With three impressively sold out shows locked in at the Corner Hotel in their home town of Melbourne, indie/electro band City Calm Down, were at the top of their game here tonight for the second of their three Melbourne shows. With great support from national youth radio off the back of their recent album In A Restless House, there was a sense of rallying support from the strong Melbourne (and growing national) fan base in the room for the night. As the majority of the punters hadn’t yet even seen the band before, the excitement and anticipation was thick, despite, as acknowledged by the band, it being a school night.
With the unfortunate reality of working late, we arrived there in time to catch the last half of the set from second support Airling, moniker of Brisbane electro pop artist Hannah Shepherd. Not an obvious choice for a support act, Shepherd’s sound was definitely on the pop end of the spectrum, however the neo-soul vibe made it all go down very smoothly. Having great support from national radio (namely triple j), the feeling was that the pairing was more suited to avid listeners who might find a common listening crossover.
With a stadium-esque, almost overly hectic light show, uniform black-shirt-and-pants and hardly a smile to be seen throughout the set, City Calm Down are a professional enterprise. As a result, the experience for the audience was all encompassing, almost hypnotic at times. As a four piece, the band are able to represent their recorded material to a certain degree, but tonight they brought the works. Complete with touring guitarist, two backing singers and a two piece horn section. The band was able to not just replicate, but build upon their recorded sound to produce a live presentation that stood above expectation. This also left the hands of singer Jack Bourke free to a solitary microphone, and a stage, free to make his own. With a stage presence not unlike a possible hero Ian Curtis, staggering and disjointed, this helped to solidify their strong influences of the post-punk, new wave sound – yet with a much more radio friendly, polished and modern perspective.
With a catalogue of only one album and one EP, the reality of playing headline shows is that sometimes it can be difficult to meet a standard hours (or more) performance. As a result, we heard the large majority of songs from the recent debut album In A Restless House and 2012’s EP Movements. Crowd response to highlights such as recent singles ‘Wandering and Your Fix’ gained a moderate response, whilst lead single and radio fixture ‘Rabbit Run’ finally got the crowd moving. It wasn’t until the audience were stunned beyond knowledge from an almost flawless cover of Foals’ ‘Spanish Sahara’ (as performed on Triple J’s Like a Version the previous Friday) that they were really ready to dance. All the better, given a later treat in the form of David Bowies uber-hit ‘Let’s Dance’, was also flawlessly – if not too perfectly – executed to a bewildered and increasingly excited crowd. Bourke’s rumbling baritone was a suitable match to the legend’s distinctive tone, whilst giving enough difference to make it their own here on the night.
Closing the set with the most recognised song off Movements, and crowd favourite ‘Pleasure and Consequence‘, a song that simmers and hums into a chorus of massive proportions, it was then that the whole evening finally clicked and fell into place. The audience was left leaving on a high and thankfully, no encore was required or performed. The growing trend is pretty much against them, and I’m sure that the majority of the audience felt the same. City Calm Down really then needed no justification as to why they’d sold out three nights at the Corner or how they’ve been riding the game with such momentum – when the live show is able to take you a step further than the sound of the album, you know you’re doing something right.