Yours & Owls – a video retrospective

When the quiet little coffee shop opened two years ago, nobody could have ever predicted how much Yours & Owls would shake up the local music and culture scene. Two years on, Owls has become the hub for live music in the Wollongong CBD, and has inarguably become the nucleus around which the new local music scene has been built. Playing host to virtually every local band, as well as nationally touring stars and even a smattering of well-respected internationals, Yours & Owls has provided a space (albeit a cosy one) for music to flourish and live in the centre of Wollongong.

Two years down the track from their unassuming opening on Crown Street, Owls has hosted many shows that will likely be forever etched into the memories of local music fans, young and old. From acoustic sets by The Flatliners, to secret Totally Unicorn gigs, to epic Budha Nights where music lovers are introduced to their new favourite bands, Owls has something for everyone. Basement, Bomb The Music Industry, Tim Hart (of Boy & Bear), The Rubens, Hunting Grounds,  Fait Accompli, Millions – Yours & Owls has played host to many of the most memorable local shows in recent memory. Luckily, thanks to Owls’ policy of video recording most of their shows, we can look back and remember the epic gigs that we’ve been to, or check out the ones that we missed. With the Yours & Owls 2nd birthday party fast approaching (this Friday, August 31!), here’s our look back at some of the more memorable shows that have gone down within the walls of Yours & Owls:

Sticky Fingers
On their most recent tour, Sydney funk-rock outfit Sticky Fingers played a two-night-stand at Owls. They blow us away whenever we see them, and seeing them in the cosy surrounds of Y&O was pretty special.

Tommy M & The Mastersounds
Tommy M seem to play Owls every single week, but that never seems to diminish the crowds they bring. Surely holding the record for most consistently packed-out shows (we hear that their Budha Nights gig with Rocking Horse a few months back was the fastest pack-out of the venue ever), the eight-piece quickly became an Owls favourite.

The Walking Who
These guys, too, have become something of a regular fixture on the Owls calendar. Their brand of fuzzy psych-rock has won The Walking Who a lot of fans recently, including Sydney institutions Select Music and FBI Radio.

The Rubens
Back before they blew up on JJJ, The Rubens were playing places like Owls. Check their performance from 2011 right here.

Totally Unicorn
Arguably the most memorable gig in Owls history was the Totally Unicorn show of September 2011. The final show on a quick east coast tour, the Totally Unicorn guys destroyed the tiny venue in a show that saw punters flying off the stairs onto the crowd below, Drew crowd-surfing the length of the venue, and a greater concentration of tie-dye than any other location in history. Check out the chaos below.

Of course, Totally Unicorn and The Walking Who will be some of the star attractions at Yours & Owls’ 2nd birthday celebrations on August 31. The three-venue party will take over Owls, the Town Hall and Fever/Blue Note nightclub, with Step-Panther, Alotta Presha, Let Me Down Jungleman and a dozen more playing throughout the night. For all the details, click here.

NEW MUSIC: Totally Unicorn, Joe Mungovan

* Totally Unicorn will release a new EP, titled ‘7 Inches,’ on October 11. With just two tracks on special pink vinyl, the boys are also streaming a special bonus track on Bandcamp. You can hear it online now, or download it for free upon purchase of ‘7Inches’.

* Joe Mungovan, drummer of Tommy M & The Mastersounds, has released his first solo single online. ‘The Strength’ can be downloaded or streamed free via Soundcloud.

GALLERY:Tommy M, Round The Corner, Beaten Bodies, A Cat Named Kesey, Go Away Everyone @ Dicey Riley’s

Radar presents: Tommy M, Round The Corner, Beaten Bodies, A Cat Named Kesey, Go Away Everyone – 7/7/12
Photos by Jak Photography

Thanks to all that came out, to Dicey’s for giving us their place on short notice, and Sol Studios/Beekon Effairs for running a flawless sound and lights show. Stay tuned for the next Radar gig at Yours & Owls on July 25 – details coming soon!

UOW band comp heats announced

The heats for the annual University of Wollongong band competition have been announced, with a swag of the region’s most promising young bands set to take part in four heats starting tonight.

The heats will run every Tuesday night from tonight (April 24) to May 15, with the repechage and final set for August. 2011 runners-up Tommy M & The Mastersounds are in the mix again this year, alongside My Little Underground, Emris, Beaten Bodies and more. See below for the full lineups and information.

