We rolled into Ding Dong a few minutes before the first set was due to start. The place was already starting to fill up which was good news for Unity Floors, who were billed for the second slot but ended up kicking off the night.

From their first song the crowd starting moving onto the dance floor one at a time. Unity Floors’ brand of glassy garage pop got everyone out of their seats and onto their feet. Splashy cymbals cascaded over solid drumming and soon everyone was really starting to get into the set.

There were shades of the Pixies loud-quiet-loud song structures, even a hint of Frank Black in the vocal delivery, and lead singer  Gus Hunt pushed his Epiphone’s P-90’s to their limit.

The set ended with Gus drenched in beer, and Unity Floors best take on a feedback laden White Stripes style riff, which was fitting since they play with only a drummer and guitarist.

About 9:45, Terrible Truths stepped up to bat, what followed was a straight up lesson in cool. Even when their bass fell off the stage  while they were setting up, no one seemed even remotely beyond nonchalant. The ladies swapped instruments halfway through the set, and never missed a beat there after. I’m fairly certain the photographer I was at the gig with now has a crush on Terrible Truths guitarist Stacey Wilson, but that’s a whole other story.

The rest of the now building crowd poured out onto the dance floor at Ding Dong and never sat still for the whole of Terrible Truths set. The combination of their pounding bass lines, and colourful guitar tones made for some seriously infectious instrumentation, and the strong vocal delivery of the line “I ought to be looking over my shoulder” in the chorus was a peak that defied the fact there were only two women unleashing it upon the audience.

There was a lot of energy on stage, all three members of Terrible Truths really getting into every one of their songs. This was not lost on the now buzzing crowd, and some ‘quality’ dance moves were going down in the front row. What really stood out about this set was how tight the playing was, their intricate drum fills never faltered, and the one-two punch delivered by the bass and guitar left us eager for more.

As we enjoyed a cheeky beer waiting for Beaches‘ headline set to begin, there was a different vibe making it’s way across the room. People started lining up around the stage well before the extra amps could be set up to accommodate the three guitars needed to create the glistening, sometimes squealing, wall of sound that is a Beaches show, and I noticed the ladies from the band brandishing Melbourne bitters which was fitting since we were on the cusp of Australia day.

If introductions are anything to go by, the words “We’re Beaches” followed by a five woman sonic boom is about as much as these ladies needed to really get going. I was amazed how loud they were able to push there sound in the Ding Dong band room, without crossing over into any muddy, confused noise. The interplay between bass and drums formed a foundation as solid as rock for the intense guitar work, and the ever present wah pedal brought out a whole other dimension to their sound rarely seen enough at live shows.

To say Beaches stage presence is intimidating is an understatement, but it’s the subtle complexities of their groove based jams that really set them apart. Delays and reverbs drench their sound, and at times the result was challenging, but in a way that left me hanging on each next song. I didn’t have to wait long, talking was clearly not on the agenda at this show, and their blistering set crammed plenty of music into one slot on the bill.

Dreamy vocals sat lush upon the agitated guitars, a stark contrast that somehow feels so right.  The newer songs easily held their own amongst some of the older material, the crowd embracing each song as well as the last, in fact the only real hiccup was caused by a loose tremolo arm that kept falling off a guitar,

I ended the night by buying a copy Beaches’ “She Beats” LP and giving it a spin at about 1:00 am when I got home (then again first thing in the morning much to my girlfriend’s delight). It’s fair to say everyone at Ding Dong walked away from the gig an even bigger fan than when they arrived, and Beaches proved once again what a force these five ladies really are.

Stu Clift

FULL GALLERY HERE

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