With the recent release of their double-A side single, Julia/Spring, Lowtide embarked on a quick east coast tour to wash their fans with a good dosing of reverbed guitars and washy harmonised vocals. With support from fellow Melbourne bands The Shifters and Parading proved to be a mixed bag of genre and effort. The biggest question I had of the night is WHY the music they play inbetween bands is so off the mark to the bands of the night, and tonight…probably the worst collection of noise that I have ever-heard (accept for the one track by The Radio Dept)..let me not digress before this becomes a lam(b)ent post.
The Northcote Social Club, to those of us who reside in Melbourne, know it as the quintessential venue for those bands who are starting to pull a crowd, offering just enough room for a band to fill they can “sell out” a gig, and intimate enough for us punters to enjoy a good band in a “pub” like feel. With the venue celebrating 10 years serving a stage to these local and international bands, the venue was refurbished and thankfully it was a job well done. Dont get us wrong, there is something raw and earthy about seeing a band play while you stand in one spot wondering if your shoes will ever part from the sticky carpet below, but tonight, walking into the venue, the exposed brick and all the usual interior finishes you come to expect from a Melbourne re-design, makes for an improved venue. But what about the music you say?!
First up, The Shifters, a band that take to the stage like a hurried bunch of school kids, cut right into a set of lyrically quirked up pop songs, that sound jaggered, slightly unpolished and randomly unique. It was almost impossible to make out the lyrics on each of their songs which was a real shame as I am certain that the lyrically content and the stories of daily grind would have made for more impact and added to the musical touches that I sadly missed. The Shifters have a unique, almost Australian lo-fi country swagger to them, the kind of pop that is played out with severe bed-head and the taste of cigarettes and beer from the night before. For me, being the “just turned 40” musical no-it-all that I a claim to be, it was something a little different but had me wondering what it would sound like if I were pissed and 15 years younger.
Next up, Parading, another band from Melbourne that I read, deliver music that is demanding, brooding and give a big nod to drone-post rock. This had me intrigued and somewhat excited, the kind of music that sounds about right on a wintery and showery Melbourne night. Again, another band takes to the stage, not looking all that confident, almost uncertain that they wanted to be there at all. I don’t mind this attitude of a band who believe in what they do, but tonight again I was reminded that if you don’t play with confidence of what you create, you just cant expect an audience to grow with you. Lead singer, Tomas Barry thanks the audience and tells of an instrumental they are working on, before cutting his own sentence and say “….whatever”. It bugs me no end that songwriters do this. Stand by your music, as crap as you think it is….. it is the first thing that has me turn off any interest to a band, and sadly I did it for these lads, who, by their own right have their talents, but looked uninterested (or perhaps nervous!) and completely disconnected from one another. There were some real moments and the band at times, powered things up, reminiscent of early Mogwai, but things just didn’t hold. The crowd seemed to show their respect, like a well behaved Melbourne crowd does, but boy oh boy, did it have me wonder why Melbourne bands just lack musical confidence that makes them want to be the best band on the bill. I know it’s only a local gig, but what a treat to be up on that stage.
Which brings me to Lowtide, a band that I had heard about but only recently had time to listen to their debut album. Coming from a musical love for Shoegaze and “space rock”, I instantly formed respect. You really cant help but compare this band to the likes of My Bloody Valentine and the twin sister to Slowdive, a great band from the 90s. (I’d be surprised if any Lowtide band hasn’t got Souvlaki Space Station in their collection…) The thing with lowtide is that all their songs sound the same, which is not entirely bad, considering that the two guitars seduce one another with reverb dipped in more reverb. The songs are all powerful, yet delicate but tonight the stand out tracks for me, really were the 2 new singles Julia and Spring. Live they sound strong and memorable and I think it may well be that with these 2 tracks they may well boost their following. What the new singles lack in lyrical challenge make up for wonderful monotonous beats and rhythm. In around 40 minutes it is all over with no sign of an encore and while I head home I again ponder what makes a band really want to make music if they are not willing to give it there all, on each and every live performance. Hmm….