w/ Regular John, Mint Chicks
03.02.07 @ HiFi Bar, Melbourne, AUS
Never tell Joby J. Ford that being a punk rocker is an easy gig. During The Bronx’swhirlwind tour of Australia as part the Soundwave Festival, Ford somehow managed to severely damage his pelvis. A lesser man, or perhaps a saner one, would have cancelled the rest of his tour dates and been on the next plane back home to LA, instead the lead guitarist gritted his teeth, rolled out a wheelchair and continued to rock out; a fact for which the lucky few that turned up at the HiFi Bar on a Friday will be forever grateful as they got to witness one of the finest punk rock acts going around in action.
The night got off to a flying start with some strong support acts. Regular Johngave a good acquittal of themselves as they warmed up a crowd that was slow to build, while the front man of the Mint Chicks channeled his inner Cedric Bixler as he thrashed and danced like a madman.
But this night belonged to The Bronx.
Watching these blokes in full flight is akin to seeing a cyclone tear through a country town; such is the reckless abandon with which they play. The only thing that remains incomprehensible is how Ford is the only member carrying serious bodily wounds. The star of the show is undoubtedly lead vocalist Matt Coughtran. When he wasn’t dancing on stage, he was hurling himself headfirst into the mosh pit as he crowd surfed his way around the venue.
In the face of such energy and enthusiasm it was impossible not to get caught up in the excitement and the punters lapped up every second of it, responding with a furious energy of their own. It also didn’t hurt that The Bronx is comprised of more than competent musicians as they belted out one frantic track after another, “History’s Stranglers,” “Heart Attack American” and “Notice of Eviction” being among the standouts.
After an hour and an encore that all seemed to finish up way too quickly, The Bronx took their leave, wheelchair in tow, to catch a flight to Perth where they were scheduled to play the following afternoon. Amidst all the exhausted euphoria and sweaty high fives, the crowd slowly filed out onto Swanston Street knowing they had been a part of something truly special.
For those who weren’t at the HiFi on March the 2nd, they can only pray that The Bronx return to these shores as soon as possible, so that they too can experience the tour de force of modern punk rock that is The Bronx live.
Photo by Carlisle Rogers
Hatchie – Keepsake
Keepsake, the debut album by Brisbane dream pop artist Hatchie is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars
Brisbane indie-pop artist Hatchie (known to her friends and family as Harriette Pilbeam) is in the envious position of being a pop artist unspoiled by the many trappings of what it is to be a modern pop artist. Unlike some of her contemporaries who craft music by committee or with Sheeran-like self-importance, Hatchie is as of now, unsullied by the pressures of the cookie-cutter pop machine. Hatchie’s debut full length is a showcase for a talent who is supremely confident and composed in her abilities, and Keepsake is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars. The album is also a wonderful throwback to pop’s dreamy 60s influences that shuffle in and out of this delirium while working alongside distinctly more current musical touches.
There is the lush dream pop sounds of “Without a Blush”, taking cues from the best of what Stars and Goldfrapp conjure but heaping a tonne of Pilbeam’s charisma on it. Like her vocals, “Without a Blush” has this elegance that has the ability to elevate songs from being beautiful to grand. It is the kind of vocal elegance that really shines through on songs like the skittering, beat-driven “Obsessed” and the alternative, guitar-fuelled (yay!) “When I Get Out”. Indie/electronic closer “Keep” is a wonderful end to proceedings.
However, the great strength of Keepsake is not just its composure in how all the songs have been put together. It is also this genuine, natural-sounding quality that permeates the album- nothing overly written, overly produced or put together by research groups or music analysts. It just sounds like talent. We can argue that much of pop music is constructed to appease the moment- designed to grab as much attention as possible in an A.D.D. world. And sure, that can be said about almost any kind of music, but the resulting aural tone of Keepsake is anything but transient or transparent.
The best way to combat tepid chart-topping music is to write better pop songs. Songs like “Her Own Heart” and the disco-toned “Stay” are examples of pop music that come across as timeless. We are moved by the songs found on Keepsake when we listen to them today. And I suspect that in 10 years time, or in 20, we will most likely feel the same. It is rare to find the sort of ageless beauty you find on Keepsake.