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flag Australia - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 3 - 01/23/97

The Sloppy Soup
of Brisbane

Brisbane, Australia. Find it on your maps and you'll see that we're hardly the impressive geographical location that we'd like to be. A couple of million people crowded into a sprawling suburbic city that has played host in the past to Commonwealth Games sporting events and even a World Expo, and is currently (arguably I must say) home to the mecca of the Australian independent music scene. This is not to say that any of our bands go on to fame, riches and international world domination (though the Bee Gee's once called Brisbane home) or that many major labels release much of our music, but our self-perpetuated music scene is threatening the likes of our former key cities Sydney and Melbourne.

Being a Brisbane band, much stands in your way. A handful of independent music labels not given the worth that they deserve down south, the next touring city being almost a thirteen hour mini-bus drive away, and only one local radio station to entrust their support, but still Brisbane holds fast its reputation as being one of the best cities for an upcoming band to focus on their musical journey ahead. We have an eager audience and a lot of places - from full-fledge nightclubs to pubs to music friendly shops lending their backrooms - all willing to take a punt with fresh faces and organise shows.

All that said and done, Brisbane does promote a few local bands embarking on national and international success, and I'm talking about bands other than the Bee Gee's (Brisbanites do like to harp on the fact that we're orignal home to the seventies disco kings). There's Regurgitator, currently the hottest thing in Japan since Hello Kitty dolls, with their agressive guitar based rap and sampling sound which slots alongside American greats, the Beastie Boys, and of course Screamfeeder's quirky guitar tunes and the bubblegumish pop of Custard, so far the national perceived holy trinity of Brisbane bands. But being in Brisbane you know that there's so much more than that. Beer-bellied rock with brass in the form of Blowhard or Nancy Vandel, the burgeoning under-age scene promoted by Biro, later known as Small Fantasy (with their side band Adults Today) and our all time favourites The Melniks (famed for their cover of Canadian television show Degrassi Jr High song Zit Remedy and air swingin' guitar arm circle moves).

But hold on a second, there's still lots more.

Slint based rock with its introspective lyrics and musical stops and starts has come back in a big way in Brisbane, leaving us to ponder are we really five years behind the rest of the world or do we just appreciate a good thing. In this field we have Cardigan, Not From There, and to a lesser degree Nipper, all of whom play regular shows entertaining the local crowd and drawing interest from record label big-wigs down south. There's the classically trained John Lee Spider who have transformed their musical competance into hard-core jazz cum punk with sampling ability, or the experimental sounds of Minimum Chips, Tripod, Wonderous Fair, and Small World Experience. Not forgetting of course my personal favourite band to emerge from Brisbane, Turnpike, whose dual guitar and songwriting team divulge the sounds of Sonic Youth's entangled guitars mixed with Pavement's quirky art-rock lyrics and a dash of Sebadoh honesty thrown in. It appears to have become quite crowded on the Brisbane scene.

But what perpetuates this diversity of bands and sounds and styles? Brisbane supports its scene. It's as simple as that.

Copyright © 1997 Tricia Waterman e-mail address

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