REVIEW: Alpine, Clubfeet, Georgi Kay @ The Patch.

High off the success of their debut album A is for Alpine, six-piece Melbourne indie-pop ensemble Alpine entranced an enthusiastic and expectant crowd at the Patch on Wednesday night. With their distinctive fusion of breathy vocals, catchy melodies and knee-jerking energy, Alpine cemented their place as inventive and innovative newcomers at the forefront of the Australian music scene.

Opening crooner Georgi Kay greeted a thriving Patch with relaxed, mellow and minor tunes. With a voice that mixes a little bit of Angus and Julia Stone with a little bit of Sarah Blasko, Kay has harnessed an unusually strong and defined voice for someone of only 18 years. Despite her reserved stage presence, Kay’s commanding sound and quirky lyrics generated an affectionate we’re-all-friends-here vibe among the crowd that continued for the remainder of the night.

Next up, electro-pop (or “blow wave”) five-piece Clubfeet stole the stage with light guitar riffs, synth-dominated loops and a frequently featured tambourine. As a few casual boppers took to the floor, the boys from Melbourne harmonised through charismatic dance songs, often laced with an underlying ’80s sound. After sharing a drink with a generous young lass in the front row, lead singer Sebastian Cohen shared a few dance moves of his own to Teenage Suicide (Don’t do it) and set closer Last words; providing entertainment to all the late-comers who had just strolled in.

Finally, the lights dimmed and the much anticipated set of Alpine opened with trance-like melodies and husky vocals. Decorated in glittery eye make-up that reflected the cosmic undertones of their voices, front-women Lou James and Phoebe Baker descended with an energetic stage presence that showcased flawless pitch, while Ryan, Tim, Christian and Phil plucked out melodic riffs and thumped out inventive beats.

Filled with impeccably-timed syncopation and dynamics, the band flew through a mix of EP favourites such as Heartlove, while also introducing newbies Seeing Red and Hands.  The Patch was promptly transformed into a gathering of swaying individuals that gave the impression of floating, but in the middle of crowded, sweaty dance-floor sort of way.

As a few ill-timed jivers enthusiastically raved through the crowd, some spirit fingers made an appearance on stage as James declared “Let’s get noisy, in a nice way.”

And that is precisely what we did. In a perfectly well-behaved manner, the audience hummed and warbled out the opening lines of Gasoline while the two female leads encouraged some dramatic head-bopping. It’s safe to say that the song sounds even better live than it does on CD- an impressive feat- although it remains unclear as to whether this is because of the bands quirky onstage character, or just a result of their outstanding musical talent.

(As a side note, for all current residents of the Gong, it seems that Lou, in particular, is a big fan of our cities name, joyously exclaiming: “I love the name Wollongong. Woooooollongong.  I’m going to call my kid Wollongong.” Fact.)

Finishing on Villages, with some chronic hand-clapping and a few sensual dancers making their way towards the bar, it was evident that Alpine had come and conquered, no doubt winning over all ears in the venue (but perhaps not those of the surrounding sites, who issued a few cheeky noise complaints).

For further tour information, get click-happy right here:  http://www.facebook.com/alpineband/app_308540029359

Review: The Broderick, Thorns, Outsiders Code, Colossus, Graves

By Sally McMullen

The Patch welcomed some of Melbourne hardcore’s finest on Sunday night. With The Broderick, Thorns, Outsiders Code, Colossus and Wollongong’s own Graves performing, a good night was bound to be on the cards.

Local favourites Graves kicked off the night and as always, nailed it. Once they fired up their set, the Patch was filled with raw and aggressive noise. Accompanied by heavy guitar riffs and clean bass work, Rhys Benn’s growl echoed through the mic as he stomped around the floor. Topped off with rapid drum beats and plunging bass drops, Graves had a developed sound and bounced well off of one another. Pulling off yet another impressive set, Graves definitely made locals proud in the otherwise Melbourne-infested waters.

Next up were Colossus. Diving straight into a lightning-fast guitar riff, Colossus had no trouble getting the crowd on board. Under a mass of long hair, the vocalist’s roughened voice worked well with the thrashing guitar as he spat lyrics into the front row of the crowd. Belting out heavy jungle drums that crescendoed into an explosion of noise, the drummer acted as the back bone of the instrumentals throughout much of their performance. By the time they rounded off their unfortunately short set, Colossus definitely left the audience wanting more.

