HOT Chat: Alister Smith of Short + Sweet Dance Festival

For dance fans in Melbourne, June once again brings the Short + Sweet DANCE festival to Chapel off Chapel. You may be familiar with the Short + Sweet organisation through the 10 minute plays that they started putting on around the country around 8 years ago. The  not-for-profit entity is committed to proving performance opportunities to artists all over the this country to explore and develop their craft and work and they’ve now branched out in into dance and cabaret.

Today’s HOT Chat is with the Short + Sweet DANCE’s Festival Director, Alister Smith. Thanks Alister!

half Face 199x300 HOT Chat: Alister Smith of Short + Sweet Dance FestivalAlister, tell me a bit more about your background and how you came to be the Festival Director of the Short + Sweet DANCE?

I have my own Theatre production house called REDROOM.THEATRE.COMPANY of which I have been artistic director for the last 6 years. I have created, produced and directed many shows that focus on the musical theatre and cabaret genre.

In 2008 I entered a piece that I wrote and directed into the inaugural Short Sweet + Cabaret Festival which was lucky enough to win and that is how the organisation became familiar with my work. So, combining that and my very long relationship with dance I was offered the role of Festival Director of Short + Sweet DANCE Melbourne.

What’s a typical work day for you?

Early Rise. Coffee and The Age. Check work email account and flag and respond to anything that need urgent attention. The day can then be spent doing any number of things from designing art work for promotional material, emails, drumming up interest in for the festival and for any of other my other shows, emails, meeting with colleagues and my production teams, emails, scheduling, emails, time lining, emails, sorting logistics of productions, emails, many many phone calls, emails, pitching ideas and brainstorming, emails, then down to my favourite café Orange for some creating and writing…..emails.

What do you enjoy most about working at the Short + Sweet DANCE?

Helping first time choreographers realise their visions by putting their creations on stage.

What are some of the most interesting or challenging projects that you’ve worked on in your career?

Last year’s inaugural SS+D festival was one of the most challenging process. Kicking off a brand new festival in Melbourne, the capital of arts festivals is no easy feat especially when I only had three months to do so…… but this was one of the most rewarding and satisfying experiences of my life.

SS+D POSTER  HOT Chat: Alister Smith of Short + Sweet Dance FestivalWhat is it about Short + Sweet DANCE that makes it different to other dance events?

What identifies this festival is simple….. be 10 minutes or less in length!

We are searching for every style. Jazz, Tap, Contemporary, Hip Hop, Physical theatre, Burlesque basically if you could dance it we want to see it. We want the best of the best. Push the boundaries be creative, be original, be under 10 minutes in length and you were in.

With the S+S festivals the audience only needs to come along to one venue to see all the pieces, you don’t have to worry about making it all over the city to a multitude of venues to see the pieces you want. We throw them all together under one roof for a night of non-stop brilliance!

Last year’s event was a big hit! What can audiences expect at this year’s festival?

BIGGER & BETTER!! is all I can say….. I’m programing a festival that is fast and furious! We have more variety and everyone is pushing the boundaries… they are being brave and daring with their art forms. There is definitely  something there to challenge and excite everyone from jazz to contemporary to Hip-Hop……

Finally, what are your tips for what’s HOT in Melbourne?

  • Orange (126 Chapel St, Windsor +61 3 9529 1644) …. best coffee in town!
  • Porgie & Mr Jones (291 Auburn Rd, Hawthorn +61 3 9882 2955)…. Melbourne’s best breakfast!
  • The Local Tap house (184 Carlisle St, St Kilda East +61 3 9537 2633)…. The best beer!
  • The Butterfly Club (204 Bank Street, South Melbourne +61 3 9690 2000)….. Best cabaret in Australia (and best mojitos!)
  • Hoo Haa Bar(1/105 Chapel St, Windsor +61 3 9529 6900)…. Super Parma!!

Short + Sweet DANCE will be held at Chapel off Chapel from June 16-27 2010. For a full festival program go to www.shortandsweet.org.

HOT Chat: Sophia Brous of Melbourne International Jazz Festival

MIJF banner HOT Chat: Sophia Brous of Melbourne International Jazz Festival

The Melbourne International Jazz Festival is an annual event showcasing international jazz musicians in Melbourne and it’s starting in a week’s time, from 1 to 8 May. During the week Melbourne’s streets, concert halls, clubs, bars and galleries will host to world’s leading modern masters of jazz, including Charles Lloyd, Ahmad Jamal, Mulatu Estatke and Peter Brotzmann.

Michael Tortoni (Artistic Director) and Sophia Brous (Program Director) have put together a rich multi-layered program of events – of course there will be music, but there will also be film, visual art, public art installations and forums. As you can imagine it’s an extremely busy time of year for the festival so big thanks to Sophia Brous for taking time out for today’s HOT Chat.

