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Underground Lovers, Alpha Beta Fox - Northcote Social Club

Aug 31st 2013 | Andy Hazel
Indebted to '90s British bands, Adelaide's Alpha Beta Fox are a perfect choice as support for tonight's show. The five-piece pull together the best parts of Lush, St Etienne and brighter moments of mid-'80s The Cure. Alpha Beta Fox boast the dual vocal talents of Tanya Giobbi and Rebecca Burge Versteegh and, of course, churning, chiming guitars. Far from being copyists however, ABF also use Theremin, inspired fizzing synth and a bird whistle to create their genuinely unusual sound. Opening song Lady Don't Ride instantly announces them as one of the boldest and brightest discoveries so far this year, and the crowd are audibly impressed from the outset. Songs veer from swoon-worthy to writhing with their lovely j play-garnering buzz single Pins & Needles far from their strongest effort tonight. The odd lazy lyric aside, this is a band to watch.

Tonight's sold-out crowd is mostly dressed in flattering black and aged northward of 40. Underground Lovers wander on and proceed to do what they do best: play garage rock for hovercrafts. The Stereolab-like brilliance of I Was Right with its mantra, “And the way it begins/Is the way that it ends/I was right,” gets us all on side. Singer Philippa Nihill paces the stage as if she's nervous, but sings like she owns it. Glenn Bennie's inspired-yet-unflashy guitar work is a well-known national treasure, but hearing him at full bore and on form, as he is tonight, is a revelation.

Songs as good as those on their recently released Weekend album can only come from years of experience and the balance they achieve between intelligent aggression and mellifluous texture is uniquely their own. There is no fading out here; the consistency and sheer talent is as vital as it was when they were ARIA Award-winning triple j fixtures. It's these newer songs that get cheers of recognition and bond the crowd just as much as the incendiary brilliance of Beautiful World and Leaves Me Blind.

As warmly as we respond, the band seems even happier. “We don't do banter,” singer Vincent Giarrusso lies joyfully. Melbourne music mainstay Julian Wu jumps up on stage to spruik the Haunted (Acedia) single the band launch tonight (a split single with Chinese band Dear Eloise). Can For Now, In Silhouette and their new single are stunning and, as we change our calendar pages over into September, Underground Lovers' excoriating encore of 1992's Eastside Stories leaves us wholly sold that this enduring team have a lot more to give.


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