By design – or, at the very least, by the nature of the beast itself – They Might Be Giants were never meant to last as long as they have. They have outlasted a thousand bands that were cooler, more accessible and with bigger hit singles – not only that, they’ve managed to outperform and sell out rooms bigger than them, too. Over 35 years into their career, and the Johns – Linnell (with the accordion) and Flansburgh (with the guitar) – are just as in demand now as they were in their late-80s/early-90s heyday. They’ve got the material to back it up, too. Just last year, the band put out three albums – I Like Fun, My Murdered Remains and The Escape Team. That would have been impressive enough, but factor in these were their 19th, 20th and 21st albums respectively and it’s all the more surreal.
It’s been twelve years since Australia last saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers play a headline show. So much has happened in that time: huge festivals have come and gone, lockout laws have been introduced, and the internet has completely transformed the way we behave at gigs. But at Qudos Bank Arena last night it was clear that, although time has passed, our love for the Chili Peppers hasn’t changed.
If you’ve listened to Triple J over the past few years, you’ve almost definitely heard a LANKS track. Over four years, Will Cuming has released around forty songs under the LANKS name, spanning multiple EPs and an album as well as a multitude of collaborations. Just before commencing this set of shows in support of his latest EP Inoue, however, he announced that they would be the final run of LANKS shows. As a result, Thursday’s show at Red Rattler Theatre was one filled with emotion, reflection and celebration.
On Friday 15th February 2019 the Canadian stars Nickelback rocked up at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena to perform in front of thousands of fans – most donning Nickelback merch – who clearly don’t care for personal opinion. For the audience of mostly middle aged people and 14 year olds, it was a night to remember.
Wollongong-via-Hobart singer-songwriter Maddy Jane is normally flanked by a full band at live shows, bringing some extra oomph to her jangly, retro-tinged guitar pop. Having gotten into the swing of that, putting her on stage under the solo guise feels like an ill-advised decision – if you’re going to showcase the woman’s talents to a largely-unfamiliar audience, it deserves to be in its complete form. Having said that, Jane fares just fine on her lonesome – her smoky, laconic vocals serve as the centrepiece of tracks like the soulful “Not Human at All” and the tongue-in-cheek “No Other Way,” and the fact she has new converts calling out for more at the end of her set surely means mission accomplished.
In the corner of the Oxford Art Factory, near the door that leads through to the toilets, there’s a commemorative plaque for the late, great Rowland S. Howard. It’s there on account of the underground Sydney venue being the place where Howard played what ended up being his final-ever live show, just after the release of his solo album Pop Crimes. Tonight, just after 8:30, if you glance over from the plaque to the stage, you’ll see Sydney sextet City Rose. This is a band that serves as a continuation of Howard’s legacy, embodying his primal and abrasive approach to guitar playing, as well as vocal delivery that’s indebted to the likes of The Birthday Party. That’s not to say, however, that their work is entirely parallel to that of their heroes. They’re influenced, certainly, but City Rose are also inspired – see the swell of violin from stage left, or the guttural honk of baritone sax from stage right. These fill space in the compositions unconventionally, which themselves are already significantly varied and multifaceted to the point of no two songs sounding the same. Ambitious, angular and artistic, City Rose are unquestionably ones to watch in the coming year.
Curiously, Ohio quintet Citizen find themselves in the same position our headliners were in the last time they visited Australia – that is, on a co-headlining run with a band that theoretically feels opposed from a stylistic standpoint. An odd couple, if you will. On paper, a pairing such as this shouldn’t work – and yet, the Venn diagram has just enough of a middle section to make it all work. There is common ground to be moshed upon, after all – both bands possess a stronghold over their audience, singing back their words so loudly that you could probably do away with every vocal microphone on stage entirely. This is especially the case with Citizen, who have managed to concoct at least a few truly great throat-tearing slices of second-wave emo revival on all three of their studio albums. They’re fired off in quick succession here, ranging from the thrashing “Roam the Room” to the slinking, snarling “Cement” before concluding on “The Summer,” which is quite possibly the greatest Sunny Day Real Estate song they never wrote. It’s easy to see why this band means so much to people, and even clearer to see why Citizen keep coming back.
It may have been raining on Saturday night, but inside Max Watt’s it was steamy. The room was packed for a near sold-out show from up-and-coming R&B star Brent Faiyaz. In Australia for the first time, the Goldlink collaborator kept the crowd enamoured for a little over an hour.
It’s been said that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Logic would dictate, then, that a Sydney audience would not be particularly fond of seeing CHVRCHES play a headlining show this evening – after all, they literally played Sydney last week, kicking off 2019 as a part of Field Day. Even casting one’s mind back to the last time the band were in Australia, you only have to go as far back as a measly six months. Seeing CHVRCHES again after all that would just be gilding the lily, no? As it turns out, that’s where you’d be wrong – tonight was all about defying said logic and showing that there is plenty left in the tank as far as the Glasgow natives are concerned.
New York City re-emerged as the epicentre of rock music at the turn of the 21st century, thanks in no small part to a key mix of bands ushering in a new era and a new sound that borrowed from garage rock, post-punk and cult indie classics. Here’s the thing, though: Most of those bands aren’t around anymore. They either splintered off into new projects or imploded entirely. We’re so far removed from it that it’s now centred as a point of millennial nostalgia. By no right should a band like Interpol still be able to play a room as prestigious as the Sydney Opera House concert hall, let alone fill every last seat within it.