A chilly Friday evening in the city leads down Market Lane to Ding Dong Lounge to catch Stonefield play, with local acts the Hello Morning and Cold Hiker supporting. About to jet off to Glastonbury, the four Findlay sisters have kicked up quite a buzz around their retro-seventies rock n roll sound, and the venue fills up quickly as four-piece Cold Hiker start off the show with opening number ‘The Matador’.
Forming in 2010, their shoegazey indie pop packs plenty of catchy melodies, and singer Miller Upchurch is a capable frontman. The third song in their set is a standout, hovering somewhere in the vicinity of At the Drive In or Radiohead circa Hail to the the Thief. The rest of their set is good, but after a while it begins to feel a little by the numbers, they clearly have a strong sound but were a little lacking in diversity. Definitely a band to keep an eye out for though.
The Hello Morning kick off their set with vigour. Their brand of rock and roll stems straight out of the 1950’s tradition, but distilled through the sixty odd years of music since Elvis first took the stage. Frontman Steven Clifford, dressed all in black, has a fantastic voice, soulful but with a hint of gravel in it. After catching them play with Dan Sultan a little while back, it’s great to see their performance has only gotten better and more exciting with time. Their set is energetic and the band play off each other with zeal, a distinct Australian quality in their sound recalls acts like Paul Kelly or the Go-Betweens, with a hint of a rockabilly that enjoys company with bands like My Morning Jacket. The Hello Morning come highly recommended.
As eleven o’clock rolls around it’s clear that everyone is here to see headliners Stonefield. These four sisters from rural Victoria have caused quite a stir in the last few months, and they take the stage tonight playing their last show for a few weeks, before heading to the UK to play Glastonbury on the 25th. From the get go it’s clear that the reputation for their live shows is well deserved. All four girls are singers in their own right, but it’s the eldest sister Amy Findlay on drums who takes the lead. Her vocals are equal measure hard and soft, reminiscent of Joan Jett or Suzi Quatro, and her drumming drives each song along with generous use of the kick drum.
Their influences are laid bare with a cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’, faithfully knocked out without too much creative license, but the girls make it their own. ‘Drowning; is a highlight in the set, before moving on to video single ‘Through the Clover’, which has the venue cheering as it starts off. The airplay Clover’s been getting is evident, and everyone in the place knows the words. The youngest Findlay, Holly, is a natural entertainer, strutting across the stage with a confidence belying her age, while indulging in a few hair whips that would impress many a Metallica fan.
As their set draws to a close there are calls for an encore, and Stonefield head back for a second cover, this time it’s Steppenwolf’s ‘Magic Carpet Ride’. While the seventies-revival sound is a path well worn in the last few years, with bands like Wolfmother and Jet both reaching enormous popularity, it’s great to see a band that plays the music with an unpretentious enthusiasm getting the chance to do so. As they head off to a career making performance in the John Peel stage at Glastonbury which usually sees performers anointed as new stars, local fans will be relishing the fact that they got to see the band in a club venue.
– Shaun Thatcher