Wednesday, 2 December 2009

The Walk On By

The Walk On By appeared from nowhere. One day I’d never heard of them, and then suddenly they were everywhere. After only months on the Sydney scene they have lined up three international shows. I’ve seen them once before, appearing at in-store at Repressed Records with The Holy Soul. It was early afternoon and the sheer noise of them pushed me out of the record shop and into the street where I watched like a child with my face pressed against the window.

Descending into the depths of Club 77, armed with earplugs, I was determined to sit through any level of noise and see for myself what everyone is talking about. The Walk On By throw out an enormous sound. I snuck around the side of the stage to make sure that I had counted correctly. There are indeed only three of them. Leah Keramea is spectacular on drums. Her head hangs forwards leaving visible a short curtain of hair, the tied waist of a black trench coat and her elbows moving casually as though of their own accord. It is tempting to be jealous of the casual way she smacks out rhythm as though it was easy.

Dave Bourke is almost disturbingly energetic on bass. He seems to have mastered a precise climbing sort of bass line that walks up your bones. If I had any criticism it would be that he somehow sounds too precise, too clean and assured in the middle of such a crashing wall of sound. There was a brief pause while the band switched instruments, Keramea walking to the front swapping her drums for a guitar. She has the kind of presence that makes a crowd lean forward. I have to admit it was the highlight of the set when she started screaming ‘glass you fucking cunt’ into the microphone.

An angry American began walking around holding up a sign “Start a mosh?” There were no takers so in between songs she started yelling at the crowd to stop just standing there watching the band and nodding their heads. The crowd yelled back ‘fuck off’. I guess nobody told her about Sydney and standing around nodding your head. She then borrowed red lipstick and a mirror from some poor woman in the crowd. The American smeared her mouth red until she resembled nothing but a clown.

Frontman Soloman Barbar certainly looks the part all dressed in black with his wild and miraculously vertical hair, pointed moustache and one of those white neck-ties that you tie like a ribbon into a bow. Barbar has a tough job standing in the front with the aim of pulling focus amidst the kind of sound that crashes. It would be easy to forget that in terms of gigs this is a baby band taking its first steps. The Walk On By sound interesting enough to get away with breaking oceans of sound over my earplugged head. They would benefit from a more confident and assured vocal delivery but like I said, this is a new band beginning the hard task of earning their stripes playing in dives and late night bars. I’m all for watching them work their way up to playing in better venues, I think its going to be an interesting ride.

First published on LiveGuide

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