review

Melanie Martinez @ Big Top Luna Park 14/8/16

First seen on AMNplify here!

On the one-year anniversary of her debut concept album Cry Baby‘s release, Melanie Martinez headlines a tour around Australia and New Zealand this month. First making a name for herself as a contestant in The Voice in 2012, the 21-year-old singer-songwriter made it through a few live rounds before being knocked out during nationwide voting. After her surprising success on the hit singing competition, Melanie spent a year working on Cry Baby, writing and recording and crowdfunding the first single’s music video. It is an album full of electropop drenched in childhood symbolism and matured by the underpinning concepts at play. The Cry Baby Tour is well at home here, performed at the Big Top in Sydney’s Luna Park and supported by Triple J Unearthed High winner of 2014, Japanese Wallpaper.

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Melanie Martinez

Melanie Martinez | Catherine Connell Photography

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In a startling display of unprofessionalism, producer Japanese Wallpaper is forced to play to a crowd with the house lights on for his whole set, rendering the experience horribly informal and chatter-drenched. For his part, the young producer proceeds with gusto, backed by bandmate Miles who apparently ran the City to Surf earlier that day. Crowd favourites Breathe In and Between Friends featured as part of his set, working to create atmospheric melodies amongst the crowd. Special guest, Airling finished out the set, lending her vocals for Forces.

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Japanese Wallpaper

Japanese Wallpaper | Catherine Connell Phography

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Lights down, phones up and a huge cheer as Melanie Martinez takes the stage in the form of a huge, covered set piece wheeled on by roadies revealed to be a huge bassinet. We are in store for a theatrical production. The intro music is a pastiche of feedback and arbitrary sounds interrupted by baby cries. A mobile lullaby churns out and the two band members in their adult-sized teddy bear outfits take their places behind drums and synth keys. As the intro to the title track, Cry Baby begins, Melanie bursts out of the crib and the crowd erupts in delighted screams.

Fortunately, we can hear Melanie’s vocals of the screech of teens, maybe at the expense of our own hearing… Big Top’s acoustics do nothing to improve the matter.

Greeting the crowd straight out of the first track, Melanie announces it’s Cry Baby‘s first birthday, she’s that damn happy to be [in Australia] and emphatically thanks all the support she’s received from her fans. The next song is her first song ever released and does anyone know what that is? The crowd yells “Dollhouse!” at her and this pleases her.

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Melanie Martinez

Melanie Martinez | Catherine Connell Photography

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Sippy Cup gets a dialed back intro with subdued synths and the crowd racing ahead of Melanie with the lyrics before the beat kicks in and it resumes its regular pace. The thumping beat for Alphabet Boy absolutely goes off, with the whole crowd bouncing in time. Milk and Cookies has some particularly impressive guitar work in the band and a beat break down before the close that’s very dance worthy.

By the time Soap comes around, the crowd should have realised she’s playing the album start to finish in the same order, as per the story the collected songs tell. Still, every song arouses a huge scream of joy. Melanie Martinez’s fans are passionate if nothing else.

She makes a big show of saying Mad Hatter is the last track of the night then spends next to no time teasing the audience waiting to come back for an encore with a cute little quip: “Is it cool if we play two more? This one is a present I put out for Christmas.” Gingerbread Man, a Christmas single from December 2015 is a much better way to hear her voice. Slower and more heartfelt and less known by the crowd.

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Melanie Martinez

Melanie Martinez | Catherine Connell Photography

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21-year-old tip-toeing around the stage in her socks, wearing pastel pink with a furry bolero, tattoos peeking out and some complex ideas coming out her mouth in the form of elaborate metaphors. She’s very good at moving around the stage and engaging both her band and the crowd in her vicinity and her voice is exactly as the package describes: soulful and whispery yet playfully suited to her lyrics and theme. At the very least, she had a ball with her fans: “I’m so excited to come back with the next record!”

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Check out Catherine Connell’s full gallery from the night here!

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Connect with Melanie Martinez!

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Billy Talent @ The Metro Theatre 13/8/16 (Live Review)

First seen on AMNplify here!

