What David did, what David's done and what David is going to do.
I got to over 200 shows in 2016; watching the best of the best in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Newcastle, Canberra, Wollongong… hell, even Berry of all places. These were the best of the best, and I’m here to tell you their stories.
As always, a massive thank you goes out to everyone who makes these shows happen. The bands, the promoters, the venue staff and security, merch-wielders, tour managers, van drivers… and, of course, the bloody punters. Am glad to have friends involved in all aspects of live music. I can’t wait to do it all again in the new year. See you there!
– DJY, January 2017
HONOURABLE MENTIONS: The Internet @ Oxford Art Factory, 3/2; Battles @ Manning Bar, 10/2; Spiderbait @ Metro Theatre, 27/2; Ceremony @ Rad, 22/3; Eagles of Death Metal @ Metro Theatre, 27/3; Jason Isbell @ Enmore Theatre, 3/4; Oneohtrix Point Never @ Joan Sutherland Theatre, 29/5; Philadelphia Grand Jury @ Brighton Up Bar, 10/6; Drowning Pool @ Manning Bar, 29/7; King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard @ Metro Theatre, 5/8; Wil Wagner and Jeff Rosenstock @ Oxford Art Factory, 18/8; Motion City Soundtrack @ Metro Theatre, 8/9; Creative Adult @ Black Wire Records, 13/9; Pity Sex and Camp Cope @ Newtown Social Club, 15/9; Rolo Tomassi @ Black Wire Records, 20/9; Into It. Over It. @ Rad, 27/9; Clowns @ Black Wire Records, 15/10; Regurgitator @ Metro Theatre, 21/10; Northlane @ Metro Theatre, 19/11; Fairgrounds @ Berry Showground, 2-3/12; Ryan Adams @ Enmore Theatre, 6/12; Baroness @ Metro Theatre, 7/12; Peaches @ Metro Theatre, 9/12; The Monkees @ Enmore Theatre, 15/12.
50. Iron Maiden @ Qudos Bank Arena, 6/5
Unholy beasts, ancient demons, creatures summoned from darkness – these are just a few of Iron Maiden’s favourite things, and they all are battled and defeated across a two-hour extravaganza that is bound to please metalheads of all generations and sub-genre creeds. All they ask in return? Scream for them.
49. H A N N A H B A N D @ Black Wire Records, 4/6
In June, Black Wire Records celebrated its sixth birthday. Sadly, there was no red cordial or jumping castles. We did, however, get a wonderful present in the form of H A N N A H B A N D playing Quitting Will Improve Your Health in its entirety; plus a fine selection of Sydney legends for good measure. Party on!
48. Low @ Factory Theatre, 9/4
There’s not a whole heap of movement when one watches Low. You can’t really dance, nor sing along (save for their beautifully weird cover of “Let’s Stay Together”). It’s more about letting the Duluth trio’s arrangements wash over you – truly a band that will stun you into reverent silence.
47. Hockey Dad @ Oxford Art Factory, 6/10
Less a gig and more a spectator sport, this sold-out slammer pitted Windang’s finest against the keenest Sydney kids in town. Powering through cuts from their debut LP, the Dad made it clear who’s boss as stagedives came thick and fast. Killer main support Horror My Friend sealed the deal.
46. Conation @ Black Wire Records, 27/11
A celebration of Australian music that is literally loud and proud. From the ground-and-pound of MSV BCP to the righteous fury of Dispossessed, Conation lead a six-band conglomerate that proudly stood as one of the best days between the bear claws ever. A real dream come true for grindheads nationwide.
45. I Love Life @ Manning Bar, 17/9
All-day shows are exhausting, but the destination’s unquestionably worth the journey as far as I Love Life is concerned. We welcomed visitors Pity Sex and Cayetana and sang loudly to homegrown legends The Hard Aches and The Bennies; ultimately reminded of what makes this whole punk rock shebang so great.
44. Joanna Newsom @ Sydney Opera House, 21/1
After nearly five years, the milk-eyed mender herself made a very welcome return to the House with band in tow for a career-spanning, serene performance. It immediately made up for lost time, drawing the packed room back into her hyper-literate and dream-like private universe as if we’d never left it.
43. Jen Cloher and the Endless Sea @ Newtown Social Club, 14/10
To celebrate ten years since the release of Dead Wood Falls, Jen Cloher was on a mission from God as she reassembled her original band and made a welcome return to her alt-country roots. With countless stories to share and new memories to make, the Endless Sea finally came ashore.
42. Wil Wagner, Pinch Hitter and Meridian @ Black Wire Records, 8/5
A collapsed lung sidelined Pinch Hitter’s Nick van Breda, but if ever there was a sense of triumph over tragedy it was this unforgettable Sunday afternoon. The Stern brothers subbed in beautifully for their fallen comrade, while old Willy Wagtails shared classics and an album four preview. All the feels.
