Monday, September 30, 2013

The Basics- Leftover Ingredients Tour

The past three nights have been a bit of a Basics marathon as I attended all three of their sold out Melbourne shows.  I figured since they haven't played together live over the past three years that I was making up for lost time.  Besides, no Basics show is ever the same so you can expect the unexpected to happen each night (a bit similar to Crowded House in that respect).

The opening act was the wonderful Louis Spoils (aka Jake Rush) who played solo on electric guitar.  While his set was short I really enjoyed it as he has a rich tone to his voice and was quite funny with his explanations about the inspiration behind each song.  Next up was the 6 piece band Hoy, which featured Mr Tim Heath on bass.  They had a bit of a 1970s folk rock vibe to them.

As for The Basics, here is what happened at each show:

September 27
Mary and I met up at the Northcote Social Club for dinner before the show and got a high five from Kris when he walked past (I think high fives are his new thing).  Tash joined us by the time the boys hit the stage, and it was a very strong start to the set with "So Hard For You" and "The No. 1 Cause of Death Amongst Youth Today."  The show was being filmed, which Wally admitted was making him a bit self-conscious.  The set list featured earlier material such as "She's Gonna B. Late," "Lovin' Man," "Hey C'mon!" and "Yeah, Yeah" complete with some exceptional choreographed dance moves by Kris and Tim.  Other highlights were "Besame Mucho," "Second Best," the lovely harmonies on "Hey Rain," and two new songs: "To Think Of You" and "The Lucky Country," which is a blistering commentary on Australian politics at the moment.

After doing shots backstage before coming back on for the encore we were treated to a couple Creedence Clearwater Revival covers of "Long As I Can See the Light" and "Proud Mary" before they finished with "Call It Rhythm and Blues."  Poor Wally had all sorts of trouble with his drum kit throughout the night as it kept moving around on him and he even lost the kick pedal in the bass drum mid-song.  By the end he had had enough and lightly threw off the cymbal that kept spinning on him and knocked over its stand in the most rock move I've ever seen him do.

September 28
Before the show Ruth, Danny and I had dinner at Los Hermanos Mexican Taqueria in Brunswick, which was quite yummy.  It's such a relief to have another good Mexican place to eat at (and so close to home).  We grabbed dessert at Delphi Continental Cakes on High Street before heading into the Northcote Social Club.

The Basics started their set with the one-two punch of "Hey There!" and "Just Hold On."  There was great energy from the boys right from the start as it was Grand Final night and Tim's team Hawthorn had won in the afternoon.  The set list was switched around a lot from the previous evening.  They played "Money (Gimme, Gimme)," "Feels Like Love," "Home Again," and "What Do You See In Me?"  We were also treated to more new songs: "The Lucky Country," "To Think Of You," "Roundabout" and "Come Back" (not entirely sure on some of those titles).  There were also lots of covers throughout the evening, including Ryan Adams' "Shakedown on 9th Street," and Spencer Davis Group's "Gimme Some Lovin'" with AC/DC's "Jailbreak" mixed in.

September 29
The last Basics show was at the Corner Hotel, a venue they haven't played at in years.  The set list was pretty similar to the previous night, but there were some additional gems in there that hadn't been played on the other nights, including "My Baby" and "All or Nothing" with Kris solo on acoustic guitar (and a silent venue listening along).  This show was pretty epic and got more rockin' as the night wore on with a cover of The Kinks "All Day and All of the Night," and an encore that featured "Rattle My Chain," Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love," the "Gimme Some Lovin'/Jailbreak'" medley and finished with "Call It Rhythm and Blues."

It was great to see the boys playing live over several nights.  They were very gracious with fans after each of the shows as they hung out at the merch desk to chat with people, sign albums and take pictures.  I hope the new songs that are emerging will eventually get recorded, especially "The Lucky Country" which I think should be released as a single because Australia needs a good protest song right now.

Here is a live version of "To Think of You" from 3RRR minus Wally, but featuring some lovely guitar work by Tim:

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Alexander Gow- The Red Hummingbird

Photo by Mary
One of the benefits of living in Melbourne is impromptu gigs by your favorite local bands.  Although Alexander Gow from Oh Mercy has relocated to Portland, Oregon he was back in town this week being filmed for a "Where Are They Now" bit for the Qantas Spirit of Youth Awards (SOYA), which Oh Mercy won for music in 2009.

