Review: The Basics’ Album Launch at the Hotel Esplanade
Melbourne’s the Basics Play a One-Night-Only Show Celebrating the Release of their 5th Studio Album B.A.S.I.C.
Reviewed by Emily Morris
Last Thursday, 21 November, the Basics returned to the Espy in St. Kilda for the first time in a decade to launch their 5th studio album B.A.S.I.C. The newly renovated venue is special to the band, being the location of their 2007 album cover Stand Out/Fit In. I enjoyed the packed show, which ran over 3 hours with support from local Melbourne bands Muck and Bitch Diesel.
Muck opened casually with a lo-fi, low-effort 30-minute set. With 3 band members in center stage and a 4th hiding a bit out of frame, they pondered in between songs, ‘When was the last time we rehearsed?’ About a week ago, was the agreed upon answer when no one had a clear memory.
Through Muck’s slouchy exterior shined their sentimental lyrics. ‘Forgot about my happiness just to make others smile,’ went the track ‘Greed is Good’ off their album Meds/Midstrength. Fully admitting I misjudged appearances and as a lover of college alternative music in general, the band’s soothing melodies won me over completely. But then disappointed me again when I decided I needed a Muck tshirt and there was no merchandise for the new fan.
Just as I was thinking What would happen if a female band came on that was as Muck-esque as Muck, out came Bitch Diesel dressed in witchy capes, claiming they came in on brooms from the storm. Their set started with a painful microphone noise, which would later be referenced by the Basics’ Kris Schroeder, implying that the Basics’ sound issues were accidents, while Bitch Diesel’s were on purpose for some strange reason. A lot of shrieking came from the witches who did eventually take off their hoods. I did not understand the theme at all but respect their bold vision, which goes along with their exceptional and original album art and photography.
There was a lot of talent hidden underneath the F-You exterior of Bitch Diesel. On the song ‘Wine’ the featured voice was the drummer’s who had the best sound for the fast punk tune. The main singer’s star-power hair and stage movement were superior to her yelps on songs like ‘Manager,’ but odd in stark contrast to the 3rd band member who stood as a frozen statue opposite her. My final thought on the witches is they may do well remaining in their parent’s garage until refining what could be their strong punk band sound, and I think the crowd agreed with me as we all moved up as soon as they left the stage.
The Basics got to their music around 10 pm and after plenty of banter, playing some of their own tunes, and covering classic rock and roll songs by Chuck Berry, the Kinks, and many more. Some of the covers were newly recorded for this album, verifying them as a rock and roll band but not helping me understand their own identity after all these years. With 17 releases on Bandcamp and a last-minute album name change from Game Over to B.A.S.I.C, I tend to be a bit confused about their status as music writers or cover artists. News since the show from the band’s Instagram hinted at a future with a possible band name change and I am really glad they’re taking the strides to focus on making listening to them easier for their fans.
Made up of Wally De Backer, Kris Schroeder, and Tim Heath, talent is everywhere in the Basics. The crowd absolutely loved a long drum solo from Wally during a cover of ‘Wipe Out,’ and multiple, beautiful ballads showed off vocal harmonies from the whole band, even if a few of them did have to be started over in different keys, always with a quick self-effacing quip.
A notably sober show, Schroeder had to head home for a medicine final the next morning, De Backer was returning to New York, and Heath was going to have to recover from an extremely rough allergy day. Even still, trapped on the stage with nowhere to go, they did a 2-song encore that included their originals ‘Hey Rain’ and ‘Rattle My Chain.’
With the musical precision and chemistry of this trio I am looking forward to hearing more from them — it’s not Game Over for the Basics. Head over to their Bandcamp to listen to the whole album.