Image for Milk! Records Showcase – Vic On The Park, Sydney 12/03/16Courtney Barnett plays Taronga Zoo in Sydney, January 2016 / Photo: Maria Boyadgis

Milk! Records Showcase – Vic On The Park, Sydney 12/03/16

Written by David James Young on March 14, 2016

Part-Last Waltz, part travelling circus, part all-in jam. Even this hybrid beast description doesn’t do the Good For You tour, as put on by six of the artists on the Milk! Records roster, the right kind of justice. No, this was a one-of-a-kind, potentially never to be repeated experience that had to be seen in order to be believed.

The show was split into two halves; with the first introducing some relatively-fresh and somewhat-unfamiliar faces to Milk!’s new-arrival fans and the second leading into the upper-tier of recognition as far as the label’s signees are concerned. Although the first bracket of bands was occasionally plagued by niggling technical difficulties, the eclectic array of soundscapes and stylistic approaches on offer had a commanding presence.

Up first were The Finks, who mixed jangly, summery indie-pop with a baroque flair and harmonious vocal tessellation. This lead into East Brunswick All Girls Choir, which saw the pacing pick up significantly due to the band’s scrawny, snarling art-rock and the first of several double-drum pairings for Jen Sholakis and Dave Mudie.

If that wasn’t enough, the wonderfully-weird Ouch My Face took no prisoners in their all-guns-blazing set of guitar screech, churning bass and deep-end splashing drums. The trio were easily the heaviest and most outwardly-different act of the six, and they unquestionably used that to their advantage.

Jen Cloher – a former folk-rocker, now a resplendent, electric Judas – thrives off loud guitars and thwacking drums, channelling the likes of Lou Reed and Patti Smith in her stage presence. She lead in perfectly to new kid on the block Fraser A. Gorman, all alt-country charm and cheeky banter. While the Torquay native has a bit more of an understated, folksy restraint on record, he truly shines in the live setting: The songs are a bit faster, a bit rockier and subsequently a lot more fun.

Once Courtney Barnett took the reigns, all bets were off. The label founder and figurehead brought it home with a half-hour of power that condensed down some of her biggest favourites, including all four tracks that entered the Triple J Hottest 100 just over a month prior.

At this juncture, it would be foolhardy to not further elaborate on the collaborative element of the show. Practically every individual that appeared on stage was able to more-than-competently demonstrate both flexibility and versatility as performers. Cloher contributed bass to The Finks; Barnett joined Ouch My Face, Cloher and Gorman on guitar; EBAGC’s Rob Wrigley added guitar to a Cloher number and Gorman threw in two harmonica solos (for both EBAGC and Barnett) and a Tim Rogers impression (for the Cloher/Rogers duet “Stone Age Brain”).

That’s all without properly getting around to the powerhouse that is Jen Sholakis, who played literally half the show and added a little extra kick (pardon the pun) to Barnett’s closing number, Pedestrian At Best. Watching Sholakis and Mudie have at their respective kits in near-perfect synchronisation felt quadrophonic in sound and practically-unstoppable in its force. It’s pretty safe to say who scores the Milk! MVP.

To close out, a dozen bodies crowded the stage – taking up as many instruments as they could – to certifiably nail two classic-rock jams in David Bowie’s Suffragette City and Neil Young’s Cinnamon Girl. It drove home the fact that, with their powers combined, Milk! Records are an unshakable community of fiercely-independent and uniformly-excellent musicians.

It may come across as hyperbolic, certainly, but any other person lucky enough to squeeze into the vicinity of Marrickville’s wonderful Vic on the Park will certainly testify to the bone-strengthening brilliance of this wholly-unique showcase.

The Milk! Records showcase tour continues this weekend, grab all the dates and ticket links below.

Thursday, 17th March
Bangalow Hill, Bangalow
Tickets: Milk! Records

Friday, 18th March
The Triffid, Brisbane
Tickets: Milk! Records

Saturday, 19th March
Joe’s Waterhole, Eumundi
Tickets: Milk! Records

Sunday, 20th March
Miami Marketta, Gold Coast
Tickets: Milk! Records

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