Kirin J Callinan @ The Tote
It was a novelty for some, seeing Melbourne’s most venerable rock establishment being comprehensively absorbed by strobe, fog and deep house. My Disco side project Kangaroo Skull played against many of the ingrained conventions of a Melbourne gig, and it was refreshing to be able to have the option of kicking on into the early AM (even if it was a weeknight).
Before Kangy Skull smoked out the joint, Kirin J Callinan made an all-too-rare Melbourne appearance, this time replete with band. There was a prolonged wait for the man himself to take the stage. When he did, he mugged to the crowd like a deranged Benny Hill if he was a skinny Eastern-European mercenary. Revelling onstage with percussive shadow boxing, Kirin presented a hyper-gleeful disposition which conflicted with his harrowing subject matter. The haunting beauty of Thighs compounds the heartbreakingly twisted narrative of a sexual predator, “Your dad won't know...”.
In ballad mode, Kirin's guitar textures sound like Link Wray’s iconic Rumble chords were dipped and deep-fried in every drug of the past half-century.
As Kirin was hitting his stride, it all became a bit too much for the PA, which decided to pack it in for the night. While it wasn't a terminal halt, the multiple stop-starts dampened the flow tremendously. But staying true to his camo cargo pants, Kirin soldiered on with endearingly uneasy banter.
W II W, the first taste from Callinan's debut LP, was complemented by an overbearing strobe, drawing a too-literal reference to the track's stunning film clip.
The dynamic with the supplementary band members had its benefits and detriments: the formidable soundscape was fleshed out to great effect, but relinquishing some control to the three gimps (as Kirin introduced them) meant some false starts were endured with the laying down of beats.
The whole affair was grandiose and ambitious. While it didn’t quite hit the mark consistently, the promise was definitely there.
BY LACHLAN KANONIUK
Photo credit: Nick Irving
LOVED: The most enticing merch stand I've seen in recent memory. Kirin J Callinan teatowels – stylish and practical.
HATED: Power failures.
DRANK: Some heaps tasty coffee liqueur at 99 Problems beforehand.