Down in the basement of Grace Darling Hotel awaits a dim room with a bar, string lights, candles, Victorian-style carpet and a band setting up by the abandoned fireplace. Members of the bands playing tonight are gathering and chatting amongst themselves. It’s a small crowd of mostly friends of the bands and creates more of an intimate space, but hopefully it will increase as the night goes on.
Three-piece Mac Springs start the night with delicate indie tunes that get catchy after a while. The small presence in the room makes it a little difficult for the atmosphere to build up but it’s getting there as each song plays. When The Wheels Fell Off was a highlight with its upbeat tempo and effortless yet comforting vocals.
A few more people walk into the basement as The Oh Balters begin their set and the spirits across the room come to life. There’s no dancing but people are getting into the standout songs like Rhythm With Me and Why Don’t You Save Me Now?. The influence of The Kinks, The Beatles and The Barr Brothers clearly shows through their chords and style. They’ve come a long way from the Red Centre to Melbourne.
The room is starting to build up as Adelaide band The Empty Threats start their Ablutions EP launch with their psychedelic magic. Guitarist Matt Schultz resembles Kevin Parker with his hairstyle, outfit and bare feet – allowing his toes to control the synthesiser. Vocalist Stuart Patterson’s deep voice adds to the hallucinogenic sounds. To make it better he plays the clarinet, which is connected to the synthesiser to make other-worldly, dream machine sounds.
Loss Of Breath brings out Patterson’s strong vocals and the energy from the band takes you away to another dimension. A lot of their songs are overwhelmingly exhilarating and persuade the soul to release itself. The only person in the room really allowing their soul to come out tonight though is Patterson and it’s incredibly fascinating to watch and see him move in mysterious ways with his clarinet as he accidentally bumps into bassist Lenny Regione, who doesn’t seem that bothered by it. The band’s power to make the audience transcend through space and time is electrifying.
Although there wasn’t a strong crowd, the bands didn’t let the number of attendees discourage them from doing what they do best – killing it. They’re still finding their ground and they have more exciting times ahead of them. Overall, clarinets are groovy!
Feature image: Jack Fenby
Written by Alicia Ogley for The Music