13 March 2012


It was announced on Facebook and the Web and it was in the YouAreHere festival program, but it was secret. Even the name was secret: “The secret gig that noone knows about”. But it was pretty well attended anyway and the music was good. This is indie or alt music and it’s a field I only visit at the edge every now and then. Sometimes I’m disappointed; sometimes I’m blown out; sometimes my judgement is poor. I remember the first time I caught the Cashews and I wondered what all the hype was about. I was wrong then. Whenever I’ve caught them since, I’ve enjoyed them immensely and I have great respect. This is bordering on folk. It’s singer/songwriter material. It doesn’t live by chops or harmonic embellishements, although the quality of the voices and vocal harmonies are essential. This is music of words and thoughts and connection. So how was the secret concert?

There were four acts. I came at the end of the first and just managed a pic, but I’ve mentioned Drew Walky on CJ before. Next was the Burley Griffin. They are missing a bassist these days, so just guitar, drums and banjo. They had an interesting sound, with that uncommon banjo, and played a fairly rocky set. “Tell me honey / do you still know my name / you love me like the drug you’ve used” was earthy and street-wise. “Life is full of changes / on these moments we are found” had depth and was interesting. I wish I had caught more words; they seemed serious and fairly overt in their writing. The Burley Griffin is Evan Murray Buckley (vocals, guitar), Henry King (banjo, vocals) and I didn’t catch the drummer’s name. [I've now learnt his name is Kyle Mitchell. EP, 15 May 2012]

Hashemoto followed with humour and wonderful harmonies and very nicely structured pop tunes. I was dumbfounded when they started with a dissonant cacophony, then elated when they dropped into lovely three-part harmonies that soared with Bec Taylor’s female (soprano?) voice, then impressed by the songwriting and structures. Professional, clear, well played and interesting: what more can you want from such a band? One thing: humour and audience connection. They had that too. I noticed some lovely pure pop anthemic chants and the audience joined in on some, like “Some good things will come”. It was better than it seems: anthems sound innane out of context. There were Beatlesque decays and thuddy drones and those lovely vocals. Much enjoyed. BTW, this may be the first time I’ve seen a band haul out an acoustic piano after a gig. Hashemoto comprise Damo Flanagan (guitar, vocals), Bec Taylor (piano, vocals), Potsy Webber (bass, vocals).

The Cashews took the concert out with their songs of Canberra. Of course, they always sing songs of Canberra, they are renowned for it. Witty, capable and oddly informed by local history. Songs about Sullivan of Creek fame, Weston of Nursery fame and more. But they are also touching (“Little things I have written at the Cotter River / and I can’t wait to tell you everything”) and clever (“Like the 2010 election / I was lacking in direction”) and humane (“You don’t have to be a high achiever / to be a golden retriever”). Alison’s voice is all smiles and Pete’s demeanour is remote until he cracks a joke. The Cashews are a Canberra institution and a perfect expression of what Canberra is: unrevealed but often quite brilliant. And did I mention that they sing songs of Canberra? The Cashews are Alison Procter (guitar, vocals, accordion, ukelele, baby glockenspiel) and Pete Lyons (guitar, vocals, trumpet, ukelele).

1 comment:

Nick Banks said...

The mystery drummer's name is Kyle Mitchell :)

It's been a while since I've been on here (Blogspot is still blocked here in China) - sad to hear about the school of music. I hope that jazz stays alive in Canberra!