At Rocket Bar on a Friday evening in Adelaide, a small group of punters gathered to be treated to a night of local music, courtesy of Tone Deaf. The venue had a very underground and exclusive atmosphere, while the lights from the Crazy Horse strip club across the road illuminated through the window, and made it feel as though you were on the cover of a Tom Waits Record.

The DJ was spinning some amazing classic rock ‘n’ roll, including bands such as Led Zeppelin, Steppenwolf and Dire Straits – the sort of music your parents used to blast early on a Saturday morning. It was not something one would normally hear at an Adelaide gig.

The mood had now been set and the first band to grace the stage was the very Adelaide-centric band: TEA. The four-piece took the stage with a gust of classically distorted indie rock guitars combined with the power of early British punk, armed with Adelaide based songs, such as ‘Burnside Mums’. The small crowd was no deterrent for the Adelaide boys, with each member accompanying every song with a good physical workout. The band’s very energetic front man, Ray Dalfsen, took it upon himself numerous times to get in amongst the crowd, doing several stage jumps throughout the set. It was easy to see the chemistry that the band had together, often pushing each other around and joking about on stage; this added another level to their performance, a sense of fun that the crowd easily and happily reacted to.

As the night grew colder and the venue seemed to become darker, it was time for The Sweet Decline to have their way with the stage. Having temporarily become a three piece after their bass player unexpectedly ran off to Melbourne, front man, Tom Kennedy, swapped his guitar for a bass, and they opened up their set with a bellow of dark distorted guitar, deep sounding bass, a good heavy drum beat and Kennedy’s melodic but haunting voice.

The trio played a strong set of some hard-hitting rock, demanding a certain respect from the audience, with guitarist, Angus Johnston, showing off with some amazing guitar solos and exceptional use of his wah pedal, adding a hint of the sixties to the set. On top of this, the band amused the audience, giving grief and a dedication to their former bass player. It would have been nice to have seen a larger crowd to facilitate a more engaging response although the small crowd received a nice tight set of some solid rock.

As the night progressed, it was soon time for headliners, the All Night Girls, to end the evening’s lively festivities. The band greeted the crowd by screaming out ‘Rocket Bar’, followed by some beautiful and almost cosmic guitar. All Night Girls had a rather different sound to the previous two acts; a sound of cleanly picked guitar and melodic vocals, which created a calm and relaxed atmosphere within the small venue. At one stage, the band asked the crowd about the sound mix, and a few punters screamed in response, ‘more cowbell!’ (a reference to a Christopher Walken skit, for those who are unaware).

The group played through a relatively short set of songs, and with their well placed jams, it was apparent that these guys are very talented musicians. It would have been nice to see a longer set to see what this band is truly capable of, but regardless, it was a profound and tranquil set, which seemed to sit well with the crowd and the venue this evening.

–       Matt Mercieca