Australia is a strange place at the moment. While the economy booms and property prices soar, political and cultural progress seems to retreat. At a local level our hometown of Sydney becomes more and more conservative, seeing the closure of many great establishments as property developers use their clout to influence council restrictions that have pushed and pressed the artistic nightlife almost completely out of town.
It was quite sad to experience when we were back there recently. But down in Melbourne, club culture and the live music scene continues to flourish. Out of there, like a breathe of fresh air come The Total Giovanni. They’ve recently emerged and managed to amalgamate a distinctly Australian sense of cynicism with dance music. It’s an unlikely combination that actually seemed more prevalent in the 80s and 90s with bands like The Severed Heads (and to a lesser degree TISM).
Even more recently, artists like Kirin J Callinan have certainly injected their music – which is otherwise rooted in sincerity – with a dash of humour and cynicism. It’s something I suppose bands from the UK like The KLF possessed. In a conversation I recently watched between John Hodgman and John Cleese, Cleese talks about the importance of self-awareness, and how accurate our self-assessment needs to be.
For me, The Total Giovanni possess a humbling sense of self-awareness that allows them to play to their strengths. The band has solid roots in classic house and disco, but with a wry attitude that expresses itself in overtly anti-sexual stage antics and Big Lebowsky-esque getup. I first saw them play at a club in Woolongon and then in Sydney a few weeks later at Good God (one of the few great clubs somehow staying afloat there) and my first impressions were confirmed right there.
They had the whole room heaving and dancing and laughing, a very healthy combination of emotions. I’ve always had great respect for groups that traverse that fine line between good music and humour, and it seems The Total Giovanni guys have done just that. The live show is something else.
Meanwhile, on the darker side of dance music, Dreems is taking himself very seriously, but his sense of the serious is so skewed towards the absurd that his live show continues to grow in richness and unpredictability. His solo project has grown to a three-piece now, and he’s joined onstage by Chris Colonna, aka The Bumblebeez. Dreems is certainly one of the most exciting electronic projects to come out of Sydney recently, and he’s currently here in Europe playing Festival No 6 (September 3-6) and east London’s Oslo (12).
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While here he’s gonna be partially celebrating a forthcoming white label 12” which is a collaboration with another Sydney band that NME readers may already know about. As Patrick Bateman once said, “Keep your eyes OPEN…”