Dancing Heals @ The Toff – 25/02/2012

First, let me say the air conditioned confines of The Toff were perfect on a hot summer night in Melbourne, especially after spending half an hour in the CBD looking for a car park, the environment immediately soothed my soaring frustrations.
Opening the proceedings was a man by the name of Hayden Calnin. He possessed a similar sound to that of Matt Corby (whom he supported just a few days ago at the Corner Hotel) but without the immediate charisma. If you closed your eyes you’d be forgiven for thinking it was the triple j darling. Like Corby, Calnin’s voice was his strong suit. The best way to describe it was effortless; he made changing vocal range numerous times seem just that. The looped beats, keys and looped vocals of “Summer” were the highlight of a short set. The track had a very James Blake feel to it. Generally if you get goosebumps from a song you know it’s good, so he’s definitely doing something right. Wouldn’t be surprised if he gains a bit more airplay from the local indie outlets over time because he certainly deserves it.

The second support of the night was Them Swoops. From the outset you could see these guys were going to put on a good show. Harmonising vocals from the lead singer, drummer and bassist were a treat. The frontman definitely had some white boy swagger going on that was Miles Kane-esque; he was certainly not uncomfortable moving around the stage in the songs that didn’t require his rhythm guitar work. The band displayed versatility throughout their set with elements of surfer rock, indie/pop rock and synth-laced rock displayed throughout the set. They have that certain X factor you can’t explain, but they immediately grab your attention and make you wanna boogie. The four piece had a fun and unique sound that can’t really be narrowed down to sub genres or comparisons, but it sure as hell is great.

Dancing Heals certainly looked the part, their tight jeans and boots combination would have made the Kings of Leon proud. Soaring indie anthems were the overriding theme of the Melbourne natives’ headlining set – songs about girls and angst mixed with anthemic guitars. They’ve established their live set overseas at the home of rock music in LA and their extended stay there seems to have benefited them greatly because they were an incredibly tight unit. “Hilary May” was a highlight; the Beat single of the year stood out among the many guitar-centric tracks. Notable mention goes to the song that featured the harmonica, while incorporating the instrument into a song may not be hard, doing it well is another thing. Harmonies were also a distinct feature for the the majority of the set, though it was done in more of a rock ballad way than their earlier counterparts, Them Swoops.

You couldn’t ask for a better Saturday night really. Staying cool while listening to some equally cool bands, what more could you want. All three acts shone and are looking at big years ahead.
by Jac Manuell

February 26th 2012
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