With hardcore heavy-hitter Baina (of Her Nightmare, 50 Lions and Samsara) fronting Outsiders Code, there was no doubt that this would be an impressive set. The four-piece wasted no time, immediately descending into a set of power violence infused sounds, polished off with heavy breakdowns and rapid guitars. During tracks like “The Pain of Choices”, Baina barked into the mic, his voice bounding over the top of raging guitars and thumping drum beats. Due to the members’ long history with hardcore, it was no surprise that Outsiders Code were one of the stand out acts on the night.

As soon as Thorns appeared, so did a circle filled with the flailing limbs of many hardcore dancers. The set jump-started with a heavy guitar intro and the raspy growl of the frontman as he prowled around the floor, a permanent scowl fixed onto his face. Unlike the other bands who thanked the crowd for coming out on a Sunday night, Thorns showed no mercy. The lead singer told the crowd to quit being “pussies” because a good hardcore show could be had any night of the week. Thorns’ aggressive sound mixed in well with the energy of the gig and had the crowd head banging in unison throughout the entire set.

Last, but most certainly not least were The Broderick. Frontman Logan Fewster beckoned everyone in to create a tight circle and like their predecessors, had conjured up some hardcore dancers in no time. Soon enough, the whole audience was moving along to The Broderick’s progressive hardcore sound. During tracks such as “Savages”, the guys demonstrated their versatility, beginning with a melodic guitar intro before building up to a heavy breakdown. On drums, Ash Denman moved his arms with such speed that they appeared to be a blur as he churned out thundering beats. Although the whole band had great chemistry, Logan had a particularly strong stage presence, arms outstretched and veins popping out of his neck as he screamed out each lyric with all his might. The crowd were transfixed the entire set and I think it is safe to say that The Broderick were definitely worth the wait.

Sunday night brought a refreshing dose of Melbourne hardcore to Wollongong. From The Broderick to Graves, the lineup consisted of a truly talented bunch of dudes. In addition the impressive performances, it was also great to see a strong crowd supporting these guys and we can only hope to see similar shows in the future. And this was all before 9.30pm, not bad for a Sunday night at The Patch.

REVIEW: Never See Tomorrow, ‘nst’

Words by Sally McMullen

After a two year break since their debut EP, the recent release of Never See Tomorrow’s new album ‘nst.’ has been welcomed with open arms.

With frequent sneak peeks and updates posted about the album’s progress on Facebook, Never See Tomorrow fans were dying to get their hands on a copy and believe me, it was well worth the wait.

The album has a subtle theme of revival throughout, which can be noted through some of the lyrics and song titles including Awaken, Awakened and Follow The Phoenix. Perhaps it is this theme of rediscovery that has resulted in the musical maturity and tight sound of nst. The album opens with Awaken. Beginning with melodic piano, the intro then builds up with the echoed lyrics “watching the world go by.”

The track then crashes into Collidescope, with immediate and heavy growls, which after a minute-long intro of soothing melodies and hypnotic vocals, can make the listener jump out of their skin. The track then crescendos into a fast-paced hook, with aggressive screams and instrumentals.

Tracks such as Break.Start and The Reality of A Dream really highlight the band’s versatility, with a perfect combination of Mitchell Bugg’s brutal vocals balanced against Paul Kozman’s throaty, yet clean vocals.

Despite being a hardcore album, fuelled by heavy break downs and riffs, many of the songs are surprisingly catchy. The energetic and addictive hooks within For Your Eyes Only will have fans head-banging and singing along in no time. Album interlude Awakened is another example, beginning with a simple acoustic guitar harmony before infusing a subtle techno back track before plunging into Upon Wings of Fire with apparent ease.

Hunt The Weak is one of the heavier songs off the album. With chugging, throat-shredding vocals and the sound of a baby’s cry, the song has a fierce and at times eerie quality. With the melodic acoustic guitar from the conclusion of Sky Gazing leading into Faded Memories, the album takes a softer turn towards the end. Beginning with emotionally infused lyrics, the track begins to build through the use of electric guitar riffs, forceful drum-beats and the vocalist calling out “Don’t forget the memories” over and over until leading into a heavier breakdown.

