Bambino Koresh @ Annandale Hotel, Sydney, 15.06.12
By Tom Randall
Show me a band that has me mainlining this much emotion, that claws at and teases my heartstrings as effortlessly as Bambino Koresh, and I’ll be in your corner forever.
This review will be an indulgence. I wrote earlier about their magnificent debut record, Up And Left. In retrospect, I wasn’t nearly effusive enough. I submit to you a review of their launch of that album at Sydney’s beleaguered Annandale Hotel. Let’s see if I can heap on the superlatives.
The show is ahead of the commencement of a refurbishment of the ossified pub that sees it continuing its hand-to-mouth existence and is not as part of some corporate takeover makeover. It’s been a bleak few days in Syd, and lurgies will be blamed by a number of pikers for letting this night slip from their ken. I started on the jugs to fight the cold of one of the most bitter winters inflicted on our antipodean asses.
Up And Left is a near perfect album; live, it leaps the gulf separating the merely exemplary from the sublime. Sarah’s drums take control and serve both as anchor and spring-loaded launcher sending sternum-splitting snare volleys every which-ways. Nothing on the record prepared me for the infernal (OK, that might be the vino and Sarah’s red hair exerting its influence), arms-uncrossed drumming genius that is Sarah McEwen. Nothing. Up And Left’s sweetness, melancholia and righteous indignation would not hit as hard without it.
But what gets me, in the last, is that they make it look so damn easy. And that’s what I guess it comes down to for me: I love it when a band make it look this easy.
No. Not that the music is easy. It’s simple, structured and elegant. It looks easy because it’s buoyant, issuing forth in miraculous currents. Slacker music has never been about wan affectations and clothes several sizes too big. Fuck that. It’s never been about not giving a shit. It’s always been about not giving a shit about what everyone else gives a shit about, hitching your financial security to the loosest of moorings and pouring your heart into something that the A-types spurn: moments, be they from now until the sun comes up, or the length of a musical phrase as it turns over again and again in your imagination.
Lord, my recall of the event is so cruelly perfect, the satisfaction it gave me immaculate. I want to give you the keys to this feeling, and not just because I want to write well. Really, what else is there but the search for and futile struggle to preserve moments like this?
They begin with “Freesoul” but a few clicks faster than the genial amble of the recorded version and with a resulting urgency that causes that epic final harmony between Leticia and Tom to clench my oesophagus even harder. They take the rest of the album out of order and cap it with a joyous take on “Mellow My Mind” that makes the song sound so suited to Leticia’s pipes that Neil Young now seems like the only dude (emphasis on dude) in your Dad’s record collection that continues to be a touchstone for good bands (sorry, Leti, but Springsteen is a bridge too far).
I’m reminded of something Everett True once said in a review about some forgettable band: trios are special. They have an interplay and potency that is rare and precious. Every instrument knows where it goes, every note blooms with the gravitas of being the only occupant of that spectral pocket, and it swells and decays with confidence and vulnerability in equal measure. It’s the perfect set up for BK, whose songs profit from that same duality. Bambino Koresh are part of an invincible continuum of bands configured to tap the Pierian Spring of wistful longing, paralysing fear, and irrepressible joy. Drink deep.