Immigrant Union + Stonefield – The Tote (17.02.11)

I’ve been a Dandy Warhols fan since heroin was so passé, and after running into Brent DeBoer in the crowd at Laneway Festival and chatting about his new Melbourne-based side project Immigrant Union, a trip to the The Tote was in order to check out their live show.

Sharing the Thursday night residency were Triple J unearthed darlings Stonefield, who have been making waves with their ‘we’re pubescent sisters from the county that play hard rock’ persona.

The four piece greatly exceeded my expectations with some amazing instrumentation. Guitarist Hannah Findlay is fucking awesome, and watching her play was the highlight of their set. It seems fairly obvious that Stonefield were raised on a steady diet of Zappa, Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, as their music is highly derivative of the big, heavy, psych, blues sound.

The songs themselves are very catchy and display a level of maturity that teenagers aren’t usually renowned for. The girls seemed to take themselves rather seriously as they rocked along to the music, staring at their feet. It would have been nice to see them visibly enjoying their performance, which grew stale once the novelty of seeing young girls playing hard rock had worn off, and the realisation kicked in that their songs brought little new to the table. Stonefield have a big future ahead of them, as they are obscenely talented musicians who know their instruments very well. It will be interesting to see how they evolve, and hopefully start writing songs that do more than just emulate their idols.

Immigrant Union are a super group of sorts with the core members consisting of DeBoer, Bob Harrow of The Lazy Sons, and Peter Lubulwa of The Galvatrons. The seven piece played a relaxed set of soulful, folk infused country songs, which has never been a genre I’ve particularly enjoyed. However, Immigrant Union were a really fun live ensemble, and the mad friendly atmosphere in the band room was highly enjoyable.

Their music is the classic story telling style of songs that is reminiscent of Neil Young and Bob Dylan. The small crowd that remained to watch the hour of laid back tunes were all up and grooving along on the dance floor. DeBoer and Harrow are pleasant front men with a lively presence, and having never seen DeBoer away from the drums it was nice to discover that he has a decent singing voice. If you enjoy a bit of alt. country than head along to the Tote next Thursday and check out Immigrant Union on their last night of residency.

Their live show brought back heavy youthful nostalgia of lazy summer days, knocking back beers and being silly with mates. The warmth of the music made the night a very pleasant one.

Brent DeBoer, Immigrant Union