41. The John Steel Singers and Alex Lahey @ Newtown Social Club, 26/8
A rising star on the up-and-up meets a beloved veteran act taking their final bow. Lahey effortlessly showcased why she’s the next big thing, while the Singers refused to go quietly into the good night and expanded out to a kitchen-sink seven-piece for their last hurrah. Bricks at the ready.
40. Urthboy @ Oxford Art Factory, 16/6
Urthboy’s live show has undergone several phases, ranging from MC-and-DJ to a colourful live band. These days, Urthy is capably backed by a trio of vocalists who fill out every song, ensuring there is never a dull moment on stage. Even the divine Jane Tyrrell returned for this block party.
39. Black Sabbath @ Qudos Bank Arena, 23/4
If Black Sabbath are going to Hell, they’re taking us with them. On what’s believed to be their final world tour, the metal originals tightened the screws and kept things strictly old-school. That meant “War Pigs,” “Iron Man” and you’d best believe “Paranoid.” Horns, smiles and voices were all raised.
38. Basement and Turnover @ Factory Theatre, 27/5
A dream come true for every floral hardcore type, this meeting of two of the scene’s most beloved bands meant for deafening sing-alongs and a whole mess of dancing. If you hadn’t felt all the feels between “New Scream” and “Crickets Throw Their Voice,” you were at the wrong show.
37. TLC @ Enmore Theatre, 15/11
What could have been an eerie – perhaps even necromantic – evening instead turns out to be a sweet-natured nostalgia trip. The group’s surviving soul sisters pack in all of their hits to a tight 70 minutes, backed by a pro band and some gravity-defying dancers. No scrubs allowed, folks.
36. Mariachi El Bronx @ Manning Bar, 2/11
Imagine seeing this band live, no matter what your personal scenario in the lead-up to it, and feeling anything but exuberant joy. After giving Violent Soho a run for their money, the Bronx slipped into costume in a nearby phone booth and turned the Manning into their own personal fiesta.
35. Totally Unicorn @ Newtown Social Club, 29/9
No matter what shit has come their way, Totally Unicorn never gave up. This night was an affirmation to that, as years of hard work culminated in the ultimate party for their album launch. Milk crates, confetti sticks and all the chest hair in the inner-west – nothing was safe.
34. Young Fathers @ Oxford Art Factory, 5/1
After first being an inexplicable exclusive for some random dance festival, fans of Young Fathers were finally treated to seeing the group at their first headliner. Not a soul left disappointed – this was catharsis incarnate; a beautifully intense and dark hip-hop show that left bodies sweaty and jaws dropped.
33. FM Belfast @ Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, 10/1
Most hadn’t heard Icelandic party-starters FM Belfast before seeing them open for (and steal the show from) The Flaming Lips at the Domain the night before. When they arrived on an otherwise-quiet Sunday, it was to a whole mess of new fans that wanted in on their free-wheeling good spirits.
32. Ben Folds with yMusic @ Sydney Opera House, 21/8
Somewhere in-between the piano-stomping chaos of a Ben Folds Five show and the suited-up formality of a symphony orchestra set, Folds and neo-classical whiz-kids yMusic kept things formal but still had a whole mess of fun across a weekend in the Concert Hall. Consider this bitch well and truly rocked.
31. Yours & Owls Festival @ Stuart Park, 1-2/10
For those who’ve come across the seas, the Gong has boundless plains to share. Across the biggest musical weekend in the history of the city, punters were treated to some of the best in rock, pop, hip-hop and everything in-between. What more could you possibly ask for? Get it on!
30. “Weird Al” Yankovic @ Enmore Theatre, 2/1
After 30-plus years in the game, the perennial parodist still dares to be stupid. Thankfully, so do we. A standing dancefloor gave the Weird one and his band the energy of a rock show, and the audience responded in kind. Blessed are the geeks, and blessed be the five-man crimp.
29. Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes @ Bald Faced Stag, 11/12
“Better songs, better band, better suit.” This is how Frank Carter described his return to Australia after six-plus years, and it was hard to argue with him as his band arrived all guns blazing. Highlights included his proudly-feminist speech and a barn-burning “I Hate You” being screamed in his face.
28. REMI. @ Newtown Social Club, 20/5
Through the haze of the weed smoke came two men helping to lead the charge in the next generation of Australian hip-hop. No-one quite starts a party quite like REMI., and this sold-out slammer clearly demonstrated why. Much like the song, REMI. are here for good. Get used to it.
27. Sleater-Kinney @ Sydney Opera House, 6/3
The Portland riot-grrrl originals are quite far removed from the suit-and-tie regulars of the Opera House, but rules were made to be broken. Through countless high kicks, kickass guitar solos and countless classic hits, the trio made the grand stage their own; making it feel so good to be reunited.
26. Cog @ Metro Theatre, 17/7
No voice? No problem. Just get a 1200-strong choir to sing every single word of every single song for you. Too easy. After an emotional week for the Gower brothers, this tremendous return to the stage struck a huge chord with the true believers that had never once forgotten them.