Melbourne Music Week starts November 16th until the 24th, and what better way is there to get excited than by listening to a Melbourne playlist by one of the best Melbourne bands, RVG. You can gather elements of RVG’s sound from these five chosen artists. From Terry‘s sharp guitar lines, to Divide and Dissolve‘s depth and power, to Cyanide Thornton‘s levelled usage of the full band, to Spike Fuck‘s personal lyrics. Lead vocalist and song writer Romy Vager‘s unique take on what’s vaguely described as post-punk can be traced through these array of influences. You really need to see Romy and RVG live to understand how hard they can truly hit you inside, and luckily you can and see many more awesome artists during this year’s Melbourne Music Week.
There’s an endless list of Ripe favourite’s playing such as Andras, Andy Garvey, Ara Koufax, Brooke Powers, Chiara Kickdrum, Dianas, DRMNGNOW, Ella Thompson, Fantastic Man, Habits, Hexdebt, Hymns, Jen Cloher, Krakatau, Leah Senior, Mikey Young, Moopie, Pjenné, Roza Terenzi, RVG, SilentJay, Simona, Sui Zhen, Sunbeam Sound Machine and many more!
“You know the kind, please be kind” – my favourite line of the year so far. Terry write these little pop songs that say so much without any pretension or concern for being on trend.”
Divide and Dissolve – ‘Reversal’
“Not long ago I saw Divide and Dissolve play at a co-op in Austin, Texas. It was one of the best and most intense shows I’ve seen this year. The best music is the kind that doesn’t just make you feel good about yourself.”
Cyanide Thornton – ‘The Weight’
“Cyanide have consistently been my favourite band to see in over the last few years. They’re just about to release their debut album and it’s gonna be amazing.”
Dark Water – ‘Siren Song’
“Dark Water are my favourite new band of the year. They play this brooding synth goth music but you can also hear these very tender Fleetwood Mac-esque melodies in it. I’m very excited to hear what they do next.”
Spike Fuck – ‘Guts’
“Every time I’m asked to make one of these lists my first thought goes to this song. It encapsulates everything I love about this city.”
Held on the first Friday of every month, Melbourne Museum’s Nocturnal has established itself as a highlight of Melbourne’s live music and cultural scenes. On Friday 4th May, guests were treated to a special offering hosted by the Museum in collaboration with the independent record label and management collective Our Golden Friend. The artists on display included Jade Imagine, RVG, Jess Ribeiro and Totally Mild, each of which is managed by Our Golden Friend. The ensemble recently concluded a tour across the United States in March, giving Nocturnal the feel of a happy family reunion which happened to feature some of the most unique and promising talents in Australian music.
Before recapping the performances, it’s worth reflecting on how extraordinary Nocturnal is as an interactive venue and immersive experience. Located in the Edenic Carlton Gardens, the postmodern Melbourne Museum is transformed into an otherworldly “adult playground” with an impressive array of bars and other dining options. The exhibits are open to the public for exploration between sets, including the stunning Vikings: Beyond the Legend, Te Vainui O Pasifika, and Dinosaur Walk. We are encouraged to re-experience the childlike sense of wonderment, awe and discovery that children have when they step into a museum.
With summer in the rear-view mirror and Melburnians now bracing for a bitter winter, cultural offerings such as these have never been more important. They represent little oases of colour, pleasure, and abundance that sustain us through the desert of the working week. Melbourne Museum and Our Golden Friend should be congratulated for this outstanding event.
Keeping the themes of discovery and contemplation of the sublime in mind, patrons flocked to the main stage to see Melbourne indie staples Jade Imagine take the stage. Resplendent in her pink power suit, black RM Williams boots, and orange polka-dot socks, lead singer Jade McInally (Teeth & Tongue) created an ethereal aesthetic and atmosphere which suited Nocturnal perfectly. She was brilliantly supported by guitarist Tim Harvey, his brother James Harvey on drums, and bassist Liam ‘Snowy’ Halliwell.
With their dream-pop, low-fi and folksy sound evoking The Shins, Simon & Garfunkel, and Sibylle Baier, Jade Imagine were spellbinding to watch live. As an ensemble, they have gone through many incarnations, but this line up of performers feels just right. Each band member also performs as a vocalist, which Jade Imagine used to great effect on stage through harmonization to create a dreamy wall of sound, which feels like they’re wrapping you up in a big hug. Their musical style supports the band’s deeply evocative and poetic lyrics, which sometimes border on magical realism.