Each heat begins at 7pm, and entry is free. Bands will be competing for prizes from Main Street Studios, Laww Media and Haworth’s Music.

HEAT 1 – April 24
Sylvain – Shady Nook – Paul and Dave – The Omissions

HEAT 2 – May 1
My Little Underground – Fiend – Go Away Everyone – Jack Dawson – Form One Planet

HEAT 3 – May 8
21st Century Happiness – Thomas Covenant – Shit Sandwich – MANorex6 – ShereKhan

HEAT 4 – May 15
Tommy M and the Mastersounds – Beaten Bodies – Emris – The Maze – We Are Them

EXCLUSIVE: Vanguard Party album details and stream

Vanguard Party will release their debut album, ‘Forever Jung,’ on May 2nd – you can stream it here.

According to frontman Jared Chappell, ‘Forever Jung’ is a 13-track LP covering “diverse topics such as deliberate bicycle accidents, marriage by abduction, anti-fundamentalist bile, and morbidly obese law enforcement wannabes.”

“Essentially, it’s an album heavy with gameboy synths and punk guitars,” Chappell says.

A full digital release is planned for Thursday the 3rd of May, but in the time being you can pre-order it at Vanguard Party’s Bandcamp page to receive two tracks instantly.

We can also reveal that Evan Kerr of Tommy M & The Mastersounds has joined the band as keyboardist, replacing Tod Manojlovic. Tommy M saxophonist, Evan Batkin, also features on ‘Forever Jung.’

LISTEN: Tommy M & The Mastersounds, ‘Arthur’

Remember a while back, we premiered the first few tracks from Main Street Studio’s Wollongong Music Scene vs. TV Tunes project? Basically, Main Street are encouraging local bands to learn, perform and record classic TV theme songs.

We’ve had tracks from Blood Guts & Firetrucks (‘Sesame Street’) and The Conspiracy Plan (‘Captain Planet’), and in recent days the guys at Main Street have unveiled a couple more choice cuts.

Lower Coast Skies have recorded the theme of ‘Perfect Strangers’ and Avaine have chucked a sweet chugging Meshuggah breakdown into ‘The Powerpuff Girls.’

And probably of most interest to local fans, will be Tommy M & The Mastersounds’ version of ‘Arthur,’ a highlight and favourite of their recent local shows.

*Fun fact: ‘Arthur’ is the second longest running animated series in the world, behind The Simpsons. The more you know!*

Check them all out below, via Main Street Studio’s Soundcloud page.

Radar Illawarra presents: Budha Nights at Yours & Owls

So a few weeks back, we announced that Radar will be organising some monthly parties at Yours & Owls as part of their mad successful and awesome Budha Nights.

The first Radar party will be February 15th, and we’re stoked to reveal that the launch of the Radar/Budha collab project will host YETIS, TOMMY M & THE MASTERSOUNDS and THE WALKING WHO>!

All these guys have been doing amazing things recently, and anyone who caught Tommy M or The Walking Who at Stacked Festival over the weekend will agree that those two are in top form at the moment; and with Yetis recently returning from a clutch of gigs over in New Zealand, you know they’ll be up for it too.

As we said before, local DJ/producer legend Moonbase Commander will be knocking up some exclusive party mixes to play between sets, to keep you dancin’ and drinkin’ and makin’ a fool of yourself all night long.

Like all Budha Nights, it’s free entry all night long. Get in early though, because it’s gonna fill up fast!

RSVP to the Facebook event by clicking right here, right now!

RADAR ILLAWARRA PRESENTS: BUDHA NIGHTS @ YOURS & OWLS
LAUNCHING FEBRUARY 15TH
w/ THE WALKING WHO, TOMMY M & THE MASTERSOUNDS YETIS
FREE!