9331 125209859063 686259063 2561621 1922451 n HOT Chat: Sophia Brous of Melbourne International Jazz FestivalSophia, tell me a bit more about your background and how you came to be the Program Director of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival?

I have been playing music and singing since I was very young… I studied jazz at the VCA and also at a conservatory in the USA and all along the way I was getting involved in radio and curating different music series and one-off shows. I moved back to Melbourne a few years a go after a few years of frat parties in Boston and immersed myself in the local music scene, going to shows every night and playing. Around that time I was offered the opportunity to work at the Festival, it’s been tutti frutti ride ever since…

Jazz is often considered an ‘old people’ genre of music. So how did you become interested in jazz and do you think your young age (24!) brings anything different to the festival program?

When I was around 12 or 13 I just became obsessed with jazz and listened to a lot of records, mostly bebop and swing and then into more free jazz stuff as I got older. I was also listening to a lot of rock, noise and DIY home recorded pop. I had music teachers that encouraged me a lot to look at jazz repertoire, experiment and improvise. I guess my musical interests have broadened a lot since then but I still have a very firm connection and deep love of jazz.

I tend to think of music as incremental and evolving …I definitely apply this to how I put together the festival. I really hope to express what’s actually going on in Melbourne and around the world in a way that’s inviting for people, if we’re able to even partly articulate that then we’re on the right track…

What’s a typical work day for you?

Wake up, no breakfast, head to the office, work, work, meetings, work (with RRR blaring), dinner with friend or go to a gig, go home and work, collapse into bed. Repeat.

I’m working on inserting a rest on a tropical island somewhere in there…

What do you enjoy most about working in the Melbourne International Jazz Festival?

It’s a great thing to be able to put together so many projects around a city that I love so much, I get real kick out of that…plus the shows at the Festival will be FUN, it’s pretty blissful to sit back after the many months of putting it together and enjoy the show…

What are some of the most interesting or challenging projects that you’ve worked on in your career?

Taking on my role at the festival at 22 certainly ushered me along a learning curve. I was able to apply the knowledge I had built up about the Australian and international music community whilst at the same time working within in a broader context of a large festival with partners across the government, corporate and cultural sectors. I’m not sure I even knew what a sector was before I started at the Festival…now that’s progress!

What are your must-see recommendations from this year’s festival?

Phwoar, now that’s a hard one…I’m excited about A LOT that’s happening this year. If I had to extract some highlights:

overground HOT Chat: Sophia Brous of Melbourne International Jazz Festival

Overground, a 6 hour ‘festival within a festival’ being held across several stages in the hidden spaces of Melbourne Town Hall. The day features a huge line-up of creative improvisers including Brian Chase the classically trained drummer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, legendary free jazz improviser Peter Brotzmann, pianist Paul Grabowsky, Oren Ambarchi and a host of Melbourne’s finest including My Disco, Mick Turner, Kim Salmon, Pikelet, Kram from Spiderbait and Snawklor…it’s going to be big!

The legendary and influential Ethiopian musician Mulatu Astatke performing in Australia for the first time. He’s the godfather of ‘Ethio-jazz’, the infectious music dating back to the 1960s that combines Latin jazz, early soul and funk with traditional Ethiopian melodies and rhythms.

Charles Lloyd New Quartet – my pick as the most dynamic jazz quartet performing in the world right now and headed by legendary American jazz saxophonist Charles Lloyd.

The Claudia Quintet from New York, led by one of musical heroes, composer John Hollenbeck.

Sangam: Charles Lloyd with Zakir Hussain and Eric Harland, music of absolute beauty.

Tortoise , a group combingin a fluid intersection of jazz, krautrock, techno, rock and classical minimalism.

Plus Paul Capsis, Theo Bleckmann, Miles Davis: Prince of Darkness, Noah Preminger Trio, the masterclasses, public art installations and of course The Big Jam with James Morrison, the official kick off of the festival where thousands of people are invited to come to Federation Square with an instrument or tin can and make music together…I’ll be there singing out loud and banging my chest…!

big jam HOT Chat: Sophia Brous of Melbourne International Jazz Festival

Finally, what are your tips for what’s HOT in Melbourne?

Some recent sanctuaries from the hoo ha:

Record stores: Sunshine & Grease (9 Queens Parade, Clifton Hill), Liquorice Pie Records (249A High St, Prahran +61 3 9510 4600), Northside Records (236 Gertrude St, Fitzroy +61 3 9417 7557).

Cafes: Mitte -bean on bean (76 Michael St, Fitzroy North +61 3 9077 7379) , Grigons & Orr Corner Store (445 Queensberry St, North Melbourne +61 3 9663 5192), Luncheonette (173 Rankins Road, Kensington).

