"Their performance is really enhanced by a fantastic live horn section to match the powerful emotion in Bourke's baritone vocals."
We make our way through the Melbourne University grounds, past the mathematics and science classrooms and over to the Union House square to find the Shimmerlands location. Luckily there are free ponchos being handed out as we grab our wristbands to enter (although we're already drenched from the rain).
Due to unforeseen circumstances, Gretta Ray is unable to perform so The Harpoons brave the elements and kick off the live music tonight. They thank us for sticking out the mega-downpour as rain drips from their instruments. "This song is about a storm," lead singer Bec Rigby announces as she looks up at the dark clouds above. "Hopefully we don't call on any more rain." Unfortunately it doesn't let up, but there's plenty of room for dancing at the front of the stage for those prepared to totally embrace it. The pavilion bar on the other hand is chock-a-block with those seeking shelter and watching from afar. The dancing soon turns into a wet slow grind as eager punters soak up The Harpoons' groove-inducing tunes including Can We Work This Out. The Harpoons keep the vibe low and steady with a new song from their upcoming album that Rigby jokes "[is] bound to come out sooner or later".
Most of the outdoor dining in the food quarter is sadly closed after the torrential showers so our dinner break food options are limited between sets. "Thank you for enduring this rain with us, it's actually quite incredible," City Calm Down frontman Jack Bourke calls out as he stands before us, soaking wet from head to toe. Triangular mirrored panels serve as an artistic backdrop to reflect the raindrops falling around the stage.
"We went into the studio on Friday to start recording our next album," Bourke reveals, before sharing a few new songs that they don't even have names for yet. Some of these fresh tracks have a noticeably more upbeat and danceable vibe with an undeniable spark. The band share their cover of Foals' Spanish Sahara, which they recorded for triple j's Like A Version a while ago. Their performance is really enhanced by a fantastic live horn section to match the powerful emotion in Bourke's baritone vocals.
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"It's been an amazing 12 months. We didn't think when we wrote the album we'd play it here at this amazing venue in this shit weather!" Bourke exclaims. He also hints that it's probably going to be a while before they're back to play a live show since they're getting ready to return to the studio. For now, City Calm Down leave us with their last song, Rabbit Run, before we dash off with umbrellas in hand.