The final track, Follow the Phoenix begins with an insane guitar riff before diving into the heavy growls we have grown accustom to, rounding off the album nicely and acting as a good contrast to the melodic predecessor.

The majority of the songs follow a similar structure, which creates an organic flow between each of the tracks and despite the violent screams and mosh-core sounds, makes the album one of easy listening.

Jam-packed with 11 brand new songs bursting with fresh talent, nst. is proof that the group are way beyond their days of resorting to 1000 Miles covers. Despite the recent lull in local hardcore, Never See Tomorrow are evidence that Wollongong HC still has potential. With a huge line-up of both local and out of town gigs, there will be plenty of opportunities for fans and new comers to check out Never See Tomorrow’s new album first-hand.

Never See Tomorrow play the Hot Damn roadtrip with Where The Enemy Sleeps, Wake The Giants and Aftermath on July 16 (next Saturday) at Hostage X. Say RADAR at the door for cheap entry!

REVIEW: Vanguard Party, ‘Forever Jung’

By Cal Thompson

‘Wildebeast Slam Rock / Jumping Castle Rave’ is the wordy genre Vanguard Party claim for themselves, and honestly after listening to all 13 tracks I defy anyone who challenges this. Their sarcastic sense of lyrical humour, reminiscent of Frenzal Rhomb, present in nearly every track allows the band to poke fun at everything possible (particularly our hipster/indie brothers) and keeps the tone very tongue in cheek. I cant help personifying this whole production as ‘that mate’ who dressed in a gorilla suit; Blink 182 style, and ran through Bondi mall knocking over the local’s latte’s and stealing briefcases just to mix his weekend up a little.

Even though the band doesn’t seem to take themselves seriously, the musicianship and progressive song writing shine through the simple yet effective production and its obvious that this is quite a clever and professional record, seemingly way ahead of the band’s local status. A few rouge elements added the track-list keep things interesting, such as the Baritone Sax provided by Evan Batkin’s talents on Going, Going Gondolier, and the quick, witty anecdotes that feature in a few tracks.

Vanguard Party’s catchy Nintendo chiptune style synth riffs and pop punk guitars combined with little unique twists in every song, steers the record away from being just another clean cut garage indie pop production (and I swear I heard a double kick somewhere). The vocals, admittedly, won’t be everyone’s highlight, but Jared makes it work, throwing in a few impressive screams and shouts into the pop-osphere which only adds to his witty lyrical/vocal expedition. Besides, if you can listen to the vocal efforts of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah than you can listen to anything, in my books anyway.

“You’ve got your specs but they’re just fake, I guess sunglasses are all it takes, to make you smart, intelligent when you’re an Indie brand represent” Think For Yourself

Don’t be pretentious cool cat, just take off your cardi’, pump this addictive collection of songs, get smashed at the 8th birthday next door and live a little.

Grab the whole album for free from Vanguard Party’s Bandcamp page and hold on to your little party hats for their next show announcement.

GALLERY: Tonight Alive, Young Guns, Totally Unicorn @ The Patch

Click for our review of the gig

REVIEW: Lovers Jump Creek, Atticus @ Dicey Riley’s

Lovers Jump Creek continued their love affair with Wollongong last Friday, kindly paying Dicey Riley’s a visit. Riding high on the success of their critically acclaimed EP ‘Bless This Mess’ in 2011, and with a new video for ‘Ditty’ on the way, the Sydney boys are well known for their excellent and energetic live shows.

Unfortunately due to running extremely on the late side, this reviewer missed the first act of the night, and made it just in time to catch most of Wollongong band Atticus. This being the first time I had seen them, or more honestly, even heard of them, I was thoroughly impressed with their live show and sound. The cover of Arctic Monkeys ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ was definitely a highlight, as well as the song about the lead singer’s ex girlfriend basically being a tramp. Would suck to be her.  I would highly recommend catching these dudes live sometime however – they played a great set, the vocals were spot on and their blend of alternative/synth-based rock and roll was definitely a pleasure to watch.

