Bit By Bats
Chris Chinchilla takes a hike Into the Melbourne night life

Operator Please, Treetops, Little Red East Brunswick Club
Operator Please tick all the right boxes, they're young, attractive and every member falls into one of several 'kooky kid' categories, something to appeal to everyone, they also appear to write very catchy songs. All of which begs the question if the band are manufactured, or at least some sort of stage school band. Their 'shtick' is very cutesy, toying with that confusing late teens state of mind where you still want sweets and concession fare on the bus, but you also want alcohol, parties and sex. The band's biography is very vague and convenient, with members just sort of coming together, new recruit Stephanie on Violin talks of getting 'The Call' to join the band, and then after some 'DIY promotion' and a trip to New York City (which of course every teenager can afford!) the band sign to EMI… Hmm, Is the smell of a Rat in the air? Or the smell of Big Management bucks? Probably, but for some reason and for once, it's hard to care because Operator Please are so much damn fun!

For such a Buzz band The East Brunswick club is not particularly busy, possibly due to being over 18, and it looks like a few minors still managed to blag and bluff their way in. The night opens with Little Red, enough has been mentioned of them elsewhere, next are Treetops, a band who apparently have quite a varied and chequered History, despite possessing an amazing and youthful drummer the rest of the band seem rather tired and lacking, both supports a peculiar choice for the pure slice of saccharin soaked Pop rock to follow. These kids know how to play, the drums may be slightly weak but Timmy's only got little arms, so forgive him for now, Ashley's bass rumbles despite never seeing his face beneath an ample fringe, Sarah's keyboard bloops and fizzes in the modern way, and as well as producing a fine sound from her Rickenbacker / Vox combo, Amandah possesses a powerful and passionate voice, with range and depth. The songs are generally bouncy, upbeat and light in content, songs to scream along and dance to, not change the world with, perhaps 'Get What You Want' showing some hints of song writing maturity bubbling under the surface. Any self-respecting street press reading music fan just shouldn't like Operator Please, they smack of contrivance, of music career by numbers, of a fashionable gimmick. However with their charm, energetic stage show, apparent talent and irritatingly catchy tunes, the band will slowly be working their way on to many serious muso's list of guilty pleasures.

Bit By Bats @ Roxanne Parlour
Bit by Bats are a great band, in 'it' for all the right reasons, whilst a vast majority of bands in Melbourne posses some of the most fantastic and expensive equipment but don't do anything with it, Bit by Bats take their average guitars and amps and make some marvellous melodious music with it. No pretension, no fashionable prancing or posturing, just talent, tunes and exuberance. The music ticks all the right boxes to, solid rumbling bass lines and drumming countered with fuzzy guitar lines and Owen's unique fantastic barking vocal delivery, there's even some Theremin thrown in for good measure, even if it's barely audible most of the time. The crowd at Roxanne's are appreciative but not up for dancing, the holiday weekend doesn't seem to have encouraged that many partygoers out and those here are of the fashionable ilk that wouldn't do it anyway. Bit by Bats don't mind though, they're doing it because they love music and love playing their music, everything else is a bonus.

Little Red, Magnum Gumbo Detonator, Definite Article The Tote
Kicking off Little Red's second Tote Residency night is 'Definite Article' with their first gig under a new name that is not much better than their old, 'Squeaks & Squeals'. Vocalist Mark wears a silly hat and the band have a drum machine so songs never quite get going, but contain enough pleasant harmonies and melodies to maintain interest. As the room fills 'Magnum Gumbo Detonator' take to the stage, vocalist Bernie's slightly inane grin seemingly happy with the crowd. They're a funk band without a lot of funk and a soul band without a lot of soul, unyet their pots of charm and sense of fun carry the show, captivating the crowd, a limbo contest during the last song winning all but the coldest of hearts.
It's often said that music recycles and builds upon what's come before, borrowing bits from here and bits from there, melding them into something sort of recognisable but not quite discernable. What about those who wear their musical hearts' on their sleeves, who are more obvious about their influences and inspirations? It is clear from the outset of tonight's gig that Little Red draw more than a modicum of inspiration from 60s beat combos, with a slight dash of 70s rock thrown in for good measure. Three singers share a tour of duty on lead vocals, with slick backing vocals provided from those on the subs bench throughout. Dominic Byrne, resplendent in a knitted tank top is reminiscent of a young and dangerous (yes, he was once, a long time ago) Cliff Richard, his vocal strained and full of passion, maybe even a little pain, think of John Lennon's delivery on 'Twist & Shout'.

Next up is Tom Hartney, something of a young Paul Weller look-a-like, decked in a glorious 80s style jacket, sleeves rolled up, frantically bashing a tambourine and towering above his compadres, his lower register voice booming through the rest of the band. Finally on lead duties is Quang Dinh, sporting a suitable Beatles mop top, he handles the more soulful material, his gentler voice sometimes lost in the mix, but his mournful eyes telling all that needs to be known. Adrian Beltrame on Guitar / Backing Vocals and Taka Honda complete the line up providing an able bed of rhythm and harmony. The songs are primarily about girls, loves won, loves lost, loves lamented, happy tales, sad tales and a few unrelated tales thrown in for good measure. Not the most original of subjects, but what else would you expect from a band taking the strains of the first youth music when that's all it was about, weaving it into something new and exciting for the youth of today to relate to all over again.

Peabody, Intercooler East Brunswick Club
The recently expanded and invigorated Peabody have an unhealthy obsession with their guitars. Swapping backwards and forwards after pretty much every song, the band have a guitar tech beside the stage who does nothing but tune their guitars for them, but the band still insist on double checking tuning before commencing each song, putting the dampeners on any inter song banter aside for the pleasantries. Initially it's amusing and charming, as the set continues the habit becomes somewhat annoying and the temptation to shout "Get on with it!" becomes very strong indeed. So it's a good job the band have a set chocker full of brilliant and finely crafted songs. Songs of incredible depth and texture, clever and carefully constructed layers of melodies, interesting unyet uplifting, deep unyet exciting and exhilarating. Full and rich guitars set over solid bass lines, powerful drums and Bruno Brayovic's heartfelt vocals searing through the mix. The band take the bold stance of playing an entire set of new songs from their forthcoming album that frustrates Peabody's old school fans in the crowd, but to new listeners it's an emotionally charged set, full of dynamics and solid delivery. It's been a tough year for the band, but they seem happy to be back and the crowd are happy to have them back.

The East Brunswick club is fairly empty tonight, perhaps due to the Holiday weekend, perhaps due to other gigs and events and after Peabody's set the venue empties even further. Intercooler take to the stage looking like a generic Indie-Rock band, and unsurprisingly they sound like one to. You can tell where the songs are going from the second they start, there are no surprises; it's all been done before. There's nothing being said, no inventiveness, nothing new, the band don't even look that interested in what they're doing, relying on Rock charm to carry them through their set. Intercooler make little pretence at being anything more than a Pop Rock band and it's gained them much commercial success and recognition, it's just a shame that this style of bland rock with no presence or character is always so bloody popular, or is it? The venue is not exactly busy and as someone commented the day before the gig, "Are they (Intercooler) still going?"

Chris Chinchilla