Northcote Social Club
Indebted to 90s British bands in the most forgiveable way possible, Adelaide’s Alpha Beta Fox are a perfect choice as support for tonight’s show. Pulling together the best parts of Lush, St Etienne and brighter moments of mid-80s Cure, the five-piece boast the dual vocal talents of Tanya Giobbi and Rebecca Burge Versteegh and of course, churning and chiming guitars.
Far from being copyists however, ABF also use Theremin, inspired fizzing synth and a bird whistle to create a genuinely unusual sound.
Opening song Lady Don't Ride instantly announces them as one of the boldest and brightest discoveries so far this year, and the crowd are audibly impressed from the outset. Songs veer from swoonworthy to writhing with their lovely J-play garnering buzz single Pins and Needles being far from their strongest effort tonight. The odd lazy lyric aside, this is a band to watch.
To a now sold-out crowd – most dressed in flattering black and aged northward of 40 – the Underground Lovers wander on and proceed to do what they do best; make garage rock for hovercrafts. The Stereolab-like brilliance of I Was Right with its mantra ‘And the way it begins / Is the way that it ends / I was right’ gets us all onside. Singer Phillippa Nihill paces the stage as if she’s nervous but sings like she owns it. Glenn Bennie’s inspired yet un-flashy guitar work is a well-known national treasure, but hearing him at full bore and on form as he is tonight is a revelation.
Songs as good as those on their recently-released Weekend album can only come from years of experience, and their balance of intelligent aggression and mellifluous texture is uniquely their own. There is no fading out here; the consistency and sheer talent is as vital as it was when they were ARIA Award winning Triple J fixtures. It’s these newer songs that get cheers of recognition and bond the crowd just as much as incendiary brilliance of Beautiful World and Leaves Me Blind.
As warmly as we respond, the band seems even happier. ‘We don’t do banter,’ lies singer Vincent Giarrusso joyfully. Melbourne music mainstay Julian Wu jumps up on stage to spruik the single tonight’s gig is in aid of (a split single with Chinese band Dear Eloise if you’re interested – and judging by the movement at the merch desk, we are). Can For Now, In Silhouette and tonight’s launched single Haunted (Acedia) are stunning, and, as the clock ticks over into September, their excoriating encore of 1992’s Eastside Stories leaves us wholly sold that this enduring team have a lot more to give