There are two sides of Alex Cameron that fans need to know: the calm, collected leader of a six-person band, and the schlocky, insecure character he channels in his music who wants to stuff losers into school lockers. Why? If you haven't listened to "Marlon Brando" yet, off of Cameron's latest album Forced Witness, you'd probably get the wrong idea: "So I'll tell you something sister, I'm feeling mighty fine / You tell that little faggot call me faggot one more time." It's strange hearing lines like these in 2017, but it’s all part of the hilariously insecure persona he’s crafted for these songs. His lyrics are so pointedly sharp that if you didn't know any better, you’d assume he was an internet troll who decided to make some music about it. But if you dismissed him, you'd be missing out on one of the funniest and most straightforwardly 80s pop albums of the year, drawing inspiration from the likes of Rick Springfield or Eddie Money to great effect.
Cameron, thankfully, is not his character in real life. He spoke about how horribly out-of-touch and sad the characters in his songs were and cracked jokes with the crowd when there were sound issues. But compared to the album, the live version of the songs focused less on the 80s-like synths and more on the live instrumentation of guitars, drums, and saxophones. And speaking of sax, Roy Molloy was a hit with the crowd. As a regular in Cameron’s music videos and interviews, Molloy is an inseparable part of the Cameron brand, but he remained a quiet and stoic presence. Of course, that didn't stop people from yelling out "FUCK YEAH, ROY!" throughout the set. Whenever he ended his thousand-mile gaze to perform a sax solo, he received some of the biggest applause of the night. Thanks to the hilariously awkward dance moves and awkwardly hilarious lyrics of Cameron and company, the line between ironic and unironic enjoyment of music was undoubtedly blurred that night. Forced Witness is out now through Secretly Canadian.
Opening for Alex Cameron was fellow Australian and new wave enthusiast Jack Ladder. His set was markedly different than his recorded output - he traded synths and drum machines for a quiet solo set on electric guitar. With all the focus on his voice and guitar picking instead of the electronic flourishes that his music is known for, it was easy to draw a comparison to Eddie Vedder or Father John Misty, especially in his vocal delivery. His latest single “Susan” is out now through his self-owned label, Self Portrait.