Real Estate, The Ocean Party, Totally Mild: Howlr, Melbourne_24th February 2015


jameslondon1_blue_blurOver the last few years we have seen an avalanche of American laid-back, dream pop cum slacker indie pouring out of US pores, even bleeding out of Europe and Australia.  Real Estate, although not leading the race they do epitomise the sound and as a matter of fact, do it damn well.  Tonight they are supported by two bands who we hope will make their own similar mark, they go by the names The Ocean Party, and first up on tonight’s bill, Totally Mild.

There is something to be said about punters who just turn up for the main act and completely miss the support bands, where has the “support” gone, its bloody hard to get up there and do what they do. Ive always been one to show a bit of respect and get to gigs early and do just that, support.

Tonight was one of those nights that despite how knackered I was following on from a full on week the decision to support the support was well rewarded.  Totally Mild, a band out of Melbourne play familiar songs, those that have you humming along without actually having heard them before.  Lead singer Elizabeth Mitchell sings sweetly through story led songs, quietly confident before showing us her quirky side with in between song banter.  Their set is a reminder of some loved bands of TWL from Camera Obscura and the much respected Belle & Sebastian, perhaps very obvious comparisons but good ones none the less.  Their brief set is filled with delicious dream pop songs that played live sound good and have us excited to hear some of their recording tunes.  Great start.

Soon after, come The Ocean Party, a band that look more like a group of good old friends than they do a band but once they launch into their first track, it is clear these guys love what they do and effortlessly bring it together.  The set starts perfect with a sound that is mixes pure Australian charm, American swagger and pop and an almost English arrogance.

The sense of gang and brotherhood is a given when we see each song sung by each member, Each of their voices offer something completely unique, centre fella (we don’t know your name sorry) had the voice that both captured their sound and fitted most neatly.  As each song played out we heard each member sing, some definitely stronger than others, some as much as missing the mark completely which was a real shame. For us the stand out being the fella who sang with the strength of a heavy Australian twang with lyrics of life growing up in Australia.  This is a band who love what they do, take themselves light-heartedly and stand proud of the young heritage.  Refreshing.

So, a few hours later and a patient wait, the boys from New Jersey but drifted to hipster Brooklyn modestly wave to the crowd to a similar polite response.  If you know about Real Estate and their music, you would expect such a reaction from both band and their fans.  Speaking of fans, it really was hard to tell the difference between the band and the audience when it came to fashion, glasses, hair and swagger.  Real Estate have their own tribe and tonight this is a celebration, a mild one, one that is polite, relaxed and not too offensive as a way to avoid confrontation.

Being a fan of Real Estate since their first album (well they only have two), I knew tonight would hold no surprises, I mean this is band that makes such effortless pop music that just happily plays along, I wasn’t expecting anything but the album played out.  I wasn’t disappointed, the band were pitch perfect, in perfect time and rolled through track after track with no effort at all.

To those unfamiliar ears you could quite easily lose focus in their music as there are really is nothing that grabs you here, but to many of us it is that sense of familiarity that we crave and it is what we get.  The banter of bassist Alex Bleeker keeps us amused and the pitter patter of drummer Etienne Pierre Dugany has moments of brilliance. Martin Courtney’s voice sounds identical to their recordings, despite a few problems with their fold back speakers.

From opening track Hard To Hear through to most well received It’s Real , the audience were treated to many songs from the latest hit album Atlas with a few older ones thrown in to mist the glass of many black framed floppy hair fans.

Not much more can be said about the night, it just happened, it felt good, the band played well, the songs were consistent and they provided the perfect beat to step out late into a school night.