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Cover bands in Canberra

By 5 October 2008 23

Walking past King O’Malley’s last night (Sat 4th) with friends, we decided to briefly check out the band playing.. accustom to hearing average musicians performing karaoke-like versions of the ‘standard pub songs’, we walked into a packed room and were amazed by band ‘The Remnants’. Planning on an early night, we stuck around well past midnight dancing and enjoying the quality entertainment in front of us. Songs ranged from Shake A Tailfeather, an impressive performance of Van Halen’s Jump, modern chart songs and even Grease medley for good measure! 3 different vocalists gave great variety and an impressive range of keyboard sounds made each song as close to the original as possible.

Professionalism, diversity, talent and a crowd appreciating song after song.. are there any other cover bands in Canberra that compare?!

[ED - The first one is free...]

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23 Responses to Cover bands in Canberra
#1
New Yeah12:35 am, 06 Oct 08

“are there any other cover bands in Canberra that compare?!”

Probably. The playlist seems like standard covers band fare.

Canberra’s best covers band is (I think they still play from time to time) the Sons of Kyuss.

#2
Overheard5:46 am, 06 Oct 08

Two that I can personally recommend (no personal or professional interest in either; I’ve just been MC-ing events where they’ve been playing and got to see them and the reaction they got from the punters up close and personal).

Rigby have been playing in Canberra with varying line-ups for 30 years but still sound as fresh as. They had the dance floor absolutely packed on the Friday night of a two-night event I hosted last year at Manuka Football Ground. Pics here if you dig a bit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7286707@N04/ (Coincidentally, The Remnants played the second night and they too were absolutely superb — dance floor was throbbing all night.)

And just two weeks ago I MC’d a wedding where Heuristic were playing and they too are consumate professionals and had the crowd going absolutely nuts. I’m doing a professional web-site soon and will have some pics up (with the OK of the brides and grooms).

Oh, and one for the road (or the scout camp carpark, this morning): Nude Antz. I THINK they’re actually Sydney-based but are sometime visitors to Canberra. Saw them play at the Holy Grail a couple of years ago and their music was very infectious, by which I mean that I was up dancing lots, not that I needed a shot of penicilin afterwards.

#3
D-Man11:10 am, 06 Oct 08

The best cover band in Canberra is the one with the fat bloke as lead singer/guitar. They play at the Durham most weekends, and also at King-Os. He’s a lovely guy too. They’ve just got to stop doing suspect covers like their 10 minute long version of Ben Harper’s ‘Steal My Kisses’. God I hate that song.

#4
magella11:36 am, 06 Oct 08

You know what else is great? Original music! Not that I’m denying that these musicians have talent, but the Grease Megamix is getting a bit dated. It would be great if the same level of support (and payment) could be shown to some of the brilliant local original bands in Canberra at the moment.

#5
PM12:16 pm, 06 Oct 08

I can strongly recommend Rock Arena – excellent covers and stage presence.

#6
Overheard1:41 pm, 06 Oct 08

D-Man said :

The best cover band in Canberra is the one with the fat bloke as lead singer/guitar. They play at the Durham most weekends, and also at King-Os. He’s a lovely guy too. They’ve just got to stop doing suspect covers like their 10 minute long version of Ben Harper’s ‘Steal My Kisses’. God I hate that song.

No second prizes, D-Man!!! They’re called ‘Heuristic’ and the large gentlemen is the very nice bloke around town, Mitch Canas (that should have a sedilla (sp?) above the ‘n’ so it’s pronounced ‘Canyas’). And while you might not like ‘Steal My Kisses’, it’s right up there with ‘Play That Funky Music, White Boy’ for crowd-please-ability, so you might have to duck outside for a chill or a dart or whatever for ten minutes.

Horses for courses, magella. Original music is awesome, but if you’re out with a mixed group for a pi$$y night out, or you’re doing a wedding, you can’t beat covers. Heuristic are guaranteed to create that photogenic conga line or rendition of the Hokey Pokey.

