Live Review: The Blurst Of Times Festival

11 April 2013 | 10:12 am | Madeleine LaingSam Fisher

Here’s hoping it becomes an annual event, too much fun!

It looks like The Blurst Of Times have managed to avoid most of the worst things about festivals: there's no camping, drinks are reasonably priced, and everyone manages to keep their shirt on. It's the inaugural night of the event – spread across three usually competing venues in the midst of Fortitude Valley –  and it's fun using the wristband to come and go from various shows at your leisure. First up in the pleasantly full Black Bear Lodge are Circular Keys, who've come from Melbourne to ease us into the evening with their beautifully creepy low-key sounds. Their single guitar, fed through a myriad of pedals, squeaks and clicks and hums and pretty much makes every sound other than that of a guitar. The vocals are submerged in reverb, but still incredibly strong and almost poppy.
For a change of pace over at Alhambra Lounge, Tiny Migrants are tearing through their set and, possibly due to the early hour, sounding tight and focused. Single Uncontrollable  is brought out early, and is a great display of bass and drums working perfectly together, drummer Jesse Hawkins in particular hits like a goddamn machine. Julien James is as watchable as ever, yelping and snarling through his vocals, particularly on the defiant Fishpond Goldmine. These guys walk the line of seeming slightly unhinged but never sloppy, which makes for an incredibly exciting performance.

Black Bear Lodge is just teeming now with the start of Bored Nothing's set. Their sound is a lot heavier and more fleshed out here than on record, which helps to highlight the current of spite that runs through Fergus Miller's lyrics. He knows how to read an audience too, introducing them as “We're Bleeding Knees Club, and this song is called We'll Do Anything For Free Shoes”, which gets a huge laugh. Success has brought about a strange situation for Miller, he's an oddball whose made music that deeply appeals to people that don't really get it, and it must be weird having a hundred people sing “I Wish You Were Dead” back at you. The songs themselves are exceptional though with familiar '90s indie textures that still manage to be nuanced and unburdened by obvious influences.

Bitch Prefect's set starts out slow. They sound like an incredibly bored Kitchens Floor. It doesn't help that they play like the crowd isn't there, looking at their feet and over everyone's heads with expressions of deep distain. But nearing the end of the set something clicks, and they bring out Bad Decisions and Guess The Person and remind us “oh yeah, we write freaking great songs”. Simple driving melodies and broad-as-broad-can-be vocals are par for the course, but a bit of enthusiasm from the crowd and the guys on stage makes all the difference and they bring it home strong.

On record, Scott & Charlene's Wedding are like Pavement if they were on a lot harder stuff than just weed, but their first song tonight it dripping with Brian Jonestown Massacre moodiness and dark heat. Before expectations can be re-evaluated completely though, they launch into Two Weeks and the jangle is well back and in fine form. Engaging guitar solos and singer Craig Dermody's dirty charisma lift their set out of the conventions of what we expect from these lo-fi Southern bands; Epping Line is particularly strong, making a slow droning come-down sound almost pretty.

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Back at their spiritual stomping ground at Alhambra, the party starting dynamo that is Velociraptor smash through their paces to a by now well-lubricated and parochial crowd, howling along en masse to nuggets such as Do The Ruby and Mystery Man. One inventive crowd surfer with a box covering his whole head is somewhat unfairly evicted from the venue – did he get back in? We'll never know – but the massive band carry on regardless, finishing with The Walk On By and the freakishly catchy Cynthia before frontman Jeremy Neales starts exhorting everyone to go next door for the night's finale.

There's a good-sized crowd upstairs at Coniston Lane to watch the closing set by Brisbane reprobates Violent Soho, and the quartet are clearly preaching to the converted judging by the amount of hair flailing around the room and lyrics being belted back at the slightly sloshed band. It's by far the rocking-est set of the predominantly indie night but it's perfect to bring things home, songs like Son Of Sam and Love Is A Heavy Word going over a treat. Guitars and amps are getting trashed and falling by the wayside at a rapid pace, and the rabidly impatient crowd starts a full on “Soho!” chant that reverberates around the venue, the band responding with a fantastic new track and a version of Muscle Junkie that will leave a few punters sore and sorry come tomorrow.

All in all the first ever The Blurst Of Times Festival iss a roaring success – it's easy to get around and see everything you want, and the line-up is both deep and diverse enough to keep one going all night. Here's hoping it becomes an annual event, too much fun!