Items filtered by date: April 2013
Tuesday, 30 April 2013 20:17

Frankenstein: Theatre In Preview

Fractal Theatre Productions has reimagined a cult classic 'Frankenstein'. Adapted from Mary Shelley's original by Brenna Lee-Cooney, this play meshes together mime, dance, text and song into a dramatic and riveting theatre experience.

The production also features original music by Eugene Gilfedder and dynamic choreography by Brian Lucas. As the creator of this gothic masterpiece, Brenna Lee-Cooney takes her cast and crew to dark places and demands the most from them. This looks to be an unmissable show and Cooney promises a show unlike any other.

Describe the show in 5 words?
Drama, dance and music revive Shelley's ‘Frankenstein’.

What is your role in the production and how did that come about?
I am the Director and adapter of the script. I founded the Fractal Theatre Productions company with my husband Eugene Gilfedder in 1989 and I have a history of creating new works for the company.

What is your past experiences with 'Frankenstein'?
Reading the novel primarily and then trying to avoid the spoofs which ignore the book pretty much entirely.

Why do you think it has such appeal after all this time?
It was the first of its kind. The Monster and Creator argument poses endless questions for humanity — especially with our current scientific possibilities.

What is the cast and crew like? I see you have some notable sorts like Eugene Gilfedder and Brian Lucas.
The cast are fantastic and work brilliantly in this ensemble context. They are multi-skilled and bring dance, circus and singing skills to their acting performances. Eugene Gilfedder has been Co-Artistic Director of Fractal since 1989. Brian Lucas has a passion for Shelley's novel 'Frankenstein' and has long wanted to be a part of creating a stage adaptation and so he has come on board as movement coach/ facilitator. 

What is your favourite line in the play?
'I was born innocent, misery has made me a fiend.'

How is this version different to the countless that have been done before?
This version is different basically because it sticks to the original novel whereas most others diverge wildly. Very little has been changed other than to tease and flesh out characters more fully, based on the information and ideas provided in the book.

Any crazy/ weird/ funny behind-the-scenes stories?
Probably the craziest part — which has provided endless side-splitting moments during rehearsal — is the character Clerval being killed with a volume of the 'Kama Sutra'!

Anything else the readers should know?
There will be two midnight performances with a door prize for the best dressed monster and best dressed corpse bride.

'Frankenstein' will be staged at the Brisbane Arts Theatre from May 3-18 with two midnight shows on Saturday May 4 and 11.

Published in Theatre
Tuesday, 30 April 2013 20:07

Iron Man 3: Film Review

Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Kingsley. Directed by Shane Black.

Don't envy Shane Black. Sure, the director's got a massive budget and a great cast to work with here, but he also has the thankless task of replacing Jon Favreau at the helm of the Iron Man franchise, and the brutal task of following up Joss Whedon's ‘Avengers’.

And, at least at first, he makes a hash of it. Frankly, ‘Iron Man 3’ gets off to a rough start — for the first hour or so, it plays out like a disjointed mess, weighed down by tonal issues, awkward dialogue, broad humour, an intrusive score and a hokey, by-the-numbers, logic-optional plot that relies on smart characters doing stupid things to propel itself forward.

There seems to be nothing here we haven't seen before — anxiety attacks have replaced the Palladium poisoning of ‘Iron Man 2’ (the producers have clearly figured out Tony Stark is most interesting when he's plagued by something, but refuse to delve into the alcoholism of the comics). The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) appears to be a stock standard Bin Laden analogue, and Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) is the least impressive villain in a series that hasn't exactly been known for its impressive villains, his character arc seemingly lifted wholesale from Jim Carrey's in ‘Batman Forever’.

But the film comes alive in its second half, with the reveal of a certain character's true nature. Trust me, you'll never see them coming. It's not just that the twist is clever or funny, it's that it's only at that moment that ‘Iron Man 3’ starts to feel like a Shane Black movie in the vein of ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ and ‘Lethal Weapon’, as opposed to something that was made by a committee.

From there on in, the run to the finish line is filled with clever winks to the audience and plays on action movie tropes, and packed with spectacular action sequences (which were largely spoiled by the trailers, but whatever; that'll only ruin your first viewing). It's not like all the problems with the film are magically fixed; it just gets a lot easier to ignore them.