Off the back of their fifth studio album, Afraid of Heights, Canadian four piece rock powerhouse Billy Talent returned to Australia in their first headline tour in over four years. Forming in 1993 under a different name, Ben Kowalewicz (vocals), Ian D’Sa (guitar), Jonathan Gallant (bass) and Aaron Solowoniuk (drums) were part of the Toronto indie music scene until 2001, when they reached mainstream success. While Aaron continues his long-standing battle with multiple sclerosis, Jordan Hastings of Alexisonfire filled in for him, with local five piece The Lazys supporting the tour.

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Billy Talent

Billy Talent | Britt Andrews Photography

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After hooking up with Billy Talent at Canadian Music Week 2014 in Toronto, The Lazys arrived on stage with literal buckets of energy, rock god shapes and tunes to make AC/DC head bang along. In actual fact, I expected them to break into an AC/DC song from the outset of every intro. The influence is obvious with power chords, songs soaked in guitar solos and feel-good lyrics. The highlight of their set was lead guitarist Mathew Morris foraying from the stage to the sound desk to rock out amongst the crowd. They did an excellent job of rallying the audience for the headliners.

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The Lazys

The Lazys | Britt Andrews Photography

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In a blaze of guitar riffs, screaming, and clashing percussion, Billy Talent took the stage like a foreboding storm. Vocalist Ben was a veritable lightning strike, unable to stand still for more than a few moments. His range included anything from a whisper to a scream with a decidedly theatrical expression colouring every lyric he sang. Ian‘s guitar work was formidable however it needs to be said he provided an intriguing vocal dynamic for Ben to play off, especially prominent in the harmonies of Saint Veronika and later tracks from the set list. Not to be left behind, bassist Jonathan provides gravely backing vocals on every chorus while Jordan keeps everyone in time on the drums.

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Billy Talent

Billy Talent | Britt Andrews Photography

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The setlist had an even focus across all five studio albums, revisiting some oldies like Prisoners of Today and This Is How It Goes, as well as playing Pins and Needles – a track that is rarely played live. Ben dedicated Surprise Surprise to himself for being awesome, and Stand Up and Run was dedicated to Gord Downie.

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Billy Talent

Billy Talent | Britt Andrews Photography

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There was a really cool moment in the show where Ben left the stage, strengthening the focus on Ian, Jonathan and Jordan jamming in an extended version of Try Honesty. The best part was that he actually joined the audience and watched the boys on stage tear it up for a good few minutes. It must be a mark of professionalism and respect, as well as his deep appreciation for music, to act this way. When he returned to the stage he made a point of thanking each of them for their contributions to the band, saying they would miss Jordan when he returns to Australia in January 2017 with Alexisonfire‘s forthcoming tour.

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Billy Talent

Billy Talent | Britt Andrews Photography

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Much of Billy Talent‘s repertoire having a socio-political focus, there wasn’t much time wasted on speechifying. However, during the encore Ben laid down the law: “Times are tough. Every day there’s a new tragedy in the news. Let’s be thankful we’re together, safe and happy […] Because my reality does not include people like Donald f**king Trump!” He also spoke out against the mass murder in Orlando before switching back to lead singer mode and powering through Falling Leaves and Viking Death March to close out. Overall the night was nothing but hard rock and fun for all. It was great to see these guys finally on the road again, performing their new material live. The fan base is as strong as ever and stoked to be a part of Billy Talent‘s journey.
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See Britt Andrew’s gallery from the night here!

 

Connect with Billy Talent!

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Set list:

Devil In A Midnight Mass
This Suffering
Big Red Gun
This Is How It Goes
Afraid of Heights
Rusted From The Rain
Saint Veronika
The Crutch
Pins And Needles
Surrender
River Below
Prisoners of Today
Surprise Surprise!
Stand Up And Run
Louder Than The DJ
Red Flag

Try Honesty
Fallen Leaves
Viking Death March

Gang of Youths – Let Me Be Clear (EP Review)

Following their debut record The Positions from 2014, Gang of Youths have returned with a new EP Let Me Be Clear dropping on Friday 29th July aka TOMORROW! AMNplify was lucky enough to get a sneak peek and here’s what we thought.

