Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Is this gig still on?" The people rock as hard as the music does at MK Round Two (ding ding)

MK Round Two Review - King & Co, Gravity Takes Over and The Howling Tongues. Thursday 1st July 2010.

The night began with lost-looking front man Mitch Caterall emerging from his highly decorated and deservedly infamous Howling Tongues van. He asked, simply, “Is this gig still on?”

Within half an hour, the band room felt full, however I had to hide my disappointment upon discovering that no one in the crowd had brought their Nans as was clearly stipulated.

Free drink cards were handed out liberally to band members, who did a commendable job of looking dehydrated in order to scam more booze. The troops began to stream in from downstairs, their wrists stamped with the now legendary homemade Midnight Kamikaze stamp, their free drink cards in hand. A CD had to be borrowed from a band member’s car; due to our usual sound guy’s absence, his usual CD wallet of alternate set up material was safely stashed in his usual silver Corolla in a side street somewhere in Batemans Bay.

King and Co. kicked the proceedings off at 9:30(ish). Their sound conjured images of the sort of barefoot, trackie-wearing, sun-bleached hair toting, laid-back surfie muso that they had fittingly acquired to front their band. The usual three-piece of keys, guitar and bass was complimented by a fourth stand-in on the bongos. Having never even jammed with King and Co. before, he put in a sound performance.

This was the kind of band that can wholly commandeer the atmosphere of a room. They played the sort of music that could easily be heard in the background of an up-market inner city lounge bar. It had class. After their well-known cover of Sublime’s ‘What I Got’, which I know word for word, but only through King and Co. playing it, they retired to sip their free drinks and generally contribute to the laid-back mood with their blasé demeanour.

The brainchild of Craig ‘Gnarly’ Gregory, Gravity Takes Over has taken his songs to a whole new level. How he managed to successfully transform his melodic acoustic ballads into grinding punk rock is beyond me, and is a testament to the musicians that play alongside him (David ‘The Stav’ Folder and Daniel ‘Ratus’ Radburn).

Long term fans of Gnarly were not disappointed when, half way through his first song, he broke a guitar string which somehow took over 10 minutes to replace. (Some have claimed that the free drink cards had something to do with this.) After cementing his string-breaking reputation (he has been known to play gigs on four strings, after breaking all of his spares), the gig continued unhindered. High energy, accruing drum beats, and Gnarly’s rasping voice belted out through the speakers, underpinned with serious bass chords and so many of those run-through-your-mind-all-day riffs that Gnarly built his sound musical reputation on.

Incredibly, despite no one actually caring about the set timing, the headlining band began bang on the intended 11:30pm mark. The decision was made to book three acts, after a hollow band-shaped hole was left in many peoples’ hearts last week; Run on Mum and Order 66 were so good that they left us craving more. Fortunately, The Howling Tongues gave this week’s crowd the closure that last week’s supporters sorely needed.

It was all I could do to not jump up and start dancing around the room. Gnarly was decidedly less self-conscious. The lead singer Mitch had the sort of on-stage energy that I found entirely captivating – his long blonde hair whipped about his face as he imbued every song with that insane amount of passion and energy that has made the Tongues so celebrated in the local community. The bassist cranked out a number of old-school rock moves, legs wide in power rock pose while busting out heavy infectious notes in massive break downs. The Tongues’ enthralling rock is of a quality seldom seen in a small-town band. After thanking the other bands (twice), Mitch thanked Gnarly for the dance moves, the venue, and the somewhat bewildered organiser. And with that, the night was over.

When holding a band night at a nightclub, a hilarious clash of cultures can emerge. The Hostage X DJ arrived before the end of The Howling Tongues’ set, and thought it best to mime that he was DJing while the band in front of the DJ box belted out their heavy garage rock. This led to a few smiles. Here’s hoping the novelty of band-night-in-night-club will never wear thin. Along the same theme, there were several requests for a heavy metal night, which raised questions as to the safety of heavy moshing underneath a sea of low-hanging mirror balls. It was, however, unanimously agreed that the mirror balls would significantly add to the atmosphere of a metal fest.

The borrowed CD of background music was turned on, the crowd cleared out, and the gear was packed into vans with much complaining and grunting from men, and a less than helpful commentary from onlooking girls. The guys from the bands were surprised when I handed them the door proceeds. An unassuming crew of lads, tied together more by their rough-around-the-edges shaggy appearance than by their musical style, the three bands featured at Midnight Kamikaze Round Two (ding ding) contained not only talent, but genuine and accommodating personalities. Hearing brilliant music was something I had expected, but I was caught off guard by the top-notch people attracted to the Midnight Kamikaze phenomenon. Bring on Round Three.

Next week will bring us to the 8th of July, where The Shake Up will play alongside When the World Sleeps, and a yet-to-be-named replacement for Opallarma who cancelled due to prior commitments.

By B-Real-Bren-Bonanza

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