenzy that makes you want to jump up and down and head bang, encapsulating the spirit of hard rock.

The Peep Tempel Sent Off The Weekend In Style At Shimmerlands

Posted by Beat Magazine on 15/2/17.

First to grace the stage at summer hotspot Shimmerlands was Pseudolux, with an inimitable combination of throbbing synths, with a metal backbone. Setting the scene for a diverse lineup, punters knew they were doing their Sunday right.

When East Brunswick All Girls Choir took over, scratchy guitar blared from the speakers as the backdrop to Marcus Hobb’s screeching vocals. The forecast for the night had been confirmed ­– punk, with a touch a crooning to balance it all out.

Cash Savage and The Last Drinks were next, and they were quick to own the stage with energetic blues resonating with country folk vibes. Savage sung powerfully, as she is known to do, while the rest of the band implemented plenty of emotional twists and turns, creating a dark yet enticing ambience for the swelling crowd.

When The Peep Tempel kick-started their set with Gettin’ On By, it became clear they weren’t there to mess around. Frontman Blake Scott got down to the nitty gritty, alongside hammering bass courtesy of Stewart Rayner and the hard-hitting drum work of Steven Carter.Rayguns epitomised Peep’s brand of dirty rock with its chaotic guitars and a political edge. Longtime crowd favourite Kalgoorlie was full to the brim with their scruffy punk sound, before Totality commanded attention with searing riffs and pulsing drums. Big Fish cruised along, teetering on the cusp of surf rock, while still retaining a firm punk aesthetic. And of course it wouldn’t all be complete without an inclusion of Carol – with lyrics often, as in this case, gleefully yelled back to the band by the audience.

In summary, the wicked lineup was testament to why Shimmerlands has become a firm favourite in Melbourne this season. The carefully cultivated array of local artists was the perfect way to send off the weekend in style.

Words by Christine Tsimbis
Image by Andrew Bibby

HighlightBig Fish.
Lowlight: Nothing.
Crowd FavouriteCarol.

Boy & Bear On Finding Satisfaction And Being Hungry For More

Posted by Beat Magazine on 15/2/17.

Boy & Bear are a force to be reckoned with; their 2011 debut Moonfire has won a whopping five ARIA awards and has also successfully landed three songs in triple j’s Hottest 100, and they’ve skyrocketed since, with their 2013 Harlequin Dream and 2015 Limit Of Love also hitting #1 on the ARIA charts.

 They’ve toured internationally and have recently finished a big Australia tour, and they’re now scheduled to perform at Melbourne’s new concert event A Weekend In The Gardens, which will come to life in March.

Drummer and vocalist Tim Hart is excited to play at A Weekend In The Gardens, since it’ll be one of the band’s first shows since they finished their Australia tour in December.

“I love playing outdoor events, especially where people are there for a specific reason,” Hart says. “It’s going to be great, it’s a nice time of year so it shouldn’t be hot, and I think there’ll be people on the grass with a couple of glasses of wine. Also, the boys are getting back together after a fairly long break, and when I say long, I mean a six-week break, which is long for us.”

Before their six-week break, Boy & Bear had an 11-week straight tour, jumping from their America dates straight into their Australia jaunt.

“We had a day off and then we were back on the road,” Hart says. “It was 11 weeks straight. To be honest I was pretty tired at the end of it but we love touring regionally in Australia; it was pretty fun.

“We had a few things going on; we had a gig at a local brewery in Sydney called the Akasha Brewing Company and we were giving all the money away to charity supporting regional funds. It was a bit different for us and it was an exciting tour with some great places, some places we’d never been before, most we’d had and it was nice getting out and reaching people who support our music.”

Boy & Bear began with three of its members going to university, while playing in separate bands and supporting each other at shows. They all clicked instantly while writing songs together and then united to become what they are today. Hart reminisces over the band’s musical journey and how it’s developed over the years.

“We make music more characteristic of us as people,” he says. “We grew up listening to music that was shown to us by our parents and then you go through the years of teenage angst and I think we probably reverted to the music we were brought up with.

“I don’t know if it was some sort of nostalgia or there was better songwriting or whatever it was, but you know that sort of ‘60s-‘70s pop music, and that’s what we started writing.  We just enjoy writing songs, stories and narratives that have good melodies and harmonies.

“We’re friends, we’re passionate, and we’re music lovers,” Hart said, when asked to describe Boy & Bear as a band. “I think that’s what’s held us together all this time, you know, in February it will be eight years of being a band.

“A lot of bands break up because they’re searching for I don’t know what, maybe they’re searching for fame or money and I think that’s one of the great things about our band, there’s not a whole lot of any of those things, we’re satisfied with what we have but at the same time we’re hungry to create and to write albums. We love playing shows and that’s what we do as a band.”

Hart discusses his future goals with Boy & Bear, which are to write the best possible albums they can.

