There was a time, not too long ago, when I was just happy to go out to any or every gig. With friends, with my partner or by myself it didn’t matter who was playing or if I knew them, I just love seeing live music. I feel like I’ve lost a bit of that in recent months, so last week I decided to see a band I don’t really know that well.

Tiny Little Houses are a band that I don’t really know that well. On Friday night they played the second last show of their ‘Milo Tin’ tour and, even though I have pretty much only heard their name, I thought I’d head along to check them out at the sold out Northcote Social Club.

The vibe was really nice when I rocked up, but not long afterwards Tiny Little Houses had a rough start. As the curtain opened they went straight into ‘Milo Tin’ but all we could hear was the bass and drums – there was no sound coming through the PA. A bit of shouting aimed towards the sound desk politely asked the sound guy to “turn the fucking mics up” while, at the back of the room, I could see him scrambling to work out what button he’d missed. I thought maybe the band could benefit from a do-over, but as the guitars suddenly kicked in there was a cheer, which was outdone by the one that followed when Caleb Karvountzis’ vocals were heard for the first time, almost 2/3s of the way through the song and all was forgiven and forgotten.

As soon as the band were sounding right, I noticed they had a huge guitar sound which somehow was simultaneously complementary and at odds with Karvountzis’ folky vocals, and early on in their set made me realise that the band clearly have a long list of influences. One song that quite bizarrely shows this is ‘Every man knows his plague; and you are mine.’ which is clearly titled like any My Chem / Panic! at the Disco emo anthem from the 2000s, but in actuality sounds closer to a country hoedown. It’s brilliant in both respects, and the crowd clearly agreed as I could see them really getting into it from my spot on the back wall.

The performance itself was mostly business – which I always love – but the few bits of banter were endearing, and an insight into the band’s relationship with each other. As Karvountzis thanked the support acts Ivy League and Tali Mahoney he noted ”It’s a little bit awkward when your support bands are cooler than you,” to which guitarist Sean Mullins scoffed, “Don’t be pedalling your fake modesty here.” It was a fun exchange, but the band were clearly astonished and humbled by the crowd they had assembled.

As they came to the closer, Karvountzis thanked a few more people including his mum, who I happened to be standing next to. As they finished up the set, she was beaming wildly – full of pride for her son and his band. And why not? Tiny Little Houses played a brilliant homecoming show, impressing the sold out crowd and reminding me why sometimes checking out a band you don’t know can really pay off.

Wes Fahey

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