Monday, July 8, 2013 Leave a Comment
It’s been more than 10 years since I declared Melbourne my new stomping ground. I had my Nikes on and ran at full speed when I got the opportunity to leave my home town of Brisbane. Don’t get me wrong- I love Bris-vegas- there’s many a random suburban pool that I blessed with a late night nudie swim in my reckless formative years. However, as tends to happen in a town where Sizzlers was considered a fine dining experience, the walls started closing in and it was time to move on. But I still feel an immense sense of allegiance and warmth for the town that drowned me in 20 cent drinks on my 18th birthday. I am especially inclined to glow with pride when I can boast that the hip tunes emanating from my listening device are courtesy of a Brisbane-based artist or band. And it would seem that of late, there’s plenty for me to brag about with a slew of indie pop/rock outfits swaggering their way from the streets of Brisneyland… the likes of The John Steel Singers, Hungry Kids of Hungary, The Last Dinosaurs, Millions and Velicoraptor to name but a few. One of my current faves is Ball Park Music, and I was lucky enough to catch them play at the Forum last Friday along with another Brisbane lad, Jeremy Neale and local Melbournites Eagle & the Worm.
Ball Park Music is comprised of frontman Sam Cromack (guitar/vocals), Jennifer Boyce (bass, backing vocals), Paul Furness (keys, trombone), and twins Dean Hanson (guitar, bass, backing vocals) and Daniel Hanson (drums,backing vocals). Formed in 2008, they have enjoyed the spotlight as triple-j darlings since the release of their 2010 hit iFly. Their most recent album, Museum was released in late 2012 as a follow up to their debut Happiness and Surrounding Suburbs in 2011. I like to think of their sound as indie geek meets hipster chic. Their lyrics convey a heady mixture of youthful exuberance and post-teen angst and their melodies are undeniably infectious and upbeat.
As expected, the crowd at Melbourne’s iconic Forum theatre was awash with young trendsetters, but there was also a decent contingent of gen-xers in attendance, making me a little less self conscious about being the oldest audience member. Jeremy Neale set the pace with his Buddy Holly-esque tone and 60s inspired pop melodies. Neale, who is also one part of aforementioned Brisbane group Velicoraptor, imposed a striking stage presence and left the crowd wondering what is the protocol for requesting an encore from a support act. Next up were Eagle & the Worm, who I had been fortunate enough to catch last year when they supported Gomez on their national tour. Complete with a funky brass ensemble, this 8 piece outfit exuded a contagious energy that had everyone in the crowd moving.They once again proved that not only are they a band to keep on your must see list, but also that sometimes on the road to stardom, group discounts on hairstylists may be required.
Then it was time for the main act, and from the teaser entrance track, ABBA’s Thank You For The Music, it was evident the audience were hooked- an impressive feat considering the usually submissive Melbourne mentality. All the crowd favourites were busted out, including It’s Nice To Be Alive, Fencesitter, Surrender and Literally Baby. Respect was paid to obvious (and maybe not so obvious) musical influences, with memorable and quirky covers from The Beach Boys, Hanson and The Beatles also featuring on the set list. The beautiful melancholy of my favourite track, Coming Down, was either sadly ruined or forever immortalised when its timing collided with the passionate drunken embrace of random horny strangers standing in front of me in the crowd.
Overall, the evening delivered a brilliant lineup that showcased the best of a new-breed of indie-pop groups that are flourishing in Australia at present. I am already keenly anticipating seeing more of all of these acts during the summer festival season.
Have you had a chance to see any of these bands? What did you think?