Link to our Facebook
Link to our Instagram

Live Review: Poppongene, Culte, 808s & Greatest Hits

10 August 2017 | 12:21 pm | Claire Sullivan

"A couple in front of us who were mainly pretty stiff are now loosey-goosey."

Upstairs at Grace Darling Hotel, an all-male four-piece plays. It's 808s & Greatest Hits. Jeffrey Bartels' heavy bass crashes over us and frontman Lochy Funston's voice sounds similar to that of Lachlan Denton from another Melbourne band (The Ocean Party). Sometimes they give us the idea that they listen to Split Enz a lot while on tour. They're very, very good.

Next up is Culte, another four-piece. We want them to play at all our summer parties. They've very tight, their guitar sound is heavy and Culte's second-last song is a melancholic love song. The frontperson Yura Iwama jokes about singing California Dreamin' by The Mamas & The Papas before they finish with their own song Darts, which calls to mind Eskimo Joe's From The Sea. Anywhere else this would be cringe inducing, but here this tongue-in-cheek moment is welcomed with open arms.

Finally, Poppongene starts dreamily with Belgravey. They bring pop music down to the suburbs on clouds. Half the audience is sitting down cross-legged as though it's story time in Grade Three. Sophie Treloar's voice is as clear as the Tasmanian sea and tips its hat to that of Liz Mitchell (from Totally Mild). This band's line-up is one member different from 808s & Greatest Hits, although the sound is completely different.

This is bassist Bartels' last gig he tells us. He's leaving for France. We feel like we've stumbled in on someone's going away party, but feel very welcome. Bartels starts doing terrible knock knock jokes, which go down pretty good. They play Esky and some audience members who were sitting down now get up and dance. Poppongene have great pop hooks and Treloar plays the tambourine as well as tackling vocals and guitar. The band members swap banter and their genuine friendships aid onstage chemistry.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

Sometimes Treloar's voice calls to mind Feist. A couple in front of us who were mainly pretty stiff are now loosey-goosey, swaying in time with Do It Girl. Poppongene's final song sees everyone chanting Bartels' name: "Jeff, Jeff, Jeff!"

Poppongene are sparkling, dreamy pop at its best.