BETWEEN YOU AND ME
Gallery by Tracie Tee
Gallery by Tracie Tee
It doesn’t matter what night of the week it is in Melbourne if there is a show to be attending, the crowds will come.
And for the masses gathering at 170 Russell on a slightly sticky Tuesday evening, this pop punk line-up was pretty epic, and definitely brought out my inner angsty teen.
Opening for one of the UK’s finest pop-punk bands, Neck Deep, was a throng of super talented Aussie acts ready to showcase their magic.
First up was Brisbane’s Stateside, having been together since 2014, they have knocked out two EP’s, 2015’s. debut Burning Bridges and Naive came in 2017 after having spent some time refining there sound with the influential Troy Brady formerly of The Amity Affliction.
Throwing up tunes like This Is War, and The Way We Were, as well as a cover of the hit song by Avril Lavigne Sk8er Boi to endear the crowd a little.
Next cab off the rank was Melbourne’s own Between You And Me. These guys bought the level up several notches with a dynamic energy and super tight performance. The seasoned punksters showed their experience, as they ripped through their set featuring tracks like Friends From 96, Dakota and Move On. Having already pulled a number of tour slots, these guys are young and full of talent so if you haven’t seen them yet be sure you do, you will surely be as impressed as I was.
Stand Atlantic from Sydney are just a class act. Musically on point, they have gathered a following since forming in 2014, with strong performances and numerous big name opening spots. Their current album Skinny Dipping features the single Lavender Bones, and debuted at number 17 on the iTunes charts in October this year, shortly after they signed to Hopeless Records. A super enjoyable set from them as the crowd did start to become restless waiting for Neck Deep.
Neck Deep are no strangers to Oz, with it being a favourite destination of theirs for a number of years. The UK natives in their final show of the tour, promise to take us on a rollercoaster of sorts and that they surely did.
Formed in early 2012 when vocalist Ben Barlow and guitarist Lloyd Robert met and posted What Did You Expect online.
This lead to a chain of events, which in turn saw the band recruit Matt West and Dani Washington, and then sign with the We Are Triumphant label. They released their EP, Rain In July, in September 2012, and by December 2012, made their live debut. In February 2013 they got their first UK support tour and released their second EP. Such was the excitement surrounding these guys, that a video of their live performance prompted a signing to Hopeless Records.
Wishful Thinking was their debut album released in 2014, and was backed up with a headlining tour of the UK. Picking up numerous tour spots, supporting some of the best pop punk bands like Knuckle Puck and Trophy Eyes. In an almost constant cycle of recording and touring through 2014 and 2015 also, unfortunately, saw an incident where Lloyd Roberts stepped down from his lead guitar position and he was replaced shortly thereafter by Sam Bowden.
The Peace And The Panic, Neck Deep’s most recent album, was heavily influenced in its writings by the passing of Ben’s father. This would be in part why we were promised a rollercoaster.
Opening with the upbeat energy driven Motion Sickness and Gold Steps, the crowd were hugely vocal and were more than ready to lap up the almost tangible electricity. Singing every word, quite impressively I might say, they were faultless right through Smooth Seas Don’t Make Good Sailors, Parachute and a cover song, Torn, once made famous by Natalie Imbruglia.
Taking time to speak to the crowd often, Ben spoke of many topics that mean a lot to him and the band, including mental health life and death. Along the way he spoke with a very high regard to their longtime friend and tour manager, Ian Koletsis, (or Newy as he is affectionately known) as this show would be his last. Then Ben retold stories of how they met, and how much Newy meant to him and the band.
Happy Judgement Day, Kali Ma and What Did You Expect were punched out next, followed by Citizens of Earth, and Don’t Wait.
Ironically, next was the song December – a classic breakup song, being played in December.
And this is where the low of the rollercoaster was, and the mood considerably shifted with Ben openly discussing how the loss of his father affected him as he leads into Candour.
In a night filled with so much raw emotion, Ben’s next anecdote was one that struck a chord and was riddled with a truth lost on this generation. He spoke about how his parents met. Two people in seemingly bad situations took a chance and fell in love, spending the next 40 years together. Ben then spoke of how the pace of life, social media, and other factors seem to have meant that the beauty of getting out and taking chances, meeting people and finding your true love are all but gone. He encouraged people to get out, put down your phones, slow down in life and take chances. For me personally, this was the most poignant part of the whole show with the most positive message. This naturally led into 1970 Sumthin’, which was written about his parents.
