Collarts presents: Collaboration 21 August 2012


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As part of my Event Management topic at Collarts I undertook the role of Stage Manager/Auction Co-ordinator for Collarts presents: Collaboration. The event showcased the talent at the Australian College of the Arts in a series of solo and group performances, as well as a charity auction for Oscar’s Law.  

My role as Stage Manager involved working with the Artist Liaison to organise staging and the smooth running of the night. 

In my role as Auction Co-ordinator I was required to co-ordinate the group with sourcing items and memorabilia for our charity auction for Oscars Law. I also contacted various music related business to source items. I reported to the event managers with regular updates of group activity and maintained a database. 

It was a very successful night and went smoothly. 

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The Mission in Motion. 12 June 2012. The Tote. Review (Written 25.7.12)

The Mission In Motion

With Jonesez, Ikarii and Celadore

Saturday 2 June 2012

The Tote, Collingwood.


The Mission in Motion hit up The Tote with supports, Jonesez, Ikarii and Celadore delivering some smooth alternative rock stylings.

Three-piece alternative rock band, Celadore, took to the stage to a slowly filling room early in the night. Celadore are currently signed to Popboomerang records and having not long released a new EP, The Bright and Blue, produced by Chris Cheney. They quickly grabbed my attention with their developed sound both musically and lyrically. After their set, I quickly grabbed a copy of each of their EP’s from the merchandise table. It was definitely something that I do not regret and I am looking forward to hearing more from this band.

Local band Ikarii were up next with their melodic rock. This band has been around for a few years now and its clear with their delivery that they are seasoned professionals. They seem to channel Calling All Cars and Anberlin in terms of their sound. They rocked a couple of new tracks from their upcoming record and a few of the better-known tracks.

Jonesez, with their ‘surf rock’ sound, created a buzz with crowd. I had honestly never heard of them before and felt that I had been missing out on some really great music. The music is slightly rough around the edges compared to the slicker performances of the other bands, however it is their sound and part of the charm of the band. Their sound definitely has elements of Aussie rockers Jebediah. By far the best songs performed were Best Friend and Pretty Worn. Maybe that’s because I am partial to them. Lyrically, they are quite wacky and funny. It just makes a great band to listen to and their personality comes across on stage.

Unfortunately throughout the set, there were issues with lighting on the stage. At various points it would black out and the band has a couple of issues with playing. Whether this was an issue with the venues lighting or the sound/lighting engineer I am unsure, but the band took it all in good grace, laughed it off and continued to play.  Unfortunately it carried over into the next set, as did issues with sound.

Sydney band, The Mission in Motion took to the stage as Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” blasted from the speakers. As the music built up towards the guitar solo, the band assembled and broke into their first song.

One of the best things about The Mission in Motion is their ability to give you the same songs on their recordings but make them a unique experience in the live set. My sister, kindly said to the vocalist, Brett Islaub, that she loved how their music sounds ‘heavier’ live. Islaub replied that the heavier sound “didn’t come across on the last record. It was pop-y” and that the band preferred the heavier sound and was striving towards that sound on their next record. Their live sound is amazingly different and something that must be seen to be experienced.

Stage presence is a wonderful thing to watch with The Mission in Motion. They move, all the time. Trashing around the stage even though this was the last of the eastern leg of the tour. You can feel that the band gives it everything and then some more, even though the vocalist was ill. Visually, and in terms of the way in which the lyrics are put forth, you would honestly believe that Islaub is incredibly arrogant. But once he finishes a song and converses with the crowd, his persona completely changes and he seems like the nicest guy in the world. Its an interesting element.

They played a large majority of known songs from previous releases, but threw in a couple of new songs that would be on the next record. They played crowd favourites, Control (a new single) and Take this to the night. The night closed with New Skin from their record Somewhere Safe. 

In all each of the bands performed well, and I just love that you can go to gigs and the supports are just as good as the main act. It really makes for a great night. Good times were had and beers were drank.

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APO Arts Academy. Up the Ladder to the Roof. Review. (Written 25.7.12)

Up the Ladder to the Roof.

Presented by APO Arts Academy

Beckett Theatre, The Malthouse

Friday 29 June 2012


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Cast: Lucy Ellis, Lachlan Graham, Melissa Harrington, Baylie Hemming, Lauchlan Hewson, Daniel Jones, Leigh Kuehnapfel, James Leone, Casey Reddington, Lucy Ross, Camille Wai, Celina Yuen and ensemble.

