The King Street Crawl is an annual event that celebrates the Sydney music scene. Last Father’s Day, over 30 venues along King St, Erskineville Rd and Enmore Rd played host to a massive 130+ artists. With no entry fees and hours of live music, it was a testimony to the volume of talent that Newtown houses. The following is part three of five in Backyard Opera’s King Street Crawl series. For more, stay tuned HERE.
While named after the prominent King Street, the crawl extends well beyond that one road. Down past the heart and soul of Sydney live music, the Enmore Theatre, lies the Duke Hotel, aka The Duke of Enmore. Last Father’s Day, the Duke held Otto’s House Party, a travelling event organizer group that specialise in uniquely stylised gigs. This year, with the sun setting and the debauchery of the day in full swing, the Duke was packed out. Patrons had finished their father’s day barbeques and were ready to be entertained. At 5:25, this responsibility fell on the fantastically named Bin Juice.
“It’s Father’s Day, man,” said guitarist Hugo in the busy outside beer garden. “Everyone’s been off doing Father’s Day things. To be honest we only just got here.”
Bin Juice are a five-piece band that fuse jazz, hip/hop and soul with experimental indie sounds. Their first album, 2017’s Watermelon, showcases the talents of each member, which includes a lead guitarist, singer/rhythm guitarist, bassist, drummer and a saxophonist. The unique genre bending sound is not only unlike anything on the Crawl, but also anything in Sydney today. Bin Juice had previously performed on the King Street Crawl in 2018 at the Bank Hotel, which Backyard Opera highly praised.
“The intimacy of the venue allowed for the playful skill of their exceptional drummer to be showcased to full effect, as every flick of the wrist and rhythmic beat echoed over the dazed audience,” we wrote.
While the Bank was smaller than the Duke, the space was equally tight. The performance area was in a strange spot. A large rectangular space at the pub’s entrance packed the crowd until a small corner opened up with a few seats and the Otto’s House Party cloth banner. This large space was jammed shoulder to shoulder, pushing patrons right up to the little alcove that contained the band and, importantly, a projector. The projector shone over the band and onto the cloth banner behind them, bathing them in a fluid sea of colour. From rich crimsons and deep purples to bright yellows and pale creams, the colour artfully washed over the experimental band. While this was already impressive, the addition of a smoke machine, which allowed the light to float suspended in the air, gave Bin Juice’s set one of the strongest visual identities of the day.
Playing to a wall of people, their downbeat music was a much-needed break from the high-octane energy of the Crawl. That is not to say they were boring. In fact, they were the opposite. They were genuinely impressive. Every member of the band brought something fresh and unique, not just to their own band but also to the Newtown scene. As previously mentioned, Bin Juice has a truly exceptional drummer, who was again mesmerizing. While bands like Big Sky Mountain, who played earlier in the day at the Town Hall Hotel, also utilised brass instruments, Bin Juice’s saxophone became a memorable spectacle. One song even included a wild guitar line that was harsh and poetically angry, created by a flurry of sharp strums as guitarist Hugo rapidly darted up and down the neck. The stage design, combined with their experimental sound, made Bin Juice’s performance at the Duke special. The band immediately packed up their gear and moved down to perform at the Parliament book shop, no doubt playing a separate and equally rare set.
“Wish we could go see some other bands after but we’re playing again at Parliament. So, from here we pack up and it’s straight back to it,” explained a disappointed Hugo before the set.
Like all bands on the Crawl, there was a sense that Bin Juice were as excited as the punters to see the various acts of the day. Playing across NSW, the band has made friends from the scene that they particularly wanted to see. Luckily, they were able to squeeze in time between Father’s Day commitments and their set to see their friends Dave and e4444e.
“I’m not one who locks onto particular acts. It’s not like there’s one band that’s the whole reason for the day. Just saw Dave and e444e. It’s always nice to see your homies,” explained Hugo. “The whole day’s a party, but. For a long stretch, all the way from here to the Vanguard pretty much, every venue is getting involved, even ones that wouldn’t normally. Even this place, I don’t think, has bands on all the time.”
Bin Juice will be playing for free at The Beresford with Ella Haber on Friday 27th September.