One of the most anticipated acts of Nocturnal was RVG, led by the sensational frontwoman Romy Vager. Despite Romy battling through sickness, RVG put on an electric and rollicking performance which had the crowd in raptures. Having released their debut album A Quality of Mercy (Our Golden Friend/Island Records) in August 2017, the band has already picked up a suite of awards including four nominations each for The Age Music Victoria Awards and the AIR Music Awards.
One is struck by the sense that RVG is on the brink of a very special career, spearheaded by Romy’s unforgettable and deeply moving voice, which transcends genres and eludes definition. Punters revelled in the power, goth and glam of the performance, which recalled the brooding and melancholic stylings of Joy Division’s Ian Smith. Romy’s lyrics are pared-down, hardboiled and often monosyllabic, which lets the profundity of the words hit you in the chest like a hammer: “I used to love you / but now I don’t / and I don’t feel bad / we’re just not the same any more / we’re just not the same”. *dies*.
When enigmatic Jess Ribeiro took the stage patrons were enveloped by the smoky texture of lead-singer Jess’s voice, which is informed by the diverse hinterland of her travels and musical background. It’s been a remarkable personal and creative journey for the talented frontwoman, ranging from the outback and tropics of the Northern Territory to the urban wintriness of Melbourne. Along the way, Jess has found critical acclaim with My Little River (2012), which won the ABC Radio National Album of the Year and Best Country Album (AIR). This dusky country feel came through at the Museum, where the band performed tracks such as ‘Hurry Back to Love‘, ‘Slip The Leash‘ and ‘Strange Game‘.
Jess Ribeiro is getting ready to release their next record in 2018. Jess has worked with some impressive producers in her career, most notably Mick Harvey (The Bad Seeds) who helped Jess rediscover her muse after a three-year hiatus to produce the critically-acclaimed Kill It Yourself (Barely Dressed Records, 2015). She’s recently spent a lot of time in New Zealand collaborating with producer Ben Edwards, who has worked with other emerging Antipodean sensations such as Marlon Williams, Julia Jacklin, and Aldous Harding. One has the feeling that big things are on the horizon for Jess Ribeiro as a collective, and I also suspect that lead-singer Jess will one day make a brilliant producer herself.
Rounding out the evening was Melbourne lush quartet Totally Mild. Frontwoman Elizabeth Mitchell was sublime and at her charming and magnetic best. Her angelic and versatile voice enchanted the crowd, and one could feel the influence of her choral background coursing through her. She was brilliantly supported by the intricate sounds of guitarist Zachary Schneider, the subtle indie drumming of Dylan Young, and rolling bass of Lehmann Smith. Totally Mild make for disorienting performers. You’re so beguiled by the heady, atmospheric sweetness of their musical stylings and by the band’s extroverted stage presence that you miss the dark and brooding nature of their lyrics, best exemplified by their biggest hit ‘Christa. I think this makes their music more impactful and compelling, as it enables Mitchell to speak about highly-sensitive topics such as depression and loneliness in subtle, disarming ways.
It was fitting that the night closed with Totally Mild, who released their second record Her in February. It’s a thoughtful and complex meditation on the experience of being a woman in the 21st century, which was a powerful acknowledgement of the fact that Nocturnal was headlined by four bands which each featured creatively confident, highly-intelligent, and empathic frontwomen at a time when the Australian music industry is being criticised for inadequate representation of female artists at music festivals. Speaking with Elizabeth over the phone, she informed me that Her “speaks to the tension between independence and the sense of having unlimited potential as a young woman, but also still being bound by structural oppression and other personal limitations, such as mental health and other social roles”.
Music venues around Melbourne house some of the best local and international acts. We’ve compiled our top five picks for gigs this week so you don’t miss out. Be a part of one of the best live music cities in the world, and check out some of our favourite artists and venues.
Since premiering Chelsea Bleach‘s debut single ‘Public Safety‘ last year, we’ve been curiously following their progress. Tonight they finally launch their debut EP Decent Connections at The Tote in Collingwood, with support from Cable Ties, Kandere, Palm Springs and DJ Sov Trax.
I like to describe them as garage IPM (intelligent punk music), because they’re more diplomatic than pure force with their punkness. If 2016 only saw them testing the waters, then with this EP in 2017 they’re doing a full on knee splash bomb.
Each member of the band has contributed a track from another Melbourne-based act for their take on Trading Tunes.
