24 Oct AINSLIE WILLS @ THE TOFF 18/10/12

The Toff is sticky with sweat and excitement. It’s all thanks to Spender’s set. The mood now is relaxed, and the dancing a little loose. At the perfect moment, Ainslie Wills takes to the stage. Spender whet our appetites, and now we all press forward.

I’m instantly captivated. It’s clear from the outset that Wills’ voice is better live. Mind you, it’s already pretty damn good recorded. She begins to dip in and out of her smooth registers, showing less restraint but still just as refined.

Wills commands everybody’s attention by standing centred with just her guitar and her incredible voice. Slowly creeping, her band makes its way on stage to join her for the rest of the set. They magnify her music, but never overstep. Her voice is always strong and unwavering, reaching right into the corners of each piece of music. She’s better live because she twists everything just a little. It’s a treat to listen to her slink up and down her vocal registers and explore her range.

The set features some of my favourites from her 2010 EP Somebody For Everyone including ‘I’m Your Woman’ and ‘Wide Load’. Old songs made new again like ‘Love in Japan’ will be included on her forthcoming album You Go Your Way, I’ll Go Mine, due next year. As will two singles she has released this year ‘Stop Pulling the String’ and ‘Fighting Kind’.

Previously my favourite song was ‘Wide Load’ but during the set it’s hard to pick a favourite. Though it’s still easy to fall for the sultry and comfortable base line. Slowly, the crowd begins to sway.

‘I’m Your Woman’ is easily the most intriguing of the night. Wills gives an introduction to the song by sweetly explaining that it’s about listening to your intuition. It’s the first time she interacts with the crowd. Seeing some of her personality eases me a little, it’s reassuring to be reminded that she’s human in amongst all that talent. By now I’m already convinced that this will be one of the best performances I see all year.

Wills then invites Tom Spender from earlier on to join her on stage. The two recount how they met. They were invited up to the Blue Mountains to participate in a music workshop run by The Seed, an arts music grant fund set up by John Butler and wife Danielle Caruana (you might know her under the moniker Mama Kin).

Their duet is ‘Sign Your Name’ a 1987 single from Terence Trent D’Arby. Wills and her guitar joined by Spender on the backing vocals flaws me. I always love unexpected covers. It suits Wills’ smokiness and Spender’s quirkiness perfectly. I just wish I could hear it again.

Spender leaves and her band join her back on stage to perform ‘The High Road’ by Broken Bells. Again it’s another great cover and they perform it in the same style as the original, complimented with Wills’ pop sensibilities. Thoroughly enjoyable.

‘Stop Pulling the String’ brings us back to Wills’ music and she ends with ‘Fighting Kind’. They’re singles that show off the timbre in her voice and her melodies hang back and turn often enough to keep things interesting. She’s always enchanting, swinging from side to side gazing down the end of her microphone. Occasionally she reaches for the tambourine and bops around injecting more energy into the crowd.

This was the first time I saw Wills live and it won’t be my last. She did end up being one of the best gigs I’ve been to all year. Do yourself a favour and make sure you see her too. I can’t wait till next time.



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18 Oct INTERVIEW: Ben Lovett (Mumford & Sons) on COMMUNION @ The Toff

Commuion @ The Toff In Town

Communion in Melbourne should be a big deal. It’s not yet, but it will be.

Don’t know what I’m talking about?

Communion was founded by Ben Lovett (of Mumford & Sons), producer Ian Grimble and former Cherbourg bassist Kevin Jones. Starting in London at the Notting Hill Arts Club in 2006, as a monthly club night it fast became a platform for hosting some of Britain’s brightest musicians. Noah and the WhaleLaura MarlingMumford & Sons and JJ Pistolet (now of The Vaccines) are just a few names that kicked off their careers with performances at these nights.

Spreading globally, Communion is a monthly event that now occurs all over the UK, Ireland and other cities around the world, including Nashville, New York, San Francisco, Sydney and Melbourne.Commuion @ The Toff In Town

For Melbourne, The Toff has been opening its doors on a Sunday of every month to welcome a host of Australia’s own musical talent.

On 21 October, Communion will showcase Mike Noga (The Drones), The FallsThe PreaturesHowl at the Moon and Jordan Leser along with an exciting special guest DJ (!).

You can get your tickets here for this Sunday at 6pm. So come and join us for a drink!

Past Melbourne nights have already seen artists like The Tiger and MeMatt CorbyBattleshipsHayden Calnin, and Ainslie Wills  and this month is sure to be just as brilliant.  

Co-founder Ben Lovett took some time away from the Mumford & Sons Australian tour to answer some of my questions about how it all started.

