With the expectation surrounding this show, the EP launch for innovative Sydney band super FLORENCE jam promised to be huge. It was thus surprising to enter the Gaelic Theatre as opening act Dali’s Angels (formerly the Mounzers) took to the stage in front of a fairly empty room. Despite this, the Central Coast heroes played with vigour and professionalism to deliver an eclectic set of indie rock.
Funksters the Domestics followed on stage, encouraging a growing gathering of fans to dance to their tightly executed funk and soul grooves. What they lacked in originality they more than made up for with the good vibes. Local indie rock darlings Made in Japan continued the trend of lefty drummers, with lead vocalist/drummer James Cooney caressing the skins as he led his band through a set of pleasing, if at times repetitive, indie rock. Despite their stoic performance, I picked up their EP.
At 9pm, with only a small audience, I had wondered if this night would prove a dismal disappointment. However, as Made In Japan approached the middle of their set, the floodgates opened. sFj fans began arriving in masses, entering and filling the cavernous venue, obviously having been informed of the headliner’s 10pm set time. It was startlingly obvious who was the crowd-puller of the night. By the time sFj’s gear was being pulled on stage, there must have been a few hundred packed into the room. That’s more like it.
Tantalising the crowd with their trademark bass, drum and guitar setups, the sFj boys left the stage as their audience grew increasingly restless. 10.15pm approached and the lights promptly went off. As fans roared in expectation, the strains of an acoustic guitar arose from the speakers. The music of ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ by Ennio Morricone grew to an orchestral crescendo as the band entered and took their positions to rapturous applause. The music hit its peak and then stopped. The band were straight in to the first song and the lead track off the new EP – Ghetto Project Fabulous. The sound was massive, as they plowed through a set featuring both new and older material, pleasing all with a return to a predominantly song-based set that nevertheless demonstrated their willingness to experiment tastefully.
Complementing their newer tightly structured EP material such as The Circle with improvised intro jams proved a winner as the audience were given a full showcase of the band’s musicality. sFj slammed down the hard rocking songs Dream and No Time, whilst allowing for plenty of light riffery in the bluesy upbeat rocker ‘Everybody But You’ and ‘All You Got’ from the band’s early days. The spirits of Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Battles were channelled on their instrumental highlight ‘A Spanish Doctor…’. Closing with live favourite No Time, sFj left no uncertainty that they were here to rock the place silly – drummer Mike Solo absolutely walloping his kit amidst splintering drum sticks was a sight to behold.
After a short departure from the stage the band returned with a blazing rendition of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Black Dog’, featuring a ripping vocal performance from frontman Adam Krawczyk and an epic guitar duel with Laurence Rosier Staines as they jammed out the ending trading blistering lead breaks and wunderkind Alex Tulett swung his double neck bass wildly in all its optic glory.
Still buzzing from such an inspiring performance, we were all too quickly ushered from the venue by the hard-nosed venue staff. I managed to pick up a copy of the EP before leaving – it’s freaking awesome and promises big things for this hard-working local act… but that’s another story. If you haven’t seen this band live on the big stage, go do it.