Tonight, I went to the Purple Turtle near Mornington Crescent to a night called The Fan Club. Neither of these things was anything like their equivalent in Johnston St.; rather than being full of loudly drunk blokes'n'sheilas dancing to 80s top-40 cheese, or button-badge-festooned indie kids politely getting down to Belle & Sebastian or Mid-State Orange, this was a dark, multi-level venue full of electrocoolsie new-waver types, all pinstripes and thin ties and angular black cloth caps and black eyeliner and black-and-red stripy tops and alternating black and bleached hair and long fringes.
A few bands played. The first band I saw (who, I think, were called Davina Icon) looked like discopunk fashion models and played garage-rock with synths coming from somewhere off stage (possibly a MiniDisc, though the spiky-haired androgynous bass player may have been playing through a box that added synthy effects or something). The lead singer looked like an emaciated Sid Vicious, and was seemingly too thin for his pants; towards the end of the set, they started riding down, revealing a bit too much to the audience. After the end of the set (and presumably after pulling his pants up), he left the stage and immediately started posing for one of various photographers in the venue.
The second band was a boy-girl duo from LA named Mynx, who danced and sang over a backing track; they did a sort of electro cabaret, somewhere between the Dresden Dolls and Service Station Youth, with perhaps a bit of the Town Bikes thrown in. One of their songs had the chorus "I'm so LA".
The final band was named Luxembourg and was somewhere between indie and synthpop, sounding in places like Pulp or (as Lloyd from Schmoof, who was there, pointed out) The Cure's bouncier moments. They were entertaining enough.
It was enjoyable enough.
I still get the feeling that the quality of live bands in Melbourne is better, not so much in tightness or production values but in substance. Perhaps it's the lack of pressure and competition for fame that allows them to develop a more unique sound, or the Australian larrikin spirit that fosters more experimentation. Or maybe it's just because I haven't yet developed an appreciation of the London scene.
I agree - Melbourne has a far better live-scene-vibe than almost any city in the UK. I think it might partly be the weekly music press in Britain. It puts so much pressure on bands because of the hype thing. Whereas many of the Melbourne bands I like at the moment - New Buffalo and Bird Blobs for instance - seem to have mostly avoided the hype and can be appreciated for the music alone.
Plus the distance between here and home acts like a filter and only the most notable UK bands seem to make it to 'strayer.