Thursday, February 26, 2015

Andy White- Wesley Anne

Andy White has just returned from an overseas tour of Italy, the UK, Ireland and Canada, so he was fighting fit for his live set at the Wesley Anne in Northcote tonight. This was actually my first time in the venue, and the bandroom is a great space (and they serve food in there). I came in towards the end of folk singer Alison Thom's set, catching the last few songs. Fran joined me and it was good to be able to catch up with her.

Andy started his set solo by playing "James Joyce's Grave" before inviting members of his band The Antipoets onto the stage. Most of the songs in the set were off his recent album How Things Are, with highlights including "Drifting," "Band Of Gold," "Jessica Says," "Everyone's In Love," and "Lennon." We were also treated to the older tracks "Italian Girls on Mopeds," "Vision Of You," "If You Want It" and the set closer "Jacqui." Andy seemed to enjoy himself throughout the night and sounded great. I'd really like to catch him doing a whole set solo just on acoustic guitar.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Basics- Tinder Knight

Northcote Social Club
It was billed as a secret show under the moniker Tinder Knight on the Northcote Social Club website, but those in the know realised tonight was going to be a unique and special evening featuring The Basics. They set up to play 'in the round' style in the middle of the bandroom with just a piano and two acoustic guitars. The crowd was limited to 200 people, which made for an intimate experience as everyone sat or stood around them. In addition, people were invited to bring along sheet music for any songs they would like the band to attempt to play, which added an element of unpredictability to the night.

Northcote Social Club
After Kris, Tim and Wally came out and took their seats they started off with a cover of Crowded House's "Not The Girl You Think You Are." Kris explained that they called the show Tinder Knight because Tuesday's are supposed to be the nights that people go on Tinder dates. The band promised to play mostly rarely heard Basics songs and covers, so I knew we would be in for a great evening. In the first set we were treated to a number of Basics tracks, including "To Think Of You," "Wait For You," "Ashleigh Wakes," "Trouble In His Head" and "What Do You See In Me?" Some of the covers were pretty amazing as well, especially Tears For Fears' "Mad World," The Beatles' "Here, There and Everywhere" and David Bowie's "As The World Falls Down" from the movie Labyrinth (perhaps the most random cover of the evening). The highlight though was Wally singing an audience request for George Michael's "Freedom" while trying to read the lyrics in the dark room.

After a brief intermission the guys came back out for what was a pretty eclectic second set. They began with Cold Chisel's "When The War Is Over" and then Kris sang Christina Aguilera's "Genie In A Bottle." Wally slayed Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed" and they all played a beautiful version of Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon." As for Basics tracks we got to hear "Hey Rain" (with Tim on piano), "Keep The Door Open," "With This Ship," "All Or Nothing" and "Home Again." One theme that ran throughout the night was Wally's excitement about having seen Roxette last week and his desire to sing "The Look." We got a few snippets here and there, including a bit of a jazzy version, but it wasn't until near the end of the set that he finally got to sing the song in full. As they were on a Swedish kick Ace of Base came up, which resulted in a little piece of "The Sign."

Northcote Social Club
Kris made a request for Wally to sing the Gotye track "Bronte." It had a couple false starts around Kris and Tim not being able to do the harmonies but Wally did a gorgeous version in the end. I enjoyed hearing Kris and Wally sing Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins' "What A Fool Believes," but my favorite moment was an audience request for John Farnham's "You're The Voice" that they took on with gusto (that song is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me). Kris dedicated Neil Young's "Old Man" to himself as it's his birthday on Saturday and had everyone singing along with him. The very last song of the night was The Beatles' "The End," which was the perfect way to finish this epic 3 hour gig.

The evening felt like one of those classic Basics shows of the past with all the humor, harmonies and unique covers. My cheeks hurt from laughing and smiling so much. The guys really seemed to be enjoying themselves, but there was also a tinge of sadness as Wally is moving to New York and we don't know when The Basics will be playing together again. I'm having flashbacks to the Keep Your Friends Close era as there is a finished album (currently titled The Age of Entitlement) but no release date on the horizon. We will just have to wait and see what the future holds, but I don't think this is the end for The Basics.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

White Night Melbourne 2015

I enjoyed White Night Melbourne so much last year that I was eager to check it all out again this year. Running for one night only from 7:00 pm - 7:00 am, it's an opportunity to choose your own adventure as there is so much to see and experience. In order to get the best out of White Night, I have the following tips:
  • Plan ahead what you want to see: Look at the program and highlight what your "must sees" are on a map. It's much easier to see things in a geographical order than to zigzag across the city.
  • Come into the city after midnight: The best way to avoid the big crowds and long lines is to come in as many people are starting to head home. I arrived around 1:00 am and was able to wander around without having to deal with a crush of people.
  • Wear comfortable shoes: As the footprint of White Night expands, it means you will be doing a lot of walking in order to see everything. I walked over 11 kms (nearly 7 miles) during the four hours I was at White Night.
  • Follow #WhiteNightMelb: Wondering where those secret spots on the map are going to be located? Utilise social media to find the answer so you don't miss out on something great.
I started my night at the NGV to see KEYFRAMES by Group LAPS, which featured illuminated stick figures in motion, and experience the laser lumia effect of Infinite Curve by Kit Webster and David Leigh.

