|Posted by The Wolf Radio: Planet Country Radio Show on September 28, 2014 at 11:40 PM|
KAYLENS RAIN, THE VIPER CREEK BAND, VICTORIA AVENUE
ROOTY HILL RSL. SATURDAY 27TH SEPTEMBER 2014
I have to admit, this was a concert I was looking forward to since it was first announced. The three artists on the bill, Victoria Avenue, The Viper Creek Band and Kaylens Rain are perfect examples of the types of artists the [Planet Country] Radio Show is all about. A modern, ‘new country’ sound that is fresh, contemporary and not a cowboy hat in sight! Interestingly, there was a hashtag used for the night on social media #CountryJustGotCool, which perhaps best sums up how the artists want to be seen in a country music context. The [Planet Country] mission is to grow the popularity of ‘new country’ music and break down traditional stereotypes associated with the genre, so this was a perfect concert to promote.
First up on the stage was Victoria Avenue. The all-girl trio have been gigging solidly around Sydney in the last few months as well as launching their debut single ‘Quit you’ mid-year and just a few weeks ago, their second single ‘Knock knock’. Both tracks were well received on Saturday night and the girls called on the guys from The Viper Creek Band to provide the full music backing to Knock Knock, ensuring they finished with a bang.
I was particularly interested to see how the girls sounded with just a simple acoustic guitar and occasional bass drum or cymbal sound in support of their vocals on such a large stage. The reality is that vocal strength and harmony quality will always win over a crowd, no matter how large the stage or venue. It is this aspect that impressed me most about Victoria Avenue. Having seen them a few times in small pubs, I was floored by just how good they sounded on Saturday night. They have improved as performers and one gets the impression big things are just around the corner for the trio.
Next up were The Viper Creek Band and the boys from Newcastle brought a bus load of support with them. This is a band that are unapologetically country and they rock hard. Led by energetic front man Damien Baguley, The Viper Creek Band provide a welcome shot of ‘get-up’ with songs covering the typical country catalogue of themes, presented with rocking guitars and honest vocals. The thing about this band is you get what you expect. No-one leaves disappointed and the only criticism on the night was the lack of dance floor space for those who wanted to join in on the energy coming from the stage. The Viper Creek Band is a must-see for anyone who thinks country is boring or clichéd.
The headline act on Saturday night was the brother / sister duo Kaylens Rain. These days Glen and Kaylee Harrison play with the backing of a full band and the sound is tight. I have always been impressed with Glen’s guitar playing, although I admit to finding it strange watching a left hander. Other than ensuring he stands on the right side of his sister on stage, the left handed playing is immaterial to the quality of the sound, which on Saturday night was superb.
The choice of Kaylens Rain to headline the show may have been based around their standing in the local industry, and I admit to reservations of seeing them follow such a rocking group as The Viper Creek Band. The reality though, is that Kaylens Rain are an act that is international quality and ready to take their music to the next level. I was amazed to learn on the night that the show was the group’s first ticketed performance. Although I have seen them before at free club gigs, I naturally assumed they had played shows for paying fans before. I guess the reality says more about the lowly position country music holds in the Australian music scene than anything about quality.
The fact that an act as good as Kaylens Rain is not played on commercial mainstream radio in Australia is one of my pet bug bears. Their sound has been compared to that of Lady Antebellum and yet they don’t hold an equivalent position within Australian music as Lady A do in America, and ironically it is Lady A who are occasionally played on Australian radio and not seen as a country act at all when we have Kaylens Rain, I’m going to say it; as good as anyone else in the world, playing their first gig to paying fans after releasing a brilliant first album and solid performances around the traps for a few years – All without mainstream music media batting an eyelid. Rant over!
Back to the concert. The set was well weighted with songs the fans knew and sang along to and some glimpses of new material that only whetted the appetite for a second album all the more. Kaylens Rain have always thrown in some interesting covers and the aforementioned Lady Antebullum’s newest single ‘Bartender’ was a highlight along with a haunting rendition of Fleetwod Mac’s ‘Rhiannon’, which showcased Kaylee’s beautiful voice and Glen’s (left handed) guitar skill.
The show was closed with an ‘all-in’ performance of ‘Life is a Highway’, reminiscent more of Rascal Flatt’s version than Tom Cochrane’s. It was a powerful performance with multiple guitar players jousting for position, four amazing female voices and Damien Baguley off side-stage, dancing with fans that’d had enough of the tables and jumped up on stage to get into it.
I rate the show as a triumph for the ‘new country’ sound. Traditionalists might fall off their hay bales, but this is the future of country music and it is truly in the very best hands, be they left handed or whatever . . .