Confidence Man @ The Brightside

Stay confident, man

Any unsuspecting attendee would have been forgiven for, at times, wondering if they had walked into the right gig at The Brightside last Monday. Shrouded in mystery, and born out of a share-house collaboration between members of some iconic Brisbane bands, Confidence Man put on one hectic all-out dance fest that defied the airy indie-pop vibes of their two currently released singles. This supergroup of experienced musical talent don’t just bust out catchy, bippity-boppity tunes, they put incredible emphasis on the performance - with costumes, choreography, lighting and crafted persona combining to form one big ol’ sweaty mosh.

Tasked with getting everybody limber and ready for said mosh was Brisbane’s one-man 80s send-up band Simi Lacroix, running with the theme of music for fun and dance. Lacroix performed a glorified karaoke set with his self-produced backing tracks, filled with that ridiculous synth that is so reminiscent of the 80s for anyone growing up in it’s pop-culture afterglow. He bopped around stage, singing along to his own songs with deep lyrics about self-discovery and the search for true love, picking up a guitar now and then for those epicly corny solos.

Stepping back a decade or two for inspiration and turning the heat up higher came the familiar electro-funk afro-beat boogie of a Broadway Sounds DJ set. A roller disco rink would not have gone amiss but the early evening dancers were more than content with the mildly psychedelic mix of that repetitive African disco rhythm that has heavily influenced the Melbourne band. They were spinning tracks that ranged from the classics, like those of the reclusive god of Nigerian funk William Onyeabor, to Shina Williams and his African Percussionists mixed in with their own releases, that carry a sharper electronic edge.

The Brightside was at capacity by the time the stage faded to black, you could not have squeezed another body onto the dancefloor, which was brimming with anticipation. Half the crowd seemed to know what to expect and the other simply no idea. Then two figures emerged from behind the curtain, donned all in black (including what was either a widow’s veil or a beekeeper’s hat hiding their faces), and sat at their respective stations. They were Reggie Goodchild and Clarence McGuffie, pseudonyms for the elusive drummer and producer/synth-player of Confidence Man. They started with a strong beat that kept on rising until Janet Planet and Sugar Bones (definitely not pseudonyms), the vocalists who front the band, hit the stage running in an explosion of light, sound and infectious choreographed dancing.

It wasn’t long before those on the floor had worked up a helluva sweat, especially when Bubblegum and Boyfriend (Repeat) were played. Sugar and Janet lead the crowd, sometimes with help from two extra dancers in black leather gimp suits, with some synchronised swaying and had everyone get right down on their knees before jumping up for the finale. These guys deal in a fantastically fun night out, and go much further than their simple singles would let you believe. Since recently signing with the UK record label Heavenly Recordings, Confidence Man will be popping over to Europe for a number of headline shows and festival slots in the coming months. Stay confident, man.

Nick Lewis


Zed Facts

4ZZZ launched its glorious tradition of counting down listeners' 100 favourite songs on New Year's Day 1977. More than 10 years later, 2JJJ in Sydney (which employed many ex-Zed staff) began conducting its own Hot 100. Because 4ZZZ held the rights to the name Hot 100, there was a little bit of legal biffo when TripleJ became a national broadcaster, so they changed the name of their survey to the "Hottest 100".