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Roarhouse Review @ 303 Bar Northcote, Thursday 15th of September, 2009.

Well, I've never been to Darebin Music Feast before but Roarhouse's eccentric contribution to this year's festival was epic. Artists flung themselves upon the small and cosy 303 stage every ten minutes with barely a breather between, and kept us highly entertained.

DziaDzia was wisely placed first on, for he encaptures the true hedonistic spirit of Roarhouse in a nutshell. He was clearly improvising and singing whatever his heart felt inclined towards each passing moment. Pure hilarious self-indulgence. He had a guitarist accompanying him, the solid peg in the wall that the picture hung and swayed upon. Dzia was energetic, vibrant and very engaging.

Matt McFarlane came up next with a singer-songwriter set of acoustic guitar and voice. The first time I have seen him play and I enjoyed it. His songs were nice, and his presence was earnest and appealing.  

Matt McFarlane

Initially No knocked the socks off everyone tonight. She is always orginal, funny and uncontained. Tonight she was brilliantly intelligent and adorably subtle too. I heard gasps in the audience as she spoke the taboos of sex in her usual off-kilter and satirical way. Her imagery and personifications are always great and full of innuendos. A really truly excellent show. Initially No

Mario Stylemachine kept the audience quiet and attentive as he rocked us through an array of bass solos. But they were songs too, for he played the part of both melody and rhythm, and implied harmony too. He was soulful, rhythmic and atmospheric, a deeply sensitive player. Mario Stylemachine

Cate De Carteret was another new comer for me. She too sang and played guitar, this time with warm, mellow country overtones. Her voice was sweet and her presence engaging, you should definitely check her out.Cate De Carteret

The Stoneybrook Duo returned to the Roarhouse stage with their usual display of uplifting, happy-go-lucky powerhouse blues. They plodded through their catchy songs like a raggedy train slowly winding off the rails, keeping us tapping our feet and smiling. Stoneybrook Duo

After a short break we clamoured into the back room to watch Lady Lash and Mz Rizk get their cool, funky, sexy soulful groove on. They are fantastic. Great beats, spot-on scratching, and what a voice. Within minutes the room had jumped from their seats and started grinding away. An extremely, extremely talented pair.

Lady LashMz Rizk

And finally, to finish the night off, we had the enigmatic Emotional Baggage Handlers. I've seen them before, and been impressed before, but not like tonight. This trio are truly something - each member is accomplished, the bass rocks,

 EBHEBH the drums lilt, the guitar rocks out in true clash-punk style. The songs are fun, incredibly catchy and full of little subtle changes and tricks which, if they don't pass you by, leave you laughing in gleeful surprise. My friend likened them to Californian Acid Rock. Are you joking? They are a quintessential 80's London pub band, rough around the edges, diamonds on the inside. Everyone was jumping around, hurling their bodies uninhibitedly. I cannot express enough how brilliant this band is live. 

Thank you for a great evening Roarhouse. And thank you artists too, you truly made my day.

Review by Jo Robinson 

Roarhouse Review @ 303 Bar Northcote, Thursday 13th of August, 2009.

Tony DowlingGood to see Tony back on the Roarhouse stage with his usual spirited display of jolly, rumbling folk tunes. He sang Simon and Garfunkel amongst other classics and some originals from his Friday Choir which silenced the room… genuine as ever.

Eddy Burger came up next and flirted his way through a series of short sarcastic poems, full of such theatrical flair - not in a big overdramatic sense, but understated and mischievous - that he had the audience doubled over in laughter. He spoke of 'her skin as soft as the underside of a fungus', 'The Oregami God', 'Bitching Barbies', puss, ooze and all sorts of quirky imagery. A splendid watch. Eddy Burger

Initially NoInitially No returned with a snazzy retro electric guitar in tow, and in place of her trumpet. She sang with her usual brash and sassy attitude, thrusting out minor chords shifting in semitones mirroring perfectly her emotive, moody, sexually laden rock'n'roll. The only thing missing was a kick drum to hammer home the pelted chords and edgy lines.