#7
Adza6:01 pm, 06 Oct 08

“No Idea” are a new covers band up and coming.. haven’t seen them yet but know one of the members… from all reports they are very good.

#8
Dave H8:37 pm, 06 Oct 08

magella said :

You know what else is great? Original music! Not that I’m denying that these musicians have talent, but the Grease Megamix is getting a bit dated. It would be great if the same level of support (and payment) could be shown to some of the brilliant local original bands in Canberra at the moment.

I don’t believe any song is outdated if it is enjoyed by the majority of the audience… like Overheard wrote ‘crowd-please-ability’, I’m sure they don’t go home and listen to Ben Harper or the Grease soundtrack 24/7, but they know it works and understand what people want to hear.
I may be too old to venture to venues like the Greenroom or the Basement, but I don’t understand the appeal of standing in front of a band playing original songs which more often than not, can’t be appreciated as the sound is messy, muddy, and at a volume 3 times louder than it should be. I have far more respect for bands such as The Remnants (or the others listed) who can entertain a wide demographic and for a long period of time. I’m unaware what you mean by the ‘same level of support’ but personally, I hope the payment is good and of a professional level- equivalent to the service of 4 hours of playing as well as setting and packing up.

I have seen Mitch Canas/Heuristic at All Bar Nun and was certainly impressed. I have also heard of ‘Agent 86′ but have not seen them live myself. My reasoning for writing the original post was to find out what/who else was out there, as Saturday nights experience was extremely refreshing and a huge positive for live entertainment in Canberra.

#9
johnboy9:46 pm, 06 Oct 08

The trouble with a cover band is that it begs the question of why?

Why not just stay home and listen to the original recording?

Why not just have a DJ put the original recording in the pub on?

I mean well done guys on being the best sock puppets you can be. But what I really want to hear is what you’ve written yourselves.

#10
Thumper9:48 pm, 06 Oct 08

but I don’t understand the appeal of standing in front of a band playing original songs which more often than not, can’t be appreciated as the sound is messy, muddy, and at a volume 3 times louder than it should be.

You obviously don’t go and see original bands do you. How about you give it try, you may find they are better than you think.

#11
260410:22 pm, 06 Oct 08

Thumper said :

You obviously don’t go and see original bands do you. How about you give it try, you may find they are better than you think.

x2

The best band I’ve ever seen live in Canberra was an originals band called “Bliss” back in the mid-90s. They had a cool Faith-No-More type sound. Malcolm the guitarist was later in Henry’s Anger and Griffin.

Liquid were another great Canberra originals band.

Anyone who doesn’t at least try to get into some original live music is really missing out, in my view…

#12
simbo11:06 pm, 06 Oct 08

johnboy said :

The trouble with a cover band is that it begs the question of why?

Why not just stay home and listen to the original recording?

Why not just have a DJ put the original recording in the pub on?

I mean well done guys on being the best sock puppets you can be. But what I really want to hear is what you’ve written yourselves.

The problem is, the “doing stuff you’ve written yourself” paradigm of excellence is a relatively recent invention…

I mean, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Dusty Springfield were all cover artists. Hell, if you’ve ever heard Irving Berlin sing his own stuff, you’d understand WHY you’d rather be hearing a cover.

Plus, there are certain benefits to musicians playing in cover bands. For one thing, it it teaches them respect for the musical basics – good solid hooks and stuff that’s designed for immediate audience response. While yes, fine, your personal jazz oddesy may be very artistically appealing for you – most of the time, in the real musical marketplace, you are going to be playing to an audience who isn’t necessarily interested in artistic excellence… they are interested in simple, fast, personal appeal. Which includes a certain amount of, yep, simplicity (it’s sorta like writing a good haiku – you gotta express yourself as directly as possible without disguising yourself under a lot of unnecessary verbiage). And for better or worse, the collective musical consciousness already has a fair few good songs along those lines. Playing them might just reinforce a few of those ideas in musicians minds…

Jase Maynard, who used to front Griffin before he relocated himself up to Queensland, argues this much better than I can – there’s a lot of disrespect spoken towards the basic 3 minute pop song. But if anyone can write it … then why aren’t you making yourself rich with it at the moment???

