Back You are here: Home Reviews Live Review: Major Leagues, Babaganouj, Rinse @ Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane 9.08.2013

Live Review: Major Leagues, Babaganouj, Rinse @ Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane 9.08.2013

Major Leagues

If there was ever a venue that was desperately needed to save Brisbane’s flagging live music scene, the Black Bear Lodge is such a place.

Newly redeveloped from a trendy upstairs dive to a moderately-sized hipster venue, this great group of indie kids start to meander into the room about 8:30 – they dress better than you, and they know it. However, this isn’t a crowd of snobs; rather local music lovers that are determined to cheer on the local bands in the only way they know how – by slowly shuffling their feet and politely applauding.

The first perfectly-dressed band on is local boys Rinse, a six-piece (with three guitars) that cramp the rather cosy stage. With so much low end coming from three guitars strumming moderate garage rock, the drone is immensely strong and almost overpowering. However, the synthesiser provides a nice folly for this wall of sound, chiming in with melodic lines that draw the listener in. The band have all bases covered to create this effect – basswork is lovely without being exceptional, while the drumming is nice and simple, adding to the overall piece. It’s not complicated stuff, but it doesn’t need to be – the power of the droning guitars is evident, and it is quite amazing how music so pleasant can be so aggressive at the same time. The singer takes a very Joy Division approach, which is ironic because his music makes us want to dance, thus providing a great start to the evening.

The band in the middle of a set can invariably be a dud – whether it’s due to following a very good opener or the crowd anticipating the main event, some bands can be forgotten when placed smack in the centre of the line-up. However, Charles Sale of Babaganouj is determined to make sure that their time on stage is nothing if not entertaining. The brazen ginger strides on, picks up a gorgeous Rickenbacker and strums a pleasant-sounding indie-pop tune of insignificant merit. The next three songs add another member, until the fourth tune has the whole band in on the act. This begs the question as to why he didn’t just start the set with a song that uses drums – Foo Fighters wouldn’t open Wembley with “Skin and Bones”, so it stands to reason Babaganouj shouldn’t either. The entertainment value comes in when “technical difficulties” enter the fray. By that, I mean Sale’s setup completely fucks him over in the middle of the fourth song, causing him to, in classical redhead style, throw his beautiful SG on the ground, then step on the neck for good measure. After this little tantrum, a set filled with aggressive two-chord songs caps a rather interesting set, and leaves us hanging on for the main event.

(Note: this writer may be biased in his review of Major Leagues, due to the band giving him a free shirt because he guessed the name of the song and band they were covering – it was the Daria theme, by Splendora.)

A very sweet beginning to the opener has the gorgeous Major Leagues off to a great start. From the get-go, it’s clear these three girls (and one guy) are not as aggressive or raw as the previous bands. A little like if Courtney Love fronted Best Coast (in a good way if that’s possible), this set is all about sweet melodies and exceptional harmonies from the front three. The harmonies in particular are impressive because Vlada, Anna and Jaimee have very similar voices, creating the musical illusion that one of them has just cloned herself. But just because it is more docile than their compatriots, this does not make it boring. The packed and rather vocal crowd respond to this, cheering every song with all the gusto you’d expect from 200 people trying to make a reviewer with an A4 notepad’s life rather difficult. Not quite as grungy as fellow band Go Violets (whom they bring on for the single “Endless Drain”), they are no doubt supremely talented, and it is obvious from this night that this isn’t the last we’ve heard from them.

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