The Chippendale Hotel, Sydney NSW
February 23rd, 2017
Support – War Hawk, 10k Free Men & Their Families and Michael Crafter
As usual with a Totally Unicorn & Friends show, there are a lot of firsts. It was the first time I’ve heard a band call themselves the most beautiful band in Sydney, it was the first time I’ve seen a one man music act so confusing and the first time I’ve heard a set consist wholly of songs that had to be no longer than forty seconds each. However, I am getting a bit ahead of myself so let us just zip back to the start of the night.
The Chippo Hotel as it is colloquially (and maybe officially) named has an honest to god basement carved out of the earth. The roof is plastered with a myriad of music and movie posters which is just cool as shit. The place fucking rocks and I hope they have a lot more gigs in the future. Upon arrival into that dark hole I saw heavy noise rock band, War Hawk nonchalantly begin their set. Leaning more on the ‘noise’ label than anything, the frontman loped about while hoarsely shouting what I can assume to be lyrics into his microphone as the band frenetically jerked and shimmied about behind him. Although, what the band lacked in musical appeal they definitely made up for it in humour and energy, as the segues between songs were truly entertaining. I cannot be too harsh on them though, as they are relatively new to the whole scene, and with some refinement I’m sure they’ll evolve into something worth following in later years.
Keeping in line with the previous theme of comedy and hardcore vocals, Ten Thousand Free Men & Their Families were up next, and by ‘ten thousand men’ I mean just Thomas Gilmore. What I thought was a joke quickly turned into the entire set, which I was not entirely against. Mixing chipmusic with (very) abrasive hardcore vocals worked in the same way that selections of Crystal Castles or Youth Code works. Musically it was truly interesting, and plain to see that Gilmore is quite an accomplished programmer, mixing that unique chiptune sound with crushingly loud bass and screams. Lyrically there isn’t much to be interested in, unless you’re an emo or want to join a hardcore band but it was still relatively enjoyable all the same.
Adding another jerking swerve to the highway of sounds that is the night, Michael Crafter took command of the floor. Before you start thinking that the ex vocalist of I Killed the Prom Queen did a solo set (entirely their motive I’m sure), let me tell you that it is a three piece death/grind outfit from Sydney and in typical grind fashion, all the songs are shorter than Mike Flynn’s tenure in the Trump Administration. Instead of playing their instruments it seemed that the band just blasted away on their instruments for thirty to forty seconds before calling it quits, although ‘Bong Breaker’ was a standout track, employing subtle hints of groove within the relentless noise. It was moments like this that made the band more than a simple weekend grind band, showing promises of things to come.
After a, so far, rather odd and confusing night, the boys from Totally Unicorn blasted their way onto the floor, resplendent in Batman underwear, party hats and a metric ton of streamers. Exploding with their usual endless reservoirs of energy, the band wasted no time in prancing about the room hoisting their respective instruments into the sky (except Mike Bennet of course) and flailing about like a horde of flaming wasps were attacking them. As always, the trio of strings blowing my mind as to how they can spit beer, lick the guitar and mount a speaker while still sounding album perfect. My only concern at this point was the lack of crowd participation as I’m sure like myself, they were a little disoriented from the previous three acts, but in true Drew Gardner fashion, after a few songs people pushed themselves into the pit and were sucked into the whirlwind of self deprecation that was unfolding.
Dream Life opener ‘Old, Cute and Purified’ was the real tipping point of the night; that jaunty, almost bouncy riff getting the crowd riled up and ready to dance as if they were inside a child’s bouncy castle. After this, album favourites continued to flow like goon into a bathtub, ‘Customer Service Station’ promptly turning the room into a maze of dodging the microphone cord and the slower but no less amazing ‘Dream Life’ opening up a runway for Gardner to superman on a table and take a much needed rest. The frantic momentum of the night continued into ‘Cool Dads with Cool Sons’ as foil streamer poppers covered the crowd in glittery brilliance and the moshpit ratcheted up into high gear, engulfing not only Gardner but the likes of Aaron Streatfield and Kerim Erkin in a swirling mess of beer, hair and sweat.
Overall, Totally Unicorn make any night a memorable wonder but I can’t help but feel that the supporting bands left something to be desired in cultivating an atmosphere for the night. Nonetheless, the first time at the Chippo will be fondly remembered, as will seeing Mr. Gilmore scream “PARTY” endlessly into the floor. As for Totally Unicorn… They can do no wrong. They are showmen of the highest order and musicians of the same level, a true treat to see every single goddamn time.