Cruisy Melbourne outfit Dirt Farmer are well into their set as a small crowd mills around. Having caught them around the traps a few times over the past year, they can always be counted on to deliver a consistently enjoyable set and tonight is no exception.
While most of the crowd seem more interested in staring into the business end of their beers, the band happily continues along with “Johnny Marble” as a circle of pretty girls sway airily around the dance floor.
With little knowledge of their music, the next act Immigrant Union is somewhat of a curiosity. For the uninitiated, the band are a virtual underground supergroup co-fronted by Brent De Boer, sometime drummer for The Dandy Warhols, and Bob Harrow. They are joined by Patrick Lubulwa on keys (formerly Gamma of The Galvatrons), Bones Sloane on bass, Dave Mudie behind the drums, and rising star Courtney Barnett on guitar.
On the face of it, their sound could go in one of many, many interesting directions. From the first note, it is clear that they have chosen a gorgeously warm 70s country sound that is sometimes Neil Young, sometimes Fleetwood Mac, and always effortlessly cool.
Despite their mellow sound, Immigrant Union play with a cool detachment, which is not to say they are dispassionate but for them the focus is not witty stage banter. Interestingly the band doesn’t actually stop playing between songs making the set more like an impromptu albeit tight jam session, the only downside of this is the fact that they don’t introduce their songs.
While their titles are hard to come by, the obvious enjoyment the band is having is not; Harrow sporadically holds his beer aloft as a good portion of the audience follows suit before he breaks into some seriously James Brown-esque leg kicks and even DeBoer’s glacial thousand yard stare cracks into a broad smile. Immigrant Union are about to head back into the studio meaning it will be a little while between drinks.
Men of the hour, Royston Vasie emerge onto the stage in a swirl of long hair and guitars in support of their new single “Come On”. Regardless of the buzz around their upcoming album Tanah Merah, they still look, talk and act like your brother’s mates.
It’s not until they actually start to play that it very quickly becomes apparent that they are more than just likeable lads about town. With a howl reminiscent of Craig Nicholls courtesy of lead vocalist Leigh Hardiman and co-vocalist and guitarist Cameron Mitchell, Royston Vasie sound like 90s garage rock spiking the soda of 60s psych.
“That’s My Girl” has punters showering beer all over each other and grinding their grindables. “Thanks for coming out everyone” says frontman Hardiman, “we have had so much fun with Immigrant Union on this tour”.
Following the crowd niceties the band lurch into “You Want It Now” and the floor full of dancers churn. One of the simplest beauties of the set is the fact that even without the luxury of a lyrics sheet most of the audience sing along, perhaps not correctly but with enthusiasm.
Speeding headlong into the tail end of their set, the band is joined onstage by their Immigrant Union tour mates Courtney Barnett, Bob Harrow and Patrick Lubulwa for a raucous rendition of their single “Come On”.
As the audience grow more and more maniacal, a couple of crowd members crash the stage. Being the stand-up dudes that they are, neither the Immigrant Union’s nor Royston Vasie’s camps give them the boot, in fact, they even hand over a couple of drumsticks and a cymbal to their new charges.
All too soon it is over and all that is left is a drunken stage-crasher looking around, wondering what just happened. From the looks of things, the audience’s thoughts aren’t too far behind.