Live Review: Ball Park Music + Loon Lake + Courtney Barnett – The Palace Theatre (23.11.12)

The decadent Palace theatre was crammed with Twentysomethings clad in all manner of jewel-coloured 80’s get ups, many gals braving metal stairs in their platformed wedges. In the shadow of worldwide economic turmoil, it’s comforting to know that 5 Brisbanites, who make up Ball Park Music , can fill the Palace to its capacity of 2000 people on this warm, Friday evening.

Ball Park Music’s reputation for their live performances precedes them and a very large following of fans based on the sheer volume of people positioned over 3 levels is testament to their popularity.

Courtney Barnett has the unenviable task of warming up the feisty lot of punters that have amassed around the stage. Her endearing, honey- tinged voice is powerful enough to command attention, but judging by the din of idle chatter, the throng is not giving their full attention. It’s a shame because Courtney and her band of motley musicians are pumping out catchy tunes, replete with quirky lyrics of the everyday grind. You’d think the hordes would stop talking and listen to “Lance Jnr”, or maybe the sexy slide guitar in “Canned Tomatoes” or even latest catchy single “History Eraser” with its memorable wordplay. At least someone that was clearly paying attention has the decency to shout out “I wanna have your babies” to the guitarist.

The task is easier for Loon Lake because the crowd are more receptive to the three brothers and two mates whose music resonates with them. It helps when your singles are played on heavy rotation on JJJ, particularly during sing alongs, which were rife, amongst popular ditties “Bad To Me”, “Cherry Lips” and “In The Summer” which saw girls link arms forming a dancing snake through the tightly huddled bodies beneath the stage. Loon Lake’s anthemic songs and shouting singing style is reminiscent to Modest Mouse .

The sense of anticipation in the air is so chunky you could carve it. By now the Palace is getting uncomfortably stuffy, so it is with relief that “Ball Park Music” appear on stage, to loud screams, and claps from the beckoning youth. Here to promote their Museum record, tracks from the album are interspersed with earlier hits, though the volume of screams and cheers from the audience is equal in intensity no matter what the band is singing.

From the outset Sam Cromack has a messianic command of the punters, inciting a mass sing along to “Fence Sitter”. Cromack shakes his hips from side to side and has the crowd in the palm of his fist as will be explained later. “Sad Rude Future Dude” follows and the sing along volume intensifies. “Melbourne is the best city in the world”, shouts Cromack. The crowd erupts. Of course it is, and that applies to each city you are playing in really, if you want the crowd on side. Cromack has the witty repartee and the rock moves down pat. He is flamboyant, and his distinctive, booming voice makes the f word sound melodic, whilst harmonies with Jennifer Boyne make the world a better place.

Cromack’s dance moves escalate into high kicks and hip swivels during “Rich People Are Stupid”. The guy is unstoppable and his comments about Melbourne, such as “Coffee always tastes good the first time” are sycophantic enough to form a TV ad for tourism. The first few rows are clapping and gesticulating wildly to “Literally Baby” and even those in the 3rd level can feel the chemistry.

“This song is for people who have contributed to all the good in the world, like you, the crew and Ghandi” shouts Cromack before launching into “All I Want is You”. Paul Furness swaps his keys for the trombone in “iFly” while twins Dean on guitar and Daniel Hansen on drums look on. Mid-song Cromack stops the song and asks the crowd to pump their fist with the opposite hand. The man literally has the crowd in his fist. As far as celebratory anthems go, The Four Season’s cover, “December 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” is one played by DJs the world over, and Ball Park Music’s version is unleashed on the fans.
“Surrender” is another example of profane melodic pop and the mob is lapping it up.

Prior to the encore Cromack lets everyone know there will be a signing after the event, then after a short hiatus, its “What’s on Your Mind” to which Cromack stage dives wholeheartedly into the crowd as you would expect. Sarcastic barbs aside, Ball Park Music are definitely a live act to see when they are next in town. They brought the house down; All three floors of it.