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Friday, April 27, 2007

Essential Festival 2007, Sydney

There are few things better than free tickets to a music festival that is indoors and a ten-minute walk from your front door. While others spent their ANZAC Day playing two-up and getting off their faces on grog, I went along to The Essential Festival to check it out:The Essential Festival is a one-day event in the heart of Sydney, held at three adjacent venues right next to Central Station. At the end of a hectic festival season, the nature of it made for a refreshing change, and the fact that it was taking place in cosy pubs and venues make it perfect for the time of year, considering the rainy winter weather outside. First up was singer/songwriter Erin Marshall (above). Erin is a delight in that she falls nicely into her own little niche. Essentially, it is pop music - and by that I am being complimentary; after all, we all know that pop music at its very best is the finest music of all. Unlike much of the mush you will hear on your local commercial radio station though, Erin's songs her songs are honest and not in the slightest contrived. In front of a decently-sized crowd (especially for 2.15pm on a Wednesday afternoon), she played a familiar set of tunes that, at their most upbeat, were cruisy pop waving in the direction of folk, while, at their most bare, were folk waving in the direction of cruisy pop. Either way, the set was always nicely stripped down, with just a couple of acoustic guitars allowing the songs to breathe, and showcasing her note-perfect and dextrous vocal. I have said before that, with her pleasing aethetics, charisma and song-writing ability, she has the potential to go far. Her catchy tunes are well-suited for the mainstream yet nicely interesting at the same time.Following Erin, there wasn't much that appealed other than a few games of pool in the pub. I had already given The Hate Game a wide berth, having reviewed their rather obnoxious yet strangely foot-tappy pop too many times already, and the thought of watching the likes of PoMoMoFo and Dappled Cities Fly again was, without wishing to be disrespectful, not as tempting as whacking a few balls around a table with my friends. I did catch five minutes of Regular John, who played hair rock, and not the good kind. Rather than the grubby, beardy, haven't-washed-in-a-month rock that would have enticed me, they were more of the 'perfectly straight hair grown specifically for headbanging' variety. I left after two songs.

Next up, someone who got it absolutely spot-on. Laura Imbruglia (above, and yes, she is her sister) whacked out punchy, kooky little anti-folk tracks about washing machines that double as jukeboxes and, between songs, did a chucklesome impression of Richard Marx singing Hazard. The diminutive singer was playful in a cheeky, tomboy way with a crowd who, due to her height and the lack of a stage for her to stand on, couldn't see her. There is something about Imbruglia that is quite wonderful, and her performance was of such a high standard that it had elements of Regina Spektor and The Moldy Peaches about it. It would be a shame if her delightful weirdness was overshadowed by her surname. This is a songwriter who deserves to be heard.Next, I headed to the Gaelic Club to check out a band I was very excited to see. Earlier in the day I had avoided Teenagersintokyo as I would avoid the plague, as I was more interested in watching the band that they can only dream of being, Young and Restless (above). This is a band that knows how to put on a show. Frontwoman Karina prowls the stage, dancing, sweating and screaming, while her four male band members make an awesome noise. Imagine if YYYs had gone harder rather than more melodic after their first album and you wouldn't be far away from the sound that Y+R belt out. OK, so all of their songs sound the same, and I wouldn't want to rush out and buy their records, but as a live show it was absolutely awesome. During the last song, Karina repeatedly yelled 'only bitches talk shit' as she surfed over a crowd which included the aforementioned Miss Imbruglia. While Imbruglia's show was good enough for her not to have to get any tips from what she was watching, I sincerely hope that The Hate Game and Teenagersintokyo were paying attention. They could learn a lesson or two from this electrifying band.

While Children Collide belted out their tunes with an impressive Nirvana-esque energy, it was time for this reviewer to head home, having happily hurdled yet another decent festival unscathed.

6 comments:

lucky said...

nice review man!

i agree with you, there were some truly average bands there on the day. while others like the seabellies were amazing!

bobbysix said...

Yeah there were some average bands, but for what is essentially (ha, see what I did there?) a very young festival, it was great. They are certainly heading in the right driection with this one I think.

When it grows in stature it would be nice to see them block the road off at either end and maybe have an outdoor stage and some outside market stalls and stuff.

Anonymous said...

Yeah it was a great day.

Anonymous said...

You speak the truth

Anonymous said...

Think you might have been wise to give Pomo Mofo a go. I saw them a few years ago and they were average. But they just blew me away with how far they've come...

bobbysix said...

I saw pomomofo before Chrsitmas. Thought they were ok...