Stef: Ben Lovett, my name is Stef. Thank you for joining THE RIPE for a chat!

How have you enjoyed Australia so far? Have you had a little time to settle in?

Ben: It’s been awesome, now the jetlag is fading and I’m getting to enjoy the days a bit more. In Brisbane right now and it’s absolutely gorgeous out and about. Looking forward to the show tonight.

Let’s chat about Communion. It’s a wonderful platform to help musicians spread their work. How does it feel to have started something that now supports budding musicians on a worldwide scale?

In many ways it’s my heart and soul. That might sound weird, but being in Mumford & Sons is just a lot of fun really. Whenever I write a song or some music for the band, it just happens, kinda wakes me up at night, or in a moment quickly captured on my phone, and then we work on each others songs which is fun and collaborative.

Communion feels like my sweat blood and often tears. It was my first child in a sense, starting in 2006, so I guess I have a soft spot for it in that way.

The work we do is immensely satisfying. We don’t make any money from it, yet. But the artists we work with do and that’s what is important. We really do nurture and support their careers and put them first every time.

What motivated you, Kevin Jones and Ian Grimble to begin these nights? Tell us a little about the initial aims of the project.

It’s a long story! And without boring you with the sermon, the basic principle was that we wanted to offer an alternative way to operate a clubnight than the way most were in 2006. If you play the show, you get paid a flat fee, not something that is crowd dependent. If you come to the show, you really get your money’s worth and the lineup will be wide and deep and you will almost definitely walk out having discovered something that maybe you’d never heard of before.

We want people to come to Communion clubnight because they trust that the music will be good and they’ll have a great fun night. As opposed to necessarily booking bands and only those bands fans turn up to the show.

It seems from the outside that Communion became a little bit like a family. Is it still like that now despite its growth?

More than ever! Absolutely, all that’s changed with all the growth (now we’re in 16 cities and operate a publishing company as well as a record label), is there are many more conversations and emails had every day about this that and the other. The volume has increased without anything being diluted.

Communion Records was birthed in 2009. Are you still heavily involved on that side of things?

Every day, yes. In some ways more so. A record is a much bigger individual project than any singular monthly club night. There’s the scouting, and then the nurturing, and then the investment and then the release, and then maintaining the momentum.

Are there any artists about to be released on the label that you’re particularly excited for us to hear?

We’re very excited about latest signings Joe Banfi and Deap Vally. Two future stars I’m sure of it.

You’ve dropped into a few Communion nights around the world. Do you have a favourite night with a collection of artists that you enjoyed in particular?

I’m always nostalgic about the early days of Communion, 2006/2007. That said, my two favourite shows of this year were both American ones. One in Brooklyn, NY that was just so alive and buzzing and quality I felt like crying. And the other was at SXSW music festival in Austin: Michael KiwanukaBen HowardDaughterMatt CorbyThe StavesWilly Mason. A pretty ridiculous lineup in a 350 capacity church just off the main drag. Felt very proud that evening.

And how has the tour been going so far? We heard about the jerks who stole some of your stage gear in Perth, did it turn up?

A stolen banjo was found in a bush but the rest of it will probably end up on eBay and we’ll just have to buy it back! Tours been fun, we love touring down under!!

Mumford & Sons have had a huge couple of years. You guys were already successful in 2010 when you last visited us. Now, your shows a bigger and you’re all in even higher demand which must feel fantastic. If we focus on just this year, has there been a highlight?

Releasing Babel. We needed to have more music out in the world!

Thanks for answering our questions! Good luck with the rest of the Australian tour and congratulations on Communion’s success. We’re looking forward to Sunday!




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04 Sep HUNTING GROUNDS @ The Toff In Town – 25/8/12

The “Toff in Town” hosted the Ballarat bred Hunting Grounds on Saturday night (25/08/12) for the last of their 11 In Hindsight Tour shows. The triple j Unearthed High winners from 2008 were at their fiery best, delivering a fierce hour long set. The Toff provides an excellent acoustic setting for smaller scale gigs, and this was no exception. “Star Shards” was first cab off the rank and was electrifying. There were clearly die-hard fans that had travelled from far and wide for this one – the relatively small mosh pit was devouring and spitting out bodies left, right, and centre. Not to mention lead vocalist Michael Belsar’s mum joining in on the action.

One of my favourite songs of the year, Flaws was played with serious venom and bite which was pleasing to see but it was “Hella Good”, a cover from punk-pop sensation No Doubt, that stole the show for me. The deep bass lines were tantalizingly irresistible. “Cabin Fever” is a catchy, keyboard infused tune which stems from Hunting Ground’s past life (Howl). This provided an ingenious segway for one of my all time favourites – “Clint Eastwood” by the Gorillaz.