In Bloom was next, and being both a crowd and band favourite, it is always a treat to hear and see. Giving us a line about how it was the last song, and then joking about how we knew the drill and obviously there would be an encore.
The break was exceptionally short and the crowd was ready to give it one last blast of energy to lift the roof as Can’t Kick Up The Roots and Where Do We Go When We Go closed out this amazing set.
And so concluded a pop-punk night of nights, and the crowd appeared both happy and weary on their way out. The near constant high energy is tiring at best!
Neck Deep were definitely a highlight of my concert year, and to see such a great spread of Aussie talent from right across the country was just a real bonus.
Review Contributed by Jodi Maree
Gallery by Tracie Tee (Brisbane Show)
With a stellar line up of old and new skool R’n’B artists, it’s no surprise that RnB Fridays Live at the RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane was played to a huge sell-out crowd of over 30,000 people. The advertising prior had been quite strong on both social media and on the radio program itself. The organisers even had an auto messenger set up to give attendees live updates on the day for the event, which was clever communication.
Entering through a carpark to gain entry to the event, would have felt hidden if it weren’t for the road closures, detour signs and people everywhere. The event opened its doors at 2:30 pm that afternoon with the first artists, Next jumping into the fray at 4 pm. As you entered through, you passed the Hit 105 four wheel drive parked giving the opportunity for a selfie but also an indication you were headed in the right direction before being checked through the gate by security and grabbing wristbands. Continuing through, I was faced with the neon archway emblazed with RnB Fridays logos and multiple entries for each of the pass types. There was also a merch stall, food trucks and purple lit bars full of libations.
By the time I had gotten there, Trey Songz had started his set at 7:15 pm. There were crowds everywhere all over the grounds of the oval to full seating in all the stands. Trey shouted out to Australia and confessed his love for Australian girls. The set included tracks such as Neighbours Know My Name, I Need a Girl, Slow Motion and party anthem Bottom’s Up. Many in the crowd formed their own little dance crews showing off moves to each other. Women screaming in delight as Trey stripped off his singlet and teasingly wiped his chest and stomach as he sang. His voice also doing favours with the ladies, smooth and soulful. After he completed his set, the intermission was hardly dead silence.
Between artists, the festival’s emcee, Fatboy Scoop would entertain the crowd with competitions, social media reminders and epic singalong countdowns played by DJ Horizon featuring hits like Eminem’s Lose Yourself (8 Mile), 50 Cent’s In Da Club and Missy Elliot’s Get Ur Freak On. The stage itself had full-blown production values and seriously huge screens, which played all sorts of graphics and videos and played the music videos to accompany the singalongs. Once the Top Ten countdown was completed, those sassy ladies Salt’n’Pepa hit the stage, proclaiming it was time to “party old skool!”
Salt’n’Pepa had a fantastic dance crew and their DJ, Spinderella accompanying their set with the original music videos playing along on the massive screens with smoke streams across the stage, doing their wicked rhyming thang, with Shake Your Thang. They thanked the audience for all their support for the past 32 years and asked the audience who were “70s babies? 80s babies? (woo me!) 90s babies? Cute little 2000s babies who were brought here by their mom?” They also saluted the 60s babies for how they roll, before breaking into R U Ready and into the megahit, Let’s Talk About Sex. The audience dancing, rhyming along while girls were sitting on their guys’ shoulders waving hands around.
They then dedicated their next song, Whatta Man to Australian men. Then headed into their finale busting their iconic moves and slipping on their equally iconic bomber jackets for Shoop and Push It, bringing their set to a booming conclusion!
Fatboy Scoop taking back the audience’s attention for the artist’s changeover with DJ Horizon mixing up and dishing out more popular R’n’B tracks, attendees showing off their dance moves to each other on the ground. Meanwhile, on the main stage, visual checks were in the works in preparation for the night’s final headline act, Usher and Lil Jon.
Then it went to blackout. Screens lit up with Usher adorned with cyberpunk inspired graphics and helicopter audio, before making his dramatic entrance on the DJ section of the main stage in silhouette. All was silent for a moment, save for the audience screaming his name. Dance troupe on stage, spotlight on Usher revealing a black cyberpunk inspired outfit with aviator sunnies reminiscent of his hero, Michael Jackson.
