Eight bands and a heap of eager punters descended on the Tote last Sunday in support of the RMIT Sculpture Department, who were raising much-needed funds for this year’s graduate exhibition. They were treated to a day of fine musicians and that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you can have a good time and look charitable into the bargain.
People Person was first to play, and set the tone with deceptively simple deconstructed pop. What began as single notes ringing out at random quickly turned into a wave of sound, with intricate multi-layered melodies that formed heavy, ringing loops. The pair looked like scientists hunched over their equipment and their formula sure worked, with the end of their set leaving the audience in a daze.
New kids Stationary Suns were next up and brought the crowd right back to attention with rolling bass-lines and sharp, tight hooks. Moody riffs were punctuated by the twin vocalists’ distinctive high-pitched vocals and the tumbling, booming drums gave the bass section some extra kick. The result was a short and sweet set that was over way too soon.
Next were self-described “post-wankers” Franco Cozzo, who delivered a set that was equal parts clever and catchy. The stop-start pace didn’t affect the sense of urgency brought by the pair, and fast drums and super-smooth guitar licks gave way to slow, throbbing tracks without losing any energy. It was oddly catchy - and definitely not as tasteless and gaudy as the band’s name might suggest.
Angel Eyes rattled the Tote windows to near-breaking point with cosmic beats, again channelling the hypnotic, droning sound that seemed to be the theme of the day. Ridiculously loud and ridiculously bass-y, Angel Eyes left the room shaking. And that was a good thing.
Art and Craft were definitely the least impressive act of the day, like Muse on anti-depressants – dull, repetitive and way too enthusiastic. Their songs were monotonous and lacked subtlety, with no vocals to break up the unrelenting sameness. Worse, their set went over by 15 minutes. After being told this, they insisted on smashing out another song. Yeah, awesome.
Bizarro disco queen Rites Wild was next to the stage, and brought the mood back up with her heavy-as-hell club vibe. Kneeling over her keyboard, she hypnotised the audience with her kitschy electronic backing, sludgy keys and vocals that bordered on sounding lazy.
Next, for a change of pace, the Ancients played Australiana-tinged pop at its finest. The audience was transfixed, and the band’s sincerity quickly convinced anyone who wasn’t already swooning over the group’s nostalgia-heavy tracks. With lyrics that were often sweet and funny, and always clever, the group brought to mind pop sensations like the Twerps and Dick Diver, and the crowd was smitten.
Finally, beardy weirdies Bum Creek took the stage. From the start, the ‘LOL-fi’ trio were wrapped up in their own little world, yelping and warbling along to a barely perceptible beat. Without any inhibitions, they freely walked the stage, stood on instruments and soaked up the audience’s bemusement. Even those who knew the band’s style well were bewildered by the way the band messed with what it means to play an instrument – like when the drummer jumped off stage and started smashing a ladder with drumsticks wrapped in chip packets, for example.
In a set cut short by time constraints, they took the audience from seemingly random noise to catchy upbeat melodies and back again. Bum Creek is one of those bands that’s “an experience”, and while not for everyone, they’ve certainly graduated with honours from the whatever-the-fuck-we-feel-like school of music-making. They might come off as unrehearsed or just plain weird, but eventually, the wall of noise starts to make sense, and the crowd was loving it.
: Georgia Morgan