Next I headed into the Queen Victoria and Alexandria Gardens to hear the kinetic sound sculptures of Ray Lee's Chorus, and see the ultimate profile photo opportunity provided by Carla O'Brien's Neon Angel Wings (and there was a line of people waiting to take pictures in front of it). I then walked past the glowing giant lotus flowers of Sita's Garden in the Yarra River and across to Birrarung Marr to see the fire breathing dragon of Sean Diamond and Stephanie Selig's The Crucible.

I am a massive fan of The Electric Canvas as their light projections are always so amazing. Once again they did an fantastic job with Wonderland along Flinders Street, taking on the theme of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

The laneways and streets of Melbourne's CBD held many little treasures to discover, including the combination of street art and light projection with Yandell Walton and 'I & The Others' Exodus, the animated sculptures projected in Plasmatic No.1, Plasmatic No.2, Plasmatic No.3 by Andy Buchanan, and the Vanishing and Becoming light projections on the Queen Victoria Women's Centre by Sohan Ariel Hayes.

At the State Library there were two different pieces to celebrate the sesquicentenary of the publication of Lewis Carroll's novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Outside were the Rabbit Hole light projections by Nick Azidis, and inside the library dome were the 360-degree light projections of Eat Me by Antoine + Manuel accompanied by music by Sui Zhen. It was great to finally get into the dome this year (the line was much shorter at 4:00 am) as I not only enjoyed the projections, but also the air conditioning since it was still so warm and humid outside.

On the map for White Night there were a number of secret spots named with a question mark as to their location. Fortunately I learned via Twitter that one not to miss was Sofles - Graffiti Mapped curated by Juddy Roller, which was located on the way to the Carlton Gardens. The work combined 3D video mapping with street art and a musical score. It was an innovative work and one of the highlights of the evening.

My last location for the night was the Royal Exhibition Building to see 4 Elements by Ocubo. Showcasing the elements of earth, water, fire and air, the projections also featured dancers moving across the building as the elements changed. This was a large scale, amazing work projected onto one of my favorite buildings in Melbourne. I couldn't think of a better way to end my White Night journey for 2015.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Birthday Celebrations

My milestone birthday has finally arrived, and it's been a great day! Unfortunately things at work are really busy so I was unable to take the day off. However, my parents brightened my desk by sending an incredible bouquet of flowers (which also tipped off my colleagues that it was my birthday). Justin and I escaped for lunch at Mamasita, which was fantastic as usual and fulfilled my craving for Mexican food. Then my divisional colleagues threw a little surprise afternoon tea for me with a cake from Laurent, which was really thoughtful of them.

As someone who went on a patisserie crawl last year, it should be no surprise that I chose to celebrate my birthday this year by doing the dessert degustation at Om Nom in the Adelphi Hotel. When you walk in you are hit by the sweet smell of sugar. I was joined by a lovely group of friends, with over half of us doing the degustation and the others ordering savory food to share. Onagh was kind enough to get me the Adelphi Rose cocktail, which was quite nice. I think between us we managed to order all of the degustation options on the menu. My three choices were as follows:
  • Raspberry Field- Raspberry and lychee sorbet, baked meringue, raspberry panna cotta, rosewater pearls and white chocolate
  • Icecream 'Sanga'- Pistachio ice cream, ricotta orange cream, vanilla chantilly, biscuit cuillere, strawberry swirled vanilla ice cream and balsamic spheres
  • MagNOM- Flourless chocolate, valhrona manjari 64% chocolate ice cream, peanut dacquoise and peanut butter swirled vanilla ice cream
All of the dishes tasted and looked great, but I think my favorite was the Raspberry Field with its raspberry sorbet mushroom cap. It was really nice of the staff to write happy birthday on my MagNOM plate (I blew out one of the table candles after my friends sang to me). Since the sizes were smaller than normal desserts and had light flavors I didn't feel overloaded on sugar by the end of the evening. The degustation was a great way to sample a portion of the menu at the quite reasonable price of $48 per person. I look forward to coming back to Om Nom to try some more dishes. I would also like to thank all my friends for making turning 40 years old a fun and relatively pain free experience.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Daniel Rossen- Northcote Social Club

When Daniel Rossen last played in Melbourne with Grizzly Bear in 2012 his solo EP Silent Hour / Golden Mile had just been released. I never thought I would get to hear these songs played live, so I was super excited when he announced he would be doing a solo tour of Australia last year. Belinda joined me at the Northcote Social Club for tonight's second sold out show. The opening act was Jasia (aka Josiah Willows), who was accompanied by a guy on double bass. He mixed his classical training on violin with loops and electric guitar, producing an ethereal sound with his voice and music.