Director/s: Derek Taylor, Pamela Apostodilis and Scott Hendry

Apo Arts Academy’s end of semester spectacular, Up the Ladder to the Roof, was definitely a hidden gem in regards to musical theatre in Melbourne. The night focused on a variety of songs from musical theatre and other film based musicals. The students at APO Arts Academy are trained in all aspects of musical theatre, including dance, vocal and acting.

I sat apprehensively in the Beckett Theatre, with many members of my extended family, waiting for the performances to start. My grandfather kindly told me that he wasn’t impressed with the last APO performance he saw, stating that it was disjointed and that it contained a lot of inappropriate content (ie. Profanity). My uncle told me that he had read reviews and it wasn’t very good. I became one with the prospect that it was going to be the most boring student based performance of my life. After all, it was really just a showcase of a bunch of songs unrelated to each other by a bunch of students who were still learning their craft.

I am very happy to say that I could not have been more wrong.

The students from the Associate and Advanced Associate in Musical Theatre degree slowly graced the stage for their opening number, ‘Ragtime’, from the musical of the same name. I was blown away by their highly trained voices echoing throughout the theatre even though the song and performance itself seemed fairly flat.

Amongst the solo performances there were many that were memorable and stood out from the others. 

Leigh Kuehnapfel delighted the audience with “Ya Got Trouble” from The Music Man. His ability to use a comedic charm while holding an American accent and not breaking character was unprecedented and unexpected. The audience laughed and listened intently as the spoken words strung from one to another and Kuehnapfel barely took a breath. The ensemble added life to the song and helped set the scene against the black backdrop. He set the tone for the rest of the night. His performance of ‘She’s a Women’ from Kiss of the Spider Woman, set on an empty stage, let Kuehnapfel simply sing.  It was there where his true talent shone. He is definitely one to look out for in the musical theatre scene.   

Bailey Hemming’s performance of ‘Raven’ was beautiful and breathtaking. She stood there alone on the stage and just belted out the song. I sat there intently listening while the hairs on the back of my neck tingled. You could actually feel the audience move forward on their seats. Her vocal talent is unbelievable and something that really has to be witnessed to understand the sheer power that she has.

Lachlan Graham’s portrayal of a crazy stalker in “I really, really love you” was incredibly funny. His over the top performance style just emphasized the crazy that was in the character. His vocals were excellent as was the acting.

‘Same Old Song’, from Eurobeat, echoed the hilariousness that is Abba (sorry, Avla). The acting and dance routine for the song was excellently choreographed and highly entertaining. 

Melissa Harrington’s performance of “He vas my boyfriend” originally from Frankenstein, was incredibly well performed both musically and theatrically. She pulled off a floorless German accent while keeping character. It showed her skill and versatility as a performer.

The closing number, a sequence of songs from the musical of “Catch Me If You Can”, finished off the show nicely. The montage of songs allowed the cast to show more of a ‘musical theatre element’ that told part of a story. It was slightly disjointed as it was only four songs from the musical, but at that point, it felt more like a show. It was a strong closing element.

Up that Ladder to the Roof has definitely became my gateway drug back into musical theatre. It contained the right amount of comedy and more serious songs to keep the audience entertained, while also showing the talent of each and every one of the students who performed. It was incredibly clear to see how much effort the students put into learning and practicing, especially in regards to drama and dance elements. It really was a showcase of their talents. I really wish the best of luck to each and every one of them as they all have very promising careers within musical theatre discipline.

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Suburban Legends. Day Job. Album Review. (Written 26.7.12)

Day Job

Suburban Legends

Released: 3 April 2012



Southern California ska-somethings, Suburban Legends, recently released their sixth album following up a somewhat sneak peak EP ‘Going on Tour’ in 2010. It has definitely been a long time coming.

Suburban Legends are a fixture in the Californian ska scene regularly supporting bands such as Reel Big Fish and the Aquabats, and rocking Disneyland’s Tomorrowland Terrace on more occasions than anyone could possibly count (and its the most awesome thing ever). They have had numerous line-up changes and have had numerous adventures into various genre-bending tunes, in particular ‘disco-ska’. However they are slowly moving back to their roots with Day Job and re-exploring their earlier ska-rock sounds. Like always it’s full of up-strumming and horns that every ska album needs. All tracks are upbeat but nothing too original can be found here.

