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Apart from the day itself being one almighty rock, punk & metal-fest that never fails to please, another great aspect of Australia’s SoundWave Festival are the related sideshows which take place. These shows (which have come to be known as Sidewaves) often see 3-4 bands from the festival placed together on the one bill. As you can imagine, they are exceptional value for money, as well as being an effective way to solve clashes on the day. Examples of Sidewaves this year were (a) Social Distortion, Gaslight Anthem & Feeder, (b) Rob Zombie, Murderdolls, Monster Magnet & Dommin, (c) Sum 41, The Blackout, There For Tomorrow & Veara, (d) Pennywise, Millencolin & The Mad Caddies, and (e) Stone Sour, Coheed and Cambria, Sevendust & 36 Crazyfists. The Sidewave I chose to stroll along to however was the “can’t miss” trio of Anberlin, The Starting Line & Bayside.

Having previously seen them live a couple of times, I already knew that NYC’s Bayside were one of the best live bands going around. It only hit me on this night however, that they are also one of the few bands who sound great right from the get-go. They either sound-check all day or are just that damn good. Kicking off with energetic new track ‘Already Gone’, the ‘Killing Time’ opener felt like it had been on their live set for the past decade, with the way in which the audience were singing along even if they had barely heard the song before.…

It’s fair to state that most of my previous gig attending experiences have been relatively limited to the rock / pop-punk / post-hardcore spectrum. I’ve never really considered going to too many indie gigs (how UnSputnik of me), despite liking my fair share of bands that could loosely be categorized as such. Most indie music seems best enjoyed via headphones when in a certain mood, rather than in a live setting… So I’ve always imagined if I did attend such a concert, I’d just be one of Win Butler’s friends standing there with my arms crossed, drinking one beer per song. I’d need something extra to be entertained; a strings or horn section, a crazy front-man or a stage invasion! English band Foals seemed the perfect (pardon the pun) antidote for my situation; a group whose debut LP was filled with catchy & energetic math-rock, and whose follow-up was simply too f*cken fantastic to ignore.

On an extremely humid Thursday night when floods were ruining cities to the north & bushfires were ravaging cities to the west (seriously, our climate is screwed), Mr & Mrs. Boy wandered on over to The Palace Theatre in downtown Melbourne in order to witness the aforementioned Brits. First up however were Brisbane indie-poppers Last Dinosaurs, a quartet who initially did not seem like a good match for such a gig. Having heard all of 4 tracks from the band prior to this night, I had pegged them as more of the Vampire Weekend style…

With the onset of daylight saving time a mere thirty hours away and a couple of relatively warmer days just gone, the mood of the punters entering Mebourne’s Festival Hall (not so affectionately known as Festering Hall) on this particular Friday night seemed just a little more jovial than usual. Those who arrived early would have been treated to Perth act The Chemist… For this attendee however, it was to be dinner and drinks that would win out, before arriving for the surprisingly well-known international supporting act; Los Angeles alternative rock quartet Silversun Pickups.

It says something about the progression of the Australian music industry when a local band – and not exactly one which the average Joe on the street would even know – can attract such an acclaimed international support. And while there could easily have been a case for this to be a true co-headline show, Silversun Pickups fans would be treated to their own headline slot (albeit at a smaller venue) three nights earlier. On an early trip to the men’s room for yours truly, urinal talk suggested the crowd were rather evenly split as to who they were there for. And even when one already inebriated man was at a loss as to who these “Pickups” were, all was ok when he was told they had a “chick” in the band.

Brian Aubert with his “lazy eye”.

Even on record, Silversun

Not far removed from the middle of winter in the southern hemisphere, it was a cold and wet Melbourne that hosted Jared Leto & Co. at Festival Hall. Touring on the back of their disappointing 3rd album ‘This Is War’, this tour was for some reason titled ‘Into the Wild’. I’d research why, but the fact this blog has been written 2 weeks after the event should tell you how motivated I am at present.