Hang spots: tennis in Fitzroy Gardens; Footscray – particularly the Ethiopian stretch of restaurants and bars up from the station; dancing to wedding songs in seedy bars on King Street; monthly dance night Bamboo Musik held at the upper floor of  The Mercat (456 Queen St, Melbourne); munching pizza with coworkers in jazz festival office on a balmy autumn night (right now)…

The Melbourne International Jazz Festival will run from 1-8 May 2010. For more information check out the website, become a Facebook fan and follow them on Twitter.

For other HOT chats with interesting Melburnians, click here.

HOT Chat: Fiona Maxwell of Next Wave

Next Wave is a biennial arts event which is Australia’s leading festival for young artists, arts workers and young audiences. The festival features works from artists aged 16 to 30 including dance, theatre, visual arts, performance, new media and literature. I first came across it when I volunteered in 2006 as a gallery guard at the Containers Village, which presented the work of Commonwealth artist-groups in shipping containers in Docklands.

Next Wave recently launched its full program for the 2010 festival and today’s HOT Chat is with Fiona Maxwell, Executive Director of Next Wave.  Thanks Fiona!

Fiona3v1 197x300 HOT Chat: Fiona Maxwell of Next WaveFiona, tell me a bit more about your background and your role at Next Wave?

I’m from Queensland originally and steadily made my way down the East coast, working in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne (with a side trip to LA). I’ve been at Next Wave for 7 years, and this is my 4th Festival. My role is Executive Director, so I’m joint CEO with the Artistic Director, and I get to handle all the un-sexy stuff – finance, operations, logistics, even insurance and legals, while the AD selects and works with the artists.

What’s a typical work day for you?

Bike ride in from Footscray to our offices in North Melbourne. Meetings, emails, wrangling cows, herding cats… last week I met with the Minister for the Arts, last night I was in a stinky alleyway in the dark waiting to see a dance show in development for the Festival.

What do you enjoy most about working at Next Wave?

We’re making a genuine difference in the artistic lives of the young people we work with. That’s got to count for something! I also like the people I work with, the flexibility and spontaneity of my role and the organisation. We can do what we like (we might not have much money for it), but we can set our own direction!

What are some of the most interesting or challenging projects that you’ve worked on in your years at Next Wave?

Forty-five shipping containers stacked up in a big shed in Docklands for the Commonwealth Games – that was pretty epic, especially when the scaffolding guy cancelled on the first day of installation!

Venues ranging from strip clubs to the Melbourne Cricket Ground to an old (and cold) jail.

Dealing with our increasingly conservative society and balancing artist’s ambitious ideas… nudity, OH&S, and safe care of animals.

The theme for 2010’s festival is ‘No Risk Too Great’ – so what can audiences expect?

Each festival is so very different from the one before. 2010 has so much site-specific, temporal work, its great.

There’s also unlikely venues – like the Victorian Science Education Centre, and new venues for Next Wave, like Donkey Wheel House. There will be small intimate experiences (I’m Fine), you’ll stumble upon things in unlikely places (Doomsday Vanitas), and spectacles like never before (Dachshund U.N.).

Dachshund UN web4 HOT Chat: Fiona Maxwell of Next Wave

(Image courtesy of Bennett Miller)

Look out for The Chicken Stampede to hear the story of the stampede of 500 live chickens down Smith Street that didn’t happen!

What are your must-see recommendations from this year’s festival?

Can you love any one child more than the other…??

There is a great dance program at Donkey Wheel House, both inhabiting the space in completely different ways – The Oak’s Bride and The Lost Living.

I’m also excited about two performance shows at Docklands – not so far away really when the tram runs all the way through and you can get tickets to both shows for $30 – And then something fell on my head and YOUTH vs PHYSICS .

And then something fell on my head web1 HOT Chat: Fiona Maxwell of Next Wave

(Image by James Brown)

Finally, what are your tips for what’s HOT in Melbourne?

Cafe Lalibela (91 Irving St, Footscray +61 3 9687 0300‎) – amazing Ethiopian food, eat with your hands and enjoy the warm and generous service.

Little Saigon Market (63 Nicholson St, Footscray +61 3 9687 9698) – nowhere else can you get avocadoes for $5 a kilo! You think Melbourne markets are cheap – you haven’t seen anything until you’ve experienced Little Saigon.

And of course, 1000 £ Bend, which will be transformed into the Next Wave Festival Club from 13-30 May…I’m heading to their cafe for lunch today – their baguettes are super.

The 2010 Next Wave Festival will run from 13 to 30 May 2010. For full program details, go to www.nextwave.org.au

For other HOT chats with interesting Melburnians, click here.

