Gig Review – The Offspring – Channel [V] Online

Originally posted at Channel [V]

Venue: Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Date: 8 March 2013

Guys, 1992 was like heaps long ago. Like, 21 years if I’m not mistaken. Did you know that back then our Prime Minister was *GOOGLE DUDES NAME AND INSERT HERE*? Back then a loaf of bread cost *MAKE-UP PRICE AND PUT HERE*. Since 1992 *LOOK UP HISTORICAL EVENTS ON WIKIPEDIA AND LIST HERE*! I know, right? Crazy to think about isn’t it… Anyway I mention all this thoroughly researched information because 1992 is the year immortal punk gods The Offspring released their album Ignition which for some reason they decided to play in full at their Soundwave sideshow at The Enmore Theatre.

Support band Far Away Stables seem to have the whole Aussie alternative-rock thing fairly down-pat for a pack of fresh-faced locals. They belted out some catchy punk-edged tunes with a performance as tight as their matching black skinny jeans. Although their cover of Benny Benassi tune ‘Cinema’ didn’t really hit the mark (nor the board, wall or general vicinity of whatever target metaphor I’m butchering here) their own material had a professional sound to it that attests to their recent high-profile support slots. And hey only one dude told them to “Get the fuck off the stage” so that’s not bad!

Like I mentioned to death above, two decades isn’t a short period of time and The Offspring aren’t (Off)spring chickens anymore. That being said, although both leading men Dexter and Noodles are in or nearing their 50s, the sound of their live performance is as spritely and youthful as I’m sure it was in 1992 (I couldn’t say for sure though, I was too busy shitting my daks and sucking boob to make it to a gig back then). The vocals of Dexter, especially, were surprisingly immaculate and belie the age and appearance of the now 47-year-old punk legend, and Noodles’ backing vocals and guitar-work fared no worse. Take that, mid-life crisis!

Beginning with a verbatim run-through of Ignition seemed like a bit of an odd choice, however. I understand the whole “anniversary yaaaaay!” thing but their second album is void of any stand-out tracks and lacks the vigour and full-throttle mischievousness of their later work. The first half of the night therefore felt a bit flat and although they sounded solid enough, the guys’ inability to throw themselves around the stage like they used to made for an unenergetic run of songs that only old school fans would’ve really been thrilled by.

Leaving the stage for a quick break and apparently a beer (more likely a peptide or two), The Offspring returned and started the show right and proper with the famous flaming skull logo now ablaze and the previously bland lighting replaced with violent strobes. Blasting through more hits than a night out with Chris Brown, the guys completely made up for a lacklustre opening with ‘Spare Me the Details’, ‘Come Out and Play” and ‘You’re Gonna Go Far Kid’ all inspiring mayhem and mass sing-alongs from the varied sweaty horde.

Newer fans rocked out shirtless alongside die-hards wearing tour shirts definitely twice as old as some of the crowd members, with oddly more than a few confused pre-pubescents in attendance. Speaking of, massive shout-out to the cool mum who brought her 12-year-old son and committed to taking around 30 flash-photos of her pride and joy during the gig. I’m sure you nailed that new profile pic of his, Mum. And don’t worry, the entire Enmore weren’t baying for your blood or anything. ROCK ON!

After another quick break (and no doubt a quick injection of some calf blood) the band brought out their signature “woah-ohs” in full, finishing off the crowd with set-closer ‘Self Esteem’. Showing The Enmore a sound that has maintained its brilliance over 20 years, The Offspring proved that age is but a number and definitely earned themselves a good night’s sleep. I’m sure they’ve got an early start in the morning for a big day of antiquing or visiting the markets or something.

Festival Review: Future Music – Channel [V] Website

Originally posted on [V] Website

It didn’t take too long at Randwick Racecourse on Saturday to figure out I might not fit in as your typical Future Music Festival attendee. Both my shoulders and the entirety of my buttocks were fully hidden by clothing (prude!), my pupils maintained at the appropriate size at all times and not once did I utter the phrase “Yeeeeeeew”! Happily in the minority I steeled myself in preparation for a day amongst the munted masses, hoping some sweet live tunes would get me through it unscathed.