 Lovers Jump Creek have been building quite the name for themselves particularly over the past year, and with Triple J Unearthed recently adding the boys to their rotation, I have no doubt the band will continue to grow steadily in popularity. To put it simply the live show by the boys can be described simply as pretty damn incredible.  They play with an amazing and ferocious energy, and for a young band, play much more like seasoned performers. They’re constantly engaging to watch and have got to be one of the more original sounding rock bands I have seen lately. Special props to front man Mark, who’s edgy vocals were spot on and bassist Ferg, who is literally one of the most energetic bass players I have probably ever seen. Highlight songs included the fast-paced and aggressive sounding ‘Half Chubbed,’ and the latest single to come from the EP, ‘Ditty’ which slowed things down slightly, but not enough for the audience to lose interest. Even the oldies that were lurking around Dicey Riley’s loved them, and got their dancing shoes on throughout the set.

 Lovers Jump Creek have perfected a chaotic and highly addictive sound, and are definite contenders to watch on the Australian music scene. Generally I try to refrain from raving constantly about a band, but I can safely say these guys are destined for bigger and greater things, and if you’re yet to see them, you’re basically an idiot. Go see them. Do it.

REVIEW: Hand Of Mercy, Hearts Like Wolves, Graves @ Cut Throat

Words by Sally McMullen

With heavy hitters Hand Of Mercy, supported by Graves, Hearts Like Wolves and One Night in Paris on the bill, last Wednesday night proved to be one of Cut Throat’s most anticipated gigs to date. And for good reason. As the fate of future bands banked on the success of the gig, the Cut Throat team waited with bated breath to see if Wollongong hardcore fans would deliver.

By the time One Night in Paris began their set, a large crowd of people had already dawdled into Platform 3, waiting on the outskirts of the floor for the set to begin. As fog began to circle around the band’s ankles, the room was filled with the electronic infused hardcore sounds. As the lead singer bounded around, singing in people’s faces and the bassist slid down the stripper pole whilst continuing to play, the group brought immediate energy to the gig. With a good contrast of screamo vocals and melodic back-up, One Night in Paris made for a good choice to get the crowd fired up.

Once Graves began their set, the floor was packed, proving that they were one of the obvious draw cards for the night. As the sets descended into heavy breakdowns, the guitarists and bassist dooming in sync and the drummer pounding his arms with ease and puncturing the air with violent bass drops, it was clear that Graves were extremely tight live. Taking influence from metal bands such as The Acacia Strain and Whitechapel, this five-piece act are proof that Wollongong hardcore still has potential.

Next up were Sydney-based band Hearts Like Wolves. From the get go, vocalist Daniel Soria was pumped, jumping around the floor and yelling out for the crowd to get involved. Once the band crashed into their mosh-core sound, the floor was immediately full of kick-flipping moshers. Daniel’s heavy growl echoed over the instruments and was impossible to ignore. Despite the outbreak of a small biff in the mosh, the bad energy was promptly squashed by the driving drum-beats and chugging riffs causing the crowd to forget all about the incident within seconds.

Although it was well past the bed-time of Wollongong night life on a Wednesday, the crowd were jittering with anticipation as they waited for one of Sydney’s most acclaimed hardcore bands to appear. Hand Of Mercy’s set was bursting with raw energy, lead vocalist Scott bounding around the room with seemingly endless vigour. The only down-side was a slightly muffled mic which made it difficult to hear Scott’s vocals over the aggressive instrumentals. This was barely noticed by the crowd though, who were begging for an encore by the time the set came to an end to which Hand Of Mercy kindly obliged.

Wednesday night was an impressive display of both local and out of town hardcore talent, something that the Wollongong scene has been missing of late. As the sole purpose of Cut Throat is to provide the south coast with a venue to support the local hardcore movement, it would have been good to see a larger turn-out. Regardless, there is no doubt that Cut Throat delivered an awesome show and we can only hope that with more hardcore gigs on the cards, they continue to do so.

REVIEW: Tonight Alive, Young Guns, Totally Unicorn @ The Patch

Click for our photo gallery from the gig

Words by David Young

Given the fact they’ve managed to pack out the Patch in their own regard previously, it’s no surprise that an enthusiastic batch of early birds leapt at the chance to see Austinmer’s finest Totally Unicorn set off the evening’s proceedings. Basically everything one has come to expect from the band’s live show is present and accounted for, from Drew Gardner’s snow angel in the middle of the dancefloor to his theft of Mike Bennett’s hi-hat at the set’s conclusion. Just because you know what to expect, though, certainly doesn’t mean that the band are prone to put on a boring show. They are the kind of live band in which you only get out what you put in – so uncross those arms and expose some wizards.