HOT: Metlink Edible Garden, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, City Square, Swanston St, Melbourne

Edible Garden 014v1 HOT: Metlink Edible Garden, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, City Square, Swanston St, Melbourne

I wish the Metlink Edible Garden was a permanent fixture in Melbourne’s CBD.

Just for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (which is being held between 12-23 March), City Square has been transformed into a living, breathing biosystem. Australia’s largest gardening club The Digger’s Club have been responsible for planting 60 heirloom varieties in the raised garden beds resting on the normally concrete/dirt concourse.

Edible Garden 001v1 HOT: Metlink Edible Garden, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, City Square, Swanston St, Melbourne

The space spills with lush vegetation of herbs, vegetables and flowers and I even saw a fluttering butterfly in the arched trellises of beans (or it might have been a white cabbage moth,  but you get the picture). Unfortunately you can’t harvest crops from the garden, but you can see, touch and smell all the plants.

Edible Garden 012v1 HOT: Metlink Edible Garden, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, City Square, Swanston St, Melbourne

Edible Garden 017v1 HOT: Metlink Edible Garden, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, City Square, Swanston St, Melbourne

If you’re passing by you can receive a card flecked with seeds to plant at home.

Edible Garden 019v1 HOT: Metlink Edible Garden, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, City Square, Swanston St, Melbourne

In addition, every day there are demonstrations from The Digger’s Club and renowned Melbourne chefs, with topics covering anything from edible sculpture, how to make compost to pastry desserts.

Edible Garden 004v1 HOT: Metlink Edible Garden, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, City Square, Swanston St, Melbourne

The Metlink Edible Garden is only open until Friday 19 March. I hope all those plants find a good home…or get eaten!

HOT: Marvellous March in Melbourne

I’m all for comfort food, opaque tights and scarves (I think it’s a reaction to growing up in sunny Queensland) – yay for Marvellous March!

Marvellous March is also the name of a handy little booklet produced by That’s Melbourne with details of the big events around Melbourne that will make you love autumn. This is a post to bookmark! Thanks to City of Melbourne, here are some highlights and photos:

Moomba Festival 2010
Melbourne’s largest outdoor community festival makes a vibrant return to the heart of the city. From the spectacle of the Moomba Parade to the hilarious Westpac Birdman Rally, from the wonder of the Children’s Garden to awesome live music, Moomba will surprise and delight Melburnians of all ages.  March 5 – 8. Alexandra Gardens & Birrarung Marr.

The 2010 Indian Film Festival – Bollywood And Beyond
All the colour, drama, music and romance of Bollywood comes to Melbourne for eight days.  ‘The Queen of Bollywood’ – multi award-winning actress Rani Mukherjee – will open festivities at Cinema Nova with the launch of her new film, the comedy musical “Dil Bole Hadippa.”   The festival will feature eight premiere screenings and an array of Meet the Maker events where Hindi filmmakers including Rajkumar Hirani (director of the highest grossing Hindi film of all time- 3 Idiots) and Imtiaz Ali (director of box office hits Jab We Met & Love Aaj Kal) will discuss their careers within the world’s biggest film industry. 10-17 March 2010.

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival
One of my favourite Melbourne festivals. The delicious 2010 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival will see the city hosting a long lunch, a food-lover’s fiesta and drool-worthy master classes. Take yourself on a visual treasure hunt with the Feasting Vignettes, presented by the City of Melbourne, grab a sustainable nibble at the Metlink Edible Garden showcasing regional produce and relax with free Barilla Foodie Films. 12 – 23 March 2010.

FWF0008 005 RGBv1 HOT: Marvellous March in Melbourne

L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival
The LMFF is a stylish showcase for established and up and coming fashion designers. Check out Sidewalk, a series of free runway presentations bringing Australia’s leading fashion brands on a spectacular inflatable fashion catwalk at Federation Square. 14 – 21 March 2010.

20th Melbourne Queer Film Festival
See the latest, greatest and most creative in queer feature films, documentaries and shorts at the 20th Melbourne Queer Film Festival. A $2,000 cash prize is also up for grabs for the winner of the City of Melbourne Award for Best Australian short film. 17 – 28 March 2010.

Antique3 Large HOT: Marvellous March in Melbourne

Thai Culture & Food Festival
Discover the wonderful secrets of Thai cooking, enjoy a gentle Thai massage and some traditional music and entertainment, and when you get hungry sample Thai food on the River Terrace at Federation Square – think green curry, fish cakes, pad thai, chicken basil and more. 21 March 2010.

Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show
The Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show is the biggest annual flower and garden show in the southern hemisphere and one of the largest in the world. An impressive 500+ exhibitors will showcase the latest products and services at the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens. 24 – 28 March 2010.