GIG GUIDE: January 16-22

MONDAY
The Bearded Gypsy Band @ Yours & Owls
8pm, 18+

TUESDAY
Tetras (Switzerland), Kraig Grady @ Yours & Owls
8pm, 18+

WEDNESDAY
Vanguard Party, The Omissions, Dane Overton, Porcupine Ruth @ Yours & Owls
8pm, free, 18+

THURSDAY
Orca! Straight Ahead!, Moonbase Commander, Lint @ Yours & Owls
8pm, $5, 18+

The Pennys, A Cat Named Kesey, Klara Zubonja @ Dicey Riley’s
8pm, $5, 18+

Emris, Sylvain @ Wollongong Youth Centre
6pm, free, all ages

FRIDAY
The Walking Who, Curious Temple, Legions @ Dicey Riley’s
8pm, 18+

Yardvark (album launch), The Pennys, Lumiere @ The Patch
8pm, $10, 18+

Bladder Spasms, Rukus, Psychotic Numbskulls @ The Patch (front bar)
8pm, free, 18+

Tom Ugly @ Yours & Owls
8pm, 18+

SATURDAY
Tommy M & The Mastersounds, Flat White Cats, Lost In Verona, Latham’s Grip, Forever Archie @ Nowra Tea Club
8pm, $20 (pre-sale tickets only), all ages

Audible Warning, Dark Horse, Shady Nook, Coffin @ The Patch (front bar)
7pm, free, 18+

The Blue Rays @ Dicey Riley’s
8pm, 18+

SUNDAY
Steve Smyth @ Yours & Owls
8pm, 18+

REVIEW: Tommy M & The Mastersounds, Rocking Horse, Moonbase Commander

Yours & Owls’ weekly, free “Budha Nights” have become a welcome fixture on the otherwise dead Wednesday nights in Wollongong, with some of the region’s finest bands packing into the tiny venue to play to a usually full crowd. Tonight’s lineup saw three of Wollongong’s most hyped acts, all playing together, all for free; accordingly, the venue was bursting at the seams by 8pm, with many fans left disappointed and shut out.

It’s a real mark of a band’s popularity when people are familiar enough with the songs that they can sing the lyrics right back at the band. Tommy M & The Mastersounds had a roomful of such fans tonight, their now-familiar reggae and funk tunes met with shouts and calls back from the audience. People “woo”ed, clapped and sang at exactly the right moments (perhaps due to the fifteen or so local gigs that the band seem to play each week), with the seven Mastersounds noticeably excited at the raucous reception they scored from the capacity, sweaty crowd in the tiny venue; if it was twenty degrees outside on the overcast night, it was over thirty inside the cramped Yours & Owls. How they managed to arrange seven Mastersounds (and their instruments) on the “stage” was a feat of human engineering and tesselation; and though they were without absent saxophonist Ngaire, it didn’t seem to faze the band as they powered through a typically entertaining, jive-inducing set. Their now famous reggae rendition of the theme tune from kids TV show ‘Arthur’ was an early highlight, laughs and smiles filtering through the audience as they realised what the familiar tune was. Splashy, cymbal-heavy percussion, funky slap bass, plinky keyboards and jazzy breakdowns mingled as they tore through favourite ‘Noodleman,’ as well as most cuts from their recent EP ‘Pineapple.’Frontman Evan was the focal point throughout; sitting behind a keyboard may seem restrictive, but his greatest strength as a performer is that he makes it work. Fingers flying across the keyboard, he dances, spasms, pulls faces, runs on the spot, his voice travelling from high falsetto to gruff and throaty. A stray trombone or saxophone seemed destined to poke an eye or face in the cramped room – the audience were mere inches from the band – but some broken guitar strings were the only sticking point in a predictably tight and entertaining set from Wollongong’s finest young band.A fast, frenetic new tune with plenty of room for crowd singalongs and jiving en masse, and their set-closing cover of ‘Twist and Shout’ – fitting, seeing as that it what the audience had been doing for the last forty minutes – finished up a sweaty, raucous slot. The only criticism that can be levelled at the band, is that they seem to play the same set every night; the young ensemble have bucketloads of talent, and already boast a staggering collection of brilliant songs, yet they always seem to play the same setlist night after night. Some rearrangement of songs, or the injection of anew cover every now and then, would see their sets gain even more impact.

