Live Review: Miscellanea

20 November 2017 | 1:46 pm | Joe Dolan

"HTRK's ability to create such beauty from tragedy is utterly transcendent."


Looking at the outside of Melbourne Town Hall, no one would expect that inside this building tonight breathes a plethora of local musical talent. From the fresh blood on the scene to the legends that have stuck around for years, Miscellanea is a festival of icons that continue to shape the community's music scene.

Ascending the steps to the main hall, the stage is set for the phenomenal shoegazers Underground Lovers. Quickly gathering momentum and a sizeable crowd along with it, the band take the wall-of-sound idea and scale it with ease and absolute power. Frontman Vincent Giarrusso stands front and centre, supplying powerhouse vocals while grooving with hands in pockets. The Undies have always felt like one of those incredible, before-their-time bands. Their musical maturity is utterly transcendent and, along with the likes of Pixies and Dinosaur Jr, they keep getting better with age.

Midway through their set, Giarrusso beckons above the band towards the grand organ that towers over the stage. Suddenly, a lone figure emerges and multi-talented artist Matthew Sigley sits at this beast of an instrument. Sigley and Giarrusso come together for an incredible rendition of Las Vegas, before the band unite and blast crowd favourite Your Eyes into the stratosphere. It's a flawless showcase of musicianship and awesome talent.

Descending into the bowels of Melbourne Town Hall, the raucous energy of Tyrannamen is already kicking off. The Melbourne five-piece are barely contained on a tiny stage, with punters squashed so close it's remarkable they can mosh as hard as they do. Vocalist Nic Imfeld pulsates wildly, astounding his local crowd and managing to infect every single crowd member with his wild energy. Imfeld is like a football hooligan with the soul of Iggy Pop trapped inside: battling a constant exorcism to release that classic raw power. He leads his lads in some classic Aus garage that ticks all the boxes while still giving something fresh and exciting to the genre. The boys take those old mainstays of pub rock while throwing in some unexpected brilliance in the form of vocal harmonies and more than the obligatory three chords. Ice Age and Diamond Ring encapsulate these sentiments perfectly, and the crowd is obviously thankful for it. The chant for, "One more song!" is immediate at the close of Tyrannamen's set and the guys can't help but give the people what they want.

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Back in the main hall, a smattering of bizarre objects take over the stage. Plants, a clothes rack, a salt lamp and a poster of Mile Davis. Who else could it be but HTRK? Looking out over the sea of adoring revellers, the duo makes the giant stage feel cramped and uneasy with their cacophony of post-industrial sound. Singer Jonnine Standish makes waves with her beautiful vocals while bleeding a heartfelt strain into her lyrics. Standish plus instrumentalist Nigel Yang remain wordless for the entirety of the performance, instead letting those gut-wrenching tunes speak volumes for themselves. "Elbows flash like diamonds/Love is distraction," (Love Is Distraction) and, "We could fake it if I met you in a different shitty place," (Fascinator) show off the group's emotional purity. Watching them drain themselves completely for their art is like nothing else out there: total poetry of the body and mind.

HTRK's ability to create such beauty from tragedy is utterly transcendent. Bassist Sean Stewart sadly passed away several years ago, but his influence is still marked aggressively throughout this band's music. It feels as if HTRK completely forget that they are being watched and delve into a musical realm of heartbreak and reflection. To equate them to any other band around just doesn't seem right - they are wholly unique. The final bow of Ha reinforces this notion tenfold, as Standish and Yang create a soundscape of epic proportions. Somehow, through the sorrow and the calamity (or perhaps for it), it's the perfect end to the night.