“I think there are no guarantees in life, but especially in the creative industry, you’re trying to produce your best work all the time,” he says. “Because you know there’s no guarantee that people would want to listen to our music.

“We’re still really hungry to write great albums and I’m not saying that we have achieved that yet but that’s what we’re going to be aiming to do in the next couple of years.”

Boy & Bear will perform at A Weekend In The Gardens at Royal Botanic Gardens on Saturday March 11.

There Were Circle Pits, Singalongs And Crowd Surfing Galore When Stick To Your Guns Stormed Through Corner Hotel

Posted by Beat Magazine on 25/1/17.

The Corner Hotel was alight with plenty of hardcore fans who came to witness Stick to Your Guns and their powerhouse lineup. Reactions jumpstarted the night, blasting riffs infused with a sharp frenzy that fired up the moshpit.

Relentless then added more fuel to the fire with their ear-pounding hardcore set, and Knocked Loose blasted the crowd with heavy breakdowns of metalcore as vocalist Bryan Garris screamed and head banged onstage.

Stick To Your Guns emerged as the cherry on top of a brilliant lineup; vocalist Jesse Barnett wore his heart on his sleeve as he powerfully sung with passion. Each song also has its own personal backstory that he animatedly described before performing it. At one point he spoke proudly of his mother Mary Jane Barnett because she is his hero, and one of the most influential women figures in his life.

Barnett then sung The Suspend from the band’s new EP Better Ash Than Dust; his raw vocals filled with emotional turmoil. Stick To Your Guns’ political stance is impossible to miss; Barnett’s statements about being ‘anti-racist’, ‘anti-homophobic’ and ‘anti-sexist’ echo through your mind, because those catchphrases encapsulate exactly what Stick To Your Guns is all about: taking a revolutionary stance against the injustices of this world and never faltering in the face of your beliefs.

The band’s critical eye on the flaws of America’s political system was made evident throughout their set: Barnett showed his disapproval for Trump’s newly instated rule by bringing up the president’s dismissal of climate change. However, what really drew listeners’ in was his next statement that “We have to give people the room to change,” which reinforces the positive idea that we all evolve and can change for the better. Stick To Your Guns then blasted We Still Believe, by far the crowd favourite, as everybody sung along and people attempted to crowd surf before getting pulled away by security.

What makes Stick To Your Guns so distinctive is that Barnett tends to project melodious choruses, breaking up the heaviness of the band’s music and providing it with more rhythm and variety. He adopted cleaner vocals in Better Ash Than Dust, showcasing his impressive vocal range and infectious attitude.

It’s always satisfying to watch a band soar above their usual musical expectations, especially when Stick To Your Guns does that and also manages to perform a badass live show that has people running amok in pit circles and enthusiastically singing along to every song.

By Christine Tsimbis

Fire Monkey

Posted by Milk Bar Mag on 6/12/16.

Mapping Melbourne 2016 will feature an exciting set of performances that will explore the theme of Asia and identity, which will consist of visual art, live art, contemporary dance, music, public programs and unique multidisciplinary collaborations.

One of the events includes Fire Monkey, a collaborative performance curated by Singapore-based Asian dance laboratory Arts Fission and Melbourne-based choreographer and dancer Victoria Chiu. Milk Bar Mag had a chat to Angela Liong, the artistic director of Fire Monkey, all about the idea processes behind the performance and how it effectively encapsulates the theme of the festival.

‘The title came up during our early discussion between Victoria and myself,’ says Angela. ‘Since 2016 is the Year of Monkey under the element of Fire, according to the Chinese lunar calendar, hence the name Fire Monkey offers a vivid imagery with strong cultural colours that provides much possibilities for creative exploration.’

Angela mentions that the monkey is an important figure in Asian mythologies: ‘It appears in many folklores as well as epics and legends like the Indian’s Ramayana, which has influence on the socio-folkoric traditions of Southeast Asia, and the Chinese’s Journey to the West, which has influence on folk religions and mythologies in East Asia.’

The concept of Fire Monkey also derives from the element of fire; Angela states that ‘the element comprises fire’s duality of life and death and qualities of destruction and benevolence. Fire is a universal myth that exists in all cultures.’

But in this performance, Fire Monkey may not be referring to a literal monkey figure: ‘The title alludes to a certain life force and dynamics encompassing our modern world,’ Angela says. ‘As a performance creation,Fire Monkey references the various folkloric influences but it also connects to the increasing sense of anxiety and uncertainty that people everywhere are feeling.’

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She continues: ‘The performance is presented in many short dance segments that sometimes take place simultaneously at the Arts Centre Melbourne lawn. The format is like traditional street theatre with dancers in modern urban garbs.’

‘Live music performances (comprising percussion instruments of East and West) will also support the dance. There is no fixed seats and audience are encouraged to move around freely to catch performers up-close-and-personal.’

