Midnight Kamikaze Thursday 15th July - Dom Connor, Opallarma, The Raids
I doubt anyone has ever claimed that organising a band night from scratch is easy, but if they have, I’d love to know their secret. Despite booking two out of three acts with mere days to spare, we somehow managed to scrape together a talented line up that left a lasting impression on all who were present. This was also an evening of firsts. No, I don’t mean Kuz Cozens finally got laid – he says he’s still waiting for that special girl. Instead, we had our first set of parents in the room; I felt like offering them a coffee, a cushion, some bikkies, and asking the band to tone it down a bit. There was also our first taste of nudity, but I’ll get to that later. Oh, and we witnessed MK’s first ever acoustic set.
Now, many have theorised that the MK room is well suited to acoustic sessions. Dom Connor, of Arc Icarus fame, effortlessly exceeded these high expectations. His powerful vocals rang out over the room, enhanced by his intricate and beautiful guitar work. The small crowd served to increase the intimacy of the already heartfelt and personal ballads. Dom played several off-beat covers including You Am I’s Heavy Heart. Far from simply playing what You Am I had written, Dom mixed up the rhythm and melodies in a way that gave the song a new life. It was original, fresh, and Dom’s musical brilliance was written all over it. It is rare to see a musician versatile enough to stand completely alone from their band, with their own unique style. It is a testament to Dom’s skill that he has somehow mastered both front man and soloist with equal success.
A pattern has emerged over previous MK gigs, where a strong crowd would slowly form while the first act was underway. On this particular Thursday though, the people were elsewhere. This was a huge blow for Wollongong, because The Raids were incredible. Most were in unanimous agreement that this was a duo more professional than any act we had seen in a long time. The Raids were recommended by Order 66’s infamous drummer Kuz Cozens, who claimed they “thrashed our arses” in their latest band comp. As my camera flashed up ‘low battery’ and ‘insufficient memory space’, I hurriedly attempted to delete as many not-so-necessary images, so I could try to show the rest of Wollongong the unique and edgy sound that was the brainchild of Andrew Kaleopa and Shane Hachett. Arms a-blur over his intricate but miniature drum kit, Kaleopa belted out strong, low vocals, while his tight and impeccable drumming kept pace. Hachett sung his share of songs, while he effortlessly grooved along to the heavy riffs emanating from his guitar. His sound, with its psychedelic flavour, was reminiscent of all that was good and heavy about 1970’s guitar riffs. Following their final song and the riotous applause that ensued, the Opallarma trio turned to me, arms outstretched, and asked how I expected them to follow an act as good as that.
What Opallarma lacked in confidence following The Raids’ performance, they made up for in humour. The small crowd meant that the atmosphere was even more relaxed than usual - Opallarma could let loose and just have fun. Their easy on-stage presence was heightened by the obvious friendship between the three, as they mocked the standard of each others’ musicianship throughout their gig. They offered up songs such as Mexico, which the boys claimed was the new tourism song for its namesake country, and which only went for 56 seconds because “Mexico can’t afford anything more”. Although a fight for title of tambourinist was encouraged, everyone who wanted a go got to have a turn, except for one audience member citing wanker’s cramp as an excuse. One song was dedicated to Opallarma’s favourite breed of nightclub frequenters: “This one’s for all the hussies”. Mere seconds into the song, summoned by the powers that be, a group of short-skirted, high heeled, fake tanned, scantly clad girls walked into the room. They glanced, bewildered, at the band and the crowd, and made their way quickly to the relative safety of the bathroom mirrors. A minute later, they all filed out, just missing front man Michael Mor’s closing: “Thank you hussies!” The entire occurrence was an incredible coincidence – none of the band members could see the procession due to the lighting. We let them in on the joke later.
If there was any degree of self-control or professionalism to begin with, it had long since left the room. Things degenerated into hilarity. Bass player Roachy stripped off his shirt, revealing a stomach you could crack a beer on, and taught, ripped back muscles that quivered in the dappled lights. A chiselled V lead the eye down his stomach, and his skin was even, hairless, tanned, and possibly oiled. Was that the smoke machine, or some sort of water-on-hot-coals sauna effect stemming from the sweat on his hot guns? Prompts of “take your pants off” were quickly met with protests of “I’ve never been asked that before”. Fittingly for the declining tone of the evening, as the E string was dropped, and so were Roachy’s trousers. I was thankful that while our first display of nudity was underway, our first pair of parents had long since left for bed.
Although the fourth MK was a rag tag concoction of different styles, last minute bookings, and a smaller audience than the talented performers deserved, it was an incredible night where everyone present witnessed the magic of The Raids, the brilliance of Dom Connor’s voice, and the sharp wit, humour and charm of the Opallarma boys.
When all the gear was packed away, the night ended when Roachy was spat on by a pair of ‘hussies’ on Crown Street after kindly asking them to get out of his van.
He secretly liked it.
Next week: Kuz Cozens loses his virginity, and Chainsaw Mascara hits the stage, with support acts TBA.
Written by Brenny Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy.