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C for Comet Surfers
A for Asteroid Wars
M for Mr Takiyama
E for Extraterrestrial
L for Lovers from Outer Space
Yes, that’s right, it spells Camel. Your taste will tell you about Camels’ rich full flavour! Your throat will welcome Camels’ cool mildness. So, draw up a chair for today’s Radio Friendly presentation featuring The Gametes!
I have a rule about not going to gigs around the Summer months. It’s hot, sticky and smells like the gym that I haven’t been to in god knows how long. But I’ve crawled out of hibernation and trekked to Bloodhound Bar for one band: The Gametes. Fuelled by an unbalance in their DNA from unlawful chemical tests and a somewhat hesitant desire to please their CEO — Mr Takiyama, The Gametes have become the hot ticket in the Brisbane music scene and have geared up to launch their latest single Star Surfer IX.
I catch the last few songs of local indie rocker Harmon and his band. I regretfully never make it in time to see Harmon’s full set when he’s on the bill. I’m pretty sure I’m listening to Nerve though, it’s a catchy track regardless, and the chorus’ hook has people grooving in the hot attic of Bloodhound. The fuzzy lead guitar solos help elevate the chorus and verses, giving the track a bit more gusto. One thing’s for sure, I’m not envious of Harmon’s now iconic red jumpsuit he’s dressed in on this hot summer’s night.
Next up is Orlando Furious. Dressed in stubbies or skins or what could be his streamlined swimming togs, and a singlet, Orlando Furious is appropriately dressed for the sauna we are all standing in. He stands behind his ironing board that’s loaded with his synth pads and other electronics and begins laying down a beat. It’s reminiscent of early Prodigy, or what the music snobs now call Death Grips. Orlando struts about with the mic in hand as he lays down experimental hip hop bars. The lyrics are abstract, and I can’t quite follow what he’s saying. It’s almost slam poetry to obscure electronic beats. Which doesn’t sound that bad in theory, but there just seems to be something off about the performance. The vocals seem a tad out of key, and often out of sync with the instrumentals. Orlando Furious seems to be very aware of his abstract music and performance, almost like shit memes are aware that they are shit memes. And now I wonder, have we reached a point in music whether irony is our main form of expression? Does being self-aware of your own eccentricities allow you to free yourself from the constraints of popular music? Am I putting too much thought into the performance? Orlando Furious has puzzled me. And I don’t mind that. Or his abstract beats.
There’s commotion in the audience in the wait for The Gametes. I notice multiple Gametes moving briskly through the crowd to the side room. It’s for a quick wardrobe change. And now they are on stage, dressed up as if they are wearing their dad’s suit to their Year 12 formal. They begin singing in what I assume is Japanese and they look nervous, like when you haven’t practiced your oral you’re about to give to the class. And maybe it’s because to the right of the stage looms a large projection on the wall of Mr Takiyama himself, watching intently as The Gametes pay their respects to their CEO. Once finished, they leave briskly to the back room.
A brief ten minutes passes and the band are back up on stage, dressed in their Gametes uniform — a khaki shirt and a name badge. The screen that featured the large Asian head is now replaced with clips of various sci-fi, anime and western clips: a pulp cocktail. Lead singer Tom Harden stares intently at the audience and strums his guitar like a mad man. The band follow and break out into fast paced surfer rock. The crowd begin to twist and shimmy their way forward against the sweaty bodies of fellow Gametes fans. I stay back, because I’m not into sweat. Their blend of surfer rock leans almost into punk as their break downs speed up and become heavier. The band are working on the same wavelength even if it seems like there are performing in their own world. Drummer John Beckinsale does a fantastic job of keeping the band in time as he fluctuates in tempo. Stuck in a Turnstile, the band’s first single, makes an early appearance. It’s heavier than the single release, it’s packed with a bit more ferocity and I like it. The Gametes never leave character on stage, especially Harden who continues to throw vicious stares into the audience. It’s a little dangerous, just like a punk gig.
Though their music is loud and fast, the grooves are tight, and the crowd continue to heat up. In a way, The Gametes seem like a band who’ve listened to a bit too much DEVO. But when you put their music into context of the Brissie scene, they are the most energetic, vibrant group around. They are weird, and more punk rock than people will probably give them credit for because it’s not in the zeitgeist of the young Brisbane music scene. In a sense, The Gametes are a result of the constant blend of indie rock music that has plagued this scene for the better part of five years. It’s almost anti-establishment by not playing by the rules that other popular bands like to. It’s punk rock. Just like their excellent punk cover of Cars by Gary Numan.
The Gametes end with their latest single, Star Surfer IX, a weird sci-fi surfer rock concoction that proves lyrics with imagination can still be just as good as sad lyrics about your feelings. The Gametes have a vivid imagination, and that’s one of the many things that sets them apart from their peers. I just hope it pays off.
This is Nick Devin in Brisbane, signing off.