Live Review: FBi Turns 10 in Sydney
To celebrate its ten-year anniversary on the airwaves, Sydney’s forefront independent music station FBi threw one hell of a birthday party. With over thirty acts on the bill, FBi transformed the Carriageworks performance space into a surprisingly crowded festival hall. A few enthusiastic thousands milled in support of the radio station that has bought many an underground artist into consciousness. A party was very well deserved.
Having only very recently moved into the warehouse-dense suburb of Sydney’s Marrickville, the excitement of walking to and from warehouse parties has not yet waned. I’m still in the honeymoon period of “my house is a block thataway so I can stay out for as long as I like!” This period ended when I woke up after two hours sleep and already late to FBi’s 10th birthday. Battling the most god-awful hangover to ever scrape the walls of my skull, I arrived to the opening song of Deep Sea Arcade’s set.
Returning home from their British invasion, the groovy good-timers put on a great show. Singer Nick McKenzie’s reverbed, clarion vocals set an apt soundscape to the overcast afternoon. The odd pitch quirk was forgivable when sacrificed for brimming enthusiasm at having the home turf advantage back. Set highlight was the ominous, slow build of ‘Girls,’ with a lush bass intro by one Nick Weaver.
Deep Sea Arcade’s songs have a familiarity; I was unsure if I’d heard them before or they’re just quickly memorable. New material further encapsulates their dreamy 60’s nostalgia with meandering vocals, beguiling bass lines, and orgasmic lead breaks.
I got stuck in the foot traffic of the swelling throng, all navigating their way to another stage and The Preatures’ set. It was little wonder why the Sydney outfit were drawing a crowd; their skyrocketing popularity is justified by the calibre of live performances. The dual vocals of Isabella Manfredi (left) and Gideon Bensen were right on the money, which is what they’ve been raking in with song-writing acclaim from Astra and Young.
Towards the end of the set, Manfredi’s political views (and the political views of seemingly every Australian under 40) were made crystal clear, with a rousing “fuck Abbott” to a roar of agreement and raised middle fingers. A combination of groovy pop music and political rebelliousness? The Preatures get a big tick of approval. Smashing set-closer ‘Is This How You Feel?’ had not one immobile patron in the crowd, and it was clear that The Preatures were having as much fun as their audience.
Upon finding an ideal place to rest my weary body, I stayed put for the soothing sounds of Seekae. The two polar reactions to their music were either to dance enthusiastically or enter a transcendental state of pensive bliss. Both work with Seekae. The hip-hop beat-driven electronica went over well with the crowd, especially on tracks ‘Blood Bank’ and ‘Void’. The latter combined sludgy atmospheric keys work with glitchy howled vocals. A feat of excellence.
I dug seeing The Laurels again, and continue to admire their expansive scuzziness. In terms of stage presence, The Laurels embody stoicism, bad 90’s clothing and not giving a fuck. Though feedback was an ongoing issue, it was almost complimentary amongst the lo-fi goodness from these sludgy Sydney shoegazers.
For me Midnight Juggernauts’ set was a nostalgic venture back to 2006 – reminiscent of sneaking into gigs and underage drinking. The sound was a complete wall of electropop psychedelia. This was especially prevalent during ‘Road To Recovery’ where the synthesised bass line was so penetrating it could have caused impregnation. I couldn’t tell if vocalist Vincent Vendetta was sounding a silly on purpose or by chance – but either way I enjoyed his baritone theatrics. And speaking of theatrics: ten points to costume choice and the nice addition of mystical cape drapery. Very in theme.
Kirin J Callinan reappeared on stage for ‘45 and Rising,’ complete with his uniformly 90’s raver backing band. With a megaphone in hand, the KJC experience delivered on vocal support and back-up dancing. That weird white boy from the Northern Beaches can sure bust a move. And moves were most definitely busted during Midnight Juggernauts; for whom the crowd was rapturous.
After the sentimental thrill of Midnight Juggernauts, energy was nearing depletion and the two hours’ sleep were taking their toll. Roaming the grounds in aimless delirium, I felt somewhat underwhelmed. Although FBi prides itself on their differentiation from the mainstream, I couldn’t help but feel like I was at a mainstream festival. Waiting in line for portaloos and overpriced drinks sure felt like a regular festival. Not to mention overflowing crowds hindering any hope of an easy commute from band to band. In the scramble I missed out on Decoder Ring, Kirin J Callinan, Straight Arrows, Big Village All Stars, Sarah Blasko – just to name a few.
That being said, the huge turnout in support of primarily local acts was a poignant comment on this our bourgeoning music culture. I was proud of the amount of people caring about our home-grown bands. I was proud that these bands have enough draw between them to exceed ticket sales of eight thousand. And I was proud of FBi for facilitating it.
In the eternal battle of Bianca vs. Hangover, I lost, dragging my liver damage home with me. But I feel like we’re onto a winner with Sydney’s musical output right now. And Sunday served to reaffirm that.
See heaps more photos from the event on our Facebook Page.