City Calm Down have maintained somewhat of an air of mystery around them in recent years. Having spent quite a bit of time away working solidly on their debut album, In a Restless House, the Melbourne band have still managed to cultivate and maintain a strong fan base within the local scene and following on from an impressive few live shows in Sydney and Melbourne recently, not to mention a well-received BIGSOUND run, it’s finally time for City Calm Down to step out from behind the curtain and into the spotlight – the fans and the stages are ready.
Their national tour kicked off last week with two shows in Melbourne, before coming to Rocket Bar in Adelaide on Friday night. The gig, sold out on show night, boasted four bands including the headliner, a well curated event that took the usual Friday night vibes at the rooftop venue (read: club bangers) to indie band-heavy territory.
Punters rocked up early for this one and even better, a good number remained in the band room instead of dashing upstairs for the rooftop bar, opting to check out the support bands. In Blush Response and The Rememberz, local Adelaide music fans would recognise some of the city’s well-regarded and popular musos. Blush Response had recently supported the awesome Flyying Colours the weekend previous, tapping into some great shoegaze for the event down at the Crown and Anchor Hotel. Bringing these vibes up to the Hindley Street end of Adelaide was no biggie for the four-piece, doling out some great music that fit really well with the line-up of bands still to follow. I’m surprised they don’t hold a higher profile at present, but give these guys another year or so and I’d say their name will be reaching more and more people outside SA.
Jason Mannix and Melissah Marie, The Rememberz, bring a cool retro rock sound to Rocket, the second of the two Adelaide-born supports up on the bill. Having relocated to Sydney recently, the duo are still very much an Adelaide band and have continued to build their name and sound around their origins, even if they don’t live in SA anymore. Their live presence is fleshed out with live drums and an extra guitar/clarinet element supplied by Dave Blumbergs, taking some great lyricism and guitar/bass arrangements up another level. For relatively new band still developing their own style, The Rememberz are definitely one to…well you know the pun I’m going for here.
I haven’t seen Foreign/National since they were in town with The Jungle Giants at the Adelaide Unibar, so being able to see the Melbourne band in a far more confined space was an opportunity I was happy to have come across. The melodies and rhythm sections contained in some sharp hazy-indie pop tunes are infectious and the listener would be hard stretched to imagine the band becoming a steadfast feature on many summer playlists in a few months. Collectively, the band’s dynamic is tighter than I remembered at the last show, working well as an ensemble that knows each other’s strengths, Foreign/National played well on them and delivered a great set. Why the band hasn’t had more backing from triple j in recent months is beyond me, but hopefully this changes soon.
By the time City Calm Down made their way to the stage, the band room had packed out impressively and upstairs’ bar remained at capacity, a large line of punters queuing snaking around the back of the venue. The dimmed blue lights shining on the stage were perfectly illuminating the smoke wisps twisting and filling the air. The band, donned head to toe in black, immediately made their presence known as they emerged to much applause. Much has been made of the emotional depth City Calm Down have injected into the new material we’ve heard; there have been comparisons made between Jack Bourke and Matt Berninger of The National in terms of vocal quality and haunting lyricism, while the band’s current aesthetic screamed Joy Division and the darker side of The Killers. Their set at Rocket Bar reflected all of the above, but there wasn’t any way you could apply a ‘lazy schtick’ label to the band. A well-oiled live unit, City Calm Down knew exactly what they were doing and clearly showed that they know exactly how they want their music to be delivered.
The set was extensive and carried well over the 1am mark, but the crowd didn’t seem to care. It’s always going to be a task to maintain crowd interest in a venue and at a show set up like this, but the headliners did well in keeping the audience fixated on the music. The electro and indie influences rippling through City Calm Down’s music are flecked with charismatic, dark flair which is entincing to the listener and seeing the projection of the yearning, passionate emotional facets of some of their songs in a live capacity has further solidified the opinion I held of the band prior to their show on Friday night: City Calm Down are on the verge of taking this Australian-bred thread of indie to a new territory. In a Restless House has a lot of hype around it, but I’m confident it’ll meet expectations.
City Calm Down play the following cities:
Sydney – Newtown Social Club – October 16th | SOLD OUT
Brisbane – Black Bear Lodge – October 30th | www.citycalmdown.com
In a Restless House is out November 6th.