Locality for April/May : Let’s get into it!

[The latest on local music] with Allan Sko.

Greetings, dear lovers of all things Canberra. It is I, your Bossman Allan Sko, taking over this month’s Locality duties from the radiant Ruth O’Brien as she focuses on both her supporting performance with Katie Noonan, and her very own EP launch!

And—if one may be permitted a moment of personal joy and pride—what better place to start.

Photo by Meg Houghton

Yes, YOUR Ruth O’Brien is releasing her long-awaited second EP, Songs For Abby; a stirring collection of songs about the love-hate-love relationship us humans have with our cats. Having been there from the start, it’s equal parts beguiling and hilarious, and sounds magnificent. 

What’s more, she has assembled a dream team of Canberra’s brightest musical stars to bring her songs to life, both on the recording, and the live show! 

Saturday, 13 May is the date to circle; The Street Theatre is the place to be. Ruth will be joined on-stage by Viktor Rufus on guitar, Tabitha Hart on cello, and Matt Nightingale on double-bass. Get yer tickets now via the venue!

For something completely different, and also showing off the shining lights of Canberra’s music talent, The SunBears, with Chloe Kay and the Crusade and special guest Bek Jensen, will be at Live at the Polo on Friday, 14 April

Chloe Kay and The Crusade are the newest blues rock band taking Australia by storm, described as, “fierce, feelsy, and female fronted!” 

Bek Jensen brings a blend of classic soul and contemporary blues to the stage. Her sound is likened to Janelle Monae, The Blues Brothers, Prince, and the deep soul music that she was raised on. Her Magic & Art is for the magician and artist in everyone!

As for The SunBears themselves, our Vince Leigh put it best when reviewing their wares: “What’s most arresting here is the marriage of this galloping, rolling rhythm with CC Hall’s Hendrix-like wailings and drummer Dylan Harding and bass player Craig Marshalsey’s hurtling yet tightly coiled alliance, giving a sense of threatening, streamlined energy.”

Catch all three blistering acts at Live at the Polo on Friday, 14 April. Tix are $28.30 via Oztix.

For something completely different, and also showing off the shining lights of Canberra’s music talent (yes, it the same intro), NORA are releasing their new single Pretend (featuring the connective tissue of this column that is Viktor Rufus) and have a live show to celebrate it.

Known for their energetic performance, NORA draws influence from alt rock and midwest emo to deliver a refreshing sound. As BMA’s own Vince Leigh said of their Black Wattle EP:

Black Wattle is a uniformly powerful musical statement, with a compelling mix of emo rock thrills combined with absorbing, electrifying nuance.” 

NORA’s newie, Pretend, is a tongue-in-cheek take on the common experience of dissociating on the couch at a party, and perhaps not quite hearing what the person next to you is saying. And you can hear it showcased in all its live glory at Live at the Polo on Saturday, 29 April, with able support by Box Dye , 51st Avenue, and Lamphead. Tix are a mere $18.40 via Oztix.

You Are Here’s whole Cahoots Lab program is worth a darn good look (see this issue’s centre pages for all there is). A particular highlight is Sia Ahmad’s depth disintegration.

An APRA award-winning composition, depth disintegration was originally performed at Homophonic in 2021, and is now coming to Canberra for the first time.

Sia is a long-time YAH affiliate, a Cahoots alumni, and one of Canberra’s greatest artistic assets. 

The work continues to extend Sia’s very personal canon of exploring being/identity. Working closely with fellow queer musician Benjamin Anderson during the conception of this piece, she found a new comrade in the midst of discussing the real story of public perception.

depth disintegration represents one-half of human nature, an experience of strength at its most fraught. Years of building facades and public impressions crumbling at the pressure of truths and realities. It is a visceral work that allows space for vulnerability as it does a kick in the guts.

This work, for a single bass instrument, explores human flaws within real-time chance performance against a precise arrangement of electronic loops, some in a high register but mainly an exploration of dense bass frequencies that uses the acoustic bass presence to buffer and cut through the slow sub-bass tones and pulses. 

The work is performed live by Benjamin Anderson on a double-belled bass trombone with electronic playback. He will perform the work in the round and in near darkness, with the audience surrounding him at ground level.

Unlike many other works in Cahoots Lab, depth disintegration is a finished artwork, not a work-in-progress showing.

It all happens on Friday, 28 April at the Belconnen Arts Centre. Tickets range from $15 – $45 via the venue.

And finally, in celebration of Australian Dance WeekCanberra Theatre Centre is proud to present BATCHELOR + LEA: a dance week double bill, where two acclaimed artists originating from Canberra showcase their works on International Dance Day.

James Batchelor’s Shortcuts to Familiar Places (3pm) is a personal exploration of memory and history inscribed on the body. This extraordinary and contemplative work premiered in Berlin and posits Batchelor’s body as a map that is constantly being deconstructed, redrawn, and rewritten.

Liz Lea’s RED (5pm) is a one woman show full of film and fabulousness. A poignant, riotous, and ultimately triumphant exploration of one woman’s story – an exquisite exploration of female endurance. Described as unforgettable, shattering, and hilarious, RED is a soul baring retelling of one woman’s journey through illness and recovery with an eye to the future.

This delectable dance double-bill takes place at Canberra Theatre on Saturday29 April from 3pm. Tickets are $49 – $59 + bf via the venue.

And that’s yer lot for this month. Be well, and see you next!


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