MICF April 24 41 1024x682 HOT: Marvellous March in Melbourne

Melbourne International Comedy Festival
It’s the biggest festival Melbourne has to offer and last year just over half a million people laughed at the antics of some of the finest comedy performers in the world. Check out my reviews from last year’s festival. This year I’m  seeing Cardinal Burns and Tim Key. 24 March – 18 April 2010.

2010 FORMULA 1TM Australian Grand Prix
It’s the country’s premier motor sport event that brings together the world’s finest and flashiest cars, glamour, celebrities (including Miss Polonia, for some bizarre reason) and the rush of adrenalin as the world’s most skilful drivers tackle the Albert Park racetrack. 25 – 28 March 2010. 

Lonsdale Street Glendi Festival Festival
Melbourne’s large Greek community takes over the Lonsdale Street precinct to celebrate their history and culture. Sample souvlaki, sweet and sticky loukoumades (Greek donuts) and then burn off those calories in the Zorba ‘til You Drop dancing competition. 27 – 28 March 2010.

Also on in March – run, watch, sail, eat and listen:

Super Sunset Series – Docklands Dash!
Whether you run or walk register for the Super Sunset Series inaugural Docklands Dash. The fun run will wind its way through the  Docklands precinct at twilight on Wednesday 10 March.

Thread Den: The Designers Sessions
Learn how to style and sew in the relaxed sewing lounge and then create your own catwalk collection! You can read my review of the sewing classes at Thread Den here. 12 – 16 March 2010.

Poster affff 2010 V8 Large 212x300 HOT: Marvellous March in MelbourneAlliance Francaise French Film Festival
The best of contemporary French film comes to Melbourne, from action, romance, comedy and animation to thrillers, children’s films and documentaries. It’s the largest foreign film festival in Australia and this year is expected to showcase a record number of films. 4 – 21 March 2010.

Herald Sun/CityLink Run for the Kids
Last year 30,000 men, women and children pounded the streets of Melbourne to raise money for the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal. Do your bit for the RCH in 2010 by walking or running across and through Melbourne landmarks such as the Bolte Bridge and Domain Tunnel. 14 March 2010.

Victoria Harbour School Sailing Series
Some of Melbourne’s most promising young sailors will hone their nautical skills as part of this popular sailing series. The eager school teams will crew two-person Pacer dingies during the high-energy, fast-paced racing event – all intent on winning the series and winning the chance to represent Victoria at the Australian Championships later in the year. To enjoy the nautical action head to Victoria Harbour 18 – 21 March 2010.

Melbourne Chamber Orchestra presents Profusion
Directed by William Hennessy and with guest soloist and soprano Sara Macliver, the MCO presents Profusion at the Melbourne Recital Centre at Southbank. The evening will feature classics by Dmitri Shostakovich, Jean Sibelius, Calvin Bowman and Gustav Mahler. 21 March 2010.

World Street Food Festival
To celebrate Melbourne’s love and appreciation of food from across the globe, Queen Victoria Market will host the colourful World Street Food Festival. Expect an array of cuisines from Africa, Asia, Europe, South America and Australia. Watch as the food is cooked in front of you, savour the smells, and treat your tastebuds to something new. 21 March 2010.

Melbourne International Dragon Boat Festival
The annual Melbourne International Dragon Boat Festival is a thrilling, colourful family-friendly event that celebrates everything that is great about this ancient sport. Watch the determined teams of more than 22 people battle it out for line honours on the Yarra River. 21 March 2010.

Opera in the Market
Fresh fruit and forklifts make way for elegant chandeliers and opera at Queen Victoria Market. Opera in the Market event gets underway again this year with appearances by talented artists such as young Soprano Tiffany Speight, and internationally acclaimed Tenor, Rosario La Spina. More than 150 voices and the 65-piece Melbourne Youth Orchestra also feature. 22 and 24 March 2010.

Turkish Pazar image 2 1024x682 HOT: Marvellous March in Melbourne

Turkish Pazar Festival
Celebrate everything Turkish at this all day festival that showcases the best in Turkish dance, music, food and drink. Enjoy a traditional Turkish pancake or bread rings covered with crunchy sesame seeds, treat yourself to pretty handmade Turkish jewellery and ceramics and enjoy the distinctive sights and sounds of the many Turkish musicians and artists who support this annual event. 28 March 2010.

For a full list of Marvellous March events, click here.

HOT Gig List – April to June

CC 190x300 HOT Gig List   April to JuneAs promised, our ex-Melbourne, currently London-based music guru CC is back with her Melbourne HOT Gig List for the next few months. You can follow CC on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CC_in_London. Thanks CC!

