Live Review: Immigrant Union, Aon Stalp & The Out of Towners, Andrew Swayze & The Ghosts

8 September 2015 | 8:49 am | Oli Ashley

"Their confident performance showed why Immigrant Union is a band on the up and up."

A drab Hobart evening saw Immigrant Union take to the Grand Poobah's stage to round out their Australian tour in support of their hit second effort, AnywayAndrew Swayze & The Ghosts kicked off proceedings with an alluringly shambolic and dissonant set, equal parts garage and psychedelic-rock. Second up were Aon Stalp & The Out of Towners. Their brooding brand of mid-tempo soft-rock sat firmly between apologetic and unremarkable. Thankfully the crowd's wandering attention was regathered by the arrival of the main event.

Immigrant Union quickly established why they've found themselves the subject of so much recent praise as they meandered their way through a selection of tracks almost exclusively from their recent release. At times it seemed the lacklustre turnout may have muted some members' enthusiasm. Upbeat tracks such as Alison should by rights have ignited the dancefloor, yet one solitary punter was alone flying the flag. In a bizarre twist, the small crowd was instantly overrun, with just two songs to go, by the arrival of 100 revellers from the nearby student pharmacy ball, resplendent in their tuxedos and gowns. Insultingly most paid little to no attention to the band who stoically bore their chagrin before racing to the bar without a hint of an encore.

Poor audience aside it's difficult to fault Immigrant Union's set. Their hazy soundscapes had an agreeable wholesomeness barely hinted at on their recordings. Warbling organs collided with jangly, hollow-body guitars. Special mention must be made of their exquisitely rich vocal harmonies. Given their shared heritage (singer Brent DeBoer), it's difficult to avoid early Dandy Warhols comparisons, but the more agreeable parts of the set comprised departures from standard psychedelic tropes. War Is Peace and Lake Mokoan are truly stunning tracks and the band's consummate performance of both was a delight to the ears.

For a band whose stage manner is incredibly humble and laidback they simply oozed presence. DeBoer is instantly recognisable and stylish, swaying and bending with appropriate swagger. Bob Harrow's hair was falling all over his face as he lazily strummed his guitar, almost as though he'd stumbled straight out of a '60s folk festival. The stage was swathed in thick smoke throughout, to the point where it was often difficult to make out drummer Paddy McGrath-Lester. Their confident performance showed why Immigrant Union is a band on the up and up. It's a crying shame they were denied the appreciation their set deserved.

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