Boomgates @ Evelyn Rooftop, Melbourne (15/12/2012)
Despite the afternoon’s proceedings being set back by over an hour and with the sun still high in the sky, Melbourne’s mild-mannered masses climbed up some rickety back steps to what can only be described as a tiny bit of low rise paradise: The rooftop of enduring Fitzroy venue The Evelyn.
Sydney-siders Camperdown and Out have received rave reviews from Boomgates’ Rick Milovanovic and they’re well-deserved. With a member of Royal Headache floating in their midst, they somehow perfectly match the whimsy of something Steve Malkmus might now produce with The Jicks, with the rawness of what he once was doing with Pavement.
It’s hard to look past lead singer Nathan Roche’s mesmerisingly beautiful Danelectro, but, as with many other bands of their ilk, their unassuming, rather gracious stage presence is more than perfectly suited to lazing on a sunny afternoon. In the summertime. On a rooftop. (It’s more than appreciated when a band allows you to live out a Kinks song at a gig.) Perhaps their only folly is their distinctly “Melbourne” sound – despite actually being from Sydney. You know, The Melbourne Jangle (think Twerps, Scott & Charlene’s Wedding, The Stevens).
Speaking of jangle, headliners Boomgates are always a pleasure on stage for the same reasons. I was keen to see them outside of the blissful bubble of unicorns and rainbows that is the Meredith Music Festival, which they played a week earlier. The best part about this band is that they take us back to an Aus-pop heyday where The Go-Betweens and The Triffids reigned.
Melbourne adores most things Eddy Current Suppression Ring singer Brendan Huntley does, but having watched the band’s guitarist perform in various outfits across various instruments – from Love Is Science Fiction to Dick Diver – it’s her guitar playing that I’m most drawn to. The simple open chords with two- or three-note licks that she creates over the top of a driving backend compliment the urgency of what the rest of the band is concocting. It’s a similar effect when she sings, too. Her sweet vocal interjections add light to the whole operation. That was most evident during ‘Flood Plains’ off their latest LP Double Negative, turning what is lyrically quite a melancholic track into something incongruently whimsical.
Most of the set consisted of new stuff, and despite several requests from the audience, there was no ‘Bright Idea’ – an oldie off their first 7”. Set closer ‘Whispering or Singing’ stepped it up a notch and was a clear audience favourite: The summer ambience melting through the crowd rose another few degrees in sync with its driving pulse.
My one gripe – and yes it’s been said before – is the obvious likeness between these bands, and perhaps it was fortuitous that the line-up consisted of only two. Three, and it’d officially be too much of a good thing. If “jangly” is the theme of the moment (as a punter quite pointedly declared mid-set), I guess I’m just waiting to see who’ll be first to deviate towards whatever’s next.