words: Jarith Hughes // photos: Rick Clifford @rcstills
“Bad Pony’s performance was tight and strong, yet unbridled and compelling, I felt like I had witnessed music pushed beyond its conventional limits..”
Tragedy just placed its filthy hand on our city again this afternoon and nervous tension was thick in the air. It rang clearer than ever in my head that tonight I needed to hear music that reminds me I’m alive. I wanted to feel it, and the atmosphere in the room felt ready.
We know what they say about first impressions, and Indie/Guitar Pop/Rock band MID CITY knows how to leave you with a grin on your face. The night kicks off with fast pounding beats and a driving bass line that captures the rooms attention instantly. Quick hooky guitar riffs flip to thick power strummed chords over the chanting lyrics “No Surrender!”. The sound is energetic and full, there are shades of early dark brit rock (Arctic Monkeys, Foals, The Strokes and even Joy Division come to mind) blended with moments of glittery indie pop that make you want to dance and sing along even if “that’s not your thing”.
Captivating as the songs are, stage presence is also very worthy of mention. In a room of 100 people, the band will easily convince you there were 10x more. The singers artful stances and daring eye contact partnered with the bands swaying and fancy footwork can quickly erupt into thrashing, even diving into the crowd to share the microphone and dance floor. Easy to say for the opening band Mid City successfully warmed the stage, speakers and audience for what was about to follow, also a made a huge fan out of me!
“Up and Coming” might be a widely overused phrase these days, but in its true definition I believe it fits perfectly for the dreamy Indie/Pop/Rock band Club Yorke. Sonically the band feels slightly familiar or homely, like I’ve always known them; yet powerful and fresh. Carrying the classic Australian Indie/Rock sound with jangly shimmering guitars, floor tom grooves and cymbal crescendos but with drive and finesse that often even the chart toppers lack.
Sam Burtt’s lead vocals need to be witnessed live to be believed. Opening verses with beautifully delicate Corby-esk falsetto, then straight into belting powerhouse yells that cascade over the sonic wash of guitars, big drums and cymbals. Putting their own spin on Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” was also a clever way for the band to show their nostalgic side and get the whole crowd singing along. Club Yorke’s live performance was impressively polished and tight. The flow of the songs and the dynamics were clever and felt really natural. This band is truly ready for the big leagues, so keep your eyes and ears peeled!
The room is packed and the energy buzzing with anticipation for headlining Power Pop / Indie / Rock band Bad Pony. It’s almost impossible to find a place to stand. I’m somewhat bewildered as I begin to see the drum kit pulled apart and spread across the stage. Front and centre (but not together). At first I’m a little skeptical that a multi-tasking band could pull together much more than a simple dance beat and some major chords. I couldn’t possibly have been more wrong.
The set opens thick and fast with hard “four on the floor” dance beats shared between the lead singer rocking a spread out stand-up kit, and next to him, rhythm guitarist sporting the kick drum. In ridiculous perfect synchronicity, the party begins. Strong thumping bass lines, blazing synths and intricate fuzz driven guitar harmonies all come together with a choir of vocals. Falsetto “Oohs” burst into passionate screams and everything inbetween. The songs seem to blur lines between dark fuzzy Alt/Rock (alike QOTSA, Arctic Monkeys, Eagles Of Death Metal) and bright, fun Disco / Dance / Pop (Foals, Klaxons, LCD Soundsystem). There is a powerful dynamic between the group too. Their shared responsibility and vulnerability doesn’t weigh them down, nor does it restrict them. Instead Lead singer Jarred Young is found dancing and jolting around the stage, swinging sticks as far as he can reach to hit the crash in time. Drums spread across the stage for the moments when the whole band shares percussive duties. There is a feeling of 110% commitment from everyone on stage and its gripping.
With musical energy and zeal for days, the songs also carry deep and contemplative lyrics, with lines like “It’s cold in the winter months, but it’s colder when you’re waiting for someone.” and “I’m sorry about the blame, but I can’t incubate that pain for too long.”. I’m a sucker for contrasting melody with lyrics. Bad Pony’s performance was tight and strong, yet unbridled and compelling, I felt like I had witnessed music pushed beyond its conventional limits and I was left inspired to push more.
The night came to a close and I was left with far more than I’d originally expected (not just the beer on my shirt). I couldn’t be more proud of Australia’s local music scene and how we do not settle for mediocre. I’m very eager to see where MID CITY, Club Yorke and Bad Pony continue to achieve and create genuinely good music.
Full gallery below
video by Spilting Films