Gig/Concert: Kram with The Novocaines and Red Shoes Boy
Venue: Mojo’s Bar, Fremantle, Western Australia
Date: 23 August 2009
In one word: Eclectic
You might know who Kram is. I had a vague idea before coming to Australia of who he was and what his band was famous for – you may have heard a certain fully revved and motorised version of “Black Betty” at some point in your life; it might be at the back of your brain but it’s extremely likely you’ve heard it. The cover in question was released by Australian rock band Spiderbait, who Kram is the drummer and lead vocalist for. A lot of people will have shown up to hear this song but there’s a lot more in store tonight, with Kram playing material from his debut solo album Mix Tape.
The gig is at Mojo’s and that smell of stale beer and farts kinda makes you miss the days of smoking in pubs but then come to your senses again. Mojos is one cool place and I always enjoy its ramshackle interior and watching people trip up the step in the side of the room.
First up is Red Shoes Boy who sound a bit like The Black Keys mixed with Joe Cocker. I love the former and detest the latter so it’s a strange mix for me. They play soulful blues music but the lyrics seem to lack the soul and their take on double entendre (“In & Out”, something about a train) falls a bit flat.
I’m not saying they weren’t good though, I’m sure their friends liked them and they made a bunch of new fans at the show because they are very talented guys, I’m just expecting too much.
Next up is a bunch of guys who look like The Kooks which only has bad connotations for me – I hate poser rock n’ roll and am not looking forward to this. Suddenly though the band burst into one of the loudest rackets of the evening and proceed to crash through a set of agitated rock n’ roll; sure the singer looks like a pirate Johnny Thunders but these guys make the previous support a very distant memory.
“When it’s loud its wow and when it’s soft it’s like gospel music – these guys listened to too much Exile on Main St.”
These guys are called The Novocaines (bad name I know) and play a type of music that’s a mix between The Vines with Hives backups and bits of Rolling Stones and Faces which is pretty cool. When it’s loud its wow and when it’s soft it’s like gospel music – these guys listened to too much Exile on Main St.
They’re a bunch of talented guys and I’d love to see them again or buy a record. They play very exciting music that’s fun to watch and their “Velvet Underground” is a fitting tribute to the recently deceased musical genius.
After a bit of a wait Kram makes it to the stage and the thought of managing to catch the bus home is still a likely idea. He appears in a full denim suit with big bush of hair and beard starts up with a song played through his Ipod that he sings along to and plays the Mississippi Saxophone on, I’m not too shaken by it at first and after a few disappointing opening songs I realise it’s all my fault.
Why is it my fault you ask???? I’m wearing earplugs which stunts the sound and mutes all the good shit like fuzz and treble….idiot! I quickly whip them out and there it is – super good shit! I’m such a fool – albeit a fool who was trying to play it safe and avoid tinnitus in later life – and now proceed to enjoy the evening.
Kram’s set is like how he describes his album Mix Tape; like a radio station where all the songs are different and are by different people – some are hard and bone-headed rock n’ roll and some are sweet ballads. [The tropical fish of the Great Barrier Reef was another comparison made by Kram to the variety of flavours on Mix Tape.] He seems like a pretty down to earth and shy guy and takes a short amount of time to warm up and gain confidence.
The girls in the audience dance around with each other in the baffling divide that exists between stage and crowd and two numpties make fools out of themselves for the whole set. I wouldn’t usually bother slagging crowd members off for getting into the music but it does seem a bit disrespectful doing ballet moves to a sombre and loving ballad. Kram seems like a pretty fun lovin’ guy but he’s a serious song writer and this (to me) sounds like a very serious song.
Anyways, back to enjoying myself – the guy is so multi talented and plays everything from drums to keyboards to guitar to harmonica to playing the monitors with his drumsticks – he’s one hell of a showman and is out to get all the non-believers when he dances in the aforementioned existing dancefloor divide giving patrons hi-fives and wiggling his denim ass.
He clambers back up on stage and plays one of the nicest songs of the evening “Blitzkrieg Bop” – A song I’ll tell you now my patience has grown thin with; The Ramones are my favourite band but if I have to hear a shit band cover that again once more… I don’t know what I’ll do. Kram’s version tonight is like a lullaby, what I’m assuming is a version he recorded for his young child and a song that has gained a totally new meaning for him now – it’s brilliant and this was one of the softer moments of the evening.
Towards the end he plays “Silk Suits” which was the main single off of his first solo album which really kicks ass, just a simple song about girls and boys and sex and shit, it’s all good and I have a fit of laughter when he plays two guitars with his drumsticks whilst singing at the same time.
The night draws to an end shortly after and after a short sing along encore he leaves the stage with people shouting “Black Betty!” – I suppose some people won’t forget what he’s famous for but most of us with an ounce of sense can see he’s way bigger than that.
© Danny Crombie
Photos of The Novocaines and Kram
Kram – www.myspace.com/kramofficial