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:

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