.Gang of Youths Let Me Be Clear Cover Art - assorted images depicting the band and other mundane items such as cars, a kitchen sink and oven, and more.

What starts off with a piano melody that gives you a feeling like you’re about to be taught an important life lesson soon feeds into a slow, deliberate build of a marching beat and sincere strings, culminating in the musical manifestation of The Good Fight, literally. David Le’aupepe’s desperate vocals crash against cymbals and wretched guitar, scratching at the final question of “Will someone tell me why I need all this stuff?!

If you want to bit hit in the feels, this is the song to listen to. Have no fear though, there’s a certain hopeful quality to everything the Jung Kim and Joji Malani do with those guitars. It sets a precedent that Gang of Youths mean business. They aren’t afraid to have a bit of fun while they take on some tough concepts in Let Me Be Clear.

Native Tongue is a feel good piece detailing the gorgeous evolution of relationships. Every instrument thrums with delight to be a part of something so beautifully messy as getting to know someone and being honest with them. There’s an element of tonal clash reminiscent of Silversun Pickups but Gang of Youths’ sound has evolved in a totally different direction.

.Gang of Youths group photo.

With a jovial introduction promising an anthem both Strange Diseases and A Sudden Light bring hope to any listener from the base beauty of normality. The chords are clear, drums uplifting, Dave’s imploring voice seems to yield a kind of release. The realisations in the lyrics seem to free us all. There are definitive hints of Arcade Fire and even The Middle East.

Slowing it down with Still Unbeaten Life, acoustic and electric blends with all manner of sounds. The horns and harp in particular stand out, an intricate combination of layers showing nothing but good certainty and clarity of purpose. This track is a relaxing yet complex. You could listen to it over and over.

The EP also features a bonus track, Both Sides Now. It’s a raw track, a seemingly “uncut” insight into David’s mind and ultimately relatable for anyone listening.

A number of meaty tracks to sink your teeth into, with thoughtful lyrics and time to process the concepts explored, Let Me Be Clear suggests nothing but more good music to come. Pick up a copy as soon as you can!
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Connect with Gang of Youths!

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The Bennies @ UOW Uni Bar 8/7/16 (Live Review)

First seen at AMNplify.

Some bands don’t want to subscribe to a genre, The Bennies on the other hand can’t seem to make up their mind. They’ve been taking their unique blend of “Psychedelic Reggae Ska Doom Metal Punk Rock from Hell” to all corners of Australia in a massive 27 dates over 40 days to promote the recent release of their third album, Wisdom Machine. With Anty taking care of vocals and korg, Jules on the guitar, Bowie drumming and Craig covering the bass, you won’t be bored at one of their shows. Friday night saw them in University of Wollongong’s Uni Bar with local punk rock trio Kaleidoscope alongside the tour’s special guests, Axe Girl and Clowns.

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The Bennies - photo by Britt Andrews Photography

The Bennies – photo by Britt Andrews Photography

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Kaleidoscope kicked off a full lineup, punching out a half hour set of tracks very reminiscent of late 90s garage punk. Instrumental was definitely their strong point with the three South Coast locals head banging long dreads and defiantly shouting their lyrics to be heard over the rolling melodies of guitar and bass. Mayalla was the standout track from their set.

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Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope – photo by Britt Andrews Photography

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Originating from Perth, aka the other side of the world, Axe Girl’s distinctly brighter, fast-paced pop punk, wasn’t exactly what the crowd was expecting. However, by the time the set was over, many were declaring “I’ve never heard of them before but they were fucking awesome”.

