New Orleans

I have always appreciated jazz music from a distance but have never been an avid listener. After visiting New Orleans for just under a month, honestly I don’t think much will change. Since witnessing several varieties of jazz be it huge brass band ensembles or small 2 – 3 piece bands live, I have tried listening to jazz through headphones and it just isn’t the same. Jazz more than any other genre is a lot about the atmosphere.

These clubs in New Orleans facilitate a fun and relaxed atmosphere more than any other place I’ve been to. People from all walks of life with smiles from ear to ear, burning holes in the carpet is something to behold; not to mention participate in. It’s completely infectious. Some of the most shy people I met at the hostel I was staying in came completely out of their shells.

The other great thing about the bands in NOLA is how accommodating they are to amateur musicians. My friends Nico and Flo are no slouches when it comes the their instruments of choice, the trombone and trumpet respectively, but compared to the musicians in NOLA, they still have quite a ways to go. They took their instruments with them on nights out to the clubs and the band would almost always invite them to play along for a few songs; and sometimes the whole set! I think this is one of the more brilliant things about the city. I’m sure they both learnt some very valuable lessons from the experience.

Alas, New Orleans is not all about jazz. There are many bands of just about every genre you could imagine. I’ve told many about my favourite band, but I feel like they deserve another mention here. The Higher Heights Reggae Band play reggae classics, their own original songs, and reggae covers of pop songs. I saw them four times and each time I have had just about the most fun I’ve ever had seeing a band. Although my highlight of my entire New Orleans adventure was seeing a blues band called The Round Pegs. A New Orleans super group featuring a brass section. The guitarist, John Lisi was absolutely mind blowing and they played a cover of Neil Young’s ‘Hey Hey, My My’ upon my request to close the show which was the most phenomenal cover of the song I’ve heard. (Sorry Jake Bugg)

I’ve tried my best to explain why New Orleans is the best place I’ve visited to date (Sorry Kyoto) but the best way to understand it is to just visit it yourself and experience it with your own eyes. (And Ears)

My Big Day Out… at St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival

Last weekend I had the immense pleasure of attending my very first Laneway festival on the shores of the Maribyrnong River in Footscray Melbourne; I wasn’t disappointed.

Before I go through the highlights of my day in terms of the music, let me just say that in terms of the festivals I have previously attended, this was up there with the best. At first when I looked at where exactly it was situated, I was pretty apprehensive but when I arrived early to suss out the area I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked. Four stages tucked away in various laneways (appropriate – given the festival’s name and roots) not too close together to have their sounds collide and not so far away as to feel like too much effort was being exerted traversing from one to the other; which was great because it was stinkin’ hot. Thanks Melbourne summer. Apart from that there was a good assortment of your typical festival food vendors (always get the fish tacos) and I only had to wait more than 3 minutes once to grab a beer from the many bars scattered around the fesival. The only real negative I experienced was the number of toilets available. We can’t really hold it against the organisers though as it is a problem at pretty much every festival ever.

So after surveying the surroundings for a while, I then proceeded to fill my ears with delight for the next 8 and a bit hours. First up was Drenge, a pommy duo who’s sound was an assault on my ears in the best kind of way; a great way to get pumped up for the rest of the day. A mix of heavy percussion, killer guitar and clean yet grungy vocals. From there I met up with friends and listened to Kirin J Callinan from afar. A weird unit with a matching monochrome shorts/shirt combo. I Can’t comment too much on his music as my friends and I were excitedly discussing our plans for the day, contemplating various clashes of which there were many.

From this moment on, the day became a classic festival highlight reel. Next up was Savages, fronted by the French/English Jehnny Beth, I was dancing to groovy bass lines and furios guitar riffs paired with Beth’s intense voice. Following on from Savages, New Zealand/US trio Unknown Mortal Orchestra toned things about with their psychedelic rock tunes. These guys were one of the acts I was most looking forward to seeing on the day, and I wasn’t disappointed. As a live band they manage to upsacle their sound, and sound terrific, without straying too far from what they sound like on their recorded stuff.

Next on the list was to go and swoon over Lauren Mayberry and her band Chvrches, however on my trek between stages I walked past the Red Bull Music Academy stage where Mt Kimbie were playing. I liked what I heard and decided to stay so I could get front and centre for Jagwar Ma who were to follow on the same stage. Whilst I still regret not going to see Chvrches I’m not overly disappointed as Mt Kimbie were still admirable. I didn’t know a lot about these guys before but their ambient stylings bounce between playful and melancholy and they acted as the calm before the storm that was Jagwar Ma. In addition to this King Krule made a cameo before his own set later on. Bonus.

I’d seen Jagwar Ma at the Hifi on the 16th of Jan so rather than seeing them I planned on seeing Haim. I have a philosophy where if an Aussie act clashes with an international one I’d see the internationonal one as there’d be more of a chance to see the Aussie one at a later stage. However, I made the first exception to this rule based on how much I liked Jagwar Ma at the Hifi and the mood I happened to be in at the time. Having been at the same stage for Mt Kimbie, when everyone cleared off I was able to secure a front row spot. The next 45 minutes were probably the highlight of my day. The different vibe of the crowd at Laneway or the ambience of the setting sun in the background may have been a factor, but really, these guys are just plain awesome. Howlin’ was probably my favourite album of 2013 and dancing like a lunatic to favourites like “Let Her Go,” “The Throw,” and “Uncertainty” just made me extatic.

Here’s a video of these lads playing a few song live, but beware, it doesn’t do their gigs justice. They perform with much more energy and the bass rocks through your body. Still makes for good listening though.

From one highlight to another I made my way upstream against the masses heading to see Lorde towards the River Stage to see an incredibly talented young man, King Krule, supported by an equally talented band. Whilst I am an unabashed fan of Lorde and her debut “Pure Heroine” this is a clash where I do not regret my decision. King Krule and co’s music is a unique mashup of different genre’s; punk, jazz, r&b, and hip-hip hop, and it works. The whole time I was in awe of how effortless the whole band made music seem. In the week and a bit since, I have pretty much had “6 Feet Beneath the Moon,” Krule’s debut LP, on repeat. If you haven’t listened to it, do yourself a favour. This guy is only 19. Can’t wait to see what he has to offer in the future.

Here’s a song that he wrote when he was 6 or 7.

Finally, putting my International over Domestic philosophy to practise, I went and saw Warpaint instead of The Jezebels. I’d seen The Jezebelson two occasions before and was keen to hear some of their new stuff in action with their forthcoming new album on the way, but I opted for the Americans instead. Once again I was happy with my decision. Warpaint proved to be the perfect end to a glorious day. Intermittently switching from gloomy moods to harder-rocking, their set ebbed and flowed and finally came to a nice rolling finish. It didn’t leave me pumped up ready for more, nor did it leave me disappointed. They played the closing time slot perfectly.

So yeah, that sums up the day I had at my first Laneway Festival and what a day it was. I’ll be looking forward to next year’s with great anticipation and expectation.

3 Votes: Jagwar Ma

2 Votes: King Krule

1 Vote: Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Introducing Music Soop

Hi,

Welcome to Music Soop; a place where I’ll be sharing my experience with music. It’s taken me twenty-three (and some) years to realise how substantial a role music plays in my life, and I felt the need to begin documenting anything from reviews of festivals/gigs to my philosophies on music; just for something to look back on in the future, and hopefully to provide those of you who read this some light entertainment or procrastination ammunition.

A brief first post, I know, but stay tuned this week for my first proper addition to this blog where I’ll fill you all in on what I got up to at St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival in Melbourne at the weekend.

In the meantime, wrap your ears around this choon:

-Soop