The best seat in the house?

The venue is not exactly much loved around these parts since (ignoring its summer air-conditioning issue which leaves it feeling like a sauna) it is spatially challenged. Spreading sideways instead of back, even some of the best seats in the house (ignoring a limited capacity balcony section which is centrally located) leave attendees with too much of a side view feel. Thankfully, yours truly had one of those best seats for this particular concert since there was no way I was going to submit my ears to the screaming 13 year old girls on the venue’s floor section… The fact that the floor section was also unlicensed is irrelevant… Well, not really, but anyway…

The Art

Arriving as the support band was playing their first song; it was not a great surprise to see The Art receive a lukewarm response. Previously

Season 9 of American Idol has finally been run and won, with Lee DeWyze emerging victorious over Crystal Bowersox. It is arguably the 2nd upset in as many seasons come the final night and one now has to seriously wonder about the voting guidelines… If one had not wondered previously.

Isn’t it Ironic, don’t you think?

Before the final decision however, there was a surprisingly entertaining 90 minutes or so with a number of left-field guest appearances. Alice Cooper, The Bee Gees and Hall & Oates were hardly predictable guests, while Christina Aguilera and Janet Jackson also added to the festivities. Furthermore, there were a couple of performers who took to the stage with the final 3 contestants and the performances were surprisingly good. Well, maybe we can exclude Lee’s song with Chicago, but Crystal & Alanis Morissette, both finalists with Joe Cocker, and Casey James with Poison’s Bret Michaels all made for an entertaining overall package.

Casey with Bret “I’m everywhere right now” Michaels.

Back to the contest, Lee firmly placed himself in serious contention on Top 3 night when he performed best when singing Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Simple Man’ and fan favorite ‘Hallelujah’. This was pleasing since it finalized the elimination of Casey in 3rd position and also put the 2 finalists under serious pressure come the final night. At the end of my Top 3 column, I wrote the following words: “…but if I had my way; this…

Mainstream Biffy

Approaching winter down under, it was predictably crisp in Melbourne this past Wednesday night as approximately 700 people waited to enter The Hi-Fi Bar and Ballroom, to see Scottish Alt-Rockers Biffy Clyro strut their stuff. While I know some gig attendees prefer to be surprised with who are supporting the headline act, this night proved why I am exactly the opposite. Unannounced, local post-rock quartet These Hands Could Separate the Sky appeared and proceeded to open up with a 10 minute instrumental. Considering Biffy Clyro’s newfound gain in popularity, the support could not have been more poorly chosen. I am definitely no post-rock expert, so these guys could have been the greatest band of all time for all I knew. However, the fit was bad and the lukewarm response they received proved it.

Post-Rock…Ugh!

Following a rather long tuning session of all instruments by 2 roadies, the Scottish trio finally arrived on stage to anything but a lukewarm reaction. Raucous is a more appropriate description as Biffy Clyro tore straight into my #4 song of 2009; ‘That Golden Rule’. Even more energetic and frantic than the studio version, the symphonic finale was barely missed since the guys worked like a well-oiled machine all night to produce a stunning musical accompaniment to Simon Neil’s rapid-fire, pleading howls. For the following hour and a half, one could not help but be extremely impressed by the front man’s ability to pull…

Another season of American Idol is coming to an end kiddies, so get ready to start dialing and sending your parents phone bill into the stratosphere. Now we all know what happened last season; the most interesting, talented, entertaining and hardest working contestant (Adam Lambert) fell at the last hurdle… To a rival (Kris Allen) who was lucky to even make the top 5 in most people’s opinion. Well folks, it could happen again if you don’t get dialing and sms’ing. Of course, that’s easy for me to say when I live thousands of miles away and am ineligible to vote. 