Hey peeps, it’s me again, with your definitive guide to some of the upcoming HOTTEST gigs in Melbourne! In addition to my HOT Gig list, I’m also going to be adding my current HOT Mixtape list to the blog.  This may consist of tracks from the next up and coming new talent, or just some great classics and just whatever I am currently listening to.  Then you boys and girls can download these songs…ahem, i.e. legally, by purchasing them off iTunes (or actually buying their CDs) and see if you like them or not!

CC’s HOT Gig List – Top 3 HOT gigs for the next 3 months

April 2010

1) Yves Klein Blue – 19th March, The Corner Hotel, Richmond

Four guys from Brisbane, recently supporting Franz Ferdinand on tour.  Debut album ‘Ragged & Ecstatic’ was recorded in a 2-room flat in North Hollywood with Kevin Augunas (Cold War Kids), with influences of Elvis Costello, The Replacements, Bob Dylan, The Beatles and Weezer.  Be interesting to check them out.  With Cloud Control and Last Dinosaurs.

2) Crayon Fields14th April, The Corner Hotel, Richmond (with Mountain Goats), 24th April, Northcote Social Club
Indie pop band from Melbourne – sweet songs reminding me of innocent days…think indie geek and glasses.

3) The Jamfest 201014th April, Melbourne Showgrounds, Flemington
For R&B fans or those just wanting a break for all that indie music, this urban pop tour coming featuring Akon, Kelly Rowland, Pitbull, Keri Hilson, Nino Brown and Chris Sorbello should get you poppin’ and lockin’.

Also check out:

The Fray1st April, Festival Hall, West Melbourne
Stereophonics15th April, Palace Theatre, Melbourne
Eddy Current Suppresion Ring (I went see this band years ago back in Melbourne!) – 16th April, Palace Theatre, Melbourne

May 2010

1) Vampire Weekend – 4th & 5th May, Palace Theatre, Melbourne
This band is HOT, and their second album Contra is HOT! The direction of the new album is less ‘try hard afro-pop’ (or whatever it was in their first album), and now has a lot more pop with a hint of the 80’s in it.  Favourites are ‘Giving Up The Gun’, ‘Horchata’ and ‘I Think UR a Contra’.

Vampire Weekend has just released the video for ‘Giving Up the Gun’ (which can be seen on their MySpace page) – I’ve been trying to figure out the meaning of this track…the lyrics are very ‘Japanese Shogun’. But after the watching the video (there’s even a samurai in there!), my take on the meaning of this song is that you are own worst enemy, and no matter how good you are, you often lose sight of this and beat yourself up over things.  But the force is within you, don’t give up and just go on, go on, go on.  Something like that anyway!

The video shows a tennis match, with a variety of different players (including HOT Jake Gyllenhaal, who rips his pants off and gets drunk while playing tennis).  There’s even pyrotechnics and milk involved. HOT video for a HOT song. Check it out.

2) Tegan and Sara – 11th & 12th May, Forum Theatre, Melbourne
These two sisters have been recording music since their high school days. I saw them at Koko here in London, HOT gig (although there were a lot of butch-looking girls in flannel shirts there who kept looking at me in a slightly uncomfortable way…). Great hairstyles, catchy tunes and very apt lyrics over the spectrum of relationship issues. Emo? No, not quite. But they did have Hunter from AFI play with them in The Con.  Favourite songs: Hell (..when you get up, over it, and over them) and The Con (….a million hours left, i think of you, i think of that). Tegan and Sara lyrics, always gets to me.

3) Creamfields 2010 – 8th May, Melbourne Showgrounds, Flemington
Ok dance music fans, this one is for you. Creamfields, an international dance festival, is coming to Australia for the first time. So get your camping gear and don’t forget to bring the glow sticks. Line up so far:

The Bloody Beetroots Death Crew 77 (6 piece band)
Steve Angello
MSTRKRFT
Ferry Corsten
LMFAO (6 piece band)
Dave Clarke
Marco V
Green Velvet
Dirty South
Kid Sister (4 piece band)
Joris Voorn
Lifelike
Riva Starr
Tommie Sunshine
Bingo Players
Zoo Brazil
Filo & Peri
Oh Snap!!

June 2010:

Gig listings are currently a bit sparse for June.  I will provide an update for June gigs once I get more info.  So watch this space…

Looking tickets for gigs in Melbourne? Check out the MelbourneTix Posse store.

