During my recent weekend sojourn to New York City to see Godspeed You! Black Emperor I also was lucky enough to catch another great show. This one was The Aussie BBQ, which was a mini festival at The Bowery Ballroom in the Lower East Side. It was basically an excuse for a bunch of Australian bands who were on their way to SXSW to rock out and party. I got off to a late start on Sunday, the day of the “BBQ”. After refuelling with a Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwich) in Chinatown, my friend and I called round to The Bowery in the early afternoon to buy our tickets with the plan to come back later in the evening. When we got there a bunch of rock star looking fellows were doing their best rock star posing in front of the entrance to the subway while a photographer was snapping away. For a second I thought I had been transported back to East Brunswick in Melbourne. These guys had “that look”. If you’ve ever been to shows in Melbourne you know the one.
With that little nostalgic reminder of home we got our tickets and headed up to Midtown to spend the afternoon in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Unfortunately it closes early on sunday, and we spent 5 minutes dashing through some exhibit I can’t even recall before we were promptly booted out onto the street by security. Defeated we bounced back to Chinatown for some beer and dumplings and then made our way to the show. We arrived just as Wagons started. I had heard of these guys but never actually heard them, turns out they’re great. They play a rough brand of alt-country/indie-rock and their manic frontman (featured in the picture at the top of this post) was a great entertainer.
Following Wagons were The Jezebels who were my favourite act of the night. They were the main reason I came since I missed their set at Falls Festival over NYE and friends there had told me it was brilliant. They weren’t wrong, I really enjoyed it and they might just become my new favourite Aussie band (sorry Whitley). The singer has an amazing voice and was super cute in her tight black leggings rocking out awkward dance moves. I also loved their drumming for what its worth. Here’s a videoclip of one of their singles, though it doesn’t really do their live sound justice. Check it out anyway:
Next up was the Melbourne rock n’ roll five piece Little Red. I’ve seen these guys before and they are good, but after the epiphany that was The Jezebels it just fell a little flat with me. The same with Aussie festival favourites Blue King Brown who followed. The crowd by this point had shrunk down quite a lot and except for a couple of die hards right in front of the stage. Most people didn’t really seem receptive to BKB’s roots and reggae flavour. They still made the most of it and played a solid set though.
The headliners, Aussie hip hop group Bliss n’ Eso, were a little bit of a guilty pleasure for me. Now I’m not a big fan of Aussie hip hop, but I don’t mind it in small doses. My main gripe is usually with the extremely bogan crowds who tend to attend festivals and gigs where these sort of acts play. The great thing about seeing them in NYC is that there is shortage of such types. Prejudices aside, Bliss n’ Eso played a really good set. They were introduced by old school NY rapper JDL from Cold Crush Brothers, who yelled and postured a lot before their DJ opened with a Pink Floyd – Another Brick in the Wall remix. Following this the MC’s, Bliss and Eso, entered and tore up the stage. In the middle of their set there was a bit of fun beatboxing complete with props to the old school NY rap pioneers. This got JDL busting back onto stage to “hold up” everything and lay down some old school rhymes with the Aussie boys. It was amusing and good.
All in all it was a good night, and a good taste of home. Now that I live in Canada I don’t get to see very many Australian bands anymore. On a side note a fun game was to play “Spot the Australian” in the audience. I can’t quite put my finger on it, maybe it was the faces, the haircuts, the clothes, or just their general manner; but I swear I could instantly tell who was Australian and who was American in that crowd…