Kirin J Callinan has been around for several years, playing with Mercy Arms, Lost Valentinos and Jack Ladder. He has a reputation for a being a confronting provocateur – a shit-stirrer, if you like – however that shtick can only get you so far without any real substance to back it up. With his brilliant debut album Embracism he’s clearly moving (steadily) into a more mainstream arena, while still retaining his old noise-terrorist self. Fans have been waiting a long time for Embracism and it built a high level of anticipation for the launch at Sydney’s The Standard and, for the most part, Callinan delivered.
Any act that’s difficult to pigeonhole in any specific genre is always a positive for the artist, and this is part of what makes Callinan so appealing. Tonight’s show was moody electro rock, which was dark and ambient in places but also a little wild and chaotic. Backed by a full band, Callinan gave a strong, honest performance. Performing a sizeable chunk of songs from Embracism, the ensemble rarely put a foot wrong, and while the show may not have been the crazy affair some had been expecting, it was a refreshing and often brilliant performance.
After a playfully intense opening slew of songs the show meandered a little and the crowd became restless and the chatter got louder. This wasn’t entirely Callinan’s fault – clearly several in attendance were there just because Callinan is THE guy to see right now – but they were easily outnumbered by the dedicated fans who were really interested in watching what could happen tonight: something memorable, and perhaps not for the right reasons.
Callinan attempted to put on a slick professional performance and, for the most part it was good – really good – but you could see him itching to let loose. Maybe that’s what he needed to do instead of playing it a little safe – things could have gotten very interesting. But was that really necessary? Callinan had a few of us thinking, so full marks to him.
Clearly Callinan has the potential become a really special artist in the Aussie music scene, definitely heading for bigger and better things. He’ll no doubt feature at least a few of the summer festivals this coming season, so keep an eye out – Callinan is not someone you want to miss.