“We’ve got a painter lined up who is going to paint people’s likeness while we play. Fuck photos, come get a portrait of yourself at this crazy gig!” says August Del Shae.
When it comes to capturing the moment, a sea of raised mobile phones is now de rigueur at most gigs and shows. Pics or it didn’t happen, right? Well not at Confetti Western’s big Be Hear Now show. They’re going seriously old-school.
Things are heating up this winter in Ballarat, as Victoria’s third largest city plays host to a live music festival, Be_Hear/Now, across the weekend of June 30 to July 2. Celebrating music, arts and place, this year’s festival will present the biggest program yet of Ballarat artists and performers in unique curated collaborations, different venues and unused spaces.
Keep up with the latest music news, festivals, interviews and reviews here.
Five local acts have been hand-picked to headline, so saddling up to join electro-western Confetti Western will be dream-pop purveyors Pyrex, 60s and 70s inspired Iridescence, rising Triple J star singer/rapper Sami, and Cassells, who although usually a solo acoustic alt-folk act will be performing with full band.
Of all the acts on the bill, it’s safe to say that Confetti Western are the only ones who met on the Ballarat Goldfields, back in the day. “This is our third re-incarnation,” explains singer, guitarist, lyricist and “choreographer extraordinaire” August Del Shae of how he met bandmate The West Texas Bull.
“We first met on the 1850’s goldfields where we died in a poker game gone awry. As time travelling ghosts, we were awoken at a bush doof in 2020. We found the musicians who awoke us from our eternal slumber and decided to possess their bodies,” he says of their mere-mortal counterparts Kaine Hansen and Patrick Ware.
Their band name is a play on the film genre ‘spaghetti western’ (sorry, typophiles, not the font) and captures what can be expected live, where their love of all things country and western, meets dance, techno, and disco, with a theatrical bent.
“We wanted to bring disco to western and what’s more disco than confetti?”
“We wanted to bring disco to western and what’s more disco than confetti?” asks The West Texas Bull, who is credited as producer, plus sings and plays synth and guitar.
Describing themselves as being “Whip Cracking Electro Western Sensations” means they write their songs in the realm of dance, disco and hip-hop “but love to use the storytelling techniques of classic country songs; your Marty Robbins, your Dolly Partons. We once meet Johnny Cash in purgatory, he was a huge mentor in our arts practice,” reveals Del Shae.
For the past 18 months, they’ve been “flat out” recording and producing. “All hail the google drive!” he says of finding a way to create during lockdowns. As a result, “we’ve got heaps of new music ready to be released,” Del Shae says of their latest single ‘Furiosa’, which will be followed next month by ‘Release Me / Disco Riddle’.
“Three months ago, we finally started playing live which has been incredible,” says The Bull of their first official gig as Confetti Western at Ballarat’s Volta venue, where they came riding out on hobby horses. “Seeing people get down to our ghastly beats while having a whip cracking good time makes all those hours in the studio worth it.”
Being selected as part of the 2023 cohort for Be_Hear/Now, which is a part of The City of Ballarat’s live music program, provides the opportunity to perform to audiences, as well as receive other professional support, including mentoring and training, assets and resources to help further their career.
To that end, although they currently live in Ballarat (“we are looking at investing in a music ranch in Bungaree where we will train horses to play the xylophone”) they have their eyes on kicking in some swinging saloon doors for Melbourne gigs and loading the wagons for a national tour.
“We’ve got a lot of crazy ideas and would love to work with people who can make these dreams come true. For instance, we’d love to play a gig up on ‘The Edge’ of Eureka Skydeck or down The Central Deborah Gold Mine in Bendigo. Even if our wild beats made the mine collapse, we’ve already died twice – no biggie,” says Del Shae.
Until those gigs are booked, Cofetti Western say their Be_Hear/Now show – performing at The Ballarat Art Gallery on Friday, June 30 at 6pm – will be as crazy as all their previous shows. “We love it when bands get theatrical! We want our audiences to come dressed up, dance along to our dance moves and go crazy for all the dumb things we plan for each show.”
So the portrait painting? “Not a joke, that is actually happening,” assures Del Shae. “The dress up theme for the event is ‘French Painter’. Please come dressed as your favourite uptight artist but make it disco – things are always better when it’s disco”.
This article was made in partnership with City of Ballarat