6 November 2011

Ex-Trendy at PACT for Sydney Fringe

About a month ago (25 September 2011, to be exact), I was lucky enough to attend one of Ex-Trendy's performances at PACT centre for emerging artists as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival.

I have been an Ex-Trendy fan since hearing them play at Stucco in Newtown, Sydney back in early 2009. Earlier this year I wrote about Ex-Trendy's debut EP, Losing Business, on this blog. Since then, bassist Michaela Davies and drummer Reuben James Alexander have joined the original members, guitarist/vocalist Robbie Ho and lead vocalist/keys-synth player Matte Rochford, to create a sound which is enhanced in its depth and has a slightly more bluesy rock/psychedelic feel to it than the more acoustic tones of the Losing Business EP.

For Sydney Fringe Ex-Trendy did more than play a gig. Their performance entailed a 'participatory and sensory journey' of thirty minutes non-stop musical and vocal splendour. We heard not only the Losing Business tracks but also some new tunes and superb improvised poetry from Matte as well as awesome solos from Robbie, Michaela and Reuben.

One particularly great moment was the song 'No Connection', for which Ex-Trendy had a mobile number (Robbie's, I later learned) blown up large on a TV screen behind the band for all the audience to see. The idea, as Matte explained to us during the introductory bars, was that the audience text him anything they have lost and he will alter the lyrics to the song (which lists many things that have been lost by Matte) to include the audience's lost items. This was a great moment of texting frenzy as members of the audience informed Ex-Trendy via SMS of their lost stuff only to hear it relayed back to them moments later in song as Matte frenetically read texts, made rhyme and held tune. My lost Le Coq Sportif sneakers even made an appearance, which I was very happy about!

This and other hyper-live elements (like the unintended failure of one of the mics and the band's smooth integration of this hiccup into the show) really showed the attempt to get the audience involved in the performance more than simply as spectators, as well as the band's awareness of the utter indeterminacy of the live and the possibilities this fact enables for performance. The jaunty beats, slightly glamour-rock vibe of Robbie and Matte's performances, and the critical-comical lyrics that really made you want to laugh/dance/cry all combined to prove Ex-Trendy as a really exciting prospect for critical and entertaining music/performance/art.

Matte's lyrics/poetics range from seemingly banal discussions of beer labels to implicit political critiques, and the music moves similarly: from the cheekily romantic metaphor of 'Battery Low', to the deceptively simple message of 'Textbook Store' (which I see as quite a convincing critique of our bureaucratic/technologic/schizophrenic world), to the intimate ambiguity of 'Losing Things'. As PACT themselves describe it: 'Flight of the Conchords meets Syd Barrett, PJ Harvey, Laurie Anderson and Suede in an inter-stellar spaceship turbolift.' There may seem to be a lot going on here, but it also feels like Ex-Trendy embrace the chaos in a really concise way: reception comes through the Ex-Trendy television very clear.

Technology is a recurring theme for Ex-Trendy, but the somewhat distanced, even impersonal lyrics, which embody that technological aspect in content and form, are rendered the opposite by an extremely passionate delivery from all involved. And by the very fact that we were all there, hearing the music, feeling the beat, clapping along; by the fact that, at the end, we all wanted more live.

Check out part of one of Ex-Trendy's performances at PACT:

And the official video of 'Textbook Store', by Maia Sinclair-Ferguson:

For more information you can find Ex-Trendy on Facebook and on MySpace.


Blogger Unknown said...

I have been to Sydney before to survey a few storage facilities there. While I was there, I did manage to hear of this particular band and their style of making music is good. I like how their music sounds like and their composition was smooth and non-jerking. Overall, a well-coordinated band and I would recommend them to people who are seeking for new sounds.

18 November, 2013 08:45  

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