Maza took a spontaneous spot on stage and spoke Mazareflectively of life and love. He was deep, pensive and subtle: a pleasure to listen to. I especially liked the lines: 'I wish I were a monkey…..simple…..' and 'Give yourself to yourself'……

After the break Dzia came up, an old Roarhouse favourite but my first time of seeing him. He was a huuuuuge dynamic force, being totally and utterly himself and seeming to make it up on the spot as he wandered around the stage and showed us how stand ups were 'supposed to do it'……. Fuelled by his bipolar diagnosis he was a complete natural.

DziaNo joke: the last band up "Where Were You at Lunch" were the best band I've seen yet during my seven month stint in Melbourne. They were absolutely WWYALmesmersizing. Four guys playing progressive instrumental rock - I don't actually know what you'd call it but these sounds rose and rose, the drummer supporting the innovative and supremely on-it bass player, the two guitars criss-crossing their riffs in and out of sync with the others. The phrasing was superb. It was one of those rare special moments were you feel yourself being pulled into someone else's vision; they loved it, were so into it, and sounded so totally like a unit that the indiviual lines separating them sort of disappeared. Dzia was so inspired that he jumped on stage and began howling and screaming, throwing himself around like a true rock star, the others devotely WWYALundistracted and sticking to their guns. Hilarious.

Review by Jo Robinson.

Roarhouse Review @ 303 Bar Northcote, Thursday 16th of July, 2009

Mario Stylemachine, what a stylemachine you are. Mr. Mario is the second Roarhouse solo bassist act I've seen, and so different from the other it reminded me that this instrument is worthy and capable of a far more varied solo life than given credit for. Mario had a great subtle feel and warmth in his fingertips that suited his finger-picking style perfectly. His lines were pleasing melodically and harmonically (the latter is a hard feat for the single lined, 4-stringed bass) and reflected an array of different styles and influences, both classic and contemporary. But what I liked best of all was the way they seemed to arise out of space, thoughtfulness and musical instinct rather than bravado and ego-centricism.

Tony Creedon - what a joker. I'm on to you Tony! I saw his straight expressionless face crack this time. As he had the audience in stitches with his dry unimpressed take on life the occasional smile flickered across his eyes. You're too funny even for you Creedon. His voice is dynamic ranging from a low operatic rumble to a high tenor whine, like the final gusts of air escaping a balloon. Mario Stylemachine sat by his side and played along at Tony's brusque orders and managed a decent bass solo, at a shout, which was amusingly cut in half. Very entertaining. I think 'Shit In Your Eye' may well be becoming the Roarhouse anthem.

James Jackson had a lot of shouting to do himself and a need for someone to hear it. A lot of political wish-wash was exposed for what it really is, in a scathing sarcastic satire in poetic form. I loved his piece about his love of spoken word: a calling rather than a choice; a blessing he clearly hasn't ignored. James spoke with interesting levelledness; monotone but not in the least bit boring - it created a demanding urgency and pulse that made your own rhythmic inclinations cling on……then when he finally did drop the tone, or raise it, it was all the more powerful for it. A skilled and knowledgeable wordsmith.

My Imaginary Heart returned and proved that she's a much loved favourite of Roarhouse. Fi began singing to a noisy boisterous audience, but by half way through the clicking of glasses had ceased, the babble had faltered and stillness hovered over us as we were once again captivated. She is folky and English and beautiful but I'm not sure that exactly explains it. Her magic is in her aura, it's unpretentious and doesn't demand anything at all, she sits there and seems to sing to herself, and we feel like we've stumbled across her unexpectedly in a twilight forest somewhere. The songs are going from strength to strength and it's great to start recognising them and be able to sing along.

Craig Wright blew us away again with his dignified trumpet sounds tonight. He obviously works hard on his art and has a huge array of contemporary and old-style tunes to pelt out - none of which I can actually name, sorry Craig. He is very accomplished indeed with a strong full tone, awareness of musical phrasing and subtleties, and skilled embouchure. Everyone was clearly impressed. Would like to see more of you Craig - and maybe hear a self-written tune too…?!