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Axe Girl

Axe Girl | Photography by Britt Andrews

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Their set started out slow bass-heavy with rumbling guitar riffs and it only accelerated from there, accented by the off-centre, explosive feminine vocals of Axe, reminiscent of Metric’s Emily Haines or Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. From the second track of their set onwards, they were winning over the crowd. Mid-way through Axe picked up a glittering red guitar and added some welcome layers to their melodic full sound. With her blue tipped fly away hair, blue eye shadow, star spangled leggings, and endless bounds of energy, manic pixie Axe is definitely the epicentre of the group. On the last track, they even threw in some screams, a great way to transition to Clowns’ music.
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Clowns’ frontman Stevie came out to three jamming band mates, declared the song was about those few times why it’s bad to take drugs and was crowd surfing by the end of the second chorus. A-rhythmic short fast loud songs interspersed throughout the set list. Clowns know how to build a song with an apex of intensity. Early on in the set they debuted a new song with a ripping guitar intro (didn’t tell us the name though). Stevie gleefully staring into the pit of writhing punters. If your dream was to crowd surf, Clowns would be the band to make that happen. They’ve got audience engagement down to a science.

They were absolutely unwilling to let any silence into their whole set from the moment they entered the stage to the time they left.

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Clowns

Clowns | Photography by Britt Andrews

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Jared King aka Goon’s guitar string snapped mid-song and threw off the rest of the band. Apparently they’d never fucked up a song that badly before and Stevie joked that would be his last show with them. “Does anyone know any guitarists looking to rock with the Clowns?” Regardless, they went back, fixed it up and finished out with aplomb. The pinnacle of their set was when Stevie climbed up to the top of two speaker stacks and jumped off to be caught by the ecstatic clump of fans several metres below.
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To give you an idea of The Bennies set you need to know this, elicit substances consumed on stage sets the tone for the rest of the evening. Puffing on a joint in between lyrics, Anty was barely in one place for longer than a second, at one point flapping his arms like he was about to fly away. Right from the start the set was supercharged reggae ska rock. Axe came on and shouted out a verse from Heavy Disco. She and Anty shared some adorable in-joke choreography to a synth percussive accent in the track. They also invited Stevie of Clowns back to lend his vocals to Corruption.

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The Bennies Axe Girl UOW Uni Bar Britt Andrews

The Bennies featuring Axe Girl | Photography by Britt Andrews

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The chemistry between these four blokes is incredible to behold. At one point, Anty lovingly stroked the hair behind Craig’s ears while he continued to shred the bass. Throughout the set they took the time to feature each other. Craig demolished a particularly compelling bass solo in Acid on Me Brain. Even though Anty took a break in My Bike to get the audience involved in the lyrics, the highlight was him, Craig and Jules sitting on the stage like good little school kids watching Bowie thrash his drum kit in a killer solo. Jules had some amazing moments to shine all night long with every melody intricate yet catchy, a standout example being the intro to Anywhere You Wanna Go. Anty, Jules and Craig’s voices could be heard in different parts of each song.

The final few tracks took a decidedly theatrical turn with Party Till I Die (Or Die Trying) and Corruption – reverb everywhere, slow, thick and greasy bass, guitars, everything really, punctuated by painstakingly screamed lyrics.

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The Bennies UOW Uni Bar Britt Andrews Photography

The Bennies | Photography by Britt Andrews

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They made you work for the bridge of Party Machine: everyone’s favourite line to shout over and over, “One part party, one part machine!” The final message to us before closing out with Knights Forever was “Make slow changes with massive outcomes by being nice to each other”. Telling absurd stories in their songs makes people comfortable to behave however they want. Perhaps that’s why there were shoes flying everywhere the whole night (and some dejected looking patrons missing half their footwear at the end of the night).

If anyone ever said smoking too much weed makes you complacent and lazy, they haven’t seen The Bennies live. These guys will stop at nothing to get every single person moving and screaming.
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Check out Britt’s full gallery HERE

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Connect with The Bennies!

