The Brightside’s Australia Day Eve
Sunday, 25 January
Part One: The Clean
The Brightside’s Australia Day Eve event showcases an eclectic collection of quality local and international sounds across two stages. I manage to arrive in time to catch the tail end of local indie scuzzers Thigh Master, the band’s scrappy yet catchy sounds getting heads nodding in appreciation and tracing a lineage back to those seminal Kiwis on tonight’s bill…
Due to some late breaking logistical issues Gold Coast dream-psyche ensemble Tsun are bumped across stages and into a shorter timeslot. They open with impressive new number Indro, while Aghartha sees them channeling a Flaming Lips style psych-pop groove. And on closing track Moonshrine (which morphs into new jam Moonshine) the band ascend starwards, the lilting ebb and flow of the track building to an epic final crescendo, vocalist Karl S Williams lifting his keyboard aloft and battering it into submission as the set blazes and burns clean. This band just keep getting better every time I see them…
The Peep Tempel lay waste to the carpark stage with their geezer inflected art-pub-punk schlok, a working mans McLusky firing up the ever more lubricated crowd. The band spark and ignite often, and random moments throughout their impressive set sees singer and guitarist Blake Scott flail and shake as though 10 000 volts of electricity are passing through him.
How to Dress Well seem like somewhat of an anomaly in tonight’s bill, their smooth 80’s MOR electro-pop sounds inspiring a small pocket of devoted but causing this reviewer to retreat to the inside stage to take up a prime position for the band that had driven many in attendance tonight out of their regular Sunday night inertia…
That band being legendary New Zealand deities The Clean (pictured), and the floor is a sweaty throng of reverence and exuberance throughout this very rare re-convening of these three influential Dunedin musicians.
Vocalist David Kilgour enters the stage brandishing his trusty cigar-box shaped guitar, the band initially easing their way into proceedings. Drummer Hamish Kilgour delights with his economical, arms tucked in drumming style while bassist Robert Scott shares the joy and locks the whole shebang down from right of stage. A third of the way in and the pace raises a notch…Anything Could Happen is a rollicking indie pop gem, a sound and style often approximated but rarely topped, and At The Bottom delivers a woozy garage-psych wig out of the highest order, the crowd now riding the escalator with the band to the 13th floor and beyond… And then the ramshackle strains of 1982’s Getting Older, the bands second single from 1982, kicks in to deliver a spine tingling moment of universal unity…getting older should always feel this good!
After what seems like 15 minutes but is in fact closer to 45, the band wave goodbye to a howl of rapture, the baying throng managing to coax them back out for an encore, a rare moment indeed for a non headlining act in a mini-festival environment! With one glance behind to the all encompassing legacy of The Velvet Underground and another glance beyond to the future of indie rock as we know it, The Clean serve to cleanse all those in attendance tonight with a pure dose of timeless rollick and roll…
Part Two: Ariel Pink + Dan Deacon
Ariel Pink – Typical of Queensland, the heat and humidity hadn’t dropped at all as Ariel stepped onto stage at 9:45pm. Don Bolles, former The Germs drummer is standing side of stage as he utters something along the line of “Man I am sweating my ass off” as he strips down to his signature blue bikini “…..I don’t want my eye make up to run!” before checking it one last time and heading to his kit.
As the band kicks off Ariel Pink interrupts the set twice to check again. Awkwardly the crowd below drip with sweat as they move responding to his every breath and whisper.
Take everything you have heard of these wild performances and now imagine the same thing but this time you are in a far off parallel universe where creatures of rocky horror resemblance reside naturally. That is an Ariel Pink show. Intergalactic psychedelic oddity. The world needs freaks like you Ariel Pink.
At one stage he jumps on the drums to join Bolles and while nothing made sense and he didn’t play to a beat or tune it just flowed perfectly.
Witnessing this feels like all of the late 80s rock and goth rock legends were transported to a secret stage in Mars for a finetuned final revival. His band is made up of some of the most talented musical mutants; while they don’t appear to fit together somehow they are part of one unique machine.
I asked him post show how did he manage to band together a bunch of misfits so diverse to end up with a super tight sonic dream? And he simply replied in his classic Californian accent: “I crack the whip! It’s the answer to all your questions, you crack the whip.”
Its now past 11.00pm and Dan Deacon has taken to the inside stage with his unique electronic music, the legendary composer has a fan in Ariel who instead of responding to the encore simply jumped on stage and mumbles, “Dan Deacon is playing inside so get in there.” He wastes no time turning the crowd from standing still to raving from front to back.
Fifteen minutes into his high-energy full party he stops and divides the crowd in half, half are moved to the left and half to the right, as he chooses one participant from each side to be the leader of each group. Ordering them to follow their new leaders dance moves. It was a genius move as the crowd is now an interactive part of Dan’s entire set, soon enough the one of the leaders walks over to a side door an opens it as he orders his “followers” to create a love tunnel out of the door way and soon enough the tunnel goes from ten people standing opposite each other to over 200 people taking the chain from the front stage door to the back of the bar at The Brightside. It was an unforgettable and amusing experience.