Live Review: Donnarumma engulf the stage at the Grace Darling Hotel

Springing from Adelaide, high energy four-piece Donnarumma are a total force to be reckoned with. Following the release of their latest single “Rollercoaster” in November, the band are currently in the middle of their six-date tour across the south and east coasts of the country. This week, the Grace Darling Hotel (Collingwood) hosted their Melbourne show, also welcoming to the stage local bands, Holiday Park and Kill The Darling.

Holiday Park demonstrated noise that could have been plucked straight out of the 1960’s; their wavy psychedelic rumble was heavily guitar based and less reliant on vocals. This quality is recognisable in a lot of psych rock music, the focus being more on riding the wave of the instrumental sound than using the classic verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure. As a listener, you lose yourself in the instruments for some time before being propelled back to Earth with the reminder of human presence via the sudden reintroduction of vocals. “Move so Slow” had a severely striking guitar riff that the mind seemed to naturally absorb, reminiscent of King Gizzard‘s style. The group did appear somewhat nervous throughout their performance which unfortunately often translates as boredom on stage, though despite this, I suppose their catchy hooks and distorted underground sound made up for it.

Fortunately, Donnarumma devoured the stage with the force of a black-hole. Their energy was introduced, unravelled and ceased with a presence that did not falter for one minute. With a heavy electric guitar, hard rock sound, their music punched like an inescapable breath of fresh but grungy air.

Imagine the lovechild of Jeff Buckley and Matt Bellamy, and the birth of lead singer, Louis Donnarumma, would form. His accomplished vocals were the perfect voice for their angsty and apprehensive lyrics, particularly noticeable during their performance of “Alien”. The track completely embodied 90s grunge, “I’d rather talk to my ghost /  My friends don’t know what I’m all about / I’m just an alien”. He embellished the song with otherworldly falsetto howls, showcasing the mesmerising quality of his unique voice.

The boys really did not fail to entertain throughout their performance. Imagine the thrill of a moment on stage when: all instruments silence aside from one solitary guitar and the lead singer who form together to capture a vulnerable, emotive moment. Behind them, the drummer rises from his chair to stretch out his arms and neck. It was as though witnessing the withdrawal of the tide, foreshadowing an oncoming tsunami. You know a drummer means business when they stand up to play, using every muscle in their body to produce every single beat. As the band erupted into the following minutes of electrifying instrumental, the frenzy on stage was definitely the highlight of the set. Closing their slot with latest single and tour title “Rollercoaster”, the song is one so memorable that it still resounds clearly in my head today and likely will for the next 7 years.

Due to a last minute swap, Kill The Darling closed the night with a gorgeous ethereal vibe. Tasha Lloyd‘s (lead singer) silky vocals encompassed a stunning balance of vulnerability and raw power. “Hounds” exposed layers of sultry basslines and playful guitar melodies alongside an almost call-and-response style chorus. The fluidity of the music formed proved the perfect soundtrack for 10PM on a school night.

Supposing Daughter produced an album a little less electronic and a little more punk, I believe it would sound something like Kill The Darling. Often, their lyrical content fell in line with a female empowering, riot grrrl attitude, notably “Peach Pit”, which expressed themes of female sexuality. “I can fuck like a man but you want me to be your fleshy bitch / Take me down to your room / Make your mark in my womb”. The band continued to surprise by taking their punk attitude even further in the final song of their set. Lloyd pulled at her clothes and skin throughout the number, once again impressing us with her vocals in which she became more experimental by screaming and shrieking.

Although the Grace Darling Hotel could really do with airing out the musty upper-floor band-room of the building, supporting local bands in smaller venues is an important and nostalgic ritual than so many of us love to experience. It was the audience who were seemingly lacking enthusiasm (why you would sit on the floor at a rock gig both baffles and offends me), not at all the talented musicians, who were utterly deserving of a larger stage and plumper crowd.



Donnarumma’s Rollercoaster Tour continues with the following dates:

22 February – Heya Bar – Brisbane
23 February – Miami Shark Bar – Gold Coast

Follow Donnarumma on their official website HERE.

The reviewer attended the performance on January 17, 2019.

Ruby Robinson

London-born pom living the Melbournian dream. Gig, rum & travel enthusiast.

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