Last Dinosaurs & Papa Vs. Pretty – Northcote Social Club, 25th of March

The Northcote Social Club was just about filled to the brim with people picking their standing positions for the night when the three members of Sydney up-and-comers Papa Vs. Pretty came on stage. They make music that is simultaneously hard to categorise yet is made unique by singer, guitarist and primary song-writing Thomas Rawle’s voice and song-writing style. ‘Sgt. Suffer’ showed their frenetic, rockier side, as well as the strength of drummer Tom Myers’s and bass player Angus Gardiner’s backing vocals during the three-part harmony at the end of the song. Rawle’s vocal delivery, whether grunting “I would die!” during the noisy, chaotic end of ‘Wrecking Ball’, or fervently wailing, “I could be, oh I could be, I could be, your, honeeehhh!” in ‘Honey’, which also impresses with its excellent dramatic pauses and a jaw-dropping guitar solo from Rawle. You really don’t get many of those in modern indie music these days! What makes Papa Vs. Pretty even more compelling is that they contrast their loud, in-your-face rock-out with a softer side that is a little surfy and slightly folky. Rawle displayed his vocal control (despite having a throat infection, it was revealed) during ‘I Still Believe In Us’, which starts off with just his heartfelt crooning and finger-picked melody on guitar until the drums kick in and the atmosphere builds into a soaring ending.Then it was Last Dinosaurs’ turn. Opening with ‘School Is So Easy’, it was clear that the band were playing to fans. The crowd went wild for old favourites, but seemed to welcome the new songs that Last Dinosaurs played; it was a great taste of what we can expect on their debut album, and we were pretty happy with that. By the time ‘As Far As You’re Concerned’ began, the crowd was warmed up and so was the band. Singer and rhythm guitarist Sean Caskey was not at all deterred by the limited stage space, dancing and jumping around, which certainly encouraged us to do the same… not that we needed encouraging! Meanwhile, lead guitarist Lachlan Caskey seemed to be getting in the zone, playing riffs with eyes closed. The penultimate tune was what the crowd had been waiting for: ‘Honolulu’. As soon as Lachlan played that cheerful, summery riff, the crowd lost it just a little bit. With all of us enthusiastically shouting, “HEY!” in the right spot throughout the whole song, Sean couldn’t keep the smile off his face (and neither could we). The band finished off their set with their latest single, ‘Time and Place’, in all its dancey, catchy, staccato-riffage and call-and-return chorus.A great band sounds good both on record and live; not just one or the other. Both of these fantastic Aussie bands manage to replicate the raw energy of their live shows onto their recordings, while still sounding as tight when they’re thrashing about on stage as they do on record. They’re definitely two to keep your eye on!- Stephanie Liew


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