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Anyone booked on a Qantas flight right now is probably searching for something to do at an airport. Well, how about getting out your iPad, an acoustic guitar and a violin? Because that’s what these three gentlemen recently did at Shanghai airport.

For those unfamiliar with the guy under the hoodie (surely risking arrest by airport security just for wearing a hoodie) and the part-alien drummer, this is pop-punk outfit Yellowcard playing ‘My Hero’ by The Foo Fighters.

Times are tough… Unless you are in the music industry yourself (or a retired millionaire), it is difficult to attend every single gig that passes through town. Local acts will usually give you multiple opportunities – sometimes in the one year – to see them, but when it comes to international outfits, who knows when they will be back around your parts again. Favored acts are usually given the benefit of the doubt, and so was the case with Floridian rockers Anberlin early in 2011, when yours truly saw them twice in the same week (Soundwave Festival & headlining sideshow). So when the Stephen Christian led quintet announced that they would be touring Australia once more in August, I met the revelation with ambivalence. I mean, it was not as if they had released a new album in the meantime, and simply throwing “An Evening With…” on the tour poster did little for me initially. Surely, they had to woo fans some other way. And that they did!

First up – and the only support act of the night – were Sydney pop-punkers Tonight Alive. Having been impressed by the quintet at a previous supporting performace, their placement on this show was most definitely a pleasing one. As per usual, charismatic front-woman Jenna McDougall was handing out lessons on the art of smiling, while woo’ing all the (ummm) gentlemen in attendance with a Led Zeppelin t-shirt covered by a flannel shirt. Looks really are not an issue with…


With the debut albums of both bands having occupied top 10 spots in my previous two year-end lists, the double bill of Australian rock acts Dead Letter Circus and Closure In Moscow at the Hi-Fi Bar in Melbourne sure looked like an appetizing gig. What would be unbeknownst to me at the time of entry however was that the third act on the bill – Perth outfit Wolves – would make the evening all the more attractive.

Playing a heavy, yet extremely accessible, brand of alternative rock, the quintet distinguish themselves via electric violin player Rachael Aquilina. And while she undoubtedly adds a satisfying sense of melody to proceedings, it would be foolish to overlook her colleagues, all of whom were accomplished on the night. Frontman Adam Burford has an impressive vocal range which can move from a soft croon to a harsh scream in an instant, while Russell Winter’s guitar-work was sporadically impressive. In fact, if there is one area of improvement to be highlighted, it was that Winter too often looked hesitant to steal the limelight from Aquilina. When they worked in tandem, the results were fantastic… As can be heard on Wolves’ lead single ‘Children’:

Often, the major concern with support acts is that they are going to bore the hell out of the majority of the audience who are there to see the headliners. With Wolves having done exactly the opposite, Closure In Moscow were next to step up and keep the…

Since Irish Dave – as opposed to Aussie Davey – pressed “refresh” on the SputnikMusic ‘Track of the Day’ yesterday and espoused all things Irish, I thought I would follow his lead today and head a little north to the sunny country of Scotland. Ever since this wee Southampton supporter got many a laugh out of trying to decipher what the hell Gordon Strachan was saying in his post-match press conferences, something about that thick accent has tickled my fancy.

Musically, the nation has always provided some fond memories. Expats such as AC/DC and Jimmy Barnes took Australia by storm decades ago, while Simple Minds and The Proclaimers set the charts ablaze in the 80s. ‘Take Me Out’ and ‘Chelsea Dagger’ saw Franz Ferdinand and The Fratellis continue the momentum last decade, while rockers Biffy Clyro were a bees d!ck away from being the most inspired live act I witnessed last year.

Continuing the notion that the Scots are just a little bit different to the rest of the world, Glaswegian six-piece Dananananaykroyd are now upon us with their crazy band name and self-labeled fight-pop genre. Performing a difficult to describe combination of indie-pop and post-hardcore, debut LP ‘Hey Everyone’ received resounding critical acclaim, while their energetic live show saw many a band member get injured as their audience were encouraged to perform a wall of cuddles!

