December is a month full of eating too much, awkward work functions and hearing endless Christmas carols about snow when it’s thirty-five degrees every time you go shopping. Thankfully, it’s also the month of Christmas gigs.
The Quarry Mountain Dead Rats kicked off tonight’s show at the Northcote Social Club with their infectious brand of bluegrass. While banjos and washboards are an odd sight at a city venue, most of the crowd seemed to be enjoying themselves. The dancing from some punters alone was enough to dispel the myth that Melbourne crowds are inattentive.
Loren’s set was very different to the Quarry Mountain Dead Rats, with many audience members sitting on the floor. This wasn’t out of boredom however, as crowd joined him for a sing-a-long. Instead of using a setlist, Loren asked the crowd to request songs and despite the shouting and confusion, it led to a set of old favourites with the odd new track thrown in. His cover of his sister Freya Hanley’s song Come Around, an ode to being stood up for a date caused a lot of cheering from the female members of the audience. While he comes from the school of lazy chorus writing, it lent itself perfectly to this kind of setting and tracks like Good Seed and Island Man went down incredibly well.
After a short wait, Carus and his band took to the stage. As soon as their first song started it was clear that we would get to see more of Carus’ rock side than his usual solo set delivers. Tracks like Burn and Doing Time went down well with the restless crowd, however the same cannot be said for the new songs and some of the quieter moments. While these songs were all of the same standard, it was clear the crowd just wanted to have a good time. As usual, Carus brought a milk crate and his band to the middle of the crowd to perform his tale of prison love Doing Time and one other song before making his way back on stage. He asked Loren back on stage and after retelling the story of how they met, the pair launched into Thrown, which tonight was dedicated to Shaun O’Callaghan, a sound engineer who recently passed away. They finished the night with a reggae cover of Men At Work’s Land Down Under before Greg Arnold stepped away form the keyboard to lead a cover of Happy Birthday Helen.
While the crowd may have been a bit restless, the gig showcased some of the best talent in the Australian folk scene. Here’s hoping the 2011 show will be just as good.