#13
Overheard11:59 pm, 06 Oct 08

I enjoy both, probably not in equal measure — I probably lean more heavily towards originals. But if the Cashews CD launch proved anything (plus the part of the Insatiable Banalities episode featuring the band of the same name that I’ve so far found time to listen to) proved anything, it’s that bands can bring a fresh perspective to someone else’s work.

And then sometimes you just do want to hear someone do a standard in a predictable manner. There’s a time and a place for slipping the brain in to neutral and enjoy something familiar.

And I love when someone does something quite unexpected. I think I wrote about this elsewhere, but one of the most surprising discoveries of recent times was to go to a gig where a great young woman from Melbourne (Jenny M Thomas) was doing stuff with traditional Australian songs — songs that I would literally run in the opposite direction of — and she does them with a voice that’s like a softened version of Angie Hart with some amazingly spartan fiddling as accompaniment and for DAYS the CD was jammed in my car stereo and quite surprisingly I was wandering everywhere singing (in her arrangement):

Heave away, my bully, bully boys
Heave away, haul away
Heave away, why don’t you make a noise
Now we’re bound for Australia

Don’t knock covers; they have their place.

My late brother used to play a stack of familiar tunes and then sneak in the odd original. His first EP (sadly his only) started off with a homage to the practice: ‘Hiding Under Covers’ — and I wish I could reel off a couple of appropriate lyrics but it’s too late and I’ve lost them!

#14
Thumper8:19 am, 07 Oct 08

In my case I just get tired of listening to the same old repetoire of songs. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of very good cover bands out there, plus some really, really crap ones as well.

Seriously, how many times can you listen to Bad Moon Rising or Khe Sahn ;)

#15
Loquaciousness8:25 am, 07 Oct 08

Both have their place. I love going out and discovering a new originals band (case in point: the Feldon’s CD that has been stuck in my car for weeks now). But if I’m out with a few friends, then a good classic rock covers band is just what I want.

In other words, when I want to hear something different, give me an originals band. But when I want to dance, give me the covers any day.

Another interesting point is that quite often an originals band will do a cover or two. This is mostly marketing. By throwing in a good cover that people know, can sing along to, and are likely to jump up and dance along with, they get people up and excited. This also has the extra added balance of breeding familiarity with their songs in their audience. Think about it: when you buy a new CD, what do you listen to first? The single, because you’re familiar with it. But, once you’ve listened to the whole thing through, you might discover another song that you like better, and another. Eventually, I even get to the point where I’ll skip over the single, only because I’m bored of it, and I want to hear the fresher stuff. But the single is the starting point. An originals band will often do a cover, so they can give their audience that same feeling of “Oh, hey, I know this one!”.

L

#16
Overheard8:50 am, 07 Oct 08

Thumper said :

In my case I just get tired of listening to the same old repetoire of songs. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of very good cover bands out there, plus some really, really crap ones as well.

Seriously, how many times can you listen to Bad Moon Rising or Khe Sahn ;)

Hear what you’re saying Thumper, so briefly (as the Manly (Wynnum) ferry (train), cuts its way to Central Station (Circular Quay) — to borrow a few song lines), here are two cases on topic:

* Watching the KarimaKatz do ‘Bring It On Home To Me’ at Filthy’s the other week (after the Feldons had performed). I’ve heard many covers bands do that song, but for me, that night with a moderate crowd, good beer, good surrounds, good people — it was almost farnarkling spiritual.

