Thursday, 13 August 2009

Idle Cranes, Stature::Statue, Velociraptor @ Fans (11.08.09)

Fans nights have fairly quickly become the hub of a rising new scene of fashionable young indie-rock bands. The audiences they attract reflect that - I don't think I've ever seen such a well dressed, good looking group of people before... except for at the other Fans nights I've attended. They makes the crowds who frequented the old Depot nights (with whom Fans shares a venue - Alhambra, aka No12 - and also the pre-Ekka holiday evening, with The Depot having it's annual reunion just down the road) look comparatively trashy. This particular evening sees Sydney's Talons in town to launch their new album, as well as a record launch for one of Brisbane's own new acts, as well as two other local acts of a similar disposition.

Stature::Statue may have gone through some relatively significant lineup changes in recent times (new drummer, losing a guitarist) but their core sound has stayed pretty much the same throughout their three-year existence - super fast, chaotic post-punk of the 'angular' variety that was very popular a couple of years ago. While many of the bands who appeared around the same time and with a similar sound as Stature have either disappeared or morphed significantly, they've pretty much soldiered on in the same vein. This is no bad thing; they were always one of the best bands around in their chosen style, coming across as more ragged and crazed than their peers.

After seemingly losing their way a little bit a year or so ago when guitarist Dion and drummer Ross left, they seem to be back on track with their newest incarnation. Replacement drummer James has improved by leaps and bounds - where he once struggled to keep up with the rest of the band he now provides a solid backbone. Meanwhile the reduction of the band to a trio has streamlined their sound and allowed one to hear the intricacies of their music much more easily, instead of hiding it all behind a wall of guitar effects and feedback. The result is something that's less At The Drive-In and more like Lightning Bolt being fronted by Steve Urkel (the ATDI comparisons never really fit in the first place anyway - S::S aren't nearly as hooky as that band, and with their explorations of feedback and guitar texture are sonically far more in debt to bands like Sonic Youth and JAMC, albeit with the tempo doubled). I hope they continue with this more stripped back lineup, it suits them well.

Idle Cranes come from similar post-punk stock to Stature::Statue, but with a far hazier, groove-laden feel and generally more variety in musical style. This particular evening they're launching their debut EP, 'Fur Release' (which you can listen to in full via their myspace) - although being 40minutes long I'd be more inclined to call it an album. I've seen the band a few times since the I last wrote about them on Before Hollywood, and they've put on a pretty good show each time - not always mind-blowing but never flat, and always with at least a handful of songs that impress. The usual pick of the bunch is regular set-closer 'Two Horse Race', one of the best shoegazey stoner-rock songs to come out of this city recently (though I can't really think of much competition for them in this category... suffice to say that even if this were a more popular style right now the song would still rate highly). Generally the band puts on their best performances when the atmosphere is somewhat oppressive - hot, drunk and tired is generally the best state in which to appreciate their particular brand of music. This show wasn't the superlative performance that the band might have hoped for in an EP Launch, but I don't think think that was really due to anything that the band did or didn't do. For some reason all of the disparate elements didn't quite gel - the venue, the crowd, the noise, they just didn't come together in the way that one might have hoped for when everything seemed lined up just perfectly. At it's best, though, the sound was all-encompassing, and at its worst it was still better than many other bands could muster.

After Idle Cranes came Sydney's Talons, who put on a pretty great show. I saw and liked them back at the FansFansFans festival a few months ago, so Tuesday's show proved to me that it wasn't a one-off. They don't really fall within the focus of this blog though, so that's all I really have to say about them.

Finishing off the night with a 1am set were local garage collective Velociraptor, a septet featuring members of DZ, The Strange Attractors and Running Guns (and probably a few others). I've seen the band now in three incarnations, ranging from a trio through to tonight's seven-strong lineup. The band seems to think that their music is super primitive rock and roll, but I don't quite know about that. It may not be tech-metal but it's equally not boneheaded two-chord rock, being filled with all manner of stops, starts and breakdowns. For your standard four-piece rock band it might not be massively impressive but given there are seven people on stage (who apparently almost never practice together) it's a pretty good effort. As for the size of the band, there's no real need for that many people in order to play the songs, but that's kind of missing the point - it's all for spectacle, with four guitarists, two drummers and a bassist creating absolute havoc on (and off) stage. There was crowd surfing, audience members being given instruments to play, amplifiers and drumkits being pushed over mid-song, walls of feedback and confusion in between every number. As for the songs themselves, they're pretty damn catchy garage rock tracks, all lead by frontman Jeremy Neale who does a damn good job of attracting interest, especially considering the chaos that surrounds him on stage and the fact that he barely has a chance to address the audience in between songs (and when he does you can't really hear him over the guitar feedback and the conversations of the other band members anyway).

Oh, and they have a song based around the theme song to the original Batman TV series.


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Joshua said...

Sweet review. great night! I was one of the many guitarist in Velociraptor..

jamestwright said...

Fantastic review! I'm the drummer in S::S and I thank-you for the honest and accurate review, as it reflects the mood from the other side of the stage as well. Great night indeed, and certainly an apt summation of the proceedings.


Young said...

Great review dude. I was one the people in the room that night. I'm also one of the people in the room I'm currently in. I'd like to thank you for honestly and accurately not singling me out in your review, as I was just one of many people in the crowd. I think we all deserve equal credit for our involvement, and I'm not one to draw attention to myself unnecessarily.

Benjamin said...

....Shriken had a song based around the batman theme song back in 2004. it was called batman was amazing!

Cam said...

yeah, that shuriken song is awesome. shame it never saw a release other than via their myspace page.