The Seabellies, Maniac & New Navy, Beach Road Hotel – 27/10/2010

For any adult with a mild musical conscience living in Sydney, there’s no doubt you would have traipsed along to the Beach Road on a Wednesday. It’s an institution for freebie-music ragers or anyone keen to get loose in the Eastern Suburbs. With live gigs every Tuesday to Sunday & no cover charge, the Beach Road certainly can draw a crowd. But it tends to be hit & miss. This Wednesday was an exception.

First up we had New Navy. If you can tell within the first 4 bars of a song that a band has serious potential, you are onto something good. With pure, strong voices and a punchy indie-Brit sound that could be paralleled to the Cold War Kids, these guys haven’t got long until they hit headlines (in the musical world that is). Snazzy use of editing, good sounds, solid melodies, strong voices; nothing too new or out of this world, but you can tell immediately that New Navy have got what it takes to thrive in today’s musical climate. There is an obvious influence from the Klaxons & the Editors, which sat pretty well with the audience who filled the space on this particular night. Murmurs of approval rippled around the room as the boys belted out their music – they set the bar pretty high for the acts to follow that night.

Next up, Maniac. It would take a lot to pull off the wildly extravagant, pseudo punk 80s NY glam look that Maniac was going for. And pull it off they did. From the instant they dropped the first beat, there was a pulse of energy that rippled through the stage and hung around till the end of their set. Legs, clothed in black, shiny leggings, shook about in an obscure but oddly captivating way. A shimmering layer of sweat covered their bodies by the end of the first number. It was kind of impossible not to give in to their energy and enjoy the act. These guys had an absolute ball onstage – their zeal for music so palpable that it was as though they had been hit with some kind of disease, their bodies contorted into a state of musical ecstasy. In other words, they performed well.

The band is a relatively new project – a collaboration of muso’s from NY & Sydney, with Shawn Harris (from NY band The Matches) & Jake Grigg (Something with Numbers). Performing with them was a mixture of musicians, including Shawn’s sister Vanessa Harris on keys and vocals, whose eclectic look ticked all the boxes in the musical world. The energy onstage between the guys was nothing but good. So, Maniac: a reincarnation of obsolete bands, a hopeful project, and some brazen hairdos – worthwhile checking out.

Last up we had the Seabellies. Surprisingly lucid for the final act of Beach Road’s Wednesday session, but refreshingly so. The Seabellies are an old time gimmick, always guaranteed to stir emotions & send you into a little world of vague self-contemplation given the lyrics & use of instrumental. This Newcastle based band has been around for a little while, judging by the die-hard fans leaping about the edge of the stage, and you can see why.  With strings, metallophone, melodica, horns and multi-percussive layering, this indie electronica sextet put on a nice little performance. Since their ‘unearthing’ with Triple J’s Unearthed back in 2006, the Seabellies have made it onto the line-up at quite a few local festivals: V Fest; Peats Ridge; & Essential Festival. They definitely had the ability to lull the Beach Road crowd into a sort of contemplative, chilled out trance.

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