At first I think I’ve set my alarm clock wrongly as I enter The Rev in Fortitude Valley on Sunday night, such is the expanse of fresh-faced youth blocking my way to the bar to get my milkshake – I mean beer – before a quick check that (a) it is actually dark outside and (b) I haven’t been able to pass for a minor since Britpop, reassures me that it is indeed the eighteen plus show I’ve arrived at, and not the earlier matinee version for the indie-pop-loving ankle-biters of Brisbane. Quite the relief.
Doubts eased, I settle into a comfortable vantage point on the upper balcony, with a diet coke in my hand (the confusion obviously hasn’t totally cleared), just as Brisbane’s own indie-dance-pop party boys The Belligerents are stepping their set up a gear and making the kids down on the floor start to move. The five-piece are on great form; their track ‘Money’ sounds particularly strong tonight and there are some rather fine T-shirts on-stage, including the shit-themed one-two of Andy Balzat’s ‘I Heart Huggies’ and Konstantin Kersting’s ‘Pink Floyd’ number (I know this is how you meant it to be interpreted, fellas). The Belligerents are a top local band, and just need that one great breakthrough single to catapult them to the next level, but that hopefully shouldn’t be too far down the track.
Next up is Sydney quintet The Preatures, who have already managed their own breakthrough single with ‘Take A Card’. It’s a top track, but there’s so much more to this band than catchy pop songs that take the piss out of, well… catchy pop songs (listen to the lyrics, kids.) Starting with an all-bloke jam before singer-keyboardist Isabella Manfredi takes to the stage and steals the limelight for opener ‘Pale Rider’, the band are tight and classy from start to finish, running through all five tracks from their Shaking Hands EP, and even throwing in a couple of new songs that maintain the hint of Americana present in their previous tunes while barrelling along with a welcome dose of rock; something that bodes well for their upcoming debut long-player. While the obvious focus is on singers Manfredi and Gideon Benson, I can’t help but be most impressed – yet again – by the less-is-more lead guitar work of Jack Moffitt.
And so to our hosts for the evening; Perth pop darlings San Cisco. After catching the band a few months back and thinking they needed to mature a little before being a true live force, I’m keen to see what influence their recent sojourns to foreign shores might have had on their stagecraft, and am far from disappointed by tonight’s showing. The quartet have a slew of pop gems in their arsenal, and a deft ability to write simple tunes with easily singable choruses and ridiculously catchy melodies; the sort of stuff to drive tonight’s audience wild. Starting with ‘Fred Astaire’, and running through ‘Golden Revolver’, ‘Hunter’, ‘Reckless’, and ‘Stella’ in quick succession despite some technical issues, it’s clear the band is tight and full of upbeat pop charm and good times. The necessity for The Preatures’ Isabella to join in on vocals for ‘Beach’, ‘Wild Things’, and ‘Awkward’ due to drummer Scarlett Stevens’ croaky throat only adds to the experience as the clash of styles works well and there is a collective losing of shit amongst the ‘Cisco faithful down the front.
The encore for tonight is, quite simply, a wonderful thing, as once singer Jordie Davieson is done with his solo track ‘John’s Song’, the stage is invaded by a motley crew of hairy, bouncy folk for the final track ‘Rocket Ship’, as The Belligerents, The Preatures, and surprise arrivals The Jungle Giants jump into the action and crowd around whatever microphones are available. What is meant solely as a tour finale sing-along evolves into a bunch of usually too-cool-for-school musicians letting themselves go in the safety of the crowd; as they sing, dance, and bash tambourines like a bunch of demented monkeys. Yes guys; every one of you looked as goofy as all hell. And that’s why we loved it so much.