Held at the Seaworks Maritime Precinct in Williamstown, the Melbourne skyline veiled in a cloud of smog and the moored Sea Shepherd provided an interesting backdrop to the day’s events.
Spread out over three stages, there was something admirably DIY about having these indie bands set up in the shipping warehouse, however all of the acts suffered from the sort of sound quality you could expect from erecting a PA in a giant tin shed.
Melbourne’s Apes sounded great on the big stage with their big riffs, long tom rolls and Steve Tyler-ish raspy vocals. Maybe it was the early time slot but they felt a little reserved, I imagine they would be a lot of fun when they get a chance to get a bit looser and wilder.
After solid sets by Damn Terran and Palms, The Ocean Party broke up the vibe a little their take on Australian guitar pop. Even though the lead vocals were shared equally among the five-piece, the sound was consistent, and they managed to be upbeat without being twee, their clean guitar jangle balanced with a dreamy synth.
Jeremy Neale provided one of the afternoon’s highlights as he managed to uniquely blend elements of the Brisbane punk sound with a smoother indie-pop feel, some songs going more one way than the other. Capable when both screeching and crooning, Neale is also a natural frontman, and even though the crowd wasn’t large, by the time he hit set closer In Stranger Times he had them singing and dancing along.
Drunk Mums were OK. Their bogan-punk shtick felt a little one dimensional, which is not a problem by itself but when it felt forced it made me wish I was seeing the pub rock bands from the ‘80s they are aping, (hello Cosmic Psychos).
Harmony played a solid set and probably had the best sound of the night due to the basic nature of their instrumentation and lack of effects. Their dramatic use of the quiet/loud dynamic, while effective, made the songs feel pretty similar and the beauty versus brutality idea of having the female vocal trio involved worked most of the time, but also felt like two separate bands at points.
Having appeared earlier as part of multi-armed behemoth Velociraptor, DZ Deathrays’ own set was the antithesis of that wall of guitar sound, with just the two instruments of drums and guitar mixed loud and heavy. Extra interest was added along the way with vocal and guitar effects, plus a second guitarist, but it was mainly down to the chemistry between Shane Parsons and Simon Ridley that makes them an exceptional band. Renowned for being a reliably great live act, the duo were the obvious headliners and did not disappoint.