The track listing is nothing surprising after their sneak peak EP with re-recorded versions of the songs spread throughout. They also have three previously unrecorded songs that have been a huge part of their live stage show that fans have been waiting patiently for/begging to have recorded.

Disney’s The Little Mermaid’s ‘Under the Sea’ and The Lion King’s ‘I just can’t wait to be king’ are probably the best tracks on the record. Maybe its because they are simply everything that is fun and good within the world wrapped into two perfectly amazing covers, or maybe its just my longing to see them being performed at Disneyland. But who cares, they’re amazing. Stylistically they both have the fun ska-pop/punk sound. You cannot help but smile.

The long non-recorded song ‘Girlfriends Pretty’ has made it into the track listing. It’s the typical cheeky tongue-in-check lyrics that you get from the earlier Suburban Legends tracks involving vocals by guitarist Brian Klemm. He’s always funny and his voice is distinctive from Vincent Walkers. It’s a refreshing change and a highlight on the record.

Unfortunately, since the departure of their previous vocalist Tim Mauer and the movement of Vince Walker from trumpet to vocals in 2005, the lyrics haven’t been as strong as their earlier releases. It still has a very large cringe factor with this record. They sometimes sound like they could be on a children’s program such as Yo Gabba Gabba even if the content isn’t quite G rated.

I feel that I skip a variety of tracks especially ‘Arigato’ and ‘Just be Happy’ or simply turn to older records simply because of the lyrics.  Musically, they are still just as strong as they have always been despite the changes in style over time. Luckily for a fan, such as myself, Ska music is mainly about the sound overall than the lyrical content.

‘Woah’, being the standout track from the Going on Tour EP is still a standout track on this album. It is catchy and gets you moving and wanting to dance. It has elements that are definitely reminiscent of their disco-ska days.

“Open up your eyes” is definitely a standout track on this album. It’s catchy and stays true to what you want and expect from Suburban Legends. I am surprised that this wasn’t the lead ‘single’ released from Day Job. Its solid and I will definitely have it on repeat. It is more guitar driven and more mature sounding than a lot of the other tracks. It’s a pity that Suburban Legends didn’t follow through with it on the rest of the record.

Half of the album is really nothing new from Suburban Legends and there are a couple of tracks that are unfortunately lyrically sad. Meanwhile, there are a few redeeming songs namely from Disney movies. That itself is a reason to buy this record. Overall it is solid and is worth a listen. Hell, a few tracks may make it to a mixed playlist on your ipod and you might just find yourself skanking along on occasion.

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Friday 14 December 2012

I thought that now would be an appropriate time to post one of my favourite short films. It is called Free Fall and it is, in a nutshell, a free dive by Guillaume Nery. In the mid-2000’s he held the world record for the deepest free dive. 

This video is amazing for a variety of reasons. The first being the cinematic feel to piece.  It’s dramatic and suspenseful. I believe that this is mainly because of the song choice, of Archive’s ‘You Make Me Feel’, that fits so well with the visual. The second is the amazing feat of free diving a blue hole. In addition, it was filmed by Julie Gautier while also free diving. Its just mind blowing and beautiful. 

Check it out.

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Thursday 13 December 2012

This is the very start of my blog on my very first professional website. How exciting!

You are probably wondering what you are going to see here and why you should keep coming back. Other than the obvious, ‘I’m awesome’ response that I love to give, I seek to present my thoughts, ideas and aspirations in a professional context. What you see here is what I think about.

I actually feel a little uncomfortable with writing everything down and presenting it to the world. I guess it makes it real, concrete and open for scrutiny. But they (Bill Cosby, apparently) say “In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.’ It’s something that I am learning to apply to life and career, and I will apply to this. I am going to talk about music I’ve found, my obsession with, music business happenings, gig/music reviews, my experiences/work and anything else that alludes to the voices in my head. 

Once again, Welcome! Please keep coming back! I will be posting weekly Spotify playlists thanks to this lovely blogging platform. I will also be writing pieces/posting pictures periodically.

Thanks for reading, and beginning this journey with me.

(check me out on twitter at @_nicaustin.)

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