Music

Work begins to transform the Concert Hall for a new era

“When it was designed and built nobody thought that rock bands or circuses or talks would be held in the Concert Hall,” Fiona Winning says. “It just wasn’t done at that time. Rock’n’roll was just not something that would be held in an opera house.” Yet within a year of its opening in 1973, the Concert Hall stage was hosting two iconic Australian rock bands: Sydney sons Sherbet had already had a number of Top 10 hits while Melbourne’s Skyhooks, appearing in their first Sydney gig, had just released their first album Livin’ in the 70s, which would go on to sell more than 300,000 copies. The latter took to the stage in outlandish costumes and make-up and opened with You Just Like Me Cause I’m Good in Bed – one of six songs on their album that had been banned from radio. This boundary-pushing performance foreshadowed some of the groundbreaking acts that would grace the Concert Hall stage decades later.

Greedy Smith: the cheerful embodiment of Mental as Anything's upbeat hits

Late 70s Sydney was alive with music. Utterly unrecognisable from the locked-out landscape of today, venues large and small were scattered throughout the inner city and central business district, up through the northern beaches and out to the beer barns of the suburbs. And, in the wake of punk’s DIY ethos, there were plenty of bands ready to fill the stages. It was into this scene that Mental as Anything, featuring Andrew “Greedy” Smith, who on Monday died of a heart attack, was formed.

The Burning Sun scandal that torched South Korea’s elites

A scandal that began with allegations that some of South Korea’s biggest male K-pop stars had drugged and raped women (The K-Pop sex and drugs scandal sweeping South Korea) and shared video of the acts has reignited perceived injustices in two older cases, highlighting abuses of power among the country’s elite. The Burning Sun scandal, named for the club in Gangnam associated with Seungri, of boy group Big Bang, comes a year after women began rallying in the streets in a wave of protests agains

K-pop Unmuted: The Dance Episode

On Episode 42 of Kultscene’s K-pop Unmuted, Gabriel Wilder joins Joe Palmer and Stephen Knight to discuss Kpop dance. We talk about the importance of dance in Kpop, memorable dance moments, top performance groups, great individual dancers, and much more. Our Unmuted Picks for the episode are Jo Jung Min’s Ready Q, Weki Meki’s Picky Picky, and Lim Kim’s Sal-Ki. You can listen to this episode, and previous ones, of KultScene’s K-Pop Unmuted on Spotify, Soundcloud, iTunes, Google Play Music, Stitch.

A musical journey from west to east

Singer-songwriter Thanh Bui describes himself as “180 west and 180 east; together they make 360”. Bui is the son of asylum seekers who fled Communist Vietnam for Australia in the ’80s. A passion for music led him from boy band to Australian Idol finalist in 2008 to composer of No. 1 hits, before he decided to take everything he had learnt in Australia back to share with the people of his parents’ homeland. Bui now lives in Ho Chi Minh City, where he has set up a music school he is developing into an arts education and entertainment empire.

George Clinton review: Fitting send off for grandmaster of funk

A performance by George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic is an experience like no other. The grandmaster of funk is able to take the party-like atmosphere of a festival and transfer it to any club or theatre, saving the punter the hassle of travelling out of town and using portaloos. This concert – his last in Sydney, as the 77-year-old veteran is set to retire from performing – was no different.

Breathe review: openly gay K-pop singer Marshall Bang finally releases his first EP

This six-track EP feels like it has been a long time in the making. Marshall Bang, who rips out the vowels for his stage name MRSHLL, has been teasing it for what seems like forever. Meanwhile, he has been a featured singer on tracks for DJFritz and Ja Mezz , among others, while he got his own tracks together for MFBTY's Feelghood label. During that time, Holland came from nowhere, proclaiming himself 'K-pop's first openly gay idol' . Bang has been talking openly about his sexuality in interview after arriving in South Korea from California to appear on MBC's The Next Big Thing.