The Stoneybrook Duo returned and were as pleasant as always, a happy couple singing old favourites. They have great voices which really offset each nicely: no one leads too much, and neither vie for more of the limelight. Yep, they still remind me of Johnny and June, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

The night ended with Days of Brahm, a four piece male-only rock band. They had catchy, well-designed songs with great rhythm and section changes, and not a small resemblance to Pearl Jam and other Seattle-based rock groups. Tight and very professional sounding, easy to listen to. And most important of all they got the crowd rockin'. A good band.

Review by Jo Robinson 

Crazy Chix, Roarhouse Review @ ESPLANADE HOTEL, Wednesday 27th of June, 2009

It was a sunny, cold winter's day, and the crew arrived early to set up for the headline annual event of female representation on the stage. Our small crew of dedicated volunteers prepared the cosy basement for the arrival of talent and their presentation. The stage was draped with lights, cameras were checked and tested, sound lines run and computers jockeyed up to speed. The venue background music ground out distracting pop classics as I finished draping the audience benches with multi-coloured glowing grains of wheat and forced down a white wine. As the artists began to arrive I could feel the fear. Every ache and breath had meaning, 'am I saying the right thing, am I normal, and am I in love?'
I was given the gift of some friends, and familiar Roarhouse faces filled the room. Marjetka opened the space with an introduction and a blurb about what Roarhouse is and does. The night was about women, their representation, art and growing from the margins to the mainstream.

Justine Sless then took the helm as the evenings MC. Her humour immediately set the tone and all were endeared by this community workers non-threatening shoes. The jokes came thick and fast: Sex, Howard, Dogs, Community. Introducing the first act with a two liner: "My mother married a pig farmer, which was awkward because she was Jewish."
Initially No began the performances outlining her background of overcoming gender stereotypes about trumpet players with a vacuum cleaner tube. It is a 'horny' instrument. Stretching our vocabulary to "percipience". Some bits of music and hilarious dirty jokes later, initially found humour in family infidelity. Animal imitations summoned amusing illusions before her wounded vulnerability came to the fore with a personal story of drug dealers, mental health facilities and needles. The set finished with a song about freedom in ones own country, and Bali.

Our MC filled the gap, wondering out loud if her husband had divorced her because of her muffin top. She ruminated that he had clarified the issue, explaining the divorce was because she was a whinging, nagging, sarcastic bitch.

With seamless transition the Monkey Brigade took over the space, with co-ordination and grace. Black hats and overcoats suited the dramatically music to a tee, as they danced on the floor, taking the audiences breath away as they stripped off for their second piece, the ironic 'Valley girls go shopping.' Sexy leotards and wobbly high heels had us wavering between desire and ridicule.
Our MC could really identify with them.

Wendy Butler had just had her 64th birthday. A local personality, her poems about the Gatwick were dripping with character. Wendy really knew what she was doing, as she led her listeners into a world of trivia, and descended through petty insult into a major life crisis. Her gritty picture of life on the street showed the world from a lesser seen perspective, giving voice to the working girls, who provide 'an essential service'. Wendy reminded us that even in the margins and fringes, there is romance with 'speed dating at the Gatwick', and has us wondering who is serving and protecting and who is the danger with 'A bad, bad, man', and finally the tragic humour of Salmonella poisoning in the 'biggest food van in the west.'

The modesty and empathy with all relationship problems was clear.
Dale and her band cleared a space on stage and banged out 'Stinky girl', verbally spraying us with her bodily fluids. Dale played some classics from her Bi-Polar Bear's days, one about the mundane joy of a new pair of shoes. The musical conversation continued with a response to One of Heidi Everett (Spidey), then the daring transgression of 'James Bond is a Necrophiliac'. The manic set had a few rough edges, but Dale's heroes were clear, and I think everyone can relate to her analogy that the system is like the effect of a cistern on the S-bend.