GL – ‘Number One’
“GL is definitely in my top 10 list of Melbourne bands. This is such a fun dance track, and I could listen to Ella Thompson’s angelic vocals all day. Just a warning – the bouncy bass, catchy vocals and sparkly synths will probably be stuck in your head for days. I love this quirky video with it’s amazing colour coordination and visual composition.”
Various Asses – ‘Down, Down’
“I really love the vibes on the whole Locion release by Various Asses but this track is a standout for me. I love the heavy bass and variety of samples in the track. I find it’s always stuck in my head. I was lucky enough to catch Various Asses live for the first time recently and it was such an incredible experience it truly blew my mind. Raquel (from VA) is also the drummer in one of my fave bands Palm Springs and to be honest, I think she’s a musical genius.”
Huntly – ‘Please’
“The first time hearing this song was during a live performance. It’s got a full energy, great groove and relatable lyrics. This recording does not let you down on that front. From the quirky keys at the start, to the catchy melodies, this song has to be a fave of mine. I would be lying if I said I don’t sing and boogie to it every time I hear it. A great track from a fantastic Melbourne band.”
RVG – ‘That’s All’
“RVG are my favourite band in Melbourne right now and I love everything about this song. It evokes emotions in me every time I hear it, regardless of the fact that I’ve listened to it a ridiculous amount of times. Keep an eye out for their new album this year, and if you haven’t seen them play live you are missing out.”
Friendships – ‘Paradise’
“Off their debut Album Nullarbor 1988-1989 , Friendship‘s ‘Paradise‘ is some seriously hard-hitting techno — like a punch in the guts in a really good way. This whole album is stellar in my opinion, but if you haven’t caught Friendships live yet then make it a New Years resolution – as an audio visual duo their music is meant for the stage. Totally terrifying and unique, with strong characterisation and spoken word elements. I’m so psyched for what they’ll bring out next.”
At a point in time where the Melbourne queer punk scene is thriving, the sold-out album launch of Two Steps on the Water’s new release God Forbid Anyone Look Me in the Eye last Friday made for one of the most important punk gigs of the year. Through its release, and the band’s ever growing fanbase, it has brought queer politics onto a bigger platform in a truly captivating way. The gig was a benchmark for two local acts that have come so far from their humble beginnings and have now achieved their own success.
The confidence and charisma of Two Steps’ front-woman June Junes has flourished since debuting on the scene just over a year ago, and the band’s dedicated fanbase has steadily increased as well. Georgia Maq has gone from busking alone in the CBD to playing sold-outs gigs nationwide, and releasing a critically acclaimed album with Camp Cope. This album launch is a celebration for a new wave of local bands who have established themselves as essential ingredients in Melbourne’s music scene – and who have important things to say.
The Tote was packed to the brim, and RVG, a very promising local band who channel the post-punk and gothic rock of the late seventies, kicked off the night. Fronted by vocalist and guitarist Romy, the band is somewhere between the sounds of New Order, The Jam, and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Romy’s haunting vocals and shimmering guitars could put the echo of an empty cathedral to shame. Merged with smart songwriting, RVG give old school rock a fresh twist. Fittingly, the band are launching their second single ‘That’s All’ on the 13th of September at Howler.
Second on the bill was the critically acclaimed Camp Cope, led by the wonderful Georgia Maq and her powerhouse vocals. Following a huge year for the group after the release of their self-titled LP, the band themselves seemed honoured to be supporting Two Steps’ album launch. Maq’s voice moves from self assured to achingly anxious, spitting lyrics of personal thoughts while the experiences are unmistakably relatable and real. All this is accompanied by her tremendous guitar playing, Kelly Hellmrich’s bass, and Sarah Thompson’s drumming. It is clear that with their success there is a renewed feeling of confidence, as they have solidified themselves as one of the essential bands to come out of the Melbourne scene.
The headlining act, Two Steps on the Water, came on to a thunderous applause. They played a nine-track set, the band demonstrating their conversational musicianship and Jones’ emotionally driven lyrics with astounding integrity. Teetering between soft and heavy, the lyrically charged angst of Junes’ vocals make for a captivating live show of emotional punk songs. As we watched she told her story, attacking the guitar in a way that it doesn’t want to be hurt. Meanwhile, the band’s sound kept the entire room silent, without a single quiver of conversation audible during the set.
This is the aesthetic that makes Two Steps on the Water such an engaging act to watch, and one that is crucial for the Melbourne music scene. Be sure to check out their latest LP, God Forbid Anyone Look Me in the Eye, and catch them live supporting US singer-songwriter Kimya Dawson alongside US underground act Your Heart Breaks on the 16th of September at the Northcote Social Club.