Live Review & Photo Gallery: Fergus Brown w/ Richard in Your Mind, Wim, Sherlock’s Daughter and Brian Campeau @ The Oxford Art Factory – 10 December 2009

Author: Vittorio E.
Photographer: Arfy Papadam

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Fergus Brown
[Photo: Arfy Papadam]
  The first trip to the bathroom reveals that we’re in for a longer night than we could have possibly expected. It’s a Thursday night – a school night, I stress – and the bill on the door leading to the toilet declares that there will be five bands on the night. The last Fergus Brown is to start at a quarter to midnight, and will be filmed for the forthcoming feature film, LBF.

Brian Campeau is up first, and he’s brought one quarter of his band, The Common Misconceptions, along for support. She, a certain Elana Stone, accompanies on accordion and vocals. Brian Campeau is a folk singer – or at least what he does is grounded in folk; the reality is that the music is a little spacier than all that. It’s partly the reverb and partly his inventive guitar playing style, in which the rhythm is supplemented by harmonics, trills, hammer-ons and surprisingly inventive tapping. He sings four songs, she sings two, and the crowd is entranced.

The second band of the night is Sherlock’s Daughter, who by a virtue of a slot on next year’s Big Day Out and having been ‘unearthed’ by Triple J, we will be hearing a lot more of in the future. They are an interesting band, though handicapped on the night by the fact that three members of the band were stuck in New York and the lineup had to be cobbled together from previous members, producers and a drum machine. It’s pop music, 80’s electronica, though filtered through trance to be exact, and leans towards being the dreamiest band of the night. The wash of blue light is incredibly apt. The band gets bogged down a little towards the middle, especially during the dancier songs, but pulls it together during the hazier, slower numbers.

Wim are on next, and by this stage the sets are getting shorter as the night fights against time. We are, after all, only halfway through the proceedings. Wim are fun, and here again the light is fitting: the hazy purple light pushing to red matches their 70s inflected cabaret pop, their harmonies and their singer’s melodramatic tenor. Wim are another band that are on the make. They, too, have been ‘unearthed’ and have recently been declared FBI’s Up For It unsigned artist of the week. Given that they seemingly take their fashion cues from The Mighty Boosh’s Noel Fielding, they should go far. I put my earplugs in for this set, not because the music was too loud, but because they sounded better when I cut out some of the higher range of the sound spectrum. They are derivative, sure, but they are also pulling together the strands in their own way to make their own sound. Orchestras, lads, you need an orchestra…

From the tenor of the last band we move to the higher pitched and whimsical Richard In Your Mind. This was the least successful band of the night, their playfulness seeming a little contrived, almost quirky for the sake of being quirky. The focus, though, was always pop. Those songs that degenerated into noisy, guitar-on-amp freak-outs were the most successful. The high-point of the set, however, was the last song during which the band handed out a bunch of percussion instruments and proceeded to lead the audience in a tribal folk stomp. It was an engaging set, nonetheless, and though I didn’t appreciate it as much as some of the other bands that played, the audience certainly did.

Fergus Brown was on last, and by now we were seriously over time. Fergus Brown is the most polished act of the night. It is straight ahead pop music, recalling Snow Patrol or, perhaps, a livelier, warmer Coldplay. They put on an energetic show and the crowd is rightly appreciative. The quality of Brown’s songs aside, though, the highlight is easily keyboardist, Holly Austin. She was a tour de force, adding melodica (I think), beat boxing and a plastic hamburger to her palette of sounds. She also provided the visual entertainment, bouncing around, clapping and generally having a great time that was near infectious. She was a joy to watch. The set ends too soon; cameras were set up and the band mimed their way through two cuts of ‘John, She Was Never Only Dancing’ (including two flubs); then we were loosed on the world an hour or so later than expected, but it wasn’t bad for twelve bucks.

Fergus BrownFergus Brown
Richard In Your MindRichard In Your Mind
Sherlock's DaughterSherlock’s Daughter
Brian CampeauBrian Campeau


Fergus Brown w/ Richard in Your Mind, Wim, Sherlock’s Daughter and Brian Campeau @ The Oxford Art Factory – 10 December 2009