Saturday, April 5, 2014


Snakadaktal in action. Photo by Arianna Lucente
Northcote Social Club, March 29 2014

A young, loved up and turned out crowd packs the room early on for this, the last ever show from one of Melbourne's most galvanising bands. But before 2011's Triple J Unearthed winners can take to the stage, City Calm Down kick out some jams. Skillfully deploying keys, dub-deep bass and punchy drums, all the ingredients are in place for new wave dance-floor bangers. Riding between the clean groove of LCD Soundsystem and louche funk of A Certain Ratio, new song Pavement is a fiery calling card, proving the four-piece are hitting new heights. Over buzzing 16-beats, chugging basslines and spiraling synth arpeggios, singer Jack Bourke channels the dramatic bluster of Ian McCulloch. Lost: Trapped, Speak to No End and closing epic Dare are longer than they need to be (though not long enough if you’re dancing, but, being Melbourne no one is), and demand a bigger stage. CCD would be a perfect Golden Plains discovery for those not already won over.

To deafening cheers, Snakadaktal arrive on stage, stand in a line and smile tiredly at each other. “The summer of year nine, we were all at Phoebe's house,” explains drummer Barna Nemeth, of their journey to now. “Since then we've experienced so much awesome stuff, and we're forever grateful. Thank you.” Occasional outbursts of sincerity pepper tonight’s emotional set. With the audience giving the band far more than they give us, the night plays out like a sleepwalker being shouted at by a drunken football team. Singer Phoebe Cockburn couldn’t invest the songs with less effort or emotion, yet the audience responds as if she were invisibly administering cocaine. With only the atmospheric noodling of Joseph Clough’s Rickenbacker (and Cockburn forgetting the lyrics to Isolate) enlivening the first half of the set, song after song (Union, Hung on Tight, Air, Wake Up) vanishes like a rescinded uncertain suggestion. This is the sound of commitment-phobia, of respectfully keeping it down, of really nice people being really nice.

Until, finally, songs cease to resemble their sedate recorded versions and a thrilling Too Soon, Fall Underneath and Dance Bear burst into being. No longer a set more suited to a sensory depravation chamber, moshing, crowd surfing, girls on the shoulders of boyfriends, and a dancer dressed as a crocodile appears on stage transform the venue into the first night of Schoolies week. Closing with The Sun III, instead of an encore we get a teary group hug and scarcely a wave goodbye. An ironically bombastic end to a career of a band that, like them or not, never faked a note, and chose to float away rather than self-destruct.

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