The annual 3-day, 3-night Big Sound conference has descended upon Fortitude Valley. And while the daytime hours are devoted to the serious business of panels, speakers and networking opportunities for music industry professionals, the nights are just one big party for anyone who wants to, with Big Sound Live showcasing over 60 acts across nearly every music venue the Valley has to offer.
Having run between a packed-to-the-rafters Ric’s (to see the gorgeous experimental pop of Sydney duo Kyu) and The Troubadour (to jig to the accordion rock-folk the baby-faced and exuberant The Honey Month), I was surprised to walk into the Zoo as Metals launched their 30 minute set and find it…almost empty.
Which is a pity, given that the stage styling’s of this Melbourne four-piece (led by producer Christopher Coe and provocative front woman Candice Butler) really needs a full crowd in front of them, all of whom should be shaking their something to the band’s mix of electronic funk, hip hop and soul.
Butler took to the stage in a slinky blaze of hotpants and feathers and powered her way through songs like Future’s in your Hands, Shake It, the current single Drop Your Guard (which has a pretty interesting clip on YouTube that includes a dress, set and base made entirely of cardboard) and their next single Get Yourself a Gun.
The theme is undeniably modern girl-power with an aggressive, nails-bared edge. Butler’s onstage persona is that of a woman who’s not going to take any bullshit from anyone, let alone a man. "Piss me off boy, then watch your back, cos I ain’t standing around to take it like that", she spits on Drop your Guard. It’s fairly typical subject matter, and it can get a little stale at times (many of the songs seemed to just go on and on, with no climax or breakdown) but Butler plays her part well and gets great opportunities to show off her MC skills, her throaty, blues voice and her sexed-up dance moves.
Butler and Coe have both had successful independent careers before forming Metals together (Coe is probably more well known as producer with Digital Primate and Butler has performed with Public Enemy and at a number of Big Day Outs) and their technical skill and confidence is obvious. Butler easily switches between sex kitten, soulful diva, and Aussie girl hip-hop. Coe, (on keyboard and base), whips out everything from digital Jamaican beats and the theme to 2001: A Space Odyssey on the keyboard to funky 70’s riffs on his low-slung base.
More of a crowd started to drift in as the band continued. But still, no one was hitting that dance floor. In fact, everyone seemed reluctant to even go closer to the stage to take in the full atmosphere.
And I had to ask myself, why weren’t we all more into this?
I’m sure the small numbers made everyone feel a bit more inhibited, but there was something else a little off, and the best answer I can come up with is that, at the moment, Metals feels too glossy, a little untouchable and too rehearsed (dare I say it, maybe even slightly manufactured?)
Butler and Coe have created a good mix of songs that sound great on an album. But live, they just didn’t connect, they didn’t let loose and give the rest of us the go-ahead to do the same. Their performance is slick, but there wasn’t much true feeling or passion behind it. It felt like a highly polished show, when their musical style and attitude was aiming for a down and dirty party we were all invited to. It didn’t happen this time, but I’m sure that with a bigger crowd and more of a focus on involving us in what they are doing, Metals will put on a great live show.
Big Sound Live Showcase
8 - 10 Sep, 2010
Sat 11 Sep, 2010
Sat 18 Sep, 2010
Fat as Butter
Sat 23 Oct, 2010