Most impressively, Black — the king of bromance — is finally able to make the relationship between Tony Stark and James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) work on screen. Which just makes it more of a shame, in hindsight, that Cheadle is largely absent for the first half of the movie.

It all builds to a stirring finale, not just for this film, but for the series as a whole. We all know Stark will be in the ‘Avengers’ sequel, but where they go from there — and whether Downey Jr is still interested in going with them — is anyone's guess. (And yes, there's a post-credits scene, and yes, it's worth waiting for.)
It's not how you start, it's how you finish. That's what they say, anyway, and ‘Iron Man 3’ certainly finishes strongly enough to make you forget the way it stumbles out of the gate. Still, I can't help but hope they give this particular character a rest for a while.

3.5/5

‘Iron Man 3’ is now showing.

Published in Film

It is time for the annual 'Roadshow', where a cast of travelling comedians hits the road to bring the hilarity of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival to crowds all across Australia.

Now in its 15th year, ‘The Roadshow’ will combine a cast of local names, newcomers and overseas guests to spread their comedy chaos with far-flung audiences. One of the featured comedians this year is Tommy Little and he sheds some light on what really goes on when they're on the road.

Describe the show in 5 words?
Comedy comedy comedy comedy drinking.

What does your involvement look like?
That’s a very personal question, you show me your involvement first and then we can discuss mine.

Why this style of show?
Because we’re stand-up comedians so we thought a stand-up comedy show would really play to our strengths. We contemplated doing a Crusty Demons-style motorbike show but none of us can ride so we decided to just stick to comedy.

Do you have any weird/ awkward/ embarrassing stories from on stage?
If this interview was happening on a stage this would officially be the most awkward moment in my comedy career.

What do you admire most about your fellow comedians on the MICFR?
The fact that they can put up with spending day after day with me trapped in a minivan, that’s pretty impressive.

Who is the funniest out of all of you and why?
Cal Wilson because I think she is the most likely to read this article, love you Cal.

Anything else readers should know?
That they should come and see the show, we’ve got the best homegrown and international comedy stars coming to your town. It’s the only chance this year you’ll have to see live comedy this good so come out and support it. I hope to see you there for a beer and a chuckle.

See a fine selection of comedians at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow May 15-18 at the Brisbane Powerhouse.

Published in Comedy
Tuesday, 30 April 2013 19:50

Mind Over Matter: Still Smiling

Whether it’s talking about strip Twister or why you should always have a band-aid in your wallet, chatting to Mind Over Matter’s Smiles Again is always interesting.

Currently working on their third album, 'This Way To Elsewhere', the Sydney act have a new single out called 'Real Life', the video for which portrays one very interesting game of Twister.

“I was talking to Chance Waters about the original idea for the 'Real Life' video which was about a traffic officer having a really shitty day … then I was like 'yeah, that's a really cool idea, but is it going to be something that people want to pass on to their friends?' Then strip twister with old people just came to mind.”

It's not the usual geriatric nudity either, with a fruit platter, whipped cream and a dazzling shower of golden glitter that will stay with Smiles Again forever.

“Oh my gosh, there's still glitter! I find glitter on me every day … it took 45 minutes in the shower and the thing was it wasn't just glitter, we had cream all over us.”
Whether or not the image of an oiled up, glittery grandma titillates you, you can catch Mind Over Matter at the Caxton Seafood Festival this Sunday. And it won't just be Smiles Again and his MC partner Willow this time around, as the duo will perform with several guests.

“We're taking a singer around with us called K.I.K.I who sang on 'Real Life', she's never toured before so it's all very new and exciting for her. And we've got DJ Enterprise who's a new DJ we've acquired over the last year or so, and he's just like the best dude on Earth.”

If you need a musical reference to the sounds of Mind Over Matter, Smiles Again says: “It's really like going to the moon, thinking it's cheese, and then realising it's not cheese, and then there being a big cheese stand just there on the moon. So it's a bit of a roller coaster really, you're up and you're down.”

If anything, he's a man ready to offer his strange brand of wisdom anytime.

“Keep a band-aid in your wallet. When someone cuts themselves, or you cut yourself, and you've got one on you, you're a hero!”

Mind Over Matter perform at the Caxton Street Seafood Festival May 5.

