Nine Lives Festival @ The Tivoli
Nine Lives was a really long concert. Beginning at 11:00 and ending at 12:00, it was an impressive effort actually getting people to stay there for a reasonable amount of time. With a wildly diverse / confusing lineup, mainly putting indie rock songwriters together with EDM, rock, country, and folk artists, and headlining with the ambient rock of Crumb and the talented work of Angel Olsen, it was clear that there was something for everybody at Nine Lives this year.
Though Angel Olsen and Crumb put on an amazing performance, some others paled in comparison. Drugdealer, for instance, were laughably bad, even though they’d somehow managed to pull off being flown in all the way from the US. It started off late with the frontman accidentally looping feedback from his vocals (the entire set was plagued with tech issues, mainly feedback, which heavily intruded on other artists’ sets the entire concert), telling incoherent stories that had me squinting trying to figure out their relation to anything, and finished off with the drummer, during a tech-issue break, saying “what does an Australian jew—” before being interrupted by his band members; cringeworthy. Also it was really funny that their main single literally just copied the guitar riff from Mississippi Queen 1:1 and I don’t think they realised that.
Moving on, the concert was a positive force for the local scene, highlighting numerous smaller local artists and connecting them to an audience. Almost all of the local acts were amazing, talented songwriters that I’d never had the pleasure to see, mainly because I rarely find myself in the country/indie rock spaces. I especially enjoyed Folk Bitch Trio, with an acute, beautifully written mix of emo and traditional folk music, Loose Fit, with their odd Cows-esque 210bpm hardcore sax riffs and bizarrely Lightning Bolt inspired trebly lead bass-work and Platonic Sex, with their mainstay Briscore distortion pedal noise pop goodness.
Crumb put on one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen in my life, even while maintaining the relaxing down-tempo of their most popular work. They knew how to play the crowd to an absolute T, down to wearing a Crocodile Dundee-style hat they’d picked up from the airport on the way here, complete with camouflage and everything. The sound was perfect. They all played their instruments flawlessly, and I couldn’t catch even a single mistake. It was really a beautiful live performance and a benchmark one at that, even for international artists. They played all of their hits, and in my opinion, could easily have justified the price for entry to the concert alone. I think anyone in the crowd would agree.
When the music slowed down and Crumb’s lead guitarist played a solo, SITTING DOWN, staring at the floor, the show had a degree of familiarity, or intimacy, that just completely had me amazed.
Angel Olsen’s performance was of the same calibre. She put on a practiced, articulate performance that was in all ways reflective of her Rolling Stone cover status as one of the most respected songwriters in the world in the last few years. While not overpowering, her backing band provided thought-out, beautifully paired instrumentation to Angel’s powerful songwriting. Everyone else must have also enjoyed it, because it packed out the Tivoli with near a thousand people.
Nine Lives was a good concert. I don’t find myself listening to country or indie rock often, but the selection of artists it provided allowed me to appreciate the contributions of our local artists to the genres alongside their all-time greats. You know, scratch that, it was an awesome concert and I’ll definitely be going next year.
- Lachlan Bond.