Rita Ora
After having been sidelined from the Perth edition of the festival last weekend Rita returned to the Future stage, her voice as solid and intact as ever, having told that throat infection to fuck right off. The British pop-star must have powered through some Lemsip this week because she perfectly belted out every note as she surged through her hits to a sizeable early crowd happily partaking in equal amounts of both “Party and Bullshit”.

Bringing their full live experience to Australia for the first time, British electronic outfit Rudimental started their set with some mellower sounds, taking punters who might only know the band from their drum and bass singles by surprise. Song-recognition was definitely not at an all-time high and the crowd was fairly subdued for the most part, at least until ‘Not Giving In’ finally stirred a response. The amazing vocal interplay and chill vibes of ‘Spoons’ slowed things down a bit before the Londoners melted minds en masse with an explosive rendition of ‘Feel The Love’ to close the set.

You know what rhymes with Psy? Why. As in why the fuck is the creator of the eternally painful ‘Gangnam Style’, a YouTube “sensation” from eight months ago, appearing on an Australian music festival line-up? The ultimate novelty inclusion, Psy took the stage in a white sleeveless suit looking equally as bewildered as I was and apologised for his presence with a short monologue on the nature of fame or something… I wasn’t really listening. Flanked by the requisite K-Pop dance troupe, Psy performed two new songs nobody cared about and then the most-watched YouTube song of all time twice. TWICE. To be honest, the main thing I experienced watching this ridiculous set was sympathy for the man. You could actually see another small part of his soul die as he horsey-danced across the stage for the bazillionth time. Dancing for us like a monkey in a circus. DANCE FOR THE PEOPLE, PSY! DANCE!

Steve Aoki
Watching Steve Aoki’s set, it occurred to me the man probably should have considered a less stationary career than DJ. Spending most of his time in front of, on top of or pretty much anywhere but the decks, Aoki jumped about the stage like an ADHD kid who just sculled red cordial. All the hallmarks of his famously fun sets were present; champagne showers, inflatables, fire extinguishers and stage dives and the non-stop electro/house tunes worked the massive crowd into a chaotic frenzy of effed-up camels. After a bitter-sweet dedication to recently passed DJ and friend Ajax, Aoki crowd surfed the entirety of the mosh and finished his day with a soaring leap of our very own [V] Stage Dive.

Dizzee Rascal
Shirtlessness was at an all-time high as the sun began to set on Randwick and the now dirt-covered, sun-drenched masses surged towards the main stage to see everyone’s favourite English rascal. My favourite thing about Dizzee Rascal is if you ever have a brain aneurysm mid-song and forget who you’re listening to, chances are you’ll be reminded fairly quickly by him announcing “it’s Dizzee Rascal”. So that’s handy. Dizzee certainly had plenty of people to dance wiv, with the overflowing horde of ravers being educated on the benefits of being addicted to dirty, stinking bass as opposed to hard drugs. You hear that kids? Drugs = bad. Bass = good. (Channel [V] encourages the responsible listening to bass music. Remember to always bass in moderation).

The Prodigy
Back when I was a tiny human I remember watching the music video for The Prodigy’s ‘Breathe’. That shit gave my seven-year-old self such bad nightmares Mum banned me from watching Rage for like, years. Well guess what, Mother, I’M AN ADULT NOW AND YOU CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO ANYMORE. With a rebellious air and a conviction to overcome my bed-wetting past I entered the ripe-smelling Warriors Dance Arena to end the night with my old pals The Prodigy.

