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Another ARIA week, another ARIA showcase. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good gig, the only issue I have with these things is the ringer. We all hate the ringer, the guy at music showcases whose sole purpose is to annoy the shit out of everyone in attendance. We don’t need a guy to fluff the crowd in order to get excited for the evening. Of course we’re excited, that’s why we’re here. But this ringer actually had something of substance to say besides screaming “Wooooo! How you doing?!” Instead, he made a very good point that tonight was about supporting Australian music. Doing so can be considered a risk, especially considering the value of international artists can often leave battlin’ Aussie musos out in the cold. What is important is to continue to nurture and believe in local Australian music. And that’s what this night was all about. Gotta hand it to you ringer-guy, that makes a lot of non-bullshit sense.

Little Sea Aria

Little Sea, photo by Patrick Mackey

Whether you love or loathe the ARIA Awards, what is truly important is to always support our diverse Aussie music culture.

Little Sea took to the stage with some of the most carefully styled hair I’ve seen since my Year 12 formal, which makes sense considering how young these guys are. The band played their short set of three carefully polished pop rock songs to the polite applause and head nodding of those in the crowd who knew how much money these kids would make them. Not that I’m ragging on Little Sea. Okay, maybe a little. For what they played they sounded good, although their stage show left much to be desired, but let’s just chalk that up to nerves. And who could blame them, playing to a room of music industry execs isn’t their usual jam.

Jackie Onassis Aria

Jackie Onassis, photo by Patrick Mackey

After a quick intermission and a few sub-standard tacos Jackie Onassis leaped onto the stage to to turn average into magic. They definitely lived up to expectations. They played with passion and exuberance, managing to kick the proceedings up a few notches. A killer rendition of Crystal Balling got the crowd singing along. Vocalist Kai Tan demonstrated his fantastic stage presence, working the stage without missing a rhyme like a pro, the end of the set leaving most people wishing they had a little more time.

Holy Holy Aria

Holy Holy, photo by Patrick Mackey

Thankfully Holy Holy was able to pick up the ball and get running from the get-go. The band was in damn fine form, their epic, atmospheric music flowing effortlessly. What is so great about a band like Holy Holy is their innate dual abilities; the band managed to be tight and intricate, whilst maintaining an air of spontaneity and looseness. A big plus for their set was the light show, the strobes coming into great effect to instil a proper atmosphere and remove any remaining air of stiffness.

Gang of Youths aria

Gang of Youths, photo by Patrick Mackey

Closing out was Gang of Youths. How was their performance you ask? Let me put it this way; they were Khal Drogo like, in terms of looks and ridiculous fierceness. The five piece growled their voices, smashed their drums and swung their guitars wildly on stage, and finally I felt like I was at an actual gig. Evangelists and Poison Drum were played with such relentless passion it was hard not to broadly smile during the length of their short but memorable set. If there is one band from this bill you should see pronto it is Gang of Youths. The guys know how to put on a hell of a show, whether it be fifteen minutes or fifteen hours, these dudes will most definitely be worth your time.

I know I’ve done nothing but subtly bemoan shows like an ARIA showcase such as this, but I was very happy to have my initial cynicism dashed by the night’s performances. If there is one thing to take away from this show it is that Australia is a great breeding ground for a diverse, evolving and engaging music, and it is our responsibility, either as musicians, media or fans, to make sure our music culture continues to grow stronger.

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GANG OF YOUTHS ▲ HOLY HOLY ▲ JACKIE ONASSIS ▲ LITTLE SEA

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November 26, 2014