Having Totally Unicorn as your opening act is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it sets the energy and entertainment levels at a remarkable high for the rest of the evening. Conversely, that also means that the acts that follow will have great difficulty clearing the bar that’s been set – such is the case with Londonite pop-punks Young Guns. Although putting on a technically proficient set, their Jimmy Eat World-flavoured and radio-friendly take on heavy guitar pop cohesively delivered , the band struggled to maintain the interest of most of the audience. With their star on the rise in their native U.K., it’s clear that the band is used to not only playing to a much bigger crowd, but a much younger demographic. Not a bad performance, but certainly not a gripping one.

A layered build-up eventually brought all five members of Tonight Alive onstage to tear straight into album cut “Listening,” which quickly got the audience heaving towards the front and shouting along to the song’s irrepressible hook. Although the show was not a sell out, there was ample energy within the room to carry the early part of the band’s set, complete with older favourites such as “Wasting Away” and “Revenge and Its Thrills.” The band are at a point where they have a very clear idea of how to run their live shows, taking both dynamics and a flourish of theatricality into consideration. This has its good and bad points – although the band are hugely confident and certainly engaging in their live show, at times it felt like Groundhog Day to the band themselves. A rough new song, “Breakdown,” didn’t help the mid-set slump any further; presenting a tepid chorus and a poorly transitioned key-change.

Still, when the band launched into the grand finale of “Breaking and Entering,” there was no time for cynicism. There were stage-dives to be had and big sing-alongs to be sung, after all. Perhaps inhibitions and cynicism should be best left at the door in order to properly enjoy what Tonight Alive have to offer. It’s up to you.

REVIEW: Bluejuice, Loon Lake, The Cairos

(see our photo gallery here)

It looked like it would be another embarassing turnout for Wollongong music as Brisbane indie-pop quarter The Cairos took the stage. In a space like Waves Nightclub, a poor turnout is very noticable, and the 50-odd punters who were on hand for the opening set of the night awkwardly sat or stood around dancefloor area. The Cairos’ brand of quirky indie-pop draws from many points on the musical spectrum from 50s guitar-pop to 80s rock, this scattergun approach leaving their set feeling incoherent and unrefined. They do the loud-soft dynamic well, their default sound channelling Yves Klein Blue at points, and frontman Alistair has an excellent voice; but overall their lack of musical focus – coupled with an almost non-existent live presence – let down a band who clearly have an ear for a hook and an ability to craft a catchy tune.

Loon Lake kicked the crowd’s energy up a few gears in anticipation of the night’s headliners. The room had measurably filled during the set-change, with several hundred on hand for the hotly-tipped Melbourne rock’n’roll outfit. Bright, upbeat indiepop, their three-pronged guitar attack instantly produced a much fuller, more immediate vibe than their predecessors. Off-kilter, raucous and energetic, the five-piece blasted through a hugely entertaining set melding modern pop with 50s-influenced surf-rock jams and an attractively raw, unpolished vibe. In contrast to the introverted, almost sombre demeanour of The Cairos, it was clear that Loon Lake was enjoying themselves on stage, judging by the laughs and smiles between songs. Frontman Sam was warm, charismatic, and more than a little intoxicated, his gravelly and throaty vocals an interesting juxtaposition against their big, bright melodies. Dreamy and hazy at times, before dropping back into a more direct retro-pop, Triple J favourites and excellent set-closers ‘Bad To Me’ and ‘In The Summer’ finally coaxed the near-capacity crowd onto the dancefloor – and just in time for the headliners.

Coming out to the tune of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ (Friday the 13th was just hours away) and adorned in black cloaks and hoods, Bluejuice soon turned on the neon as the stabbing key chords of ‘Can’t Keep Up’ rang out and triggered an instant losing of shit from all assembled. With neon keyboards, glasses, guitars, wristbands and microphones, courtesy of some blacklights, the six-piece transformed the dark stage into a mass of light, colour, strobes and smoke. “We are inca warriors tonight,” Stav proclaimed as the upbeat ‘Recession’ gave way to a surprise early rendition of ‘Vitriol,’ which saw the dancefloor morph into a crowd-surfing, handclapping frenzy as frontman Jake waded into the crowd and was borne back to the stage on a sea of hands.

