Long Way To The Top End [FringeTIX]
7:00pm, Thu 5 Mar 2009
The first person I see when we arrive out the back of the Wheatsheaf (and obtaining my obligatory stamp, of course) is Powerfunk’s Jack Tinapple. A warm greeting, then “awww, man, you should’ve been here last night; The Neo did a set, and we played a whole heap of new material. You would’ve loved it.”
Ummm… you mean The Neo aren’t playing tonight?
“Nah – different bands each night.”
Bugger. The Neo – bless ’em – were the principle reason for me slotting this show in; so it’s with a bit of a heavy heart that I drop into my fave sofa at the Wheatsheaf and settle in for a night of suprises.
First up were Red Plum & Snow featuring gorgeous, frail, little-girl-lost vocals, textured bass, and way too much feedback from Kris (who also resorted to “look at me, I can hit things too” drumming all too often). Not bad, but I think Gretchen would be better off in a band with less texture (alright, noise). Next up: Country Town Collective, a bunch of musos from Adelaide & Darwin (hence the name) who produced… well, country-laden tunes. The first track was a standout, tough, a brooding affair that thankfully lacked that country influence.
The Aviators were more my musical cup of tea, though. The flag on their guitarist’s weapon belies their britpop leanings, though the instrument itself sounds a bit tinny; average vocals are offset by a thumping rhythm section, though. They looked young onstage, and when I chatted with them afterwards I discovered the band’s average age was seventeen. Seventeen! That’s obscene.
But then comes my highlight of the night: Jess Ribeiro & The Bone Collectors. So warm, so lush, so refined. Jess’ voice is smokey heaven, her low-key songs utterly sneak-up-on-you intoxicating. A ukulele makes an appearance for a moment of levity, but this was just such an awesome set that I was gutted to discover I couldn’t see her again on her visit. Really, really fantastic.
(Bloody hell – I’ve just dug up the above MySpace link and listened to the first song… I could marry that voice. Divine!)
Jigsaw Collective rounded out the evening with a short set – they ran awfully close to the 11pm curfew, but closed proceedings with a massive collective rendition of “Bring Out The Jams”. Solid and jazzy.
So yeah – despite a distinct lack of The Neo, this was a decent night of tunage. Then again, it would’ve been great with just Jess Ribeiro!