Tonight would be a night of some mystical and magical music, a chance to be immersed in the wild and occasionally wacky sounds that some of Australia’s indie pop folk have to offer. Tonight would be the launch for Dan Kelly’s new single “Melbourne VS Sydney” and coincidentally his main support Richard in Your Mind are Sydney locals, whilst he himself is based in Melbourne. Whether this was on purpose or coincidental either way, the audience was in for an interesting night.
The lads from Richard In Your Mind are an interesting looking bunch; lots of facial hair, quirky instruments (well a sitar at least) and a makeshift shrine to one of their band mates, who happened to be in Queensland and they assured us that he wasn’t dead. I’m not entirely sure why they had the shrine, but it was amusing nonetheless. Their music is just as quirky as their onstage appearance and antics, treading somewhere along the lines of 60’s style trippy psychedelic pop with some slight indie folk tendencies. Their latest record Ponderosa has just been released, so we were treated to a bunch of tracks off that for the majority of their set. Including “Love Grows” and also their current single, “Hammered”. These guys remind me of The Shins, if they had time-travelled back to the 60’s and dropped some recreational drugs and they were a seamless lead in to our headliner.
After a half hour interval the curtains are pulled back and Dan Kelly, a darling of the Australian music scene, comes out. A troubadour with a penchant for penning tunes that are more like dreamy stories than songs, of course in true fantasy style, it’s “Dan Kelly’s Dream” to start the evening off. With its rolling throbbing bass lines and ‘do do dooos’ from the backing singers, our journey into Kelly’s unique song writing begins. The stage is decked out with an inflatable palm tree, faux flower vines wrapped around the mic stands and fairy light tubes draped all over the place.
His promise to make it a tropical island imaginary getaway is pretty amusing in a kitsch way but it’s his music with the assistance of The Dream Band that captivates us. Surprisingly, we get a few brand new tracks in the set, including “Crème De La Crème De La Crème”, which Kelly tells us was written loosely about a mate who had a thing for Sarah McLeod of The Superjesus, as well as another new track titled “On The Run”. The single he was launching tonight, “Melbourne VS Sydney”, even came with a pair of hardcore Kelly fans with their own custom t-shirts and I’m pretty sure that when you have fans making their own shirts, you’ve officially made it. However it was old favourites like “I Will Release Myself Unto You” and the seemingly timeless “Drunk On Election Night” that had the crowd swooning and swaying. The latter of course seems fitting given our current state of political affairs and nobody delivers the lyrics ‘cocksucker motherfucker’ as sweetly as Kelly.
Part of his onstage charm stems from his awkward banter, like when he goes to play the wrong song in the set order and gets promptly corrected by bassist Indra Adams. Or when he talks about how the song “Bindi Irwin Apocalypse Jam” came about, but he’s very adamant that Terri Irwin was ever present in the dream as chaperone. After an awkward stage exit and ever so brief interlude, we’re treated to “The Decommissioner” as his set closer, and all the whiny noises and reverb and crazy sounds interspersed with his crooning sweet vocals is his trademark.
Dan Kelly’s Dream Band manage to consistently entertain and delight whenever they play, their irreverence and unique musical style stemming from Kelly’s endearingly awkward and odd persona. It’s been a while between shows for Kelly, particularly in Sydney, here’s hoping his Melbourne VS Sydney rivalry doesn’t keep him away from our city again for too long.