Dalton Gang’s Last Raid, Thomas Covenant, Tommy M & the Mastersounds, Steel City Allstars @ Yours and Owls, ‘Bhuda night’
October 23, 2011 1 Comment
I’ve often found watching gigs at Yours & Owls a somewhat claustrophobic experience, but this Wednesday night – one in a sequence of weekly ‘Budha nights’ featuring a mic open to local bands – led me to a true appreciation of how valuable this space is to the local music and arts community.
The Dalton Gang’s Last Raid kicked off the night with some pretty swell foot-stomping blues that seemed to get everyone inspired and settled into the mood of the night, with a sound both a little curious and a little hedonistic. Dane Overton boasted some accomplished blues guitar skills, and although the lack of a bass player was conspicuous at times, drummer Kuz provided a solid beat to drive it all along. The two-piece have a really nice style, and although I did find a lot of their set a little samey – especially in terms of the endless guitar riffs upon riffs – I think they set a really nice mood and were a perfectly fitting start to the night.
The following set was even beyond the realms of Thomas Covenant that I have witnessed before. Tonight these boys were overflowing with some kind of perverted energy that seemed to explode out of their bodies as they belted and shredded and spasmed out over the place, all the while creating an onslaught of sound that was actually spectacular to behold in the small space that is Owls. This venue really suits the band, their wonderfully (and deceivingly) rough energy fitting well in the comfortable, thrown-together charm of Owls. This set ranged from some regular favourites like the near perfect ‘Carnival’ and ‘Graduation,’ to some messed-up jams, to some stealthy newer material. I can’t tell if it was vocalist/guitarist Declan’s sweaty pogo’ing out into the crowd or if it was an appearance by Nyan Cat in the middle of a jam or the hyperactive chaos of it all, but this was one of the best local performances I’ve seen and Thomas Covenant continue to prove that they are one of the best local bands around.
Tommy M & The Mastersounds are another band I find thrilling to watch because of the sheer energy and joy of their performances; if any local band is going to get you dancing, it’s these guys. Their infectious grooves range from reggae and ska to funk and blues, as most people in the joint got up and started crazy-dancing early in their set. It’s clear that every component of this band has mastered not only their instruments but also the art of entertaining and having some obvious downright fun themselves as they go about it. All of these things make this band a joy to watch – the antics and noteworthy facial expressions of lead vocalist and keyboardist Evan Kerr, and the full-bodied throttle of the horn section. Tommy M himself is a fantastic young bass player and I really like the fact that though he mostly dwells mysteriously in the shadows, the band is partially his namesake. The band’s performance tonight was consistently powerful and high-quality, all songs going over brilliantly with the crowd and the banter and general fun of the band members proving a similar joy.
Unfortunately, most of the now-exhausted punters cleared out before Steel City Allstars had a chance to start, but the final set of the night was no less lively than the rest. These guys have a really punchy drive to them that gets the crowd nicely limbered up, and although not many people were left in the place, those remaining were just as enthusiastic as they had been earlier in the night. Their ska punk-influenced songs all had a really catchy vibe which really was benefited by the ‘brutal and fat horn lines’ that the band themselves reference as a defining characteristic of the outfit. Vocalist Val really is an asset to the band also, and has a cool onstage presence that lasted to the last notes of the evening.
This night of music and what can only be termed performance art of the rawest kind made me a brimming sort of proud that Wollongong has places like this to offer openings to some fantastic artists and give us a place to hear and watch them. I for one will be frequenting Owls a lot more regularly after this cracker of a night.