Words by Thea Martin
Photos by Tiah Bullock
Over 20 musicians played at the Cranker on Friday the 1st of November for the release of Burjon’s new single ‘Today,’ with half of those numbers being made up by the eclectic mix of musicians part of, as Burjon themselves call it, their ‘extended family.’ 4 bands took to the band room stage to bring us a night of diverse and immersive music, making the launch of Burjon’s new project one to remember. I will say as a little disclaimer, that amid the dancing and merriment of the night, we did run into some slight technical difficulties with the photos taken. However, perhaps this can be justified away as a bit of a metaphor for the night itself, as a wild array of light and colours, perhaps a little bit erratic at times, but ultimately I think the feeling of the night was captured!
The first band to play was The Max Headroom, a 5 piece alt-rock band you can also catch playing at The Australian Underground’s upcoming gig on the 5th of December! A distinct funk underlies the solid alternative rock The Max Headroom brings to the table and combined with the unique, slightly gritty vocals of lead singer Ben, they have created a clear space for themselves in the genre. The most significant word I can use to describe their set is ‘building’; each song, their sound, and their energy was growing throughout the entire set. It was a great sound from the get-go, but where we ended up in their final song was very different to where we started. What I loved about this band’s live performance was how they could keep the momentum going through slower tempos. Where some bands’ energy would crumble, The Max Headroom instead drew the energy inwards. Often Ben would physically step back in a very laid-back manner with a beer in hand, letting the music take centre stage. There was so much to like about this set, the sequentially building riffs, the perfectly executed tempo changes, and the beginning of their last song sounded slightly reminiscent of The Strokes which is something one can never complain about. A few times throughout the set we were teased with the opening riff to my favourite track the boys have released, Bad Dream, but sadly it never made it to the setlist beyond the opening bars. It looks like I’ll have to get to another Max Headroom gig to hear that one!
Next up was the equal parts groovy and nostalgic, Sleepy Lizard. Their songs so easily could have been placed into a dreamy film as they contain a certain sense of easy-listening sentimentalism. ‘Can’t Help It’ was certainly a stand out track in their set, with smooth melodies and equally smooth synths. A particularly wholesome moment came with the introduction to their song ‘Street Signs’ which they prefaced by describing it as an attempt to get into the country music charts a few years ago, and once the track started we could certainly tell why! There was something almost Lady Antebellum-like about the yearning vocals and warm harmonies. I’m not sure if this was a fever dream (or maybe the beer talking) but I distinctly remember hearing the lyrics “3 dudes in a cubicle having fun with pharmaceuticals” at some point in Sleepy Lizard’s set, and just to hear those quality words again would be worth checking out their next gig.
I cannot believe that I’d never heard of It’s A Hoax until this night, because they were absolutely captivating. Kiah’s vocals were beautiful, clear and had me completely transfixed. I quickly found myself becoming addicted to the immersive wall of sound; the distortion, the dissonance, and the unexpected twists and turns centring around floating melodies that felt a little bit painfully beautiful in the absolute best way possible. I had the sense that we were witnessing something special, perhaps a little rough around the edges, but ultimately something truly unique. In that moment there was nowhere else in the world I would’ve wanted to be. After the gig, I went home and immediately re-listened to their song ‘Incompetence’ and was instantly re-transported to a sound world that reminded me so much of bands like Sonic Youth, Pavement and even some of up-and-coming artist beabadoobee’s recent work. I am now determined to never miss another gig this band plays.
And then we arrived at the final act of the night, the wonderful Burjon. As I’d seen this band before and had been utterly blown away by their musicianship, song-writing and arranging skills, I went in with high hopes, and was not disappointed. The stage was jam-packed with 10 musicians on stage, and it was as if their sound almost couldn’t be contained to the confines of the Cranker’s walls. Complete with a full brass section, Burjon set out to groove the night away. It was such a wonderful set full of joy and celebration, both on and off the stage. There were so many stand out moments, from the baritone sax solo, to Erin Mo once again joining the band on stage for ‘Touch of Time,’ which shone under a new light with the arrangement of the additional instruments, and of course, the single itself, Today, where they were joined by Kiah from It’s a Hoax. This song is so incredibly catchy and positive-sounding, and Burjon should be extremely proud of the work that’s gone into creating it, because it has certainly paid off.
Every night I spend out listening to the live music of Adelaide I feel so incredibly lucky to be in this city, and so proud of the scene and all the artists contributing their own work. It was a very special night, and as usual, I can only say one thing, to please get out there and support the musicians we have in this city!
For your ears:
Burjon’s single: Today
It’s A Hoax: Incompetence
Sleepy Lizard: Can’t Help It
The Max Headroom’s latest EP: Ways Road
Come see The Max Headroom play at our Beyond Blue fundrasier December the 5th at the Lovely Chateau Apollo! Details here!