Cries of guitar bands going the way of the pterodactyls may be a bit premature as long as Australian groups like Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are flitting about. Steeped in the rich tradition of six string slingers like Belle & Sebastian or Teenage Fanclub, they also have taken studious notes from seminal bands closer to their environs. I can’t imagine they don’t have handfuls of records from Flying Nun in their collective possession and certainly Australian bands such as The Go-Betweens, Died Pretty and The Church must have made an impression on them.
The band has issued two records since they last played town, and made short work of showcasing the best from their most recent one, Endless Rooms. I hope that “Bounce Of The Bottom” and “Dive Deep” aren’t two songs from the same experiences but no one was wearing a neck brace so I think it’s safe to assume it was a safe entry and exit from the water. “The Way It Shatters” had Joe White augment the sound with occasional keyboard but for the most part they kept an infectiously bouncing and upbeat sound going the whole night, fueled by their guitars. (And it’s refreshing to see that they are not the only ones; their corner of the globe contemporaries such as Possible Humans, Wurld Series, Dick Diver, Salad Boys, Scott and Charlene’s Wedding and (sadly recently RIP) The Goon Sax burn that same flame).
A side effect (or perhaps a cause?) of this kinetic storm was their constant movement around the stage, like a pack of cyclists in an echelon, each one in motion and ready to lead the pack. Fran Keany’s acoustic guitar provided a strong rhythm for White and Tom Russo to play off each other, swapping leads back and forth and they all contributed vocals as well, sometimes splitting lead duties in the same song. Speaking of rhythm, the combo of Tom’s brother Joe on bass and Marcel Tussie in the drum seat is one of the more nimble and propulsive ones around. So powerful at times that Russo broke not one but two bass strings, the kind that you can usually tie to a pickup truck hitch and pull stumps from the ground. Luckily Dropper lent him a bass after the second incident and it kept intact.
Catchy melody after melody cascaded from the stage, “Falling Thunder” and “Mainland” and “Cars In Space” (Fran mentioned that the song was about breaking up at a drive-in movie) kept the earworms wriggling out of the PA and directly down your ear canal and there’s a good chance they are still residing there, distant echoes still ricocheting around crania. And if there’s a candidate for the earworm with the longest half-life “French Press” is the clear answer, the closer song that just doesn’t quit; it’s no exaggeration to say I’ve listened to that song as much as any other in the last five or so years.
Dropper hail from NYC (you can tell a band is from Brooklyn when they bring a tour photographer who uses a medium format film camera and a Polaroid) and are led by the spunky and Berklee-rejectee Andrea Scanniello. It was a little hard to pin down their sound, which is a good thing. Clad in all pink, Scanniello made some small talk in a weirdly southern accent, played her guitar exceedingly well (your loss, Berklee) and led the quintet through their paces. Flanking the stage were the lead guitarist and a keyboard player, with Jono Bernstein and Yukary Morishima providing the rhythm. Hints of Sharon Van Etten could be heard here and there, even a little of ’90s obscurity/slowcore band Fuck was present. “Drive Thru Jesus” had the most caustic spit and bile of the night, and hit all the right spots. One to watch.
Locals Pushflowers got the night rolling, with friendly faces in the crowd giving them encouragement along the way. The band clearly had Rocio Del Mar and Justine Defeo as leaders, and the two used their guitars for an unlikely mix of Polvo-esque smeared guitar with flecks of Pavement, occasionally swerving over to the other lane of 80s pop melodies.