Published in Urban
Tuesday, 30 April 2013 19:31

Johnny Hooves: Game Changer

He’s toured the globe playing drums for Shapeshifter; has recently released his debut EP and runs his own record label. Did somebody say workhorse?

But that's a day in the life of musician and DJ Johnny Hooves (aka John Clayton) whose latest production project has been Ganga Giri's next LP.

“When Ganga came to me, as a beat maker I saw an opportunity to fuse the expressive and sonic sound of the didgeridoo with modern techno, synths and squelchy dance music,” Johnny says. “At the moment I'm trying to use that didgeridoo flavour … and move away from what we might think of traditional didgeridoo and dance music.

“We've got about the first third of the record done, a couple tunes are finished [but] I'm still learning, working out what the greater concept of this record is gonna be. I guess we're just throwing ideas out onto a canvas as far as the greater album goes.”

Johnny has made it his duty over the course of his career to steer against the tide of mainstream electro tunes. And perhaps his first solo EP, 'Back From The Brink', is his most definitive work – fusing downtempo dubstep with a plethora of original sounds.

“I've always loved that rhythm even when I used to play in a reggae band, The Red Eyes, and we had tunes that had that nice rolling, stepping tempo. I felt – and still feel – that so much more of the dance possibilities can be explored in that half-time context.

“I took some of the ideas I love from making drum & bass and mashed stuff together in half-time feel … And I had one big soul vocal tune that was really bright, but it was still really heavy. Another track had a bright house style rhythm and I managed to work that over a big jungle bass.”

But according to Johnny, not all dubstep is, well, fresh.

“I feel like dubstep got a really simple sonic identity really quickly and people wrote a simple rulebook for it, and everybody copied. And that's it. Nobody really thought much into what they were doing.

“There's a willingness play the game, make the sound, use your social media with the right kind of music and you'll get released on this label, and those are the guys selling most of the records at the moment. Everybody copies them for a while and the business works.”

These are the kinds of things that inspire Johnny to push the boundaries of electronica and apply his own personal touch to the genre.

“I'm comfortable with myself and the business of my music where I just want to make my beats for myself, play my gigs when they're there and enjoy them. I couldn't be satisfied copying someone else's music that I only partially like or not at all. I don't wanna do something just for the sake of selling records.

“When I write a tune I think about how it's gonna sit into a set, but I don't necessarily think about what label it'll go on. Having said that, there's a little bit of hypocrisy to that because Oscar [Davey-Wraight – from Opiuo – is] doing really well and he came from doing something different.”

Needless to say, Johnny is forever in search for like-minded DJs when it comes to inking other acts to his record label, Increase Audio.

“The label is all pretty new and I'm still trying to figure how to juggle that, because as you could imagine, it's all a juggling act. The label is my new baby and that came about as a necessity to get my last EP out.

“The concept for the label is the same for the [EP] and that's a fusion approach. The [EP] was taking lots of dubstep rhythms and trying to marry them with techno, drum & bass and reggae. So, the concept behind the label is to find music that is fusing current sounds with a whole lot of other flavours.”

Johnny Hooves supports Opiuo and Spoonbill at The Hi-Fi Saturday May 4.

Published in Electronic
Tuesday, 30 April 2013 19:21

Vince Jones Band: Improvisation & Soul

A living legend of the Australian jazz landscape, Vince Jones will be heading north next month for the inaugural Brisbane International Jazz Festival.

Life on the road, performing to strangers — you obviously still get a buzz from it, is there much difference now in how you approach a show?
As far as playing music goes it feels better than when I was younger. I still get a buzz as you say. Five thousand gigs and thirty-eight years on the road; it’s obvious, I’m a birth to death musician.

Do you still get nervous prior to performing?
Yes I do. It’s a more contained nervousness these days. The fear of performing in front of people is overpowered by my love of singing beautiful songs and playing with the band.

The inaugural Brisbane International Jazz Festival... it’s a great addition to Australia’s jazz calendar, right?
Festivals are the best way to promote our music (jazz) to the masses. The music is portrayed in a respectful light in festival excitement mode. There is so much great music and so many great musicians in this country that need to be heard and jazz festivals are the best way to hear them.

Your idea of jazz; can you explain it in one sentence?
The key words are improvisation and interaction and soul. When you mix these elements with a song you will get an explosion of creativity.

