A Sound Review Comes Alive!: Kimbra at the Forum

A Sound Review Comes Alive! yet again for Kimbra at the forum, supported by Adelaide’s Fire! Santa Rosa, Fire! and some band called Husky who I couldn’t care less about. This marks the first outing of the Kook Mag live team, proper brutality will eventually ensue

The evening began well for myself and my photographical pig-man accomplice Timmy Fenby, press passes and shit. Things took an immediate downturn as I had to wait in line with the fans, we’re from fucking Kook Mag and we’re fucking Professionals, alright? What is this shit? Now understand, I don’t ordinarily queue for anything, other than the beer garden at Workers because I need to maintain that indie-cred somehow. It sure aint going to maintain itself on rolled up chinos and button-down collar chambray shirts alone! So in essence, this stint standing around outside the Forum on a relatively cold Melbourne night immediately smacks me in the face like Gwyneth Paltrow with a big freshwater salmon. Despite already attaining a considerable pre-reviewage buzz in the interests of doing this thing right, I traipse upstairs and drop 20 bucks on a Jameson’s and a cider… I’m grimly reminded why I don’t tend to go to big shows.

Timmy swaggers, camera in hand, up the luxurious Forum foyer stairs. Photographers who aren’t lame-stream indie girls are generally a weird and dangerous breed.

“What up, hog?”

“Eh up ol’ boy”, I reply in accordance with the custom of greeting but ignoring each other’s questions entirely. “We going to stomp some hippies later?”, I inquire, “I didn’t wear these boots for nothing.”

First up are friends of Kook and all round awesome band, Fire! Santa Rosa, Fire! take to the stage at around 8:30. Timmy takes to the pit with only a single other photographer, the typical arrogance and callousness of the press obviously remains. Fire bust out old favourites from Sea Priest and a couple of newbies, including ‘Panther Shrine’, one of the best things they have ever done. A year ago lead singer Caitlin Duff still retained a degree of shyness or uncertainty, not so now. She commands the stage right and proper. That said, I hate the sound system and the atmosphere… it’s quiet, the stage is big and distant, there is little connection between band and audience. Isn’t that what live music is about? Why do people like these venues again?

Tim and I search for a douchebag of the evening, a cruel and vicious individual to both revile and applaud, and on cue Le Fox emerge from the gloom like the primordial pre-teens they are, smirks on their faces and  jeans crusted in blood and semen from their latest cranked up kill. Sadly, they will be spectacularly eclipsed in the hours to come.

Husky arrive on the stage. Obviously an intentional lull in the programme to make the main act pop. And boy do they suck. The keyboards alone make me want to maim someone, preferably the guy playing the keyboards but really, anyone would do at this point. I turn to Tim and Jack and cry over the sounds of self-indulgent bullshit, ”Let’s get out of this hell hole”.

Being the consummate professionals we most definitely are, we head to Nando’s to shoot shit and eat spicy chips. We eat our peace and hang around out the front of the venue. A nerdy little guy with a cashmere Polo sweater offers Sean $100 for his ticket. “Seriously?”, I ask “Why?”. I’m tempted to step in and undercut him, but journalistic integrity wins the day. “150″ says Sean. They swiftly agree on $120. Our respective buzzes are well and truly dead and a vague sense of fear hangs in the air as we file back into the Forum as 10:30 approaches. Obviously in some kind of blood-frenzy Timmy Screams “Let’s bust some skulls!”, as we push through the Triple J rent-a-crowd. Comprised of teeny-boopers, fogies and squares camped in the pews, and raging queens of the raging-est sort holding up the front of house I’m honestly bemused as to where all these fans came from. Illustrating what I hate most about the Australian music industry, success is bought and paid for by clever pseudo-ad men from labels, who whisper nonsense to Kingsmill and pour money into things like I pour blood into my hooker pit.

Don’t get me wrong, Kimbra has a fantastic voice and some kinda-huge technical ability with it, and two years ago I thought she was amazing. Over time, as her songs have been moulded into commercial acceptability, it seemed to me like a little bit of what was great about her was chipped away with every subsequent gig. A backing band of sell-out schmucks who couldn’t make it on their own were added. For hogs sake, M-Phazes produced part of her album! And by the way, you know who else has a fantastic voice and brilliant technical ability? Christina Aguilera. You need songs to back it up, and despite winning a couple of prestigious songwriting awards, Kimbra is no more a songwriter than you or Billy Joel. She has at best, four decent songs. The rest of her set is comprised of riffs on stylistic cliches with impressive, but meaningless scat singing over the top of them. Really, that should come as no surprise to anyone, there is rarely such a thing as a mature and distinct songwriter at 21 years old. Tellingly, her best song by far is George Stone classic ‘Plain Gold Ring’, immortalised by Nina Simone. Unfortunately on this particular night it horrifies me beyond belief. They’ve rocked it up, and fucked it up. If you aint got the songs girl, you really aint got shit.

She’s a pop star now and really, she’s good at it. But what was great about her is gone.

We get the fear. We bail out of that pit of snakes. I retire to my house and wake up the next morning thinking I’m dying. Mahalo.


These excellent photos were taken by Tim Fenby, you can see the complete set of coloured Kimbra-crazies here.