Album #2 ‘There Is A Way’ has just been released, seeing the unique group rock up their boisterous sound.…

Despite the unequivocally loud – and at times violent – protests for ‘Idol Thoughts’ to make a return to the SputnikMusic blog, your humble and flattered reporter simply could not find the time to keep up with the goings on of J-Lo and Steven Tyler this year. Fear not however, as the over-saturation of music-based reality shows which span the globe nowadays, is always likely to serve up some form of quality entertainment.

While the ‘(insert country here)’s Got Talent’ franchise is usually more likely to serve up a contender for ‘Funniest Home Videos’ than reveal a musical genius, there is something about the ad-libbing kitchen sink nature of the show’s format which could attract an undiscovered gem.

Case in point is the aptly named James “Chooka” Parker, a contestant on the current series of Australia’s Got Talent. While rural Victoria is not exactly the Australian outback, it is not completely out of the question that young Chooka actually does not own a television, let alone the modern necessities that are a smartphone and the internet… The fashion sense definitely suggests so anyway.

Already the owner of more facial hair than the average red-head is likely to see in their lifetime, the self-taught 16 year old – yes, I said 16 – wandered on to stage for his debut appearance a few weeks back, ready to apparently make everyone laugh. What followed was a mixture of hooting, hollering and bewilderment, which later resulted in one judge calling him a “freak”……

Following on from his cover of Willow Smith’s ‘Whip My Hair’ last year, late night talk show host Jimmy Fallon has once more grabbed his hat, guitar and harmonica to portray Canadian singer-songwriter Neil Young.

Choosing to cover a song from a much more mature artist this time around, Fallon turns his attention to Miley “Hannah Montana” Cyrus. And what better way to ‘Party in the U.S.A’ than with a couple of Rock’N’Roll hall of famers in David Crosby and Graham Nash.

“Nodding my head like yeah, moving my hips like yeah”.

When you have over 60 international bands touring Australia at the same time, a number of things can occur… The Poms frequently get sunburnt, the yanks usually get arrested & the kiwis just never end up going back. But there’s one thing that can always be counted on… Photo shots with koalas and kangaroos. Here’s Gaslight Anthem drummer Benny Horowitz fulfilling his tourist visa obligation.

Down under, we must also look like guinea pigs or something. On the one day at the Soundwave Festival 4 weeks ago, I personally witnessed multiple new songs from bands eager to test out their new tunes on a hopefully welcoming audience. The Blackout, The Bronx and There For Tomorrow are all outfits who took the opportunity to do so, since they have new albums coming out soon. But the most intriguing band to perform a new track was New Jersey’s The Gaslight Anthem.

Still unknown as to whether this was an offcut from ‘The American Slang’ sessions, a new track for a forthcoming album, or just some awesome ditty that a talented bunch of guys can write and dispose of when they see fit, the song is called ‘Biloxi Parish’. Now I could break it down for you with paragraphs of descriptive analysis, but all I really need to say is “The Gaslight Anthem” and you should already know the quality that you are in for.

Or should you? For – as can be seen on the humorous, if mumbled, preamble on…

So there I was about to write yet another blog about yet another event that I had attended, when I thought to myself “Davey, you can’t write a full blog about the SoundWave Festival. It would turn out like ‘War & Peace’ and the entire SputnikMusic Blog machine would blow up. Plus, you need to stop talking about YOUR experiences (that’s what lists are for) and give the Sputnik-ites out there what THEY want”.

So last week I ran a poll (you probably missed it) as to what you all want & three main answers stood out: (1) Jonny Craig to give you the MacBook you paid for, (2) Sex & (3) Chan to review the new Aiden album about to be released. Those points seemed irrelevant to my blog, so I took the next three best responses and decided to roll them into this one all-encompassing blog. Ladies & gentlemen, I give you (1) Metal, (2) Huge headlining acts, & (3) A tour around Australia!

Prior to our tour beginning however, a disclaimer must first be aired for legal purposes: SputnikMusic shall take no responsibility for any motion sickness caused by unsteady hand-held cameras used in the making of the following videos. The same goes for deafness caused by varying volume levels, seizures caused by blinking lights, and blindness caused by the brightness of security vests.

Our tour today – just like the SoundWave Festival – starts in the north-eastern city of Brisbane, where it is sunny one…

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…

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