Live Review: Big Scary, Geoffrey O’Connor, Mosman Alder - Oxford Art Factory

30 April 2012 | 8:15 pm | Katie Benson

Big Scary are not only intelligent songwriters but also authentic, humble performers...

More Big Scary More Big Scary

Brisbane six-piece Mosman Alder opened proceedings with a memorable set of dramatic indie rock. With violins and keys surging under the rich baritone of lead singer Valdis Valodze, their dark, rolling sound is reminiscent to The National.

On a completely different note, ex-Crayon-Fields frontman Geoffrey O'Connor followed with a set dripping with '80s romanticism and laser lights. Playing tunes from his debut solo album, Vanity Is Forever, O'Connor's set overall was slow-paced, thick with keys, electric drums, chimes and vocal sincerity. Lead single Whatever Leads Me To You was one of the more infectious numbers, in a set that erred dangerously close to a karaoke vibe. Despite O'Connor's dramatic and often camp onstage presence, this was a set that felt a little dull.

Contrasting the light and synthetic feel of their predecessor, Melbourne duo Big Scary were warm and grungy from the get-go. Tom Iansek's agile voice proved a highlight throughout as they raged through material from their debut album Vacation and also threw in a few new tracks.

A long instrumental led us into Autumn with its happy marching beats and Iansek placed back behind the keys. Followed by Mix Tape, the pair then launched into new material that was soaked with blues influence, rich keys, rolling drums and perfect harmonies. Secrets a defiant tale of an ex-lover (from what this reviewer could gather) is perhaps the best lyrically, but the low impassioned track that followed connected better thanks to Iansek's presence back at the front of stage. In fact, this is the only downfall of Big Scary live. While drummer Jo Syme beams constantly from behind the drumkit, drifting beautifully from joyful grunge to closed-eyed passion, there is a slight loss of momentum every time Iansek jumps from guitar to behind the keyboard. However, this is a small gripe in the face of such organic beauty.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

Beauty indeed flashed through the performance of latest single Leaving Home, with Iansek reaching the vocal heights of Jeff Buckley, before dropping into the wolf howling of Belgian Blues. Edging towards the end of the set, the more up-tempo groove of Purple got the packed crowd jumping before the pair finished off with their best-known single, Gladiator. An example of this band at their best, Gladiator teams jangly raw music with vocals that leap from restrained whispers and catcalls to Iansek's falsetto wails.

This was their first sold out Sydney show and it was a cracker; hopefully just one of many to come. Big Scary are not only intelligent songwriters but also authentic, humble performers – just the shot in the arm our local scene needs.