Sorry about the late post on this one guys, I've had a bit of a turbulent week. Last weekends Pauhaus Festival went off with a bang, and I would rate it as the best Brisbane festival I've attended so far this year. The $3.5 million used to fund the Powerhouse refurbishments was obviously well spent and I'm looking forward to the return of the Live Spark series (I Heart Hiroshima & Yves Klein Blue next Sunday arvo!).
Though I arrived at the Powerhouse around 2.15pm (It was scheduled to open at 2.30) there was already a long line outside; complete with numerous people looking to score tickets from non-existent scalpers. After a bit of a delay we made it in to see the first band Violent Soho. The Mansfield lads launched whole heartedly into a set featuring songs from their Pigs & TV EP as well as a number of new tunes. About half way through they were beset by a failing bass guitar. After attempting to fix it for a number of songs, bassist Luke gave in by first passing the bass to the crowd to play, and, finally, got involved in some grunge-friendly trashing of instruments which the rest of the boys quickly joined in with. All in all Violent Soho performed a tight yet exciting set as per usual; further cementing their place as leaders of the 90s revival in Brisbane.
A quick walk found us listening to the post-punk/britpop revivalist strains of Yves Klein Blue and, quite honestly, I wasn't impressed. I had heard all the hype surrounding the MTV Kickstart winners, yet to me they came off as a poor cousin to The Libertines. The entire set seemed too forced to be entertaining, and i found myself sufficiently bored. At the same time however I felt the need to remain and see what the fuss was about. My friends, however, seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves. A telling factor in this may be that they were females, as was the entire front row, most who were screaming. I'll leave it until I seem them again next Sunday to cast judgment entirely.
Back in the Turbine Hall we came up against Gold Coast popsters Operator Please. For some reason I have been predisposed to dislike the kids for some inexplicable; I'm guessing it has something to do with lingering resentment due to living on the Gold Coast for 10 years. However I found myself enjoying their ever expanding array of fun pop songs. Vocalist/guitarist voice verges on angelic at times, so surprising for someone so young, while the rest of the band exude similar amounts of confidence. While they may not be the most innovative band in the world they are still young, and Operator Please are definitely a band to watch out for.
Next up was the Temper Trap. While I hadn't previously had the pleasure of seeing these Melbourne indie rockers before, I definitely wasn't disappointed. In spite of a number of technical failures during the set, the Temper Trap played an intimate set. Dougie and co teared through a set comprising songs from their EP and their forthcoming album. A more in depth review is hindered by the fact that the bands sound is indefinable; it sounds so familiar yet so unique at the same time, a rare feat indeed.
Bit By Bats are a never band I haven't previously seen live, and by all accounts they played an exciting, if a little non-descript, set. Hits "Go!Go!Go!" and "One Six One" were well received by the crowd who were soon moshing away to the energetic garage punks.
Apart from the Grates, Macromantics was the act I was anticipating the most, and I was duly rewarded. Kicking off with new track "Physical", Miss Macro flexed her lyrical skill. The former Noise Addict member is indefinitely Australia's preeminent MC, and she showed why at the Powerhouse. DJ Amy kicked up a storm on the decks, showcasing her skill on Macromantics' cover of Justin Timberlake's "My Love", and showing why she's is a vital partner in the Macromantics show.
The next band was Red Riders. Red Riders seem to be one of the buzz bands in the Australian music scene at the moment, and I can't for the life of me see why. This band exudes averageness; average songwriting, average sound, average members, and, overall, an average set at Pauhaus. Expect them to be massive by the end of 2007.
Now nearing the final stretch of the night we headed to the Powerhouse Theatre to catch Dappled Cities (Fly). The Sydneysiders performed an atmospheric set comprised mostly of material from recent album Granddance. Comparisons to the Arcade Fire are appropriate, and the guys ripped through songs such as "Fire Fire Fire", "Vision Bell", and set highlight "Holy Chord" with ease and skill.
Back in the Turbine Hall, The Panics had already began their set. Their country-tinged indie rock proved a crowd pleaser, with a surprising number of patrons singing along. A technically faultless set was backed up with an excellent set of songs. The new material on offer was particularly promising; their next LP is now one of my most anticipated.
A general disdain of Expatriate and the fact that I did not want to see Ed Kuepper play before I see The Saints next month meant that The Grates would be the next, and final, band of the night. A packed out Turbine Hall erupted in screams as Patience, John, Alana, and Panda Dan took to the stage. Although they lacked the intricate set design of their previous shows, the band put on an amazingly energetic set. Constant touring has obviously paid off exponentially, and many of the songs had subtle changes which improved them. The highlight of the set, however, was the inclusion of two new songs; "Hide & Die" and "Blue November". While the songs contained the components that made previous songs by The Grates so exciting, their songwriting has obviously improved in leaps and bounds. The new songs left the crowd salivating for more, and The Grates finished off with the one-two punch of "Trampoline" and "Inside Outside" which inspired what was probably the first ever occurrence of crowd surfing at the Powerhouse.
Overall the Pauhaus Festival went off a storm, and I am yet to hear a word of criticism. I'm also yet to hear any word of a return for the festival next year, but if there is I will be first in line for a ticket.
Thanks goes out to Charlyn Cameron who provided the awesome photo of The Grates above. Check out her website here.