The Protectors, Dead Actors Club @ The Prince Band Room, Melbourne (27/08/09)

The second Brown Paper Bag was opened by Melbourne indie kids Barefoot Days, with their soft-rock tunes. The next band up, The Box Rockets were nothing overly original, but something about their dirty, grungey rock must have hit a chord with the crowd. Although they were the second of six bands, they actually garnered the largest crowd of dancing fans.

Uber-hipsters Neon Love were a delight onstage. Nipuna Jayasekera’s performance was like watching Prince have a super-hot tantrum onstage with his arms flailing everywhere, sexy vocals and a ridiculously tight pair of pants. Other lead singer Jack Craven’s grungier and dirtier vocal stylings were complete different to Nipuna’s, but still suited their sound to a tee. The most curious thing about Neon Love was their jeans – they were so tight they surely should be written off as a health hazard.

Alba Varden were the absolute highlight of the night. They sounded like indie-electro-pop-rock all mashed together deliciously, and their rather dapper singer Daniel Zampaglione was dressed just like Frank Zappa. The only odd thing was that their bassist had his instrument slung up to his armpits that it actually looked really uncomfortable to play. Every song they played was a gem, but the highlight of their set was the Reelax, a crazily energetic, catchy track featured Daniel’s fantastically monotone vocals. Think Dukes of Windsor’s The Others or The Presets’ Are You The One? but a little less like what you’d hear in a night club.

Dead Actors Club were not particularly interesting. They provided fantastic tunes, via bassist Justin’s steady vocals, good drumming, solid guitar work and all round catchy rock songs. The only thing was there was no personal connection. Perhaps it was the lack of people at the Prince band room (and the fact that a large number of the crowd were more interested in smoking on the balcony), but there were hardly any people actually watching Dead Actors Club onstage. The overall vibe was like watching a good gig on the TV, where you can tell they are a good band yet can’t quite get into their performance.

The Protectors may not be famous yet, but they certainly act like rock stars on stage. In typical rock ‘n roll fashion, the long-haired musos thrashed about wildly onstage, spilled booze everywhere, screamed and swore at the audience, and even had a few scantily clad female fans (groupies, perhaps?) dancing at the side of the stage. Punters had to be careful to not get too close to the stage as singer and guitarist Pete Stals was spitting left, right and centre.

It also appeared that the young crowd at the Prince bandroom were not particularly clued in on music history. ‘This song is by Nirvana. Who here knows Nirvana?’ asked Pete as a couple of hands shot up in the air. ‘One, two, three, four, five? Only five of you know Nirvana?!? I’ll guarantee that more of you will recognise this song.’ The Protectors then absolutely massacred a Nirvana song. Sloshy, messy guitar work and indecipherable singing made it impossible to figure out which track by the gods of grunge they were performing. True, Kurt Cobain never really enunciated his words but we could at least understand what he was saying. Apart from that one indiscretion, the Sydney band nearly ripped up the Prince band room stage with their grungey rock with just a tinge of hair metal.