Khancoban, Matt McBeath @ The Front, Canberra (27/8/2011)

If you want to see a band in a mellow atmosphere, go to The Front. If you want to see an equally mellow band play a delightful set of calming tunes mixed in with some rock and roll, check out Khancoban.

The five-piece from Melbourne let us into their melodic world last night, prompting the intimate crowd to tap the polished wooden floors of one of Lyneham’s favourite live music destinations while sipping apple ciders as Khancoban plugged their new album Arches Over The Sun.

First up however, we were treated to the soulful and emotional lyrics of support act Matt McBeath, who spoke to the audience in between his acoustic set, amping the personal atmosphere tenfold. It was just his voice and occasionally a harmonica or a random sleigh bell, but McBeath had our full attention as he took us through his sometimes instrumental, other times personal set of slow-turning tunes. His set was over as soon as it had begun, with the crowd yelling for “One more, one more!”

“I don’t think there is any more,” McBeath laughed, as he began to pack up his gear.

Then with the calm and relaxed behaviour that was testament to Khancoban’s laidback tunes, Andre, Jemima, Lucas, Andrew and Jim assembled their equipment before flowing into the set with ease and obvious talent. Lead man Andre Hooke explained that the band had left their home town of Melbourne for the bright lights of Sydney on Thursday as they made their way to Canberra the morning of their gig, before turning back around and heading home the next day. Well, their expected lack of sleep didn’t take away from their peaceful set, with slower tunes mixed in with more upbeat and lively numbers as drummer Jemima Hooke changed her drumsticks umpteen times to capture the right sound. *Khancoban reminded me of Augie March, something they’ve probably heard countless times before.

The atmosphere at The Front was relaxed, with couples cuddling on the couch, a lone man sipping a Budweiser, a group of friends chatting in the corner and two children playing Connect Four. But the band didn’t mind the distraction, they bounced off it, taking the time to chat to the crowd asking us for our opinion on their levels.

“Is the keyboard too loud?” Hooke asked.

“Yes!” We chanted back.

“What about my mic?”

And so it continued. The stage wasn’t all that big, but that didn’t stop Hooke from swirling around, catching his guitar’s lead on a snare drum every now and then with a helpful audience member untangling him before he would twirl again. I lost count, but I believe he broke around three strings on the night, having to borrow McBeath’s acoustic guitar to end the set. What musical camaraderie!

Khancoban’s set ended well into the night and to the cheers of all who braved the chilly Canberra air to mingle with the friendly Front staff, the lively puppy who always seems to be chillin’ out the front and of course, each other.

As always, nothing brings people together like live music.