Northcote Social Club’s cosy band room provided shelter as the weather outside churned icy and wet, forming the perfect conditions for an eager crowd in the sold out venue to sadly farewell Red Riders playing their last ever show in Melbourne.

Within the venue, small huddles of punters chatted away as they took on board first support, Melbourne band I, A Man, a unique grouping of individuals combining to create distinctive indie pop sound. Their heavily percussive and rhythmic bass lines gave away to the clear cutting vocals of front man Daniel Moss soaring beyond the venue’s solid walls.

The enthusiastic audience hailed the bands crisp arrangement, decorative harmonies and attack on melodies, and bodies swayed in agreement as the sound’s vibrations penetrated deep within, with songs ‘I Ran My Ghoul’ off their EP Fifteen Thirty Three and song ‘Big Ideas’ which received an expected bopping reaction from the crowd. An awe-inspiring set which not only aurally but visually unlocked the crowd’s imagination, with many remarking on the band’s capabilities.

The venue grew bloated with people escaping the grips of the cold and clustered in with adoring faces welcomed by second support Lake Loon. At first the band battled with minor technical sound difficulties as the drum’s cymbals evidently peaked and spewed irritating ringing tones but the band continued to play on. Briskly the gain levels changed and the quality of sound was improved.

With not such a good kick start the band gradually won the hearts of the crowd playing familiar songs ‘Not Just Friends’ off their debut EP and new single ‘In The Summer’. The bands energy and  catchy hook lines drew the audience’s interest and radiated a positive energy, as lead singer Dan’s yelping vocals cried out to and pulled in the audience. Like a chain reaction the audience energy set in motion, circulating into dance frenzy.

The interlude between the sets was rather lengthy as the audience continued to hit the bar and energetically socialise amongst themselves. By now the venue was suffocatingly cramped with folks in the uppermost of moods, all ready for a good time. Finally Red Riders hit the stage casually picking up their instruments and peering out into the crowd and welcoming the large gathering of fans.

Kicking off the night by thrashing through golden oldies from their album Replica Replica, in between songs front man Alexander Grigg engaged into conversation with the crowd humorously and wittily, asking “Who’s more attractive?” [Drummer] Tom Wallace or [bassist] Matt Chapman. Hands down Tom succeeded over Matt but he was an honourable loser. Front man Alex acted like the master puppeteer pulling the strings of the crowd, demanding them to throw their bodies about and the audience loved it.

In every song’s heart wrenching lyric Alex connected with the audience acknowledging his respect for and gratitude to his adoring fan base. When ‘You’ve Got A Lotta Nerve’s first screeching riffs kicked in, the crowd proceeded to scream lyric back to Grigg and wave their arms. More crowd pleasers included ‘Slide In Next To Me’ and ‘My Love Is Stronger Than Your Love’ as the crowd seemingly started to vocally proclaim their love for the band.

To conclude the band ended with bouncing light hearted song ‘Ordinary’, the second release off the album ‘Drowned In Colour’. As Grigg sincerely thanked his audience, he spoke honestly, saying “I love Melbourne seriously! I’m not just pissing in your pocket”. Praising the audience the Red Riders walked off stage, but the crowd obviously wanted more and so a clenched fist pumping crowd bellowing “Encore!” saw the band hop back into the limelight once more to whip up one more final song, belting and ripping up the stage to bring the night to a close.

Around the venue faces beamed and one member of the audience was so astonished that it was really the end that his eyes puffed up and began to cry. A remarkable performance which was nothing other than perfect for the closing of the band’s eight year career.

–       Rachel McLaren