Pulling his signature smooth moves, Usher broke into his opening number with lasers flashing from stage across the clear night sky. Lil Jon showed up not long after, making his appearance in a New York basketball singlet rapping along. Bad Girl followed up with a female dancer in the spotlight, spotting a black leotard dancing with Usher. Back To Sleep (Remix) saw Usher strip off his jacket with the ladies screaming for more. The song featured a skit with three female dancers dancing with him throughout the song and at the end, leaving him “upset” that they’re not the only ones dancing with him. Lil Jon joking afterward with Usher saying, “You got to pick one” with Usher replying, “True. But I want them all!” Audience erupting in a mix of laughter and screams. Performing the next track, Usher once again strips his singlet to reveal… another singlet. Now there’s a troll for the thirsty ladies!
Hands were bouncing for Confessions and Usher left the stage for a quick break while Lil Jon revved up the crowd with his aggressive mad dash of rap melody including Alive, Get Low and Gasolina (Remix). Usher returning on stage with a costume change of white with an umbrella and a bowler hat complete with feather. Continuing on with the theatrics, Usher approached a clear white lit briefcase on a table, building suspense. Unfortunately not quite working in his favour, as what he expected to be in the briefcase clearly not. Usher laughing while a stagehand rushes to the scene to pop in the surprise, saying to the audience to, “reset. Forget that happened!” Too funny to not forget, sorry and a true good testament to you as a performer- you took this so well in your stride where others might not have.
As for the surprise reveal- the classic U logo on the silver chain was in the briefcase! Usher slipping on the bling with Lil Jon busting into In Da Club. Flamethrowers lighting up the front of the stage as Usher continued delivering signature hits such as Oh My Gosh and Caught Up with Lil Jon’s party anthem Shots delivering the final blows to a killer set!
Review Contributed by Sarah Minazzo
Gallery By Tracie Tee
The last convention of the year, Supanova Comic-Con & Gaming went off with a bang at Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre this past weekend. It is one of Australia’s largest pop culture celebrations with three action-packed days of Supa-star guests, cosplay, gaming and geeky shopping perfectly timed for Christmas.
In over thirteen years of attending Supanova, I got to say this was actually one of the most memorable and had a wonderful variety of guests from film and television to anime and even Youtube. To truly recreate the experience for you, I need to break this down over the days. I’ll also explain some con terms on the way for those who haven’t had the chance to experience a comic con or Supanova yet.
DAY 1- FRIDAY
Friday is traditionally the sneak peek night for most cities that hold the event. Due to Brisnova and Sydnova’s popularity, those particular cities were given the extended weekend with Friday opening at 1 pm. This is especially fantastic for those who might be working weekend shifts. Friday also has most of the celebrities in attendance signing and posing for photos with the fans. I personally was keen to meet my childhood Superman, Dean Cain of Lois & Clark fame who by the way, lived up to the Superman name and didn’t disappoint. Friday being a weekday, is less crowded than the rest of the weekend, so if you’re out to grab photos and autographs with your favourite Supa-Star, that’s your day to do so.
I made it to two panels that afternoon. Panels or Q&A’s are run with the guest and an MC and also give the audience a chance to ask a question. The Friday panels were fantastic, as they grouped up guests who had a common theme. In this case, I made it to the “DC Universe” panel, which featured Dean Cain, Manu Bennett (Arrow) and Ryan Potter (Titans). I managed to get a question in asking since all three had someone (be it voice actor or on-screen actor) play their character previously, if the past performance had any bearing on how they approached their characters. Cain had answered that Christopher Reeve certainly had some bearing, as he often played the Superman part of the role by pretending to be Reeve when he put the suit on, but then would approach the Clark side in his own way. Bennett had spoken about how he was given the official approval by Deathstroke’s creator. Potter (as he had spoken in our interview earlier last month) mentioned how he was trained by Cipes and how much he loved Cipes in the role of Beast Boy.
Later on, I sat in on the “Torchwood” panel featuring the infamous John Barrowman, Gareth David-Lloyd and Carole Barrowman. I didn’t get a chance to ask a question but it was a fun panel, talking about fan theories and trying to work out the how’s of Capt Jack Harkness and the Face of Boe (that’s the simplest I can put it- go watch Russell T. Davies’ era Doctor Who).
