Our meeting at Triple R left us feeling immediately immersed in the scene here in Melbourne so we were itching to sample it for ourselves. We got an opportunity to hear some local Victorian bands (FYI: Victoria is the state where Melbourne is situated) the first night (Friday) in The Corner Hotel. Deerhunter were playing their first, sold-out show of their Australian tour and two Aussie bands with almost Google-proof names were supporting: Beaches and Songs.
One of the few colloquial differences we found was the usage of the word ‘hotel’ for a bar and venue. The word does not necessarily mean that the building houses accommodation, no sirree Bob. The Corner Hotel was one of these venues. 10 minutes outside the city’s CBD (Central Business District) in a taxi and parallel to a loud and rickety train line, is this two-floor building which has been operating as a live venue since 1940 on Swan St., Richmond in the suburbs of Melbourne. Downstairs is a carpeted bar and a ballroom with two perpendicular stages. Upstairs is an impressive heated beer garden and an indoor bar. Our Aussie compatriot for the night complained of the cold Melbourne winter weather while our Irish skin and bones obviously felt no chill. The crowd present was made of the same kind of people you’d get at a Deerhunter gig anywhere – it was so obvious that no matter where you go, people read Pitchfork and like indie-rock just as much as you.
Despite having a pretty terrible name working against them, Songs managed to impress. By no means in any hurry to entertain or rock out any more than what was required of them, the five-piece Vic band preferred to dabble in Kraut grooves and synth-assisted alternative rock in a laid back thirty minute set. By contrast, the girl-band Beaches modus operandi was very much to bring the noise. The sludge-riff jam band is made up of various members of Love of Diagrams and Spider Vomit and they delivered an accomplished set of early 90s alternative sounds echoing Sonic Youth and Throwing Muses. Check out ‘Ramblin’ on their myspace and the ‘The Sky was White’ Below. The band’s self-titled debut was nominated for the Australian Music Prize last year alongside The Presets, The Drones, Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Cut Copy. I liked these girls.
As for Deerhunter, if you managed to catch the band in the last few months you’ll know what to expect. The Corner gig was the third time catching up live with Bradford Cox and co. and it was surely the best of the three. Helped by the fact that Microcastle is the band’s most accessible and the album that surely translates better to a stage than the ambient-rock soundscapes of Cryptograms, the band dispensed with album highlights ‘Nothing Ever Happens’ and ‘Agorophopia’ early on. Unfortunately after our 24 hour flight, we only managed to struggle past midnight but it was a good night out to start off our Australian gig account.