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In Review – Elisha Bones

Elisha Bones at the White Eagle Polish Club 16th August 2013
With Tully On Tully, Borneo with live art by Houl / Walrus / Micha
by Geoff Dunn 

Oh Crowds.

It’s 10:15 by the time I arrive … I’m either late … or arriving at the perfect time … tonight I’m both …

It’s busy! There’s a veritable hipster torrent coming through the door and I work my way through the crowd to the front right of the stage to get a look at the band … it’s Tully on Tully up from Melbourne.

Tully on Tully. Photo by Bernard Winter

… it’s toward the end of their set (I was late) and Blue … bathed in cyan … driving forth with passion if not precision, Tully on Tully are powering along in alt.rock anthemic style. They have groove and melody and a gyrating lead who shimmies and struts her way back and forth along the stage and whips at the crowd … who stand quite impassive.

If a rocky headland had actual will to rebuff the incessant wave … the scene would play like this. Sure, there’s a whoop at the end of songs and some polite clapping but they do – not – move! In fact they show nothing to suggest that the band playing (and playing well! Well, OK maybe they need to work on their changes a bit…) not a few meters hence affects them in any way. Quite a few are checking their phones and I feel that while they are present in body their minds are elsewhere … clouded perhaps?

Sometimes it’s not the band but the crowd that interests me and this one is interesting, exhibiting a coarse granularity expressed in small clusters. There’s an interconnectedness … these folks know each other but I’m thinking not well in real life. A sub-cluster has gathered around a large mural being created by artists Houl, Micha and Walrus … a man clad in a wolf’s pelt is taking form over a snow white mane. I find myself coming over all poetic;

Gnarled
As a tree it’s twisted roots worked with spirals
He looms above her adorned in fresh slain Canus … the pelt now working ajar
She was attracted by his dead eyes … recently Wolf’s
their promised abyss
his hands soft as fur with hint of polished claw
now revealed to a hideous protruding boniness that hovers over her chest
A snow white mane overflows and frames
her hammock at once a spiralling hypnosis and cutlass both
arms upstretched in supplication
patterned with clumsy tattoos from a different life
the well-meaning incantations a nursery rhyme now
as the roots below darken to a Mesmer’s curtain

It’s a work in progress, Tully has finished and so I head back to the bar.

The crowd … there’s a retro-chic op-shop style about them too … a young Liz Taylor glides past in a faux-Roman pleated blouse, nose-ring shining aboard an aquiline nose,, a waist-coated gent sporting sixties spectacles and neatly trimmed facial growth stands out not at all … nor do the grey suede buckled and heeled ankle boots … in fact they’re each repeated again and again … I feel like they’ve all just watched Thrift Shop and found Vinnies yet they’re all slink but no dance … I’m thinking a public service grad cohort and I’m feeling poetic again … it happens;

Standing toward the bar her dark bob sliding into a faded pink tee
Slender with a white swan across her chest
Pleated short skirt
Over black tights,
light olive and cream check
tonight proudly aired
still bearing her cupboard’s kiss

Elisha Bones. Photo by Alex Hogg

I resist the urge to mention the wardrobe-creased skirt to the girl, buy a beer instead and head back inside. The crowd’s still there … for a brief moment I thought them into a dream … but no, they’re still here as Elisha Bones take the stage. The band is confident and precise. Rolling thunder as before an approaching storm emerging in a fresh rainblast of driving dance-core and throbbing beat … it’s a great opening number but does the crowd move? No it doesn’t! Fuck me what does it take to move these people? I dabble in generalisations … I ponder whether their only experience of live music is a flat screen of youtube coz that’s how they’re reacting. Again, they whoop between tracks but during they’re largely (e)motionless … the music providing soundtrack to a social media experience. The band, energetic, complex and driving with guts and spirit is reduced to so much blue wallpaper.

Meanwhile the mural, created directly on large sheets of adjacent congruent ply, progresses;

Grain as ectoplasm
a tree peeled – the medium
The Knots
Linear like life itself
Emanate brown from the earth, passing through festy spiralled roots
Dallying awhile in her now arched torso before escaping her belly
and
slipping through the fingers of his searching hand
make their aetheric ascent
Roots become feathers
she is watched over by a discarded hawk
(or a militant finch)
I cannot tell

There’s a moment in Elisha Bones’ set when they’re channelling Jeff Buckley … fucking Jeff Buckley … I quite liked them up until then … but then I grew up in a time when Buckley was a CD that went on at every party … at least then you could go outside for a smoke or walk up to the stereo and physically remove it … he doesn’t do it for me … he never has … I’ve tried. Buckley aside … Elisha Bones are a polished and well-grooved music machine who performed despite tonight’s less-than-interactive crowd who do give it up for a deserved encore as though their phones have told them ‘now is the time’.

