Before 4ZZ could start broadcasting in 1975, a transmitter was ordered from the U.S. But after it was lost on the dock in New York, 4ZZ's chief engineer at the time Ross Dannecker built the station's first transmitter.
St. Vincent & Oscar + Martin
Oscar + Martin are opening tonight, warming up the crowd with their appealing blend of radio-friendly pop with experimental/electronic/R&B influences. They start with "Recognise", followed by "My Blood", sampling and looping their own vocals to add an interesting texture to the music. The two of them stand shoulder-to-shoulder (often playing the same keyboard), looking rather small in the middle of the Hifi's large stage. The lively set includes an extended instrumental jam full of sampled jungle-animal noises, blending into an offbeat cover of Destiny's Child's "Bootylicious", before closing with their biggest hit "Do the Right Thing". If you haven't seen these guys yet, I'd recommend catching them next time they come back to Brisbane.
Although she's accompanied tonight by a backing band, St. Vincent is a one-woman project, and the arrangement of the musicians onstage seems to emphasise this; the band members lurk near the outskirts of the stage while Annie Clark stands front and centre. She opens with "Surgeon", and you immediately know this is going to be a fantastic show: you couldn't ask for a more perfect rendition of this song, both Clark's clear sweet vocals and the crunchy, discordant guitar in perfect focus.
And St. Vincent manages to stay on that high note for the entire night, making it easily one of my live highlights of 2012. Throughout the set, Clark seems to be effortlessly reinventing her own songs: "Champagne Year" becomes slower and more ominous than the album version, while "Actor Out of Work" and "Northern Lights" are faster and "Strange Mercy" is more intense and drum-heavy. It's like the songs are being bent and stretched into different shapes as you listen. Whoever's managing the lighting at the Hifi is also doing an excellent job tonight, with some nice touches like lights flashing in time with the heavy beats on the chorus of "Cheerleader", adding drama to the performance without seeming overdone.
Between songs Annie Clark chatters about the band's recent visit to a wildlife reserve where they held koalas, which was 'life affirming'; when the audience laughs she responds dryly 'I don't see what's so funny about the glory of Mother Earth'. You can't help but like her. Later in the set Clark urges the audience to get close together for what she describes as a dance song - "Marrow" - which is as delightfully twisted and frightening as 'dance songs' get. Following that she introduces a new track, the relatively fast-paced, harder-rocking "Krokodil", and then a cover of The Pop Group's 1979 single "She Is Beyond Good and Evil", proving that St. Vincent's talents extend as easily to angry post-punk as to gentle singer-songwriter stuff.
The band deserts the stage after "Year of the Tiger", and the audience chants 'Annie, Annie' until St. Vincent returns for a two-song encore. One of the friends I'm with at the show has an enduring crush on Annie Clark; he's completely in awe of her, and we've been teasing him about it the whole night. By the end of the last song, though, I think the entire room feels the same way.
Written by Grace Nye. Photos by Sky Kirkham