Sia @ Homebake 2009. Photo by Tony Mott.
The 2009 ARIAS (Australian Record Industry Association) insisted on parading an international act, Robbie Williams, in front of the thousands of Australian musicians, songwriters and music industry players to promote the annual music award ceremony.
But relief was not far off. Homebake celebrated its fifteenth anniversary of Aussie and Kiwi music, this year at The Domain, and proved just how good the standard of homegrown music is – without smoke and mirrors.
The Hopetoun stage was home to up-and-coming bands, suitably housed in a medium sized tent. A standout was Jonathan Boulet and his band. The Castle Hill native has recently been signed to Modular Records and his creative and diverse pop/indie/experimental sound filled the tent with an eager crowd. The varying percussive tones were held mainly by drummer Tim Watkins, but also by other band members on toms. These layers made for a solid, drivey and interesting backboard for Boulet to play around on. His vocals were spot on and were teamed with sheets of harmonies. Each song had its own special spice and stood out from the former. Boulet’s quiet confidence was charming and pulled the audience deep into each song. The mainly 20-something crowd was loving it, and Boulet’s hit closer ‘A Community Service Announcement’ was the perfect infectious and bouncy festival song.
Boulet’s second band, The Parades followed and he jumped behind the drum kit – this kid is way too talented for a 20 year old. He is as good a drummer as he is singer/songwriter and held The Parades together. You’ve got to admire these guys in terms of creativity. They are all multi-instrumentalists and have great ideas in terms of songwriting and sounds, but after a few songs they seemed to get trapped into following the same formula of epic dynamics, layered harmonies, punchy drum beats and unfortunately very pitchy and strained harmonies from Hopetoun Incentive Program winners Kyu. The elements of a great band are definitely there, but weren’t really nailed this time round.
Gin Wigmore is one hot rockstar. She has teamed up with Ryan Adams’ band The Cardinals and they nailed their set. Wigmore switched between acoustic guitar and ukulele and sang and moved with confidence. Vocally this chick could pull off whatever she chose to sing. Her voice has a distinctive twang, and surprisingly didn’t nag. ‘Got You Under My Skin’ certainly got people moving and both Wigmore and the punters where obviously enjoying the music.
Brisbane four-piece Yves Klein Blue packed out the Hopetoun Stage and front man Michael Tomlinson tore apart every song with a professional, yet rock star delivery on both vocals and guitar. The band stood somewhere between the British bounce of the Arctic Monkeys and the rawness of old punk. Their grungy and in your face tones proved to be edgier live than their latest record – the fittingly titled, ‘Ragged & Ecstatic’. Every track oozed a whole lot of passion and grit, climaxing with an extended version of Polka – with a sweaty solo and reams of energy to boot.
Part of Sia’s appeal is that she may have a screw loose. She played new, current and old tracks, and stuffed presents thrown from the crowd into her pants. Standout songs were her latest single ‘You’ve Changed’ – a catchy electro/pop tune which encourages moves like The Robot, ‘Clap Your Hands’- another newy, ‘Breathe Me’- an old school favourite that was delivered impeccably with a whole lot of passion, and ‘You Have Been Loved’ – a track off her latest album ‘Some People Have Real Problems’. Sia is as quirky as they come, but no faker. At 33, she nails every song, and has a great on stage relationship with her band that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Overseas Daniel Merriweather has graced Teen Vogue, Later with Jools Holland and the Jimmy Fallon Show to name a few, but is only still making small waves here is Aus. The 27-year-old was discovered by Mark Ronson six years ago in Melbourne and was convinced to pack his bags for New York City. The pair has finally made an album together titled, “Love & War”.
Merriweather’s live show was tight and rehearsed. His two female backing singers deserve a shout out – they were both fun to watch and pitch perfect. His Aussie band held up well in comparison to The Dap Kings who arranged and played on the record and Ronson’s Version Players who he usually tours with. Merriweather has brilliant vocal control, pitch and tone, and maybe it’s New York’s influence, but it all seemed a bit too showy with not enough of the real stuff in there for you to connect with what those songs were actually about.
The trek across The Domain from stage to stage allowed songs from Eskimo Joe, Jet and Hilltop Hoods to register on the radar. The fans were packed in, the bands were tight, and they played their hits. Hats off to them, they can deliver – but nothing there that you wouldn’t expect.
Homebake- great music, less posers, and it’s all homegrown and smokin’.