Live: The John Steel Singers @ Ding Dong Lounge – 8/11/13

On an unfortunately rainy Friday night in Melbourne, the search for that elusive car park took me across the city; just so I could get a firsthand look at up-and-coming Brisbane outfit the John Steel Singers.After forking out 16 dollars for city parking, I entered the Ding Dong Lounge to a wall of noise. The boys belted out the first track from their latest album Everything’s A Thread, featuring their trademark four-way harmonies and summing up the ‘Singers’ part of their band name. While there is little doubt that the band is highly competent instrumentally, it’s this diversity in voices that distinguishes them from others. Tim Morrissey demonstrated an aptitude for falsetto on the funky “MJ’s On Fire Again”, but the group is at their best when their harmonies vigorously unite.The driving riffs were a feature throughout the set, exhibited to great effect during “Masochist”, which bounded through Ben Folds territory. Pete Bernoth showed off his repertoire, as he rotated through the brass section during some of the band’s more bombastic marching tunes. He seemed to lament the loss of his trademark red locks, which he shaved off recently for charity.Far from gratuitous band-audience banter, the John Steel Singers genuinely appeared to enjoy the exchanges; they encouraged the ‘woos’ of an overly enthusiastic female fan and jokingly told the rest of the crowd to avoid the people from Coolum.Their new album is an eclectic mix of stoner rock, funky beats and psychedelic musings, featuring the aforementioned “MJ’s On Fire Again”, which sounds better live than it does on the album itself. “Everything’s A Thread” thrilled the excitable crowd with a triple-pronged guitar attack that had me clenching my fists in delight. I don’t know why I was clenching my fists in order to celebrate, but it just felt right. Maybe I was still angry about the price of parking.The Ding Dong Lounge is far from Melbourne’s worst live venue and certainly doesn’t shy away from its reputation as a dirty dive for some of the biggest partiers in town. The John Steel Singers even celebrated their first visit to the Lounge by continually pleading with patrons to buy their t-shirt.After the mellow “MJ’s On Fire Again (Again)” morphed into the best song from their first album “Rainbow Kraut”, which had everyone bopping along to the infectious brass sound and Blur-esque lyrical content, you couldn’t blame anyone for buying a couple of t-shirts. Meanwhile, “Common Thread” felt like it may have been inspired by a Coolum house party.The John Steel Singers have a carefree look about them. They are quirky and rambunctious, and a talented bunch of lads. They’ve got a great drummer in Ross Chandler — an odd amalgamation of two of the blokes from Friends — and the chemistry between the Singers is something to behold. The live show was so exciting that I almost forgot about the exorbitant price of William Balme

November 19th 2013
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