Live Review: Flyying Colours, Blue Vedder, Emotion Picture @ Bergy Bandroom

3 April 2023 | 1:02 pm | Andy Hazel

It’s hard to imagine a better local release will arrive this year.

Pic: Andy Hazel

Pic: Andy Hazel

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Winter has set in. It’s a meteorological shift that fits beautifully with the music happening inside the Bergy Bandroom tonight. The tiny and beloved venue Bergy Seltzer has transformed the adjacent building into a 200-plus capacity room with a dynamite PA system and acoustics that have been thoughtfully rendered by Brodie J Brummer, the venue’s co-owner and lead-singer and guitarist for tonight’s headliner’s, Flyying Colours. Every square inch of the bandroom is called on to hold the crowd here to witness the band launch their album You Never Know. But before that sweat-athon can begin, we have two ambassadors from the early 1990s.

“We’re in for a really good night,” says Grace Mitchell, lead singer, songwriter and guitarist of Emotion Picture. “This next song is called Destroy.” Mitchell slashes at her low-slung guitar as the band behind her pumps out chugging chords, plugging bass root notes, creating a kind of indie rock that would have fit perfectly in an afternoon slot at an early Lollapalooza. 

On their Bandcamp page, the four-piece use a word to describe their music that was rejected by its best-known exponents, grunge, but I’m reluctant to pigeonhole the band’s sound so quickly. They may take the simplest route to a song, but Mitchell’s commitment makes that simplicity seem like a smart move, forcing the attention back onto her voice and the personal intentions behind her songs, relationships, moments of self-realisation and her move from Los Angeles to Melbourne.

In a similar vein, and with a name that picks up where Emotion Picture left off, Blue Vedder are all heavily compressed riffs, quiet vocals and a rhythm section that shifts serious slabs of air. Throwing in a Welcome to Country over some guitar loops before launching into another song that sounds like some bootleg recording of Nirvana and Slowdive jamming, their songs, riffs and vocals are huge. 

Bassist Lachlan Birch, whose slippery basslines are an absolute asset to every song, marks his last show with the band with a sweet cover of Big Star’s Thirteen. It’s a fitting choice for a band that writes and plays with no sense of having heard any music after 1992, But, when the sounds are this good, and songs like Avant Guard and the closing What Remains hit as well as they do, it doesn’t matter. The audience love it, the band is committed and as singer Seth Hancock says halfway through his set, with a big smile on his face, “this is sick. This is so much fun.”

In the minutes before the headliners arrive on stage, the crowd tightens. “Cheers everyone,” says singer, guitarist and co-owner of the venue, Brodie J Brummer. Opening with the first song from the album he is here to launch, Lost Then Found, the band sound immense. 

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Immediately, and with a power that matches that of Brummer’s guitar, there is a sense of a band with personalities. Drummer Andy Lloyd-Russell is Animal-like in his flailing hair and ability to play most of the drums and cymbals at any one time. Bassist Melanie Barbaro is stoic, precise and focused, her fingers deftly making the complex sound simple. Guitarist, percussionist and co-vocalist Gemma O'Connor plays with the sort of warm, quiet authority of someone who has dealt with every gig-related eventuality and will be able to assume control at short notice. This combination gives Brummer a world for his carefully calibrated guitar sounds to reach their full power. 

Songs such as 1987, Long Holiday and Goodbye To Music soar, highlighting the tenderness with which they are delivered as well as the volume and power. The buoyant pop of I Live In A Small Town explodes with a brightness that, as good as the recorded version is, reminds you that, unlike a lot of shoegaze created in studios, these songs were written and should be felt live. 

The spirit of My Bloody Valentine has haunted in every band tonight, but only Flyying Colours take those sounds and fashion something new. As the band make a controlled descent via Hit The Road, Big Mess and Not Today toward the closing deconstruction epic OH. Few bands deliver their defining release ten years into their existence, but tonight, seeing most of You Never Know played, and judging by the clamour around the merch desk as the hotbox of a band room spills out onto Sydney Road, it’s hard to imagine a better local release will arrive this year.