Afterward, it was time for autographs, photos, and shopping. It was an absolute breeze to walk around and look at the Ghostbusters 2016 Ecto 1 vehicle and the Terminator hearse. This was the calm before the storm.
DAY 2- SATURDAY
Saturdays are notorious for being the busiest day of Supanova, often by lunchtime the exhibition floor becomes standing room only. This year wasn’t really much different. It was big, loud and busy! The Rock Stars Rock Band 4 Rivals stage gave attendees the opportunity to live out their rock star dreams with a genuine stage set up to play the Rock Band game singing and strumming along to their favourite tracks. It’s a Supanova staple activity that’s been around since the beginning (I know, I was there!) and with the new amazing stage setup, it went next level.
Gaming was also on the menu with ESL hosting the Australia & New Zealand Video Gaming Championship with esports teams duking it out live. This was alongside the PC Gaming Zone and Nintendo Switch Zone, allowing attendees of all gaming skill levels to play along. Speaking of duking it out, the AWF Wrestling Ring another Supanova staple, held wrestling matches throughout the weekend pleasing wrestling fans.
Photos ops don’t just end with the cars and Supa-Stars- Whovians (Doctor Who fans) had the Tardis with Daleks and Bessie. Star Wars fans had the 501st Legion Redback Garrison and The Rebel Legion Tatooine Base with awesome backdrops and accurate costumers to take photos with. Both photo areas were raising money for the Brainchild Foundation, which helps children with brain and spinal tumors.
I made it to Christina Ricci’s panel around lunchtime to hear her speak about her love for working on The Addams Family. She also explained how she got her start as a child actor in commercials with an understandably protective former model mother.
I also got to chat with a few Supa-Star guests that day- Gary Lockwood (2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek), Keir Dulea (2001: A Space Odyssey), Josh Grelle (Attack On Titan, Yuuri On Ice!), Morgan Garrett (Attack On Titan, Tokyo Ghoul) and Zach McGowan (Black Sails, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD).
DAY 3- SUNDAY
Sundays are still busy although slightly less than Saturday. This, however, doesn’t it make it any less important. Being Remembrance Day, it was quite a sight and sound when it got to 11 am. It was announced minutes prior over the PA to give everyone a chance to stop what they were doing and to become silent. The stillness was something to behold. Every person solid in their spot as far as the eye could see whilst the PA played a voiceover of the Lest We Forget poem and the Last Post.
Once life was restored after the minute’s silence, it was back to the fray. Sunday’s are also traditionally the day where stalls will discount their merchandise in order to make it a little easier for the pack up and bump out that follows after the event closes. Even in the world of internet shopping, I guarantee you’ll find products that you didn’t even know existed. Artists Alley is especially unique with often handmade artisan products and fan art that beat your average local markets when it comes to geekery.
On the cosplay (aka costume making role-playing, also costume role-playing) front, the new Supanova national competition, Supanova Cosplay Odyssey held its first Queensland round, with its winner to return next year to compete alongside other state winners for the chance to become the national champion, winning a trip to DragonCon in the US. The first Cosplay Dash was also held, a cosplay parade style competition where cosplayers can walk on stage and pose.
As the day wound down, I went to the most wound up panel- John Barrowman. I mentioned infamous before right? Well, this is what he is infamous for. Barrowman doesn’t just put on a panel, he puts on a spectacular! Sporting a specially designed Peter Alexander rainbow sequinned pajamas set, Barrowman brought his brand of sass, answered outrageous fan questions, played Tim Tam Jenga (hang on- let me explain, he collects Tim Tams from fans over the weekend and gets them stacked in a tower where selected audience members will play Jenga) and sang with great vigor, “I Am What I Am.”
Whew, with great exhaustion at the end of this weekend, I will state as per Supanova’s slogan, I “had a blast!”
Supanova will be returning next year with its first stops at the Gold Coast and Melbourne. The first guest announcement of Tyler Posey (Star of Teen Wolf) was declared over the PA at the show’s closing causing excited chatter over the floor.
Review Contributed by Sarah Minazzo
Gallery Contributed by Tracie Tee
Gallery By Tracie Tee
Gallery By Tracie Tee
Gallery By Tracie Tee
Gallery By Tracie Tee