CC’s HOT Mixtape

1. Sweet Disposition – The Temper Trap
2. Giving Up The Gun – Vampire Weekend
3. Hollywood – Marina and the Diamonds
4. If – Janet Jackson
5. Photographs – Rihanna (featuring Will.i.am)
6. Telephone – Lady GaGa (featuring Beyonce)
7. Walking On A Dream – Empire of the Sun
8. Wide Eyes – Local Natives
9. Hero – Regina Spektor
10. Hopelessly Wasted – Shrag

HOT: Outpost, 9 Yarra St, South Yarra

P1040149v1 HOT: Outpost, 9 Yarra St, South Yarra

Outpost. How much do I love thee, let me count the ways:

P1040124v1 HOT: Outpost, 9 Yarra St, South Yarra

The open kitchen. MasterChef has shown us that cooking can be theatre, and at Outpost you can have a front-row view of the kitchen goings-on. Great entertainment if you’re eating alone and love food (like me).  Oh, and they use Aesop handwash in the kitchen – a touch of luxury.

P1040120v1 HOT: Outpost, 9 Yarra St, South Yarra

The tiles. The chef Paul Jewson told me that the tiles were sourced from the UK but the designer Hecker Phelan Guthrie Interior Designers really wanted grey tiles to match the black ceiling and overall look of the café. But the tile manufacturer didn’t make grey tiles. The builder’s solution – flip the tiles over to reveal the unpainted underside. I had thought that the design was a faux-Grecian terracotta tile reference, but in fact the circular grooving is on all the tiles and is used to hold them in place against the foundations.

P1040139v1 HOT: Outpost, 9 Yarra St, South Yarra

The hanging shelves. Rumour has it that owner Sal Malatesta was initially reluctant to open a café in a South Yarra office building, but the developers enticed him with a no-expense spared design budget. So every piece of the fitout has been custom-made for the café, which is a shame because I’d really love one of the iron quasi-butcher’s rack shelves to hang from my ceiling. I watched, fascinated, as the Yeo’s sesame oil, Squid brand fish sauce and Maldon smoked sea salt swayed gently back and forth over the workbench. Even the EXIT sign was hung from butcher’s hooks.

P1040157v1 HOT: Outpost, 9 Yarra St, South Yarra

The banana and coconut bread ($12.50). If anyone tells you that banana bread is healthy because it has fruit in it, they’re fooling with you. This was moist slices of cake embedded with shredded coconut for texture. Not too sweet, it was served with a squiggle of maple syrup and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Tea and coffee. The waitress almost pulled a moue of disbelief when I said I didn’t want a coffee. After all, Outpost is run by the same people as speciality coffee purveyors St Ali. Instead I opted for the Buddha Tea of hand-tied jasmine tea leaves for a delicate and fragrant beverage ($3.50).

P1040205v1 HOT: Outpost, 9 Yarra St, South Yarra

The business card. The handmade, functional feel of the recycled cardboard and the punched indentation of the Courier typeface perfectly epitomises the industrial cosiness of Outpost.

P1040130v1 HOT: Outpost, 9 Yarra St, South Yarra

Decorative elements everywhere you look. Volume and repetition make a bowl of tomatoes as cheerful and festive as Christmas baubles.  And my first real-life encounter with a burger phone below.

P1040158v1 HOT: Outpost, 9 Yarra St, South Yarra

Their passion.  It was obvious that Paul loved his job and was full of enthusiasm and ideas, and the wait staff were all very friendly and solicitous during my breakfast, asking whether I was comfortable and enjoyed my meal.

Outpost has become so popular that they’ve now taken the lease on the unit next door to cater for the cold/wet weather come winter and it should be fully furnished in two weeks. It’s not currently open in the evenings and with the new space Paul said that he had an idea to provide 50ml wine tastings with small dishes so that customers could sample a whole range of wine and food without committing to a single glass of wine or a main course.

If you haven’t been to Outpost or any of St Ali’s other cafes, Saturday 6 February might be the day to do it. St Ali will be hosting the St Ali Yarra Place Project, a laneway party with live street art in South Melbourne. Ten of Australia’s best street artists will be painting every building down Yarra Place, plus there will be a barbecue, DJ’s and an alleycat race at 2pm, a time trial between St Ali, Sensory Lab at David Jones, Liar Liar and Outpost organised in conjunction with Fixed.org.au.

Finally, as a sidenote, Paul’s mate and St Ali executive chef Ben Cooper (ex-head chef at Ezard and Nobu London and Nahm alumni) will be opening a noodle restaurant near Outpost around April, so keep a look out.

minilink HOT: Outpost, 9 Yarra St, South Yarra

HOT Spots Summer Edition 2010 and Summer Serve

P1040110v11 219x300 HOT Spots Summer Edition 2010 and Summer ServeIt’s summer. The sun doesn’t go down till 9pm. Everyone is feeling relaxed and refreshed. So why not spend some time discovering, or rediscovering, the great things Melbourne offers in summer?

