Jager Uprising: With Charles Manson Experiment, Baba O’Riley, Parades, Even People Know – The Annandale Hotel 18th June 2008

I was wary of this from the start.  There is a growing trend of alcohol companies marketing their products through the Live music scene.  Tooheys Extra Dry, Slate, Jack Daniels, Smirnoff, Jim Beam, Jagermeister – there’s no shortage of companies willing to mine the fertile fields of the concert going public for their promotional endeavours.  We’re like the untouched Alaskan oil reserves as far as they’re concerned.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing. If TED or Jager can help give a couple of bands a start, or Smirnoff can put on a good party, then why not.  While I might feel slightly uncomfortable knowing the whole thing is purely motivated by them wanting to sell more of their stuff, at the end of the day a gig is a gig and music is fun.  If I like their beer I’ll drink it, if not, no skin off my nose.

So with all this in mind my friend and I rocked up to the local finals of the provocatively named ‘Jager Uprising’.  We were there to see The Charles Manson Experiment.  I caught them playing at the Hopetoun recently and they got me very excited.  They’re one of the most authentic and original rock bands in Sydney at the moment, with a finely tuned wall of sound that is at once arresting and strangely beautiful.  Check them out when you can.

Up next was Baba O’Riely, who felt a bit flat to me.  The songs sounded somewhat formulaic, and their stage presence wasn’t particularly engaging.  I think it might have been different had the crowd been more involved – as it was everyone was largely static, which makes it hard for the band to bounce off.  Plus they could really use a bass player.

I’ll take some time out here to call the event up on an atrocious technicality – bands were sound checking in between sets.  We’d be sitting there waiting for the act to come on and they’re setting everything up and testing mics.  I mean come on.  I don’t know how something like this can happen at a place like the Annandale.  They’re hardly rookies.

So by the time Parades came on I was a little frustrated.  But before they were half way through their first track, this had transformed to something close to euphoria.  These guys were incredible.  It was as if Radiohead took The Music and sent it through The Postal Service to Sigur Ros.  Their sound was unique as far as I’m aware, and I can’t wait to see more.  Swapping instruments like lovers in a Hippy commune, creating amazing build ups with extraordinary climaxes.  They should be going very far pretty soon.  As Derrek from the Mansons said, “There’s no harm in loosing to that, those boys are spectacular”.

Even People Know brought up the tail end of the night.  Funny one these guys.  They’re kind of good, but kind of not.  If it was a punk competition they would have won and I’d have been happy, cos it was creative punk.  There were echoes of early Grinspoon, with thumping syncopated drum beats, that were awesome.  Some of the guitar was ripping too, and there were some wicked bass riffs backed by a winning smile.  But a lot of it was repetitive and poorly executed.    The lyrics for any song rarely exceeded more than a few cliché lines repeated over and over, to a guitar riff that wanted to be more rocking than it was.  Maybe I’m being too harsh, and if the boys are reading this I hope they know I’m not being malicious, I’m just trying to give some honest feedback.  The crowd was another factor too – they suffered the same problem as Baba O’riely before them.  I think if they played that on the main stage at homebake it would have been pretty good, back to the Grinspoon thing.  But as it was it felt a bit forced.

Well I waited around for some free shots or bombs, but there was none forthcoming, so I bade farewell and made my way home, happy that I’d seen some good bands.  Cheers Jager, I guess.

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