It was just a day after release, and word got out that, much like the scene depicted on its album cover, Kirin J Callinan’s long-awaited second album Bravado was indeed taking the piss. Still, his hometown album launch was anything but.
Up first, opening support Hviske played what must be the earliest set of their career. Pounding, moody techno lurched forth from the pair, and though the steady flow of burrowing synths and careful atmospheric vocals did well to entrance the early comers in the audience, those 1am warehouse vibes did feel a bit out of place in the overall lineup.
You’d have to think that Callinan sees a little of himself in Spike Fuck: her low-flung, growling vocal performance, her nostalgic reinterpretation of ’80s new wave sounds, her charismatic dress sense. Occasionally shrieking and howling, frequently dropping low to the floor, Spike maintained a confident swagger that held the audience’s attention throughout the performance, backed by a sonic palette of bedroom pop that ranged from post-punk to country. Sure, she wore her influences on her sleeve, but damn, if that wasn’t a great performance.
Stood within his recognisable semi-circle of guitar pedals, Callinan opened with a nod to long-time fans: early guitar works ‘Mary’ and ‘Thighs’. With the full band then joining him onstage, the performance took its inevitable hard left turn into EDM; loud, in-your-face and unapologetic. Anyone who had put their ear to the new album saw this coming, but the fact that the audience was into it? Well, no one could have predicted that.
From there, the setlist continued to oscillate between fan favourites like ‘Come On USA’ and ‘Embracism’ to newer, more ostentatious songs such as ‘Living Each Day’ and ‘S.A.D.’ Of the newer songs, ‘Family Home’ was a shining moment of sincerity, Callinan earnest in his plea for his fans to appreciate their family, before launching into the least ironic, most heartfelt track of the evening.
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“I know the sign says we’re playing 10:30 till 11:30… but I’m going to keep playing until the police tell us to stop.” Divisive? Sure. Complex? Certainly. But Sydney is and always will be Callinan’s hometown, and amongst the gaudy EDM, flamboyant ballads and yes, the bravado, Callinan offered glimpses of thankfulness and humility, acknowledging the fans that have been supporting him since day one.
Kirin J Callinan played Oxford Art Factory on Saturday June 10.Write a Letter to the Editor