Wednesday, May 23, 2007

X at the Ex - and some timely Tiger By The Tail refle-X-ions

X doing "Going Down" at the Excelsior last Saturday night. Video by Carol (aka Cazzam)- and there's lot's more where this coems from if you use the preceding link.

I have no doubt that X (the Australian one) is one of the best (whatever that means) bands in the country right now. Lean, no bullshit and focused in a way that old hands only can be. So why did no-one under 40 front to their recent Sydney shows? You could pose a similar question right across the expanse of Live Rock and Roll Land. Kids just don’t get it – or don’t want to.

It’s a still-shrinking base when so-called music enthusiasts would rather download an emaciated version (read: MP3) of the Real Auditory Thing than go see it. Turning music into a commodity by reducing to easily transferred bytes of data is putting the concept of experiencing it in the live setting squarely on its head. The Internet gives musicians inconceivable reach compared to 10 years ago, and gives them un-thought of control over their own output, but who the fuck can find a way through the maze of the Net? It’s Clutter with a capital K and you really need to know where to go for your fix of whatever you need. The Big Boys still own parts of the farm - and the difference these days is that they haven’t yet worked out a way to realistically fence it.

Anyway, enough of this post-modern communications theory bullshit. What I’m saying is you don’t have to stay at home downloading MP3s all day. It’s OK to like live music too. The live scene is feeling the pinch – globally – at both ends of the spectrum. Kids won’t get out, us old folks are more selective in how we spend our hard-earned, post-mortgage payments. Things are tough all over for the enthusiast in a band who virtually pays to play his or her songs anyway.

X mixed it up a little in Sydney on Saturday night with the odd “new” old song, to launch their re-issue of “At Home With You” (Aztec Music). I, for one, hope their plans to tour the USA and lay down a “new” album (of old but previously unrecorded songs) come to fruition. I didn’t catch their Thursday gig, which a reliable source said was moderately crowded if not as intense as their two-night stand at the Sando a few months ago, but Saturday was as good as anything I’ve seen live this year. Good crowd in, too.

The bill was made more marvellous with the presence on the undercard of Tiger By The Tail (TBTT), the wonderful exercise in guitar ebbs and flows fronted by Bored! mainman Dave Thomas. Tiger ByThe Tail has a similar ethos to Dinosaur Jr in that they rely a lot on guitar textures, high volume, strong dynamics and slacker vocals to carry the day. TBTT don’t force their music down the throat all the time; they’re smarter than that. They’ll be cajoling you with harmonics one minute - before turning on a two-cent coin and spearing the sound right back in your face.

They don’t move around a lot or add one ounce of theatrics to their live act and, as good as their two hard-to-find albums are (I’ve playing the shit out of “Unitshifter” since Dave gave me a copy on Saturday night), you still need to see this band (and others like them) to fully appreciate their worth.

As a footnote, there are line-up changes afoot in TBTT so watch this space.

Paradoxicially, I still haven’t seen their Melbourne counterparts Eddy Current Supression Ring live, but I can’t help thinking that TBTT probably out-score them on the songs front, and might just be the “better” band...whatever that means.

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