Straight off the back of their appearance at Falls Festival, German duo Milky Chance played their first headlining Aussie show last night, in front of a sold-out crowd at Melbourne’s 170 Russell (formerly Billboard). Falling somewhere in the realm of electro-reggae-soul-funk the pair may very well have created a new mash-up genre with their debut album, Sadnecessary, and that’s alright with me.
Gracing the stage following their special guest, the heavenly Penelope Austin, Milky Chance’s presence was upstaged only by the sheer volume of vocalist Clemens Rehbein’s glorious hair, which I’m sure was hiding a small jazz band and radiating the stage lights usually reserved for the audio visual guy. To his left, his record-spinning, beat-making counterpart Philipp Dausch, and to his right a harmonica-wielding, bass-playing guest who would later go on to steal the show.
The familiar rolling undertow of the standard 4-chord Milky Chance progression rubbed off on the crowd, their almost lazy style easing the room into the 60-minute set with a quiet confidence. This laidback vibe, while so cool and very urban hipster, was also the gig’s only downfall, the set starting to feel a little too similar. At one point, my friend asked the endearingly innocent question, “Haven’t they played this one already?”
They hadn’t. The crowd was treated to the entire track listing on Sadnecessary, pulled into the funky world of Milky Chance with audible stops ranging from the Deep South to the Caribbean. The twangy, southern guitar, the cheeky, reggae vocal and the deep, vibrating bass proved to be an enigma that couldn’t be ignored. The room erupted for crowd favourite Flashed Junk Lights and, predictably, their mega-hit Stolen Dance.
But while Dausch’s beats and Rehbein’s sensational vocals are addictive and impressive, it was their special guests that I left the show raving about. Penelope Austin, stunningly beautiful in that why-do-I-bother-leaving-my-house way, could very well be Australia’s answer to Lana Del Rey, with a voice and song style that had me madly googling her from the car park. Check out her tracks Trigger and Underwater to know what I’m talking about.
The true show-stopper, though, was that harmonica-wielding bass player, launching into a solo during the uber-cool Sweet Sun that brought the house down. There is nothing like seeing a room full of Melbourne hipsters grooving to an electro-backed harmonica solo. Hopefully they pack him neatly into Clemens Rehbein’s hair and keep him around for the long haul.