Monday, March 29, 2010


@ The Zoo

This is a modified version of a review I wrote for Press Record Online.  You can see the original piece here.

Don’t you just hate it when you’re playing a gig and Lady GaGa crashes the party?  That’s what happened when experimental rockers They Are Spies took to the stage to perform They Are Spies do They Are House.

First in a lineup that can only be described as eclectic were newcomers to the local indie scene Fasttrak Euphoria, whose broken vocals and rough guitar work were reminiscent of British favourites Arctic Monkeys and The Hives.  But this is where the comparison ends.  Extended instrumentals in between songs and the use of classical instruments like the saxophone and violin were lost on the crowd.  Well, not a crowd as such, but rather twenty odd passersby (a number of which seemed to be family or friends).  But what else can you expect for an 8:30pm time slot?  Feel-good tune ‘Cyclones’ sparked a positive reaction and proved a mid-set highlight.  After half an hour of summer inspired tracks, the six-piece looked relieved that it was over.  And the crowd?  Well they remained unfazed, really.

Lead vocalist Nathanael Marc from the aptly titled, The Nathanael Marc Experience, burst onto the stage in a mass of noise pollution and confusion.  The set was strung together without structure or thought and was, put simply, irritating.  The more feminine members of the crowd in tight lace dresses and stilettos took to mimicking the band, which proved far more entertaining than watching the band themselves.  The vocal effects used for their self proclaimed genre of Tech-Hop were pre-recorded, with synthesized back-up vocals playing even when the microphone was away from a band member.  In between the swearing, shouting and unintelligible lyrics, they managed to murder Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition’ by rapping over a sample of the infamous guitar riff.  At this point, Nathanael Marc boasted, “This is completely legal.  I could release this”.  Just because it’s legal, sure doesn’t make it right.

The Faze brought a welcome change to tonight’s showcase, proving to be Brisbane’s answer to alternative electronica ‘it’ boys Passion Pit.  With a falsetto that would make Michael Angelakos jealous, lead singer Steve Pelecas lulled the crowd into a dance trance.  Percussionist Nick Economidis busted out the keytar and it felt like an eighties throwback, only the music was good.  Spacey rhythms and solid beats showed glimpses of fellow Australian outfit Midnight Juggernauts, while the mish-mash of synth and sporadic guitar work reflected the likes of American indie pop act Black Kids.

A slight hiccup with the projector and a cheap confetti attempt later, The Faze delivered a solid set, complete with a tribute to Talking Heads’ punk classic, ‘Psycho Killer’.  The four-piece closed with the track for their new video release, ‘The Insomniac’ (below) which was greeted with high-pitched squeels from the crowd.  With an irresistible beat and rough vocals complete with ‘oohs’ and ‘woahs’, it’s only a matter of time before these guys make it big.

Anticipation swelled in the lead up to headlining act They Are Spies taking to the stage.  Braced for a big entry, fans were scrambling to get a good spot when two of the members emerged, only to sit on the floor and play an arrangement of wine glasses.  From the start it was clear that this band weren’t ones for convention.  A vacuum acted as a drum, spoons provided percussion and a broom … well, the broom didn’t make much sound at all, but it added to the chaos.

Despite tonight’s crowd appearing to be the more avant-garde type, the creativity and originality of They Are Spies seemed lost.  More conventional tunes like alternative punk track ‘Dad is Green’ and sentimental sing-along ‘All You’ received the best reception, with the extended instrumental sections mostly ignored.  Towards the end of the set, the five-piece experimented further with lead vocalist Jezus announcing they were going to try something new.  A cover of Michael Jackson’s dancefloor anthem ‘Thriller’ ensued, which happened to be the low point of the set.  Lesson learned: pop classics don’t work well as experimental rock pieces.

Around this time, the crowd started to shift.  A striking Lady GaGa double in beige underwear and glittery platforms, surrounded by a group of homosexual men and two beefed-up security guards began to draw attention.  Camera phones were whipped out and knowing glances were exchanged. 

And that’s how the set ended; with the majority of the crowd down the back of the venue, gushing over an American pop star.  Not exactly how they planned it, but hey, they scored a photo and the praise of (arguably) the biggest star in the world.  Not bad for a small time band from Brisbane, hopefully it’s a sign of greater things to come.

Upside: The Faze.  Their indie pop tunes and Steve Pelecas' falsetto made them a hit among the crowd.

Downside: Being subjected to a rap version of 'Superstition'.  And The Nathanael Marc Experience's whole set, really.

Crowd: A mix of indie kids who were there to be seen and awkward middle-aged men there for the lack of dress code.  And apparently some Lady GaGa fans too.

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