I’m still there for the pack-up and curtain-folding dance and meet the lads from Borneo (Sydney) … the first band who played tonight while I was off elsewhere … I apologise for not being there to review their gig and they give me a copy of their EP ‘Is This A Demo?’ to review instead
At first listen, it’s rich and jangly and the opening track contains changes that bring a remembered smile to my face for their abruptness and nerve … I’d be interested to see them rip it up on stage … next time boys

A strange night but nonetheless a rich and enjoyable one. Thanks Nigel & Beth and the CMC. Wallpaper wrangled by Dave Howe.

 

Rufino!

Review, Rufino and the Coconuts etc. @ the Polish club, Sat 17th Aug
by Stephen Harrison. Images by Alana Williams 

This was my first foray back to the Polish Club in many, many years. We waited in the dining room for the first act (that I saw, anyway). The Wanninashvilles were fun, remnants of a bygone era: simple, deep southerly located, slightly hay-seedy. They had that edge of menace to their schtick that only a hillbillyesque band can bring to the fore. The female lead singer, a smoky, sexy voiced gal, bopped and swung the crowd with a cat-like sultriness and double entendres were laced into the songs. Two dancers, a couple on the dance floor, twirled each other around and ended up being quite entertaining: again, dancing of another time and another place.

The Wanninashvilles

What happens when you enter the sleazy yet entertaining world of Catalan Casanova and his troop, are two things: One, you are transported to his realm. His life is one we all want. As men we want to live his womanising, gallivanting ways, travelling the world. And as women we don’t want to, but cannot help being drawn to, his sleazy charm. The second thing what happens is, as the viewer, you are metaphysically destined to travel to another city, at another time. Istanbul, perhaps, or New York in the melting-pot twenties. Definitely, though, we were transported to jungle beat areas of the world where anything goes.

Rufino and the Coconuts

With the dark lushness of Michaelangelo’s Deep Sea Gentlemen, Pip Branson and his fellow crew gave us a funny (as in ha ha) atmospheric night. Interspersed throughout the night (far, far too few times I might add) were the Burlesque girls. Three women came on the floor, gyrating and shaking their great bodies, sporting plumes of feathers and not much else. As a long term appreciator of the female form and all things to do with women, I find this kind of display to be wonderful: women rejoicing in the secure knowledge of their own beauty and sensuality. Having just done a stint back at Uni where dated, feminist politics are still angrily dragged out by a select core of dinosaurs that run, for example, the entire Art Theory department, it’s greatly refreshing to see these acts. I’d invite the entire department to the next gig but bet they wouldn’t come, probably seeing it as some degrading thing to women. Feh.

All in all a great night was had by all of us at my table, and it finished early enough for oldies like me to get a fairly good night’s sleep.

More pics in Alana’s facebook gallery here.

Review – Los Chavos/Naughty Rhythms

Los Chavos and Naughty Rhythms @ The Australian Croatian Club, Sat 3rd Aug, 2013
by Alison Oakleigh 

There are many things in life I’m grateful for – skanking and the Canberra Musicians Club are up there in at least the top 50 – along with family, friends, good health, a safe and secure place to live.

One of the things for which I am grateful about skanking is that it is an equalising dance.  It’s easy, energetic and hard to do without a smile on your face. I guess I never imagined I’d spend a night skanking at the Croatian Club, but, rather like the yum cha which used to be upstairs in the Italian Club, skanking at the Croatian Club, while unexpected, was not an unwelcome combination this Saturday just gone, when a crowd of about 200 people – aged 6 months to 60 years, bedecked in outfits ranging from hipster-tank-girl to Hawaiian shirts – gathered to celebrate life in general.  This particular celebration involved the brassy ska sounds of The Naughties (Naughty Rhythms), whose opening chorus “have some fun or get out of here!!” set a precedent for the unabashed joy of upbeat ska originals and classic covers that was to follow.  And, I confess, I had so much fun in a venue that’s close to perfect, equipped with pool tables, a comprehensive bar (even though it didn’t have plain chips, only salt and vinegar), space for sitting down and chatting and skanking your heart out, that I clear tuckered myself out and had to go home before I became a skinhead pumpkin, thus sadly missing the opportunity to boogie on to the ever-fun headliners, Los Chavos.

The things for which I am grateful about the Canberra Musicians Club are innumerable.  As I waited for the gig to start, excitedly admiring the professional stage, lighting and PA, I reminded myself how incredible it is that a small group of dedicated volunteers stick around at the end of each and every gig, hauling stages and winding cords – while everyone else goes on to the after party (or, if you’re like me, has already gone home to bed).  Long may it last.  Although, perhaps, it wont unless people like me stop going home to bed and start helping… I shudder at both of these irreconcilable thoughts (that is: either the CMC stopping and/or me having to wait until the gig ends to help pack up before I’m allowed to go home to sleep, because I do get very cranky when I’m tired).

So, thanks bands, thanks punters, thanks skanking, thanks Croatian Club, and most of all thanks CMC – especially you: Nigel, Beth, Rob, Dave and Simone.  You’ve already done that tedious pack up at least 100 times so far, just this year.  So, that’s 100 times the thanks from me.  It may not inspire you to keep on doing it week after week for free, but, well, um… we love you?

