Live Review: The Great Conjunction + Hattie Carroll + Forster Anderson – Bald Faced Stag Hotel, Sydney (23.05.14)

In one of Sydney’s few remaining small live music pubs on an unseasonably warm Autumn evening, some local talent come out to perform their tunes to a small but appreciative crowd. It’s an eclectic little mix of artists, from a singer-songwriter with some Bob Dylan tendencies, to an indie pop rock outfit and then our headliners who round out the evening with their abstract alternative rock sound.

Forster Anderson has that earnest and unassuming singer-songwriter performance nailed to perfection. He sounds a bit like Ryan Adams or Bob Dylan, and for somebody who’s homegrown Australian, he emulates that Americana sound quite beautifully. It’s hard to gauge the depth or complexity of songs based on a single man performing on an acoustic guitar but there was enough on display that the potential was obvious. Artists like Josh Pyke, Matt Corby and Vance Joy have paved the way for young guys like Forster Anderson to trail behind and if he’s any indication there’s still hope yet for that singer-songwriter genre in the local scene. What will be interesting to see is whether that Americana sound has a place in an Australian scene.

Hattie Carroll were a fun little group, though I couldn’t quite place my finger on who they sounded like. I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing, defining their genre or comparing them to another band enables you to work out whether they’re the sort of thing you’d like, however if your sound is a little too outside the box, it makes it hard for people to grasp what your intentions are. Their indie pop rock was a little more on the mellow side and there were only the odd faster paced numbers littered through their set. I wanted to enjoy them but I wasn’t entirely sold on their style, despite their execution being quite admirable.

The Great Conjunction are another of those difficult to place bands. They’re definitely abstract and left of centre and with all those band members onstage, they create a lot of noise. As this was the launch for their debut EP Wait For Apophis, almost the entire audience would be new to the material being performed. Since I had reviewed the EP earlier in the week, getting to hear these songs in a live format was quite overwhelming. Opening with a track called “Satellite”, it is almost the embodiment of an out of this world song and is grand like much of the rest of their music. “Time To Step Down” is brash and eclectic with lots of overloaded guitars and drums, whilst their set closer “Two Winters” has elements of shoegaze and is moody. One thing that you notice immediately is that most of their songs are not as arranged or linear as other alternative rock music. The exceptions to this are “Have You Seen My Friends?” and “One Of Us” which both have fairly obvious verse, chorus, verse structure. Lead singer, and guitarist Andrew Bennett is well known for telling bizarrely random stories whilst he tunes his guitar between songs, one of which was about shoes and moisturizer that leads us into “O Full Of Scorpions Is My Mind Dear” and again, we’re reminded of how unconventional this band is, not just in music but in performance. Both Andrew Nichols on violin and Michael Faber on guitar got to show their respective skills even more so in a live environment with both instruments blending and also taking the lead at certain times. It’s only a short nine song set from these guys but it’s unusual and full of contradictions and if nothing else was to be taken away it’s an interesting performance.


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Carina Nilma

Office lackey day-job. Journalist for The AU Review night-job. Emotionally invested fangirl.