Daniel Rossen came out and took a seat on the raised platform on the stage and started his set with "Up On High." He joked that this was his vacation tour as he's escaping the winter and snow in New York. Alternating between 6 and 12 string acoustic guitars run through pedals and a piano, he played songs spanning his entire career. Highlights included "Silent Song" and "Golden Mile" from his solo EP, and a number of Department of Eagles tracks off In Ear Park: "In Ear Park," "Herringbone" and "Balmy Night," which he played on the banjo. He did a cover of Townes Van Zandt's "Kathleen" as well as a few brand new and unreleased songs of his own, including the amazing track "Not Coming Back."

Daniel is a phenomenal guitar player so it was such a privilege to watch him play up close in an intimate setting. I also have to commend the crowd who were quiet and very respectful throughout the evening. It was so nice to not have to deal with talkers and noise and be able to focus on the music. This is especially true since he only played a couple of older Grizzly Bear tracks in the set: "Easier" and "Deep Blue Sea." Daniel finished the night with the Department of Eagles' song "Phantom Other." It was such an amazing show, and so great to hear songs that I thought I would never get to see played live in concert.

Here's a 2014 live set by Daniel on Seattle's KEXP:

Sunday, February 08, 2015

St Kilda Festival- The Basics and San Cisco

Today was Festival Sunday at the St Kilda Festival, and thankfully the weather Gods were kind to us as the temperature wasn't nearly as hot as forecast earlier in the week. This year is the 35th anniversary of the festival, which is the largest of its kind in Australia. As I was walking along Jacka Boulevard I came across the Hare Krishna Ratha Yatra parade as it passed under the pedestrian bridge and people threw down rose petals from above.

I met up with Mary near the front of the main stage for the mid-afternoon set by The Basics. It was an impassioned start with "Time Poor" and "The Lucky Country" as the first two songs. Kris reminded the crowd that Monday's Liberal Party spill wouldn't result in any real change if someone else became Prime Minster. The set was a good mix of older songs, with the Stand Out/Fit In tracks "Have Love, Will Travel," "Hey There!," "Just Hold On," "Three Cool Cats" and "Rattle My Chain" (appropriate for the occasion as the album cover was shot at The Espy). Kris and Tim just returned from a quick trip to Kenya and were dressed in a dashiki and Maasai red plaid cloth. Unfortunately Wally was losing his voice as the set went on, but he made it through "So Hard For You" and "Second Best," which contained an extended drum solo. One funny moment was when he took a sip of Kris' lemonade, realized it contained alcohol, and asked Kris if he'd made a shandy (the answer was yes). By the end of their set the grey skies had turned blue and the sun was out. They closed with a great cover of Neil Young's "Old Man," and as Kris referenced Jimmy Fallon I think my tweet to him about the Two Neil Youngs bit on the Tonight Show last week may have inspired its inclusion in the set.

We managed to find Tash, who was sitting further back on the hill, and stayed there to watch San Cisco's set. Although I own all their releases this was the first time I've seen them live. They played a mix of new songs off their upcoming album Gracetown as well as some old favorites such as "Awkward," "Beach" and "No Friends." The newer single "Run" and just released "Too Much Time Together" got a good reaction, but it was the set closer "Fred Astaire" that had the huge crowd bopping along. I thought it was really brave of them to play so many new songs to a festival crowd, as it would have been easier to focus on their older, more well known tracks.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Super Bowl XLIX

The Super Bowl is like an American national holiday, so my fellow Ameristralian Danny and I took today off work so we could watch the big game. Once again we went to Burger Mary's Super Bowl party, which was held at the Waterside Hotel on Flinders Street. This year's game was between last year's winner the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots, who were three time champions under coach Bill Belichick. Normally I would have been a fairly neutral observer, but after last year's NFC Championship game loss against Seattle and their cornerback Richard Sherman's post game comments, I was firmly cheering on the Patriots today.

We had reserved seats up on the third level where there were long tables set up for people to sit at. It was amusing to see all these Aussies going crazy for Miller beer and the 15 varieties of chicken wings (especially the guy across from us who I think ate at least 20 wings himself). The game got off to a slow start, with the New England offense dominating time on the field but not translating that onto the scoreboard. At halftime the game was tied 14-14 after a brave decision by Seattle to go for a touchdown on fourth down in the dying seconds of the second quarter.

After enjoying Katy Perry's half time performance (especially loved seeing Missy Elliot) it was back to the action, and Seattle looked to be in the driver's seat with a 10 point lead going into the fourth quarter. However, you can never count out a team with Tom Brady as its quarterback, and he had two great drives resulting in touchdowns to give the Patriots a 4 point lead with 2 minutes to go. Then came the most insane couple minutes I think I've ever seen in a football game, with Seattle getting quickly down the field in a few plays, including a 33-yard juggling catch by Jermaine Kearse while he was on his back. It looked like the game was all over when Marshawn Lynch was stopped just short of the goal line. One would think you would just run it in, but then Seattle decided to throw the ball and it was intercepted in the end zone by Patriots rookie Malcolm Butler and that was it- the Patriots managed to hold on to win the Super Bowl. It was an amazing finish to a very entertaining second half.

Final Score
New England Patriots: 28
Seattle Seahawks: 24
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