Saturday, April 23, 2011

Band - Big Scary

Gig: Big Scary "Four Seasons tour"
Supports: Step-Panther, Kins
Venue: East Brunswick Club, East Brunswick – $15 tix
Date: Friday 1st April, 2011

It was comforting...finally returning to one of my favourite Melbourne bandrooms for a gig and enjoying an initial 30 minutes of thumping lo-fi garage rock.

Step-Panther opened this gig to a crowd of less than 25 with a good mix of short old-school punk-ish alt-rock songs that resonate throughout your body without burning your ears.

Their songs are classic punk - short with abrupt endings - but typical of the modern era, pop influenced and essentially lyrically void. Thankfully, they were just having fun! I had download a couple of their songs from TripleJ Unearthed the prior week and found these recorded tracks somewhat harsh and unbalanced. Therefore, my expectations coming in to this gig were low. Thankfully, their live mix was much better, with a well harmonised and fuller sound.

The band was enjoyably casual yet confident, but I do not understand why they spoke with American accents...or is that just a hipster thing? They coped well with an emergency guitar string repair, with the bassist and drummer performing an ad-hoc cover of Ain't No Sunshine.

This is the kind of band I enjoy randomly experiencing live. Personally, I am unlikely to buy their recorded stuff, but they they fit perfectly with the Melbourne rock scene, which is championed by venues like Pony and The Tote. Good work, Step-Panther! I really enjoyed the set.

The next support was Kins, the new band of Thomas Savage, who co-founded but has since left Oh Mercy. Kins brought a mellow feel to the room with their indie-folk tunes.

Possibly the best description I have seen for the Kins music is "experimental pop". Whilst providing plenty musically, the band seemed a little bland and bored at times, which is never the way to capture a crowd when you're a support act. Nonetheless, their set was musically enjoyable, it just lacked energy or presence...and hence there was little for me to recall about them, other than it's awesome seeing a girl capably playing a Telecaster in a band like this. Chick guitarists rock!

In contrast, every time Big Scary hit a stage they emit rays of joy at just being there to play their music. Watching this band play imparts the feeling that they are having endless fun regardless of the audience size or what any listeners or critics think of them.

A rewarding unconventional band, Tom Iansek and Jo Syme knew that a live interpretation of The Big Scary Four Seasons LP would be a challenge for a two-piece. Musically and thematically rich, the LP brings together the four seasonal EPs released during 2010.  The resulting compilation is a scattered affair. Disjointed and constantly changing pace and mood, it is ultimately the perfect analogy for the Melbourne weather it describes.

Pulling in a sell out crowd for the first of two headline shows at the East Brunswick Club, the audience was notably full of youngins and hipsters but thankfully well supported by a healthy mix of random music lovers.

The Big Scary set was divided into the four seasons, opened by Autumn. Dressed in raincoats and Autumn leaves, their refreshingly unorthodox approach was showcased from the first chord as the duo began with a soft new song, Gladiator, followed by the very first song they released and boppy fan favourite - The Apple Song - from a 2008 CD single. It may have been a perplexing start to a gig for their new followers and those who were generally unfamiliar with the Big Scary approach, but I can only thank them for being different. Nonetheless, the Friday night crowd was awoken by the familiar (at least for TripleJ listeners) and rudimental drum march driven Autumn.

Next came Winter, which provided the most sedate and cosy songs of the night through Deep Freeze and the new Got It Lost It.

Spring brought out the acoustic guitar, once again demonstrating Tom Iansek's brilliant easy of transition between electrical guitar to keyboard piano to acoustic guitar and back across them all and more.

Microwave Pizza is another Big Scary fan favourite at live shows and tonight was no different as the front rows clung on to every desperate word of the bittersweet love song to that housemate that everyone knows...or if themselves.

The Spring and Summer sets where joined by two new songs that are destined for Big Scary's debut album release, due out later this year - Heartbreak and Mix Tape, followed by Purple.

This slow burn gig hit its highs during the Summer set with new song Mix Tape and the Four Season's biggest rock song, Tuesday is Rent Day, a highlight of the night for many.

