This might come as a shock to you, but I’m not a fan of The Drones. I mean, it’s not like I share the same passionate dislike for them as I do for Justin Bieber or One Direction or even the mild dislike that I have for 1990s Metallica or Linkin Park, it’s just that somehow their music has totally passed me by. I’ve been aware of them for a long time but not once, since their debut release in 2001, have I been compelled to see a show, watch a video or pick up one of their albums – not even 2005’s Australian Music Prize winning Wait Long by the River and the Bodies of Your Enemies Will Float By. I’m really struggling to work out how or why The Drones remained well out of my scope and, after Friday night’s show, I’m really disappointed that it’s taken me this long to discover them.

Support band Harmony played a very divisive set, their brooding downer rock clearly not what everyone was looking for to kick off their Friday night. Their music shifts regularly from softly downbeat to aggressively hopeless, with Tom Lyngcoln’s vocals moving with it peaking with unbridled angst. I, along with a lot of the crowd, found myself confused by their many time signature and tempo changes, struggling to keep up for the majority of the set. The vocal trio of Amanda Roff, Quinn Veldhuis and Erica Dunn used their gospel harmonies to add an ironic sense of hope to the bleak sounds that Lyngcoln, Alex Kastaniotis and Jon Chapple produced. One thing I do know, I’ve not heard anything quite like it before.

Gareth Liddiard greeted the crowd with a simple “Hey” before The Drones began their set with the gloriously macabre opus, ‘I See Seaweed’ from their latest album of the same name. The 9 minute song probably would have gone straight into ‘How To See Through Fog’ had Liddiard not had new strings on his guitar and needed to tune between almost every song, something he apologised for later on. By the fourth track ‘Baby2’ the crowd were well and truly involved, and obviously pleased to hear something off Wait Long By The River… although, someone desperately wanted to hear Bon Jovi’s ‘Dead or Alive’, calling out for it in almost every break.

After ‘Nine Eyes’, while Liddiard was tuning up for the 6th time, Dan Luscombe asked the crowd who was winning the footy declaring “It’s a good result for Australia if the Cats won.” He and Liddiard then joked about taking requests, and claimed to have heard someone request ‘Shark Fin Blues’ which was next on the setlist. Another break to tune up meant the Bon Jovi fan had another chance to call for ‘Dead or Alive’ which Liddiard and Luscombe joked about before playing an impromptu version of the song. Mike Noga and Steve Hesketh joined in and before long, Fiona Kitschin had reluctantly started playing as well. They ended after the chorus and then declared “That never happened.” before playing ‘Laika’. They closed the set with ‘The Downbound Train’, off their debut album Here Come The Lies, before returning for an encore of ‘Why Write a Letter You’ll Never Send’ featuring backing vocals by Roff, Veldhuis and Dunn from Harmony, then inviting Kastaniotis and Lyngcoln out to play a rousing version of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Diamonds in the Mine’. The show was fantastic and I now know why these guys have such a dedicated following.

Wes Fahey

FULL GALLERY HERE

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