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Set list:
Heavy Reggae
Detroit Rock Ciggies
What’s Ya Fucken Problem?
Heavy Disco
Highrider
Acid
Sensi Mi
My Bike
Anywhere
Burnout City
Party Till I Die
Corruption
Party Machine
Knights Forever

TEDxYouth @ Sydney Opera House 25/05/16 (Live Review)

First seen on Amnplify here

TEDxSydney and TEDxYouth are events held in tandem, occupying the Concert Hall and the Joan Sutherland theatre respectively at Sydney Opera House. The mission for any TEDx event is to nurture and spread powerful ideas. These ideas can take on many forms, most noteably speeches but also performances, music, food and so on. TEDxSydney 2016 is the largest TEDx event to-date with an estimated 4,500 people in attendance and more than 500 people on the ground and working behind the scenes to make it happen. TEDx lacks political, economical or religious agenda and no TEDx event is the same as they are all community-driven and independently developed under a free license. This year’s event theme was that of “together”; Edwina Throsby, Head of Curation and host for the first session cited the best ideas as “products of conversation and collaboration”.
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Photo: Katie Barget | TEDxSydney

Photo: Katie Barget | TEDxSydney

Each event borrowed from the other (TEDxYouth relying perhaps more heavily on TEDxSydney) by simulcasting a live stream of the speakers from each hall. One of the ten films from the 2016 TEDxSydney Film Program punctuated each speech transition. This year, TEDxYouth@Sydney upgraded from the Opera House’s Drama Theatre to the Joan Sutherland theatre, making up an audience of about 2,500 young minds. Created by young people and intended for young people’s ears and eyes, TEDxYouth brings together bright young thinkers and big new ideas to inspire the next generation.
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Photo: Katie Barget | TEDxSydney | Tralala Blip

Photo: Katie Barget | TEDxSydney

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As always, the event began with acknowledging the traditional custodians of Sydney Harbour: the Birrabirragal band of the Eora people. TEDxSydney went one further with a performance from Matthew Doyle welcoming the audience to this country. The first session, which kicked off with a performance from Tralala Blip. This five piece electronic outfit comprised of three members with intellectual disabilities who contribute every bit as much as their fellow musicians. Backed by gorgeous graphics on the screen behind them, Tralala Blip delicately and passionately expressed themselves through their most recent singles, Title and Title. They make a wonderful example of collaboration and it’s refreshing to hear from voices that are usually silenced, literally.
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Photo: Gary Compton | TEDxSydney | Tara Winkler | Cambodian Children's Trust

Photo: Gary Compton | TEDxSydney

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The first speaker was Tara Winkler, founder of Cambodian Children’s Trust. In her speech she fervently detailed the painful realisations about residential housing institutions around the world, specifically that of children’s orphanages in Cambodia (outlawed in Australia, the UK and USA). Tara persuaded both audiences through a retelling of her experiences – of the orphanage she volunteered at as a tourist in 2006(?), of discovering its corruptions within, of finding that most of the children weren’t in fact orphans and that voluntourism is a hideous industry fuelled by the very people who think they are helping it. The Cambodian Children’s Trust is her solution. It aims to reunite children with their families, finding them stable income and support to raise them, or finding foster families for the true orphans in Cambodia.

Jordan Nguyen followed in the simulcast from the Concert Hall. He’s doing some fascinating work with his social business Psykinetic teaming with Humense to create virtual reality copies of people. These copies have profound implications: being able to copy some of the greatest minds – Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk were examples he cited – or loved ones. He seriously considered the possibility of copying his grandfather, who passed away when he was still a child, if the technology had been available then. After presenting this potentiality to his mother, Jordan was faced with the ethical dilemma of these copies effectively forcing people to relive the loss. Evidently there is more research to be done on the subject. The first short film, a documentary on Being a Robot Usher by Ian Williamson and Russ Tucker, followed this speech. This short film was a standout to me, showing how technology might shape the experience of going to a live event. The film was both poignant and humorous, with clips showing interviews with human ushers we could recognise from outside.

