Words by Shannon-Lee Sloane – The Colourful Writer
Photos by Elizabeth Sharpe – Ummagummamumma – Live Music Photography
It seems for a lot of people I know, this last week has been a bit of a hectic and stressful one. I personally can’t think of a better way to end the week and have some down time than at a music festival with a line up of bands that take you back to your youth. A time when life was a little more carefree and weekend mornings where filled with hours of watching Recovery and Rage and we all saved for events like Big Day Out and Livid Festival. I know I bang on about how much I miss those festivals and how it’s never been the same, because, well, quite frankly, it just hasn’t. You can’t turn back time. BUT thanks to festivals like Scene & Heard, we can re-live that feeling again.
2019 sees Scene & Heard Festival’s second year. Last year only Newcastle had the pleasure. This year it has expanded to Brisbane and Cairns. With Melbourne and Sydney getting most of the big festivals and being a Brisbane girl, I am pretty stoked with us getting this one. I love a good day into night festival. I am not one for camping out or trying to savoir enough energy and drinking/partying ability to space a festival over a few days and nights. Scene & Heard have got it all right from the beginning and I already can’t wait for next years event. The only slightly disheartening thing about the Brisbane festival is that it got moved from outside to inside which disappointed a few festival goers and was a hot topic both leading up to and at the event. But when the event is held at a venue as stunning as the Eatons Hill Hotel, I am all cool with it being inside.
The intricate and stunningly beautiful high ceilings never fail to take my breath away as I walk into the musky venue full of energy of gigs gone by. The EH has been host to a long list of extremely talented bands, artists and musicians since it opened around 8 years ago. It has quickly become a popular haunt for locals and with the more recent addition of accommodation has become even more appealing for those traveling from further away.
Doors opened at 1pm and at first there was only a slow drip of fans and media lining up to start the day. Dedicated Even fans were there early to catch them grace the stage first and kick off what was to be a superlative day and night of live music. Now, I know myself from putting on events that it is hard to pick who opens the show, especially when every band on the line up is of high quality and calibre. Unfortunately, being first band on any line up means there won’t be a very big audience. Which, by the way, is a personal bug bear of mine. I mean ‘Come Onnn’ music fans (said in a Lleyton Hewitt tone) Get there early and support ALL of the bands! Anyway, I digress. There was still a reasonably good turn out for Even but those who missed it should be sorry they did! Their performance was a highlight of the whole festival for me.
Even formed back in 1994 and are currently celebrating 25 years. I remember singing along to Stop and Go Man and Black Umbrella as they came on the radio back in the day and also recall that one time I bumped into bassist, Wally (Meanie) Kempton at Livid one year. I was very young and Silverchair obsessed and Wally had recently interviewed them for Recovery. Instead of talking to Wally about his bands (Even, The Meanies) I jumped straight into ‘What was it like interviewing Silverchair!?’. Yeah, nice work teen Shann! And uhhh, I am sorry about that Wally. I love your bands too.
Even are tried and true musicians. All three extremely talented. Frontman and guitarist, Ash Naylor is a sought after guitarist and not only plays with Even, but also, The Stems, Paul Kelly’s touring band and the Rockwiz band. He also does solo shows and was part of ‘Easy Fever’ a tribute to The Easybeats and Stevie Wright alongside Tex Perkins, Tim Rogers, Phil Jamieson, Chris Cheney and Kram. Even released their latest album, ‘Satin Returns’ last year and they played a lovely mix of old and new for their set. Opening with Stop and Go Man and including other bangers like Black Umbrella and Shining Star and also playing their newest single, Mark The Days which was recorded here in Brisbane by Jeff Lovejoy of Blackbox Recording. With Ash sporting a purple shirt and purple jeans, he switched from a gorgeous Rickenbacker to a Gibson to another Rickenbacker and played each one with so much ease as though he was perhaps born with a guitar in his hands. Before breaking into I Have Nothing, Ash exclaimed “I have nothing, we are Even, we love you!” – We love you too guys. Please play Brisbane again soon?
After a quick break it was time for Brisbane beauty’s, Butterfingers to hype the crowds like only they can. The mood changed and things got hectic real quick. Butterfingers would have to be one of the most fun bands to see live. Evil Eddie is like no one else with his vibrant energy and cheeky personality on stage, with lyrics that come from his clever mind and flow so smoothly, he is the type of performer who kind of grabs your head with two hands and makes you watch his every move. In saying that, the rest of the band being equally as engaging and talented, Butterfingers as a whole encapsulate the brilliance of bands we have here in Brisbane.
Butterfingers appeal to everyone, no matter if this is ‘your genre’ or not. I am quite sure there was not one person in the room that wasn’t enjoying their performance. With almost everyone singing along to each and every word of all the big hits, Yo Mumma, Everytime, FIGJAM and Outta The Dirt. Early in the set they broke into Evil Eddie’s, Queensland saying “Whenever we are in our hometown, we gotta’ play it!” During Everytime when they hit the lyrics “Worship Satan” the band all put their horns in the air and at the end of the track broke into Beastie Boys So Whatcha Want. Scanning the crowd, I saw many a punter sporting ‘A chicken’s not a vegetable’ shirts and if there was ever any doubt that half the crowd was there to see Butterfingers, the sea of their shirts solidified that.
Now I thought Butterfingers turned it up a notch, but I was not prepared for the onslaught brought by Perth boys, Gyroscope. Holy shit. They blew my head clean off. Being honest here, I have never seen them live before and I have not really given them the credit they deserve. I had no real expectations from them yesterday, but they turned out to be one of my favourite bands of the festival. I am quite sure long time fans would be scoffing at me right now and thinking ‘yeah mate, how could you not know how amazing these guys are!?’
