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What better way to warm up on the first day of winter than to head along to your local sweat-box and listen to some quality music? On the said date in 2012, I thought I’d take in an interesting trio of acts put together at Festival Hall in Melbourne, with seemingly the only thing linking The Jezabels, Lights & Snakadaktal being that all three outfits contained female vocalists.

First up it was the distinctively named young local quintet Snakadaktal. Playing a kind of folky brand of indie-pop, the band impressed me with their tight musicianship and overall maturity. Sure, their sound is probably not suited to a 5,000 odd capacity venue, but they thankfully didn’t compromise their style for the sake of the occasion. Interestingly, Snakadaktal ordered their set so as to initially suggest to a potentially unknowing crowd that Sean Kelly was the outfit’s only vocalist. Of course, those in the know would anticipate Phoebe Cockburn taking over for the most part, even if her voice seemed just a bit too fragile in a live setting. Overall, however, this was an impressive support slot for an up-and-coming band whose forthcoming debut LP should hopefully make for a rewarding listen.

Next up was Canadian electro-pop artist Valerie Poxleitner… Better known as Lights. Since her sound wasn’t exactly similar to the night’s headliners, it was always going to be fascinating as to how the crowd would take the diminutive brunette… And I think it’s fair to say that the reaction was mixed. Those who did not come to listen to dance music barely paid attention, while the more open-minded seemed intrigued by the subtle varied influences which Lights’ music contained. Personally, one thing stood out to me: The strength of Poxleitner’s voice. The first thing that came to my mind was that if she was on a musically-oriented reality tv series, she would absolutely destroy her opposition. No matter how soft or loud her synths and beats were, it was that voice which shone through. Flanked by a drummer and two multi-instrumentalists (who spent most of the time on synths), the setting simply dictated that it would be the more melodic of her tracks which received the most favorable reaction. So it was ‘Toes’, ‘Suspension’ and ‘Siberia’ which seemed to fare best, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t just a little bit cool to hear the “wubs” of ‘Fourth Dimension’ and ‘Flux and Flow’. Although, I’m unsure if a cover of Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass’ was required.

Finally, it was time for The Jezabels; the Sydney-based indie-rock quartet who have seemingly gone from local nobodies to worldwide stars in the matter of a heartbeat. Having sold out multiple nights at smaller venues no more than 8 months earlier, it was clearly time to step their live act up. Depending on which way you looked at it, The Jezabels began their set with a bang: Arguably their most well-known song ‘Endless Summer’. Personally, I’d prefer such an important tune to be left until later on in the set, especially when the other contender ‘Mace Spray’ came just 4 songs later. It may have been through a lack of confidence of holding the audience’s attention, but it was undoubtedly an electrifying beginning to proceedings in which the band were perfectly in sync. Just before ‘Mace Spray’, lead vocalist Hayley Mary hit all the right notes on current single ‘City Girl’, even if it seemed to be her, umm, interesting attire which captured most of the crowd’s attention.

Hardly muttering a spoken word for the first half of the set, I think it was clear for all to see that The Jezabels were almost embarrassed to be playing to such a large crowd, and Mary stated as much when she finally did address the audience. While her three band-mates were concentrating on delivering their music to the best of their ability (which they successfully did), Mary played the front-woman remarkably naturally; prowling, thrusting & squatting all over the stage in a strangely enthralling fashion. The same could be said of Nik Kaloper’s propulsive drumming, even if that constipated look he has is a little off-putting. While the peculiar order of the set meant that the middle section of the gig got a little samey, the more dramatic tunes such as ‘Long Highway’ and ‘Deep Wide Ocean’ were extremely involving to those who paid close attention. Finishing off the main set with ‘Dark Storm’, The Jezabels bravely returned with ballad ‘Peace of Mind’, before wowing devotees with ‘Hurt Me’. While there still may be a few kinks to iron out, The Jezabels are a force to be reckoned with live and it is difficult to dispute that their career will only burgeon from here.





DaveyBoy
06.15.12
Yes, our seasons begin on the 1st of the month down under!

theacademy
06.15.12
jealous

Butkuiss
06.15.12
Sydney show was awesome. I really dug Snak and Lights too.

Tyrael
06.15.12
ilu Davey

DaveyBoy
06.16.12
Any specifics to add from the Sydney show Butkuiss? I believe Lights did not play 'Heart of Glass' there...

Butkuiss
06.16.12
As far as I remember Lights' setlist was exclusively Siberia songs, though I think she did play one from her first album. The only song I'd heard from Lights before seeing her live was Saviour, which I didn't really dig, so I went in with fairly low expectations, but man was her show great. She had a pretty good energy, and the bass drops in Fourth Dimension and Flux and Flow were actually pretty tastefully done. It was really strange to see the polarisation in the crowd though-a lot of them were actually there for Lights, and as soon as her set finished and she headed out to the merch table to do signings, they rushed out too.

As for Snakadaktal, I really loved them. Pretty sure they played the same setlist in Syd as in Melb, and they had a really nice energy, especially for a relatively young band. They played their new single, Dance Bear (http://soundcloud.com/iohyouparty/snakadaktal-dance-bear), which was probably the best song of the set, and opened it up for an extended instrumental part at the end, which was really chill. A few aspects of their sound actually gave me a bit of an ITAOT-era Isis vibe, which I liked.