Of all the brass instruments, the flugelhorn does standout for its appearance. Why do you enjoy the flugelhorn?
The bright sound of the trumpet doesn’t sit with me as much as the darker, richer sound of the flugelhorn. The flugel is called the horn of flight. I do love the tone of the flugel — it has a sad yet uplifting sound. I started out on the cornet in the brass band and when I was 18 I heard Miles Davis and quickly moved to the trumpet. When anyone hears Miles they get inspired to play or learn the trumpet.

The Vince Jones Band plays the International Jazz Festival at the Brisbane Powerhouse May 31.

Published in Jazz/ Fusion

Last Wednesday night as the diggers settled in for an early evening ahead of dawn services across the nation, British folk-rock act (they really need to drop the folk aspect of the label, but more about that a little later) Turin Brakes broke a decade long absence from our sunburnt continent with a glorious 90-minute set that straddled the really old, not so old and some damn shiny new material.

‘Average Man’, ‘Clear Blue Air’ and ‘Pain Killer (Summer Rain)’ featured from their seminal album, ‘Ether Song’, and sounded as fresh as they did circa 2003. ‘Fishing For A Dream’ featured a nice, acoustic re-rub.

TURINBREAKS

While a midset mash-up of Pink Floyd had a spirited front section nodding away enthusiastically. Offering their sincere apologies for their ten-year absence from our shores throughout, the duo of Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian, who were joined onstage by Rob Allum and Eddy Myer for a much punchy sound, unveiled two new songs. And judging by the fangs these two rock numbers had, album number seven will be well worth waiting for — second half of the year, guys. Come again real soon.

TURINBREAKS2
Photos: Munya Chawora

Published in Rock
Tuesday, 30 April 2013 19:02

Astrid & The Asteroids: Cosmic Funk

Winners of the Queensland Music Awards Billy Thorpe Scholarship last year, Astrid & The Asteroids have been making a name for themselves ever since.

Known for their energetic glitter-laden live shows and unique jazz-infused brand of space pop, frontwoman Astrid Jorgensen says the conception of the quirky five-piece was something that came about unexpectedly.

"It's really rare that a uni project translates into real life. I had to make a CD of songs that I'd written for an assignment and I asked my boyfriend Evan to play the trumpet. We had all met just through social circles and friends and I asked the first people that came to mind, but we had a really good time and ended up sticking together.”

With previous years' winners having included artists such as DZ Deathrays, Cub Scouts and Kate Miller-Heidke, entries have been extended until May 6 for this year’s QMAs. Astrid says winning the Billy Thorpe Scholarship opened plenty of doors for the band.

"We were so stoked. We wrote a huge application and sent off all of our music and were lucky enough to be picked. Basically it's money for recording and meeting industry professionals; it's been really helpful for us and we're very thankful.”

Now the group are almost ready to release their new single.

"We recorded with the Billy Thorpe Scholarship money over Christmas and we're about to release our first single, and then we're hoping to release an EP or album this year depending on how the single is received."

Astrid says punters can expect a lively performance when the band next take to the stage.

"It will be glittery with probably too much lycra. We're trying to cut back on that a little bit because the boys are getting embarrassed. In our recordings we try to create a really precise and polished sound but in our live shows we like to do big solos and have a bit of a dance and get the audience involved, so it’s definitely high energy stuff."

Astrid & The Asteroids play the Bris Powerhouse May 10. Entries for Queensland Music Awards close May 6.

Published in Rock
Tuesday, 30 April 2013 18:57

Halfway: Grand Simplicity

After more than a decade together, Brisbane rock and rollers Halfway are still aiming to move onwards and upwards with their upcoming fourth album.

“The concept of the album as an entity is very strong and this album is in fact moving on even more coherently, it’s almost a concept album,” says guitarist John Wilsteed. “There's a core of songs which are about the dissolution of a marriage. These songs being at the conceptual centre have really coloured how we’re recording. It’s a really thoughtful process, and this one in particular I have felt a very pleasing and satisfying feeling in making it.”

Aided by former Go-Betweens member Robert Forster on the production side of things, Halfway have benefited greatly from the Brisbane icon’s extensive experience.
“He's a great music lover and a great thinker as well. Working with Robert has been fantastic. He takes the craft of arranging very seriously and helps us to whittle and carve the best song out of the stuff we have.”

