i can’t tell if it’s wrong
‘I don’t think you have anything to worry about, friend. In fact, I think you’ll end up enjoying yourself.’ Jonathan Pierce turned a cigarette in his hand. ‘Are you listening?’
His client silently turned his attention to Pierce, then to the floor, then to the mouldy curtains surrounding him.
‘You’ll get what you paid for, friend. Trust me.’ Jonathan Pierce laid a hand on the silent man’s thigh and feigned affection with his patting. The silent man replied with his eyes, but Pierce was not the type to listen to his clients. The glaring lights were switched off and all that was left was the weak glow of the lamp next to the chair on which the silent man sat and waited. The curtains started to sway surreally on their flimsy hooks to the stronger current of the air conditioner. Pierce often confided in others that the drop in temperature promoted intimacy.
Two silhouettes appeared against the blinding portal that was the now open doorway, interfering with the mood. Jennifer Pollock and Holly Mansfield entered the room, tip toeing fancifully on their heels in a pincer movement towards the silent man. Tonight they were a gaudy Marilyn Monroe and misshapen Holly Golightly respectively. Their dress was savage, all lace and faux silk hemming grossly torn. Something about their outfits suggested they had a carousel of costumes out back. The man did nothing but wander his eyes elsewhere.
“We’d all be in canoes, two or three rowing and one rolling, y’know?” Our host’s belly rose with jitters as he laughs in reminisce. “We’d all be rowing across that sea at midnight and the waves, waves knocking us silly and you couldn’t light a thing. Across there on the i… isle? Island, yeah? Just the moon’s light, maybe two hundred people on the beach. You’d hear them but that’d be quiet, so quiet. Not now. Nah, changed for good.”
“Not too long ago was it, aye?” Regan was wielding dual beverages with even more in the reserve around the pool. Tuk counted on his fingers.
“Seven, eight years? Not very long my friend. The times, yeah? It wasn’t really a party but like a celebration, y’know the difference man? It was a, ah, pilgrimage? Yeah, a real pilgrimage.”
I wade listening, as the pale moon chases the violet out of the sky.
With Money Store, seething rap outfit Death Grips have crafted a soundtrack for waging cyber-warfare. A relentless 41 minutes of paranoid electronic pulses, glitchy arpeggio loops and sociopathic growls, it is not a record for the faint of heart. It is however, a perfect encapsulation of the internet age, sounding the part of a time where we are barraged by an unending flood of information; where the pulse of social interactions lie in electronic devices and Wikileaks undermines war efforts more than any amount of fire-power can muster. Thom Yorke’s turn of phrase Paranoid Androids could not be any more apt. Death Grips are here to narrate the virtual apocalypse.
Wilson! 1960s British Rock! Pretentious Highly Eccentric! Why it’s another film from everyone’s favourite Pastel Poster[man]boy Wes Anderson. But wait, stop me if you have heard this one before. Making fun of Anderson’s consistent style (steadfast to the point of self parody) is within itself a cliche. As we stand seven films down the unwavering whimsy road however, binocular criticism seems ever more justified. Moonrise Kingdom once again does not deviate from practically any of his distinctive trademarks or aesthetics, so one must ask: Once the film’s quirky styling is taken away, does it retain any substance?
Is this the golden age of the unplugged performance? Every park, alleyway, balcony, record store and restroom stall is now being explored and exploited for the sake of the vulnerable intimacy that only a disconnected performer provide. It’s easy to see why this proliferation exists. Take away the microphones, the amplifiers and reverb and you have a clear window into not only an artist’s distilled raw talent but something that can highlight the strength of their songs at a skeleton level. And if anyone musically inclined can remember a man named Kurt Cobain and a certain televised concert, they would know it can shine a light on a hidden side of an artist one might not know existed. Really, no better measurement of artistic ability exists. Likewise, such a stage for an artist can work strongly against their favour in putting the spotlight on their flaws.