In Review – The Woohoo Revue

The Woohoo Revue @ The White Eagle Polish Club?, with Nyash! – 2nd August 2013
by Geoff Dunn

I know it’s going to be a popular gig. The line of parked cars extend up David Street to the park … this is a good sign. Bicycles are tied to poles everywhere but there’s a spot left in the main rack … the luck is with me. I secure my steed and push my way inside. The place is pumping. In the main hall Nyash! are pushing out Afrobeat and the room throbs with a deep pulsing … I like it and the effect carries through to the bar which is echoing the beat and adding the raucous crunch of pub-conversations and early and happy inebriation.

There are a lot of people here. There are a lot of people I know. There are also a few of those that I know but have never encountered out before … this could be interesting … a bit of the extra spice! ‘Ghiv-ee-Yetz please’ I say at the bar and yes! I really have done it.* After some of that polite yet awkward conversation with some afore-mentioned out-of-contextors, I take my beer next door. The Polo looks better packed with people. Feels better packed with people.

I see that a golden curtain has been hung above the stage, it resembles an embroidered bedspread my parents owned. It had the neat effect of concentrating the action on stage while creating a sense of theatre … something the parental golden bedspread perhaps aspired to but never realised in it’s time with us.

Nyash! are on and in the final throes of their set … I’m met with a dirty Coltraney sax solo that resonates in my bones before flying off into a whirlwind of rhythm and worldbeat, deep and rich. The sax is a Bari of course and it sounds rich and raw. I recognise Simon Milman on Bass and Rafael Florez on percussion. There’s also a trombone, alto sax, keys, drums and two guitars. Apparently Keys and Bone are new to the band and tonight’s their first gig … they have bright futures. During the break Rafael tells me he thinks one of the guitarists in the band is hot but he doesn’t tell me which one … I think he means their playing but I make to write down the innuendo instead … things are simply more interesting that way.

I head to the bar … there’s even more people than before … and more folks are coming in strongly through the door. I make it back into the hall just as the main band take the stage … The Woohoo Revue.

From the first beat, the first note … I know I’m in for a treat. Oh it’s good. Sleazy beats and noir stabs. The band is well dressed, sombre dark tailorings and red silk ties. Dark curly locked Fiddler in gypsy green satin and white tulle and gorgeous. Bass guitar is wearing a gold sequinned dress and the sax player is sporting a peroxide quiff. I can’t see the band’s footwear but I’m thinking it’s universally black and pointy. The crowd dances from the get-go … seemingly anxious to not waste a precious note of this band. Oh it’s tight … like a well, whatever you consider your metaphor for tightness to be … I know what mine is … I’m sure you do too and … I realise I’m less than 20 bars in to the gig. The music is complex and richly virtuosic … Klezmer and deep beats intertwine in dizzying spins. The breaks are numerous and choppy, dipping, diving and weaving but this is such an accomplished band that the beat runs through regardless and while lesser hands would lose a crowd, the dancers are right up there in it. Slinky dancers too … quite a ridiculous number of them and a top hat or two in the crowd … I think we could use more of them … hmmmm … slinky dancers and top hats? Now there’s a thought.

Before I know it I’m in the Middle East with sun-drenched guitars before descending to a swirling market of crowds, silver and spice … the fiddler … she is fantastic! I emerge from a quick trip to the bar, which is still packed by the way, into a dark Western, full of menace and potential ultraviolence … the dancers are in a frenzy and when the break comes, cruel and heartbreaking both it’s to launch into what would be a colossal pop bloodbath scene in a Tarantino flick. I’m astounded at the sheer presence of it. I’m standing toward the back end of the hall, feel a bump and, turning around I realise dancing has erupted behind me … even Dave Howe on the desk has his hands in the air and is dancing! Just when I think the virtuosity of a soloist has peaked there’s a seamless transition to another effortlessly as good and on it goes. The fiddler is riding on the shoulders of a dancer and playing the floor. If the world was ending in the morning there’d be parties like this.

The humidity, rising along with the rich scent of an energetic dancing crowd, reaches a critical mass. It’s as though everybody has suddenly remembered they’re Jewish or Romany which I’m pretty (though it has to be said not entirely) sure is not the case. A climactic finale and the crowd is left panting and whooping amongst semi-orgasmic chants of More! More! Woohoo return to the stage and suddenly it’s like they never left as they take us on another colourful flight of furiously enjoyable music.

Sound and lighting are transparent which is good as Dave doesn’t seem to be watching the desk whenever I look over at him … which admittedly isn’t very often … my mind really is elsewhere…

Reflecting, I enjoyed what I saw of Nyash! and think they’re very fortunate to be supporting this lot … Nyash! are worth seeing but The Woohoo Revue is in another league entirely … inspirational.

Overall a top night … one of the best I’ve seen at the Polo.

Thanks again to Nigel McRae and the CMC for the opportunity.

*I know I said I’d learn another beer … there’s always next time…