Posted at 15:04h
With the lightning, thunder and rain cracking down a friend and I made our way to the stairs of Red Bennies Live. “What band are you here to see?” we were asked at the door, our answer “Money For Rope.” Recent Triple J unearthed winners earning themselves a set at the Pushover festival just a few days earlier, Money For Rope have been on a constant rise in the Melbourne music scene. The two drumkits at the back not just a gimmick but used perfectly in unison to create some banging tracks. Excited to see both them and the new night at Red Bennies in action we shook off the rain and lunged up the red carpet stairs.
Looking at the lineup of the night there was also THE PIERCE BROTHERS, VAN MYER, and THE HARLOTS. The Harlots and Van Myer being well known and respected bands on the northside we were intrigued to see The Pierce Brothers, two identical twins who play an assortment of their own (and each others) instruments.
Reaching the top of the stairs you’d almost feel you’ve stepped into the 70’s and not into your typical gritty live music venue. A big red curtained stage has a curious cage tucked next to it and there is a healthily sized dance floor with two bars either side. It is a comfortable venue with a large ceiling that makes you wonder why it’s taken so long for live music to be played here on a consistent level. With a practically indoor smoking area with glass that allows you to watch the bands directly from outside having a cigarette and a mezzanine to make you feel like a real boss.
But what about the music? There was a pretty good crowd of about fifty to watch The Pierce Brothers open the night. They come out as just a duo, Jack on drums and didgeridoo and Patrick on guitar, harmonica and lead vocals. Their music has that acoustic australian feel but with a folky swing. Their songs are catchy, unveiling narratives about staying up too late, ex bosses and girlfriends, missed opportunities and other tales most Australian males could relate to. A crowd favourite was ‘2:29’ and can be found on their facebook page here:
The music is pleasant and as said above catchy but it’s halfway through the set that the boys start separating themselves from a lot of other talented folky acoustic artists Melbourne is home to. Halfway through a song Jack launches himself off his seat to grab a harmonica and holds it in front of Patrick’s mouth who then proceeds to play. As if that’s not enough Jack then picks up the didgeridoo and they stay in perfect harmony through out the rest of the song. These boys have been playing together their whole lives and you can tell. Taking a look at the crowd you can tell they are enjoying it, these boys are both musicians and performers and after hearing them mention they busk almost every day down Bourke St Mall, you can understand why. The boys then proceed to keep up the good work by both playing the same guitar at times as well as using various parts of the stage as a drumkit and looking like they enjoy every minute of it. We and the crowd certainly did leaving us with the impression that The Pierce Brothers are definitely ones (two) to watch. They are the resident openers in March and you can catch them next week at Red Bennies Live if you get there early.
Next up was Van Myer, a well known outfit from the northside. They take the tempo up a bit with rock based blues with great guitar riffs and some vocal chords on the singer that have you leaning to your mate and saying “what a voice!”. The boys in Van Myer have been building a steady following for months now playing all over Melbourne and have two back to back residencies over the next few months and you can see why. Their songs, played with solid professionalism and an element of “we’ve been playing since high school and we’re tight” bring people to their feet. Lead singer Jack takes you through ballads of lost love with noteable track “Like We’ve Been” to dizzying peaks of blues rock with “Raining” to finish the set. Two from two so far, Van Myer is definitely a band worth checking out.
After a quick changeover The Harlots came on and within minutes the dancefloor was packed. Singer Tom throws himself through every song like a preacher, but the lyrics are quite the opposite of moral preachings. Themed with debauchery, sex, corruption and all the other lovely evil things we like to get up to in the dark The Harlots songs are tinged with a sense of amusement from Tom as he belts them out. Backed with very catchy melodies from dual keyboards backed up by multiple guitars and solid drumming The Harlots are a very powerful band that will bring most venues to their feet rushing to the dancefloor. Noteable songs are “Furnace for Desire” and “Pretty Girl”. Although the crowd willing to brave the weather to see them was now barely over sixty, all of them seemed blown away by the tour de force of performance and musical ability The Harlots have in spades. They’re playing this Sunday at the Old Bar with Howlin Steam Train and if you’re free you should get on down.
By the time Money For Rope came on there was about 80 people in the venue. This seemed a small crowd for such a well loved band but with the rain, lighting and thunder still heard outside the low numbers could be understood. From the way the band proceeded to rock their way through their set they didn’t seem to care though they seemed to just want to play, entertain and have fun. You can tell straight away why people love Money For Rope and you also understand why they are much better on larger stages. Guitars Michael and Carl rock left to right running into each other and lead singer Jules, who’s vocals and comfortable unchained performing takes a hold of you and gets you feeling the music through their whole set. With their patented rocking out during well loved track “Easy” Money For Rope delivered the sort of performance that makes you understand why they are booked out week to week, was just a shame that the weather meant a lot of people missed not only a great performance by then, but an awesome lineup of quality bands.
Red Bennies Live definitely has the potential to be a regularly consistent night of great live music. What was especially nice to hear in between sets was DJ Tim Oh Thee playing well known Melbourne bands through the speakers. The ones we caught were Northeast Party House, Tessa And The Typecast, The Red Lights, Tehachapi and The Pretty Littles. The biggest thing we took from the night was that the organisers are both knowledgeable of and are very dedicated to the live music scene in Melbourne. Taking into account numbers of over three hundred last week and judging by the fact 80 people still turned up to Chapel St on a poor weather night to see some great bands the future definitely looks bright. With professional staff, good drink prices, $8 entry and a sound system and venue layout which is very hospitable to live music, we will keep an eye on Red Bennies Live and wish them all the best in being a new home to live music.