TEDxYouth was then treated to yet another live stream, this time a performance from Kirin J Callinan. The first song was a surprising clash of electronic and guitar with Kirin shouting incongruous lyrics, the only stand out of which was, “in China!” The guitar work was intricate and transfixing, even if there was a little unnecessary use of effects pedals. The next song Kirin traded his electric guitar for an acoustic, which he failed to plug in. Kirin proceeded to serenade the Concert Hall away from any semblance of mic. Much of his performance was utterly lost on the TEDxYouth audience who was plunged into utter silence (soon filled with awkward laughter). This song devolved into what could only have been a skit. Part of the acoustic guitar was lost inside its body and Kirin, soon aided by first one then another stagehand, would shake the guitar overhead vigorously. This lasted for the remainder of his allotted time on stage (we could see the clock ticking away) and then exactly as the clock ran out the guitar part was found and Kirin left the stage, somewhat put out.
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Photo: Gary Compton | TEDxSydney | Kirin J Callinan

Photo: Gary Compton | TEDxSydney

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I have no idea what kind of point he was trying to make but, in keeping with TEDxSydney’s theme, he brought together three people briefly on stage and united two audiences in laughter at his antics.

The next speaker, also simulcast from the Concert Hall, was Kelli Jean Drinkwater, an artist, supermodel and “fat activist”. Her speech was one of the most resonant of the day, inspiring a huge reaction on social media and in the audiences. Highlights for me included her notion of “claiming space for [her]self” and her retelling of her artist’s practice. Kelli engages in activities typically thought to be “non-fat”, inviting other fat people to join her and then making art about it. (Pictures of some of her sculptures and photographs were shown overhead while she spoke.) A noteworthy activity she participated in was a “fat” ballet called Nothing to Lose! Kerri’s main message was to stop the moral panic associated with fear of fat; the diet industry prevents people’s ability to “make peace” with their bodies.

For the first time in this daylong event, a person finally addressed the TEDxYouth audience on the stage of the Joan Sutherland theatre. Jenny Anagnostopolous from the curation team officially welcomed us and introduced speaker Jodi Rowley. Jodi is a conservation biologist at the Australian Museum with a passion for amphibians. She detailed the impact of losing frogs on their surrounding ecosystems and the environment at large. Jodi led a team in Cambodia to discover and name 29 new species of frogs. She implored us to save the frogs however provided very little instruction for how to do that.

The second live speaker for TEDxYouth was cross-disciplinary artist Emily Parsons-Lord. Emily told us all about her practice, which focuses on air in a way that allows herself and her audience to “picture” it in its plurality: from a small breath to something as big as the whole planet. She has recreated air from various long ago time periods as well as “future” air; a human-made combination of gases that is much heavier than the air we currently breathe and has many implications on the future as far as climate change is concerned. Emily’s speech inspired me to consider this basic phenomenon that facilitates life, and the ways in which we take it for granted.

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Photo: Saidie Daher | TEDxSydney | WAFIA

Photo: Saidie Daher | TEDxSydney

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Session One closed with a two-track performance from Arab-Australian singer, WAFIA, to my absolute delight. Supported by Thomas Dean on a gorgeous grand piano, WAFIA sang her hit single Heartburn in a beautiful contra-alto. Stripped of its usual electronic enhancements, the song was an intimate new experience throwing emphasis on the sincerity to her voice. She then debuted a collab called Window Seat with Thomas, who leant his voice to the second verse. Their harmonies on the second chorus were an irresistible blend of rich tenor and light, girlish notes.

Other standout speakers include Stanislava Pinchuk (proposed the idea of trading custom tattoos for independently determined value like clothes, dinner out or a roadtrip) and Sandra Garrido (explored the reason why we listen to sad music from a psychological perspective).

TEDxYouth is an action-packed day full of huge ideas, good music and humour. Sydney Opera House is a splendid venue to host such a program both in the size of the ideas presented and the capacity of people there to witness these ideas. Next year I recommend going to the TEDxSydney program just to minimise the amount of time watching people present on a simulcast. You can catch the full program of speakers and films on the TEDxSydney YouTube channel!
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Connect with TEDxYouth!
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Official Website
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Facebook
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Instagram
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Snapchat: @tedxyouthsydney

All images sourced from the official TEDxSydney Flickr account under a Creative Commons license.

Shuddering before Nightwish’s beauty

Originally posted at Amnplify, check it out here.

