Thursday October 25. Northcote Social Club. By Neil Wedd
The Campus Battle is probably the only respected Battle in Australia. It seems to throw up bands that go on to success. Not every year but it has seen some bands go on to huge success.
So I went along to see what the future holds. I didn't stay all night but I did see enough to be excited about the future.
First up the Emma Fair Band. Fronted by Emma Fair, whose voice has an ethereal quality, all high and breathy, she none the less has a presence. The band consisted of guitar, keyboards and drums and she played acoustic guitar. I thought that the band overplayed at times, wanting to rock out and it drowned out the dreamy stuff. When they underplayed the songs and voice stood out and it worked better. A touch of the Kate Bush's really.
Mild Ryan played next. Keyboards dominating, it was OK pop. Mild by name, mild by nature.
Will Stoker and The Embers.
No lack of confidence when you put your name up front.
No lack of confidence when you leap into the crowd.
No lack of confidence in your band.
It's been a long time since I've seen someone so young, so filled with the exuberance and the stuff. You know the stuff. It's the thing of rock dreams. He's obsessed with Nick Cave.
The music sounded like Mar Volta, but a tad more structured. Will prowls the stage, jumping onto the drums, into the crowd, belting the drums, playing the piano, shrieking randomly into the various mics.
Riveting presence. Great songs, and the band are so tight. They play their part brilliantly.
Will wears a jacket that is gaffered up. It portrays a man who knows what he's about. He's got it.
He wants it. He's obsessed and he sells that obsession. He and the band have a thirst.
Get on board.
After that experience Aysu Souls bring it on. Four women playing funky, funky music. The singer has huge presence. Much along the lines of Kate Ceberano. She just shines. Doing a rap in Turkish just adds to the intrigue. The band just swings it. Donny Hathaway comes to mind. Aysu (the singer) has soul. The room isn't big enough to contain her charisma, but sometimes it comes off a bit cheesy, a bit cabaret. They had the crowd support as you would expect, but they certainly had the polish and funk.
Rubycon from Canberra were next. When the press release says they age from 12 to 18 you wonder whats going on.
Well they get on stage and just brain you from the start. The drummer is 12 and a little powerhouse. Two brothers on guitar and the bass player. The drummers and guitarists are brothers. The first song is a revelation. Scottish pop, a la Orange Juice, mixed with Franz Ferdinand. Jangly guitars, good vocals, they have it going on. I'm excited. The guitarist breaks a string, and continues to break strings during each song it seems. They continue in the vein they started. Their mothers start dancing. Proud parents down the front. Stop it Mum, your embarrassing me. They don't say that of course. Mind you I used to do that so people would come down the front and dance. That was a long time ago, of course.
Rubycon have good songs, it's a refreshing sound and if the bass player could contain his enthusiasm they could be something. It not just the look at how young they are factor. They have a great sound, the guitarists have a cool look, they don't know who Orange Juice are, and they are playing music that stands out.
Bark at the Moon come from Queensland. When the words "Put your motherfucking hands in the air" were uttered I left.
I missed Room One from Adelaide. My apologies, I'm an old man.
Will Stoker and the Embers won. Rubycon second, Aysu Souls third and Room One equal third.
Will Stoker has got the thirst, Rubycon have got songs and youth, and Aysu Souls have personality and the funk.