Live Music and Events in Wollongong

THUNDERING LATE NIGHTS

LIVE REVIEW: Thundamentals at UOW Unibar 2/12/16

Australia hiphop group Thundamentals have enjoyed widespread popularity since the release of their debut self-titled album in 2009, and that popularity clearly hadn’t wavered as they played for an excited crowd at the University of Wollongong UniBar on December 2nd. Supported by Mallrats and PEZ, Thundamentals played a tight, fun and surprisingly emotional show making for a great night.

Mallrat kicked off the night with her infectious synth-pop tunes. The 17 year old Brisbanite recently signed with New World Artists, joining the likes of Grinspoon, King Parrot and The Meeting Tree. Mallrat did a great job warming up the stage for PEZ, who was up second on the night.

PEZ is well-known as a staple of Australian hiphop, making his name on the scene with his debut album ‘A Mind of My Own’ in 2008 with his single ‘The Festival Song’ reaching number 7 on Triple J’s Hottest 100 list. PEZ’s second album, ‘Don’t Look Down’ released on November 4th, was a long time coming, and PEZ addressed this as he took the stage. He spoke about setbacks and insecurities and ultimately overcoming them to release a new album and reconnect with his fans. PEZ kicked off with a new song ‘SOS’ before turning up the mood with ‘Weekend’, a classic Aussie track about letting loose at the end of the week. PEZ is not only a talented musician, but a true performer, with a perfect balance of enthusiasm and professionalism. PEZ ramped up the crowd asking if they were warmed up and ready for Thundamentals, even managing to crowdsurf in the small audience.

Thundamentals made a dramatic entrance, with an impressive light display over a large artwork banner, giving the UniBar more of a theatre feel. Featuring smooth, superfast flow and live trumpet, Thundamentals demonstrated why they’re so popular at the moment. Despite their supercool, popstar vibes, Thundamentals were clearly happy to be performing, sporting big grins as they came on stage. Like PEZ, they weren’t afraid to speak candidly to the crowd about important issues and setbacks they had overcome. ‘Ignorance is Bliss’, released last year as part of their Got Love initiative, looked at white privilege and the treatment of minorities. Their Got Love campaign partners them with the National Centre of Black Excellence, and they took a moment during the show to tell the crowd that the proceeds from some of their merchandise would go to the Centre. These serious moment didn’t dampen the upbeat mood of their gig however, as the performers told people to introduce themselves to whoever was next to them and make friends for the night. Another tender moment came when one of the rappers spoke about his struggles with depression and anxiety, emphatically telling the crowd they were not alone in similar struggles before launching into a number of all new tracks that had their fans dancing all night long.

Thundamentals put on a show that really captured the essence of Australian hiphop – a combination of talented performance, mateship and great vibes.

Dec 9th 2016 | Daisy Loomes

KIWI’S STOKE THE RASTA FIRE

LIVE REVIEW: Katchafire + L.A.B Kora Brothers at UOW Unibar 12/10/16

Katchafire turned an ordinary Wednesday into a fantastic, upbeat night at the University of Wollongong UniBar on the 12th of October. The UniBar had a smaller stage set up near the bar rather than the main stage, as they often do for smaller acts. I’m a fan of this setup as it allows for a casual setting to enjoy music with couches behind the stage and a closer view of the performers. Supported by the L.A.B. Kora Brothers, Katchafire played to a crowd of fans and provided a pick-me-up for the middle of the week.

The L.A.B Kora Brothers were first up for the evening and set a real ‘smoky bar’ vibe in the small venue. Stuart Kora headlined the band with his smooth soul voice accompanied by the rest of the effortlessly watertight band. With a delicious mix of rock and reggae the Brothers warmed up the crowd with their stellar performance. They finished their set with an incredible cover of ‘Come Together’ by the Beatles, complete with their own touch of dirty riffs and husky vocals.

Katchafire took to the stage next and instantly filled it with their cheerful, friendly presence. Katchafire are a Kiwi band and having family from New Zealand myself, the laidback and friendly attitude of the band and their music was very accurate to the nature of the people of New Zealand and their culture. Also important to note, Katchafire are an all Maori band and proudly so! Despite having a fairly large band consisting of bongos, drum set, trumpet, saxophone, bass, several guitars and keyboards, they played together effortlessly, often switching singers and instruments. Katchafire had a few fans in the crowd as I spotted a few band t-shirts and plenty of people singing along. At one point they dedicated a song to everyone who had spent the day at school or work which was met to cheers from the crowd of course – it was a Wednesday at a university bar and everyone was there to kick back and relax. Katchafire provided the perfect soundtrack for this middle-of-the-week getaway with smooth reggae tracks. It was clear to see why they enjoy such widespread, international success. Not only did they put out good vibes, they were extremely talented musicians, showcasing three way harmonies and proficiency on a range of instruments. They put on a fantastic show and provided a cure for the Wednesday-blues.

Oct 20th 2016 | Daisy Loomes

MONTAIGNE THE RAGE

LIVE REVIEW: Montaigne + Bec Sandridge + Woodes at UOW Unibar 7/10/16

Montaigne brought her ‘Because I Love You’ tour to the University of Wollongong UniBar on the Friday the 7th of October, supported by Woodes and Bec Sandridge. The three-time ARIA award nominated Montaigne, real name Jessica Cero, has toured with San Cisco and Megan Washington and collaborated with the Hilltop Hoods, and her obvious star-quality was apparent during her gig at the UniBar. The UniBar hosts a variety of musical and comedy acts and is popular among university students and other music fans alike. The musicians at Montaigne’s concert didn’t perform on the main stage as they usually would, playing instead on a temporary stage near the bar. This gave a more intimate atmosphere and allowed the performers to interact with the crowd, and meant that you could sit behind the stage on couches or outside on the veranda and enjoy the music.

Woodes began with a half-hour of atmospheric soundscapes, kicking off the night with delicate vocals and chilled out beats.

Next up was Bec Sandridge who pumped up the crowd with her upbeat riffs and quirky vocals. Sandridge’s energy was not dampened by her recent stint as headliner of the Yours and Owls Festival on October 1st and 2nd. Bearing similarities to the likes of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Franz Ferdinand, she tore up the stage with popular hits including ‘You’re a Fucking Joke’, that she claimed, during banter with the crowd, to have written about herself. Sandridge and her band kept good control over their endless layers of synths, guitars, drums, keyboards and vocals despite their erratic, high-energy performance. A highlight of their set was a song that began with Sandridge alone on the stage playing acoustic guitar and singing, before being joined by the rest of her band for a danceable track.

Montaigne took the stage next to cheers and applause from her fans in the crowd, dressed like a true popstar in an extravagant red coat. The classic popstar pulled-puppet-strings dancing was there too, as she twirled around the stage and sang to the crowd. However, the haughtiness often seen in popstars was absent as Montaigne shared personal stories with the audience and clasped hands with fans as she sang, showing herself to be humble and personable. Montaigne’s vocals were incredible, showcasing her agility and strength of voice in every song. Not to be confused with any other pitch-perfect popstar however, Montaigne punctuated her songs with yelps and murmurs, exhibiting her own unique style. Before performing her song ‘Lonely’, Montaigne told the story behind the lyrics before conducting each half of the crowd to sing a part with her, which was a highlight of the night. Montaigne managed to put on a truly professional, polished performance while connecting with the crowd and clearly enjoying herself. She is definitely a musician to watch as she continues gaining popularity and putting on awesome shows.

Oct 11th 2016 | Daisy Loomes

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