First thing that needs to be addressed is HOLY SHIT LOOK AT THIS LINEUP. The Ocean Party, Totally Mild, Ausmuteants, and Pearls, four of the biggest of names in the Melbourne music scene. Curators ABABCd sure have a way with lineups, what with their previous works featuring Mangelwurzel (RIP), The Murloks, and The Courtneys. The Gasometer’s bandroom has been dressed up to the nines, and an interview set above the stage. This is where Pearls are currently talking, speaking in depth about the beauty in the music of Twin Peaks and mistaken identity. Cameras are in every corner of every floor, and The Ocean Party stand below, tuning up to start the night as the interview winds down. There’s an electricity in the air that you don’t feel at any other show, a sort of combination of restlessness and pumped up energy. And with that, we begin the show proper.

The Ocean Party turn everything into a scene from Dogs In Space from the get-go. Coming at the crowd with 80s indie rock riding a bombast more fitting of a stadium rather than the Gaso’s tiny yet beautiful stage, The Ocean Party come off as INXS gone rouge. Switching about between jangling guitars to a saxophone ripped straight out of The Final Cut, it’s remarkable just how upbeat and danceable The Ocean Party makes things. And with the help of some houndstooth and shoulderpads, it’s as if Countdown is alive and kicking in the gorgeous six-piece.

As they sing the letters that you wrote but never sent; Totally Mild pack in the emotional punch of an entire gig into one single track without so much as batting an eye. No one around is dancing, simply embracing the poetry swirling around the venue thanks to Elizabeth Mitchell and her soft spoken yet hard hitting vocals, particularly ‘The Next Day’. Peppered with the occasional stab of her guitar, it’s a melancholy yet serene experience, if also an emotionally exhausting one. Thankfully with Ausmuteants being the next act, emotions won’t be needed for a while.

“We’re the band from the future” screams Jake of Ausmuteants before the band from the future launch into ‘Band from the Future’. Ausmuteants isn’t like any other act in Aus, much less this line–up, a fact they make clear from their first moment onstage. Endearingly crass and outlandishly goofy, the band easily manages to summon up a wave of folk to the front with their first stabbing synth hook. Vocal duties are passed around onstage as much as Kaufmanesque jokes (the rambling explanation of what ‘there’s a cop inside of me’ deserves mention as a highlight), adding to the pure franticness that fills the air. One thing is clear as the band shout about wanking and police, Australia has found its answer to Devo or Oingo Boingo. Just don’t spend too much time thinking about who in the band has a Danny Elfman–esque career leap ahead of them.

Pearls are an absolute gem to watch, even if they’re not dressed the usual part. Loud and blaring, it’s hard not to shake the words spoken during the interview long before the crowd filled up the room. It’s along the lines of wondering why Pearls is considered glam outside of their breakout single ‘Big Shot’. You can tell the thought is on their minds as they play, practically stomping about the stage as they go. The glam and polish is entirely gone, their album Pretend You’re Mine has taken an entirely different form, a lumbering and raw beast of a thing. But it’s still impossible not to be entranced by it. Closing with ‘Big Shot’, Pearls have definitely made their point. Even without the glamourous dressings, they are not a force to be reckoned with.

 

You can find more of ABABCd’s programming here on their Youtube page.

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