Return/Bride/Son/(insert B-horror title) of the Brisbane Sounds!



By Meaghan White

Notes? None. Fact checking? None. Adherence to journalistic ethics? None.

If you are experiencing a degree of anxiety already, that’s appropriate. Let me continue though.

Here’s the situation I walked in to: I happily agreed to photograph the Brisbane Sounds show, despite the fact I had not touched my camera since this one time back in October 2008, which also happened to be the first time I’d EVER touched that camera (with it being brand new and all), essentially making me a stranger to its functions and barely able to recall its function. I conveniently forgot this and the sensible restraint that would once have seized my ‘yes, please’ muscle was overwhelmed by enthusiasm.

These are not ideal circumstances for anyone to be undertaking a photo assignment, beloved reader, let alone someone as spiritually delicate as me. The potential for failure was high, almost certain. But on I soldiered, for you, for me, for the stellar line-up, and fortunately I managed to claw my way out of the wreckage with some photos and some, dare I say, pertinent observations.

So, here is what you missed (or reveled in) on Saturday night at the Zoo: The Mercy Beat, New Jack Rubys, Vegas Kings, Blackwater Fever, Gentle Ben and His Sensitive Side & Screamfeeder.

The Mercy Beat were already playing by the time I got up the Zoo’s stairs. The guy who spilled rum on me the moment I entered the venue’s inner sanctum said it was their second song. I don’t know if I can trust that guy, but at least he managed to navigate life’s maze of effective time management a little better than I had, so we may as well shrug and take his word for it. Brisbane Sounds was to be my first Mercy Beat experience. I had read in Time Off once that they were “aggro-rock merchants” and naturally I was excited to see what this meant. In reality it meant that I spent several minutes struggling to find a button on my camera before my brain processed the fact I was being pummeled by some sort of heavenly bottom end.


The Mercy Beat do not particularly interest me on a holistic level. My most recurring disappointment in music is that it’s all okay – fatally competent, little more. The Mercy Beat were okay, I have nothing bad to say about them. I was not moved to love them as a band, I probably would not buy their album if it cost more than 10 bones.. However, they honestly blew me away in one respect: their hell-fire rhythm section. During their last few songs they just fell in to place and rained sonic destruction down upon us. So tight. Big ups for their cover selection too. They chose Apartment by Custard.



New Jack Rubys. I’ve heard so much about these guys. They’re primed for something special. But I have absolutely no memory of their set.

“Take notes,” you might say. And I would say that’s an excellent suggestion, except realistically it is a hard thing to accomplish when you’re holding a fully loaded dSLR for most of a band’s set.

I counter, though, that if your Saturday night set is forgotten by Wednesday it was probably a generic 3 stars anyway. I think they covered a song called Know The Score.








Vegas Kings came next. Thank Christ. Disclaimer: I love the Vegas Kings. They’re one of my favourite Brisbane bands, and they have been for a long time. I expect reviewers will use words like “scorching” and “explosive”, and they’ll probably talk about the fact that Ben’s guitar (pictured at the beginning of this post) ended up broken and on the ground. Pete and Ben do that stuff, they are bonafide. Instead of describing their set (immaculate and bad ass), their sound (short fuse punk blues) and their antics (immaculate and bad ass), I’ll just give you some context. Vegas Kings were in the studio Friday, Saturday (and Sunday). They spent hours slaving away like DOGS on a new offering for you, their precious public, and then trundled right along to the Zoo to throw themselves upon the altar of your judgment. Without a moment’s rest, no less! Exhausted, and we are talking bone-weary, they propped themselves up on stage and somehow drew an immense power from what I assume was your unadulterated love. Be honest, that’s inspirational. That’s motivational. That’s the resurrective power of dirty rock and roll.


Awkwardly, Flickr has swallowed my photos of Blackwater Fever. I’m trying to talk my way through it but the site is giving me the cold shoulder. So what can I do? The thing is, right before Blackwater Fever rum-spilling man from The Mercy Beat’s set chanced upon me once again. Thinking we had developed quite the rapport earlier, he refused to shut his face. It is a certainty that he spilled more rum on me. It is a certainty that I understood approximately 0.03% of what he said to me. It is a mystery what he did to my photos, however. I’m happy to place the blame squarely on his shoulders as I feel a genuine disdain for him and the weaker members of his family now that I’ve endured his drunk talk. Note to gig goers: If everytime you yell babble at someone, they point to the speakers, scowl and shake their head in a “cannot, for the life of me, hear you, nor am I likely to unless they adjust the massive volume more than mildly” fashion, do not keep yelling. Go for a walk instead. Or, here’s an idea, watch the band. Moreover, listen to them. And shut up.

Blackwater Fever did not seem to get the best reception. I thought they were decent; a little flat compared to when I saw them an age ago with the Black Keys, but good enough to please me. The crowd mostly seemed disinterested, though. Perhaps this was due to Blackwater’s placement on the bill. If they’d preceded Vegas Kings I think people would have been a little more enthused. Gentle Ben and His Sensitive Side were a big drawcard for a lot of people and it is hard for a band to play before them and not feel like an interruption or a delay.


Ah yes, Ben Corbett was doing his pre-show stretches/freak out during Blackwater Fever’s last few songs. Punters at the front of the room could see him jumping around side stage and that was enough to spark a sense of anticipation. No one really wants to try and relay the Ben Corbett experience. No one I know is fond enough of their raconteuring flaws. But I can give you this. I once had an intense conversation with an alleged ex-mafia man who was dealing with a whole lot of grief. He forced eye contact with me for upwards of 45 minutes at an intensity that could actually destroy the autistic spectrum. Ben Corbett looked in my direction for a second or so and I was back there, in that same, uncomfortable place.

Corbett is a writhing savage and I love him for it. The howling, the crazed stare, the macabre lyrics.. It’s incredible, and it’s incredibly done by this man and his sensitive sidekicks. For the record, I rate Gentle Ben and His Sensitive Side more highly than Brisbane stalwarts Sixfthick (whom I also want to french kiss).

Oh, P.S. GBaHSS covered The Go-Betweens – Was There Anything I Could Do. Yeah, you’re sorry you missed that.07


Finally, to take everyone home and put them to bed: Screamfeeder. My brain, by this point, was soggy. My bones were sore. It had been a long, long day. I was shooting from the corner of the stage and the sound guy came and tapped me on the shoulder. He led me up to, and allowed me to take photos from, his side of the stage. It’s the sort of thing that happens all the time in Brisbane, and usually I don’t notice. But for once, appropriately, I began to reflect on the kindnesses I had been shown by people in the “Brisbane music scene”. And the kindnesses I’d seen them showing each other. What a thing to be part of.

I popped off a few shots, of Tim on his toes or the illustrious Screamfeeder twosome at their microphones, swathed in darkness. And then I stretched, sat back and enjoyed the show. Brisbane still sounds pretty righteous to me.

08There are some more photos from the night here, and more to come as soon as Flickr stops despising me.


2 Responses to “Return/Bride/Son/(insert B-horror title) of the Brisbane Sounds!”

  1. Andrew McMillen Says:

    Fantastic recollection, Meg. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Meg Says:

    My pleasure, Mr McMillen.

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