In Review – Elisha Bones at the White Eagle Polish Club 16th August 2013

With Tully On Tully, Borneo with live art by Houl / Walrus / Micha

Oh Crowds.

It's 10:15 by the time I arrive … I'm either late … or arriving at the perfect time … tonight I'm both …

It's busy! There's a veritable hipster torrent coming through the door and I work my through the crowd to the front right of the stage to get a look at the band … it's Tully on Tully up from Melbourne.

… it's toward the end of  their set (I was late) and Blue … bathed in cyan … driving forth with passion if not precision  Tully on Tully are powering along in alt.rock anthemic style. They have groove and melody and a gyrating lead who shimmies and struts her way back and forth along the stage and whips at the crowd … who stand quite impassive. If a rocky headland had actual will to rebuff the incessant wave … the scene would play like this. Sure, there's a whoop at the end of songs and some polite clapping but they do – not – move! In fact they show nothing to suggest that the band playing (and playing well! Well, OK maybe they need to work on their changes a bit…) not a few meters hence affects them in any way. Quite a few are checking their phones and I feel that while they are present in body their minds are elsewhere … clouded perhaps?

Sometimes it's not the bands but the crowd that interest me and this one is interesting, exhibiting a coarse granularity expressed in small clusters. There's an interconnectedness … these folks know each other but I'm thinking not well in real life. A sub-cluster has gathered around a large mural being created by artists Houl, Micha and Walrus … a man clad in a wolf's pelt is taking form over a snow white mane. I find myself coming over all poetic

As a tree it's twisted roots worked with spirals
He looms above her adorned in fresh slain Canus … the pelt now working ajar
She was attracted by his dead eyes … recently Wolf's
their promised abyss
his hands soft as fur with hint of polished claw
now revealed to a hideous protruding boniness that hovers over her chest
A snow white mane overflows and frames
her hammock at once a spiralling hypnosis and cutlass both
arms upstretched in supplication
patterned with clumsy tattoos from a different life
the well-meaning incantations a nursery rhyme now
as the roots below darken to a Mesmer’s curtain

It's a work in progress, Tully has finished and so I head back to the bar

The crowd … there's a retro-chic op-shop style about them too … a young Liz Taylor glides past in a faux-Roman pleated blouse, nose-ring shining aboard an aquiline nose,, a waist-coated gent sporting sixties spectacles and neatly trimmed facial growth stands out not at all … nor do the grey suede buckled and heeled ankle boots … in fact they're each repeated again and again … I feel like they've all just watched Thrift Shop and found Vinnies yet they’re all slink but no dance … I'm thinking a public service grad cohort and I'm feeling poetic again … it happens;

Standing toward the bar her dark bob sliding into a faded pink tee
Slender with a white swan across her chest
Pleated short skirt
Over black tights,
light olive and cream check
tonight proudly aired
still bearing her cupboard's kiss

I resist the urge to mention the wardrobe-creased skirt to the girl, buy a beer instead and head back inside. The crowd's still there … for a brief moment I thought them into a dream  … but no, they're still here as Elisha Bones take the stage. The band is confident and precise. Rolling thunder as before an approaching storm emerging in a fresh rainblast of driving dance-core and throbbing beat … it's a great opening number but does the crowd move? No it doesn't! Fuck me what does it take to move these people? I dabble in generalisations … I ponder whether their only experience of live music is a flat screen of youtube coz that's how they're reacting. Again, they whoop between tracks but during they're largely (e)motionless … the music providing soundtrack to a social media experience. The band, energetic, complex and driving with guts and spirit is reduced to so much blue wallpaper.

Meanwhile the mural, created directly on large sheets of adjacent congruent ply, progresses;

Grain as ectoplasm
a tree peeled – the medium
The Knots
Linear like life itself
Emanate brown from the earth, passing through festy spiralled roots
Dallying awhile in her now arched torso before escaping her belly
slipping through the fingers of his searching hand
make their aetheric ascent
Roots become feathers
she is watched over by a discarded hawk
(or a militant finch)
I cannot tell


There's a moment in Elisha Bones’ set when they're channelling Jeff Buckley … fucking Jeff Buckley … I quite liked them up until then … but then I grew up in a time when Buckley was a CD that went on at every party … at least then you could go outside for a smoke or walk up to the stereo and physically remove it … he doesn't do it for me … he never has … I've tried. Buckley aside … Elisha Bones are a polished and well-grooved music machine who performed wonderfully despite tonight’s less-than-interactive crowd who do give it up for a deserved encore as though their phones have told them 'now is the time'.

I’m still there for the packup and curtain-folding dance and meet the lads from Borneo (Sydney) … the first band who played tonight while I was off elsewhere … I apologise for not being there to review their gig and they give me a copy of their EP ‘Is This A Demo?’ to review instead J

At first listen, it’s rich and jangly and the opening track contains changes that bring a remembered smile to my face for their abruptness and nerve … I’d be interested to see them rip it up on stage … next time boys 🙂

A strange night but nonetheless a rich and enjoyable one. Thanks Nigel & Beth and the CMC. Wallpaper wrangled by Dave Howe.


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