Melbourne Fresh Grand Final @ Revolver – 21/02/2012

Ah, the perks of the music connections. Janie, my co-host on the Hoist, and I were fortunate to be invited along to judge the grand finale of Melbourne Fresh, one of the longest running Battles of the Bands, held at Revolver Upstairs. Spanning a whopping seven hours worth of up and coming bands it was a sprawling night of great quality acts. Everything spanning pop, rock, metal, and even a little bit of jazz was played through the night which did make the crowd a bit divided at times but it was good to see an array of acts rather than just one particular niche of music given a chance to perform.
Thanks to the severe lack of parking down on Chapel Street we showed up just in time to see Jordan Clarey. At only eighteen years of age and with an EP on the way, the strength of his performance belies his age. Next up were the Velvet Archers. I said they sounded like Mumford and Sons, Janie said they sounded like Boy and Bear, while the band members described themselves as both, so you can clearly place them in the country folk genre. Having undergone a bit of a member changeover recently the set was still really tight. One of the highlights of the evening was seeing the lead singer break a string on his guitar and keep on playing, only to have a second string break, which lead to him still singing while plugging in his mandolin then changing over instruments; musicianship at its finest.

After New Model Agency came Rexkramer. With the youngest member being at least in his late thirties I really did have to question why a band that has at least a generation’s worth of musical experience would have entered a competition like this but they have a massive following and brought a lot of energy to the stage, especially the drummer.

Saving Cleopatra were one of the more popular acts of the night, with their blue eyed soul meets pop lenience, Adam Levine meets Anastacia got the crowd moving. Splicing in an Aloe Blacc “I Need A Dollar” cover into one of their songs was a definite plus.

War In Arcadia also has a large fan base and got a crowd wave happening for their second song. Their rock sensibilities were tried and true, it sounded like I had heard their stuff before, but nevertheless they were thoroughly entertaining.

Even if the next act turned out to be terrible these guys would have been etched into your memories if you saw them. Suits, perfectly-coiffed hair, bow ties, makeup complete with fake moles, big band is what makes up the Royal Jelly Dixieland Band and thankfully they are darn good performers to boot. Ending with a cover of “Single Ladies” and having one of the guys jump onto his double bass and play at the same time wrapped up a really fun set.

The night took a turn when the next two acts came on with both having metal tendencies then bounced back to the pop rock for the next two acts. Finally, as the clock reached one am, RPM performed; they seemed to have a lot of fun on stage and injected some liveliness into a tired and restless crowd.

Then came decision time: which band already had an EP already? Who brought in the most people? Who did the audience like the most? Who needs a little bit more exposure? These are some of the things that the group discussed to arrange the prizes accordingly and I think we did come to a unanimous decision at the end which was a relief for all of us.

It was a long evening that showcased a vast amount of talent that we have here in Melbourne and I wish the best of luck to everyone involved, no doubt you will hear of all the acts somewhere near in the future.  

by Mason Smith
Photo of Royal Jelly Dixie Band by Angelo from 3 Fates Media

Professional promo photoshoot with 3 Fates Media – Jordan Clarey Music
Management Consultancy – Saving Cleopatra
Performance at Corner Hotel Super Unsigned Festival – REXKRAMER, Mani and The Rissoles, RPM, Model Planes, Royal Jelly Dixieland Band and Velvet Archers.
Cash Prize – War in Arcadia
Single Recording – REXKRAMER, RPM
EP Recording – Velvet Archers
SYN FM Interview – Royal Jelly Dixieland Band

March 12th 2012
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