Apr 26, 2007

Essential Festival '07

On a wet and rainy Anzac Day, what better way to spend the day then listening to great local music. This is what Wednesday's Essential Festival provided. Spread over 3 stages at the Gaelic Club and the Madison Hotel and running from noon until midnight and only $38.50 you certainly received value for money. Hot young things The Seabellies were first up and unfortunately I only saw their last 2 numbers. But I was certainly impressed. Their sound, with a multiple of instruments is big and bold. I will certainly make a point of trying to see them in the future. After that I watched a trio of bands that had varying effects on me. Sydney's Soft Tigers have been receiving a lot of praise and it is well founded. I think their sound is hard to pin down as they step into many genres, sometimes in the one song. But I really admired their efforts at being experimental and daring. Some of the songs were a little uneven but I could hear some great ideas that I think in time will bear fruit. Definitely will watch their progress with interest. Next up were The Hate Game and Flamingo Crash. Now both these bands have a full on sound that feature heavy drums and a big bass sound. They are both talented at what they do, but I failed to get terribly excited by the sameness of the material. I went searching for something that would feed my soul better and I found it in the shape of The Waysiders playing in the tiny makeshift stage in the Madison Hotel. These four young lads really impressed. Sounding like a cross between Pavement and Arctic Monkeys, their music was rocking but intelligent. They had more hooks then you would find on a fishing boat and were very tight. I might stand corrected but I don't believe they have anything recorded, but I would be very keen to see them again.

My only trip to the small stage at the top of the Gaelic Club was to see everyone's live favourite The Paper Scissors. And despite practically non existent lighting and a very muddy sound they delivered again. Opening with my favourite "Vaudeville King" and closing with "We Don't Walk" they had everyone rocking. Get these boys a bigger audience! After a respite for dinner I ventured upstairs to the Madison again to see Laura Imbruglia. Whilst not memorable her blend of punk/folk (labels can be hard) was pleasant enough. The next two acts (pictured) were the highlights of the day. I had seen Melbourne outfit Whitley support Calexico back in February and was mightily impressed. Their performance was even better this time. Playing a blend of country/rock/folk, Lawrence Greenwood's resonant, soulful voice was very impressive. There is a beautiful sparseness about their music, which really hits you in the heart when you listen. Their cover of Bjork's "Hyper Ballad" had me filled with awe. Their EP is well worth tracking down and I look forward to a full length album in the future. Old Man River was next and their set was superb. Ohad Rein's project straddles many genres, going from summery pop to soul to folky ballads to 60's like jams. A really tight 3 piece the live setting is perfect for them as they expand and totally blow up their recorded sounds. At times the sound was foot to the floor guitar heroics before they pulled back to the singalong closer "L.A." A very pleasant surprise and a band that lives to play live. The night ended for me with Sydney's finest Dappled Cities Fly, every one knows how good they are and its a statement of fact that they always bring the goods. I was really pleased to hear them close with "Within Hours".

So a really fun day, there was a nice friendly vibe all day, lots of good young talent was on display and I certainly received value for my money. Plus I met Geoff again and said hello to Ro for the first time!


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