While the dual vocals and on-stage antics of Stav and Jake generate the “better video that on my iPhone so I can put it on Facebook later” moments of Bluejuice’s live show, it can’t be overlooked that the band are comprised of some very fine musicians; a drummer, bassist, keyboardist and guitarist form the backbone of the live sound, which transforms the polished and professional sound of their recorded work into something more energetic and infinitely more compelling live. This is especially true of latest album ‘Company’ (which this tour is in support of), a distinctly less energetic sound, a love letter to 80s radio pop. The mix of old favourites with new album tunes was excellent, the more serene synthpop of late meshing surprisingly well with the rawer, more high-energy oldies.

However, of course, it IS Jake and Stav that make this band. A true yin/yang contrast, Jake is the crowd-surfing, stage-diving, hip-gyrating, amplifier-climbing maniac, while Stav largely holds the fort behind the mic stand. It’s why they work so well, that the two play off each other and bring two completely different aspects to the show. During a zany, manic, rave-style ‘Medication,’ Jake was literally swallowed up by the crowd, much to the chagrin of flustered-looking stage hands who were looking to protect their microphones and equipment. Finishing up with ‘Head of The Hawk,’ ‘Shock’ and a rabid, singalong rendition of ‘Broken Leg,’ Bluejuice certainly showed once again that they are one of Australia’s finest live pop acts… and more pleasingly, actually managed to attract a decent crowd in Wollongong.

REVIEW: Bleeding Knees Club, Dune Rats, Sures @ The Patch

(See our photo gallery from the show here)

Creating lots of noise since the release of their 2010 Virginity EP, Bleeding Knees Club are becoming somewhat of an iconic Australian dude tribute to 50s surf rock. With the recent release of their debut LP, Nothing to Do, a collection of individuals with unwashed hair, head-bopping tendencies and hipster clothes filled the Patch on Saturday night to energetically bounce to the upbeat anthems produced by the Gold Coast boys.

First up was Sydney band Sures, who charmed the initial early scragglers with their bubbly guitar riffs, quirky harmonies and an 80’s fluro windbreaker sported by the guitarist. A few die-hard fans (namely the next band, Dune Rats) graced the dance floor to pump out some interpretive break dancing (which looked a lot more like two grown males giggling and rolling around on the floor), while Sures did some serious foot-tapping on stage. Despite a few technical issues at the start of the set, the band powered on and this reviewer was converted by the ending notes of setcloser Stars.

Brisbane boys Dune Rats were next on stage, demanding full attention with energetic drum patterns and dynamic vocals. While the sound mixing left a little to be desired, their catchy lo-fi surf-pop tunes spoke for themselves. Featuring the drummer from The Cairos and the ex-bassist from The Vines, the boys themselves were charismatic and humorous performers, engaging with the crowd and dancing as enthusiastically as the two drunk females that had occupied the right corner near the stage. Hazy guitar lines, high-energy drumming and throbbing bass featured prominently; fans of The Drums, and The Vaccines should keep an eye out for this trio.

Finally, Bleeding Knees Club launched their anticipated set of upbeat, surf rock anthems. Very quickly, the boys from the Gold Coast transformed the Patch into a stage-diving, crowd-surfing extravaganza, with amateurs taking over the microphone while front man Alex Wall decided to dangle, monkey-like, from the ceiling.

The floor became a pit of shuffling girls and sweating males during Nothing to Do, with favourites Teenage Girls (“This song’s about being a paedophile”), Beach Slut, and raucous set closer Bad Guys turning the venue into a sea of flying limbs and dancing bodies.

For a relatively new band, BKC successfully managed to ensure that every member of the audience was tapping a foot or drumming their fingers before the set wrapped to a close. The boys have managed to write a winning combination of lyrically simple and melodically catchy songs, with sarcastic and relatable messages about girls, boys and “having sex with a bitch.”

Dune Rats returned to the stage to join with BKC for a final encore, which involved a lot of shouting, a lot of guitar and a little bit of upside-down piggy-backing. Overall, the bands performance left a very exhausted yet satisfied audience exiting the Patch, proving that there’s a lot more to come from these Gold Coast boys.

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