As soon as I enter the Melbourne Zoo grounds it’s clear: this is going to be one of the cruisiest concerts I’ve ever attended.

The lawn that’s been allocated for the Zoo Twilights concert series is lined with blankets. Other guests have brought folding chairs and many brought picnic baskets filled with goodies. Around me I see elaborate cheese and antipasto platters, bottles of wine, eskies with iced cans and one group even brought a small tank with homemade sangria. This crowd came well-prepared for this special concert. The atmosphere is buzzing. Bring out the lions. Um, I mean bands.

Before the opening band kicks off, a voice from the speakers reminds the crowd that it’s “okay to get up and dance” during the performance. This is largely ignored through Last Dinosaurs‘ set. The Brisbane four-piece open with ‘Zoom’, the catchy opening track off their 2012 album ‘In A Million Years’. The band plays a solid set, cracking a few barely-audible jokes in between songs. Perhaps the low volume is the reason for the crowd’s passive posture. I suppose the meerkats behind us can’t be disturbed though. Last Dinosaur’s track ‘Apollo’ does get a small handful of people up from their blanket and dancing, but soon it’s time for them to leave the stage.

A short video is played about the eastern barred bandicoot, the creature we apparently all came together to save from extinction tonight. And then San Cisco set the stage, and the atmosphere at the zoo is transformed. People instantly drop their crackers and cheese to jump up and wave their arms in the air to hits like ‘Fred Astaire’, ‘Magic’ and ‘Beach’. And as I make my own way to the front, it’s apparent there’s a solid – mostly female – fan base present tonight, swooning over wavy-haired frontman Jordi Davieson’s moves and idolising San Cisco’s cool gal drummer/singer Scarlett Stevens.

San Cisco plays a bunch of songs from last years’ release Gracetown, including slow jam Super Slow, for which Stevens gets out from behind her drums and joins the band at the front of the stage – barefoot. The song doesn’t deliver as much punch as their more upbeat songs, but soon San Cisco gets back into the swing of things. It becomes apparent though, that there’s an old favourite some people in the crowd are particularly keen to hear tonight. People start chanting “Play ‘Reckless'” in between songs. The crowd is disappointed when Davieson replies they won’t be playing their request tonight: “We haven’t played that song in years.”

The chant continues after the next song – awkward – but the band powers on until leaving the stage after the last song of the night. Davieson returns for a solo encore, playing ‘Skool’, a ballad with a high puppy love factor. The band closes the night with their groovy hit ‘RUN’, leaving everyone on a high. As I leave the zoo, there’s still a lot of excitement in the air, and I overhear one girl dramatically saying “I fell in love tonight!”. I can’t imagine a more powerful concert experience than that.

Tanya Timmers

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