Five Australian acts for ten bucks? Wait, wait, there's gotta be a catch, yeah? It's the beer! The prices have been jacked up to catastrophic levels, limiting the budget. Please, no, not the beer! Wait, it's not the beer? Back up, pal, tell me what it is. Oh, listen? You want me to listen? Oh, yeah, there's the catch. It's the first band on. They don't wanna be here. Hey, they've said as much with a coolness that fails. I mean, I can buy onstage coolness but you have to match that coolness with sound. I won't name them. But they did mention that it was 'waaaaaaaay too early to be playing at this hour' and I guess, with that, there's no need to bring any semblance of an A-game. I'll leave them with the title FBO (First Band On). Thing is, these guys supposedly have a history of chops... so, what's the deal here? The takeaway, however, was a very enthusiastic bassist... one positioned between two guitars, his back mostly to audience as he powered on (maybe he truly wanted to be transported to a different band?). Okay-ish sound, work-to-do vocals. The second band on, Sweater Season, were incredibly earnest. You truly have to give credit to a band that gets up, appreciates being there and plays. Like FBO, it was a case of duel vocalists and a centre-placed enthusiastic bassist. Sweater Season... they've got some way to go, but they played with heart and honesty. They rose to the occasion, playing for the audience and smiling at a few onstage mistakes. And I smiled away, too.
So, it's really four bands for ten bucks. But, seriously, with the likes of the following I'd easily fork over twenty bucks and sacrifice a beer (I did say 'a' beer. Although, to be honest, it was a trade between a friend and I. He bought the heavy haul of beers, I gave him cigarettes. Thanks, Josh!). First up, Adelaide three-piece Sincerley, Grizzly (comma included). Thoughtful rock. Frontman Joshua Callingeros is obviously a perfectionist, evident by his polite calls to the sound desk and the frustration on his face when things weren't just right. And you have to admire that shy-ish commitment to sound. The band powered along, voice up to par as they turned pages on varied sound. Great drumwork, too.
From studied concentration to wide-eyed enthusiasm. Enter The Pretty Littles. If Sincerely, Grizzly were the shook up can of Coke, then The Pretty Littles were that very can on opening. Frontman Jack didn't hold back, he was a whole bag of fun, engaging the audience with tales of nan... back and forthing, keeping himself in check with improv that would make a local comic envious. Musically, The Pretty Littles are more than just frontman wit, they're a powerhouse of pop/rock/punk energy. Yes, it's Jack on show... his poor guitar tortured in the moment, casually thrown around to the point of genuine concern (hey, a guitar has feelings, too... it does!). But, yeah, where was I... yeah, it's more than just Jack on show. It's the whole deal, the whole band. And they nailed it. The Pretty Littles were milking the ten dollar cover charge for all its worth, proving that some bands don't treat a gig as a time and date... they treat it as the only time and date. The same can be said about Sincerely, Grizzly... who, as mentioned, delivered in their own special way. I want to see more of The Pretty Littles. Live is where it's at. Yep, again with Jack... it was a natural Iggy Pop-lite sort of frenzy, one that sold the gig. I haven't seen that sort of visual energy and commitment from a frontman in a few months. Yep, it's all down to personalities... not every frontman is going to dominate a stage, but it sure was a welcome sight. Standout track - 'Noobie'.
Maybe Ceres were biting their nails while The Pretty Littles were on. Maybe... who knows? Another tough act to follow. Even they admitted that the awesomeness that just was was playing a little on the mind. But, hey, that's the way things unfold. And this is where it was at. The community-like acknowledgment to the previous band, some shared crossover jokes that expanded into a tale about canine friendliness and dog-like nipples.... whoa, I hope you're not losing me. But it was the tale (tail?) of the moment (I'm sure lead singer Tom would be happy to display said nipples on request). Anyway, the music? Yes, the music! I don't know what it is with the Melbourne scene, but these guys were on the money. Alternative rock. A little folksy here and there? Sure. And there was an honesty in tunes like 'I Feel Fine, I Feel Sick' that never met with cringe. A nice slow start that burst into some head-nodding pop/rock. The solo encore was a beautiful touch... short, sweet and an unexpected thank you.
So, there you go. The sting of FBO long gone. Four Australian bands for ten bucks? One band with promise and three that I'd gladly pay more to see.
Written by D.L. Bugeja
CERES | FACTORY FLOOR | 10.7.15
Photographer: Joshua Pike
Featuring: The Pretty Littles, Sincerely Grizzly, Sweater Season & Burners.