Rocking Horse’s jazz-tinged, bluesy rock’n’roll should be more than familiar to any regular local gig-goer, but the seven-piece act somehow seem to kick up a gear each time they play. Nothing about their performance is left unconsidered; from the matching simple, white starched shirts and black trousers of the guitarists, the matching beautiful rose-patterned dresses and synchronised dance moves of the backup vocal ensemble The Baby Dolls, to their finely-tuned stage banter and interludes, every aspect of Rocking Horse’s performance exudes preparation, organisation and class. From slow, jazzy rhythm & blues to more upbeat rollicking rock’n’roll, the band’s sound traverses much of pop music’s early days. Smoky jazz sections, soaring vocals from deceptively diminutive frontwoman Christie, throbbing bass sitting high in the mix, and splashy, stuttering drums mingle for a deeply rhythmic, almost hypnotic sound at times. The musicianship is outstanding and incredibly tight, but it really is the three Baby Dolls who make the band stand out. Three pretty girls raised high above the others – on a pedestal, literally – in matching dresses, with matching dance moves and doo-wop harmonies and skyhigh vocals that variously take the lead and provide backup to Christie’s amazing, soulful yet hard-hitting vocals. The real shame of this performance was that Christie’s vocals were muffled and buried deep in the mix, blunting the impact of her pipes. Dirty blues sections traded places with upbeat rock numbers, with the audience’s closeness just adding to the intimate atmosphere created by the slow, smoky music. ‘Iron Horse’ was far and away the highlight, though a pretty brilliant cover of ‘Lady Marmalade’ came close.

After two raucous, big-band performances, you wouldn’t have been out of line to think that the weird electronic vibes of producer Moonbase Commander (aka Nick Luke) would have had a hard time winning over this crowd; but you would have been wrong. A late-night set from the Triple J-approved beatsman, lit only by outside streetlight and the LED glow of Luke’s drum machine, saw glitchy samples chopped up and rearranged into a murky, slinky set of hip-hop, bass and beats. Tracks that got the MBC treatment included James Blake, Death Grips and Justice, with dirty hip-hop and rap, 70s rock and a myriad of genres and styles chewed up, given a bass-heavy facelift and spat back out again to a still heaving and packed Yours & Owls.  Luke seemed more animated than ever, throwing his hands up in the air and dancing with the audience as his hands flew over the drum machine. A few overly enthusiastic older patrons entered midway through the set, with some frenetic, spasmodic dancing proving a light moment during the full-on, hard-hitting set. Finishing up just before clocks struck midnight, Luke bowed to his audience as they scurried outside to relish the fresh breezes outside the still stifling venue.

Radar Illawarra Music Award winners announced!

The winners of the inaugural Radar Illawarra Music Awards were announced on Saturday night, with a packed-out event at the Patch.

Totally Unicorn were the big winners on the night, picking up awards for “best live act” and “best video” for their clip ‘Cool Dads With Cool Sons.’ The four-piece, who were on tour in Adelaide at the time, were good enough to send in a few choice pre-recorded acceptance speeches for the night.

Other winners of the RIMAs were Tommy M & The Mastersounds for “best band,” Places People for “best solo artist” and Sydney Girls Choir for “best release” for their recently-released EP.

The publicly-voted awards saw over 200 entries from fans and local music-lovers, with many of the categories decided by just a handful of votes.

Tommy M, Places People and Sydney Girls Choir celebrated their wins with performances at the RIMAs event, with Vulpes Vulpes and Jack R Reilly – both of whom were also nominated in various categories – also showing off their tunes for an appreciative crowd.

For the inaugural event, the RIMAs were (in my opinion) a success, with many fans turning out to the event and many votes being received. From the bottom of my heart, I’d like to thank everyone involved in the RIMAs: from Jeb Taylor at Music Farmers and the Patch for allowing the awards to be held at the venue; to the bands who gave up their time; and everyone who voted, and of course, attended the RIMAs.

I would also like to thank all the sponsors who made the event possible; New Millennium Trophies and Gifts, who supplied the awesome trophies to the winners (see left); Haworth Guitars; 55ive Design; Laww Media; Main Street Studios; and Music Farmers.

Keep an eye out for more Radar-presented events in 2012!

Click here to see photos from the night.

Radar Illawarra Music Award winners (as voted by the public):
BEST BAND: Tommy M & The Mastersounds
BEST SOLO ARTIST: Places People
BEST LIVE ACT: Totally Unicorn
BEST RELEASE: Sydney Girls Choir, EP
BEST VIDEO: Totally Unicorn, ‘Cool Dads With Cool Sons’

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