With eight members comprising the band, newest (but oldest) member John says the band’s size was the most attractive prospect about the group.

“I was drawn to this band; not only because of the size but the sound they could create. I had seen them a few times and I’m really drawn to the big, thundering nature of it. But it was also about the lyrical quality – the band comes from Rocky, and there’s something about the highway and the country that still lingers in the songwriting. It’s open but also quite dark.”

On first listen, Halfway may seem to sit in your realm of classic or ‘vintage’ rock & roll with tinges of country, but John begs to differ – noting that belonging to a particular genre isn’t pertinent to the band. 

“We have acoustic instruments and electric instruments – we're not a dance band, it’s a song band. It sits in the world where country music and indie rock meets – alt-country and indie rock perhaps. I hate to try and genre-fy this band.

“The influences are quite wide and some of the others are quite veracious music consumers but I don't think you can ever know everything about music or a genre. People will constantly do something simple and show you something new about it.”

Halfway play The Zoo May 3.

Published in Rock
Nicky Bomba is always chomping at the bit for something for to do.

He's had his drumsticks in many pies over the years, including John Butler Trio, Bustamento and Bomba. But it's perhaps his most unusual group whose debut LP has started to gain momentum. Bomba claims Melbourne Ska Orchestra started off "as a bit of a joke" - who knew that ten years later it would wind up on top of the ARIA Jazz and Blues chart.

"We wanted to set a world record for how many horn players we could get on stage at the one time doing the upbeat of the ska — the 'skank'. So we put the word out to see if anyone was interested and we were surprised with how many people wanted to be involved. The gig we ended up doing was massive — people had to be turned away at the door! It was a real celebration of ska and reggae and we totally forgot about the world record attempt. The band was born."

With that gig, Bomba picked up his newborn act, scraped the afterbirth from its face, severed the umbilical cord and took it home. Melbourne Ska Orchestra isn't really a band though, so much as it is a roving, raving machine of good vibes, loud horns and chaos. The word 'orchestra' isn't used lightly here, either. This is literally a ska orchestra, with Bomba at the helm.

"Stranger things have happened. I like to give myself projects, so I probably would have started some kind of ska band eventually. But this really played out on a silver platter, with 30 people jumping up and down. The [ska] scene was always there, but lately with the influx of technology and people being exposed to more music it’s become very healthy."

Listening to Nicky Bomba talk about ska music is like watching a classic ‘80s buddy cop movie. Bomba is like the hardened cop on the streets a week out from retiring, with ska music that sassy new recruit that keeps changing the radio station in Bomba's car. A friendship grows, and a crime-solving montage ensues.

"I think it's one of the most universal forms of music; there's a lot of different rhythmic equations, and it usually brings a kind of positive, uplifting vibe. When ska hit the planet in 1963, the backdrop was that of Jamaica becoming independent and having this youthful exuberance at being able to do their own thing. There was an energy there. That's pillar one. But I got into ska on the second wave — bands like Madness, Specials, Selecter, the whole two-tone thing, you know?

That was a reflection of Thatcher's England, and of the racial violence that was happening."

The hardest task Bomba's been faced with of late has been taking his infatuation with all things ska and squeezing it into an album. With MSO furiously jumping up and down since 2003, how does one capture that energy in the space of one CD?

"We ended up recording 20 songs with a couple of covers. But what we tried to do when we put the album together was to have a real balanced representation of early ska, two-tone, and Melbourne ska. There's also four singers in the band, so we wanted to make sure that all the singers were showcased."

As exciting as MSO's debut is, there’s no doubt the outfit is best sampled live. At times it can feel like Bomba is barely in control of this renegade group of horn-wielding skatalites, a scene that this sticksman is only too comfortable with.

"I love the idea of it as a ramshackle train that I'm the crazy conductor of. I like things when they're just about to fall off the edge! The orchestra is a really beautiful setting for that. It's incredible how uplifting it is to have so many people on stage focused on just having a good time and playing music that they love. It's hard to describe. There's a lot of love there, and there's hardly any train wrecks."

Melbourne Ska Orchestra play the Tivoli May 11. Their self-titled debut is out now.
Published in Reggae/ Roots
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