MOFO Mod Cons 4th Oct 2014

MOFO does the Bala – Leanne Tennant, Odius, Cape York, The Mod Cons

The MOFO machine continues to demonstrate its ability to bring quality acts to accessible and diverse venues. Last Saturday night was a return to the mainstream Balaclava Hotel, replacing the usual mainstream rock vibe there with a delicious smoothie, blending alt-country and folk goodness with chunks of punk and thrash, and the typically genre-spanning lineup featured a couple of acts used to much larger stages than that in the comfortably intimate Bala back room.

Poster headliners were the quirky and annoyingly talented Van Ballegooyen brothers, who played third under Jevon’s guise as Cape York. Jevon’s askew take on indie/alt-country is different enough that I feel a little guilty categorising it as such, and the songs are sufficiently sophisticated to sound accessibly simple without any hint of pop fluffery. This year’s Groovin’ the Moo Townsville punters (the early ones at least) were lucky enough to catch the band, featured as Unearthed winners, and I thought the show translated perfectly to the smaller venue. Actually, with the rather democratic swapping of instruments and vocal duties after almost every song, it was probably a lot more convenient for the boys. Cape York’s music can be heard on the triplej unearthed website, and I for one will be looking forward to the next visit Jevon makes up here, large venue or small.

Another big-stage veteran had been recruited to open the show, and thankfully her voice was none the worse having opened for Kasey Chambers as her Tanks gig last week. Over just the past few years I’ve seen Leanne Tennant play several times, and her transition from TAFE student to Tamwork-rocking tour veteran has been ridiculously quick and really should be an inspiration to anyone thinking about making a career out of performing music. Having said that, I’d previously only caught Leanne surrounded by other musicians (as The Rockabilly Express) which made her solo, folk/country-leaning act a totally new experience for me. The extra space facilitated by the acoustic/voice setup gave plenty of room for her lyrical content and control to shine, balanced nicely by the understated polish of her guitar work (nice guitar, by the way, even with the extra holes in it… hope you got a discount.) Her ability and stage presence led to a comment by one punter that she was the kind of intimidating talent he wouldn’t be able to talk to, without the risk he’d ending up marrying her. I’d take that as a pretty solid compliment.

Slotted in between Leanne and Cape York were the overworked and underpaid proto-thrash Odious. Much has been written about the foursome recently, which isn’t surprising given their punishing schedule, so I’ll simply quote another of the audience who described them as the band that every 30+ year-old metal fan wishes he (or she) had been in, back in the day – basically, young local guys who would have fitted in perfectly on any 1983 bill between a couple of Dave Mustaine’s bands. With skills honed enough to sound great without the need for ear-splitting volume – a sadly rare skill in metal bands – the boys can nonetheless put on a brutally powerful show when appropriate. Even the curse of the inconveniently-timed self-unplugging guitar lead didn’t manage to derail the metal god persona that is Lucas (onstage at least!) Good tight set once again fellas, keep up the great work.

Self-deprecatingly self-described “the shit covers band that closes out MOFO gigs,” The Mod Cons were up last to, well, close out the mofo gig with a decidedly non-shit set of covers. I must have wandered off before the end of too many mofo shows at the spiritual McLeod St home, as this was the first time I clearly remember seeing the trio. Again, impeccable talent was on show from all points of the stage, effortless guitarwork, balanced bass and three-part harmonies abounding. At the back was a guy who looked familiar from the neck down but without a Mexican wrestling mask, drumming away in a far less garage hardcore mode than when his anonymous facade is up. It’d be technically accurate to bill these guys as a “cover band playing stuff from the 60’s through to today,” and I’d love to see the faces in the average pub crowd once tracks from The Pixies and The Who exploded across the room. Awesome repertoire, immaculate sound and a very enjoyable performance overall.

In terms of venue, the back room at the Bala works well acoustically for both crowd and performers (apart from the three-hour almost nonstop performance from the smoke detector, I guess, which was generally drowned out) and gave plenty of space, although with the audience size building from the last show it’s to be hoped it’ll be closer to capacity next time. Ten bucks was again magnificent value, and I understand the same ridiculously low cover is in place for the next MOFO gig Smelly Jeans Hallowe’en, coming up at the German Club in a couple of weeks. I’ll see you all there!

Jon Niehaus

Pictured – Mod Cons – Photo by Todd Macalpine

© Copyright 2024 | NQ Music Press