The mood couldn’t have been better for the Grates Melbourne Cup Eve show. A combination of Halloween, extra long weekends, great music and a little bit of alcohol in the mix and the night was off to a great start. Even before the first act the crowd was growing at an alarming rate with the odd witch or wizard and even Mario and Luigi, making an appearance.

Kicking of the night was Melbourne locals Loon Lake; setting the tone for the night with cheery indie rock that leaves you hanging out for summer.

Having released their debut EP Not Just Friends earlier this year there has been a lot of buzz around the five piece with singles such as “In The Summer”, “Bad to Me” and “In The Office” receiving high rotation on triple J. The lead singer Sam broke the mold from most indie band frontmen; he seemed more relaxed, not taking himself quite as seriously as most, showing a genuine excitement at getting to watch Last Dinosaurs. Loon Lake are a band with promise but still have a while to get use to performing live to smooth out a few awkward moments.

Next up was yet another triple J darling Last Dinosaurs and by this point the crowd were lapping up the long weekend with the occasional beer spilt as audience members struggled with the Hi Fi stairs. Bounding onto stage the band delivered an upbeat and solid performance that left the almost packed crowd bopping along to track such as “Honolulu” and “Time & Place”, as well as a yet to be released single. While the band provided a solid performance there seems a danger of triple J buzz bands melding into one with songs beginning to sound a little bit the same from band to band. This was changed instantly when the Grates entered the stage.

After a seemingly long wait the stage went black with a suspenseful tune signaling to the crowd the band they had been waiting for were about to arrive. The Grates appeared on stage opting for the Halloween theme over the races, covered in fake blood and pentagrams. The suspenseful music cut and the band instantly broke into “Science Is Golden.”

There is just something about the Grates frontwoman, Patience Hodgson. From start to finish she is pumped full of energy with her trademark smile and dance moves. The high-energy performance paid off with the crowd going crazy for every song they played.

The set was a mix of old and new tracks that gained equal amounts of love from the crowd making it incredibly difficult to pin point a highlight. While tracks such as “19 20 20” and “Aw Yeah” were a given, Patience ensured that “real lovers” of the band would be treated to songs “from the back of the album.”

Throughout the set Patience mingled with the crowd via constant banter, cuddles and crowd surfing. She took a particular liking to a gentleman with a mustache, and flirted with fan boys and even convinced some members of the audience to lick their faces prompting her to announce that she would have an army of cute men dressed as cats march down the street with her.

The thing that baffled me was how genuinely surprised both Patience and John were about the number of people who had shown up to support them. With a high-energy performance from a genuinely likeable band the sold out show should not have come as a surprise.

The set ended on yet another high with “Inside Outside”, and Patience once again made her way into the crowd to high five and hug anyone who got in her way.

The Grates formula is simple, high-energy and lighthearted tracks performed by a band that are truly in their element when it comes to performing and appear to adore their fans. The night was a perfect celebration of long weekends, dressing up, and the long awaited lead up to summer.

– Steph Lee