If anyone on the Future Music line-up knows their way around a festival show, it’s the lads from The Prodigy. Opening with a particularly violent rendition of ‘Voodoo People’ and not letting up for a second, the tight, aggressive set saw hit after hit punched out to the pulsating throng of filthy, manic punters. ‘Breathe’ and ‘Omen’ had the biggest sing-along moments with Keith and Maxim’s famous crowdsmanship inspiring the biggest response of the day. The set also featured a unique moment where everyone’s favourite shit-stirrer Azealia Banks took some time away from starting fights with every other musician, and joined The Prodigy boys on stage for a duet version of ‘Firestarter’. I’ll let her tweet describe how it went: “@AZEALIABANKS: YAAAAAAAASSSSSS !!!!!!”. Easily the highlight of the day The Prodigy proved 20+ years of raving hasn’t diminished their sound one bit, and me not getting scared at all proved I’m a big boy now. You hear that, Mum?

Gig Review: Linkin Park – Channel [V] Website

Originally posted on [V] Website

Venue: Sydney Entertainment Centre
Date: 25th February, 2013.

Two skinny white guys in their 30’s alternating between aggressively rapping and screaming at you over densely layered grinding guitar and electronic drumbeats. Oh and there’s a DJ. Describing Linkin Park on paper is at best slightly confusing and at worst a horrific nightmare amalgamation of discordant music styles but the way the band combine these seemingly disjointed genres to create their constantly evolving sound is nothing short of miraculous as the end result is about as fun as rock music can get. In the country for the Soundwave festival Linkin Park tore apart the usual tranquillity of a Tuesday night, tearing the Sydney Entertainment Centre a new arsehole in the process. The band may be hard to define but I guess in the end it doesn’t even matter (I’m so sorry).

Supporting band Stone Sour had a fairly sizeable crowd who arrived early for their brand of lite-metal rock, however I can’t say it’s exactly my cup of tea. It felt to me a little bit like an angrier, slightly metal version of Nickleback which should be enough of a description to communicate my response to their performance. The fact that front man Corey Taylor is also the lead singer from Slipknot also just works to confuse me further at what exactly I was listening to. The rotund bro in the polyester Holden jacket in front of me seemed to enjoy them though so… what the fuck do I know.

Speaking of bros the dude-heavy crowd could really only be described as a Brogasmic Brosplosion of epic Broportions. Bros from all walks of life were present there were big bros, small bros, teen bros, old bros, bros with hats, bros with tatts, bros wearing thongs and bros named John. The ‘All-Ages’ part on my ticket definitely wasn’t lying with every generation represented in the crowd including a large portion of Dads rocking their way through that mid-life crisis as well as a few mini-moshers who couldn’t have been older than 8. Seems kids are learning the ropes of nu-metal younger and younger these days.

Founding members of the rap/nu/alternate-metal scene in the early noughties and moving towards the electronic, ravey feels of their most recent album Living Things, Linkin Park have never been afraid of experimenting with their sound, a fact which makes their stage shows feel like a combination of a heavy metal show and an Ibiza nightclub. Opener ‘Faint’ from 2003’s Meteora album introduced this dichotomy with the interplay of the looping synths and the more explosive guitar riff showing off what Linkin Park do best. Moving through the set-list consisting of a perfect mesh of old and new the band know exactly how to keep a crowd thrashing with even the nosebleeds up out of their chairs for the bulk of the show.

Considering he’s been screaming like a banshee on ice for over a decade now it’s truly amazing that Chester Bennington (who doesn’t even slightly resemble Gollum, that’s rude, why would you even suggest that) hasn’t completely worn down his trachea. The man must fucking love his lemon and honey teas. Getting his scream on alongside co-vocalist Mike Shinoda’s swift rapping, Chester nailed every shriek with frightening intensity.

Accompanying the aural assault of Linkin Park were some impressive visuals with a gigantic live feed of the band overlaid with apocalyptic, fiery graphics depicting bodies collapsing and worlds imploding. The technique didn’t hit the mark every time however with one filter that made the band members look like horrific pudding monsters intent on devouring their own dripping, delicious flesh and which will continue to disturb me for some time.