Which is why it’s comforting to see at the ever reliable venue of Jet Black Cat, every artist pole vaulting over the bar. None more so than the recent performance of The Trouble with Templeton. The band was a two member outfit tonight, primary songwriter Tom and backup vocalist Betty. On their wonderful debut record Bleeders the trio make rustic, often pleasant but seldom biting melancholia: The haunting “Home”, the rollicking “I Wrote A Novel”, the slow burner “Someday Soon”. The lack of aggression is a facet that changes significantly when transferred to Jet Black’s small abode. Their performance packs punch and an undeniable energy. Which is mostly indebted to Tom’s impressive vocal cords.
“I can’t sing without having to shout a lot" Tom states halfway through, which turns out to be a rather gross misdescription. The man can sing. During their stand out rendition of I Wrote A Novel, Tom effortlessly weaves his voice from bouncing sweetly along to verse couplets to a honed growl that almost shakes the foundations of the record store. And as if the air couldn’t get any more electric, he even slots in a yelp much to the enjoyment of the rapt audience. On other songs his multi pronged instrument becomes a ghostly whisper, on others still a wounded howl. All the while seamless, raw, visceral. Betty provides a perfect counter foil, a voice not too delicate to get lost in comparison to Tom’s commandeering notes. The two share glances possibly imbued with magic dust, considering the smiles they inspire on every member of the audience.
The performance was quite sadly mercilessly short even with a much deserved encore. It was truly something special to see already impressive tunes not only hold together but flourish in such a beautiful atmosphere. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: If you’re in the Brisbane area, it’s well worth keeping an eye on Jet Black Cat Music's page for further in stores. It's one thing to watch these take away shows, it's another to experience them in person. And if the quality is anything like Tom and Betty displayed on Wednesday night, then you're in for a unforgettable treat. Long live the unplugged era.
Two dozen attentive audience members sit cross legged, enraptured like preschoolers at story time. Pear, their bard, commands attention in front with a sparkling glance at her listeners; warbling sweetly as her enthusiastic partner Matt Witney strums delicately alongside Pear’s wistful rhythms. Inside Jet Black's cosy, mood lit atmosphere the air is still enough that a succinct text message bell is shrill enough to completely displace the zen. Let alone, say, someone noisily walking in midway through a song and clumsily plunking himself down on the wooden floor with a discernible thud.
Once the catastrophic storm caused by my entrance had passed, the show did go on unfazed. Pear belongs to a rather large crowd of nymph voiced, articulate folk singers whose torch was lit by the exquisite Joanna Newsom and carried by the likes of Lykke Li and Julia Stone. Pear pulls it off with aplomb, but rather than copy it wholesale infuses her own strains into the DNA. Notably, with a rather expressive and animated take on performance. Coy bobbing of her head, a subtle sway of the hips. An utterly infectious smile to round the last syllable on an eloquent lyrical couplet. It’s these sunny gestures that noticeably reflect on the faces of a beaming audience. Matt Witney, meanwhile, plays alongside soulfully and without flaw. The man alone can command a room with his own repertoire and presence (as he proved months earlier), yet here rightly relegates himself as a spirited but not intrusive supporting player.
The problem I find with musicians of Pear’s quirky ilk is a tendency to barrel from whimsical, child like anecdotes into overbearingly syrupy sweet tunes. Pear fortunately, walks this tightrope very delicately, her sincerely sunny disposition and resolute dictionary knowledge just managing to keep her on balance the entire way. If I was to level another criticism (and I feel oh so cruel to do so) is that whilst both Matt and Pear individually possess uniquely wonderful voices there is just something off with how they together harmonize. This is not levelled at the harmonies themselves, but Witney’s sinewy, jazz entwined cords aren’t quite compatible with Pear’s fairy like incantations. It’s worth nothing that Matt is not usually her partner, so this already minor complaint almost complete evaporates.
Pear and her usual accompanying Orchestra sadly reside in Melbourne so the time until her next performance may be prolonged. If you are Brisbane way, you would do very well by yourself to diligently keep an eye out for Jet Black Cat Music's next in store. The unique intimacy you are so wholly invited to partake in will warmly envelope you, I promise.