Live: Cotton Sidewalk @ the Evelyn Hotel – 15/06/13

On Cotton Sidewalk’s Triple J Unearthed page, frontman Adam Price describes how the band has been recognised as a strong live act over the years, and how with the current line up the band’s shows are arguably better than ever. Add to this the declaration on their website that “the job is deemed incomplete should anyone leave with their face un-melted”, and you can understand why I had lofty expectations while heading to the Evelyn Hotel last Saturday night.Those expectations were, on the whole, met. For one, the band gave me an idea of how they got their name (something I’d been trying to figure out all week). Cotton Sidewalk is a Chimera of a band, their music at once as soft as cotton and as hard as a concrete sidewalk. From verse to verse on songs such as “Run, Spider, Run”, the music shifts gear from radio friendly pop-rock — complete with Michael Sullivan (guitar) and Cain Horton’s (keyboard) chiming harmonies and backing vocals — to full out head-banging Queens-of-the-Stone-Age-esque riffage. The genre is hard to pin down (note the number of hyphens in that last sentence), but the band themselves call it “Proganthemelodorock”, so I’ll go with that.The mercurial nature of the band is mirrored by Adam Price’s (lead vocals, guitar) performance. His vocals, like the music behind him, are at once harsh and soothing, while his on-stage persona transitions from shy and slightly dorky to confident and unapologetic multiple times. At the start of the gig, bespectacled and understated, Price says, “They said tonight’s show should have lots of energy, so I had 3 Weet-Bix this morning”. The next moment, his wild convulsive movements around the stage send those geeky glasses flying off his head, and not two songs later he’s brimming with assertiveness as Horton swaps his keyboard for a six string: “To those of you who think three guitars in one band is excessive: F*** you.”Cotton Sidewalk also set about redefining exactly what launching a new EP entails. Adam sent a shout out to his pregnant wife and anyone who helped with the EP, entitled Do Something, then outdid himself by making the gig a free-for-all for friends and family. The band’s biggest fans were invited on stage to be thanked of their support; Adam’s sister and former member Heather (bass) got up to sing one song, and Adam’s teenage brother was extracted from the crowd to play rhythm guitar for the final two songs “Feet, Teeth and Hands” and “Do Something”. Some people might have felt left out if they weren’t part of the action, but it was good to see that there was so much love and support in the room for an accomplished, cohesive and clearly talented rock band.Truth be told, my face wasn’t melted at the end of the gig (in fact, it was almost frozen within two minutes of me stepping out onto a windy Brunswick Street). But it was still mission accomplished from Cotton Sidewalk’s point-of-view, as they had mixed one hour of complex rock music with an entertaining, down-to-earth show. What more could you ask for?  by Alexander Darling

June 18th 2013
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