Closing the night with a succession of their biggest hits ‘Numb’, ‘What I’ve Done’ and ‘In The End’ Linkin Park had the entire Entertainment Centre fist-pumping like crazed fiends with bros of all ages losing their minds to some of nu-metal’s finest tunes. To be touring in 2013 after a decade of playing music when many of their counterparts have faded into obscurity is testament to not only Linkin Park’s ability to continually evolve their sound but the skill and precision of their live performances. Which by the way are a shit ton of fun.

Gig Review: Paramore – Channel [V] Website

Originally posted at [V] Website

If like me, you consider yourself a young adult chances are very high that you experienced first-hand, either as an observer or participant, the glorious age of the noughties where side-fringes reigned supreme, eyeliner crossed gender boundaries and melancholy was the coolest. Emo culture definitely ruled a solid era of my formative years and I’m not ashamed to admit I, like everyone else at my high school, fell for the youthful angst mixed with melodic guitar riffs of the likes of Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco. With these memories swirling in my mind (in addition to the thought “thank fuck I grew out of that”) yours truly and the majority of Sydney’s lesbian community headed down to the Enmore Theatre to re-visit this musical epoch via the sounds of pop-punksters Paramore.

Due to car issues (read: drinking/time-management issues) I unfortunately missed the support band but I’m sure that the certain amount of band members on stage played their respective instruments to some varying degree of success generating an appropriate response from the present audience. And that my friends, is a review you can take to the bank.

With the sold-out Enmore heaving with a fairly gender-unbalanced crowd (helloooo ladies), 9pm arrived and the incessant chanting of “Paramore” finally gave way to the lights dimming and the band taking the stage with the loudest ear-splitting scream saved for the entrance of the woman who launched a thousand 15-year-old Mitch boners: Hayley Williams. Sporting her signature flaming red hair, matching orange microphone and thankfully a full set of eyebrows (have you seen their latest music video? That shit’s freaky) Hayley immediately captured the hearts of every punter in the room launching into latest single ‘Now’ and bouncing round the stage in a way only a true pop-punk princess could.

The set, which stuck to mainly taking from the bands most recent two albums Brand New Eyes (2009) and Riot! (2007), was executed with constant, full-throttle energy, not only from the indefatigable Williams but in equal measure from guitarists Taylor York and Jeremy Davis with barrel-rolls and full-stage circuits very much the par. The ardent followers of the Church of Hayley were definitely out in force with every lyric of every song screamed by both the pitch-perfect
Williams and the enthusiastic audience. One particular Paramore fan got the experience of a lifetime being brought up from the crowd to help sing the final chorus in closing number ‘Misery Business’. Definitely no wall-flower, the wide-eyed girl leapt about the place (whilst no doubt simultaneously shitting herself) and to her credit nailed every “woah-oh” arm in arm with her idol.

The massive cross-genre appeal and mainstream success of Paramore is evident in the band’s ability to not so much as straddle the line between pop and punk as much as gleefully leap back and forth between the two. In one moment of the night I witnessed a characteristic punk scene with a lead singer gratuitously spitting into the air whilst thrashing crowd-surfers were plucked from the mosh by security. A couple of songs later and I’m experiencing a band initiated synchronised finger-snap-along (like a clap-along but… more delicate) and then a sea of camera phones recording an
unashamed acoustic pop-ballad (‘The Only Exception’).

Over 90 minutes Paramore explored every corner of grey between the genres of pop and punk and in doing so gave an impressive, grand and comprehensive show both young adult Mitch and Emo- teen Mitch got a kick out of. If the copious amounts of sweat dripping from the exhausted, smiling masses exiting the Enmore are anything to judge by I wasn’t the only one.