One thing to note is that these guys are much heavier than their recorded material. They are not for the faint hearted. Songs like “Flaws” and “In Colour” sit really well with me, but the general production is a little heavy. I found that the sextet also became a bit cluttered at various stages of the night. I would enjoy myself when Belsar was fronting the band, but the other lead, Lachlan Morrish, would scream more often than sing.

Overall Hunting Grounds have some really intriguing sounds and clever components to their live show and those who are into heavy alternate rock will love these guys.

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17 Jul HAYDEN CALNIN – For My Help

Melbourne’s Hayden Calnin is one talented guy. The self produced songwriter, singer and multi-instrumentalist is winning hearts over with his song ‘For My Help‘. Calnin has recently been featured on triple j unearthed ahead of his EP launch on the 24th of August at the Workers Club.

Since discovering the song in last weeks Ripe Playlist, it’s become the number 1 track played on my iTunes (a solid indication of my affection). What struck me on my first listen was the incredible detail that has gone into the production. Hayden mixes a combination of intricate fragile sounds together in a way that weave and tangle to create a large powerful energy that no doubtably makes a solid impact. The song is haunting, but the visual is lush and pure.

It would be fair to draw the comparison between his works and the likes of Bon Iver, or the similarity in his vocals to Matt Corby (who he’s toured with), but Hayden has really unique qualities slipping throughout his James Blake flavour of sublime looping  electronica.

I’m amped to check out how this is going to be pulled off live when he launches the debut EP on the 24th. The debut EP ‘City’ will be out on  July 20, 2012 and you can get more guff at www.facebook.com/haydencalninmusic


*July Residency at The Toff in Town w/ Special Guests Manor
Monday July 23, 30 // The Toff, Melbourne, VIC

*’City’ EP Launch // The Workers Club, Fitzroy
Friday 24th of August – Tickets on sale via https://corner.ticketscout.com.au/gigs/729/HaydenCalnin


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22 Apr PHOTOS: CHET FAKER @ The Toff – 22 April

“Chet Faker’s @ The Toff In Town last Sunday. http://www.theripe.tv/chet-faker-the-toff-in-town-22nd-april/”

From Chet Faker, posted by on 4/26/2012 (7 items)

Generated by Facebook Photo Fetcher

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01 Mar PHOTOS: THE FAKES, Feb 29 @ The Toff

Photos taken by Timothy Stubbs Photography From The Fakes @ The Toff, posted by on 3/06/2012 (40 items)

Generated by Facebook Photo Fetcher

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29 Feb SUGARCRAFT @ The Toff – Thursday 1 March

The Toff – Thursday 1 March

Sugarcraft is the delicious collaboration between Beth Stephen (The Little Stevies) and Ben Houghton (THIS THING). Sugarcraft twists the over-glossed modern pop aesthetic by mixing crackling old samples with a modern bent, creating a sound that is distinctly Melbourne.

They began in bedroom studios, blending Beth’s soulful melodies with samples gleaned from Ben’s vinyls. While Ben still plucks gritty drums from his old stash he now performs with his MPC. This electronic drum kit stores around a hundred loops and samples that he manipulates to compliment Beth’s vocals. Sugarcraft offers a dynamic live show and a depth of sound free from any urge to dabble with any iPod backing tracks.

Mike Kay joins them on keys as they support The Ray Mann Three and serve up some juicy samples of their latest beats.

  • WHEN: Thursday 1 March 2012
  • WHERE: The Toff in Town
  • DOORS: 7.30pm
  • PRICE: $20 on door – Presale from Moshtix http://www.moshtix.com.au/Event.aspx?id=53972
  • SUPPORTING: The Ray Mann Three
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24 Feb PLAYWRITE @ The Toff w/ Albert Salt and Tessa and the Typecast.

PLAYWRITE @ The Toff in Town

21st of Feb with Albert Salt and Tessa and the Typecast.


Those rising stars Playwrite have made Chooseday nights their night to boogie down at The Toff in Town for the past few weeks. Their residency has been host to talented local acts such as Pantika Cha Cha and The Neighbourhood Youth. For their final show of the Playwrite residency, on the 21st of February, they shared the stage with Albert Salt and Tessa the Typecast.

The night was opened by the solo artist Albert Salt who is a fine example of one person’s ability to make music on their own with the aid of gadgets. It’s that indie electro scene we know so well; you know, that one guy with a laptop, loop pedal, synthesizer and drum machine which, create a whole orchestra of sound. That’s Albert Salt, except he also has a floor tom that he hits on occasion. His music is fun and cute and doesn’t sound at all bad. It’s pretty generic though, it’s not as if Melbourne hasn’t seen this all before; yes there are worse people out there than him and I will gladly watch his set again, it was just all vaguely familiar.

