Midnight Kamikaze Round Three Review, Thursday 8th July 2010. Featuring The Shake Up, When the World Sleeps and Pat Arnold et al.
The dark clouds over Wollongong brought on the evening earlier than usual. As the bands heaved their gear up stairs, a spattering of rain began to fall, and through the palpable chill in the air, there was an equally palpable concern about the distinct lack of a crowd. Wollongong and rain do not mix. On rainy days UOW lecture halls lie empty, ‘The Line’ at The Illawarra barely stretches past the red security rope, and an empty kebab paper scuffing down Keira Street in the damp breeze merely hints at Keira’s potential hubbub.
Still, with all of the band members mulling around, the place didn’t exactly feel empty. Particularly since half of Wollongong had turned up to accompany Pat Arnold on stage, and secondly because the lads from When the World Sleeps were fantastically approachable. They hinted at the probability of their signature pelvic thrust being bestowed upon whatever sized crowd we could muster.
The first act was a motley concoction of musical talent. When asked if he’d brought a crew, Pat Arnold’s answer summed up the act, “They’re all upstairs setting up for their gig”.
Donning the title Vicious Dickens, the pack of eight or so mates featured a turnover higher than a 24-hour McDonald’s drive-through following the 4am Socceroos match. Lumiere’s drummer Joel Van Gastel kept the audience hooked with his impossibly lanky drumming style – his arms flailed in all directions, yet somehow hit their mark every time. Kelly Gibbs made her way to the front for a memorable rendition of System of a Down’s Chop Suey. Resident MK band man Alex Barker found himself behind the drum kit once more, and Order 66 front man Ryan Beveridge contributed vocals to a set already crammed with the best of the Wollongong music scene. Other highlights included a melancholic cover of Nick Cave’s Where the Wild Roses Grow, an unnecessary economising of musicians as a guitarist strummed his instrument with a tambourine, and the dusting off of a 70’s relic – the ever-popular and completely kitsch melodica. (Also known as a ‘blow organ’. Yes, a blow organ. Google it.)
While the keyboardist ran the sounds of static from a small radio through the microphone, I turned and noticed that the room was full. Despite the weather, Wollongong had done us proud. A group of six well-dressed dancers with artsy hairdos took up the D-floor, moving as if entranced by the music. In one ambient song, as Pat Arnold’s melodic falsetto soared through the mirror balls (hah), the dancers slowed, and one by one stood still, fixated. The intensity of the music resonated throughout the room. The keyboardist emerged from obscurity - his sound slowly increasing in unison with bass and guitars, to an escalating crescendo of funk, rock, and blues all somehow united in one incredible song. The dancers burst into life once more.
After the set, disparate instruments were packed into their various cases, including the less-than-conventional keyboard into sleeping bag. Half of the crowd took up seated residence on the dance floor, while the rest ducked out to the beer garden for a cigarette or two.
Much-anticipated local boys When the World Sleeps stepped up to the mark – a down to earth group of guys, whose charm and ease of conversation are apparently surpassed only by their musical brilliance. Half way through their first song, MK witnessed the second broken string in two weeks. Gnarly, front man for last week’s Gravity Takes Over, could be heard shouting a supportive “Hey this happened to me last week!” A quick guitar loan ensued, and the music recommenced.
Adorned in a faded Mario T-shirt, fresh-faced front man Jared Chappell’s ordinary appearance failed to signal the intensity of his singing voice. This kid’s voice was built for radio – undertones of Morrissey (and, I like to think, Triple J’s Craig Schuftan,) rumbled from the thin frame of the young student like a poorly matched voice dub. The room still, his enchanted harmonies rang out over the silent crowd, before the other instruments slowly began to slot their sound into the song. Their set of melancholic instrumentals (with a mere taste of vocals) was wound up by Chappell’s brilliant line: “We’ve got one more song and it’s likely to go for ages. Feel free to take a toilet break.” Those that took him up on his offer, (there were few if any,) would have missed that famous pelvic thrust - Chappell’s groin pointed suggestively (and with great decorum) away from the audience, and instead in the direction of drummer Mitch Prothero.
Watching the proceedings from the back of the room, The Shake Up parted the sea of fans as they sauntered toward the stage area. Their matchstick jeans the tightest in the room, their shirts indicative of hours spent perusing trendy Sydney T-shirt boutiques (although I doubt this actually happened), and hairdos that would leave Noel Fielding envious and inspired. These guys were professional. They were a band you’d pay big money for. And many have – The Shake Up just completed a national tour promoting their latest single, including gigs at all the major cities (and some in between). They recently wrapped up their residency at Sydney’s World Bar, where they played every Friday to an escalating fan base. Their new film clip, which they described as “boobs on a moving walkway”, and which I suggest you check out, because it does indeed have boobs in it, (also, see if you can guess where it’s filmed,) has been watched thousands of times online. As well as receiving air play on Triple J (possibly introduced by Craig Schufton? Hm, I should hope so,) their new EP hit stores last week.
The Shake Up have an on-stage presence that just works. Their relentless energy seemed effortless – lead singer Miles Selwyn sported a manic and cheeky stare that, paired with his Chuck Berry-esque one-legged hop, had the crowd absorbed in his charismatic showmanship. Bassist Ben Carvana’s eyes were shielded by his curly mop, lending him an air of mystery. And everything that front man Miles said in his deep, serene voice, such as describing their EP as “four tracks of wack”, had our sober selves giggling like drunkards. The Shake Up possess all of the character of Phil Jamieson, crossed with the presence, catchy licks and professional look of Jet...only unlike Jet, they’re actually good.
The evening was winding down, and the crowd was starting to trickle out the door. “Thank you small but loud crowd,” Miles said as he wrapped up their set. I stood, star struck as The Shake Up lads signed their EP for me and discussed the merits of the album cover’s designer.
Outside, the pavement was wet, and the air cold. All that was left inside Hostage to suggest the ruckus were a few stragglers, three crunched up set lists, a shattered drum stick, and a sodden white shirt.
N.B - Would the owner of the shirt please come forward – it has been washed, but not ironed. I don’t iron.
Next week, we’ve got Opallarma, The Raids (who, apparently, kicked the arses of Order 66 at their most recent band comp), and Dom Connor plus whoever he deems fit to bring. It should be slightly more fun than watching porn on your roommate’s laptop.
To check out The Shake Up’s film clip (with bewbs), go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFt9vVTfPA0&has_verified=1
By B-Quin Banana-Rama