Angela discusses how Fire Monkey will best encapsulate the Asian Australian identity: ‘I hope Fire Monkeyhelps to bring on a distinct Asian perspective that can add to the rich dimension of the Asian Australian identity.’

She continues: ‘Along the way, I also hope this can contribute to the cultural mapping process and enables Melbourne to merge as one of the truly magnanimous cosmopolitans – a liveable city of the new century.’

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Collaborating with Victoria Chiu has been a very interesting experience for Angela: ‘She brings on a strong Australian artistic temperament but also a subtle Asian-ness due to her heritage. She is open-minded and direct in her actions and response, but at the same time she brings on a faintly familiar air when we communicate with each other.’

Being a Skype-based collaboration, Angela acknowledges that the virtual communication can be limiting and awkward, particularly since the key members are visceral and tactile performing artists. But the long distance collaboration also requires a strong dose of trust and respect: ‘This is what exchange of cultures is all about: a leap of faith, openness to examine differences and willingness and resourcefulness to tackle arising challenges.’

She continues: ‘But I actually like these attributes that are the integral and organic parts of the artistic process which lead up to the final presentation. We didn’t come together and just present a show, we have to communicate and learn about each other first before the show is a reality.’

Angela hopes that the audience will enjoy the neo-folkloric approach of Fire Monkey, as well as soaking up the fun of immersive street theatre style from the dance and music presentations. ‘Most of all, I truly hope the audience will recognize how enabling arts and culture are to bridge communication beyond all differences,’ she says.

Fire Monkey – Mapping Melbourne 2016
Arts Centre Melbourne Lawn, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Thursday December 1 – Saturday December 17
multiculturalarts.com.au/event/fire-monkey

The Road To Stockholm

Posted by Milk Bar Mag on 28/11/16.

Soul singer Jessica Papst has been busy creating the ultimate Eurovision spectacle of a show, titled The Road To Stockholm. Filled with brewing tensions and glitzy Eurovision glamour, the cabaret is about two rivals who realise they need to work together to save their crashing musical careers. The only way for them to actually redeem their places in the spotlight is to seize victory at the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm. Milk Bar Mag had a chat to Jess about how she conceptualised the show with comic piano man Matt and what inspired her to start singing in the first place.

‘There are times I don’t understand where these things come from, but that’s fine,’ Jess says. ‘Matt and I worked together for a few years on and off, he’s been living in Melbourne for a lot longer than I have; I’ve only been here for a year. But we’ve both come from Queensland, and we’ve viewed a few shows up there that required us to be sort of European characters and we enjoyed that process so much.’

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Jess also mentions that her being a big Eurovision fan also led to the show idea: ‘It’s absolutely amazing and absolutely ridiculous and just brings me so much joy.’ Her love for Eurovision led her to reflect over her love for ‘90s pop music, and how it has become the new retro today. ‘It’s like I’ve seen this all before in variations and it’s made me start listening to a lot of that ‘90s music again and I was like, “Oh my God, I love this stuff!” There’s a lot of European bands, like disco-y kind of bands that came out of that time, and then I was like, “Oh ‘90s music, ‘90s bands, ‘90s European bands, Eurovision!”’

From a very young age, Jess was always singing and listening to lots of different music: ‘I spent a lot of time singing in the car on family road trips and I enjoyed it, and so when you’re a kid and you like something, I think you keep doing it. I used to sing at home too and I used to get the study hours to go by listening to the nightly Top 40 radio shows and learning all the words to things. I even spent Maths class in Year 11 writing out the lyrics to songs rather than studying.’

‘It’s always been very important to me, even if I wasn’t fully aware of its impact back then, and as I got older I went into acting and teaching first, but then started doing musicals in my really early 20s, and then I kept singing.’

She continues: ‘I think because I’ve had so much to do with music from such a young age, I have a very wide understanding of different musical styles and trends. I’ve got a little library in my brain where I’m like, “Oh that’s funny!” “That song’s kind of the same thing” “Oh we’re talking about this song!” So this is my obscene kind of time-wasting in my childhood.’

‘I think music, particularly music you’ve grow up with, not only is connected to a soundtrack in your childhood, but you learn how music speaks to you because you’re listening to it so often because you have the time to when you’re a little bit younger,’ Jess says. ‘And as we get older, we attach emotions to times and people and places to music.’

Jess discusses how she loves working with Matt: ‘He’s just like 10,000 bundles of energy, so even if I’m having a tired day, I’m like “Okay we’re on! It’s time!” and he’s such a great comic writer and it’s like with our powers combined we are Captain Eurovision.’

