Performing on 7th February 2011 @ Billboard the Venue
Performing at Laneway Festival just two days before, this was admittedly going to be a tough set for Blonde Redhead, who have pioneered their brand of indie-electro rock since 1995, and are currently on tour to promote their eighth studio album. You can’t get more dedicated than that. Set to kick things off tonight to open the show is South Australian born, now Melboure local, Amaya Laucirica. She is joined on stage by three local lads, one of which is Melbourne guitarist Andrew Cowie (ex-Blessington), and together treat the laidback, eclectic crowd to breathy yet guitar-driven songs with a healthy dose of reverb, which make the tracks sound gloriously epic .Switching with ease between keyboard and guitar, Amaya finishes off the set with the ballad-style This World Can Make You Happy.
Carrying on the unexpectedly tranquil and hypnotic vibe, Kazu Makino appears on stage, backlit by a dozen silver umbrellas covering the back wall which flash intermittently. She is resplendent in blue and silver sparkly leggings and an off-the-shoulder top- the epitome of rock ‘n roll chic. She effortlessly pulls off the air of a nonchalant twenty-something. Following her are twins Amedeo and Simone Pace wearing matching white collarless shirts, looking more like spiritual leaders than musicians.
Despite Melbourne’s notable allegiance to the indie-rock genre, the fans were not what you would call ‘out in droves’, leaving Billboard half-full for most of the night. However, this doesn’t dampen the band’s confidence and they lunge into their set with a rousing rendition of Black Guitar ,from their new release Penny Sparkle, to a somewhat shy but appreciative audience. A few songs in, and its clear that the audience need a lot more rousing, so out comes the lively yet melancholy Spring and By Summer Fall from their highly acclaimed 2007 release 23.
As the pulsating guitar hammer intro to xx slowly builds up, it elicits the best audience response so far, and Blonde Redhead are at the peak of their game. Even though most of their material tonight is fresh from their new album, Kazu’s soft whispering vocals over Simone’s hard, heartbeat like drums and psychedelic whirrs from the keyboard does enough to keep the crowd wanting more.
Before the circus of the encore begins, Kazu thanks us all for coming out, “I weely love being here wis you”, and also apologises for her voice, which got a bit of a bollocking at Laneway. After the second encore is demanded by foot stamping and hand claps, BR pull out the track everyone was waiting for (23), and a few brave souls writhe slowly while Kuzu’s haunting voice oozes off every wall, the audience spellbound. In her second address to the audience tonight, she thanks them again, announcing the last song will be a Deerhunter cover. Unfortunately due to her husky voice and thick accent, a lot of what she says is inaudible. No matter, she delivers an emotionally fierce song, squealing at points over the heavily distorted guitar and driving bass. You feel you could be at a punk-rock gig now.
As the band exit the stage for the third time with royal-like waves from the salt-and-pepper haired twins, some enthusiastic units are still begging for more, thudding the floor with their Cons and cutesy flats. But to no avail. Most of the crowd quickly disperse, probably eager to get the last train home to Brunswick (Well it was a Monday, and indie or not, beer doesn’t pay for itself).
After some journalistic eaves-dropping the consensus was clear- Blonde Redhead definitely blew fans minds- both new and old- but if you had come for the party and the dancing, it wasn’t on the menu. Not least because of the apparent self-consciousness of the audience who obviously baulk at the thought of dancing like nobody is watching. You completely subscribe to that motto, but c’mon people, JUST DANCE!