Sunset Sounds

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By Melanie Dinjaski

Day One

Day one of Sunset Sounds was kicked off by local Brissie band, Ball Park Music. The excitable pop-indie six piece are impressive up-and-comers, with their infectious track ‘Sad, Bad, Future Dude’ receiving frequent radio airplay as of late. As jumping front-man Paul Furness, belts the familiar line, ‘I haven’t had a friend in years, I only have sex with myself’ the crowd slowly gather towards the River Stage, but unfortunately, there’s still too few to make it a memorable performance. Finishing with the cheeky acronym-titled track ‘iFly’, which included an interlude of a painfully lame joke, the band farewell the early punters with a bang (well as big a bang a 3pm timeslot could achieve). But this won’t be the last you hear from these guys – expect big things.

 

Cloud Control were next up on the Gardens Stage. Fitting really, with the impending doom of overhead clouds threatening to storm down on the Botanic Gardens, we really did need some cloud control. And the rain did stay away for them with strong performances of favourites, ‘There’s Nothing In The Water We Can’t Fight’ and ‘Gold Canary’. Most surprising was despite being a four-piece band, the group manage to really fill the stage with harmonious vocals and voluminous sound. Refreshing to say the least. The crowd’s positive reaction prove that this band have come a long way since their debut album release earlier this year. With a growing following across the country frequent touring has certainly paid dividends. So much so that the band is set to relocate to the UK and take on the world in February. Good bye and Good luck I say.

 

Hot Hot Heat arrive on next with lead guitarist Luke Paquin disposing of a slightly suspect looking hand rolled cigarette, before the flailing Steve Bays gets the show underway. ‘Goodnight, Goodnight’ from 2005 album Elevator, and catchy new song ‘21@12’ get the crowd in raptures, with dancing and singing to be had. But all in all, I expected a bit more from these guys. I don’t know what, but they didn’t blow me away. Still good value though.

 

The rain came down for the largest set of the day so far, Cold War Kids. Set to release their third album Mine Is Yours, the Sunset Sounds faithful got a taste of some new tracks including ‘Royal Blue.’ But I’m surprised to find that it sounds very tame and controlled for CWK. Well, in comparison to previous hits, such as ‘Hang Me Up to Dry’ and ‘Hospital Bed’, which were met with raucous applause and cheering. Despite a solid performance, the crowd stole the show for me, as the growing intoxication levels meant entertaining attempts to keep up with Nathan Willett’s unique and ranging vocals.

 

At the Gardens Stage, there is a huge mass of people ready to welcome Madam Ladyhawke. But not before the crowd finishes up its rendition of Kanye West’s ‘Gold Digger’, to which Ladyhawke extends her compliments. With a quiet introduction – “Hi I’m LadyHawke” – her familiar New Zealand twang restarts the debate among people around me. You know, the ‘is-she-Australian-or-is-she-a-New-Zealander’ debate. Anyway, in a black muscle shirt, with guitar in hand and golden locks across her face, she cuts a Suzi Quattro-esque figure up on stage. But all that is put to rest when the first synth beat plays and her electro-indie hit, ‘Magic’ begins. The audience loves it. I love it. What’s not to love about Ladyhawke? If you thought of one reason, you would have forgot it when ‘Delirium’ played. Five stars.

 

Now it was time to check out UK family act, Kitty, Daisy & Lewis. I was slightly disappointed not to see a larger crowd gathering, undeserving of their late-ish timeslot, but it didn’t take long for people to warm to them. As the trio appeared on stage, in their fine vintage get-up, with mum on double bass and dad on rhythm guitar, the crowd came running, ready to shake, rattle and roll. At the tender ages of 22 (Daisy), 20 (Lewis) and 17 (Kitty) these guys are revitalising swing, blues, country, and rock’n’roll, as they go through tracks new and old, covers and originals, including ‘Hillbilly Music’, ‘Mean Son of a Gun’, ‘Buggin’ Blues’ and the 1968 Canned Heat hit, ‘Goin’ up the Country’. But make no mistake, Kitty, Daisy & Lewis make it their own. They’ve given this music a new life, and their talent is unquestionable. The three undergo a literal game of musical chairs, swapping instruments for each song. But this is no guitar, bass and drum set-up, oh no. At my count there are eleven instruments on stage, and all play immaculately, and as Lewis puts it, “with fire”. With special guest Eddie ‘Tan Tan’ Thornton on trumpet (who has played alongside The Beatles), Kitty, Daisy & Lewis, were definitely a highlight for me.

