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Lucie Thorne @ Smiths

Lucie Thorne @ Smiths. Wed 18th June
Review by James Kent

I’ll admit it, I came to this gig a little unprepared. After a brief facebook stalk and some skimmed reviews, I wandered into Smiths with only a vague idea of what to expect, and a mild scepticism as to wether solo guitarist lady (also known as Lucie Thorne) would turn out to be worth a quadrupling of the regular Wednesday night door fee.

Fortunately enough in this case, the answer is yes. Although the show was unusually short due to a disappointing lack of local support acts, Lucie had the audience in the palm of her hand from the get go, with barely a whisper from the audience for the duration. Although somewhat lacking in range and variety, Lucie smashes it out of the ballpark, with gorgeous smokey vocals and dreamy lyrics combining with a first class musical ability, filling Smiths with the imagined scents of blackberry moonshine and Aussie bushland and creating an atmosphere I would cheerfully pay to experience again.

Moochers (Inc.) and Flap!

Flap @ The Turner Bowls Club, Fri 13 June, 2014
with Moochers Inc. by Adam Salter

Something feels right when, feeling like a bit of a moocher for having hooked a couple of tickets in return for a potentially mediocrely-written review, the first act you are about to see at the Turner Bowls Club is Moochers Inc.

The Canberra boys, fresh from the Merimbula Jazz Festival, really know how to make you feel a part of the incorporated. From the beginning trumpet solo, through the dirty trombone, between the twanging guitar strings, over the wandering clarinet, around the astro boy beats of the drum and on to the fat ass tuba (I hope not to offend a euphonium player if I’ve misnomered)(I believe it’s a sousaphone – Ed.), the multi-tempo set had the crowd smiling and tapping throughout, with larger and larger numbers letting the rhythm take hold before jiving onto the dance floor.

Right when we were feeling the maximum mooch, these speak-easy entrepreneurs made way for the main act, Melbournite ‘tropical storm’, Flap!

This five-piece, having not long ago toured with a little band called The Cat Empire, were able to take the energy up another twelve notches, with a fast-paced and frenetic fever that only the most die-hard dancers would even attempt to keep time with. But try they did and the ball-busting beats thundered on. Every part – drums, banjo-uke, brass and double bass – was played well. These guys were a tight and polished ensemble, making for an absolute cracker of a night!

Only downside for the evening were some just-too-loud levels scattered throughout. However, every musician that appeared on stage all evening seemed to be enjoying the here and now and brought that out in the crowd.

If only the bar staff had had even a quarter of the energy of the bands and patrons. Or even an eighth… Otherwise – what a kick ass night!

Quarry Mountain Dead Rats – Canberra

Quarry Mountain Dead Rats @ Turner Bowlo, Friday 6th June, 2014
with The Burley Griffin. By Kandy A

Turning up a little late I missed the start of the Burley Griffin, but about 40-50 people had beat the cold and huddled up in the tables surrounding the dance floor to hear these Canberra stalwarts and await touring talents QMtDRs.

The Bowlo is something of a makeshift venue, with a good size room separated from the bistros sports screens and pool tables and…the actual bar from which drinkses are procured, which can be a pain, but does offer a sly glance at the footy scores (suck shit Carlton!) for the sadly sports obsessed. The well lit entry lighting shines off the white bench seats lining the green, reminding you of the clubs raison d’etre; I don’t know about you, but when I grew up the thought that a gig could be held at a bowling club was idle fantasy, but, here we are.

Perhaps punters were hunkering down or perhaps were helpfully protecting the unobstructed view of between band and sound desk, no one likes to be the ass that stands in front of everybody else, so perhaps it was some shy manners, but the dance floor’s emptiness radiated redundancy, like a social welfare program in a budget year, and it wasn’t a good look; thus is the lot of the warm up act.

The Burley Griffin boys, 4 of them, all with mikes and capable of bending the vocal chords together, or independently (even the drummer does a song) are clearly a talented bunch not just picked out because one of them has a banjo. Their gentle folk rock got a few toes tapping, melodic tunes well played, a few slightly off harmonies adding to their easy charm. The Burley Griffin finished strongly with a burly off tempo number and put plenty into it, showing they’ve got more to their range. A couple more of these numbers might’ve moved more than the toes of sedate spectators, I liked it a lot.

Quarry Mountain Dead Rats
Straight up, these guys blew us away. Great music, fun, gig. Hate banjos? You will love banjos. Don’t know about bluegrass? Don’t matter none, you will be jiggier than a bra-less boob at a ho’s hoe-down.¬†Opening with “That’s alright” crowd drifts into the dance space; a mob seeming to have an inkling, wanting to do something but don’t know yet what or how. In a few minutes the void is filled, people start shuffling, toe tapping transmits to knees.

The husky young devils in the QMtDRs play Double bass and washboard behind banjo and mandolin. They play through “if not for you” and put in a smokin mouth harp for “where nobody knows your name” and the crowd have figured it out; jump around, jive about. It’s a good crowd of diverse ages, plenty of switched on youngsters to go with people of a more refined age. All are drawn to wave some body parts about; as the QMtDRs put their heads down, slip another gear and charge through “Hamilton County breakdown”

“Days like these” starts and ends slow but in the middle it’s all go, I suspect I am not alone in discovering how much fun flat out bluegrass is. “Kentucky mandolin” another instrumental keeps the crowd awrigglin, and, somewhat inevitably I feel, the QMtDRs show their colours; a nod to another musical tradition that flavours their sound in “Cactus head” citing Stooges and Mot√∂rhead they bring out both, the lyrics are pure Iggy, and I’m thinking of Lemmy in a flannel shirt chewin grass atop a hay bale approving of this rollicking number.

The set washes up with lots of harp, and a lot more fans for this Melbourne based band from the Mornington Peninsula. Since that entire area has practically been turned over to vin-yards can I substitute ‘Pinot-picking’ for ‘cotton-pickin’ ? (No.)

Quarry Mountain Dead Rats manage to exude some Aussie ockerness in this otherwise American genre, heavily flavoured by their rock sensibilities, and it tastes mighty fine.

Flannel shirts:6
Overalls: 2
Hipsters: within acceptable limits.
Good times: 100