Cool Kids and All That You've Got followed...and then the gig was rounded off with one of my favourite Big Scary tracks, the sonically thick and appropriate closer Lullabies, Lies and Goodbyes.

However, everyone knew that a Big Scary gig could not end without a performance of their most well known tune, Falling Away. Not surprisingly, said song was the single encore, played with a variation on the opening and an energy that shows no sign of tiring.

In little over an hour the four seasons had been musically transversed. The gig was all done and dusted and the crowd was satisfied. However, we all left with the undeniable sensation that the best was yet to come from Big Scary...and that best will be something extra special.

Keep your eyes and ears on Big Scary, Australia. They are an act worth treasuring.

Even with their classical ballads, Big Scary are very rock. A real education in diverse musical talent.

For a better review of this gig, check out the Faster Louder post by Clementine Zawadzki at:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Beer - Holgate Empress now on tap at Biero Bar

Tonight the Biero Bar twitter notified followers that the exciting Empress Imperial Mocha Porter from Holgate Brewhouse is now on tap!

If you are yet to taste this wonderfully rich and intriguing beer, I implore you to make your way to Biero Bar and taste the 10% abv Empress! It will not last long.

Choc full of dark chocolate and fruits, supported by spices, sweet malts and vanilla. Empress is deliciously complex with a warming alcoholic finish. For such a heavy and luscious beer, which is best enjoyed as a slow sipper, it is awfully easy to drink. Overall, it is the finest example of Australian craft beer in 2011.

Several Melbourne beer bars here and there have already drained kegs of Empress, since it debuted at the Great Australian Beer SpecTAPular in February. However, supplies seems to be on their last I recommend you don't hold off any longer!

120 750ml bottles will be released in June, but they will be pricey and snapped up before you can say Beelzebub's Jewels...

You want it! (...ok...I want it!)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Beer - BrewDog Tokyo* ...on TAP!

BrewDog Tokyo* is an amazing beer. This 18.2% abv Imperial Stout is finely crafted yet completely irreverent...true to form for Scotland's cheeky but accomplished craft brewery.

The brewery's description of Tokyo* is as follows - "A beer inspired by a 1980's space invaders arcade game played in Japan's capital. This imperial stout is brewed with copious amounts of speciality malts, jasmine and cranberries. After fermentation we then dry-hop this killer stout with a bucketload of our favourite hops before carefully ageing the beer on French toasted oak chips."

In a wonderful first for Australia, kegs of Tokyo* have been brought to our shores by BrewDog's Aussie importer, Hop & Spirit. These pricey kegs (I hear they cost something in the vicinity of $1000) are now being tapped at beer bars across Australia.

As Melbourne's weather cools down and clouds over significantly this weekend, the time is just right to slowly enjoy a big-ass warming beer like Tokyo*.

I first tried Tokyo* from the bottle last year. Whilst the flavour was incredible and I clearly recognised the amazing complexity and art of the beer, I found it rather harsh with the high alcohol burning my palate. It was enjoyable, but too much.

When revisiting Tokyo* in draught form, it was a much better experience. During a recent evening at The Local Taphouse, fellow beer blogger Aaron of I'm Here For The Hops shared his glass with me.

On tap, the jasmine and cranberries shine through in the brandy-like aroma. In the mouth, the alcohol is still in your face, but less harsh, much more balanced. The taste and mouthfeel imparts much depth and character of sweet dark fruits and roasted malts, plus something a little smokey. Oaky notes from the ageing are also more prominent in draught than the bottle.

If you enjoy stouts of any form, this is a beer worth experiencing...if only for the sheer provocation of it. James Watt and Martin Dickie of BrewDog have styled themselves as brewing punks. This beer certainly helps to confirm their claim.

I may be a little untimely with this post, as the very limited supplies of draught Tokyo* have been on tap around Melbourne beer bars for a week now...and are mostly likely almost empty, or close to it. Nonetheless, if you can find a bar still pouring, don't be afraid to take a chance on something that will set up back more than you've probably ever paid for a tap beer before (unless you were lucky enough to have some of the Moo Brew Aged Imperial Stout at Beer DeLuxe last year)!