In the last 20 years, the Finnish symphonic metal band has produced 8 studio albums and toured around the world multiple times. In 2013, Nightwish brought the Imaginaerium tour to Australia and I had the good fortune to see it. To this day, they remain one of my favourite live acts. This is really saying something as they lost vocalist Annette Olzon in between booking the tour and actually making it here. Annette features on both Dark Passion Play (2007) and Imaginaerium (2011), the albums that first got me into the band, so I was understandably nervous about her replacement, Floor Jansen. This was a waste of nerves though. Needless to say, Nightwish had a lot to live up to after 3 years of waiting for them to return.

Photo of Nightwish at Enmore Theatre

Check out Gwendolyn Lee’s Gallery HERE

First things first, Teberah – a Tasmanian heavy metal quartet – opened to an already crowded Enmore theatre. They rocked a dialled back version of 80s Guns N Roses aesthetic, offering some suitably loud music and a lot of enthusiasm to rile up the audience for Nightwish.

The headlining set began with the customary recording of Hans Zimmer’s Roll Tide, to which the band entered one by one. They immediately launched into an animated Shudder Before the Beautiful, the opening track to tour album Endless Forms Most Beautiful. From the first note they were impeccable, even with Kai Hahto drumming in Jukka’s place. With Marco Hietala and Emppu Vuorinen continually crossing to Tuomas Holopainen’s side and Floor’s power poses to bolster her already remarkable vocals, there was always something happening on stage, even if it was just Kai an blur behind the impressive drumkit. Tuomas by comparison, would hunch over the keys with his eyes shut and shoulders tensed, like he was just a conduit for the music to flow through.

Nightwish-95

View Gwendolyn Lee’s photography HERE

Two thirds of their show was an even spread across 15 years worth of tracks, particular “golden oldies” include: She Is My Sin, Ever Dream, crowd favourite Nemo, and Ghost Love Score for their instrumental track. The inclusion of While Your Lips Are Still Red was an interesting choice. The song is not officially associated with Nightwish as it was written by Tuomas Holopainen and Marco Hietala for the Finnish film Lieksa! Towards the end of the track, Floor lent her voice to support Marco. 6 tracks from the tour album featured, most notably the 2nd and 3rd chapters from The Greatest Show on Earth, the band’s longest song to-date at almost 24 minutes.

It was such a pleasure to see them come back and perform something they’d all worked on together in a studio as well as on tour, as opposed to only tracks from previous incarnations of the band. Floor and Troy Donockley have carved out a place for themselves both in the hearts of their bandmates and in the fans they perform for.

 

Connect with Nightwish!
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Set list

Shudder Before the Beautiful
Yours Is an Empty Hope
Ever Dream
She Is My Sin
My Walden
While Your Lips Are Still Red
Elan
Weak Fantasy
7 Days to the Wolves
Storytime
I Want My Tears Back
Nemo
Stargazers
Ghost Love Score
Last Ride of the Day
The Greatest Show on Earth

Lzzy and the boys brought the literal Halestorm to Australia

Via AMNplify, see the original post here.

It’s no coincidence that, two days after Grammy award-winning band Halestorm took the stage, Sydney was hit with hail stones the size of fists not to mention a tornado or two. This was the four-piece band’s first tour Down Under after playing together for nearly 13 years and with 3 studio albums under their belts. Rock n’ roll is far from dead and that’s what they were here to prove.

Manning Bar wasn’t too crowded when doors first opened. The opening band Bellusira, part Australian, part Kiwi and two parts American, set the scene with loud and heavy sound and a genuine thrill to be on stage. Frontwoman Crystal Ignite talked about her abusive and bullied upbringing and how that gave her the strength to pursue music, which gelled well with the tracks from their most recent album, The Healing. By the time they left the stage, the bar was packed and the crowd was ready for the main act.

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Halestorm @ Manning Bar, 13/12/2015. Check out Peter Dovgan’s full gallery HERE!

I had no idea what to expect when Arejay Hale strode on stage and took his seat behind the sparkling gold Pearl drumkit. Josh Smith, bass player, and Joe Hottinger, guitarist, joined him and Arejay immediately started in on the intro drum solo of Sick Individual with his sister, Lzzy Hale, taking centre stage after an appropriately dramatic pause.

