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Live Review: The Cactus Channel, Bullhorn

14 September 2015 | 1:40 pm | Guido Farnell

"Retro charmers in the nicest possible way."

There's nothing quite like learning the hard way that the internet is full of incorrect information than by placing one's faith in advertised set times and arriving to find that everyone is starting their sets an hour earlier. What looked like being a late night is now an unexpectedly early one and the disco nap you took now means missing the first support, Raw Humps, and part of the second, Bullhorn.

It's disappointing, as Bullhorn, all the way from Brisbane, are an energetic big brass band that surprisingly reimagines the brass band format into something compellingly contemporary and relevant. These lads are onto something special and their unique sound separates them from the rest of the pack. There's a vibrant energy about a band that features a drummer that throws down urban beats that shift from hip hop to drum'n'bass, while their MC certainly can flow. They add inner-city relevance, whether the horns are blowing their way through passages of jazzy indulgence, dub explorations or straight-out retro New Orleans funk. The energy coming from the stage is infectious and those not completely awestruck are pulling shapes.  

While a fan of The Cactus Channel bemoans the fact that tonight's show is strictly 18+ on the group's Facebook page, we find ourselves enjoying beer from Ethiopia as the band take to the stage. A young band seemingly following in the footsteps of acts like The Bamboos, it feels like big funk and soul bands featuring a horn section are a very cool thing in Melbourne. Despite their relative youth, these guys have studied all the funky styles of the '70s and deliver a tight blend of instrumental, mid-tempo funk that seamless blends lounge, blaxploitation and porno soundtracks, jazz, funk, soul and even a little surf-rock, dealing out a 60-minute set comprising tunes from their albums Haptics and Wooden Boy. Of course their latest single, Cobaw, gets a spin too. The mind-blowing thing about The Cactus Channel is their capacity to do the time warp and nail an authentic '70s sound. The crowd gets down and works up a sweat as they put their pack into it. Retro charmers in the nicest possible way, The Cactus Channel's records are the stuff future crate diggers will most definitely be sampling on their urban grooves.