 

Back to River Stage and Public Enemy are on and absolutely killing it. Despite the buckets of rain now coming down they did not disappoint. Little did we know that this rain was causing extensive flooding across Brisbane that night and bringing public transport to a halt, but rain, hail or shine, nothing was going to stop this crowd from having a blast. Now getting on in years, Flava Flav is as energetic as ever on stage, with his signature clock necklace and boom-box in tow. Chuck D still has it too, fans hanging off his every word. What I like about their brand of music now deemed ‘old-school’ is just how much better hip-hop sounds with REAL drums, REAL bass, and REAL guitar, with a DJ on hand to provide some mixing. In my opinion it’s something sadly missed in today’s over-electronic sounding hip-hop. Surrounded by their army goons who marched and turned on cue, as well as two seemingly pointless posse members bouncing their heads side of the stage, Public Enemy is a sight to behold, and you just can’t help to dance, no matter how white you look. Live, they sound as good as they did twenty plus years ago, and the crowd interaction is top-notch. Giving props to Australian hip-hop, Koori people, MCs, graffiti artists and break-dancers, you get the feeling these guys will never get sick of performing and we’ll never get sick of them. Before it’s all over, DJ Lord gets centre stage, mixing AC/DC and Nirvana much to the delight of fans, whose inhibition faded as the rain continued and the large hillside fast became a water slide. With the rain becoming a little too much for this reviewer, a knee deep trek through flooding water led me out of the Botanic Gardens, and with that, day one was over.

 

 

Day Two


From the outset it was clear day two of Sunset Sounds was going to get messy. The previous night’s deluge of water had made the heavily trampled Botanic Gardens a muddy landscape to behold. Nevertheless, the show went on. Charlie Mayfair began the day at River Stage, but the reduced crowds early on, made for a lacklustre start to the day. Townsville locals, and festival regulars The Middle East were next on the main stage. They go through the motions, and provide a decent enough set. For a seven-piece their atmospheric indie folk makes a sound best described as a soothing blanket, but sadly I feel the festival setting is not an appropriate setting. One feels as if a more intimate venue would better showcase their music.

 

By the time Children Collide came on stage, a throng of fans were ready and willing to mosh and mosh hard. And so they did, plus a circle pit to boot. With lead singer and guitarist Johnny Mackay’s spirited vocals combined with their raw rocking sound, it was hard not to. Fans gladly sang along to popular hits such as ‘Farewell Rocketship’, ‘Chosen Armies’ and ‘Jellylegs’, while others retreated to the hillside, where an extraordinary example of festival cooperation was visible. A channel among the thousands of people had cleared so people could slide head first on their bellies down the water soaked, and now muddy hill. It was a scene reminiscent of old Woodstock footage, and certainly a source of entertainment! Even Johnny Mackay was encouraging them to do one for him! A memorable moment indeed.

 

Daara J Family was my next stop for the day. The raga-reggae-hip-hop Senegalese ensemble were a lot of fun to say the least. The muddy surround below the stage, saw a lot of festival-goers abandon their footwear, embrace the mud between their toes and ‘Celebrate’. When Faada Freddy told us to dance, we did, and we absolutely loved it.

 

Now it was Peaches at the Garden Stage. It was only a DJ set, but there were plenty of her own tracks featured too, including her last hit ‘Talk to me’. Part of what’s great about Peaches her live performances, her showmanship, her ability to shock and astound us. And we weren’t let down. Wearing cream lyrca and what I could only describe as a boob jacket (a jacket decorated with boobs, with barbie doll heads for nipples) she moved from behind the decks, to on the decks, to the front of stage, working the crowd at every opportunity. Cross-dressing dancers in hot pink tights and tutus, joined the crowd in twisting, shimmying and gyrating to Peaches’ x-rated lyrics.

 

Back to River Stage where The Living End had just begun their set. I quickly manoeuvred myself into the centre of the mosh pit to take it all in. Boy was it worth it. Of course the bruises I have to show just don’t do it justice, but The Living End were more than amazing. Bursting with energy I don’t think there was a moment when we all stopped jumping. ‘Roll On’ and ‘Prisoner of Society’ had everyone in full voice. There was crowd surfing, thongs and shoes soiled with mud being flung into the air, and plenty of chanting too. Ready to lay down their sixth album front-man Chris Cheney announced that it would be their last gig for a while, and the willing were certainly going to make the most of it, as they previewed some brand new songs. When will they call it quits? Who knows, but if their latest album is anything to go by, my guess is they still have plenty to give. The Living End – living legends. Period.

 

After that, it was time for the infamous Joan Jett & The Blackhearts. Joan Jett, in black sequence tight pants, and her Blackhearts took to the stage met with rapturous applause, and immediately kicked into their first song, the 1981 hit, ‘Bad Reputation’. It was nice to hear them perform some tunes from Jett’s Runaways days too, including ‘You Drive Me Wild’ and ‘Cherry Bomb’. But JJ&TB had so many classic songs in their own right, that they weren’t about to let us forget it. ‘The French Song’, ‘Do You Want to Touch Me’, and the covers of ‘I Love Rock’n’Roll’ and ‘Crimson and Clover’ were definite highlights, with the crowd called on to provide vocals on occassion. She might be over 50, but it becomes clear Ms Jett certainly hasn’t lost her mojo, topping off a glorious day in emphatic style.

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