They Might Be Giants are dying to entertain you

A preoccupation with death runs through the otherwise upbeat songs of John Flansburgh and John Linnell, aka New York's They Might Be Giants. "By the time you get this note, we'll no longer be alive," they perkily sing on their album I Like Fun, one of three released last year (another was called My Murdered Remains). This unusual combination – sombre subject matter and memorable melodies – has become something of a hallmark for the duo, although Flansburgh points out they have sung about plenty of other topics in their 35 years together.

K-pop 2018: end of year review – Momoland, mullets, misogyny and more

There was a fair bit happening in South Korea in 2018 (in case you missed it). For starters, Kim Jong-Un became the first North Korean leader to cross the southern border since 1953, the winter Olympics also focused the eyes of the world on the peninsula and South Korean women took to the streets in unprecedented numbers as #MeToo started to take effect in the region. K-pop had its own news-making moments. I discussed some of them with other K-pop freaks on the annual end-of-year Kultscene podcast. I've listed more below, along with some of my music highlights.

Holland and K-pop's idol industry: What happens when a business used to mining homoerotic imagery gets a genuine LGBTIQ singer?

A couple snuggles together on a couch in a softly lit apartment. They skip on a beach in slow motion, holding hands. A melancholy R&B song plays, the singer croons softly, “never mind I’m in Neverland”, as they stare moodily in opposite directions. Back at home, they’re making up. Lying in bed, they reach out to each other and kiss passionately. There’s a twist to this romantic but seen-it-all- before scenario: the couple are two handsome young men, and one them is South Korea’s self-proclaimed first gay K-pop idol.

Orquesta Akokán big band revives Cuba's timeless mambo rhythms

Orquesta Akokan plays Sydney Festival for two nights only. They too, are mining the past; their project, Orquesta Akokán, a 13-piece band playing the Sydney Festival, leans heavily on mambo, a style from the middle of last century. But the compositions are their own, created with Jose "Pepito" Gomez, an expat who sang with one of Cuba's most popular groups before he left for New York in 2008. As with the Buena Vista Social Club's traditional music, son, it has been a long time since mambo was po

Lin-Manuel Miranda musical In the Heights moves from the Bronx to Opera House

In January, the stage of the Sydney Opera House's Concert Hall will be transformed into a Latino barrio, complete with salsa dancing and a cast speaking a mix of English and Spanish. It's a big leap for the musical In the Heights, which had a run earlier this year at the tiny, 111-seat Hayes Theatre in Potts Point. But that season was a sell-out, and In the Heights has an excellent pedigree: it was created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who was also behind the hip-hop musical phenomenon Hamilton and wrote the songs for the Disney film Moana. It's no wonder theatre companies are jumping at the chance to stage his shows. It seems like everything Miranda touches turns to gold – what could go wrong?

K-Pop Unmuted: 2017 Awards - Part 2

In the 27th episode of of KultScene’s K-pop Unmuted, Stephen Knight, Joe Palmer, Tamar Herman, and Gabriel Wilder reflect on the best moments and songs out of Korea in 2017, and even give out some of their own unique awards. You can listen to this episode, and previous ones, of KultScene’s K-Pop Unmuted on Soundcloud Google Play Music , and Stitcher Let us know what you think of K-pop in 2017’s latest and KultScene’s K-pop Unmuted in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the si

K-Pop Unmuted: 2017 Awards - Part 1

In the 26th episode of KultScene’s K-pop Unmuted, Stephen Knight, Joe Palmer, Tamar Herman, and Gabriel Wilder reflect on the best moments and songs out of Korea in 2017, handing out the awards that they personally deem fit and conversing about some of the hottest topics in K-pop over the 12-month span. This is Part 1 of two year-end episodes. You can listen to this episode, and previous ones, of KultScene’s K-Pop Unmuted on Soundcloud Google Play Music , and Stitcher Let us know what you thin
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