As for the Jezabels, they were great, as expected. Played the same setlist. Crowd interaction was a bit lacking in the first half of the set, but Hayley apologised for it soon after. Sam and Heather said a few words of thanks too, and Nik's drumming was in top form, as always. Considering how big they've gotten in under a year, they seem to be growing into their new shoes fairly well. A lot of people in the crowd were miffed that they didn't play Disco Biscuit Love, but I personally didn't mind. The encore was awesome.

Mordecai.
06.16.12
they didn't play Disco Biscuit Love : O

/sell outs

DaveyBoy
06.16.12
From a couple of interviews I have seen, they don't disown their 1st EP, but they do think they were immature at the time of recording it. I personally love it, especially Disco Biscuit Love & Be A Star.

A couple of the things you have added Butkuiss, I wanted to squeeze into the blog but didn't want to have it run too long. EG: Lights playing almost only 'Siberia' tracks & 'Dance Bear'.

It's an interesting point you raise about the crowd polarisation, but it may have been a wise marketing choice when all was said & done, as the Melbourne show was close to a sell-out.

Butkuiss
06.16.12
Even though it's a great EP, I'd have to agree that its probably the least mature/finessed of their releases. I used to be of the position that She's So Hard was their weakest, but seeing Hurt Me and Easy to Love live changed that opinion.

Yeah, it was a great marketing scheme. Hordern WAS sold out (and well before the date, if memory serves), so I'll bet they made a killing off it.

Regardless, awesome show.

DaveyBoy
06.16.12
Agree with everything you say. Personally, I still think their debut is great though... I feel they could even look at updating those songs to more suit their current sound. It would only require subtle changes.

And while I still think 'Shes So hard' is their weakest release, I agree that seeing those 2 songs live have meant the gap has closed.

clercqie
06.16.12
Seems The Jezabels put out a good show. I saw them earlier this year and they were really good, altough still slightly dissapointing. I didn't get that indescribable "feel" I get when I listen to the record. Maybe because it was their last show on their European tour, they looked a bit tired. I'm going to see them again this summer, so hopefully it exceed my expectations this time.

DaveyBoy
06.17.12
It will be interesting to note whether you see & hear any improvement clercqie. While they have been around for a few years now, the band still seems very much out of their comfort zone as stars. I feel they will only grow more comfortable with time & experience.

clercqie
06.17.12
Yeah they did seem a bit uncomfortable. I never consider that a bad factor though. Anyways, looking forward to seeing them again.

DaveyBoy
06.17.12
Hell, you kind of only have to look at them... Not your prototypical superstars, that's for certain.

Butkuiss
06.18.12
Sam's awkward headbanging is priceless.

tommygun
06.18.12
Damn must be hard to concentrate on your drumming with a rear view of Hayley in those tights. That might explain the look on Nik's face, Davey. Great write-up by the way

DaveyBoy
06.18.12
Hehe. Sam's awkward everything is proceless.

Thanks TG. And you just may well have a very good point there.

InFiction
06.19.12
I was planning on going to this but my parents happened to arrive home from their 5 week holiday that very day. Disappointed, love me some Jezabels.

DaveyBoy
06.20.12
Oh well, you know what they say: If it wasn't for your parents, you wouldn't have existed in the 1st place.

TheGardener
06.23.12
Fucking love Lights

DaveyBoy
06.23.12
I still find it (for want of a better word) strange that she's married to the lead singer of blessthefall.

Butkuiss
06.23.12
Yeah, I nearly died when I heard that. Then again, she did collab. with Bring Me The Horizon, so she must be really into metalcore or something.

At least it isn't Hayley.

DaveyBoy
06.23.12
Yeah, she's into heavier music and clearly likes messing around on guitar. That Acoustic EP of hers was a real revelation imo.

Haha. I can see you jumping off a tall bridge if it is revealed that Hayley gets engaged to someone from Parkway Drive!

AtavanHalen
06.24.12
snakadaktal are so fucking good

lights suck

jezabels are even worse

fuck all of this that isn't snakadaktal

Piglet
06.27.12
one of my friends saw them, she said it was absolutely fantastic

AtavanHalen
06.27.12
fuck your friend in the face

Butkuiss
06.27.12
I've tried. :(

AtavanHalen
06.27.12
stick your dick in your own butt

DaveyBoy
06.27.12
Atavan makes all his judgments before the facts... He'll make for a perfect Fairfax journalist!

AtavanHalen
06.27.12
what the actual fuck are you talking about

i have all the evidence i need

give me an etch-a-sketch and 5 minutes and i'll show you why the jezabels are fucking woeful and snakadaktal are the future of australian indie rock

DaveyBoy
06.27.12
etch-a-sketch... Yep, you'll fit right in working for fairfax.

AtavanHalen
06.27.12
you realise i don't work for fairfax right

you're not actually insulting me by insulting them

so we're 100% clear

DaveyBoy
06.27.12
I'm saying you'd fit right in there.

AtavanHalen
06.27.12
so cute

you know you're fucked when a domesticated thirtysomething into corporate rock tries to take you down a peg

DaveyBoy
06.27.12
Hey, you're the one that mentioned etch-a-sketch. I had to google it old man.

AtavanHalen
06.27.12
like fuck you didn't know what a fucking etch-a-sketch was/is

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