Jager Uprising/Birds Robe Presents: Squat Club, Captain Kickarse & The Awesomes, i like cats, Triangle and super FLORENCE jam – The Annandale Hotel 15/10/08

Jager Uprising nights at the Annandale are usually an inconsistent affair, with a myriad of unknown bands taking advantage of the showcase to get a leg up in the industry. But it was something altogether different this Wednesday night as The Bird’s Robe Collective curated a line-up of progressive acts to take the venue by storm.

First up were relative newcomers Squat Club (I say relative, because the band comprises members of Sydney pop and funk establishments ‘Captains’ and ‘The Bakery’). The four piece presented a tightly executed set of atmospheric passages, building to harder groove-orientated tracks. The key word in describing this band is restraint. The display of musicianship and craftsmanship in their performance was impressive, however for a lover of live performance, this reviewer was disappointed this talented bunch didn’t break loose at least a few more times. The highlight of their set was the fantastic lute solo by guitarist Tim Brown. (Abso-lute-ly!)

Captain Kickarse & The Awesomes fired up the stage opposite immediately, with a blistering array of technical grooves and the arm-waving fury of drummer Alex O’Toole. The band made the most of the lesser sound quality their stage offered and successfully encouraged a variety of audience members to express themselves on the dance floor. Taking advantage of a slightly longer set time, the band took the opportunity to try out some new material, which didn’t quite meet the quality of their more polished previous arrangements.

Third up and back to the main stage, Sydney post-rock powerhouse i like cats pleased their adoring audience and powered through their mix of indie-prog meets epic instrumental passages. Replete with cello and a dual vocal delivery used with taste (and clarity), the band showed a heap of promise. While they thundered through some of their apocalyptic breakdowns, there were a few shaky sections as well. A year or two more spent honing their chops on the live scene and this group will grow out of their fledgling presentation and become a real force. Special mention to this band for displaying one of the more creative band logos I have seen in a while.

Opposite, progressive music stalwarts Triangle took the helm, led by charismatic singer/bassist Josh Shipton sporting a pair of Les Claypool-style goggles. The band made a heck of a noise for just a three piece, with thundering drums and an array of guitar noises filtering through the band’s forays into Arabian styled jams (with guest vocalist), funkier moments and the well-loved effects-driven pieces.

Finally, super FLORENCE jam took to the main stage, amid a buzz of anticipation. Kicking off the night with the feel good ‘Ghetto Project Fabulous,’ the band set themselves up beautifully. sFj traded the nuanced stylings of their peers for a powerful and driving sound that set them apart, before combining both elements within their epic 20-minute ‘Mogar’ medley – featuring time signature shifts, cowbell attacks, giant drum sticks, duelling guitar solos and even the flailing limbs and destruction of the drum kit by guitarist Laurence Rosier Staines. An extended outro including Hocus Pocus by Focus, King Crimson’s 21st Century Schizoid Man, the Can-Can and Frank Zappa’s Muffin Man provided the fitting close to an evening of consistently impressive and enjoyable progressive music.

Kudos must go to the audience who obviously appreciated each act and showed their support vocally. There was no emptying of the room after bands played – the night was as much as celebration of local prog bands as it was a discovery of new, quality acts for many people. Full credit to the musos themselves for providing the venue with a packed room on a mid-week night!

As if that wasn’t enough, apparently the entire show was filmed by Moshcam.com and will be available for free viewing in a matter of weeks.

Well done Bird’s Robe.

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