Live Review | Sounds of Spring Festival 2009

Sounds of Spring 2009
Review by Bek Grealy
Photo by Stuart Blythe

The Living End
Being a typical Sydney Festival goer, I was excited to finally attend a Brissy festival, and Sounds of Spring line up was amplifying my anticipation. With an extremely talented line up, featuring the likes of Calling all Cars, After the Fall, Dead Letter Circus, Mammal, Shihad, Frenzal Rhomb, Dave McCormack and the Polaroids, Little Birdy, Tim Rogers, Tex Perkins… the list goes on! What a cracker of a day, temperatures reaching 32 degrees, and a venue that boasted great stages, a beer tent on every corner and water around every bend. The ANA showgrounds in my mind proved to be the perfect festival venue.

The first gig I had highlighted on my program was Ouch! My Face! at the Big Top stage, although the crowd was a little meagre, it didn’t stop Melbourne’s Ouch! My Face! from bringing the roof down. Hailing from Melbourne the three piece, Steve, Ben and Celeste created unique, yet ear blowing music.

With a similar sound to “The Young and the Restless” and perhaps typified an early version of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Celeste, although slight and fairly demure, managed to hold a scream and pump out the lyrics to her audience. The minimal crowd gazed at Ouch! My Face! Almost in hypnosis to her voice. She used the space on the stage and when she spoke her sweet soft tone hung in the air with the shouts that still remained. This performance was great start to the day.

My next mission was to trek over to the main stage to watch the Melbourne three piece, Calling all Cars, a rather young band who knew how to put on a fine performance! When I arrived, there were only a few followers around the main stage grounds, however, after the first song the sparse field began fill up as fans bellowed out the lyrics to some of their songs. These guys involved the crowd and showed exuberance, using the space on stage and extending onto the mini stage that hugged the barricades. They produced a huge sound with catchy vocals and impressed bystanders. Calling all Cars are definitely a band to watch right now, and the people are really starting to notice them.

It started to really heat up as temperatures rose and the crowds began to stream in. I headed over to my next gig with photographer Stu, to watch “I Heart Hiroshima” who were tuning it up on the other main stage. I Heart Hiroshima are a Brissy three piece of two guitarists and a drummer who know how to pump out the tunes. All three members -Susie Patten, Matthew Somers, and Cameron Hawes — had previously been members of other indie bands. For Sounds of Spring, Patten, sang as well as she drummed, there was no sheepish behaviour behind the kit, she towered over the drums, luring in her audience on a reel, smashing the tambourine into her limbs and banging her head to and fro to the rhythm. Her theatrical expressions were gold and had the audience in awe of her style. The pitch was fine and the performance was a cracker. I thoroughly enjoyed this set.

I grabbed a few ales and headed back over to the main stage for the Raw, Earthy and Honest band “The Hard –Ons”. This three piece Sydney band have been cranking it out to fans for 25 years, in a myriad of venues throughout the world, attracting punk, rock, redneck, demure and pop fans! Their destructive presentation mimics that of previous gigs and had the crowds attention fixed on stage as they bellowed out their colourful lyrics. As the crowds streamed in to watch the Hard-ons, they ripped off their shirts and jammed on, their hair draped over their faces as they banged their heads to the hard core sounds. They’re fit, fast, strong, melodic and scientific, and still remain the best Death-pop band in the world, still.
After sweating out at the Hard-ons, I grabbed another ale and relaxed for a bit in the now 34 degree heat. Officials were spraying the crowds with water and lines began to form outside the “free water” signs as fans pushed and shoved for water. Most people were merely dressed, trying to allow airflow to all parts of their bodies, except one man who was completely suited up from head to toe in a tuxedo and a balaclava. I am not sure what this guy’s motive was, but he got a lot of attention from bystanders and also the band that was playing on the main stage. He lapped it up and continues frolicking around the field almost in a state of melting!

I tottered on over to the main stage where “After The Fall” were setting up for their gig. By this time the crowds were well and truly building up. This four piece New South Wales band, (comprising of vocalist Benjamin Windsor, guitarist Mark Edward Warner, bassist Matthew Gore and drummer Andrew Atkins), started off in 2000 and battled with a few bumps along the way, but appeared to be in fine form for Sounds of Spring. These guys were exuberant and talented and owned the stage. Their tunes were spot on and it proved to be an intimate, personalised gig as they included the fans to sing along to the lyrics. Music gelled perfectly with their album and there were no hiccups on stage for these boys. What a great act.

I stood and enjoyed the sounds of Shihad and the controversial words of Mammal as I prepared for my next gig with Jason Whalley and Lindsay McDougall from Frenzal Rhomb. I was looking forward to seeing these guys live again, after 6 years, so pushed my way to the front to obtain a lasting view. As the guys set up stage and prepped their gear the fans were going mad. The mosh had started without the music, and the crowd were chanting “Frenzal… Frenzal…” Much to my amazement, there were also Frenzal haters in the crowd hurling abuse and also the odd bottle or shoe or anything they could find. Jay and Lindsay started with a bit of banter, but were soon forced into the music as fans couldn’t contain. Lindsay put on a fine performance jumping on the split level with tatts exposed on his calves as he arched back and bashed on his guitar. Crowd surfing began, bottle throwing frequented and the mosh pit heated remarkably. I began to think being at the front of the mosh was a bad idea as I was pounded into the barricades whilst surfers fell onto to my head before being lifted by security guards. It was time to signal out. I was rescued, as I look up to stage and admired Frenzals work. For the rest of the gig, I gazed from afar as the perfect sounds reverberated my way. What a memorable gig.

Unfortunately my time at Sounds of Spring was cut short as I managed to do a bit of damage to my ribs and hip. Subsequently it was a superb festival with great bands and a fantastic vibe. See you next year for 2010 Sounds of Spring.

Bek Grealy