They're touring to promote their really fucking cool double album, Doubt Seeds, which is my pick for the 2006 release of alternative, guitar driven rock. I doubt any band is going to come close to equaling this and, if you get the chance, going to watch them play with the rotating thirteen piece band will prove why. Inventive, creative, energetic, the band has produced one of those rare double albums: both disks are really good and, independently, each plays like a tight album. Strung together you get an hour an a half of music, which is somewhat epic. I like the fact that they split it, really, because I find albums that go for an hour and a half a bit too long--though Doubt Seeds holds up when all the tracks are strung together on my Ipod.
The thirteen piece band revolving show demonstrates the way in which the band has worked their changing sound for the album. Depending on the track, Bluebottle Kiss was either one drum kit, two guitarists, and a bass, or this with a second drum kit, a keyboardist, a three piece horn section featuring a saxophone, trumpet, and trombone, and a four girl chorus, one of which also would double as a tambourine player (depending on the track, either all of this appeared, or some of it). In addition to this, guitarists Ben Grounds and Jamie Hutchings (who is the frontman of the band) switched between about three guitars each, including a banjo on Grounds' part.
Oh, and Sarah Blasko was there for 'Speak Up Memory'.
As an aside, I've seen Blasko perform way too many times now. If you go to local gigs, perhaps you'll have had the same experience as me. She opens for a lot of bands, and I find her a really still, uncomfortable figure on stage, like a string marionette who is having her limbs moved by an operator above her. People talk about her voice, but I don't think it does much that other female vocalists can't do, and besides, her own music is a little flat, or so I find. I can handle her for one song, but sometimes I'm starting to think that the only way I will avoid Blasko is by going to death metal gigs.
But Blasko isn't the draw, here. The draw is Bluebottle Kiss, who are natural on the stage, and good with the crowd, beung unafraid to step into it. They've been around since 1996, and so they know what they're doing on stage, and the only complaint I have about their performance is for the double encore thing that they did. But to be honest, I'm not a fan of the whole encore thing. I really prefer it when a band just says they won't do it, and plays the set without the fake break. My only other complaint was about the music video of 'White Rider' that they played in the background between Pivot (the support act, who weren't bad) and their set. Cheap, ugly, and just plain bad without the music, the band so isn't going to win over any fans with that. The clip looks like something out of the eighties, but the bad, ugly eighties, where everything is replayed backwards.
But fuck the film clip, because the band are cool. The photo above here is of Hutchings surfing through the crowd. In a moment, he will dance with a guy.
Really, Bluebottle Kiss deserve a better venue than Manning Bar. I'd never been to the bar at Sydney University until last night, and while it is perfectly acceptable as a bar to go to while on campus, it's really not the best place for a band. It's small, sure, but also, a part of the crowd isn't there for the band, and will try to talk over the music (fortunately I kept away from those people, a lesson well learnt at a Sleepy Jackson gig a few years back in another bar--sure, I only paid five bucks for that show, but the audience sucked ass). The sound out of the venue isn't bad, but I can think of bars that have better sound coming out of them.
Still, if you get a chance to see the band, especially if they're playing Doubt Seeds straight through with the thirteen piece band, I fully recommend going wherever it is.
Lastly, I'll spare a moment for the people who go to take photos of bands. No, not those like me who have a little digital camera and don't stress any kind of positioning--what do you mean all my photos look like they're from the same angle?--but those boys and girls who show up with the camera gear, and move back and forth at the front of the stage, sticking their cameras straight into the band. By the time Pivot got on stage, there were six of them, and they clustered in a little group like flies, flittering back and forth. At one stage, I began taking photos of them, just for fun. Photos of the photographers. I could make an art out of that. The images didn't come out so great, but maybe after I doctor with them a little, I'll be able to stick them up here.
Here is the Bluebottle Kiss myspace page. Do yourself a favour and check it out.