The room was very crowded by this stage and the gig moved into a different phase as Dale was followed by the quieter Lady Lash, and some of the focus shifted from the stage to a more social feel - friends catching up and swilling a larger or two, laughing clasping each others arms. Not to diminish Lady Lash, but she relieved some of the tension in the room. The jamming and lyrics like "Jugular blood dripping" were a rap riot, punch and spot on.

The night had variety if nothing else and Sandy Jeffs shifted us back to spoken word with award wining poetry from her book The Mad Woman in the Attic. Sandy's Thesaurus of insanity covered all bases, and, as a writer I had a special affinity with her descriptions of classical literary mad women. It was something to witness Sandy embody the prophetess Cassandra as she seers us with her words. Finally from her 2001 book of poetry, we were given the humour, pathos and cultivated articulations of the machinating midweek tennis ladies.
Another cultivated woman stood under the lights next. The Baroness, with her awesome Scottish accent and Jimi Hendrix jacket, jauntily jogged us through romance and comedy. A little house on the prairie kilt dress and squeeze accordion were all indicators of such refinement.

The baroness plays again next month in a show called "The Anorexic Chef".
Heidi Everett arrived on stage with some technical glitches, leading off with 'Still running away'. The crowd were excited, and the familiar 'Happy Song' did not disappoint. There was rambunctiousness, and the pockets of high expectations clashed with poor attention in others as the night lengthened and disharmony emerged. A powerful social feeling emerged as I fielded questions from a gang dude about where the 'lesbian show' was.

The ball rolled on with a Femme Fatale with a Wendy Matthews voice and Courtney Love attitude. Her powerful voice with dark tones and lyric were moving in a thinning crowd. Key changes seemed to make prophesy of lyrics like "you'll be sitting on your own, and you'll see the colour red." Friendship and urgency came through with what seemed to be a Kurt Cobain tribute: "you need to know how to love yourself before you say 'I love you'". Her ability to embody judgement and convey history did not distract from the anger of such songs as "The Pig is on Fire." Her power chords, walls of sound, flats (E?) and drops were all 'a bit witchy', but there was a certain truth in her closing song 'fear is the greatest evil of all.'

The end was near as our lubricated comedian in the top hat and red dress told us about water saving and how naïve Evian water drinkers are. With an international accent and go jump attitude, the whole room was roaring.
Roaring turned to anticipatory voyeurism as sultry cabaret performer Isabel Hertaeg steps on stage in a red dress. Her piano accompanist seemed theatrically demure (or submissive) in comparison. Her monologue starts with the science of sex, anatomy and social norms through the sixties and seventies. Her lecture notes were delivered in song, gasps and facial demonstrations. She certainly claimed all those years of deprivation, turning phantasms into satisfying musical orgasmic crescendos. The audience were living vicariously.

If Isabel was to being woman by night, Justine Sless is woman seen in the day…after day…after day. She is an (extra) ordinary home-making, child-raising, book-making, crumb-fighting, grouping-and-piling-clutter-from-all-surfaces feminist. We are relieved to relate to Justine's domestic continuum. We enjoy her ingenuity of blending and sponging junk mail into pulp fiction from her Bench Press Publishing House. It is heartening for her flashbacks of naïve younger yesteryears to create a spontaneously inspired melange of (extra) ordinary sex also. Justine's clever wit and resourcefulness of waging the war against crumbs gave the audience complimentary sponges to take home on departure in pursuit of Microwave feminism.

The final showcase act of the Crazy Chix night ended with Rebetissa, a Greek, folk-music, belly dancing trio of lovely women. Decorated in colourful, sequined costumes their display of shimmying hips and undulating arms gathered the crowd into a last dance. Scarves of the rainbow adorned the remaining crowd. Rebetissa's celebrations of woman were uplifting and moving…literally. A fantastic end to the Crazy Chix Showcase.
Roarhouse delivered another successful night; an eclectic array of artists to a diverse crowd and run entirely by its volunteers. And that raffle??