If browsing through MEL: HOT OR NOT doesn’t provide you with enough inspiration, pick up Hot Spots Summer Edition 2010, a cute booklet produced by the That’s Melbourne (City of Melbourne). It’s chock full of funky shops, cultural events, bars and eating out ideas interspersed with profiles of interesting Melburnians.

The little book covers the CBD, North Melbourne, Carlton, Docklands and Southbank and inside you can find chirpy writeups on previous MEL: HOT OR NOT entries such as Hutong Dumpling, Speakeasy Cinema and Chocolateria San Churro. But as you can see I’ve already tagged many more cool things I want to do and you’ll be seeing reviews of these places and activities on the blog in the coming weeks. I will be busy!P1040112v11 237x300 HOT Spots Summer Edition 2010 and Summer Serve

That’s Melbourne are also promoting special summer dining offers related to the Australian Open 2010 until 28 February. If you quote ‘Summer Serve‘ at selected restaurants in the CBD and Docklands, you receive two entrees for the price of one. It’s a bit of a strange promotion though because you have order a specific entree (ie not every entree is available as part of the offer) and then you receive two serves of it. So make sure you dine with a like-minded friend!

You can pick up Hot Spots Summer Edition 2010 and the Summer Serve booklet at the Melbourne Visitors Centre at Federation Square, Melbourne Visitors Booth in Bourke Street Mall, Melbourne Town Hall and selected bars, cafes and galleries.

For more information, check out That’s Melbourne.

HOT Alert: Week of 23 November 2009

This coming week is filled with travel, rock, films, shopping, food and parties!

Unfortunately there’s only one of me, which means I’ll be missing these other great events on this week:

Less than a month till Christmas!

HOT: Beautiful Losers, Anode 2009, Speakeasy Cinema, 1000 £ Bend, 361 Lt Lonsdale St, Melbourne

losers HOT: Beautiful Losers, Anode 2009, Speakeasy Cinema, 1000 £ Bend, 361 Lt Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Beautiful Losers begins with an amusing introduction by two middle aged men in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge: “Hello Melbourne! Hope you enjoy the film. We brought cocaine!” Who are these people? You wonder. They look like two ordinary, non-descript guys, the kind you see down at the hardware store in the suburbs.

Aaron Rose and Chris Johanson are two of the artists interviewed in Beautiful Losers, a documentary about the diverse collective of young punks, rockers and skaters who congregated in New York City in the 90s to create art. Jilted by the mainstream, they gathered at the grungy Alleged Gallery in the Lower East Side, partied hard, slept on concrete floors, and created a form of DIY art that reflected their no-rules, no-barriers, no-obligations approach to life. Together they kicked off a wave of graffiti-based street art, which profoundly influenced the direction of contemporary art, fashion, music and film.

The film splices interviews, film footage and photographs of the key artists of the movement – the ‘beautiful losers’ – including Thomas Campbell, Cheryl Dunn, Shepard Fairey, Geoff McFetridge, Mike Mills, Barry McGee, Harmony Korine, Margaret Kilgallen, Steven Powers and Ed Templeton. It paints a picture of New York City in the 90s as a whirlpool of inspiration. The group’s original approach to art-making fostered an intense cross-pollination of ideas, and the fertile, creative atmosphere was one of encouragement – there were no stakes, no money, no fame in what they were doing – it was all just about making stuff.

In one of the key interviews of the film, the artists discuss why they feel compelled to make art. Universally they speak of rejection, dispossession, frustration and wanting to antagonise those on the ‘inside’. They were bored, creative kids with no formal training who used art to explore their individuality and to discover their place in a world, which they felt had shunned them. In their eyes, there was beauty in imperfection and a richness in the undervalued, and thus they chose to display their art on the streets – billboards, train carriages, painted walls – as it was a platform for broadcasting their views in a raw and uncut manner.

However, as the film progresses, you suspect that the sense of ‘otherness’ that pervaded the sub-cultural creative aesthetic of the beautiful losers will eventually be lost – otherwise how come some of the artists’ names are familiar now?

And so it happened. Their commercial success began with the Minimal Trix skateboard art show in 1992, which was written up in Thrasher Magazine. This led to an exhibition in Hollywood, the seminal Independents Show at Alleged Gallery in 1997, and exhibitions in the US and internationally at mainstream galleries and festivals.

It’s ironic that these social outsiders eventually end up being legitimised and celebrated by conservative culture, exhibiting in established galleries and having their work turned into corporate advertising. By the end of the film, you see that the group’s approach has started to fracture as commercial success impacts differently on each of them. Some of them pronounce that they don’t want any part of it. Others are defensive of their success, claiming that they are still true to their art. The beautiful losers are no longer making art by kids, for kids – have they sold out or merely grown up?

This review first appeared in Trepass Magazine.

Read the review of the Speakeasy Cinema experience here.