Last Dinosaurs, Millions, Griswolds @ Transit Bar, Canberra (22/04/12)

After a couple of tequila shots, first support – Sydney quintent The Griswolds – commenced their heavy guitar/drum act. Lead singer Chris Whitehall (looking a little like Jay Mewes, cap and all) dabbled in percussion and tambourine to accompany the already drum-laden band, featuring a multi-talented guitarist on drums and keyboard. Their self-professed romantic ballad about losing your virginity in the back of a car drew a few laughs amid the applause. Their thumping beats, especially on Crazy , followed by their happy new single Mississippi and then Heart on The Line, had the early crowd primed. All in all, The Griswolds provided a decent, highly animated support. And great shirts.

Shortly after, four-piece Brisbane band Millions took the stage with a combination of 50’s beach, 60’s psychedelia and 90’s grunge. Within minutes, the much darker sounding band had the growing crowd (including members of the The Griswolds and apparently their “number one fan and stalker, all the way from Brisbane”) on their feet and surging towards the stage. With their rolling drum beat and jangly guitars, songs included their debut Those Girls, and a few songs segueing seamlessly one into the other. Just as the party atmosphere rose with a crescendo of crashing beats, Millions caught the crowd off-guard with a brooding, slower selection without losing any momentum. As if to emphasise their 50’s sound, they played a rich and fulsome cover of The Ronette’s Be My Baby to the increasingly excited crowd. Current single Slow Burner was played to heartening applause and their last song, the guitar/drum heavy Guru, was a definite crowd pleaser. Millions were an appropriate support and did a great job in preparing the crowd for the main act. If you like your indie music a little retro, Millions will appeal. Keep an eye out for their EP to be released later in the year.

At exactly 8.15pm, indie darlings Last Dinosaurs came on stage to the applause of the sold-out crowd. Hailing from Brisbane, the four-piece band opened with their signature guitar riffs, followed by lively favourite Time and Space, in praise of inventor Nikola Tesla (surprisingly, not the first song I’ve heard in the last few months with Tesla as its subject, with Amanda Palmer’s side project 8in8 penning a little ditty in his honour late last year); a bouncy number despite its potentially heavy subject matter. In fact, a fair number of songs from their new album In a Million Years touch on fairly dense topics. Themes cover the novelty and transience of youth and fickle relationships, as well as the constant search for meaning, and all are dealt with extreme brightness.

The young band – Sean Caskey (vocals/guitar), brother Lachlan (guitar), Sam Gethin-Jones (bass) and Dan Koyoma (drums) – has an obvious talent for making seemingly dark and sombre songs light and carefree. If you weren’t listening carefully, you’d never know how close you are to verging on the introspective. In much the same way, 21 year old Sean is striking with a maturity and vocal talent that belies his years.

Brimming with substance, theirs is a style of music that easily lends itself to audience participation. A little Beirut, a little Vampire Weekend, with their melodic beats and accompanying complimentary harmonies, Last Dinosaurs had the passionate crowd singing and dancing. The impressive and soon-to-be-released single Andy, described by Sean himself as “heavier but dancier”, had the crowd mesmerised and even made the normally die-hard Sunday Transit pool players stop and listen.

Covers included a catchy medley of Modjo’s Lady (Hear Me Tonight) and Spiller feat Sophie Ellis-Bextor’sGroovejet (If This Ain’t Love), conjoined to the immense pleasure of the audience, which Sean described as the best crowd of the tour so far. Honolulu, their ode to love, loss and yearning (a juxtaposition of cheery style and melancholy substance), provided the penultimate song before arriving at the ever popular Zoom to end the gig to the massive delight of the air-punching crowd.

With Last Dinosaurs’ strong, vibrant tunes, expressive lyrics, tight camaraderie and dynamic guitar work, this turned out to be a quality and professional gig. The buzz created by the band continued into the night as they hung around to sign autographs, take photos and chat to die-hard fans alongside the Sunday regulars.