4000 Records in Brisbane might only two years old but it has already developed an impressive and formidable roster in that short time. To celebrate a challenging couple of years since its inception, Chief Musical Officer John Russell organised a day long showcase for his bands – an incredible audacious feat battling COVID restrictions, a Sunday slot, school holidays, last minute cancellations and threatening weather. And, may I say, the overall apathy of the general public. You can read more about the label in my interview with Russell here.
The result was nothing short of astonishing. There were two stages – one massive, towering monolith of a stage outdoors and one more intimate indoors venue, both at Brisbane’s Brightside venue. Bands played on alternative stages and the flow between sets was oil slick smooth. I had reviewed many of the bands on the set list, some were new to me and some weren’t even on the label (a testimony to the goodwill Russell musters in the music scene as he had to fill some last minute withdrawals). Bands that sound good on record don’t necessarily cut it live, but it can be said everything single act on the bill impressed.
We recently premiered the debut of Aren’t (Fionn Richards) and he opened the proceedings with a showcase of his intricate and delicate songs, exhibiting a beautiful and complex guitar style and exquisite singing. Amber Ramsay from Cloud Tangle joined for the new single ‘For Love’, adding a glorious sheen and a very special moment.
Joel Glazebrook’s set, as Edith Thomas Furey, was immersive and enthralling: featuring an ancient drum machine, backing tracks and Glazebrook’s brooding and enigmatic presence. The songs were anthemic and bold: dark hints of gothicism with soaring choruses. This was a mesmerising perfomance and begs the question why this performer doesn’t have a greater profile. The songs were infinitely more interesting and exciting than most of the dross that gets commercial airplay.
Out in the outdoors stage, the cloudy skies of Brisbane received a jolt of sunshine with late addition non-label Adele and the Chandeliers. Adele Pickvance is an institution – one time bass player with The Go-Betweens in their phase II era – and her new trio played a short set of bounding pop delights: quirky, bright and melodic with delightful on-stage banter and a great and easy presence. Watch out for a new EP.
Another non label late addition was local band Start Together who’s indoor set was a delicious slice of post punk rock: punchy and melodic. Unfamiliar as I was with their oeuvre, I really enjoyed the set. I’m going to explore more on the strength of this performance.
Back outside, a regular and much loved band in my review list, Fingerless, played a blistering set with singer/guitarist Marc Cheeseman’s rock god antics wild and abandoned. Their set was touched with exuberant 70s prog rock dimensions, some glorious harmonies and psychedelic wanderings(including the wonderful ‘Tambourine Addict Who Plays the Drugs’), but their rendition of recent single ‘Leaf of Stone’ was simply magnificent: powerful and beautiful.
The rough hewn antics of Fingerless were delightfully contrasted by the ethereal presence of Amber Ramsay’s Cloud Tangle: with a full band all dressed in a ghostly white dresses and the dream pop landscapes blissfully casting a luminescent glow across the drab concrete walls. The set was a sonic shimmer: Ramsay’s enigmatic presence was like an angel floating above the mortal fray and the songs, mostly from her debut album ‘Kinds of Sadness’, crystalline and sparkling with a sort of deadpan, arctic melancholia.
Local Authority is another band that has frequently graced the pages of Backseat Mafia and their brand of dream pop shoegaze was delivered with great presence and style. Songs like ‘Oil Rigs’ and ‘Forever, For Now’ captured the brilliance of the original recording: enigmatic pop songs that shimmered and glowed just as much live and with a commanding presence.
Back on the outdoors stage, the coordinated striped t-shirted Coalfalls put on a spectacular sonic thunderstorm: the trio making the vast outdoor stage seem like a postage stamp as their brand of reverberated instrumental music created a spaced out dreamy fugue that was hypnotising and intimate. While the drums and bass provided a steady and insistent beat, the delightfully named Tonestar Le Ru was able to produce the most sublime noises from her guitar and the instrumentals blended in to one heady trippy journey. You don’t need vocals when you can create such sonic visuals and the band’s enigmatic stage presence was indelbile.
Back in doors, Shugorei continued the instrumental journey with something a lot more restrained and eclectic. Normally a duo consisting of Nozomi Omote and Thomas Green, the duo added strings to the vibraphone, synths and percussion, creating absorbing sonic and ambient textures and a lot of joy for the audience.
Bemasked and all dressed in white, Endless Valley were a revelation: looking like members of some sort of cult, they were transfixing to watch. The music was just as flamboyant and theatrical, psychedelic and funky with a jungle rumble to the percussion. The female singer, sharing vocal duties with the guitarist, prowled the stage with an enigmatic presence: haughty and alluring. This was a most entertaining performance.
Back in the indoors stage, The Double Happiness exuded as much sunshine and joy that could be mustered in the sunshine state. This is a band we have covered enthusiastically for a while now: their own brand of what they label Surfgaze is a style that draws in the quirkiness and character of the B52s yet has an indelible Queensland flavour – that of the endless sunshine, salty air and a dry and irrepressible sense of humour. From their early single, the jangly ‘City’ to the recent blissful ‘Oysters Can Dream’, the band delivered the most effervescent and charming set replete with a theremin and a sparkle of on-stage ebullience that was infectious. The Double Happiness induce just that feeling, tripled. The vocal interpay, the crystal, reverberating guitar and an incandescent pop joie de vivre created a joyous vibe and a lot of dancing.
The evening ended with headliner Asha Jefferies, not on the 4000 Records label but a fitting finale to a stupendous evening. She played a set with her band that was filled with delightful wistful indie pop songs, augmented by the horn section from locals The Holy Rollercoasters and ethereal back up singing creating gorgeous harmonies, including her lovely paean to post lockdown joys, ‘Dancefloor’.
I’ve been to a few festivals in my lifetime, all over the globe, and 4000 Records Turns 2! is up there with the best: brilliantly organised, astutely crafted in structure and delivered to entertain with a panoply of excellent bands and musicians. Above there was a lovely atmosphere – many bands paying due tribute to Russell and the incredible work he has done for local music. Reflecting the label itself, the music was diverse, innovative and above all, incredibly entertaining.