Feb 25 2012 - O'Live 2012

On Saturday night O'Live 2012 occurred at the Adelaide Uni Bar. On the lineup were four acts:

Tim Fitz

The Medics



The Adelaide Uni Bar used to be an icon. Located on the 5th floor of Union House at the Northern side of the campus, I can remember coming here to see a number of bands throughout the nineties and a few in the naughties. The place was a hub of drunken revelry, local bands, with students packed to overflowing, and O'week events were the pinnacle party of the year.

Somewhere along the way, things changed.

The bar is still the same as it was, maybe it's had a coat of paint or two, possibly the carpet was replaced, but the layout is still the same. It's basically two rooms, the first containing a couple of pool tables, some lounges, and tables with the longer stretch of bar, the other room has a few booths and lounges but is mostly open for the stage at the eastern end. There is also the balcony which is accessed via the stage room and overlooks a small quad. What amazes me is that they still haven't installed airconditioning in the bar and are relying on

Tonight, the bar is nearly empty. There are maybe one hundred people scattered through both rooms and the balcony. It's really quite surreal to step foot into a place you remember as being one thing and finding it's morphed into something else.

We didn't make it for the first two acts but we did see Tracer and Stonefield.

The biggest issues with commenting on this performance are: I can't play an instrument to save my life and thus only know what I like to listen to and what I don't, and the equipment that the bands had to deal with at the Uni Bar were substandard, different amps often times shutting down in the middle of song making it appear that the person doing the audio-mixing has no idea what they are doing.

Tracer are three piece rock/grunge band, Michael Brown (Vocals and guitar), Leigh Brown (Vocals and Bass), and Andre Wise (drummer), formed in 2004 that attained a small amount of local success in 2008/9 with their second mini-album before achieving a modicum of success in Europe with their first overseas tour lasting 3 ½ months. Since then, the band released their first full album 'Spaces in Between' in October 2011 and toured Europe supporting Royal Republic.

Tonight is their first show of the year before playing at the Clipsal 500 in March and touring the UK in April.

Tracer are good and energetic when they start, although the Michael & Leigh, the two guitarists, look a little serious and their brows are furrowed in concentration, while Andre, on drums, seems to be riding a wave of ecstasy. They move through their rock-grunge playlist and you cannot help but marvel at the beats they are pumping out, technically they are hitting all the right notes in the right order, and the music entertains and builds. Vocally though, it seems to fall short. Note I didn't say lyrically, it's the vocals and this may come down to the equipment failures of the night, but Michael's voice seems to struggle to rise out of the music, and when it does seems to lack the grunt to match the chords he's playing. Leigh sings for one song and once again it's the same in that it's hard to hear the voice above the music but when you do it's deep and bluesy.

The best part of Tracer's set though is their final song – Walk Alone. Everything is perfect as they ride in hard, rock pounding the audience, the levels and technology in synch and without distortion. Michael's voice was above the music, clear and harmonised with the music. It is in this song they perform one of the Rock & Roll clichés, playing guitar behind their head. The difference with this is that all three of them do it and that is something to see.

The band is enjoyable and I would very much like to see them play in a better environment with equipment that's not going to drop out on them.

Stonefield is four piece rock band made up of four sisters from regional Victoria. They won Triple J's unearthed in 2010 and since then have toured throughout Australia and to the Glastonbury Festival, UK.

When the girls take the stage I can't help but think that Jim Henson's Gelflings have escaped into our world. They are small, elvish girls and their instruments are as big or bigger than they are. I did not however allow this image to colour my perceptions of the music or the show they were going to put on.

Initially I felt the girls were all a bit serious, but as they went along they relaxed and their performance was better for it. Their music is inspired by the late 60's early 70's rock that I fed myself a steady diet of in my teens and their appreciation for those came before seems evident in the construction of their songs.

The lead vocalist, Amy, belts out the lyrics from behind her drum kit, her sisters providing backup. Her tone, pitch and pace are far from what you would expect for someone so slight of stature, there's an aridness that cuts through the music.

Technically, Stonefield are not anything remarkable, but with their youth they have a flair and passion that does set them apart. At no point do you feel that they are calling in their performance which is very rare indeed and makes for a great set.

All in all, despite the technical difficulties of the night, I got my $30 worth and look forward to the opportunity to see both these bands again in the future.

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