She continues: ‘We both love this music and Eurovision and I love all the outfits and the crazy amounts of technical kind of stuff that goes into it. In The Road To Stockholm, Boris and Lenka’s journey isn’t without difficulties because he’s Russian and she’s Ukrainian and they’re forced to work together to save both of their careers. So they’ve got a whole lot of their own pride and ego at stake as well as everything else. It’s about them trying to figure out how they’re going to work together, if they’re going to work together and how it’s all going to end up. With certain amounts of spicy sub-plots, it is going to be very interesting!”

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Both Jess and Matt have put in their best efforts to create some of the most iconic sounding Eurovision tracks: ‘There’s appropriated lyrics, there’s songs as you know them and there’s a couple of originals as well so it’s going to be a fun time. We hope that everyone comes, buys two drinks and walks in with them and sits down and pisses themselves laughing for an hour, like that would be ideal.”

As for Jess’ future goals, she just wants to do what she loves without having to work other jobs to fund her passion: ‘There are some people in the industry whose purpose is to be famous, like that’s what they want out of their career. I have never wanted to be famous, I have always wanted to be able to do what I love and not have 16 jobs to make it work.’

She continues: ‘I just want to be able to do this and give it all my attention and not have to do a whole bunch of other things, so ideally my career would be in a way that I could do a whole variety of different things, like I love writing, performing, choreographing and directing, and it would be the best to be able to fill my week with creative stuff and be able to live off that.’

The Road To Stockholm
The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne
Wednesday December 7 – Sunday December 11, 7pm (6pm on Friday)
thebutterflyclub.com/show/the-road-to-stockholm

Burn, Burn, Burn

Posted by Milk Bar Mag on 27/10/16

Burn, Burn, Burn is a heartwarming and touching comedy about two young women named Seph and Alex who embark on a road trip in order to fulfill their deceased best friend Dan’s wishes. The film is distinctive in its comical approach on death, particularly in its opening scene that consists of Seph driving, with Alex sitting in the passenger seat holding the container with Dan’s ashes in it. Both women are playing a ‘guess who I am’ game, and Alex is supposed to be guessing who Seph is. She quickly guesses Seph to be describing Dan, and then Seph throws the funny line of ‘too soon?’ and then the camera depicts a close-up of the ash-filled container labeled with Dan’s name on it.

The play on death is consistent throughout the film and is reflective of typical British humour, but it doesn’t come across as insensitive due to its overall purpose, which is to enhance the idea of treasuring every moment and living your life to the fullest. Dan is depicted as an animated guy with a wacky sense of humour who loved to party it up, but he also had a dark side that he had kept hidden from everybody: he had been battling his pancreatic cancer, and it eventually robbed him of his life. Before he passed away, however, he created a video for Seph and Alex requesting them to spread his ashes in four of his chosen destinations: London, Stonehenge, Cardiff and York.

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Each of these locations plays a significant role in shaping Dan’s sentimental experiences, and we also witness how his past experiences influences the progression of the two female protagonists, as they expose themselves to uncharted territory and make unsettling discoveries about him and each other.

At the beginning of the film, both Seph and Alex are inflicted with their own demons: Seph conflicts with her boss at work and eventually gets fired from her nanny job, and Alex catches her girlfriend Pandora cheating on her with another woman.

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Both of these incidents happen right after Dan’s funeral, which further heightens Seph and Alex’s grief and inner turmoil, and they decide to escape it all by going on the road trip. Each destination is accompanied by one of Dan’s videos, which describes his connection to the place and his most treasured memories of it. Each video also depicts Dan’s deterioration from his terminal illness, and his insights become darker and more in-depth as Seph and Alex progress through them. He quotes in one of his videos: “I thought I was going to be good at dying, like really good. Like they’d project me at TED talks and I’d be appreciated after my time, but no, turns out I don’t want to die. I love being alive, much more than you two…” and then begins to reproach Seph and Alex individually on what he really thinks of them.

As they travel through each location, the two protagonists meet a drunk hippie, go to one of Dan’s memorable key spots: Livid Nightclub, and hit some more interesting and comical ruts on the road. Their individual dramas also pan out throughout the film: there’s Seph’s indecision regarding her relationship with James, a sweet but boring guy that she has left back at home. He continuously tries to get in contact with her, but she doesn’t have enough willpower to get back to him until later on throughout the film. There’s also Alex’ evasion of Pandora’s calls, her overwhelming need to distance herself from her family and a big secret regarding her past that Dan hints towards in one of his videos since he wants Seph to support her through it. This causes conflict between the two girls, as Alex evades Seph’s attempts to uncover this secret that eats away at her heart.

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Burn Burn Burn is a wonderfully composed film about friendship, death and how important it is to live in the moment. Dan sums it all up when he states a quote from Jack Kerouac: “the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…”

Burn, Burn, Burn 
Screenings for the British International Film Festival will be from Wednesday October 26 – Wednesday November 16
britishfilmfestival.com.au/films/burn-burn-burn