Reveiw by Sam Robb and Nilgin 

Roarhouse Review @ 303 Bar Northcote, Thursday 11th of June, 2009

Air Embolism returned with their space-like, psychedelic, British-and-Proud showcase. Paula plays washed out chords and pushes and pulls the pulse as she pleases, backed by ….., an accomplished player who colours her oceans with arpeggiated waves and an equal splash of spontaneity. I love watching her sing, she is totally engrossed in herself, as I am in her, and sounds in spirit like Pink Floyd with a voice harbouring a dash of Bjork's eccentricity and a dose of Kate Bush's vibrato. Ultimately though, Air Embolism are very, very much themselves.

Along came Brett Nulty, bass extraordinaire, who introduced himself with confidence and ease. He sang the praises of Roarhouse and described his creative method before embarking on an enticing journey through the unknown terrain of bass-line melodies. His timbre was like metallic reverb; his genre a cross between post rock and everything else; his rhythms a cascade of changing tempos that never….lost…a beat. Good viewing. Brett is looking for a drummer and singer to play with so if you're interested, contact Roarhouse.

The Maxine Clarke Duo presented a powerful combination of music and poetry. A concoction of silky voice and in-your-face lyrics were mixed with raw, earthy beats. Maxine spoke with curvaceous, playful intonation that shaped her lines with sharp peaks and smooth crests and was matched absolutely spot-on by Robbie's drumming and pounding. She spoke of her people; spoke for the Speechless and the Silent; told of Mama Reggae; the African plight; and my favourite…'Mr President [Obama], no disrespect to your wife but… I'll show you where I hide my weapons of mass destruction….' ! Smouldering, passionate and self-assured. She had everyone hooked.

Watermelon Man showed us his playful alter-alter-ego Octopus Man tonight clad in seven foot long tentacles swirling from his waist. He flounced around the room to upbeat music, inviting unwitting audience members to grab a tentacle each and taunt him. At first they were unsure. But soon they flung, he flung, they became more and more resolved, and in a final united effort they managed - to floor - the Octopus Man. And why the hell not?

Finishing off the night was Sarah Eida and her band, a trio of herself, drums and bass. Sarah has great sultry presence and a voice like an even darker Tori Amos. And what a band. The bassist was strong, the drummer nimble, lucid and snazzy, with an acerbic touch on cymbals and high hat. He set the wind behind the sails and sent them cruising along to good catchy grooves and songs. Very tight, very professional, I hope to see them again and would definitely pay to do so.

Review by Jo Robinson.

Roarhouse Reviews @ ESPLANADE HOTEL – BASEMENT BAR 27th of May, 2009

Dean Lombard began the night singing softly to a small crowd. 'Simple song' gently eased us into the performances. He followed with lyrics that are like a mantra to a generation who feel like we have been kept in the dark "I don't know…" Dean, a community worker in the Port Philip area, and long time Roarhouse supporter treated his beautiful wooden electric/acoustic blues guitar like a part of his body. He took us on a journey, harmonising pleasure and pain with powerful chords, fully in control of his awesome voice. Finishing with the metaphysical 'Eyes (are) the windows of the soul', his rhymes struck the audience with feelings of kindness and love, harmonica wailing with him on his chest with virtuoso competence.
Sam Robb clown performance (soon to be written by another writer.)

Another repeat performer followed Dean; Initially No, who had put aside her trumpet this week to take up her own acoustic/electric guitar, this time with a gleaming steel resonator. Initially's off-beat rhythm kept us guessing and hanging on every word. Entertaining themes; sci-fi and haunting, conveyed her enjoyment. Relaxed on stage, Initially engaged with the audience with a poetic patter between songs. 'Red Alert, Red Alert' with choppy attack and ironic delivery pleaded "It's really not his fault, no it's really not his fault." Hilariously, Initially can take a love song, apparently sincere, and extend the aching, loving, to wanting to swallow the person and wear them like a second skin, which is really pretty frightening.

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