Mary, Tash and I met up after work at The Red Hummingbird to watch this intimate set by Alex solo on electric guitar.  It was good to hear these Oh Mercy songs live again and stripped back, especially "Rebel Beats," "Drums," "My Man" and a particularly strong version of "Suffocated."  We were also treated to a couple new songs, one about courting a woman of faith, and another called "Cool Water" which I really liked.  Alex joked he sang them to prove to himself and us that he has actually done something over the past four months in the States.  The set finished with an impassioned cover of The Waterboy's "Fisherman's Blues" and the title track "Deep Heat."  There is a new "trans-Pacific" version of Oh Mercy about to emerge at the CMJ Music Marathon in New York City in October and hopefully some shows along the West Coast soon (I was strongly advocating for one when I am home in December- I will get you a crowd Alex!).

Here is Alex performing "Drums" solo for Tram Sessions last year:

Monday, September 09, 2013

Lunch In The Melbourne CBD

Working in the Melbourne CBD allows you a plethora of choice for excellent lunch options.  Normally I pack a lunch (because I would be broke if I ate out everyday) but sometimes it is good to escape the office and grab a meal with coworkers.  These are a few of my favorite places to get a bite to eat.

Mamasita (Level 1/11 Collins Street): There have been many Mexican restaurants that have opened in Melbourne over the past couple of years, but I still consider Mamasita to be the best.  The key to getting a table at lunchtime is to get there before 12:30 pm.  All the food is light, fresh and flavorful with a variety of options on the menu depending on what you feel like eating.  My favorites include the chips and salsa, tostaditas, fish tacos and the chickpea fritters.

China Red (Shop 6/206 Bourke Street): Located down an arcade by JB Hi-Fi, China Red is the place to go for dumplings in the city.  Add in touch screen ordering and it is a very efficient lunch trip as the food comes out quickly.  My top three picks on the menu are the pan fried pork dumplings, pork won tons in spicy sauce, and their signature dish the Shanghai Shao-Long-Bao.

Wonderbao (Shop 4/19-37 A'Beckett Street): Continuing the Asian theme, steamed buns (bao) became big over the last year, with Wonderbao leading the pack.  Located in a laneway near the RMIT campus, Wonderbao puts an updated spin on your normal steamed buns, and are best known for their gua bao.  All the food here is really great, including their amazing egg custard buns.  The prices are also a steal due to their proximity to the university and student clientele.  Seating is limited, but you can usually get a spot in the alley if all the seats are taken inside (it's best to go when the weather is nice).

Mr Burger (428 Little Bourke Street): Another big food trend in Melbourne over the past year has been hamburgers, and Mr Burger is definitely the best I have found.  Starting out as a food truck they recently opened a store in the CBD and also have a semi-permanent spot at the Queen Victoria Market.  There are three different burgers to choose from (Mr Burger, Mr Meat and Mr Veg) along with a side of chips.  I've only had Mr Burger so far and it is a great classic cheeseburger.  The brioche buns are what make them so tasty.

Bowery To Williamsburg (16 Oliver Lane): The current fad on the Melbourne food scene is American, with a focus on Southern cooking and New York style deli.  The recently opened and appropriately named Bowery To Williamsburg has the New York deli vibe down pat.  For $16.50 you can get a sandwich and side of your choice, along with some pretzels and a pickle.  The reuben sandwich is quite good, and the mac and cheese side is delicious.  There are also bagels with lox and schmears, as well as some yummy desserts including New York cheesecake and pumpkin pie tarts (although I will say that my pumpkin pie is better than theirs).

So those are some of my favorite places- what are your recommendations for places to eat in the Melbourne CBD?

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Hungry Kids Of Hungary- Do Or Die Tour

I was secretly happy when a second Melbourne show was announced by Hungry Kids of Hungary at the Northcote Social Club.  I always love to see bands at more intimate venues, so Mary and I took advantage of this opportunity and bought tickets for last night's show.  After catching up over dinner we headed into the bandroom for the first act of the night, indie rock band Lurch & Chief.  Next up was Split Seconds, who we saw open for Oh Mercy last year.  They played a great set and the lead singer had funny stories to tell to explain the origins of their songs.  They did a cover of Paul Kelly's "Little Decisions" and mixed in a bit of Edwyn Collins' "A Girl Like You" during their final song.

Hungry Kids of Hungary opened the evening with "Litter and Sand" and played songs spanning all of their releases, including the rarely played "One By One" and "Old Money" from their first two EPs.  The harmonies from the boys were soaring as always, and the front of the crowd was dancing and singing along to favorites such as "Wristwatch," "Let Me Down," "Scattered Diamonds," "Sharp Shooter," and "Twin Cities."  The band were so humble and appreciative of the Melbourne audience that continues to support them and would come out to see them on a weeknight.  They stayed on stage instead of going off and back on for an encore, and finished the night with a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain."  If you haven't bought their latest release You're A Shadow yet you need to get it- it's a fantastic album.

Here's the video for the latest single "Do Or Die," which was shot in Scotland:

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