The Tote is a Melbourne institution. In a climate which is seeing the disappearance of many of the iconic live music venues, The Tote boasts 30 years of live music. This did all very nearly come to an end on 15 January, 2010 when it was announced that the Tote would be closing its doors that very weekend. A massive 2000 people turned out to show their dismay at this decision and their support for the venue.
The hotel was originally called the Ivanhoe Hotel and opened in 1876. It became the Tote hotel in the 80s and has been welcoming punk, rock and hardcore bands since then. Walking in to The Tote you are assailed by that heady fragrance of a lot of beers spilled into the carpet and the subtle undertones of vomit. You know this place has history.
The lineup on this particular Saturday night included New War, a local band, and EMA from the States.
New War played a short, intense set. I’m a fan, having heard their track, Ghostwalking, on the radio. But it has to be said that this band may always remain a support band. They gave a very introverted performance which gave the impression they had no need of the audience and in fact, the vibe was very much, don’t-care-ish.
On the other hand, headliner EMA, played with the audience, appreciated our presence and ‘gave out’ in her performance. I am adding to the hot bloggability of EMA, touted in one particular week, as the most blogged about artist of the week. She is also said to be an ‘artist to watch’. And I watched her.
How to describe her sound….she has been variously categorized under indie, noise rock, punk grunge, urban storytelling (??), drone folk.
I liked it. But to be honest, a few songs in, I got the idea and didn’t feel like listening any more.
I probably wouldn’t spend too much time wondering about the implications of this last one. I just liked the textural brickiness of it. Brickiness. It’s a word.
Feist. Or Leslie Feist, as her parents called her almost 36 years ago…it’s her birthday in 2 weeks (I’m not stalking her…really). I love her.
Leslie Feist is a Canadian indie folk singer. That sounds mellow and as though she is wearing an embroidered top and has plaits. Her music can be mellow. At other times her music is loud and intense, although always in control. Amazing voice.
The special guests heralded on the ticket were a group who go by the unpromising name of Mountain Man. I was picturing a bearded man in a red lumberjack shirt. Really. Far from it. Three lovely ladies with the voices of angels who harmonized so sublimely that it was one of those taken-to-my-happy-place moments. Not the kind of moment where you wish you were elsewhere because the current situation is so dreadful, but they transported me with their ethereal sound to place so beautiful that words fail me. You can hear them on bandcamp: http://mountainman.bandcamp.com