It’s been a fair while for me to be down at the Bendigo Hotel or to a local gig in general, I miss it! The crowd, the people, the music, and especially the technical difficulties when playing or setting up! This night had it all and a flood of memories just came back like an old man reliving the golden years!
I was on the way to the gig, and saw a post from Fight The Sun, Melbourne alternative rock band who were meant to be opening up tonight and these guys are unreal at what they do! It’s been ages since I’ve seen them play and I was really looking forward to seeing them again, “We are no longer playing due to illness” SHATTERED! That line is starting to come up a lot more these days and I see it as a good and a bad thing. It’s bad because people don’t want to be around illness/sickness and given the current social climate anyone with a cough becomes a leper *insert Monty Python quote*. The good side is that bands are actually giving themselves some self-care and not pushing themselves or risking a shitshow on a member’s health! Either way, they were sorely missed.
Hitting the Bendigo Hotel at 8 pm when doors open there is a steady flow of people, for about 30mins and then that’s pretty much it, the venue hits about a third to half full and doesn’t grow anymore. It’s a bit of a shame given that there are some pretty damn good bands playing tonight and each band put on a good set, even given their troubles, but more on that point later.
First is Cicadastone, a bluesy, southern rock-sounding band with a singer that dances around the Layne Staley vocal style. Compared to the other bands on the bill tonight, what Cicadastone lacked in speed or technicality, they owned the night on feel and groove, with an absolute tight set, showing off some new material from an upcoming release, and apparently, the singer’s son was playing the drums, which he nailed. It was a great way to start off the night, warming up the crowd for the things to come.
Coming up next was Live Like Animals. Starting a little late from a slower setup, understandably after hearing their set, I'm guessing with a complete electro/synth backing track that lasted the entire set, that could take a bit of setting up. 3 Piece Alt Metal band from Syndey with no bassist... it's always the bassist missing... These guys played an incredibly tight set for having a backing track go the entire time, they must really know their cues. They stepped up the energy to another level and got some more crowd involvement. With taking a little time to set up, you would think that sets would be adjusted to make sure that everything still runs smooth, around about the time they should have finished. The background music was put on, over the band, who was playing through inner ear monitors and had no idea that something else was being played over them. I didn’t hear or see any interaction between the sound guy and the stage but there was no communication, and that sort of thing can kill a mood in an instant. It was a shame that it ended a great set that way.
Now what happened next, I have no idea but I’ve seen Ironstone set up before, they are a younger modern metal or “djenty” as the kids call it, style band but they are yet again, a completely digital band, running through guitar pedal boards. They have always been quick to set up and tonight it looked like everything that could go wrong, went wrong. The band hit the stage and start setting up. Singer, Drummer, and Parent are setting up drums, guitarists and bassist are doing their thing. One guitarist finished setting up, “Cool, play something for me” sound comes through FOH and Foldback, thumbs up, Move on! The other guitarist finishes just after, the same thing DONE! The drummer lets the sound guy know about a backing track that is to be played. No Sound. Sound guy comes up, changes some leads, goes back, nope nothing. Let the back and forth begin, once this is complete, Bassist has no sound. Lead change. Seems to fix it. RIGHT! Band gives a test run; one guitar isn’t coming through anymore. “What?” changes a few settings, starts up, guitar back on, THE OTHER GUITARIST STOPS COMING THROUGH NOW! “What the hell is going on!?” Mind you this is now 20mins into Ironstones set and tension is rising. What looks like a complete rewire of the stage, Ironstone who was meant to come on at 10:10 pm starts at 10:45 pm. Ironstone came on for a 4 song set, they hit their 3rd and said “We’ve been Ironstone, Cheers!” but that was then met with “One more song guys!” from one of the members of the headlining act, good on them for being understanding. The shortened set was tight, but the mix wasn’t great on them, they didn’t really get to break into a rhythm and find their spot sonically. The long changeover and muck around killed the flow of the night, unfortunately. I’m not 100% sure on what happened here but whether leads or something wasn’t connected properly but one thing would work and then something else would stop, it was insane to watch.
Ironstone, jump off the stage, thanking/apologizing to the headliners as they change places. Bad Moon Born start setting up and yet again, some leads were working and others weren’t, it didn’t look like it was just an Ironstone problem. Mics were changed, a bit more movement from the sound guy, definitely earning his money tonight, but given a reasonable changeover, lights are dimmed and Bad Moon Born shows us the reason they are headliners for tonight! They come on with looks that fit the name, all in black, jackets on, the singer is even wearing aviator sunnies, how much more rockstar can you get? After their first song, they thank the bands beforehand then get everyone to give it up for the sound guy, every band should make that a thing, it’s always appreciated by them, and they always try and make sure every show runs smooth. The crowd instantly get into it, mind you, it still never grew than about half, which is a shame cause these guys were good! They played covers of Billie Eilish's Bad Guy and NSYNC’s It’s Gotta Be Me, which the whole place was singing and dancing along to. The Bad Guy cover was great, it's already a darker track and they made it even darker again, and then who doesn’t love a good NSYNC cover song, it’s pretty clear they had fun working on them and everyone listening to it had a blast. The set ended with a feature from the singer of Future Static for duet, which everyone got into and was singing back.
Overall, with the mishaps of technical difficulties and the ups and downs of shortened sets, all bands played great sets. These things happen and it should be reminded to anyone that reads this who is in a band, make sure you thank the sound guy, they put up with so much shit, and having friends who do live sound cop it or just go un-thanked, you don’t know how much it's appreciated and the band is remembered by them when it does happen. Now we just need more people to remember that live music is coming back and start attending local shows, but one thing at a time I guess.