It was then Tessa and the Typecast’s turn to take over the stage and they did a satisfactory job of blowing my mind. Front woman Tessa Pavilach has a voice that fellow vocalists, such as myself, are incredibly envious of! This band has the added quirky characteristic of having a cellist, and we all love a good string section to amp up the emotions. That is exactly was Tessa and the Typecast do – they toy with your emotions. Extremely well written songs dictate what you’re going to feel, and having a strong drum influence also raises that swelling feeling inside you. At one stage Pavilach’s voice soared so high, and with such grace and perfection of tone, that she sent shivers down my back. Her voice isn’t the only reason why these guys are so impressive, but it is defiantly a major factor and they know it. Pavilach utilizes her talent by doing more vocal runs that can be found in my stockings. I absolutely loved this set and I am looking forward to seeing them again in the soon.

A white curtain was pulled across the front of the stage, the audience were chatting when suddenly a film was projected onto the screen, its soundtrack being Playwrite. When everyone’s attention was gained the curtain was drawn back  to reveal the six-piece band, perfectly positioned, and wearing matching Aztec style necklaces (someone must of gone to an Austra show recently and gained some inspiration). They played their usual energetic set with rocking drumbeats and loud vocals. Each song was met with roaring applause; it would be hard to argue that people don’t love these guys. I understand why; there is something attractive about this band, maybe it’s their confidence, their stage presence. An ego defiantly exists amongst its main vocalists, but it suits them. I honestly believe that without it Playwrite would just be another terribly hip Indie group. Perhaps even despite it they are a terribly hip indie group. But their music is fun and catchy and popular. It evokes motions of bounding within the audience, very much in the same style as Jinja Safari. These guys will do all right, they will ride the wave to fame that they are on, and I bet that you will see them live at some stage and that you’ll have fun.



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11 Jan MATT CORBY @ The Toff

[soundcloud url=”http://soundcloud.com/mattcorby/matt-corby-brother” comments=”true” auto_play=”false” color=”ff7700″ width=”100%” height=”81″]

Matt Corby walked on stage and as soon as he did the female portion of the crowd made their presence known. From his humble begginings on Australian Idol, the female population of Australia has been waiting for his return. But something has changed.

We always knew that he was a talented musician at the tender age of 16 but this time around his musicianship has increased tenfold. His musical offerings are now something of a wise storyteller taking us on an intrepid journey of self exploration and emotion. It is obvious he has embarked on his own journey, sipping on whisky at every song intermission and sporting a glorious tattoo on his left arm.

He is not the same Matt Corby that we saw singing Thirtsy Merc’s Twenty Good Reasons on channel Ten. Although discussing his past on Idol would most likely infuriate Corby it must be explored in order to see how far this songwriter has truly come.

Corby started his set with a haunting musical experimentation, sampling his voice and different guitar parts by himself to make an eerie amalgamation of Matt Corby brilliance. From this point he had the crowd in the palm of his hand, silent and receptive. His boyish charm also had the audience in hysterics as he joked and toyed with everyone in the room.

As the door to The Toff band room was opened by a staff member a thumping sound of bass rocked the room. Corby stopped playing his guitar and said “Oww, someone is having a party”. From playing the acoustic and electric guitar to hopping on the keys it was evident how many hours he had spent surrounding himself with music. But his banter also had me entertained, one person felt the need to shout at him yelling, “Play the song!”, and to their credit it was a fair request, as he had been babbling on for some time.

Then there was the fan favourite. Humbly he thanked the crowd for coming and then belted out the first cries of his Triple J hit, “Brother”. As he did so the crowd simultaneously reached an energetic high, with excitement filling the room. However, no one sang along. I think the crowd believed it would be an injustice to his performance if we could not hear him sing, and they were right.

His vocal range is something to be admired going from a raspy growl to an angelic falsetto, it is truly captivating. After “Brother” Corby again starting ranting but this time it was to effect, he was telling us the story of his track “Letters”. He reminisced about a former girlfriend who broke up with him and provided him with an 8 page letter detailing every imperfection in his personality. He went on to describe his anger towards her and subsequently how he burnt the letter without reading it. However he then admitted to the crowd that he wished he had of read it to grasp how he made her feel. This gave the song more importance and it was evident through his emotional performance.

His fans are devoted to him and this was evident by the respect he received from them. From his storytelling like musical journeys to his impressive vocal range Matt Corby is an Australian artist to watch out for.

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