New Christs with The Overtones and 69BC in Sydney
This Saturday night show in an old and recently re-opened Sydney venue was the last stop before Europe for the New Christs who were due to fly out two days later. It’s an odd atmosphere.
Tonight’s the first opportunity for friends and acquaintances of the late Christian Houllemare, longtime bass-player with the band, to gather and share their sorrow.
It’s less than a week since his passing and the mood is understandably muted.
Lansdowne Hotel, Chippendale
Saturday, June 14, 2014
At one stage, he and Rob Younger were the only members of the New Christs. Christian played on the “Lower Yourself” and “We Got This” albums and the “Pedestal” and “Woe Betide” EPs and was part of the messy dissolution of the second of those line-ups and moved on to re-join the re-constituted Happy Hate Me Nots.
Photos: Nix Nox
Nix Nox Graphic Designer and Photographer
His friendship with current New Christs bassist Jim Dickson pre-dates all that and stretches back to the ‘80s. Jim confides that tonight is going to be the hardest show of his life. Rob Younger is similarly affected. Brent Williams recalls Christian as being a player in one of the first bands he saw (Happy Hate Me Nots) when he moved to Sydney in the late '80s, and a common denominator in a network of friends (especially French ones.)
With six days notice, there was a fair crowd building when 69BC opens the evening. With connections to Sheek The Shayk and the Psychotic Turnbuckles, these guys have lots of kilometres on the speedometer. Not surprisingly with those bloodlines, they play a hard-edged brand of ‘60s-inspired garage-psych punk.
It’s delivered straight from the shoulder with lots of scope for masked frontman Jay’s unique histrionics.
The crowd laps up 69BC.The boys have been recording lately with a view to releasing an album so keep an ear cocked.
Next, The Overtones. They’re re-convened from the ‘80s and play bustling, power-trio rock. Once you get past the uniforms, the focus is Dave Tozer’s beefy guitar. A couple of well-placed covers - tackling a classic like “(I’m) Stranded” takes guts but comes off really well - pepper an original set.
With the crowd suitably warmed up, the New Christs take to the stage a few minutes late. Their set is worth the brief wait and is suitably dedicated to their fallen comrade.
If you’ve seen the New Christs in recent years you know how they deliver the goods. I can't add much to that. The new songs always get a fair shake and the odd back catalogue gem is unearthed if Rob feels like it. This gig might be a warm-up for Europe but the band shows no sign of taking it easy. They’re tight and just right.
Going through the set list song-by-song would spoil it for the tour. Let's say that “Waves Form” and “Ghostlike” are stand-outs from the new album. “Spit It Out” is rolled out to lighten the mood. “I Swear” is the oldest song in the set and is delivered emphatically. “We Have Landed” is wedged in towards the end.
He was a frequent face in the crowd at New Christs shows and Christian would have been looking on in approval.