Rob Roy Hotel, Melbourne
Saturday, October 29, 2005

The only thing that kept me going through a particularly stressful week at my 'real' job was the prospect of four bands playing a sonic amalgam of honest garage and rock down the road from my place of abode.

We arrived around 10pm, in time to see the latter half of the Indian Givers' set. I haven't caught this band before now – despite seeing their name listed frequently in gig guides – but (unless they break up in the next month) I'll certainly be checking them out again. Their brand of rock seemed to be the sincere ' 60s garage style, when guitars were slung over the shoulder and earnest attitudes to sound dominated over corporate-sponsored enthusiasm.

Next up were local outfit The Naked Eye. The Naked Eye feature Jimmy Heat, Onetime bass player in the best line-up of The Casanovas (the Keep It Hot EP remains a genuine favourite of mine), and Scott Anderson (featured recently at the Bar talking about his Alternative Animals CD-ROM project) on guitar and vocals. The band is a favourite of the Holy Curse – bass player Vince was seen loitering in the front of the crowd taking in the rock'n'roll vibes. I haven't heard the new album (which was available at the back of the pub) but there was enough to compel a listen in the future. Anderson's rock'n'roll theatrics some part into the set might've been construed as hystrionics, but maybe that was just me. Quote of the night goes to the guy behind me who called out (tongue firmly in cheek) "Play something that's not fucked!"

The Lords of Gravity album is definitely one of my favourites for 2005. If I didn't know better (and maybe I don't) it'd pass for a vintage release. The sound is so authentic 1965 it comes across in black and white (with occasional purple blotches when the pills attack your brain). There was a school of thought going around late in the night that either the Naked Eye or the Lords could've easily headlined this gig – I'm not sure about the former, but I'd concur on the latter. Not a note out of place, Evan Miller jumping around like a excited school kid, Ian Wettenhall putting his great songwriting prowess into practice, new guitarist Chris (fittingly from Adelaide, arguably the spiritual home for the band's 1960s sound) refusing to put a foot wrong and Mickster hammering away in his inimitable manner. There was a debate going around on the Mess + Noise forum recently about the best garage band in Australia at the present time – if it's not the Lords, they must certainly be strong contenders.

The Holy Curse were last band on, fittingly. It's unfortunate that Australian audiences haven't had the opportunity to see the twin guitar attack 'cause it would've been a very nice treat. As has been noted ad nauseum Australia is the Holy Curse's natural destination. There's more than a nod to Birdman and the New Christs in the sound and the songwriting; lead singer Eric (donning sunglasses in a move that warranted comparisons with Mick Collins) is not the manic-jumping around sort of performer, or the slightly threatening/disconcerting style of someone like the brilliant Rob Younger. But his voice does everything it needs to get the message across. Bass player Vince has an uncanny resemblance to either UK comedian Ross Noble or former Central Districts and Hawthorn rover John Platten – neither of whom can play bass like this guy. On left of stage "Sonic" Polo did his absolute best to produce a robust sound, but may have been let down by the venue acoustics (which, while not quite as unforgiving as the Ding Dong Lounge, are certainly not giving any favours to the bands playing there). Gooloo (where does that name come from?) kept the beat going in true rock fashion. Given the band's first foray into surfing while in Sydney a few days earlier it was appropriate that they played "Let's Go Surfing" early in the set (and if you're wondering how a band with no surfing experience has a song about surfing, just look to Brian Wilson).

The set concluded with "Superfortress" seguing into "I Wanna Be Your Dog" before a rousing rendition of City Slang. The audience reaction was – to the surprise of some – quite enigmatic, probably in keeping with the reputation of Melbourne audiences.

I had hoped to get to the band's final Melbourne gig on Halloween at the Tote, but circumstances (namely a nasty head cold) conspired to prevent me from getting there. Hopefully the band has enjoyed its time down under, and is inclined to return again to our humble shores. - Patrick Emery