Frontman, Daniel Sanders jumping off the stage and into the crowd at the very beginning of the set proving they were the kind of band that were here for a good time and not afraid to really rock out. Dan’s vocals can go from raspy screeches and growls to almost delicate clean vocals, reminding me of a mix of Kurt Cobain and Darren Cordeux of Kisschasy. In fact, his whole stage presence and recklessness did have me thinking of Kurt the whole time. I was already loving their set and lavishing their part in my review in my head when they made me fall even more in love with their cover of Midnight Oil’s Beds Are Burning. I have a new favourite band in Gyroscope and I can’t wait to see them again.
Melbourne’s Indie Rockers, British India are currently on their East Coast tour and took to the stage next. Their mood and sound a little more chill than Gyroscope, thus settling the mood slightly in the room. Still upbeat though, they had fans and the crowds loving their performance. I decided to take this moment to check out the VIP area upstairs. With a bird’s eye view of the band and the room that had by now filled up more than I think those who came early expected, the sea of festival goers lit up with pink lights as they grooved along to British India’s set.
Flowing into the next performance, Alex Lloyd took to the stage with his band of talented musicians. Alex Lloyd’s ‘Black The Sun’ album was a mainstay in my CD collection back when it was released in ’99 and for many years after. I still know every word to every song. Clearly, I wasn’t the only one who fell in love with Alex’s seemingly perfect voice and talent back in the late 90’s as the fans rallied around from both the main floor and VIP section above. And his voice? It hasn’t changed a bit. Playing songs from the ‘Black The Sun’ album as well as including one of his biggest hits, the well known sing a long, Amazing. I got asked several times ‘So was he amazing?’ My answer is yes. Yes, he was. And it was amazing to have the opportunity to see him live again after all these years.
A change of pace was up next with some Dance/Electro Pop from Sneaky Sound System. With Black Angus (Angus McDonald) and the divine Miss Connie (Connie Mitchell) getting people moving and grooving from the moment they begun. Miss Connie gracefully gliding onto the stage in her gorgeous and vibrant outfit that flowed as beautifully as her voice through the microphone. Strong, powerful, confident, yet soft, gentle and graceful. That sums up Miss Connie’s presence and voice. I would go as far as to label her an ‘angel of electro pop.’ She really is just stunning and such a pleasure to watch on stage. Opening with my personal favourite, I Love It and including all the fan favourites, their performance was seemingly faultless.
Now it was time for a band a lot of the crowd had been waiting for. The spellworking from Portland’s, The Dandy Warhols takes my breath away every time I see them live. The Dandy’s are a band whose recordings are scintillating enough as it is, but their live shows are something else. Taken into a trance like state and left feeling like you are floating on some kind of cotton candy cloud, their shows are no bells and whistles, no jumping into the crowd, not much banter, just performance. They don’t require any of those things because they naturally and seemingly effortlessly draw you in and take you to another realm. From start to finish, Courtney Taylor-Taylor, Peter Holmström, Zia McCabe and Brent DeBoer take you on a journey of their sound and music that stays with you for days afterwards. The last time I saw them was in 2016 on this same stage and though I enjoyed them last time, I felt this performance was even more sublime.
Along with Even, The Dandy Warhols are also celebrating their 25th anniversary and having created and gifted the world with so many stellar songs spanning their existence as The Dandy’s they managed to include a good chunk of their biggest hits and fan favourites. The crowd singing along to We Used To Be Friends, Get Off, Godless, Bohemian Like You and Everyday Should Be A Holiday. The stage full of VOX amps and lighting set to the mood of the music (though a nightmare for photographers) set the scene and mood for their performance. All four members have their own way of drawing you in with the way they move and play their instruments on stage. Each one like an extension of themselves and somehow, with not much movement from their chosen station on the stage, they still create an energy similarly created by a band who moves around the stage to great lengths. A Dandy’s live show is something you truly have to witness if you haven’t already. I didn’t want it to end.
By this time of the night I was feeling pretty exhausted as were other punters as I scanned the room. The floor cleared as most people flowed out into the outdoor section for a break from the intensity that filled the grand ballroom right to the top of its high ceilings. I wondered for a moment if the next band would draw the crowds back in or if the night had perhaps hit it’s peak. After a moment or two, the fans started pouring back in as they prepared for the last band of the night, Wolfmother.
Formed in 2004 by the only constant member of the band, frontman and guitarist, Andrew Stockdale, Wolfmother have quite a following. Their heavy/stoner rock sounds and well loved hits, Woman and Joker & the Thief are recognized and appreciated by almost everyone, whether you are a fan or not. Spaced out on the large stage along with Andrew was Bobby Poulton (Frankie’s World Famous House Band) on bass and keys and Brett ‘Wolfie’ Wolfenden (who has played with The Pictures, Davey Lane, Tim Rogers) on drums. Somewhat of a perfectionist, Andrew stopped a song as soon as it started as it was not done right and had his band start again. Clearly passionate about his music and what he delivers. The passion behind the band was felt by those watching and their set was a hard rocking ending to a festival full of talented bands and musicians.
As the last song from Wolfmother echoed through the grand ballroom, punters started to make their trek home or onto their next destination for the night. Those who chose to stay treated to a DJ set from The Potbelleez DJ’s.
The sound in the Eatons Hill Hotel grand ballroom is always brilliant and the organizers of the event along the hard working crew made sure the day and night ran to time perfectly. The event was a huge success in my eyes, and I take my hat off to all involved with bringing us Scene & Heard 2019 in Brisbane. Bring on next year!
Stay in the loop for next year! Follow Scene & Heard on Facebook HERE.
Special thanks to the lovely Viv and Louvel from GYROstream for having Good Call Live cover the festival!