‘Hey, do you want to review a gig at the Annandale?’ The answer is always yes. I have a fondness for the Annandale Hotel and it is not just from previously living less than a five-minute walk from the famed establishment. You see, I grew up in a small country town where (decent) live gigs were few and far between, so seeing the bands that I loved always played there, I knew it was a special place. It could also be the fact that when you step into the place, it is almost like a living museum: artefacts’ decorating the walls and the smell of beer-soaked floor boards tell you a story of evenings past.
The SURES were an energetic bunch of whippersnappers who were all wearing matching Santa hats (bless their cotton socks!) and got the crowds attention immediately. The interesting thing about this night was that there was no pressure on any of the bands, they weren’t here to promote a new album or anything, they were just here to play a couple of songs and enjoy the night. And you could definitely tell: everyone was really relaxed and genuinely happy.
Toby Martin played an acoustic solo set with haunting vocals and a subtlety that the crowd did not seem to appreciate. It was difficult trying to hear his banter over the audience’s chatter. His music was better suited to an outdoor venue on a Sunday afternoon, not a Wednesday night where everyone was awaiting Mess Hall and wunderkinds the Rubens.
I’ve heard a lot about Alpine through the young hipsters I keep on my Facebook friends list (so I’m not completely alienated from the youth of today). They’re a totally different outfit than what I am used to, with having not one but two lead singers. For a group that is comprised of youth that dress like they don’t care, their choreography says otherwise, but I could be jealous because I didn’t know the moves. They played an amazing set considering they were confined to a tiny stage space.
Now Lanie Lane: the girl has got talent, there ain’t no denying that. But she caught me by surprise with her new look. Her hair is blonde and unkempt and she isn’t wearing a single thread of her usual cowgirl chic. Her music received a huge round of applause from the crowd, and rightly so. She plays with such easy swagger that she makes it look like anyone could get up there and do it.
I had already heard of the Rubens through some knowledgeable friends of mine (you know who you are!) and having seen them once before, I knew I was in for a real treat. This entire evening has been a showcase of Australia’s newest and brightest in music, what “Aussie Rock” is all about.
The last act of the night was veterans the Mess Hall. They’re epic, they’re humble; if you haven’t seen them you haven’t experienced music. They blow my mind every single time and there’s no question how. This was the best showcase I have ever witnessed and I’m counting down the days till next year.