“We’re Back”: Perform Victoria at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl – review | australian music

“We are back.” There were equal parts of anxiety and excitement as Melbourne’s live music scene emerged from its Covid-induced mothballs on Saturday night.

The concert, at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl on Saturday at Play On Victoria, was Melbourne’s first major concert after the lockdown.

The impending bass waves that will be delivered by headliners Baker Boy, Amyl and the Sniffers and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, would be the first thing to vibrate the internal organs of the Melburnians since a real earthquake.

The rules on masks were relaxed the day before, so while he felt free not to yell through something resembling a damp tea towel, standing shoulder to shoulder with 4,000 others came with a sense of foreboding. – the last time the city saw large crowds was when anti-lockdown protesters lashed out in smoke from torches at the nearby Shrine of Remembrance.

4,000 punters stood side by side as live music returned to Melbourne on Saturday night. Photograph: Richard Nicholson / REX / Shutterstock

“It’s the biggest contrast you can think of: sitting at home drinking a beer on the porch and performing in front of thousands of people at the Music Bowl,” said Grace Cummings, the opener of Play. On Victoria the day before the show, by far the biggest of her career, but only her third this year out of more than 30 canceled performances. “There’s no way to get comfortable in it. It’s a little confronting, exciting, but quite scary.

But as Cummings launched in Heaven, the first single from his upcoming album Storm Queen, the thorns began to prickle. Bellowing in a voice loud enough to crush the granite to dust, Cummings pumped his fist. “It’s good to play a concert! “

Grace Cummings:
Grace Cummings: “It’s good to play a concert!” Photograph: Graham Denholm / Getty Images

Long-missed scenes have emerged: white knuckles hugging the railing, a King Gizzard fan with pupils wide enough to suck up planets and pungent body odor incense. Two boys wore makeshift raincoats made from black plastic bags for protection from the rain, or maybe tears on stage of Vika Bull, playing second place on the bill alongside his sister Linda.

“It’s a very emotional day. And I can’t stop crying, ”the veteran rocker said as a rainbow arched over the Bowl’s southern flank.

Shows between closures at Myer Bowl saw groups perched atop fenced-in podiums, which have now been replaced with mats resembling safety blankets, ready to put out a fire in case someone spontaneously ignites – Which really wouldn’t be surprising, given the recent catastrophic events. month.

But two songs in The Baker Boy Bums completely ditched their picnic mats. Baker Boy, aka Danzal Baker, released his long-awaited debut album Gela (which refers to his skin name) earlier this month, with Play On Victoria his first show since its release. Rapping in both English and Yolŋu Matha, sometimes wielding a yiḏaki, Baker leapt off the stage with his long braid following his turns in the air.

“I didn’t even say ‘everyone get up let’s party’ but I could see everyone started to jump and dance,” Baker said after the shoot. “It’s been a long time to come, especially for Melbourne, we’ve been through the longest lockdown in the world… I really appreciate being able to finally go out and play and share my story again; and just remind people how important music really is, how it brings everyone together.

Baker Boy performs at Play on Victoria.
Baker Boy performs at Play on Victoria. Photograph: Richard Nicholson / REX / Shutterstock

Baker wasn’t the only artist with a big new album just begging to be released live. Amyl and the Sniffers, arguably Australia’s most electric live band right now, released their second album Comfort to Me in September, but hadn’t performed live since July.

“The only thing that worried me was that it was going to be canceled. I was like, ‘Oh my god I’m going to break my leg’ or there will be a huge flood,” the band singer said. , Amy Taylor. “But honestly, the thoughts I’ve had are all very positive, I’m anticipating them and just excited about them.”

Ripping up and down the stage in satin boxer shorts and a bikini top apparently constructed from reflective safety material (an early warning signal for anyone stupid enough to get in their way), Taylor was a blonde peroxide magnet for the masses that raced through the stalls to be pulverized by the group’s riffs.

Nonetheless, the group’s exuberant theatricality hides a sobering message as we step out again in the guise of obscurity, with Taylor pointing to the song Knifey as a reminder of the threats of violence women face everywhere. As the refugees held in the Covid-riddled Park Hotel can attest, freedom is not always treated the same.

Still, Play On Victoria was exulting, a cathartic purge for a city obsessed with music so long denied this essential piece of its identity. King Gizzard closed the night with a fitting cover of Canned Heat’s On the Road Again, but it’s a simple dressing room feeling from the soft-spoken Baker that sums up the night:

“Tonight’s show reminds us that we are back.”

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