If you’re young, hot and semi-famous in Sin-city, you probably play in a band. Over the past few years, Sydney’s live scene has exploded, hurling a wide array of mostly exciting bands onto the stages of our hot city streets. The formula is pretty simple: squeeze yr ass into a pair of tight black jeans, cite key post-punk and new wave bands as your influences, whip up a myspace page, lose your mind onstage then DJ afterwards at some dingy indie club before waking up with a random sporting an asymmetrical haircut and a copy of your demo. The time is now. No, now.
Sydney wins again in the Sydney Vs Melbourne debate, if the bands nominated for Best Live Newcomer at this year’s Jack Awards are anything to go by. The Jack Awards are a Jack Daniels sponsored awards ceremony, a chance for the party-hungry Sydney music industry (the Smindy) to cultivate wicked hangovers and flirt with the deliciously high number of cute boy musos in attendance (or is that just me?). Most of the categories give props to bands who’ve long left the indie scene behind in lieu of commercial success, but the Newcomers category, as voted by the Smindy, puts actual hot new bands in the running. Last year the 70s rawk success story that is Wolfmother walked away with the gong, this year these bands get in the ring: Airbourne (Melbourne), Cut Copy, (Melbourne), Expatriate, (Sydney), The Grates, (Brisbane), Faker (Sydney) and Van She (Sydney). Yesss! Cut Copy, Faker, The Grates and Van She are all excellent gangs of musicians plying their trade with the ease of a junkie scoring smack in Kings Cross, but this columnist picks Expatriate as the one to [legally] download. A huge buzz band locally, the dark pop four-piece are well worth checking out, and have just returned home from a showcase tour of New York, Montreal and London. As the awards themselves are voted for by the GP, it’s usually the band with the highest profile who takes home the trophy – and it’s a toughie. The two in the front-running are probably Cut Copy and The Grates, even though both outfits are spending most of their time o/s touring, with the likes of Franz Ferdinand and We Are Scientists! respectively. Watch this space: the Jack Awards happen in June.
Speaking of o/s, one Sydney band currently adopting UK slang are The Presets. Signed to boutique indie label Modular, this devilishly dark electro-disco duo have a big following here and always put on a live show of insane proportions. Check touring dates at modularpeople.com. Other Sydney-siders in yr neck of the woods currently include Wolfmother [one show at Koko in April] and art-pop hotties, Dappled Cities Fly.
The Presets lads don’t just perform music for vampires to make out to, they help create it for other bands too. Drummer Kim Moyes played Papa Producer with one of the most exciting new acts emerging here, The Valentinos. OK, so they’re another angular post-punk boy band – driving, urgent vocals over sharp bursts of guitars and drums; the works – but the five-piece have enough songs with more hooks than Treasure Island and a lead singer Nik who personifies indie-boy sexxx that they’re worth adding to your myspace friends. Their debut self-titled EP sold out first week of release and secured them high rotation on the national youth broadcaster, Triple J, plus a support slot with The Presets’ last national tour. With good management, you should see this band in the pages of magazines such as this one very soon…
Want proof The Valentinos have made it? Local synth-loving party band Pomo Mofo have written a song about their man-about-town drummer, Daniel Stricker “Hey where’s Stricker, someone tell me/ Yeah he’s in the middle of the VIP/ Street press photo pages, check/ Some indie girl around his neck/ Or one big photo with just the Strick/ His magazine scrapbook must be thick”. Are name-checking indie novelty songs the new black? Now No Now really hopes so.
2005 saw them signing to respected indie label Ivy League Records, playing shows with The Shins, The Kaiser Chiefs and the country’s premier music festival the Big Day Out, releasing EP numero duo The Plan A and touring with the cartoon band who lives and breathes, The Grates. They are Red Riders, four lads responsible for some of Sydney’s finest upbeat indie rock who have recently ditched plans for EP number three in favour of their much anticipated debut album. Fans of The Clash, The Cure and The Cars rejoice. The sound? Co-frontman/ guitarist Al Grigg assures No No Now it’ll sound like “A high school athletics carnival holding a posy of exploding roses in front of a romantic firing squad.” You heard it here first.
As you were,