At the stroke of 8, it felt as though there were more people on stage than amongst the audience as Melbourne sextet Alpine kicked things off. It could have been quite uncomfortable for all involved, but perhaps Alpine's finest quality is their confidence as performers. They present a strong, intrinsic take on indie rock that provides little room for contemporaries or peers. The dual female vocals switch from sweet to sour as if on impulse alone, while the guitars diversify between light and airy tones and scratchy spiked licks. It makes for an intriguing, arresting and highly original sound, and the live context intensifies it tenfold. One of the country's must-watch acts.
Operator Please are no strangers to the touring experience; it's something they've been doing since they were mostly made up of teenagers. What they're aiming for now, however, is something a little darker than tunes about ping pong. The new material showcased by the band shows a greater emphasis on buzzing synths, thudding tom-tom rhythms and a focused groove. It certainly takes away from the “fun” reputation the band have established within their earlier days, but this new-found maturity does not subtract from the enjoyability factor. Operator Please clearly enjoy performing, and tonight show that they're prepared to head in a new direction. Let phase two commence.
Last at the Uni Bar as the warm-up act for Little Red, Sparkadia have evolved into a big-business headliner, even with only vocalist Alex Burnett remaining of the original line-up. The new album under the Sparkadia name The Great Impression is a surround-sound pop spectacular, and for the most part translates beautifully live. The title track is the perfect opener, while tracks like the instantly-memorable “Fingerprints” and the rollicking “Shoot Straight” are surefire winners – especially considering it is mostly unfamiliar to the audience. As much as these songs are enjoyed, it's the run of singles from 2008's Postcards that really gets the crowd on side. “Kiss of Death”, “Too Much to Do”, “Up in the Air” and “Morning Light” are played to perfection as the audience sings along with as much gusto as they can muster up. While the energy picks up all round as the band launches into the rough-and-tumble dark guitar pop of “Animals”. By the time “Jealousy” comes around to wind up the evening, the Uni Bar is well and truly packed out with people completely sold on the new and improved Sparkadia. This is a high quality, professional live show that can still maintain edge – highly recommended.