Gig Review: Jonathan Boulet @ The East Brunswick Club, 17th December

On Friday night Sydney’s Jonathan Boulet played a great set to a packed East Brunswick Club that backed up his killer Splendour performance earlier in the year and gave him a chance to show off a few of his new tricks.

I arrived at the venue just as Jonathan Boulet’s set was starting, and but despite the venue being pretty much full everyone was hanging back from the stage a bit, so we managed to get a spot right near the front of the stage and to one side.

He opened his set in a similar way to the last few times I’ve seen him live, with the emphatic chant of “We will soldier on!” being echoed by his bandmembers. However this time it was not a half-hearted opening jam, but rather the new single that Jonathan was touring on the back of. The song is the confusingly titled You’re A Animal, and the reworked version of Jonathan’s traditional opener was simply brilliant live.

Ones Who Fly Twos Who Die was another very fun song indeed, and is proof enough that Jonathan is not a one-hit entity, despite the overwhelming attention that A Community Service Announcement has received as compared to his other work.

It was one of those shows where the crowd was undeniably a bit awkward. It’s certainly not music to mosh to, and the majority of the audience was left performing the classic ‘gignod’ for most of the show. Jonathan has never been huge on banter between songs, and at times when he pointed out things like the crowd’s behaviour it came off as slightly whiny. But all in all he was as always a charming performer, and ultimately his music spoke for itself anyway.

For much of the show however there were three or four people having an absolute ball in the front row, dancing crazily to every track, seemingly unaware of the supremely chilled out crowd only centimeters behind them. They provided some great entertainment, and I think Jonathan enjoyed their presence.

It was about halfway through the show that, for whatever reason, a mate and I decided to join them. It was probably a combination of that fact that I knew this would almost certainly be my last gig of 2010, that I was ever so slightly sick of awkward gignod shows, and that I just wanted to really have a great night and blow off some steam (and in all fairness also that I had been out at a bar before the gig), but there I was, dancing in the front row along with five or so other people, completely indifferent to everything and everyone else.

And I absolutely loved it. There was something very liberating about it, and I could not think of a more fitting way to finish off the year in terms of gigs, which have dominated my 2010 more than I ever could have imagined.

Of course, this wouldn’t have been possible without some great music from Jonathan Boulet and his band, and the guys certainly provided this, playing the vast majority of their excellent debut self-titled album. 321 Ready Or Not was absolutely awesome, and dancing along while singing “We just want to sing sing, we just want to dance” seemed particularly fitting.

North To South East To You was a bit more of a relaxed song that even those at the front initially struggled to get into, but there is no denying that it is a mesmerising tune, and builds to a crescendo very gracefully. Far too soon, Jonathan announced that the next song would be his last, and everyone knew what was coming.

After a very gradual buildup of hazy guitar riffs, the band broke into the instantly recognisable and instantly brilliant A Community Service Announcement. It was simply a perfect moment, dancing crazily at the front of the stage to the very catchy and fun tune. “Here we are we are, are we on top?”. I didn’t want it to finish, but unfortunately it  had to, and the band departed the stage.

And so there you have it, what was almost certainly my last gig of the year (unless I end up making it to The Basics’ last ever show at The Espy). I quite literally could not think of a better way to finish the year gig-wise. I just loved making an absolute idiot of myself in front of hundreds of people, and really getting into the music that I love without worrying about what others were doing. It was brilliant fun and, ultimately, that’s what music like Jonathan’s is all about.

Here’s to a great 2011, hopefully with plenty more gigs just like this.

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