Friday, August 2, 2013


Northcote Social Club
Selling out within weeks of going on sale, there must have been a tour manager keen to get some of the packed-out club vibe going since this line-up could have sold out the Hi Fi. Setting the sweaty scene are Frottera, a sun-born throwback blast of Cali-punk. Actually roadies for the headliners, the band are hilariously exuberant and anyone turning up to Melbourne in shorts in July deserves every cheer they get. The rapidly filling venue like their style, but the (exclamation) point is made by the 30-minute mark.

Teenage Mothers follow and, though they seem to be making the right moves and noises, there is a sense of emptiness to what they do. Individually good musicians, their Black Angels-style psych rock is a simple and effective sound, but the music feels utterly meaningless and devoid of any integrity. While some in the audience respond warmly, there is an overwhelming sense of deflation to their surprisingly short set.

Thankfully, the loud and dumb punk rock of Bleeding Knees Club arrives to resurrect anything you might have been missing from 80s-90s pop punk and wanted spat back in your face. Tight and with pithy riffs, the crowd stand and watch, which sucks the music of most if its power, but songs like I Just Wanna Have Fun, and Teenage Girls take the identikit punk structure and kick it around while remaining infuriatingly catchy. A surprise cover of Bohemian Like You sits nicely but does show then up and raise the question as to why they don’t make their songs just a little more interesting, but then the closing song and recent single Feel is peerless pop punk and epitomises all they do best.

By the time Palma Violets arrive the venue seems to have turned into the Elephant and Wheelbarrow with British accents filling the thick air. Bursting out with some full force pub rock boogie, there is a rare sense of fury and intent to their set, but, as on their debut 180, it still sounds distant and thunderous rather than bright and punchy. The guitar mixed low and keyboards softening the textures, it’s left to hyperactive bassist Chilli Jesson to drive the songs visually and musically. While their set jumps from one garage rock anthem to the next, it’s the genius of their single Best of Friends, and it’s monumental chorus that gives their set it’s fist-pumping highlight. Step Up For the Cool Cats is another cracker and We Found Love simmers, but it’s the sheer attitude that wiry and saturated Jesson exudes that is the real drawcard. Lighting up a fag mid-set and later crowdsurfing to the back of the room are both rarities at the NSC. Closing with the rousing 14 and encoring with Brand New Song, it’s the energy and bravado they bring to the standard rock chord progressions they spin through that so impresses, and still leaves the sense that the best is to come.


The Hi Fi Bar
To an overwhelmingly oestrogenic crowd and a sold out, packed out room The Preatures blast through a tight set of polished rock. Sharp, punchy, stylish and vaguely dangerous in a way that channels the early days of the Cherry Bar without the fear of ever playing a bum note, the five-piece are a sleek machine. Lead singer Isabella Manfredi oozes charisma and channels sheer joy with a wide boyish grin and no less than three costume changes in half an hour. New song Cruel is a barnstorming slice of guitar pop and deserves a charting come Hottest 100 time. Once the songs slow down they lose their individuality but any set that ends with Is This How You Feel? has got to be considered a winner.

Arriving on stage to a blasting 99 Problems yet initially drowned out by emphatic cheering, Haim are possibly the first band to sell out the Hi Fi Bar with just four released songs to their name. Within seconds it’s apparent that something big is happening here, and you can throw all the accusations of conservative influences you like that this band, but they won’t sound like anything other than three sisters making music for each other. 

With today’s music news revealing that their debut album has recently been finished in Sydney, the Haims and drummer Dash Hutton open with Better Off, a track that sends the audience into ear piercing raptures. Moving through The Wire, Honey and I and Oh Well – songs presumably featuring on their forthcoming album - they move from a gritty hard rock through intricate pop hooks, bluesy ballads and some truly endearing banter without ever breaking a sweat. Regardless of genre, their fantastically imaginative use of dynamics and spectacular vocal arrangements are constantly impressive.

Whatever fraternal force it is that propels Haim, it feels like a privilege to be let in on it; they could be playing their garage or Wembley. Bassist Este’s bass face (and playing) is magnificently unique, guitarist Danielle channels an angry folk rocker brandishing a Gibson SG and Alana (aka ‘Baby Haim’ on ‘her first big tour’) does everything with all of her seemingly limitless energy. All three women beat floor toms and profusely remind us that we are the ‘coolest’, ‘sexiest’, ‘most attractive’ and ‘dopest’ crowd they’ve ever played to, to which we scream. 

A cameo from Momma Haim sends the audience into further peals of deafening shrieks before their pithy set draws to a close with Falling, Go Slow, Don’t Save Me and Forever. Naturally, they’re brought back out for an encore, for which they reward us with new track Let Me Go and an epic extended taiko-style floor tom solo. Not one person tramping up the stairs into the cold night air looks anything less than ecstatic, and it’s hard to think of another band that could generate this much love with a set of almost entirely unheard songs. Expect to get familiar.