Does it matter if you’re Black and White? – Channel [V] Website

Originally posted at [V] Website

So this week you, the esteemed polling public of Channel [V], voted serial-sexy-backer Justin Timberlake and his long-overdue new video ‘Suit & Tie’ as your [V] Ripe Clip of the Week. You go, Channel [V] viewers! No but seriously I would totally have his babies, so solid move increasing his airtime on my TV screen. What’s unique (or as we’re about to find out: not so much) about JT’s newest music video is his decision to film it in monochrome aka black and white (or “Inkwell” for all you Instagrammers). It’s a classy touch for what is arguably a super classy vid with Mr. Biel pushing hard for that retro style and delving into a decidedly cinematic, ’50s feel. A sophisticated old-school effect however is only one of the many reasons behind an artist’s decision to shoot in black and white and the last few decades of music videos have certainly given us some killer colourless clips.

Beyonce – Single Ladies
If the whole “admitting to willingly giving my body to Justin Timberlake if he so requested” thing didn’t get you questioning my sexuality, let’s bump it up a notch by delving into one of my secret favourite clips of the last few years and what many consider Her Majesty Knowles’ magnum opus. Beyonce’s B&W music video for her massive hit ‘Single Ladies’ has had a lasting impact on both the pop culture world and the very fabric of society itself. The distinctive dance moves Bey and Friends hurled at our faces in the intensely choreographed 2008 video took the world by storm with the hand-twirls and hip-thrusts having been parodied by everyone from the SNL crew to BBC news reporters, moves which can still today be seen repeated nightly on many an Oxford St dance floor. My favourite fact about this clip, however, has to be the internet rumour that circulated a few years back exclaiming that one of the backup dancers was in fact not a single lady at all but really a dude (albeit an incredibly talented, slender one). The rumours of course were nothing but that, rumours, with the physiologically female dancer merely suffering from a bad case of man-face.

Green Day – Working Class Hero
Whereas Beyonce’s simple black and white palette put the focus on the punishingly swift dance moves, Green Day’s decision to film their 2007 reinterpretation of the John Lennon classic ‘Working Class Hero’ in monochrome shines the light on a slightly more serious, worthy cause. Raising awareness for an Amnesty International campaign to save the African region of Darfur, the video is interspersed with real-life Darfur exiles recounting horrific tales of violence and political atrocities. Proving again the power of rock stars doing good instead of doing drugs/groupies, the clip was well received at the time and stood out in a year in music where Fergie was vigorously spelling at us and Akon was mainly concerned with “smacking that” (all on the floor, mind you.) High-five, socially conscious rock!

Chris Isaak – Wicked Game
Jumping back a few years now and on to a clip which is constantly slotted near the top of various Greatest Music Video lists with Croony McSwoony himself, Chris Isaak and his 1989 release ‘Wicked Game’. The brooding, lustful song is appropriately paired with Chris and supermodel Helena Christensen running around pouting on a beach and I assume searching for their respective shirts, which they both seem to have misplaced, while storm clouds swirl in the background. Now I guess this is merely due to my desensitised 2013 brain (thanks Flo Rida) but I have always found it hard to understand the constant declarations of this being the sexiest film clip of all time. Puh-lease. The ratio of shots of clouds drifting by versus shots of lady-nipple is frankly insulting. Pick up your game late-’80s videography.

A-Ha – Take on Me
The inclusion of this final favourite clip of mine may prove to be a bit divisive, so before you get your trolling gloves on and start calling me Hitler, let me state I am well aware that this is technically not 100% black and white SHUT UP OKAY I KNOW GOD… but it’s just so damn good. The 1985 video for the synth-pop tune from Norwegian new-wavers A-Ha (ALL OF THE HYPHENS!) utilised cutting edge, space-age technology to deliver a part animation, part live-action classic which won a whole mess of awards and my eternal appreciation. I’m sorry, but if you’ve never even once dreamed of being sucked into a comic-book world and falling in love whilst being chased by motorcycle racers brandishing pipe wrenches then you have no soul and should probably just leave.

So what have we learnt from this journey back through the ages of black and white music videos? What’s actually going through a musician’s mind when he or she goes, “You know what, fuck you, colour!”? And what IS Chris Isaak’s obsession with standing silhouetted in profile in front of landscapes? Well if there’s one thing we’ve learned it’s this: If you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it… or something. I don’t know, I’m tired.