— CNP

Badi Assad and Kinky at Beck’s Bar

The Meat Market is one of Melbourne’s most beautiful venues. The cast iron meat hooks are still on the beams, the names of the butchers are still painted in copperplate and the arches of the central arcade give a classical lift to proceedings. Nestled in North Melbourne, the hall has been given a facelift for the Beck’s Bar tag, with a swish bar that screams German efficiency and a line-up of musicians aimed to please the stovepipe generation.

Badi Assad

Brazil’s mystique never seems to waver. From baile funk to waxing, the West loves to aspire to its sweaty-wet sultriness and lime-infused cool. With roots firmly placed in her home country’s inimitable tradition of gentle guitar and vocals, Badi Assad sets herself her apart from the bossa nova crowd with acrobatic guitar and vocal idiosyncrasies that make you wonder whether Ani Difranco and Bobby McFerrin didn’t have a lovechild after all. She has a disarming lightness of being and sings of hummingbird kisses but she also has a bold knack for covers that matches the vaunted Bowie-turns of her compatriot Seu Jorge. With gleeful abandon she clicks, ululates and birdcalls her way through U2, Björk and Tori Amos numbers, while plucking and strumming the guitar with the finesse of a classical purist.

Striking a very different musical impression are the Mexican electro-poppers Kinky. With enough masculine energy to topple a junta, the quintet take to the stage with a brand of danceable rock that is one part Corona, two parts Tequila and three sheets to the wind. Unfortunately, the crowd was under capacity, so the full force of messy gyration was a little underwhelming but Kinky were unfazed. The diminutive front man, Gilberto Cerezo, who looked like Lord Byron had met a toreador and nicked his clothes, blasted out some trumpet along with some lyrics, but that was where the Mariachi influence started and thankfully finished. At their best, the group slide from metal guitar solos into screaming techno sirens with nary a pause to dodge the genre police. At their worst, they hammer out banal English words and fuzzy rock. Nevertheless, their musical highs and fancy lightshow suggested a capacity for engaging mayhem along the lines of CSS sans the feminine irony.

And, as for the Beck’s Bar, it should be positively pumping on Saturday night for the closing night party. Judging by last year’s balltearer of a shindig, Kristy Edmunds should be in a very good mood and keen for hugs at 3am, so get yourselves to some more shows and scope out which artist you want to take home next weekend – there’s $10 in it if anyone can get Merce Cunningham’s number.