The following Melbourne bars have received Tokyo*

If you are keen to try this beer and need to travel is get to any of these bars, I would try calling ahead to see if they still have it pouring. Then, scrape together all your pennies or grab some mates to share a glass with, because this huge beer is the perfect beer for sharing around. Enjoy!

Learn more about BrewDog Tokyo* at:

Note: the * refers to the 18.2% abv version of BrewDog Tokyo, after this beer was originally brewed as a 12% Imperial Stout, which has now been retired.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Band - Sin City...last gig of 2011...already!

Melbourne is rocking along beautifully at the moment. The street-press pages are thick and live music venues are overflowing with emerging and established acts performing a diverse range of music..something for everyone...whatever your aural drug.

One particular gig that has hit my headlines is the "last gig for 2011" from Sin City...

...huh...last gig of the April?!? Whaaaa?

Here's the PR explanation, via their Facebook page:

"It's been 9 & 1/2 years since Sin City exploded onto the Australian music scene. Armed with nothing more than 3 chords and a maniacal stage presence the band went on to become one of Australia's premier independent rock acts clocking up over 900 shows, touring Australia countless times, moving from Perth to Melbourne, playing everything from the Big Day Out to Sounds Loud and with everyone from The Misfits to Metallica. Not bad for a pack of punks.

But now it seems the road is finally starting to catch up with the rock'n'roll juggernaut that is Sin City and the band are going on hiatus while members travel overseas and try to catch up on some sleep. They do promise to be back but not until at least 2012!

So let's get pissed and celebrate all things Sin City with a fuck off huge party at Pony on Saturday 16th April.

Starting from 9pm Sin City have invited some of their favourite Melbourne acts to warm up The Pony stage with Stranglehold, Bombing Angels, The Mercy Kills, Ramshackle Army and Australian Kingswood Factory joining forces to create one of the best line-ups you can see. Then from 2am Sin City play their favourite time slot in their favourite venue for the last time in who knows how long.

Expect 2 sets, songs spanning their (almost) 10 year career, tears, beers, cheers and a blood-boiling, fist-pumping, body-slamming, heart-breaking, dance floor shaking, good time like only Melbourne's kings & queen of rock Sin City can deliver. Rock'n'Roll satisfaction is guaranteed and Do Not Miss This Show! HELL YEAH!!"

I have blogged here previously my love for Sin City and Pony bar's 2am late shows on weekends. This band knows how to kick on and on and on, whilst imparting their messy energy onto a forever keen crowd of randoms. If you love some raucous pub rock, it will be a night worth experiencing, supported by a local band line-up that is worthy of a big dirty rock party in a tiny space.

Sadly, this gig is on a night on which I'm committed to going to bed early, in preparation for the Herald Sun/City Link Run for the Kids event the next morning. In my world, running 14.38km at 9am makes gigging the night before mostly impossible. However, I encourage anyone who enjoys a late night out with a bit of dirty rock and a fun crowd to get along to this gig!

Sin City's Tash at The Green Room, 2006

My gigging has been somewhat limited of late. Nevertheless, I have locked in to revisit some of my favourite local artists over the next month and am looking forward to hearing what their support acts have to offer.

First up...tonight we are headed for the Big Scary gig at the East Brunswick Club. Supports include Kins (Thom Savage, formally of Oh Mercy) and Step-Panther from NSW. For only $12, I consider this something of a bargain gig these days - brilliant band, awesome venue - it is too rare to find such a gig under $15 these days.

Big Scary at Northcote Social Club, May 2010.

Next week we'll catch The Jezabels play The Corner ( has been too long since we've had a night at The Corner!) and then return to EBC on Friday night again for Gareth Liddiard and Dan Kelly.

Further, with the Melbourne International Comedy Festival commencing tonight, I am taking a punt on seeing LA comedy-music act The Dan Band at The Hi-Fi Bar. My only exposure to The Dan Band so far has been through their Christmas song "I Wanna Rock You Hard This Christmas" and their cameo in The Hangover, which has been enough hilarity to suck me into seeing them live. I do love quality comedians who are musically talented as well, because they inspire me whilst making me laugh...the type of high I embrace in life.