The last couple of weeks of action have seen series favorite Crystal Bowersox come back to the pack a little. Yet, I actually think that her performances – while not being as memorable as on earlier weeks – have better shown her versatility as an artist. She has taken some risks and, while she has yet to hit the home run that would have sewn the series up, Crystal has proven that she could actually make an album where she didn’t just play the same song over and over again.

Since Siobhan’s ridiculous elimination (allegedly not helped by facebook not having the correct number next to her name), the last fortnight has seen both little Aaron & big Mike eliminated. Neither were real chances to win, but Aaron can definitely count himself unlucky since he was shown the door on the night where each contestant had…

The Smiling Assassins aka F**k-Nuggets

 “F**k-Nuggets”. That is the first word that entered my head upon the elimination of Siobhan Magnus last night on Season-9 of American Idol. Why? Well, you know when you just have a feeling that something is going to happen at a certain time? Well, I superstitiously predicted this exact occurrence for this exact date. Call it pessimism, a lucky guess or a dreaded sense of fortune telling, but it sometimes is just the way things work. For you see, it is not the American public that I am calling “f**k-Nuggets” (although they have clearly played their part), it is 4 of those 5 d!ckheads currently smiling at you from your computer screens. 

 “But Davey, the judges liked Siobhan’s performance on Tuesday night and weren’t the ones who voted her off” I hear you exclaim. That is not my issue. My issue dates back 3 weeks ago to April-7, when Cowell & Co. inexplicably decided to use their ‘Save’ vote on Offensive Lineman Michael Lynche. For the uninitiated, the 4 judges have the ability to save a contestant who has just been eliminated. However, there are two huge catches: (1) They can only do this once, and (2) they could only do it up until the Top 5. So why in the hell they would choose to do this when a contestant was eliminated in 9th position is beyond me… A fact

The night of Sunday March 28 was a busy one in Melbourne town. Over 100,000 rev-heads had just got high on the exhaust fumes of the Australian Grand Prix and were now looking for somewhere to have dinner… A Greek festival had shut down an entire city street… The Melbourne International Comedy Festival seemingly had over 100 shows in bars & clubs… And Brand New were wowing a loyal audience at The Palace Theatre. However, my choice for the night was the Welsh double bill of Lostprophets & The Blackout, both of whom were long overdue a visit down under. 

A half-hour delay in opening the doors is never a positive, but it’s even less so when rain is threatening and the majority of the queue are made to wait in a rather pongy alley. Upon entry into Billboards, the timeliness did not improve since Mrs. Boy & I had ample time to purchase a shirt & down 2 terribly over-priced beverages each. The roadies were doing their usual thing, as were their sons. Oh, hang on a tick; that was the local (Sydney) support band Tonight Alive…..

Most pundits at the venue had no idea there was even going to be a local support (it was announced a week before the show) & you could almost feel the groans when the kids (the drummer looked about 12) came out to play. Thankfully, the mood picked up when the lead vocalist appeared. Taking a huge leaf out of…

Just in case anyone had thought that the Idol franchise had departed us, we are currently getting down to the business end of the 9th season of the American version. As much as the names and the faces have changed, it is pretty much the same ol’ same ol’ this year… And that folks, is not a good thing. Although, I must admit that there have been a couple of positives worth mentioning this time around and I’ll get to them later.

The usual controversy occurred with one contestant who had been named in the top 24 being disqualified due to an existing contract with some kind of (surprise surprise) boy band. As if to put us through hell and back on purpose, the powers-that-be replaced him with some kid named Tim, who subsequently stunk up the stage as the worst performance on top 24 night. Of course, this is Idol, so Tim survived based on his looks and his ability to be drowned out by screeching 15 year old females! A month later and Tim is still sucking, except now he’s made it into the top 10.

With 4 contestants initially being eliminated each week, there was some potential to be heard in the top 16. However, almost half of that was eradicated by the American public when Alex, Katelyn & Lilly were voted out heading into the top 12. All 3 of these contestants had at least a semblance of originality about them and could have even been…

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