* Lurking back-stage having announced John Schumann and the Vagabond Crew to a 3,000-strong crowd and watching the amazing reaction as they performed ‘Long Tan’ (equals ‘Khe San’ with the first line amended (with the permission of the author) to make it a homage to Australian troops who had defied orders and taken their choppers in to rescue Australian troops pinned down in fighting:

“Well, I owe my life to the choppers at Long Tan…”

I could hear that forever.

#17
Thumper9:10 am, 07 Oct 08

Interestingly, I played in a covers band for a huge Vietnam Vets return gig in 1988.

Great night.

Although, a bit of history for you, it was a squadron of APCs that trundled into the rubber plantation at Long tan, as well as the guns of the Australian and NZ batteries (105s I believe).

Not the choppers really.

And Reckless is a really good song.

#18
johnboy9:19 am, 07 Oct 08

Choppers finally went in after the RAAF discovered its testicles on hearing the news that US pilots were going to do the job.

Reasons why the choppers were taken away from the RAAF.

#19
johnboy9:22 am, 07 Oct 08

But we’re WAAAY offtopic here.

Getting back OT…

simbo said :

I mean, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Dusty Springfield were all cover artists. Hell, if you’ve ever heard Irving Berlin sing his own stuff, you’d understand WHY you’d rather be hearing a cover.

Which is why a *good* originals band is a treasure. And so very, very far beyond a covers act.

But I’m not against them throwing in a couple of covers, all the best bands do it.

#20
peterh9:41 am, 07 Oct 08

johnboy said :

Choppers finally went in after the RAAF discovered its testicles on hearing the news that US pilots were going to do the job.

Reasons why the choppers were taken away from the RAAF.

off topic, i know, but the RAAF and the Army made the decision to shift the focus from the airforce to the army for the helicopter sqn long before long tan. it was felt that it was a better way to ensure that support was available quickly, and the choppers were in the field far faster than from a base for the airforce.

OT, now, cover bands have their place. I prefer to listen to Iron Maiden originals, was at Chisel’s last stand in the ’80′s, supporting band was INXS, been to a few george thorogood concerts – as close to a really good covers band as it gets, he plays both covers and originals, but most of my music that i enjoy listening to is currently civil war and bluegrass. (the good olde american songs, some of which have been featured on artsound FM) they would be classed as covers, as the original bands are long dead.

I also listen to the old ballads at woolshed performances of bush bands, again, they are all covers….

My stepfather plays the jews harp, my uncle the squeezebox, and I occasionally launch into song with them, around a fire, eric bogle classics, old bush ballads, etc.

(I have to have at least 5 or 6 ports under my belt to sing)

#21
The Brad12:01 pm, 07 Oct 08

Covers can be good…and can be an improvement on the original

Some good covers (in The Brads opinion)
The party boys – He’s gonna step on you again
Sinead O’Connor – Nothing compares 2 u
Soft Cell – Tainted love

And one bad cover –
Under the bridge – All Saints

And two deliberately bad covers
Bohemian Rhapsody – Bad News – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wM58YXp2x0
Stairway to heaven – Rolf Harris

#22
Wahooti5:48 pm, 12 Oct 08

If we’re talking terrible covers in history i would say:

Professional – Madonnna – American Pie or that new Kid Rock/Sweet Home Alabama atrocity.

Amateur – This: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkMWdI2IKiw (warning may cause permanent injury)

#23
Overheard7:17 pm, 12 Oct 08

Wahooti said :

If we’re talking terrible covers in history i would say:

Professional – Madonnna – American Pie or that new Kid Rock/Sweet Home Alabama atrocity.

Amateur – This: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkMWdI2IKiw (warning may cause permanent injury)

How sad is it (to use young people’s speak: “How [insert noun here] is it?”] that some toddlers think Madonna’s version (as opposed to ‘virgin — c.f. like a’) is the original.

Reminds me of that line from the film ‘Quatre marriages et un inteurrement’ — which is the verson I saw pour la fois premiere en Chamonix, France en 1994: ‘I know, I thought U2 was a German submarine’. (Or something.)

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