Right from the beginning, they were gonna do whatever the fuck they wanted.

They seamlessly segued into Apocalyptic, also from the newest record Into the Wild Life, and it was awesome to hear the crowd singing the lyrics alongside Lzzy. Joe shredded the guitar solo to pieces and the song ended on just Lzzy’s voice, leaving the perfect set up for her to address the crowd. She apologised for how long it took Halestorm to finally make the trip here and listed the rules for the evening:

We are here to have a fucking good time and,
When I say “scream”, you fucking scream!

This was again another flawless transition into the first track from the new record, appropriately titled Scream. Josh’s bass and Arejay’s drums were wonderfully heavy, Joe ripping up the guitar and Lzzy generally just running amuck with her powerful vocals and custom Gibson. As with the record, Scream bled into anthem track, I Am the Fire. The crowd sang along with – if possible – more enthusiasm. Lzzy asked the crowd if we liked it heavy, to which there was nothing but screams of agreement and there was yet another track from the new record. The emphasis on the most recent record was pretty obvious but broken by a crowd favourite from The Strange Case Of…: Love Bites (So Do I).

I don’t want to continue commentating the setlist so I’ll leave it down below and tell you that these musicians were flawless. (The sound guys could probably use some practice with their levels though,Lzzy’s guitar drowned out her vocals every time she played. If it weren’t for the crowd singing along I wouldn’t have heard most of the lyrics.) Their thirteen years on stage together showed in the well-oiled machine that was their set. You could see how much they care about their fans, making eye contact with anyone and everyone they could see.

Midway through the set, the boys left Lzzy alone on stage with her keyboard and guitar. She addedBeautiful With You to the set list in front of Dear Daugher at the request of “girl with the glasses”. During this touching dedication, she then declared her new go-to answer to the question of “If you could have any super power, what would it be?” was to know everyone’s names and wouldn’t they “freak the fuck out?”

Every time Joe stepped forward for a particularly thrilling bit of guitar work, I could see him mouthing something. I know it wasn’t lyrics because there was no singing going on. I can only assume he was counting time? He and Lzzy had a terrific rapport of ridiculous facial expressions throughout the show. It was great to see their onstage chemistry unfold especially as, towards the end of the set, Joe crossed over to share Lzzy’s centre stage mic and the two faced off in a mock challenge.

Arejay’s energy blew me away. By the end of Apocalyptic he’d already jumped clear over the kick drum and landed behind his sister brandishing his drumsticks in one hand and the Horns in the other. The photographers scrambled to get evidence – it was the first time Sydney had seen his antics – but the crowd soon grew to expect this kind of enthusiasm from Halestorm’s drummer. Not one to fade into the background, he was every bit the frontman to Lzzy’s frontwoman.

He was especially riveting during the longest, most impressive drum solo I’ve ever been able to pay attention to. Arejay even got the crowd involved, clapping and chanting along, before his bandmates reclaimed their instruments and they launched into a heavy rendition of Mayhem. Not long after, he smacked himself in the head and roadies were popping on stage in between songs to hand him a tea towel (“Yes, you are bleeding”) and then an ice pack.

I should mention I was right in front of Josh the whole time and he was every bit the classic bass player, understated but dynamic. His presence was undeniable.

In the words of Lzzy, we’ve opened the door to Halestorm, we can’t stop them from coming back. And I absolutely wouldn’t want to. The night was incredibly inclusive; all the fans were friendly and the band made everything feel like the family reunion you always wanted to have. The sooner they return the better!

Sick Individual
Apocalyptic
Scream
I Am the Fire
I Like It Heavy
Love Bites (So Do I)
The Reckoning
Rock Show
Bad Girls World
Mz. Hyde
Amen
Beautiful With You (unplugged with just Lzzy on the keys)
Dear Daughter (mostly unplugged again)
New Modern Love
Arejay’s Drum Solo
Mayhem
It’s Not You
I Get Off
Freak Like Me
I Miss The Misery

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